[Excerpts from Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.]

Kenneth Copeland declared this heresy in a prophetic utterance allegedly from Jesus, “Don’t be disturbed when people accuse you of thinking you are God…. They crucified Me for claiming that I was God. But I didn’t claim I was God; I just claimed I walked with Him and that He was in Me. Hallelujah. That’s what your doing.”1)Kenneth Copeland, “Take Time to Pray,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, February, 1987, p. 9; as cited by Robert M. Bowman Jr. The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel, Baker Books, 2001, p. 150; also cited by John F. MacArthur, Jr.,, Charismatic Chaos, Zondervan Publishing House 1992, p. 66

Robert Bowman references recent history of this heresy. “The ‘manifest sons of God’ doctrine is the view, taught by some of the Latter-Rain leaders in the 1950s, that Jesus was simply the prototype of many divine sons of God.”2)Robert M. Bowman Jr. The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel, Baker Books, 2001, p.127 Sam Fife, a leading apostle of manifest Sons of God represents this pure Gnosticism. He had preached a doctrine of immortality, and “taught that the aging process had stopped for him and when asked his age, he would simply answer ‘I AM’. He assured people that he would never die but was in the process of being changed into a [sic] incorruptible life.”3)Let Us Reason Ministries, “Kingdom Triumphalism, The 3rd Wave,” http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain12.htm; accessed 12/16/11

 

Copeland’s Deification Doctrine

The numbers of similar ideas abound in charismatic circles today. Again, quoting Kenneth Copeland

And I say this with all respect, so that it don’t upset you too bad, but I say it anyways: When I read in the Bible where He [God] says, “I AM,” I just smile and say, “Yes, I Am too.”4)Kenneth Copeland, TBN, 9 August, 1987, cited by Robert M. Bowman Jr. The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel, Baker Books, 2001, p. 15 Also cited by John MacAthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, p. 332; also cited by David W. Cloud, The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement: The History and Error, Way of Life Literature, Second edition, 2008, p. 133

Allowing Copeland to explain for himself, he has stated on the Trinity Broadcasting Network: “Am I a god? Man was created in the god class, was not created in the animal class, it was the gods class. He has a uniqueness about him that even angels do not have…Now Peter said by exceeding great and precious promises, you become partakers of the divine nature. Alright, are we gods? We are a class of gods…. God Himself spawned us from His innermost being.”5)Kenneth Copeland, Praise the Lord, TBN, 2/5/1986; cited by Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion, Harvest House Publishers, 1998, p. 336 God did not spawn man from Himself, but created us out of dirt. Being spawned from God’s innermost being would identify man as sharing in the very essence of God which is implied by Copeland.

Once again, we find similarities to Copeland’s teachings as to what is taught in Kabbalah. In an interview with Michael Berg, Rebecca Phillips explains, “To underscore the point, I often ask people the meaning of the biblical passage that says that man was created in God’s image. There aren’t many ways to explain it, except in that simplest form. It means that every one of us is built with the essence of God. Our soul is the essence of God, and that means that every single one of us has the potential to become like God and to heal, to bless, to do almost everything that God can do.”6) Rebecca Phillips, http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Judaism/2005/01/Kabbalah-For-Everyone.aspx#ixzz1Kc0EncTl, accessed 4/25/11 The Catholic Catechism also is to be understood in a false interpretation of man created in the “image of God” as Emil Brunner explains,

If, on the contrary, as in the Catholic tradition, the Imago Dei is conceived in the formal structural sense as the endowment with reason, as creative freedom, then Man possesses the Image of God in himself. This view of the Imago Dei is the gate by which a pantheistic or an idealistic deification of man can enter. Man then possesses the divine reason in himself; his spirit is then a “spark” from the Divine Spirit.7)Emil Brunner, from The Christian Doctrine of Creation and Redemption, trans. Olive Wyon, Westminster Press, 1952; as cited by Millard J. Erickson, (Editor) Readings in Christian Theology: Man’s Need and God’s Gift, Baker Book House, 1976, 1992, vol. 2, p. 51

Notice that the interpretation of being created in the image of God is endowment of a divine spark giving us the ability of creation. This idea is the core of the Word-Faith movement’s concept of men being co-creators as seen in Kenneth Copeland who literally has stated that we are the very same nature as God.

God is God, He is a Spirit… And He imparted in you when you were born again—Peter said it just as plain, he said, “We are partakers of the divine nature.” That nature is life eternal in absolute perfection. And that was imparted, injected into your spirit man, and you have that imparted into you by God just the same as you imparted into your child the nature of humanity. That child wasn’t born a whale! [It was] born a human. Isn’t that true?

