CHAPTER 3 THE DOCTRINE OF GOD AND THE VISION OF HUMANITY IN THE WORD OF FAITH MOVEMENT
The doctrines of God and human beings should ordinarily be studied together as far as the Faith Movement is concerned. This is necessitated by the claim that human beings are created in the class of God. This implies that God and human beings belong to the same class of divine beings. Further, both God and human beings are said to operate by faith. In the Faith Movement the assertion that God and human beings operate by faith is demonstrated well by Imakando (2010: 29) who argues that, “Everything about God begins with faith. Creation is a production of faith. God works through faith, without faith it is impossible to please God.”
These sentiments demonstrate how Word of Faith teachers view the role of faith as it relates to God as well as to human beings. In the Faith Movement it is even possible to order God to perform what one desires as long as this is done in faith. Consequently, Imakando (2010: 36) points out that “there is nothing in this world that will not answer to Faith. Faith brings God on the scene because God honours faith.”
Even within the wider context of systematic theology, it makes a lot of sense to study the doctrine of God together with the doctrine of human beings. Human beings are God’s creatures. Human beings are therefore dependent on God for their very existence. Further, human beings are created in the image of God. For this reason it makes a lot of sense to study God and human beings together.
The conception of God as held by the Faith Movement risks restricting God’s power severely as well as blurring the distinction between God and human beings. When God and human beings as we shall demonstrate as this chapter develops are said to be in the same class; it necessarily follows that God and God’s human creatures are the same. The notion that God as well as all human beings must have faith in order to accomplish their will, places a demand on us to demonstrate the necessity of investigating this matter in detail. In this chapter, we shall first of all address ourselves to what the bible teaches on the subject of faith. Thereafter, we shall shift our attention to the doctrine of God. We shall examine the doctrine of God in the Faith Movement in the light of Biblical revelation. Once we have dealt with the doctrine of God we shall then try as much as possible to examine the doctrine of human beings as far as the Faith Movement is concerned. We shall conclude this chapter by providing the biblical vision and destiny of the human race.
The nature of Biblical Faith
Faith in the Bible is an important concept. Any meaningful relationship with God is based on faith. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews points out that anyone who comes to God mustmbelieve that God is and that God rewards those who diligently seek God (Hebrews 11: 6).
Anderson and Saucy (2001: 230) in this case, argue that:
Faith is simply responding to God – responding to what He (sic) does or says. When Mary learned that she was pregnant with Jesus, her response, “let it be the way God has said” was a response of faith. When we hear God tell us something and we respond, we are exercising faith.
When we respond to God in faith we usually do so in humility before God as a demonstrationmof our dependency on God. It is against this background, that if we are going to adequatelymdeal with the matter concerning the assertion that God is a faith being, we need to examinemhow faith is addressed in the Bible. To adequately, carry out our task, it is important wemexamine the concept of faith from as far back as the Old Testament. Only then shall we provide ourselves with a broader working context as we seek to respond to the notion that God is a Faith Being. In the next section, it is therefore just fitting to take this approach.
Accordingly, we therefore, must straight away commence by addressing the concept of faith in the Old Testament.
Faith in the Old Testament
In the Old Testament the idea of Faith hinges on the relationship between God and God’s people. This relationship was based on a covenant between God and the people of Israel. It is for the same reason that Brueggemann (2002:76) points out that:
The central theological construct of the Old Testament is covenant – a passionate, interactive relationship between YHWH and YHWH’s people. The primary and defining issue of the Covenant relationship is fidelity. The primary vocabulary for fidelity uses two terms that occur frequently together, “hesed” and “emeth,” rendered steadfast love and faithfulness. The two terms bespeak the utter reliability of one covenant partner (first of all YHWH) to the other.
From the words of Brueggemann we are able to see clearly that God is a faithful God. As a result God commits to keeping the covenant with the people of Israel. On the other hand it is expected of those whom God has invited to be in a covenant relationship with to be faithful to God’s covenant demands. The people are called to observe God’s commands. Consequently, God says, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites” (Exodus 19:5-6). God’s call places obligations on God’s people. Ndjerareou (2006:109) as he comments on Exodus 19:5-6 effectively demonstrates how God’s people are to respond to God’s covenant demands:
God then presents Moses with the terms of the Covenant that he is to present to the people. Three major points are advanced:
•Israel is God’s property, his own treasured possession (19:5a; see also Deut 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Psalm 135:4).
•Israel will be a kingdom of Priest (19:6a). A priest has access to God and acts as an intermediary between the people and God.
•Israel is to be a holy nation as God is holy (19:6b; see also 3:5-6). The people must thus be morally pure and consecrated to the service of God.
The three-fold purpose of God will only become a reality if Israel obeys God’s covenant terms. Obedience as an expression of love and commitment to God is to be desired over sacrifices (1Sam. 15:20-23). In 1Samuel 15:20-23 Samuel strongly censures King Saul for failing to obey God’s instructions fully. Akanni and Weanzana (2006: 350) as they reflect on 1Samuel 15:20-23 write:
To obey is better than sacrifice (15:22). This principle was the foundation for Samuel’s integrity, and ignoring it produced corrupt and greedy priests and prophets like Eli’s sons. The point is underscored in the NT (Heb 10:5-7). God seeks those who will obey him implicitly and promptly, rather than those who bring expensive sacrifices to atone for deliberate sin (Isa 66: 1-3). God sees disobedience as more than just a refusal to carry out an instruction. It is an indicator of the state of the heart, and whether God is indeed the one we serve. Disobedience is thus equivalent to rebellion, and sluggish or incomplete obedience reveals unspoken rebellion. God does not tolerate rivals, and so he acts strongly against disobedience.
