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The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Updated on August 31, 2017

What's Wrong With the Teachings of Kenneth Copeland?

by Hank Hanegraaff and Erwin M. de Castro

Kenneth Copeland stands today as one of the Faith movement's leading spokesmen. His voluminous material (in print and broadcast media), combined with his crusades and international outreach centers, attest to his vast influence.

Copeland is responsible for spreading many of the Faith movement's unbiblical teachings. He distorts the biblical concepts of faith and covenant. He reduces God to the image of man while elevating man to the status of God. He lowers Jesus to being a product of positive confession who took on a satanic nature at the cross. And he promotes the occult practice of creative visualization.

Copeland's errors are largely due to his negative stance on reasoning, his poor handling of the Bible, his aversion toward theology, and his bias against tradition.Copeland's errors are largely due to his negative stance on reasoning, his poor handling of the Bible, his aversion toward theology, and his bias against tradition.

On the night of November 2, 1962, a young man twenty-five years of age, struggling against "sin, sickness, and strife," asked Jesus to "come into [his] heart."1 His decision came two weeks after his wife had done likewise.2 Today, these two individuals head a ministry that literally stretches around the globe, while remaining in the forefront of what has come to be known as the "Faith" movement. They are Kenneth and Gloria Copeland.

Part One of this series explored the roots of the Faith movement and surveyed some of its leading proponents today. In this installment, our primary attention will be devoted to cataloging and critiquing the core theology of one of the most widely recognized and respected Faith teachers to date - Kenneth Copeland.3

The Copeland's Praying Over Oral Roberts

The Copeland's Praying Over Oral Roberts
The Copeland's Praying Over Oral Roberts

The Force of Faith

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Of the multiple views of faith held by Faith teachers,10 Copeland focuses primarily on an understanding of faith as a force. "Faith is a power force," he claims. "It is a tangible force. It is a conductive force."11 Moreover, "faith is a spiritual force....It is substance. Faith has the ability to effect natural substance."12 As "the force of gravity...makes the law of gravity work...this force of faith...makes the laws of the spirit world function."13

"Faith is a power force," he claims. "It is a tangible force. It is a conductive force."11 Moreover, "faith is a spiritual force....It is substance.Copeland affirms that "God cannot do anything for you apart or separate from faith,"14 for "faith is God's source of power" (emphasis in original).15 Moreover, "everything that you're able to see or touch, anything that you can feel, anything that's perceptive to the five physical senses, was originally the faith of God, and was born in the substance of God's faith."16 In other words, "faith was the raw material substance that the Spirit of God used to form the universe."17

Copeland adds that "God used words when He created the heaven and the earth....Each time God spoke, He released His faith - the creative power to bring His words to pass."18 For "words are spiritual containers,"19 and the "force of faith is released by words."20

Copeland derives his definition of faith from Hebrews 11:1: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (KJV). He interprets the word "substance" as some transcendent, primary element that makes up the universe; it was and is activated by spoken words at the onset of creation (both God's original creation of the world and all subsequent creations, whether by God or man).

Contrary to Copeland's view, the word translated "substance" in the King James Version is the Greek word hypostasis which, in the context of Hebrews 11:1, means "an assured impression, a mental realizing."21 Far from being some tangible material or energetic force, faith is a channel of living trust stretching from man to God. It is an assurance that God's promises never fail, even if sometimes we do not experience their fulfillment during our mortal existence. Other translations render hypostasis more precisely as "being sure" (NIV), "to be sure" (TEV), and "assurance" (NASB).

Neither the original Greek text nor any of the modern translations support Copeland's understanding of faith. The same holds true for his understanding of spoken words. Besides, the idea of words functioning as faith-filled containers makes no sense if there is no such thing as a "force of faith" (requiring packaging and transportation) in the first place.

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A God of Human Proportions

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Copeland's view of God fares no better biblically than his understanding of faith. He describes God as someone "very much like you and me....A being that stands somewhere around 6'2," 6'3," that weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple of hundred pounds, little better, [and] has a [hand]span nine inches across."22

Copeland's statement is based on his hyperliteral reading of Isaiah 40:12 ("Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, marked off the heavens with a [nine inch] span,..." [AV]). Yet following the same line of interpretation, one would also have to conclude that God literally held a basket full of dust and weighed mountains on a gigantic set of scales (v. 12b) - an absurd proposition ruled out by the context of the passage. The fact is that Isaiah 40 makes extensive use of figurative language to underscore the vast difference between the Creator and His creation.

The idea of God possessing a body (physical or spirit) implies the unbiblical view that the Trinity is actually composed of three separate beings.Giving a literal spin on verses that figuratively describe God in humanlike (anthropomorphic) terms, Copeland makes God out to be a "spirit-being with a body, complete with eyes, and eyelids, ears, nostrils, a mouth, hands and fingers, and feet."23 However, the Bible never intended to convey the notion that God has physical features like His human creation. Anthropomorphic descriptions were simply meant to help us understand and relate to our Maker. Jesus declared, "God is spirit" (John 4:24), not a spirit-being with a body (cf. Deut. 4:12). The Creator is, after all, "God, and not man" (Hos. 11:9).

The idea of God possessing a body (physical or spirit) implies the unbiblical view that the Trinity is actually composed of three separate beings. Moreover, a God who has a body with definite, measurable dimensions cannot truly be omnipresent, unlike the God of Scripture who is present everywhere in all His fullness (Jer. 23:23-24). (It is true that in His human nature Christ has a body and is localized in space and time. But in His divine nature He remains nonphysical and omnipresent, sharing this immutable nature with the Father and Holy Spirit.) Copeland's deflation of God is best exemplified by his comment that "the biggest failure in the God."24 In stark contrast, the biblical God is an all-powerful being (Dan. 4:35) whose plans cannot be thwarted (Job 42:2) and who considers nothing too difficult (Jer. 32:17; Luke 1:37).