   Well, now, you don’t have a human, do you? No, you are one. You don’t have a god in you. You are one.8)Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Love, Tape BCC-56, cited by Walter Martin, The New Age Cult, Bethany House Publishers, 1989, p. 76; also cited by John MacAthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, p. 331; also cited by Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity In Crisis, 21st Century, Thomas Nelson, 2009, p. 134

Mary Baker Eddy’s teachings are consistent with this reasoning. “Natural history presents vegetables and animals as preserving their original species, —like producing like. A mineral is not produced by a vegetable nor the man by the brute.”9) Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Keys to the Scripture, Published by the Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, 1934, p. 277 Confirming that “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.”10)Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Keys to the Scripture, Published by the Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, 1934, p. 468 She concludes, “Human philosophy has made God manlike. Christian Science makes man Godlike.”11)Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Keys to the Scripture, Published by the Trustees under the Will of Mary Baker G. Eddy, 1934, p. 269 Pagan philosophers had done that many millennia before Mary Baker Eddy, she only followed the Gnostics of utilizing Christian terminology to restate what the ancient pagan philosophers presented.

 

Hagin’s Incarnation Doctrine

Kenneth Copeland has only mimicked what he heard from Kenneth Hagin. “Every man who has been born again is an incarnation and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.”12)Kenneth E. Hagin, The Word of Faith 13, 12 (December 1980):14 This repeats the thought from the Gnostic scripture The Gospel of Philip. “This person is no longer a Christian but is Christ.”13)The Gospel of Philip, Marvin Meyer (ed.), The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The International Edition, HarperOne Publishers,2007, p. 173 Kenneth Hagin appears to quote this text. “Man was created on terms of equality with God, and he could stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority…. God has made us as much like Himself as possible…. He made us the same class of being that He is Himself…. Man lived in the realm of God. He lived on terms equal with God…. [T]he believer is called Christ….That’s who we are; we’re Christ!”14)Kenneth E. Hagin, Zoe: The God-Kind of Life, Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Inc., 1989, p. 35-36, 41, also cited in part by Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity In Crisis, 21st Century, Thomas Nelson, 2009, p. 19; also cited by David W. Cloud, The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement: The History and Error, Way of Life Literature, Second edition, 2008, p. 134 [David Cloud erred in attributing this quote to Kenneth Copeland]

Hagin writes, “Originally, God made the earth and the fullness thereof, giving Adam dominion over all the works of His hands. In other words, Adam was the god of this world.”15)Kenneth Hagin The Believer’s Authority, Faith Library, 1985, p. 19 Charles Capps follows suit. “We were created to be gods over the earth, but remember to spell it with a little ‘g’.”16)Charles Capps, God’s Image of You, Tulsa, 1985, p. 34

This all goes back to pre-Pentecostal preachers such as John G. Lake whose work is published today by Kenneth Copeland. John Lake taught, “The power of God, the Holy Ghost, is the Spirit of Dominion. It makes one a god.”17)John G. Lake, John G. Lake: His Lie, His Sermons, His boldness of Faith, Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1995, p. 13; also cited by Keith Gibson, Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets, Solid Ground Christian Books, 2011, p. 282 In his preaching we find the root of Hagin’s theology of Christians being an incarnation. Lake said, “I want you to hear what Jesus said about himself. God was in Christ, wasn’t He? An incarnation. God is in you, an incarnation, if you were born again. You are incarnate.”18)John G. Lake, John G. Lake: His Lie, His Sermons, His boldness of Faith, Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1995, p. 196; also cited by Keith Gibson, Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets, Solid Ground Christian Books, 2011, p. 282 He further elaborates his deification doctrine. “God’s purpose through Jesus Christ is to deify the nature of men.”19)John G. Lake, John G. Lake: His Lie, His Sermons, His boldness of Faith, Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1995,  p. 304; also cited by Keith Gibson, Wandering Stars: Contending for the Faith with the New Apostles and Prophets, Solid Ground Christian Books, 2011, p. 282 The nature of man is actually deified in this theology, becoming one and the same essence as God, united to Him as the persons of the Trinity are one in essence. E.W. Kenyon admits just that. “Christian Science, Theosophy, New Thought and Modern Unitarianism teach, consciously or unconsciously, the Incarnation of the human family, that is they teach that every man has a God in him. If a man has God in him then he and God are in union, and if united, Incarnated.”20)E. W. Kenyon, “Incarnation” Reality, Dec.,1911, p. 49, as cited by D. R. McConnell, A Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of he Modern Faith Movement, Hendrickson Publishers1988, p. 121 Kenyon confirms, “The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.”21)E. W. Kenyon, The Father and His Family, Kenyon Gospel Publishing Society, p. 118; also cited by Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity In Crisis, 21st Century, Thomas Nelson, 2009, p. 17

