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Religion Library: Holiness and Pentecostal

Schisms and Sects

Written by: Arlene Sanchez Walsh

Another Pentecostal sect that arose from within the ranks of accepted Pentecostalism was the Word of Faith movement, made popular by such figures as Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, Kenneth Copeland, and others. Hagin, in particular-a former Assemblies of God minister-is credited with popularizing the movement. Word of Faith teaching deviates from traditional Pentecostal teaching in its encouragement of a practice by which a person is promised that he or she will receive something by believing he or she already has it and speaking it into existence through "positive confession." This movement is partly influenced by the 19th-century New Thought movement that gave rise to Christian Science. E. W. Kenyon-an early 20th century Pentecostal healing evangelist, speaker, and author-drew heavily on New Thought and combined it with Pentecostal emphases on divine healing. Broader controversies include the Word of Faith movement's near wholesale adoption of the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God and humanity have a reciprocal relationship with each other, so material wealth is based on how much money is given back to God via the ministries' coffers.

Because the Word of Faith ministers have become so controversial, they have formed networks among themselves to mimic the organizational support that they do not receive from being affiliated with a denomination.  Word of Faith teachers of various stripes dominate U.S religious television broadcasts, particularly southern California-based Trinity Broadcasting. Because of the movement's tremendous media savvy, they are one of the most dominant strains of global Pentecostalism.