The God-Kind Of Faith – A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Defense
By Troy J. Edwards
And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. -Mark 11:22-24
The major leaders in the Word-of-Faith movement believe that verse 22 of the above text can be translated “the faith of God” or “the God kind of Faith. Some of the critics of the Word-of-Faith movement have disagreed with the faith teachers to the point of calling them heretics and/or cult leaders. The critics have accused the Faith Teachers of bad scholarship insinuating that such an interpretation has not been taught anywhere in church history.
However, evidence to the contrary has proven that in fact, throughout the history of the English translation of the Bible many scholars believed that the correct translation of verse 22 was “have the faith of God.” The 1599 Geneva Bible notes is the earliest proof that I have been able to find (see God Kind of Faith Part 1). In part one we have read from several translations that see the interpretation of Mark 11:22 as “The faith of God,” “have God’s Faith,” or “have the kind of trust that comes from God.”
In this essay I want to quote from respected church leaders throughout history who have also translated Mark 11:22 in the same manner as the modern faith teachers. This may not convince the critic of the validity of such a translation but it will destroy the argument that the faith teachers were the first to teach it this way.
Because some books have accused the faith teachers of drawing the inspiration for their teachings from the metaphysical cults and not from orthodox Christianity, it is necessary to quote from the writings of historical leaders in our attempts to show the true origins of the Faith Movement
Calvinism vs. Arminianism?
John Gill (1697-1771) wrote this comment on Mark 11:22 in his Exposition of The Bible:
And Jesus answering, saith unto them…
To all the disciples; for what Peter said, he said in the name of them all; and according to Matthew, the disciples said, “how soon is the fig tree withered away?” To which this is an answer; though the Arabic version renders it, “to him”; as if the words were directed particularly to Peter: have faith in God; or “the faith of God”, so the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, Persic, and Ethiopic versions; that is, exercise, and make use of that faith which has God for its author, which is the work of God, and of his operation, a free grace gift of his; and which has God for its object; and is supported by his power, and encouraged by his goodness, truth, and faithfulness: and so the Arabic version renders it, “believe in God”; not only that such things may be done, as the drying up a fig tree, but those that are much greater.
Charles Spurgeon in his book, Commenting and Commentaries said that “Gill is the Coryphaeus of hyper-Calvinism.” We can forgive Gill for his theological leanings as he helps us to prove a specific point: The interpretation of Mark 11:22 as “have the faith of God” vice “have faith in God” is not an interpretation limited to any specific theological camp. Here is a man who was labeled a hyper-calvinist by the prince of preachers who himself was a Calvinist.
However, one should not be surprised by this if they are familiar with Calvinist theology. Most Calvinists teach that saving grace is a gift from God (their interpretation of Ephesians 2:8-9) and God gives that type of faith only to the elect (in their interpretation, only a select few have been predestine to receive salvation while others have been predestined for hell). However, he did not seem to be interpreting Mark 11:22 in a Calvinistic manner since he stated in his exposition that this type of faith has to be exercised.
Regardless of Gill’s motives for seeing the interpretation of Mark 11:22 the way he did, this able scholar is proof that the interpretation did not originate in the modern day Faith Movement.
A contemporary to Gill was the venerable commentator, Adam Clarke (1760-1832). Clarke is said to have read and studied, mastered the Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Samaritan, Chaldee and Syriac versions of the Scriptures, and most of the languages of western Europe. In his commentary he renders Mark 11:22 in the same manner as Gill:
Have faith in God] ecete pistin qeou is a mere Hebraism: have the faith of God, i.e. have strong faith, or the strongest faith, for thus the Hebrews expressed the superlative degree; so the mountains of God mean exceeding great mountains the hail of God, exceeding great hail, &c.
Adam Clarke, being Arminian, would not have had the same motivations in interpreting Mark 11:22 in this manner that Gill might be accused of having. Most Arminians believe that salvation has been made available to all and one must exercise faith in order to receive this gift of eternal life available only through the shed blood of Christ.
Clarke went further to make this statement in another one of his writings: “Faith seems to put the almighty power of God into the hands of men; whereas unbelief appears to tie up even the hands of the Almighty.” While critics are castigating the modern faith teachers for making such statements, Clarke was teaching these principles over a century and a half ago.
