The Word of Faith movement is the religion of narcissists.
An article on Psychology Today lists ten common traits of narcissistic parents. Using it as a template, we’ll see that followers of the Word of Faith movement treat Jesus Christ and His followers the same way that a narcissistic parent treats a child.
1) The Narcissist Uses and Lives Through the Child
Followers of the Word of Faith movement use Jesus as a means to an end. They see Jesus’ sacrifice as their ticket to get health and wealth on this earth so that they can live their best lives now.
Rather than letting Jesus live through them by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, they steal His glory for themselves, calling themselves gods, and claiming that they are equal with Jesus.
2) The Narcissist Marginalizes the Child
Followers of the Word of Faith movement are quick to criticize anyone who doesn’t hold to their extreme doctrines.
“You don’t speak in tongues?” they ask. “Well, you’re not filled with the Holy Spirit!” or, “You don’t believe God wants to heal everyone? That’s a false gospel; you’re not really saved!”
3) The Narcissist Exhibits Grandiosity and Superiority
Word of Faith followers treat faith as a tool to wield. They think of it like The Force, and they consider themselves all-powerful, able to control the weather, the devil, and even traffic.
One of my most eye-opening experiences happened while I was being driven to church by a couple who were heavily involved in the Word of Faith movement. We were running late because of traffic, and around the next corner there was a train crossing. “Of course there’s going to be a train today,” the husband grumbled. We rounded the corner and saw a train slowly lumbering through, blocking traffic in both directions. His wife turned to him and snapped, “Now why would you go and speak that train into existence!?”
These people genuinely believe they have the power to speak things into being, just like God creating the world. They’ve even gone so far as to rewrite the Scriptures, inserting their false doctrines into a paraphrase of the Bible called The Passion Translation.
4) The Narcissist Portrays a Superficial Image
This problem plagues religion as a whole; we all know people who put on their church face with their church clothes.
The problem is magnified in Word of Faith circles. They are so afraid of speaking something negative into existence that they will never admit struggle, pain, or illness. They make sure that everyone sees them driving late-model cars, wearing nice clothes, and eating at nice restaurants (while snuffling and sneezing from a cold that’s been rebranded “just allergies”).
Why do they do this? Because the Word of Faith movement teaches that if you don’t have health and wealth, it’s because you don’t have enough faith – so you make a move of faith and fake it ’til you make it.
5) The Narcissist is Manipulative
Followers of the Word of Faith movement exegete Scripture like this: “That verse is full of negativity; it isn’t about me. But this verse sounds nice; therefore, it must be a promise for all Christians who have the faith to activate it!”
They love to “hold God to His Word” by chanting phrases and “reminding God of His promises.”
Their prayers sound like this: “You know the plans you have for me! In Jeremiah 29, you promised to prosper me if I prayed to you!”
They think that with enough persuasion, they can trick God into forgetting that God’s declaration spoken through Jeremiah was to the Israelites in exile, not to the American housewife who thinks that misquoting the Bible at God is a viable alternative to going out and getting a job, or to the man living beyond his means who would rather sow seeds into the ministry of a televangelist than set up a budget.
6) The Narcissist is Inflexible and Touchy
Followers of the Word of Faith movement see God not as a Being with a divine will, but as a vending machine. They believe that with the right combination of persistence and chants, God NEEDS to give them whatever they ask for. If God says, “Not yet,” or “No,” they think that the vending machine is broken.
7) The Narcissist Exhibits a Lack of Empathy
Those in the Word of Faith circle have no room in their beliefs for God’s Sovereignty. They deny Him the right to work all things according to His will; instead, they demand that their own desires are fulfilled. “Not Thy will, but mine, O Lord.”
Further, followers of the Word of Faith movement have no empathy for those who are visibly struggling financially, in pain, or sick. They say that those people just don’t have enough faith to get healed, or have sin in their lives that is blocking God’s blessings, or need to sow a seed of faith into the ministry of a televangelist.
Finally, and most damning of all, adherents of the Word of Faith movement do not fulfill the great commission. Jesus was sacrificed for our sins so that we could be saved; He told us to go out into the world and preach the gospel to all people so that they could come to saving faith in Him and through Him come to the Father. But here’s where everything falls apart for the Word of Faith crowd. Their focus is not on Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins; their focus is on their claim that Jesus was sacrificed for our sickness!
8) The Narcissist is Codependent
Codependency is a demand to be enabled: the desire to be provided for by another, whether or not the one being provided for is irresponsible, unloving, or immature. Codependency is a huge part of the Word of Faith movement. Those in that circle believe that God will not only provide the basics for them, but will make them prosperous, while they make poor financial choices and treat Jesus not as a loving Saviour, but as a lottery ticket.
9) The Narcissist is Jealous and Possessive
We come back to the broken vending machine. When God says “No,” followers of the Word of Faith movement get angry. How dare God act in his sovereign greatness! How dare He not act in His role as divine vending machine! They cajole, chant, cry, yell. They even rebuke God.
10) The Narcissist Neglects the Child
Followers of the Word of Faith movement treat God as a means to an end, and in doing so, neglect Him. They invoke His name multiple times a day, commanding that everything be done in the name of Jesus, but they don’t seek a relationship with Him. They search the Scriptures for nice-sounding verses that they can “activate with their faith,” but they don’t seek to know Him more through His Word.
If you recognize any of these traits in yourself, repent! Seek Jesus in His Word – all the Scriptures point to Him, not to health and wealth! God alone is sovereign over all; He does whatever He pleases. He can choose to heal you; He can choose to use our earthly afflictions for His glory. His ways are above our ways; He works all things according to His will. Let us pray that He would work in us each day to align our wills to His.
For further study: