KENNETH HAGIN, SR.
KENNETH HAGIN, SR. (1917- ) is one of the most influential Pentecostal leaders today. He claims that his teaching was given to him by God, but in fact he plagiarized heavily from the writings of E.W. KENYON (1867-1948). D.R. McConnell, in his book A Different Gospel, documents this with pages of comparisons proving beyond question that Hagin plagiarized Kenyon's writings. McConnel introduces this section of his book by saying: "Hagin has, indeed, copied word-for-word without documentation from Kenyon's writings. The following excerpts of plagiarisms from no less than eight books by E.W. Kenyon are presented as evidence of this charge. This is only a sampling of such plagiarisms. Many more could be cited." Plagiarism is not only deceit; it is a criminal offense.
Kenyon was a Baptist pastor and never joined the Pentecostal movement (though he did move in Pentecostal circles toward the end of his life), but his pioneer radio broadcasts and voluminous writings had broad influence in the Deeper Life and Pentecostal-Charismatic movements. Though he did not use the term "revelation" to describe his teaching, he presented his doctrine as new and history-changing. He claimed that if his message were followed it would create a master race of Christians who would have complete power over demons and disease. In his book Identification, he stated: "When these truths really gain the ascendancy in us, they will make us spiritual supermen, masters of demons and disease. ... It will be the end of weakness and failure" (Identification, Seattle: Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Society, 1968, p. 68). In his early years Kenyon was influenced by Methodist sinless perfectionism and by New Thought doctrine. It is obvious that he borrowed heavily from the latter. D.R. McConnell masterfully traces this connection in his book A Different Gospel. In 1892 Kenyon enrolled in the Emerson College of Oratory, "an institution that was absolutely inundated with metaphysical, cultic ideas and practices" (McConnell, A Different Gospel, p. 34). Charles Wesley Emerson, the head of Emerson College, was a Unitarian minister and eventually joined Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science movement. A number of Emerson graduates went on to become prominent Christian Science practitioners. One graduate of Emerson compiled The Complete Concordance of the Writings of Mary Baker Eddy. Another graduate wrote the book Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy. Emerson's "religion was a veritable smorgasbord of the sources underlying New Thought metaphysics: Platonism, Swedenborgianism, New England Unitarianism, and Emersonian Transcendentalism. All of these various elements were held together by heavy proof-texting from the Bible and a quasi-Darwinian view of the religious evolution of humanity which ended in man becoming a god" (Ibid., p. 35).
Though Kenyon claimed to be opposed to the New Thought cults and though he claimed to derive his teaching strictly from the Bible, there is no question that he incorporated many New Thought ideas into his doctrine. Like New Thought, Kenyon taught that the spiritual is the cause of all physical effects and that positive confession has the power to create its own reality. He believed that healing and other ongoing miracles are necessary to demonstrate the reality of Christianity. He considered his writings "to be a wonderful new interpretation of the Scriptures, a 'new type of Christianity,' which would bring healing and prosperity to all who possessed his revelation knowledge of the Bible" (McConnell, p. 50).
Kenneth Hagin's positive-confession teachings, which he derived at least partially from Kenyon, have spawned an entire movement within modern Pentecostalism, and its proponents have vast influence. The Dictionary of the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements admits that "Kenyon's writings became seminal for the ministries of Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Don Gossett, Charles Capps, and others in the Word of Faith and Positive Confession movements." This Dictionary also notes that Kenyon influenced Ern Baxter, F.F. Bosworth, David Nunn, T.L. Osborn, Jimmy Swaggart, "and many others." In a survey taken by Charisma magazine in 1985, seven Word-Faith teachers ranked among the top 24 most influential Charismatic leaders. Kenneth Hagin, Sr., ranked third. Hagin protege Kenneth Copeland ranked second. Other Word-Faith teachers listed in the survey were Marilyn Hickey, Fred Price, Robert Tilton, John Osteen, and Norvel Hayes.
Hagin teaches that Christ's physical death did not remove sin. Rather, it was Christ's alleged spiritual death and his alleged struggles in hell which removed sin. Hagin teaches that Christ was sent to hell and there he struggled against Satan and the demons and by his victory over them he was born again. This is heresy of the greatest sort. The Bible plainly states that we are redeemed by Christ's death and blood (Acts 20:28; Heb. 9:14; 10:10). The atonement was finished on the cross. When Christ dismissed His spirit from his body, He cried, "It is finished" (John 19:30). The Lord Jesus Christ was not born again; He was never lost. He bore our sin, but He was never a sinner. He was never tormented in hell by Satan and the demons. Nowhere does the Bible say that Satan is in hell or that he has any influence in hell. One happy day in the future he will be bound for 1,000 years in the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1-3) and ultimately he will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10), but nowhere does the Bible say Satan is the master of hell.
Hagin further teaches that the Christian is an incarnation of God like Jesus was. "The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth" (Hagin, "The Incarnation," The Word of Faith, Dec. 1980, cited from Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis, pp. 175, 397). This is a gross heresy. The Lord Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh. He is the eternal Son of God. Nowhere is the believer said to be an incarnation of Almighty God. The Lord Jesus Christ performed miracles to demonstrate that He was the Son of God, the promised Messiah. No Christian can do the things that Christ did. Not one Pentecostal preacher has ever been able to perform the miracles that Christ performed. It is blasphemous confusion to claim that the believer is an incarnation of God like Christ was.
Hagin has been guided by alleged visitations of angels and of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. His book I Believe in Visions describes eight of these. The seventh occurred December 12, 1962. Hagin claims the Lord prophesied to him in this visitation that He would soon begin to move among all denominations to "bring them into a full salvation and into the baptism of the Holy Ghost." Hagin claims that Jesus Christ told him that he would play a part in this ecumenical miracle revival. As we have seen, a similar prophecy was given to David DuPlessis by Smith Wigglesworth in 1936. The ecumenical-Charismatic movement which has since swept through the Roman Catholic Church and the mainline Protestant denominations would appear to be a fulfillment of these prophecies. DuPlessis was the first to carry Pentecostal experiences to the Roman Catholic Church. He was the only Pentecostal to attend Rome's Vatican II Council in the mid 1960s.
The succeeding ecumenical-Charismatic movement has not been based on the Word of God, though. Charismatic Catholics who have received the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" have not turned away from Rome's heresies but instead have found that their love for heresy has been rekindled. They have fallen in love with the false Catholic Mary and with the false Catholic mass and with the blasphemous office of the pope. I have witnessed the unscriptural fruit of the ecumenical Charismatic movement firsthand. In 1987 and again in 1990 I attended with press credentials two of the largest Charismatic conferences ever held. They were organized by the North America Congress on the Holy Spirit & World Evangelization. Roughly 40 denominations were represented. Fifty percent of the attendees were Roman Catholic. A Catholic mass was featured every morning. Catholic priest Tom Forrest from Rome brought the concluding message at both meetings. In Indianapolis Forrest preached a message on why he was thankful for Roman Catholicism, and he said that he praised the Lord for Mary the Queen of Heaven and for purgatory! Upon the authority of the Bible I can testify that the ecumenical-Charismatic "revival" is demonically inspired because it produces doctrinal error instead of truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of TRUTH.
Hagin has taught a health-prosperity gospel. He says: "Like salvation, healing is a gift, already paid for at Calvary. All we need to do is accept it. All we need to do is possess the promise that is ours. As children of God, we need to realize that healing belongs to us" (Hagin, Healing Belongs to Us, p. 32). He further says: "God is glorified through healing and deliverance, not sickness and suffering" (Hagin, The Key to Scriptural Healing, p. 17). Hagin's claims do not match reality, though. A few years ago he claimed that he hadn't been sick in 60 years, but actually he has had several cardiovascular crises, one lasting six weeks. Heart disease is a sickness, dear friends!