Gill was a Calvinist and Clarke was an Arminian. Yet they both taught that the correct interpretation of Mark 11:22 was “Have the faith of God.” Perhaps there is hope for reconciliation in this centuries old debate between Calvinism and Arminianism – but I wouldn’t bet the rent money on it.
Some of the other influences on the “God kind of faith” doctrine are very strong. Research has produced comments by several Holiness teachers who interpreted many of the “faith” Scriptures in the same manner as the modern faith teachers. Keep in mind that the Holines teachers rejected Pentecostalism and glossolalia even they this movement finds it’s roots in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition.
I will not be presenting the holiness teacher quotes in any chronological order. I am unfortunately missing some biographical information on some of them. This information is important to prove that these teachers have not had any influence from the modern faith movement. Due to their rejection of glossolalia (speaking in other tongues), these men would have rejected the faith movement due to our belief and adherence to this doctrine.
For example, one of the most notable figures in the Holiness church was the notable Greek Scholar, W.B. Godbey (1833-?). Godbey is the author of Godbey’s Translation of the New Testament (GBY). Godbey’s is also the author of a New Testament commentary which had become very popular in the Holiness movement. Here is a comment by this holiness scholar on Mark 11:22-24:
Matthew 21:20-22; Mark 11:20-26. “And early in the morning, they, passing by, saw the fig- tree withered from its roots.” The withering was so decisive that even the trunk of the tree dried up, as you see, from its roots, thus symbolizing the awful fate of the hypocrite, destined one day suddenly and decisively to wither away. Beware, lest the Lord come to you and find “nothing but leaves?” “And Peter, remembering, says to Him, Master, see, the fig-tree which Thou didst anathematize is withered away. And Jesus, responding, says to him, have the faith of God.” There is a difference between faith in God and the “faith of God,” the latter being a perfect faith, admitting no admixture of doubt. In justification, we have faith in God; while entire sanctification, eliminating all doubt and every other phase of depravity, is characterized by the “faith of God.” Here, Jesus imputes wonderful efficiency to the faith of God.
“For truly I say unto you, whosoever may say to this mountain, Be thou plucked up, and be thou cast into the sea, and may not doubt in his heart, but believe that whatsoever he says is done, it shall be to him whatsoever he may say.” They were then walking along on Mount Olivet, the highest in Southern Palestine, and here pointed out by the Savior in order to illustrate the miraculous availability of prayer, as it is His custom in all His ministry to illustrate spiritual things by temporal. Just as if great Mount Olivet were lifted up and plunged into the midst of the sea, so towering mountains of sin, responsive to the “faith of God,” are lifted clearly away and dropped down into the sea of forgetfulness.
“Therefore I say unto you that all things, so many as you ask for, praying, believe that thou receive, and it shall be unto you.” While prayer in the Divine order is the invariable antecedent to the blessings involved in the gracious economy, yet we must remember that we do not receive what we pray for, but what we believe for, faith being the measuring-line of our reception from God. Then what is the utility of prayer? It is to bring us up to believing ground. Hence prayer and faith are like the two oars of the boat which row us across the river. The genuine “faith of God” is very scarce upon the earth, and it is because there is not enough of genuine, importunate prayer. We must so pray into the Divine presence and get in touch with the Almighty that the Holy Ghost will inspire our prayers as well as our faith. In a mysterious way we must sink into God, utterly abandoned to His will for time and eternity, getting away from self and humanity where we can fall prostrate on the great and precious promises, and there abide at the feet of Jesus, so illuminated and inspired by the Holy Ghost that we can receive and appropriate His infallible promises, and get where we can ask Him for great and wonderful achievements in the spiritual kingdom without wavering or doubting, and thus, by importunate prayer and indefatigable faith, take the kingdom of heaven by violence. Matthew says, in this connection: “Verily I say unto you, If you have faith and doubt not, you shall not only do that of the fig-tree, but you may say to this mountain, Be thou plucked up and cast into the sea, and it shall be done.” In the case of the fig-tree, the withering came instantly and complete.