Copeland's diminished view of God is further amplified by a correspondingly inflated view of the universe in general and man in particular. He claims that the earth is "a copy of the mother planet [i.e., heaven] where God lives."25 Exactly how Copeland could "squeeze" God on any planet is difficult to fathom, especially since Solomon pointed out that heaven itself cannot contain God (1 Kings 8:27).

Members of God's Class

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Copeland overemphasizes similarities between God and man to the point where any distinction becomes virtually nil: "God's reason for creating Adam was His desire to reproduce Himself....Adam is as much like God as you could get, just the same as Jesus....Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was God manifested in the flesh" (emphasis added).26

Referring to his so-called law of genesis, Copeland asserts, "Adam was created in God's own image and likeness, a spirit-being...[and] takes on the nature of his spiritual father or lord."27 In explaining the terms "image" and "likeness" in Genesis 1:26, he adds: "If you stood Adam upside God, they look just exactly alike....If you stood Jesus and Adam side-by-side, they would look and act and sound exactly alike....The image is that they look just alike, but the likeness is that they act alike and they are alike....All of God's attributes, all of God's authority, all of God's faith, all of God's ability was invested in that man."28

Actually, the terms "image" and "likeness" refute Copeland's point. The Hebrew word for "likeness" (demuth) simply means similarity or resemblance, not identity.29 Furthermore, the term itself actually "defines and limits" the word "image" (Hebrew: tselem) in order "to avoid the implication that man is a precise copy of God, albeit miniature" (emphasis added).30

Humans are created in God's image in the sense that they share, in a finite and imperfect way, God's communicable attributes (e.g, rationality and morality). These attributes, in turn, give individuals the capacity to enjoy fellowship with God, develop personal relationships with one another, and take care of God's creation as He has commanded.31 God's incommunicable attributes (e.g., omnipotence, omniscience, self-sufficiency), however, remain solely His.

Along with the "image of God," Copeland also refers to "the life of God," which he interchanges with the terms "the absolute life of God," "absolute life," "life force," "life in the absolute sense," "eternal life," and "everlasting life."32 He applies these terms to a quality of life, the source of which is God.33 But he also speaks of it as "the substance - the source, the power - the unseen force that makes God, God...[and] places Him above everything else that exists."34

Furthermore, this "force" is at times spoken of as a reality more ultimate than God Himself, conferring deity not only on the Creator but on His creation, man. This again puts God and redeemed man in the same class.Copeland states that "man was created to know that great life force and he longs for it in his dreams. Adam had that life force in him before he committed high treason" (emphases added).35 This is yet another sense in which Copeland believes Adam to be created in God's class. He was made to partake of "the unseen force that makes God, God" - once again diminishing severely if not altogether destroying any final distinction between creator and creature.

Furthermore, this "force" is at times spoken of as a reality more ultimate than God Himself, conferring deity not only on the Creator but on His creation, man. This again puts God and redeemed man in the same class.

In Copeland's theology, Adam (and, consequently, the rest of humanity) does not appear to have a uniquely human nature. Initially possessing the nature of God, "when Adam committed high treason [sinned] against God and bowed his knee to Satan, spiritual death - the nature of Satan - was lodged in his heart."36 Adam had, in effect, allegedly traded in his divine nature for a satanic nature, otherwise called "spiritual death." However, Scripture reveals that mankind is wholly distinct from both God (2 Sam. 7:22; cf. Mark 12:32) and angelic/demonic beings (Ps. 8:5; cf. Heb. 2:7). And even after the Fall, man is still said to bear the image of God (1 Cor. 11:7).

Copeland also claims that Adam's transgression empowered Satan to evict God from the earth. "God's on the outside looking in," says Copeland. "He doesn't have any legal entrée into the earth. The thing don't belong to Him."37 (Psalm 24:1 says otherwise.) And supposedly, since "the sin of Adam went all the way up to, but not including, the throne of God...[even] the Heavenly Holy of Holies had to be purified."38

Covenant of Convenience

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

According to Copeland, "God had no avenue of lasting faith or moving in the earth. He had to have covenant with somebody....He had to be invited in, in other words, or He couldn't come."39 In fact, "the reason that He's making covenant is to get into the earth."40 "God is on the outside looking in," says Copeland. "In order to have any say-so in the earth, He's gonna have to be in agreement with a man here."41

"Since man was the key figure in the Fall," Copeland argues, "man had to be the key figure in the redemption, so God approached a man named Abram."42 An agreement was struck between God and Abram that "gave God access to the earth."43 God, in turn, "promised to care for Abraham and his descendants in every way - spiritually, physically, financially, socially."44 Commenting on the deal, Copeland writes that God "re-enacted with Abram what Satan had done with Adam, except that God did not sneak in and use deception...and Abram bought it."45

Copeland himself states that "the Word of the living God is a contract."As his comments indicate, Copeland views divine covenants no differently from business contracts.46 They are benefit-oriented, not relationship-oriented. They are formed by mutual agreement (for mutual benefit) through negotiation, as opposed to being initiated by the stronger party offering non-negotiable help (not of necessity but of grace) - which is the traditional Christian understanding of God's covenants. They focus on the fulfillment of certain terms (performance) rather than personal loyalty. Copeland himself states that "the Word of the living God is a contract."47

Copeland's view deflates the biblical concept of God in numerous other ways. He parallels God's actions with those of Satan. In effect he makes man to be the dominant party over God - even claiming that Abraham could have told God to "bug off" when God offered him a "proposition."48 And he seemingly attributes the ultimate sacredness of divine covenants not to the figure who stands behind them (viz. God), but to the fact that they are composed of words: "Words are the most sacred things....This is a word planet...governed by words...created by words....Words cause it to function...cause life...cause death....Words go on forever....Words are holy."49

Copeland maintains that God "used His right that Abraham had given Him"50 to provide a way for Jesus to enter the earth. Abraham gave God what He needed: "the chance to use his [Abraham's] mouth, because what God was after was a vehicle in the earth that was a man to get His Word in there."51

The Soap Box

Is the Word of Faith Movement a Cult?

