Who was Kenneth Hagin?
Kenneth Hagin (1917 - 2003) was an influential American Pentecostal preacher. He is often referred to as the "father" (or "granddaddy") of the "Word of Faith" movement. Many of his followers often refer to him affectionately as "Dad Hagin", "Pappa Hagin" and more commonly "Brother Hagin".
Kenneth E. Hagin was born in McKinney, Texas, the son of Lillie Viola Drake Hagin and Jess Hagin. He was married to Oretha Rooker. They had two children, a son named Kenneth Wayne Hagin, who is presently the pastor of Rhema Bible Church and President of Kenneth Hagin Ministries, and a daughter named Patricia Harrison. According to Hagin's testimony, he was sickly as a child, suffering from a deformed heart and what was believed to be an incurable blood disease. He related that he was not expected to live and became bedfast at age 15.
In April 1933 during a dramatic conversion experience, he reported dying three times in 10 minutes, each time seeing the horrors of hell and then returning to life. He also claimed that he was raised from a deathbed on August 8, 1934 by "the revelation of faith in God's Word" (Kenneth Hagin, I Went to Hell and What Faith Is). Two years later he preached his first sermon as the pastor of a small community church in Roland, Texas, 9 miles (14 km) from McKinney. During the next twelve years he pastored five Assemblies of God churches in Texas: in the cities of Tom Bean, Farmersville (twice), Talco, Greggton, Texas, and Van.
Establishing a faith-based organization
In 1949, he began an itinerant ministry as a Bible teacher and evangelist. Hagin was at this time also given full admission to the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International (FGBMFI) which had been established in 1951. He was also a part of the Voice of Healing Revival in the U.S. in the 40s and 50s together with Oral Roberts, Gordon Lindsay and T. L. Osborn.
In 1963, Kenneth E. Hagin Evangelistic Association was incorporated, and the offices of the ministry moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1966. That same year, he taught for the first time on radio — on KSKY in Dallas. In 1967, he began a regular radio broadcast that continues today as Faith Seminar of the Air. Teaching by his son, Rev. Kenneth Wayne Hagin, is also heard on the program.
The Statement of faith of Hagin's Rhema Bible Training Center is identical to that of the Assemblies of God and most other major Pentecostal denominations. (Rhema Bible Training Center Information Pamphlet; 16 Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God) Additionally, as mentioned above, some of Hagin's theological beliefs and teachings were similar to those of E.W. Kenyon.
For example: Physical Healing: It is always God's will that a believer be physically healed of any sickness or infirmity. (Luke 5:13; 1 Pet 2:24). Hagin based the belief of healing for all on the understanding that healing for the physical body was included in redemption. If redemption was available to all, then healing would also be available to all (Word of Faith magazine, 6/90; 7/92; 8/92; 12/92, Kenneth Hagin, Redeemed from Poverty, Sickness and Death and Healing Belongs to Us).
Material Wealth: It is always God's will that every believer be 'financially blessed' through faith. Although Hagin emphasized that material prosperity was a redemptive blessing, he never taught that living by faith excluded hard work and wise business practices. In his later years he wrote a book entitled, "The Midas Touch" in which he wrote sharply and correctively about the so-called prosperity gospel and many of the extreme teachings that were being circulated under this heading.
He warned the body of Christ of the dangers of greed and explained that the purpose of financial blessing is for the furtherance of the work of the gospel (Kenneth Hagin, How God Taught Me About Prosperity and The Midas Touch). Faith and Authority: Hagin believed that the believer through his position in Christ had authority over elements of this world and elements of the satanic world. By faith the believer can exercise the authority of God to change impossible situations into possibilities (Luke 1:37) (Mark 11:22-24).
Faith, to Hagin, is a matter of belief in God's word which also entails a vocal expression of God's Will or confession thereof. According to Hagin, God has promised to answer believing prayer and respond positively to the believer's exercise of faith (Kenneth Hagin, I Believe in Visions, What Faith Is, Bible Faith; A Study Guide).
Salvation: Hagin claimed in several of his books that he physically died three times as a child. Each time he descended to hell but was brought back to life when a voice spoke. On the third trip to hell, Hagin claims to have asked Jesus for forgiveness and salvation. Crying, 'God! I belong to the church! I've been baptized in water' twice, to no avail, he cried out a third time. It is at that point, he claims, that he was saved and brought back to life a final time. Hagin goes on to say that his mother was praying so loud when he arrived back in his body that "traffic was lined up for two blocks on either side of our house!"
After this dramatic experience, Hagin came to believe that church membership and water baptism were not sufficient to save but rather the 'new birth worked by the power of the Holy Spirit' in response to a personal confession of faith in the Lordship and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even though it seems that this new birth could apparently be had even after death, it is only through that he was already 'coming back to life' that he was saved. (ibid., Word of Faith magazine, 10/01, Kenneth Hagin, The New Birth; I Went to Hell).
Substitutionary Act: Hagin spoke of Jesus' death in substituionary terms. The doctrine of 'Substitution' as taught by Hagin differs widely from the same doctrine as taught by many other branches of Christianity. The normal theory of Substitutionary atonement is that the son Jesus paid our debts, previous, current and future to the Father within the Godhead.
Hagin claimed that Jesus died as the substitute for all of humanity, as do most Christians (Bible, 2 Cor 5:14-15), but also believes that Jesus suffered the torments of hell for three days and that He 'defeated the devil', stripped him of all authority and was resurrected after being 'quickened in spirit' or 'born again'. Hagin held that those who received Christ were born again and shared in the benefits of Christ's resurrection and power through their identification with His death, burial and resurrection. (Kenneth Hagin,The Name of Jesus; The Triumphant Church).
Sacred Scriptures: Hagin's beliefs followed in the reformed tradition in that the Bible is viewed to be the literally true, inerrant word of God as written by men under the guidance of the Spirit of God. Although Hagin often spoke of the dramatic spiritual encounters he claimed to have had, he always insisted that faith was to be established upon the word of God alone and not upon the experiences of man. Many times in his ministry he made the statement, "Don't believe anything because I said it. Search the scriptures and prove it out for yourself" (Kenneth Hagin, How You Can Know the Will of God and The Believer's Authority).
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