Godbey primarily applied this “faith of God” to the subject of sanctification which was a primary doctrine under the Holiness movement. Although Godbey and most Holiness teachers of his time believed strongly in divine healing, Godbey did not emphasize it to the extent that the Faith-Cure movement of the same period did. Nevertheless, as we will see, some faith-cure and Pentecostal advocates applied “the faith of God” teaching to the subject of divine healing and today. Many in today’s faith movement applies it to every Bible promise including prosperity.
It is also well known that Godbey was one of the harshest and strongest critics of the Pentecostal movement. We mention this to show any critics of the faith movement that even those who might oppose some of what Faith Teachers today believe saw the truth concerning the God kind of faith teaching in the Scriptures.
Another Holiness preacher, Elmer Ellsworth Shelhamer, in his 1932 book Prevailing Prayer and Its Results makes this statement:
The more common definition of faith represents it as of man alone. We are exhorted to “trust in the Lord,” and to “have faith in God,” and to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Vastly important advice. We must steadfastly realize this very marked man-character of faith. But we should also as steadfastly realize this other and as very marked God-character of it, namely: The faith of man is the Gift of God. It comes from God the Spirit. To say that the power to have faith is the gift of God states a great truth; but the ground is not all covered by it. Faith itself is a gift from God, and of God. The New Testament clearly formulates this truth, as follows: “Love with faith, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Eph. 6:23; Heb. 12:2; 1 Cor. 12:8, 9. This is very plain. In the texts noticed, first the Father, then the Son, and then the Spirit, is said to give us faith.
This faith is definitely named, “The Faith of God,” and also, “The Faith of Jesus Christ.” Rom. 3:3-22; Gal. 2:20; also, margin, Mark 11:22. Now the faith of God is the faith which belongs to Him as God. It is His personal faith. It is the faith which He has in Himself, and in these three particulars: first, in His own integrity; second, in His own competency; and, third, in His own plans. It is the utter sensibility which He has of His own honesty, power, and wisdom. Or, again, it is His trust and dependency upon Himself alone. Precisely what faith is to us, it first is to Him — “the evidence of things not seen” — not seen as things not yet actually accomplished. The Faith of God is also named the “Spirit of Faith.” This is so because its foundation is not intellectual but spiritual; and because it is internal to the Holy Spirit, and He imparts it to our spirit. 2 Cor. 4:13. God constantly brings His personal faith into His personal works, and without it He would fail at every step. “Through faith we understand that the worlds,” or ages, “were framed.” Heb. 11:3.
Now the Faith of God is delivered over to us at the inception of the Spiritual Life, the life of Christ in us, and as a part of it. There is a great capacity in this life for praying; and this capacity is often materially enlarged. Nevertheless, those who possess it are considerably liable to be swayed by doubt and temptation, and by knowing Christ “after the flesh.” But the excision of inbred sin and the Baptism of the personal Holy Ghost give to our faith and prayer their stronger and mightier flight; and there is a deeper insight into the province of these elements than ever before.
The Faith of God gives to us spiritual witnessing. Heb. 11:1. It gives to us spiritual confidence and activity. Our spirit is filled with the Spirit of Faith, and the two are in communion; so that the victory resulting is as personal to us as it is to God. This faith never jumps at conclusions; to jump is to fall into the ditch, with no landing beyond; it is presumption, and not faith. The core of effective prayer is the Faith of God.
Unlike Godbey who was a proficient Greek Scholar, Shelhamer, like Kenneth Hagin, relied on the margin of his Bible. Hagin is often castigated by some scholars due to his lack of seminary training and relying upon others for his reference of the original Bible languages. Yet, decades before Hagin’s ministry came into prominence, others like Shelhamer were relying upon the integrity of their Bible margins.
If this proves nothing else, perhaps it may prove that Hagin was telling the truth when he said that the margin of his Bible read “Have the faith of God” as an alternative to “Have faith in God.” Either that or we may accuse both Hagin and Shelhamer of being liars, which is a pretty hefty charge to bring against a Holiness preacher.