The Spoken Word Made Flesh

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

"God is injecting His Word into the earth to produce this Jesus," Copeland explains. "This [sic] faith-filled words that framed the image that's in Him....He had to sneak it in here around the god of this world [Satan]."52 Using a combination of faith and confession, "God spoke His Word and then spoke His Word again....He kept saying, 'He is coming. He is coming.'"53 However, "the only avenue God had to get His words into the earth was through men... [t]hrough the mouths of His prophets....Finally, the great moment came when that Word was brought forth in human form."54

The notion of Jesus being the end product of generations of positive confession is categorically unbiblical.During this final phase, "the angels spoke the words of the covenant to her [Mary], and the Spirit of God hovered over her and generated that seed, which was the Word that the angel spoke to her. And there was conceived in her, the Bible says, a holy thing. The Word literally became flesh."55

The notion of Jesus being the end product of generations of positive confession is categorically unbiblical. It suggests that the Word of John chapter one was a creation (the personalization of the previously impersonal words of God) rather than the eternally existent Creator (see vv.1-3), thus subverting the deity of Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.

Copeland also gave a "prophecy" in which Jesus allegedly said, "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."56 Copeland asserts Jesus did not openly claim to be God because "He hadn't come to earth as God, He'd come as man. He'd set aside His divine power."57 Citing Philippians 2:5-7, he states that the incarnate Christ "had no innate supernatural powers. He had no ability to perform miracles until after He was anointed by the Holy Spirit."58

The passage Copeland cites (v. 6), however, describes Christ as "being in very nature God." The participle "being" is rendered in the present active tense (Greek: huparchon), denoting Christ's ongoing condition as having the nature of God. Christ did not give up His divine attributes during His incarnation (cf. Col. 2:9; Heb. 13:8), but instead added to them (see Phil. 2:7, "taking") a full human nature in the form of a servant. Moreover, Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of Man (Mark 2:5-10; cf. Dan. 7:13-14) and the unique Son of God the Father (John 5:18; 10:30-33), demonstrating His claim to be God.59

In Copeland's view, three basic factors enabled Jesus to perform miracles. First, "the force of faith was controlling His ministry."60 Second, "He exercised that authority by the use of words."61 Third, "He used the Covenant to control the laws of nature."62 Copeland's view, however, rests upon a false understanding of faith, the spoken word, and the Abrahamic covenant, and is therefore erroneous.

Christianity in Crisis - Part I

Spiritual Death and Rebirth in Hell

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

When it comes to defining the Atonement, Copeland says, "It wasn't a physical death on the cross that paid the price for sin...anybody can do that."63 Jesus supposedly "put Himself into the hands of Satan when He went to that cross, and took that same nature that Adam did [when he sinned]."64 Copeland is here referring to the nature of Satan, as God pronounced that "Adam would die spiritually - that he would take on the nature of Satan which is spiritual death."65 He adds that "the day that Jesus was crucified, God's life, that eternal energy that was His from birth, moved out of Him and He accepted the very nature of death itself."66

During an alleged conversation with Copeland, Jesus is said to have remarked, "It was a sign of Satan that was hanging on the cross....I accepted, in my own spirit, spiritual death; and the light was turned off."67 We are told that Jesus "had to give up His righteousness"68 and "accepted the sin nature of Satan."69

Contrary to the teaching that Christ underwent a change of nature (into a satanic being), the Bible depicts Jesus as having an immutable divine nature (Heb. 13:8; cf. Mal. 3:6). Moreover, in saying that "spiritual death means separation from the life of God,"70 Copeland tacitly admits that Jesus completely lost His deity. For, as we noted earlier, Copeland defines the "life of God" as "the unseen force that makes God, God." However, Scripture declares that God is eternal and unchanging and thus never ceases to be God. The Father says of Christ, "But you remain the same, and your years will never end" (Heb. 1:12).

Finally, the notion of Jesus being overtaken by "the very nature of death" is contradicted by Jesus' claim that He has "life in Himself" (John 5:26; cf. 1:4), is "the resurrection and the life" (11:25), and is "the way, the truth, and the life" (14:6). The "spiritual death of Christ" teaching entails an implicit denial of Christ's deity and, in turn, of the Trinity.