As for prosperity, Hagin claims that the Lord spoke to him in a vision in 1959 with the words: "If you will learn to follow that inward witness I will make you rich. I will guide you in all the affairs of life, financial as well as spiritual" (Hagin, How to Be Led by the Holy Spirit). In an article "How God Taught Me about Prosperity," Hagin claims that Jesus Christ taught him not to think that it is wrong to have riches. Allegedly Christ told him not to "pray about money anymore; that is, the way you've been praying. CLAIM WHATEVER YOU NEED." Christ allegedly further taught Hagin that he has personal angels who can be commanded to do his bidding. Hagin says Christ told him in 1963 that the angels were waiting for his command to provide his material desires. "They are waiting on you to give them the order, just as the waitress cannot do anything for you until you give her the order" (Hagin, I Believe in Visions, p. 126).
This is the source for the terms "word-faith" or "positive confession." That which the believer confesses with his mouth will be true in reality. Various forms of this false idea have spread throughout many parts of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement today.
Hagin's ministry has been characterized by phenomena which we would characterize as demonic. The unscriptural "spirit slaying" phenomenon has been a major part of his ministry. He describes many people who have fallen into trances during his meetings. He claims one teenage girl was in a trance for almost nine hours, and that when he and a pastor tried to move her, the two of them were unable to budge her off the floor, in spite of the fact that this pastor was a large man weighing more than 200 pounds. He tells of other people being glued to the floor so that no one could move them. On one occasion, when someone was levitated in a meeting, Hagin's wife and two other people questioned whether it was of the Lord. He claims that God instructed him to touch all three of them on the forehead with his little finger, and when he did so, they were knocked to the floor and paralyzed so that they could not get up. They were not allowed to rise until they acknowledged that Hagin's power was of God. When they admitted this, Hagin touched them again with his finger and they were released (McConnell, p. 64). Hagin tells of a woman who danced off a platform and levitated in the air while she was "dancing in the Spirit."
He claims to have visited both Heaven and Hell.
Hagin has been in the center of the current Laughing Revival. We have previously related that it was during a Rodney Howard-Browne crusade at Hagin's church that Vineyard pastor Randy Clark received the "anointing" which he subsequently carried to Toronto. I have seen video recordings of a conference conducted by Kenneth Hagin, Sr., Kenneth Hagin, Jr., and Kenneth Copeland in Chesterfield, Missouri, October 12-24, 1997. It is one of the strangest and most unscriptural things I have ever witnessed. Hagin, Sr. staggers around like a drunk, sticking his tongue out and wiggling it like a serpent. He blows and hisses and pants, blowing on people, waving his arms at them, striking them on the head, while entire rows of people fall down or slide out of their seats in a drunken stupor as he lurches by. Women fall to the floor in all sorts of compromising positions and have to be covered with the assistance of ladies who are assigned that task. Kenneth Copeland and Kenneth Hagin, Jr., are right in the middle of the insanity, acting as if they were completely drunken on liquor, rolling on the floor, making strange noises, laughing hysterically for no apparent reason. One of Hagin's helpers, a large man who is attempting to hold the senior Hagin upright, is overcome with drunkenness and falls into the lap of an attractive woman. Pandemonium and confusion reign. Four men are required to help the drunken Hagin get back onto the speaker's platform.
Hagin's influence has been phenomenal. Thousands of students have graduated from his Rhema Bible Training Center and have gone throughout the world planting churches patterned after his ministry. The stated purpose of Rhema is "to produce graduates who will carry forth the great charismatic renewal that God has sent into our time." His daily radio program is broadcast on more than 180 stations in the States and by short-wave to about 80 other countries. By the late 1980s, more than three million of his 85 books and a half million of his sermons on audio cassette were being distributed each year. His monthly Word of Faith magazine goes to 190,000 homes.