Even worse, and that which is considered heretical by many critics today, is Shelhamer’s teaching that God has faith in Himself. In other words, Shelhamer teaches that God exercises faith. Yet, this did not seem to raise any eyebrows in 1932 when this book was written as it seems to do now amongst the great apologists of our times. This book is still accepted among Holiness advocates today and is distributed on CD by HDM along with other Holiness classics.
Holiness Preachers On Hebrews 11:3
Let us briefly move away from comments on Mark 11:22 and for a moment look at another Scripture that has been taught controversially by many modern Faith Teachers:
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Heb. 11:3)
Many Faith teachers believe that commas should be placed after the word “faith” and the word understand, being read this way:
Through faith, [comma] we understand, [comma] that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Heb. 11:3)
Basically the Word-of-Faith interpretation of this is “We understand that by faith the worlds were framed by the word of God…” Though I might agree with the critics that this is a faulty interpretation of Heb. 11:3, I must also admit my joy when I discovered that they were not the first to teach Hebrews 11:3 this way.
Notice as you read Shelhamer’s teaching from his 1932 book that he gave the above interpretation of Heb. 11:3. Yet, there were no charges of heresy seemed to be raised against him and no accusations of metaphysical influences. We once again remind the reader that this book is still distributed among the Holiness advocates. That is not to say that everyone in the Holiness movement (past or present) agrees with his interpretation but we can see that he was still respected among his peers.
Yet, Shelhamer was not alone within the Holiness ranks in his interpretation of Heb. 11:3. In his 1959 book, Wilbur M. Smith expounded even further on this:
There is a question as to the exact meaning of the term, “Through faith we understand.” Does it mean that by our faith we understand that God framed the worlds? Or does it mean that God by an exercise of His own faith in His own word created the universe? Possibly the latter is the more exact meaning. God has faith in His own word and the exploits He does are by His faith. Since God existed before the material universe, it is evident they are all the work of Him. It is almost beyond the conception of the human mind to realize that there was a time when the only existing thing was God in the three persons of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that all other things have been brought into being by His word, so that “things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” From this we are to believe that God can begin with nothing and do what He pleases in the creation of visible things. It is evident that the second Person of the Trinity was chiefly the agent in creation. Not only were the visible things created by Him, but, according to Hebrews 1:3, they are upheld “by the word of His power.” That is to say, the continuance of these things is dependent on the constant exercise of His word.
I would like to once again remind the reader that it is not my intent to prove that any particular translation of Hebrews 11:3 is right or wrong. My intent is to show the reader that there were men who were well respected in their circles who held to the same type of translation of this text that many Faith teachers hold to in our day. These men were not influenced by any metaphysical cults. Perhaps the reader may disagree with this particular interpretation of the Apostle’s words here, but we should at least have knowledge of their true roots. The current faith movement has it’s roots within the Holiness tradition, regardless of what some researchers will tell you.
The translation of Hebrews 11:3 is mainly due to the fact that these Holiness preachers believed that God Himself exercised faith in Himself and His own Word – ideas that are not only considered heretical by many today, but are also alleged to be rooted in cultic doctrine. Therefore, it is my desire to show the reader that the interpretation – good or bad – of Heb. 11:3 that is held by many of today’s faith teachers is Holiness rooted. I would rather be accused of bad scholarship and lack of sound Bible study principles than to be accused of stealing my teaching from demonic cults.
More Holiness Influences on Mark 11:22
Getting back to the Holiness Movement and their influences on Mark 11:22, one more minister whose writings I have sought is a man named Tony Marshall Anderson. In his classic book, Prayer Availeth Much, Anderson makes this profound statement:
In order to understand truth about praying without doubt in our hearts it is necessary to consider the Saviour’s opening statement, “… Have faith in God.” The remarkable discourse following His opening words reveals the fundamental fact relating to the prayer of faith. Our Lord would have us see that we can possess the faith of God. He revealed this fact when He said, “Have faith in God.” It would be utterly impossible to believe that those things which we say in prayer shall come to pass unless we had an implicit faith in God. When Jesus said, ”… Have faith in God,” He revealed the Source of the priceless possession of the faith which enables us to pray without a doubt in our hearts. His admonition to have faith in God implies that all men have an inherent faith derived from God when He created the first man in His own image. The quality of inherited faith was not destroyed in the fall although it was greatly impaired as a result of disobedience. Jesus disclosed the amazing fact that we can possess a measure of the faith which Almighty God possesses in His own Divine Nature. This fact should not seem incredible since it is true that God did impart a measure of His own faith to man at the beginning of creation.