Still, Copeland insists "Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross and took His spirit to the dark regions of hell" (emphasis in original).71 Copeland's description of Christ's ordeal in hell is nothing short of chilling: "He [Jesus] allowed the devil to drag Him into the depths of hell....He allowed Himself to come under Satan's control...every demon in hell came down on Him to annihilate Him....They tortured Him beyond anything anybody had ever conceived. For three days He suffered everything there is to suffer."72

The situation seemed hopeless, as Jesus' "emaciated, poured out, little, wormy spirit is down in the bottom of that thing; and the devil thinks he's got Him destroyed."73 However, Copeland explains that "Satan fell into the trap. He took Him [Jesus] into hell illegally. He carried Him in there [when] He did not sin."74 God found the opening He needed: "That Word of the living God went down into that pit of destruction and charged the spirit of Jesus with resurrection power! Suddenly His twisted, death-wracked spirit began to fill out and come back to life....Jesus was born again - the firstborn from the dead the Word calls Him - and He whipped the devil in his own backyard."75

Moreover, Jesus was not dragged into hell by Satan, but instead committed His spirit to the Father and went directly to paradise.Copeland's account, vivid though it may be, is not in the Bible. It misuses the phrase "firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1:18) to bolster the "born again Jesus" doctrine. Actually, the term "firstborn" (Greek: prototokos) primarily denotes primacy, headship, and preeminence. And the phrase itself points to Christ's supremacy "over all creation" (v. 15) in general and those who will be raised from the dead in particular (alluding to Christ's bodily resurrection - not some spiritual resuscitation in hell).

Moreover, Jesus was not dragged into hell by Satan, but instead committed His spirit to the Father (Luke 23:46) and went directly to paradise (v. 43). Nor was He tortured by a host of demons; He triumphed "over them by the cross" (Col. 2:15). Jesus paid for humanity's sin in full (Greek: tetelestai) at the cross (John 19:30) - not by becoming a satanic being, but through His physical sacrifice (Heb. 10:10; Col. 1:22).

Christianity in Crisis - Part II

The Believer's Authority

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Copeland's basis for the believer's authority can be viewed in three distinct stages. First, upon conversion the believer undergoes a total and immediate change of nature. At the moment of spiritual birth "the spirit of God hovered over you, and there was conceived in your body a holy thing identical to Jesus....And there was imparted into you zoe, the life of God" (emphases added).76 Hence, "you are to think the way Jesus thought. He didn't think it robbery to be equal with God."77 Copeland's remarks, "You are not a spiritual schizophrenic - half-God and half-Satan - you are all-God"78 and "You don't have a God in you; you are one,"79 demonstrate that being born again means nothing less to him than becoming a god.

Yet Scripture states there is only one God who indwells all believers (John 14:17, 23). Additionally, the Bible views spiritual birth not in terms of a change of nature (from satanic to divine), but as the regeneration of a uniquely human spirit by God (2 Cor. 5:17; Tit. 3:5).

The believer is thus allegedly able to speak things into existence by way of faith-filled words, or positive confession.In the second stage of his discourse, Copeland teaches that the believer's change of nature (into a god) brings with it a proportional change in ability. "Every man that has been born again has had this faith [viz. God's] put inside him," he writes. "This faith is good enough to make all things possible to the believer."80

Copeland comments, "As a born-again believer, you are equipped with the Word. You have the power of God at your disposal. By getting the Word deep into your spirit and speaking it boldly out your mouth, you release spiritual power to change things in the natural circumstances."81

The believer is thus allegedly able to speak things into existence by way of faith-filled words, or positive confession. But as we have already shown, Copeland's views of faith and words are without legitimate scriptural warrant, and are therefore invalid when applied to the believer.

In the third stage of Copeland's teaching on the believer's authority, we are told that knowing and exercising the rights set forth under the covenant guarantee success in confession. He remarks that the Bible "is the wisdom of God placed in covenant contract....Everything in it is mine....You just keep looking at it, and keep reading it, and that covenant will turn you into that kind of person - whatever it is you decide to be."82

Copeland translates his concept of covenant rights into what has been termed the "health and wealth" or "prosperity" message. "The basic principle of the Christian life is to know that God put our sin, sickness, disease, sorrow, grief, and poverty on Jesus at Calvary," he asserts. "For Him to put any of this on us now would be a miscarriage of justice."83

Christianity in Crisis - Part III

Prescribing Visualization

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Copeland combines his "legal" precedent for prosperity with his "mechanics" of confession to form a formula for speaking things into existence. He insists, "You have the same creative faith and ability on the inside of you that God used when he created the heavens and the earth."84 However, he adds that most believers are not able to make full use of their inner power because "our imagination...has been so fouled up and fathered up with wasted useless words [and] wasted useless images."85

As a corrective, Copeland instructs believers to "go to the New Testament, get the words of the covenant that cover the situation that you hope to bring to pass. Build the image of that hope inside of you....Keep the word before your eyes."86 As examples, he uses an inner picture of an 82-foot yacht that will transform into reality in the Holy of Holies in heaven, along with a "picture [of a Bible] that came right out of me and went into the Holy of Holies,"87 where it developed into an actual, physical object.

Copeland also claims that "when you get to the place where you take the Word of God and build an image on the inside of you of not having crippled legs and not having blind eyes, but when you close your eyes you just see yourself just leap out of that wheelchair, it will picture that in the Holy of Holies and you will come out of there."88

Copeland can argue and fuss all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that through such teachings he has entered the world of the occult.Recognizing that his technique "sounds like that visualization they do in meditation and metaphysical practices,"89 Copeland counters by reversing the tables. "What they're doing sounds like this," he retorts. "The devil is a counterfeiter. He never came up with anything real. That is the perverted form of the real thing. Where do you think he got it? That sucker doesn't know anything on his own. Amen."90

During another occasion, however, Copeland revealingly affirms that both positive confession and creative visualization are based on the same principle: "Words create pictures, and pictures in your mind create words. And then the words come back out your mouth....And when that spiritual force comes out it is going to give substance to the image that's on the inside of you. Aw, that's that visualization stuff! Aw, that's that New Age! No, New Age is trying to do this; and they'd get somewhat results out of it because this is spiritual law, brother."91

Copeland says, "Any image that you get down on the inside of you that is so vivid when you close your eyes you see it, it'll come to pass. When God came at the Tower of Babel, He said, 'Anything they can imagine, they can do.'"92 He fails to note, however, that those individuals built the tower out of brick and tar (Gen. 11:3), not simply out of their imagination. Moreover, their venture incurred God's judgment (vv. 6-9). Copeland can argue and fuss all he wants, but the fact of the matter is that through such teachings he has entered the world of the occult.

