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The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel Paperback – April, 2000

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert M. Bowman Jr. works for Watchman Fellowship, an organization of countercult ministries with branch offices in several states. He is the author of several books, including Why You Should Believe in the Trinity, Understanding Jehovah's Witnesses, and Orthodoxy and Heresy. Bowman lives in Snellville, Georgia.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Books; First Edition edition (April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801063442
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801063442
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #408,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert M. Bowman, Jr., has a BA from California State University, a master's in Biblical Studies and Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is currently a PhD candidate in biblical studies at South African Theological Seminary. He teaches biblical studies at Cornerstone University and serves full-time as director of research at the Institute for Religious Research, both in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Previously, he taught apologetics, theology, world religions, philosophy, and biblical studies at Luther Rice University and Seminary and at Biola University. He is the author of a dozen books and nearly sixty periodical articles. He and his wife Catherine have two boys and two girls.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Cameron B. Clark VINE VOICE on November 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the best critical analysis of the Word of Faith (or Word-Faith) movement to date. Bowman, a non-charismatic, shows an acute awareness of the pertinent issues and seems familiar with not only the primary literature and tapes of the Word-Faith proponents but also it's critics and counter-critics (e.g., Bruno, DeArteaga, & Spencer). Contrary to the primary critics of the movement such as Hanegraaff, McConnell and Hunt, Bowman feels that the movement has its roots in the evangelical faith-cure movement of the late nineteenth century, not the metaphysical cults (New Thought, Christian Science, etc.). Nonetheless, he does qualify this by stating that "the possibility exists that the evangelical faith-cure movement and early Pentecostalism were also influenced in some respects by meta-physical thought" (pg. 82), although he leaves this possibility relatively unexplored in the book. Interestingly, contemporary New Thought authors Anderson & Whitehouse, in their book "New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality" (1995), also note the similar interest in healing between their movement and the evangelical faith-cure movement and, like Bowman (but unlike some critics), recognize the differences in world views (pantheism vs. Christian theism). It is also worth noting that they state that most of the leaders of the major New Thought groups existing today came from Traditional Christian backgrounds which didn't meet their needs, especially for healing. Apparently both movements expanded their interests to include not only physical health but also overall well-being and success (including wealth).Read more ›
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By J. Hudson on October 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Robert Bowman indicates that this book is the "culmination of about fifteen years of research, study, and dialogue." It shows. 'The Word-Faith Controversy' is a well-researched book that provides the reader with a balanced approach to the Word-Faith debate.
I consider this to be the most significant critique of the Word-Faith movement published to-date.
As in his other books, Robert Bowman Jr demonstrates his ability to present all sides of a complex issue with great clarity - as well as with gentleness and respect. In the process, he carefully documents why he considers the Word-Faith movement to be "neither soundly orthodox nor thoroughly heretical."
Bowman also evaluates books that denounce the Word-Faith movement - books that have become standard works of reference on which many Christians have based their own views regarding the controversy. They include, for example, D.R. McConnell's "A Different Gospel," and Hank Hanegraaff's "Christianity in Crisis." If you have read these books on the Word-Faith movement, I highly recommend you read Bowman's book as well. (As the Bible says, "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him." - Proverbs 18:17 NIV)
Because of Bowman's gentle, reasoned, and well-documented approach, I feel as comfortable sharing this book with friends in the Word-Faith movement as I do recommending it to the movement's critics.
Highy recommended!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Seeking Disciple VINE VOICE on October 28, 2004
Format: Paperback
Dr. Robert Bowman is one of the best Christian apologetic researchers around. His books always contain numerous sources of information on whatever topic he addresses whether it is Mormonism or in this case the health and wealth gospel or more properly, the Word-Faith Movement.

In this book, Dr. Bowman tackles the issues of the Word-Faith movement from their false teachings to many of their claims such as positive confession or hyper-prosperity. He does so in grace. I found Dr. Bowman's book not to be a negative attack on Word-Faith teachers but a biblical examination of the facts. I think we all should agree that no man is above the watchful eye of the inerrant Word of God (Hebrews 4:12-13). We should all submit fully our lives and doctrines to the test of Scripture (John 8:31-32; Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1; 2 Peter 1:16-21).

Whether you are a pastor in the Word-Faith Movement, a Christian seeking to understand the Word-Faith Movement, or simply someone curious about this movement within Christianity, I would urge you to get this great book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Will Riddle on August 19, 2006
Format: Paperback
While I haven't read many books on the Word of Faith movement yet, I believe Robert Bowman's has to be one of the best ones out there. He takes a very balanced and systematic approach to dissecting the historical and theological traditions of the movement. He also does a great job--perhaps one of the best that I've ever seen in any critical work--of not interjecting his personal beliefs in with his analysis. While I'm sure his beliefs affect his analysis (as all of ours do), he does not offer social or personal commentary on his research. This is welcome and helps the reader come to his or her own conclusion.

Of course the question at hand is whether or not the Word of Faith movement is based on some heresy. Bowman argues that the best of Word-Faith theology is grounded in the evangelical healing tradition, but that some of its specific (and signature) doctrines indeed cross the line of being unorthodox if not heretical. He argues that Word-Faith is not a cult, nor do its teachers intend it to be, but that its doctrines as formulated especially by Kenneth Copeland are leading massive numbers of Christians astray. He argues this point well through a number of chapters where he analyzes each doctrinal component as compared with Scripture, as does he weave in how his assessments differ from other commentators' (such as Hannegraff and DeArteaga).

I think his more debatable and less well-argued points come in where he questions some of the faith statements of the larger Pentecostal-Charismatic community.
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