Melanie Hemry writes in an article for Kenneth Copeland’s Believer’s Voice of Victory magazine, “The same Word that was Jesus becomes you and me!”22)Melanie Hemry, “Staking a Claim,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, Nov. 2008, p. 29 In another article, Bill Winston writes, “But when He [God] got to Adam, the first man—the first one of you and me—He called us out of Himself. Adam is the exact duplicate of God, made in His image.”23)Bill Winston, “No More Toil,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, Sept. 2008, p. 19 In the middle of this article by Bill Winston is a advertisement for his new DVD set entitled Understanding Our Divinity.24)Bill Winston, “No More Toil,” Believer’s Voice of Victory, Sept. 2008, p. 20, advertisement

Another word-Faith televangelist, Earl Paulk, tells us,

Adam and Eve were placed in the world as the seed and expression of God. Just as dogs have puppies and cats have kittens, so God has little gods. Seed remains true to its nature, bearing its own kind. When God said, “Let us make man in our image,” He created us as little gods, but we have trouble comprehending this truth. We see ourselves as “little people” with very little power and dominion. Until we comprehend that we are little gods and we begin to act like little gods, we cannot manifest the Kingdom of God.25)Earl Paulk, Satan Unmasked, Kingdom Publisher, 1985, p. 96-97; also cited by Robert M. Bowman Jr. The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel, Baker Books, 2001, p. 123, 127; also cited by John MacAthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, p. 333; also cited by Dave Hunt & T.A. McMahon, The Seduction of Christianity, Harvest House Publishers, 1985, p. 219; also cited by David W. Cloud, The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movement: The History and Error, Way of Life Literature, Second edition, 2008, p. 195

Adam was not created from “seed” of God as procreation after His own kind, nor is man an “expression of God” which is blasphemous. Jesus Christ is called the “express image” of God, while man was created, not only in the “image” (which would imply deification if it stood alone) as these heretics always emphasis, but also in the “likeness” of God meaning not exactly alike being distinguished from divinity.26)See Heath Henning, “The Image of God,” November 5, 2016; http://truthwatchers.com/the-image-of-god/

Earl Paulk wrote in 1987 attempting to deny the charges of teaching deification of man:

In his article, Evangelist [Jimmy] Swaggart quoted me, a quote which Dave Hunt also wrote in Seduction of Christianity, concerning “…God has little gods…” I never intended the connotations which these writers assign to that statement’s meaning. I never taught their conclusion of the statement’s meaning to my congregation at Chapel Hill Harvest Church in Atlanta.27)Earl Paulk, That The World May Know, K Dimension Publishers, 1987, p. 134

He concludes his chapter on “Little Gods” presenting his defense for his heresy (which is a denial of saying what he very clearly has said), stating: “A ‘little god’ spirit asserts his own rights. One living in the ‘image of God’ realizes he has no rights except to serve the Lord. The Church has so misunderstood this truth.”28)Earl Paulk, That The World May Know, K Dimension Publishers, 1987, p. 145 As he is quoted above, he clearly said man is “the seed and expression of God. …so God has little gods. Seed remains true to its nature, bearing its own kind.… He created us as little gods… Until we comprehend that we are little gods and we begin to act like little gods[.]” He even denied that we are “little people” contrast to “little gods.” After being exposed he began to backtrack and deny he taught (and still does teach) this heresy of “little gods.”

Benny Hinn seems to be the only one to remember man was made from the dust of the earth only he follows through to the false conclusion as the rest. “God came to earth and touched a piece of dust and turned it into a God…. Are you a child of God? Then you’re divine! Are you a child of God? Then you’re not human!”29)Benny Hinn, OCC Broadcast, TBN, Dec. 1, 1990, cited by G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelmon with W. E. Nunnally, Stephen F. Cannon and Paul R. Blizard, The Confusing World of Benny Hinn, Personal Freedom Outreach Publication, sixth edition, Expanded, 1997, p. 13 Again, he says, “The new creation is created after God in Righteousness and true holiness. The new man is after God, like god, godlike, complete in Christ Jesus. The new creation is just like God. May I say it like this: ‘you are a little god on earth running around’?”30)Benny Hinn, “Praise-a-thon, TBN, November 12, 1990, cited by John MacAthur, Jr., Charismatic Chaos, Zondervan Publishing House, 1992, p. 334 He further said, “This spirit man within me is a God-Man…. Say I’m born-of-heaven-God-Man. I’m a God-Man. I’m a sample of Jesus. I’m a super being.”31)Benny Hinn, Praise The Lord Chow, TBN, Dec. 6, 1990, cited by G. Richard Fisher and M. Kurt Goedelmon with W. E. Nunnally, Stephen F. Cannon and Paul R. Blizard, The Confusing World of Benny Hinn, Personal Freedom Outreach Publication, sixth edition, Expanded, 1997, p. 13 This deification doctrine is the root for the Word-Faith teaching about the supernatural gifts being active in this age.

[Excerpts from Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.]

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