Christianity in Crisis - Part IV

Fatally Flawed

The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

Virtually every error we have noted in Copeland's theology can be attributed to the following four reasons.

First, Copeland seems vehemently opposed to sound reasoning. "Believers are not to be led by logic," he writes. "We are not even to be led by good sense" (emphasis in original).93 Copeland's statement is apparently based on his mistaken belief that the "ministry of Jesus was never governed by logic or reason....He was not led by logic. He was not led by the mind."94 Isaiah 1:18, on the other hand, quotes God as saying, "Come now, let us reason together."

Second, Copeland fails to observe some basic principles of biblical interpretation (including fundamental rules of grammar and usage), at times relying instead on so-called revelation knowledge (information allegedly derived from direct, one-on-one communication with God). His neglect in this area is made embarrassingly apparent by his gross misunderstanding of key words (e.g., faith) and utter disregard of the context in which they appear. The Bible, however, stresses the importance of correctly handling the Word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).

Third, Copeland does not seem to acknowledge the importance of systematic theology, as indicated by his statement, "I don't preach doctrine, I preach faith."95 Although he may not realize it, his preaching on faith and other topics do in fact constitute doctrines, which combined form his theology (however inconsistent). He would do well to heed the apostle Paul's advice to "watch your life and your doctrine closely" (1 Tim. 4:16).

Fourth, Copeland displays an open attitude of disdain and disrespect for the historically established views of the church. Admittedly, tradition must ultimately be tested by the Word of God. However, it should be recognized that certain historically accepted views, especially as they apply to essential Christian doctrine (e.g., the nature of faith, the nature of God, the nature of man, and the person and work of Jesus Christ), are significant, time-tested summations of fundamental Bible-based truths. To deviate from them is to reject the heart of Christian faith.

It is regrettable that someone so influential within contemporary Christianity continues to preach a message that overturns virtually every major biblical teaching. To date, Copeland refuses to discuss with his critics the issues raised in this article. We only hope that he will soon realize the dangerous road he is traveling. As Scripture warns, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly" (James 3:1). For now, Copeland, being a false teacher, has made himself an enemy of the gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).


The Teachings of Kenneth Copeland

1 Kenneth Copeland, "The Word in My life...," Kenneth Copeland Ministries Catalog (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, n.d.), 3.

2 Kenneth Copeland, The Music of Ministry (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1991, audiotape #53-0018), side 1.

3 Due to space limitations, this article will confine its focus on areas of Copeland's teachings that form the framework for positive confession, which in turn provide the mechanism for the "health and wealth" gospel. Attempts to contact Copeland to resolve any possible misunderstanding of his teachings have been unsuccessful. Still, every effort has been made to present and evaluate Copeland's views as accurately and fairly as possible.

4 Living to Give (pamphlet) (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, n.d.), 4.

5 Charles Farah, "A Critical Analysis: The 'Roots and Fruits' of Faith-Formula Theology," PNEUMA: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Spring 1981, 15; cited in Bruce Barron, The Health and Wealth Gospel (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 183.

6 Living to Give, 4.

7 Ibid., 5.

8Ibid., 8.

9 D. R. McConnell, A Different Gospel (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1988), 95. Benny Hinn, Jerry Savelle, and Charles Capps number among those Faith teachers who have been profoundly impacted by Copeland.

10 Ibid., 135-42.

11 Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Faith (Fort Worth: KCP Publications, 1989), 10.

12 Forces of the Recreated Human Spirit (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1982), 8.

13 Kenneth Copeland, The Laws of Prosperity (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1974), 18-19.

14 Kenneth Copeland, Freedom from Fear (Fort Worth: KCP Publications, 1983), 11.

15 Ibid., 12.

16 Kenneth Copeland, Spirit, Soul and Body I (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1985, audiotape #01-0601), side 1.

17 Kenneth Copeland, Authority of the Believer II (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1987, audiotape #01-0302), side 1.

18 Kenneth Copeland, The Power of the Tongue (Fort Worth: KCP Publications, 1980), 4.

19 Forces of the Recreated Human Spirit, 15; cf. 14.

20 Ibid., 17.

21 The Analytical Greek Lexicon (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970), 419.

22 Copeland, Spirit, Soul and Body I, side 1.

23 Kenneth Copeland ministry letter, 21 July 1977.

24 Kenneth Copeland, Praise-a-Thon, TBN, 1988. Copeland has, in another instance, stated that God "is not a failure" (Kenneth Copeland, The Troublemaker [Fort Worth, TX: Kenneth Copeland Publications, n.d.], 23).

25 Kenneth Copeland, Following the Faith of Abraham I (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1989, audiotape #01-3001), side 1.

26 Copeland, Following the Faith of Abraham I, side 1.

27 Kenneth Copeland, Our Covenant with God (Fort Worth: KCP Publications, 1987), 7-8.

28 Kenneth Copeland, Authority of the Believer IV (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1987, audiotape #01-0304), side 1.

29 Cf. James M. Kinnebrew, The Charismatic Doctrine of Positive Confession: A Historical, Exegetical, and Theological Critique (doctoral dissertation, Mid-America Baptist Seminary, 1988), 157.