We do not hesitate to accept the fact that God imparts a measure of His life and love to His redeemed people. Surely it is not impossible for Him to impart a sufficient measure of His faith to His people to sustain them in life in this world of doubt and disbelief. If His people are not able to accomplish His works in the world because of the littleness of their faith, there is no valid reason to doubt that He can and will increase their measure of achieving faith. When the disciples said, “… Lord, Increase our faith,” we have reasons to believe that He granted their request. (See Luke 17:5.)
Whether a person agrees or disagrees with Rev. Anderson’s teaching, one should see the blatant similarities in his teaching and that of the teaching in the Faith movement. We can also see that the Faith Movement via E.W. Kenyon did not introduce to the body of Christ a new translation of Mark 11:22 that was never before taught in the church. The Holiness teachers mentioned in this essay truly believed that God has faith and imparts a measure of this faith to men, most especially His own children (Rom. 12:3).
One more writer that was affiliated with the Holiness movement is the famous Unknown Christian. The Unknown Christian who obviously preferred to remain anonymous wrote several books on prayer and holiness. Here is a quote from his book, The Kneeling Christian:
We know that God is no respecter of persons, and therefore we know that any true believer in Him may share His mind and will. We are His friends if we do the things He commands us. One of those things is “prayer.” Our Savior begged His disciples to “have faith in God” (the literal translation is “Have the faith of God”). Then, He declares, you can say to a mountain, “Be thou taken up and cast into the sea,” and if you believe and doubt not, it shall come to pass. Then He gives this promise: “All things whatsoever ye pray and ask for, believe that ye have received them [that is, in heaven], and ye shall have them [on earth]” (Mark xi. 24). Now, this is exactly the experience we have been talking about. This is just what real men of prayer do. Such things naturally pass the comprehension of unbelievers. Such things are perplexing to the half-believers. Our Lord, however, desires that men should know that we are His disciples, sent as He was sent (John xvii. 18 and xx. 21). They will know this if we love one another (John xiii. 35). But another proof is provided, and it is this: if we know and they see that “God heareth us always” (John xi. 42).
Although the writer above did not expound much on “the faith of God” theme, we can see that he believed that this is the literal translation of Mark 11:22. Again, this is verifiable proof that the source of “the God kind of faith” doctrine is Holiness.
Higher-Life and Keswick Influences
Keswick, a little town in England where an offshoot of the Holiness movement was taking place. Whereas the Holiness movement was more Wesleyan-Arminian in doctrine, The Keswick movement, also known as the Higher-Life teaching had more of a Calvinistic bent. The major differences in the ways that each group expounded upon the teaching of Holiness is not within the scope of this study. An excellent study on this can be found in M. James Sawyer’s article which is available on the web.
However, like our Wesleyan Holiness friends, some of the Higher-Life advocates believed that Mark 11:22 should be translated as “the faith of God.” F.B. Meyer (1847-1929) was a prolific writer and a popular speaker at the Keswick conventions. He is known for his practical and devotional insights in the Scriptures. In one of his devotional commentaries Dr. Meyer wrote this comment on Mark 11:22:
The margin of the A.V. Suggests that this command might be rendered, Have the faith of God. As long as I live I shall remember this text in connection with my first meeting with Hudson Taylor. He was to preach for me on a Sunday morning, now years ago, and gave out this as a text. But he said that he had always interpreted it as dealing rather with God’s faith to us than ours to Him; so that it ran thus: Reckon on God’s faithfulness.
Here we have another respected teacher of the past who taught from the margin of his Bible that an alternative rendering of Mark 11:22 is “have the faith of God.” Not only that but he implicates the great missionary Hudson Taylor in this “heretical” teaching. If we are to criticize Hagin for teaching a “new revelation” on Mark 11:22 that supposedly has not been taught throughout the history of the church due to reading the margin of his Bible, where does that leave E.E. Shelhamer and a man who is considered to be a spiritual giant in our day, Dr. F.B. Meyer?