Thus obedience is a very important aspect of Old Testament understanding of faith. The twin concepts of obedience and faith are thus closely associated to each other to the extent that they are inseparable. Holtzen (2007: 70) in this regard argues that “in Genesis 22, faith and obedience are linked when Abraham is blessed because of his obedience to God in the binding of Isaac.”
The Hebrew word for faith in the Old Testament is emunah. It is derived from the Hebrew root aman which carries the idea of being firm. Emunah is an action word. It speaks of the resolve to act in decisive ways on the part of those who trust in God. Jeff A. Benner (2007) is therefore right when he asserts:
When the Hebrew word emunah is translated as faith misconceptions of its meaning occur. Faith is usually perceived as a knowing while the Hebrew emunah is a firm action. To have faith in God is not knowing that God exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness toward God’s will.
Acting with firmness toward God’s will is the ability not to be moved in one’s faith in God regardless of the circumstances on the ground. Fertig (2007: 407) consequently, is therefor able to write:
The strength of emunah is revealed through tests, through ordeals – through the darkness of night. You shall remember the entire road on which Hashem, your G-d, led you these forty years in the wilderness so as to afflict you, to test you, to know what is in your heart… He afflicted you and let you hunger (Devarim 8:2-3). It is here that emunah is built, here that emunah must be lived. Through our most difficult ordeals in life our emunah is strengthened. We may not understand, but emunah must remain strong. It is our life force (sic).
This firm persuasion is grounded on the conviction that God is a faithful God. “Israel iscalled to faith in God because this is a logical response to God’s faithfulness; Israel is to trustGod for God is exceedingly and utterly trustworthy” (Holtzen 2007: 70). It is against this backdrop that Paul describes Abraham’s faith as “not wavering at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom 4: 20 NKJV). Abraham was firm in his faith in God. Even when both his wife and himself were advancing in years he still believed that God was going to fulfill His promise.
Another idea closely associated with Faith in the Old Testament is the word trust. The concept of trust is defined in several related ways in the Old Testament. To proceed with our examination of the word trust let us begin by reflecting on how this idea is used in Ruth 2:12: “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (NIV).
The phrase rendered “under whose wings thou art come to trust” (KJV) and “under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (NIV) is a translation of the Hebrew word chasah. It carries with it ideas related to seeking for refuge, fleeing for protection, as well as to put trust in God. In this case the God of Naomi had become the God of Ruth (Ruth 1:16). Chasah is found in several passages of the Old Testament (e.g. 2Sam. 22:3, 31; Psalm 2:12; 4:5; 18:2;etc). In all these passages it projects the idea of taking refuge in the Lord or going to the Lord for help. Another word rendered as trust in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word Betach. The word betach implies confidence in the Lord. Some of the places where betach is used are 2 Kings 18:20, 21, 22, 24, 30; 1chronicles 5:20; 2chronicles 32:10; Psalms 25:2 etc).
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background and Problem Statement
1.2 Historical Context of this study
1.3 Literature Review
1.4 Method of Study …
1.5 Main Assumption of Study
1.6 Significance and Benefit of this Study
CHAPTER 2 PREVALENCE AND THEOLOGY OF THE WORD OF FAITH MOVEMENT IN ZAMBIA
2.2 Some Dominant Word of Faith Ideas
2.3 The Expansion of the Word of Faith Movement
2.4 The pervasiveness of the Word of Faith Movement in Zambia
2.5 Biblical Interpretation and the Word of Faith Movement
CHAPTER 3 THE DOCTRINE OF GOD AND THE VISION OF HUMANITY IN THE WORD OF FAITH MOVEMENT
3.2 The Nature of Biblical Faith
3.3 The concept of Faith in the Word of Faith Movement
3.4 The nature of God in the Faith Movement
3.5 Biblical teaching concerning human beings
3.6 A biblical vision and destiny of redeemed humanity
CHAPTER 4 THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT: THE CHRISTOLOGY AND PNEUMATOLOGY OF THE FAITH MOVEMENT
4.2 Christology: a biblical perspective
4.3 Christology: a historical perspective
4.4 The doctrine of atonement
4.5 Pneumatology and the Faith Movement
4.6 The theology of the word of God in the Faith Movement
4.7 The Spirit in relation to Christ and the Word of God
CHAPTER 5 PROSPERITY AND SUCCESS FROM AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE
5.2 Curses and blessings
5.3 Blessings and Curses: a Biblical Perspective
5.4 Blessings and curses in the light of the believers’ relationship God
5.5 African Traditional belief in supernatural powers
5.6 The Word of Faith Movement and African Traditional beliefs
5.7 Summary and concluding remarks
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT: EPISTEMOLOGICAL ISSUES IN THE FAITH, HEALTH AND WEALTH MOVEMENT IN ZAMBIA