30 R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981), 1:192.

31 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), 510; cf. 514.

32 Copeland, Walking in the Realm of the Miraculous, 74-76. Copeland's understanding of these terms, derived from the Greek word zoe (life), is similar to that of ancient Gnostics. See Rudolf Bultmann, "Zoe in Greek Usage," Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (abridged in one volume), ed. by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co./Paternoster Press, 1985), 291.

33 Ibid., 74.

34 Ibid., 76.

35 Ibid., 74.

36 Copeland, Our Covenant with God, 9.

37 Kenneth Copeland, The Image of God in You III (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1989, audiotape #01-1403), side 1.

38 Kenneth Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1985, audiotape #01-4406), side 1.

39 Kenneth Copeland, God's Covenant with Man II (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1985, audiotape #01-4404), side 1.

40 Ibid.

41 Ibid.

42 Copeland, Our Covenant with God, 10.

43 Ibid., 10-11.

44 Ibid., 15.

45 Ibid., 10.

46 See Elmer A. Martens, God's Design: A Focus on Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), 72-73. Cf. William Dyrness, Themes in Old Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1979); and George Mendenhall, "Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition," The Biblical Archaeologist, September 1954, 50-76.

47 Kenneth Copeland, "The Abrahamic Covenant" (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1985, audiotape #01-4405), side 1.

48 Copeland, God's Covenants with Man II, side 2.

49 Copeland, The Abrahamic Covenant, side 1.

50 Kenneth Copeland, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1990, audiotape #02-0017), side 1.

51 Copeland, The Image of God in You III, side 1.

52 Ibid., side 2.

53 Copeland, The Power of the Tongue, 9-10.

54 Ibid.

55 Copeland, The Abrahamic Covenant, side 2.

56 Kenneth Copeland, "Take Time to Pray," Believer's Voice of Victory, February 1987, 9.

57 Kenneth Copeland, "Question & Answer," Believer's Voice of Victory, August 1988, 8.

58 Ibid.

59 On Jesus' self-witness, see Robert L. Reymond, Jesus, Divine Messiah (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1990), 44-126.

60 Copeland, The Force of Faith, 9.

61 Copeland, The Power of the Tongue, 15.

62 Copeland, Our Covenant with God, 21.

63 Kenneth Copeland, What Satan Saw on the Day of Pentecost (Fort Worth: Messages by Kenneth Copeland, n.d., audiotape #BCC-19), side 1.

64 Kenneth Copeland, The Incarnation (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1985, audiotape #01-0402), side 1.

65 Copeland, Our Covenant with God, 9.

66 Kenneth Copeland, "The Price of It All," Believer's Voice of Victory, September 1991, 3.

67 Copeland, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne, side 2.

68 Copeland, The Incarnation, side 2.

69 Copeland, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne, side 2.

70 Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 1.

71 Kenneth Copeland, Holy Bible: Kenneth Copeland Reference Edition (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1991), 129.

72 Copeland, "The Price of It All," 3.

73 Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice of Victory (television program), TBN, 21 April 1991.

74 Copeland, What Happened from the Cross to the Throne, side 2.

75 Copeland, "The Price of It All," 4-6.

76 Copeland, The Abrahamic Covenant, side 2.

77 Kenneth Copeland, Now We Are in Christ Jesus (Fort Worth: KCP Publications, 1980), 23-24.

78 Ibid., 16-17.

79 Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Love (Fort Worth: Kenneth Copeland Ministries, 1987, audiotape #02-0028), side 1.

80 Copeland, The Force of Faith, 13.

81 Copeland, The Power of the Tongue, 15.

82 Copeland, The Abrahamic Covenant, side 1.

83 Copeland, The Troublemaker, 6.

84 Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2.

85 Ibid.

86 Ibid.

87 Ibid.

88 Ibid.

89 Ibid.

90 Ibid.

91 Kenneth Copeland, Believer's Voice of Victory (television program), TBN, 28 March 1991.

92 Copeland, Inner Image of the Covenant, side 2.

93 Copeland, The Force of Faith, 7.

94 Ibid., 7-8.

95 Copeland, Following the Faith of Abraham I, side 2. This article first appeared in the Spring 1993 issue of the Christian Research Journal.

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    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 

      6 years ago

      This is a powerful lens, spoken from the heart of someone who has Been There and Done That. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for speaking up. These people are leading people away from Christ. The Bible warns us that if it were possible, they can even deceive the very elect. Praise God you came out from among them.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This whole thing has me so dumbfounded, it's hard to describe. I have been indoctrinated into the Word of Faith teaching for over 30 years, and am just now coming to see what a mess is at the foundation of all this. Still having a hard time pulling whatever truth may be in what he preaches out of the deception. It leaves me wondering what to believe. Facing so many difficult situations right now, I feel like I've been left twisting in the wind, not knowing if I can "stand on the word" for anything now. All this has come to light 2 years after leaving what proved to be an abusive church, and it's all the research I did on that that led me into all this. So glad you are on squidoo. I just decided to do a search here on word of faith, and found all you folks that have posted things about this. I have several lenses up that reflect WOF teachings, and have pulled one off, but left two with disclaimers in the intro just to see if I get any comments along these lines. Nothing so far, but will probably pull most of them off anyway. Thank you for all your valuable information; I'll keep looking through the other lenses you've linked to.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I am a Penecostal pastor's wife who decries the falacy of the faith movement teachings. We are told in scripture that sometimes we don't receive answers to our prayers because we ask in order to reap it to our own lusts. This says to me that to try to manipulate God by either my giving or by particular wording in my prayers is being lustful rather than being submisive to whatever our Father desires for us. If someone (such as K. Copeland) teaches erroneous doctrine, we have not only the right, but an obligation to stand against such teaching according to scripture. My appreciation to Mr. Hannegraff for following the patern of scripture.