Another well known figure who was influenced by higher-life teaching (and to whom I must admit is one of my favorite writers) is Albert Benjamin Simpson (1843-1919). Simpson is also one of the main proponents of the Faith-Cure movement. Simpson’s teaching was essential in spreading the truth concerning God’s promises for bodily healing. He is also the founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a still thriving Evangelical denomination with a strong overseas missionary emphasis. In his book, The Gospel of Healing, Simpson teaches his readers how to obtain faith:
Jesus does not say to you, “Have great faith yourself.” But He does say, “Have the faith of God.” God’s faith is all-sufficient, and you can have it and use it. You can take Christ for your faith as you took Him for your justification, for your victories over temptation, for your sanctification. You may then rest in the assurance that your faith has not failed to meet the demands of the promise, for it has been Christ’s own faith.
In another teaching on the subject of faith Simpson says, “Faith is an actual spiritual force. It is no doubt one of the attributes of God Himself.” It is not within the scope of this essay to deal with the doctrine of “faith is a force,” however, we can see from the Simpson quote that this was not a teaching that originated with the Faith Movement. What we want to show the reader from this quote by Simpson is that He believed that Faith is one of God’s own attributes, just as sovereignty, immutability, holiness, integrity and other qualities that we attribute to God. Researchers such as Joe McIntyre, Dale Simmons, and Geir Lie have given historical proof that E.W. Kenyon was strongly influenced by the teachings of A.B. Simpson and had a good relationship with him.
Healing Revival Influences
Although Simpson was a strong advocate of divine healing due to his Faith-Cure roots, he did not make it the center of his ministry as did Lillian B. Yeomans. Miss Yeomans was a medical doctor who receive complete deliverance from sickness and drug addiction by the power of God. She left the medical profession to become an itinerant teacher spreading the message of salvation and divine healing. From listening to tapes by Kenneth Hagin on the subject of divine healing (which are no longer in my possession so I cannot give documented information), Miss Yeomans’ teachings seemed to have had a strong impact on his life. Here is a quote from her teaching on Mark 11:22:
“But,” someone asks, “Is it possible to ‘consider not your own body’ when it so unpleasantly, even painfully, obtrudes itself upon your notice?”
Yes; it is gloriously possible, for the God of Abraham is our God. As we unflinchingly take our stand on the naked promise, there springs up within us the “faith of God” (Mark 11:22, margin) which makes walking on the water a delight, and swinging out over the aching void with nothing beneath us but His Word, heavenly bliss. Hallelujah!!!
Once again we have that reference to the margin of someone’s Bible. Maybe that translation of Mark 11:22 had not escaped the attention of Greek scholars and Bible translators after all. Or perhaps only those affiliated with Holiness and Pentecostal movements had these Bibles with alternative readings in the margins of them.
From the little biographical information that we have on Miss Yeomans, there is nothing indicating that she had studied any of the original Bible languages. However, our next proponent of divine healing did possess an extensive knowledge of the Greek. Charles S. Price (1887-1947), a healing evangelist in the early part of the 20th century made this statement on Mark 11:22:
Now here is that sentence in the order which the words appear in my Greek New Testament – as you probably know, the structure of Greek sentences is different from that of our English sentences. Here’s the word-for-word translation from the original Greek: “And answering, Jesus says to them: ‘Have you faith of God.'” Then the master went on to tell them that if they had such a faith, not only could they dry up a fig tree, but they could command a mountain to be cast into the sea. The lesson was that of the irresistible power of the faith that was the faith of God. It was indeed mountain moving faith.
Rev. price goes on to say: “… you simply cannot believe without doubt until you have the faith of God. It takes God’s faith to clear our human hearts of all anxieties, fears, and doubts.” People like Charles Price believed that once a person possesses the “faith of God” then this type of faith would eliminate all doubting. Price derived his interpretation of Mark 11:22 directly from his knowledge of the Greek.
Evangelical Partial Cessationist Influence
People such as Yeomans and Price believed that the promises for divine healing were for all believers and were available in this dispensation. They believed that all that was needed to possess healing for one’s body was the Faith of God imparted into the believer. However, there were some who used this interpretation of Mark 11:22 in an attempt to prove that bodily healing was not available to all because this type of faith is not imparted to all.