    • youthministry profile image

      Paul Turner 

      7 years ago from Birmingham, Al.

      Wow! To say this was extensive would be an understatement. Good job.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      @anonymous: Reuben. I do not believe in the Word of Faith doctrine but I would not be surprised to see those whom you listed in heaven. They are not going to hell, but their doctrine needs to be questionsed. We have Christians have every right to question doctrine based on John 2:4 but I am also a believer in practicing 1 Peter 3:15 with non-believers and believers alike. I do not like personal attack on WOF ministers but believe they are leading many astray in some of their teachings.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Revenge is Mine "sayeth the Lord"

      My sister and I were both raised in this cult!

      My parents are still in this cult and are probably his biggest fans and most faithful followers.

      Oh the terrible stories we can tell.

      and it was all done in the name of God.

      KCMs end is near, God will give him one last chance to repent.

      Because my God is a loving God who believes in second chances.

      I think I know how this will end.

      May God have mercy on his soul.

    • MrWidemouth profile image


      8 years ago

      @Stevenjames1950: We are called to confront those men so they can turn from their ways otherwise we reject them, also we are to warn others of the dangerous doctrine. See the list of what to do as per the bible at

    • MrWidemouth profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow, this is the second lens I've seen of yours and I'm seeing quite a pattern between our lenses. I have just come across this doctrine through a gentleman you may not have heard of. If you have time please see: Jim Richards False Doctrine and Andy Stanley, Pray he doesn't go astray. Nice work, very thorough!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      It is truly heart breaking to hear so many so-called "Beleivers" speak evil of the teachings of faith in these last days. Especially when these teachings come directly from the mouth of Jesus to the disciples and for the church as a "Body". It does not surprise me that many have been blinded by the god of this world's system into questioning the gospel of Jesus Christ because this is what he does. HE CONVINCED Eve that what God said was not true either. Everytyhing that God created was created by His word and when we give voice to His word, his word will do for us what it did for Jesus. It's the same gospel. Jesus taught about faith in God and the whole foundation of the gospel is based on faith. God said to believe in His prophets that yopu may prosper.And not to do his prophets no harm. Where is the Love when we backbite against men who preach the gospel and call it a doctrine of devils. Man was created to operate by faith and authority on this planet and the authority is in the word of God. Many will find when they get to heaven that they were wrong for speaking evil against the men and woman that teach faith and prosperity according and in agreement to what Jesus and The Father taught in the word. They will be shocked when they get to heaven and see Kennth copeland,Creflo Dollar,Benny Hinn,Paula White, Jerry Savelle and many who have boldly declared the authority of our covenant rights and blood bought inheritance to a world that is in darkness. Sadly, many beleiver's are in darkness too.

    • VivianAldana LM profile image

      VivianAldana LM 

      8 years ago

      Learned a lot that I had never heard. They will be held to account for their teaching. Great lens. Check out my lens on Beth Moore.

    • bwcabound profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      Great lens, these people need to be exposed for who they really are. Too many people get hurt by people like these. I have worked behind the scenes of many large churches where people like this come and speak and it is a huge eye opener when you see these people for who they really are. Many of them will be judge on judgment day and they are not going to like what they hear.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      John 8:50 (New King James Version)

      50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.

      Maybe you should take Jesus advice and leave the judging to God Himself. I agree Kenneth and all other teachers including your teaching needs to be compared to the whole Word of God with prayer. And before we preach against another we remind ourselves of 1 Corinthians 10:31 (King James Version)

      31Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

      Or whatsoever you do Do unto the Glory of God! I am not sure what you are doing and saying is giving God Glory?

    • AslanBooks profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      @anonymous: "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24)

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      They also called Jesus a liar, and crucified Him for speaking lies. Now you call a disciple of God a liar. I would be scared if I were you. Your building wrath from God on yourselves for criticizing and judging a man of God. Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake." Your fulfilling scripture by criticizing Copeland. Congratulations

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Leave Kenneth Copeland alone. God did not call us to be judges of others. Matthew 7:1.

      No one has the right to question his ministry. We are to love others and not point our fingers. Matthew 7:5. People who are always trying to make themselves look good and others look bad are in the same category of the Pharisees in the bible. Hank Hanesraaff, mind your own business. you should be concerned about whether your life is modeling Christ's instead of judging others.

    • AslanBooks profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      [in reply to ruby of the philippines] "Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them..."

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I believe in Kenneth Copeland teachings..the only way i know is to pray for one another..why do you have so much time in criticizing a great man of God. instead give your time to the unbeliever of our Lord Jesus Christ not on somebody who loves Jesus..i pray for the soul who don't know Jesus..please don't have strife

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Very interesting lens. I had no idea about some of this guy's teachings. I've never really paid him much attention, he doesn't really appeal to me. But wow, some of his teachings are quite heretical, aren't they? Just more proof, I suppose, that it's always dangerous to put too much faith in any one man, unless that man is Jesus. We need to use common sense, sound judgment, and look to God and His word for guidance, not rely blindly on what any person says.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Why do people laugh at Christianity?