Theodore H. Epp (1907 – 1985) who I consider to have been an excellent Bible teacher, is the founder of the Back To The Bible Ministry. He authored several books including James: The Epistle of Applied Christianity. In his comments on James 5:14-16 (which speaks of the prayer of faith saving the sick), Rev. Epp states:
“Only as we submit ourselves to God will He give us faith to believe when it is His will to heal a particular person. If it is not His will to heal, faith or assurance, from God will be lacking even though we may desperately want God to heal a loved one.”
Epp implies from this statement that healing is not the will of God for everyone. Most Faith teachers, including myself would naturally disagree with him and accuse him of misinterpreting the clear promise as stated in James 5:14-16 for our healing. Nevertheless, Epp uses “the faith of God” to justify his interpretation:
Faith of God. The “prayer of faith” is really “the faith of God.” Jesus once told the disciples, “Have faith in God” (Mark. 11:22). Having said this, the Lord went on to talk about removing a mountain. The phrase “have faith in God” is literally, “have faith of God”; that is, faith which God gives. That God is the One who gives faith is substantiated by other scriptures, particularly Ephesians 2:8 and I Corinthians 12:9, which we have already noted.
From this we see that when there is true faith regarding one’s healing, it isn’t really our faith – it is God’s faith instilled in us. Of course, the logical question arises: How will I know whether it is my feeling or a faith which God has given? You will know when that faith is there, for God gives you an assurance that it is not available in any other way.
As we can see, people from different theological backgrounds saw the literal interpretation of Mark 11:22 as “The faith of God.” Yet, depending on one’s theological leanings, this interpretation can be applied in different ways. While those such as Lillian B. Yeomans, Charles Price, and the modern Faith teachers believe that God’s healing is available to all and that we must first possess “the faith of God” in order to possess the promise of healing, Theodore Epp taught that healing was not universally available and only when it is God’s will to heal would He then provide the faith. Nevertheless, unlike some critics of the Faith movement, they did agree on the fact that a literal interpretation of Mark 11:22 should be rendered “have the faith of God” vice “have faith in God.”
Conclusion of Part 2
As we have seen from the presentation above, the teaching on “The faith of God” or as it is better known today, “the God kind of faith” has it’s roots and origins in different preachers of different theological persuasions. We have seen this concept taught by Calvinists, Arminians, Wesleyan-Holiness, Higher-Life, Pentecostals, Healing revivalists, and Evangelicals. Some of these teachers relied upon their knowledge of the Greek Scriptures while others relied upon the margins of their Bibles. Regardless of theological background or how the individual came about their “revelation of Mark 11:22, one thing is for sure and that is that the Faith teachers are not teaching a new concept that has escape the attention of the Scholars in past centuries.
These are not the only quotes from historical figures that I could have given you. These are simply the quotes from the fruit of my own research.. I would once again remind the reader that I do not present these quotes in an attempt to prove that the Word-of-Faith interpretation of Mark 11:22 (or Heb. 11:3) is the correct one. I only present these quotes to show that it was not an original concept with them. However, from my understanding of Scripture and my own experience, I believe that they are correct.
In part three of this series, which will be our final essay on this theme, I will present more Scriptural support for this teaching and also a rebuttal to an essay by my friend and fellow Word-of-Faith apologist, Derek Vreeland. Pastor Vreeland has written a rebuttal to part one of my defense on the “God Kind of Faith.”
For now, Be blessed and stay in the mercy of the Lord. If these writings are a blessing to you then tell others. It’s free.
1. Geneva, Switzerland is the place where John Calvin resided and from which his teachings spread throughout most of Europe. Therefore the notes in the Geneva Bible has it’s origins in Calvinism affirming that the early Calvinists taught that the true interpretation of Mark 11:22 is “have the faith of God” vice “have faith in God.” One major critic of the faith movement believes that Calvinism is “within the pale of orthodoxy” while teaching his listeners that the faith movement is not orthodox and in fact a cult, using the Faith Movement’s translation of Mark 11:22 for one of his reasons to ban these teachers and their adherents from the church.
2. Gill, John John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible (Paris, AR: The Baptist Standard Bearer), The New John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernized and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario. Available at Crosswalk.com
3. Spurgeon, Charles H. Commenting and Commentaries (London: Passmore & Alabaster, Paternoster Buildings, 1890). Available at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Webpage.
4. Clarke, Adam Adam Clarke’s Commentaries (Online version available at http://www.godrules.net)
5. Clarke, Adam Christian Theology (New York, NY: Lane and Scott, 1851), Chapter Eight: Faith.
6. Synan, Vinson The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co.) Synan gives extensive history on how the Pentecostal movement came from the Holiness movement.
7. Godbey, William Baxter Godbey’s New Testament Commentaries Volume VII — Matthew-John (Part 2)(Harmonized) (Spokane, WA: Holiness Data Ministry)
8. Synan, The Holiness-Pentecostal Movement. Godbey called the Azusa people “Satan’s preachers, jugglers, necromancers, enchanters, magicians, and all sorts of mendicants.”
9. Shelhamer, Elmer Ellsworth Prevailing Prayer and Its Results (Cincinnati, Ohio: Gob’s Bible School and Revivalist, 1932) Scanned and sold on CD by Holiness Data Ministry, Spokane, Washington.
10. Hagin, Kenneth E. New Thresholds of Faith (Tulsa, OK: Rhema Bible Church, 1985), p. 80. While teaching on Mark 11:12-14 and 20-24, Hagin says “Let us focus our attention on the statement ‘Have faith in God,’ or, as the margin reads, ‘Have the faith of God.'”
11. I am deeply indebted to Duane Maxey and Holiness Data Ministries for having made over one thousand classic holiness books available on CD. Not just for research purposes have I read these books but many of the teachings in them have been nourishing in a devotional manner. See our favorite links page for the link to HDM’s webpage to obtain information for ordering this resource.
12. Smith, William M. By Faith: An Exposition and Interpretation of the Eleventh Chapter of Hebrews (first published in 1959 by Union Bible Seminary Westfield, Indiana), now published by HDM.
13. Anderson, Tony Marshall Prayer Availeth Much (Circleville, Ohio: The Advocate Publishing House) Reprinted by Holiness Data Ministries.
14. An Unknown Christian The Kneeling Christian (Spokane, WA: Holiness Data Ministry, 1997)
15. Sawyer, M. James Wesleyan & Keswick Models of Sanctification (Can be found at http://www.bible.org/docs/theology/pneuma/wes&kes.htm)
16. Meyer, F.B. Great Verses Through The Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1966) p. 383
17. Simpson, A.B. The Gospel of Healing (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1986) p. 65
18. Simpson, A.B. A Larger Christian Life (Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1979) p. 13
19. Perhaps in another essay we can show the interested reader quotes from such notable figures as John Calvin, E.M. Bounds, F.B. Meyer, F.E. Marsh, W.M. Clow, S.D. Gordon, and Hannah Whitall Smith teaching that certain attributes of God (most especially faith) can be likened unto “a force” or “forces.” See my essay “The Seven Tactics of The heresy Hunter” for how I briefly deal with this subject. You will also find a surprising quote by the great Prince of Preachers, C.H. Spurgeon, and how he defines faith.
20. See my series of essays title “Word of Faith Movement – Is It Metaphysical?”
21. Yeoman, Lilian B. The Great Physician (Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 1933), pp. 15, 16
22. Price, Charles S. The Real Faith For Healing (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1997) p. 46
24. Epp, Theodore H. James: The Epistle of Applied Christianity (Lincoln, NE: Back To The Bible, 1980), p. 256
26. McIntyre, Joe E.W. Kenyon: The True Story (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 1997). In chapter 21 of his book, Positive Confession, Pastor McIntyre provides quotes from notable classic Bible teachers such as A.T. Pierson, Charles H. Pridgeon, George B. Peck, Carrie Judd Montgomery, and a quote by A.B. Simpson from article he wrote titled, “The Faith of God.” All of the above teachers taught this concept as Pastor McIntyre proves in this outstanding book.
(c) Copyright 2001 by Troy J. Edwards and Victory through the Word Ministries