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      If I were to write about all this. Id say that there really ain't nothing we can do about them preachers anyway. I really think we need to concentrate on what Jesus told us to do. If I concentrate on them preachers, I can't do what Jesus said do. And that was to love one another, I say again love your enemies He said to preach the true Gospel To me It just makes no cents to spend my time writing or reading books that take away from Jesus And what he did for us at the cross. He paid for our sins And he paid for there sins. let him deal with them. If they are wrong, All that dirt will come out in the end! We can complain and fight back and forth and talk bad about them till the moon turns Green. I think that's what satan wants. If he can get us off of lovin one another long enough. Hes thinking.. if I can stop them from lookin to Jesus. Long enough, Need I go on? Hes comin back for those who Are looking for him!! Go to you won't be sorry.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      10 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I find it so hard to listen to (or watch) any of these modern day preachers. All I hear is Phil Collins singing "Jesus He Knows Me" in my head. In my opinion so much of religion these days is man-made. While I believe that events in the Bible and other ancient books did actually happen, as more and more details are uncovered about man's earliest past, I disagree with all the rules and laws that men made. I don't understand why one sect can hate another when they all are supposed to believe in the same God, and the church seems to be all about bringing in money, especially the tv evangelists.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      The best thing any of us can do is to read GOD'S WORD for ourselves.HIS WORD says that we are to be "workman approved of GOD." I have heard the Copeland's and I thought that their teachings promoted self and left the LORD out to the side. GOD'S WORD says "I can do all things through CHRIST" it is CHRIST working through us and in us--- not us using HIS power for our own agenda! May we all come closer to our Saviour JESUS CHRIST by reading TRUTH in GOD'S WORD!


    • equusstu profile image


      10 years ago

      My comment below was a reply to Tiddledeewinks comments - sorry for any confusion. And by the way, 5* - great lens!

    • equusstu profile image


      10 years ago

      [in reply to peculiar316] Even if the Copeland's have a strong faith (the question - is their faith focused correctly), if their doctrine is unsound then they are leading people astray. As for the Biblical quote - the fruits of the spirit in the Bible never mention riches, they are the qualities of Christian virtue - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22). Many people prosper in this world, more power to them, but when they prosper by abusing and misusing God's word, then many Christians are going to have a problem with it.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I am begging you to read your bible and compare the things the Copelands teach to the scripture. You can go on You Tube, watch TBN, read their books and listen to the shows and confirm that they say that believers are gods. Isaiah 43:10 and 45:5,6 clearly state there is only one God and there is no other. We are not deities, we are not equal to God. We have some of His characteristics but you forget that when Adam sinned WE FELL. God is omnipotent, we are not. God is omnipresent, we are not. God is omniscient, we are not. God has inherent righteousness, if you are a believer your righteousness is imputed to you through Christ. We could go on for days pointing out the differences between us and God. There is no one like Him! Please! Please! Please! Get a good study bible (I like John MacArthur's) and read the gospels and the notes all the way thru. You will see the true gospel and know the true God and the true Christ. It is the nature of Satan to want to be God Isaiah 14:12-15.

    • Tiddledeewinks LM profile image

      Tiddledeewinks LM 

      10 years ago

      I think Kenneth Copeland is like a modern day Apostle Paul. He and Gloria have a strong faith and genuine compassion for people. What is wrong with them prospering? (BY THEIR FRUITS YE SHALL KNOW THEM?)

    • religions7 profile image


      10 years ago

      Inspiring lens. You may want to join my new Christian group:

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for joining G Rated Lense Factory!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Season's Greetings!

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      10 years ago

      A hearty Amen from me!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      An excellent lens, very informative.

      5 stars for me*****


    • dahlia369 profile image


      10 years ago

      Any kind of extremism is just not attractive to me...

    • LucyVet profile image


      10 years ago

      Well researched lens. I'd never heard of this guy Good that these people are being exposed.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Let me tell you, Ken tried to convince me that the anointing I was already walking in wasn't possible until I had studied my brains out for the rest of my life!

      He has never understood the fact that the only time the Word of God is anointed is when an anointed person speaks it.

      As a teacher, I have to thank all mighty God for giving me the grace that is needed to minister deliverance to those whom have been deceived by this movement.

      This movement so cleverly and diabolically twist the Word of God. Every single Scripture they teach is taken out of the original context in which it was written, they then glue them together and form their own bible.

      I remember ages ago when the majority of Christians understood that learning doctrine outside of the Bible was carnal, if not, demonic! This way of learning has now taken over the minds of multitudes today.

      God bless you here, I will be praying for you, pray for me also.

    • profile image

      rhelena lm 

      10 years ago

      Great lens! It's about time these people are exposed. Thank-you for writing this.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Amen, Sister...we, and a small group of our friends and relatives, came out of that movement back in '89. We are ever so thankful to our merciful Lord for opening our eyes. This is a great lens for any hearts that are desperately seeking a way out of this deception. Many have totally "shipwrecked" their faith in God, blaming Him when it doesn't go as prescribed. Please keep the REAL faith, and the good work! 5* & my faves.

    • WhitU4ever profile image


      11 years ago

      The person who created this lens is my husband. I used to be involved in the faith movement. It is very hard for me to watch these videos because I am ashamed to have ever been a part of it. But when I do, I realize the damage it did to myself and to many of the precious people that were involved in it with me. We literally TRIED VERY HARD to believe the things we were taught. And indeed, we believed them. But there was an unwritten rule that existed, and that these videos demonstrate... that you cannot question the teachings or come against these people, lest something terrible happen to you. And we were taught that if we were not healed, nor prospered, it was our fault, because we didn't have enough faith. This is a terrible injustice to God's people. Please, if you are involved with anyone teaching these things, don't excuse it away any longer. Don't doubt your own intelligence. Question everything and do your own legwork. Don't leave it up to the ones asking for money.


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