An article on alleged metaphysics in the C3 movement is a classic example of the way in which churchwatcher uses the control element of  what I call ‘switchcraft’ to compel its readers to believe one person is saying something whilst quoting another. 

I’ve noticed that churchwatcher does it on several posts, but this is such a beauty I believe it bears scrutiny. Here you will have an opportunity to see how self-appointed discerners like the churchwatcher sites operate, and why I suggest it is a form of ‘switchcraft’, which I here define as magic using slight of hand through suggestion and distraction to compel a person to believe one thing when they are being presented with another. More on this later.

The article is titled ‘Phil Pringle Influenced By Occult/ New Thought/ Metaphysical Cult Teachings’, though, ironically, it is the writer of the post who uses imaginative suggestion to present his point.

A different gospel
From the outset you should be aware that churchwatcher uses information from D. R. McConnell’s book A Different Gospel, which was originally a thesis for a masters degree written at Oral Roberts University in 1982. In it McConnell strives to demonstrate that Word of Faith is a cult by steering the reader carefully in the direction of locating a founder of a movement.

Thus he creates a premise, of his own design, and which all Word of Faith ministers would consider inaccurate, because, simply, the concept of the word faith is Biblical and not a separate movement birthed by any individual. But, to illustrate his point, McConnell must have an originator to scrutinise.

So he first labels Kenneth E. Hagin as the founder, using dubious means, quoting people who were influenced by Hagin. Whilst many people would call him influential, they would also have other influences. Just as the term ‘Methodism’ was coined by other people than Wesley, who always saw himself simply as a Church of England minister, so these titles are thrust upon Hagin by others to create an illusion with which to perform their sleight of hand.

Then McConnell contrives that this fatherhood of a movement was only so because Hagin was influenced by E. W. Kenyon, which Hagin has, incidentally, put right by saying that he was teaching similar principles before he had heard of Kenyon, but subsequently read Kenyon and quoted some of his teaching. Hagin had a photographic memory and could fluently quote entire passages of the Bible without looking at one. I once witnessed him quoting a huge passage of Mark unaided.

Undeterred, McConnell refutes Hagin’s own testimony that he was not influenced by Kenyon but simply reached similar conclusions, by fooling the reader into believing Hagin must be telling lies because he occasionally quotes Kenyon, but, of course, he would have quoted Kenyon after he had read him. However, quoting Kenyon is not evidence that he did not believe or reach similar conclusions on faith to Kenyon before he read him. In fact, if they were reading from the same Bible, which they were, it is quite probable they would reach comparable ideas simultaneously.

Kenyon and Hagin differ on doctrine
The fact is that, on several crucial issues, Kenyon and Hagin depart in their teaching, and I mean in a major way, especially on the gifts of the Spirit, Pentecost, prosperity and a host of other ideas, but chookwatch, channelling McConnell’s error, completely miss this point, probably because they have read neither Kenyon nor Hagin’s books for themselves.

Someone should ask churchwatcher how many of Hagin’s books they have actually read, and how many of Kenyon’s, because I do not think a person should set themselves up as a critic using another critic’s critiques, without first reading the material being critiqued for themselves.

The reason I know Kenyon and Hagin differ on some major issues is I have read their works.

Kenyon’s faith for God’s provision
For instance, on prosperity doctrine, Kenyon built a Bible School, and ran it in a similar way to Mueller’s orphanages, where they waited on God every day for their supply. He believed God would provide their every need. This where their faith was. They prayed and asked God to supply.

So we know he was not a prosperity teacher in the same way Copeland is. Did you know that Copeland, amongst others who considered themselves to be overseen by Hagin, was hauled before Hagin in 2000 for a severe reprimand for the hyper-prosperity message he was preaching in his 2000 Conference? Hagin then wrote a book called The Midas Touch correcting the excesses of people like Copeland and Dollar. Sadly Copeland ignored him.

So it is glaringly apparent that Hagin did not teach the prosperity message the way Copeland or his followers do, which has been identified by Hagin as excessive.

Following this, it is also obvious that Kenyon did not teach prosperity the way Hagin did. Therefore, it is clear he could not have been the father of the modern, unbalanced prosperity gospel adopted by some ministries.

A second important point is that Kenyon did not speak in tongues. His view of the baptism with the Spirit is different to Word of Faith, which is crucial to the development of the message, especially in the area of the manifestations, gifts and work of the Holy Spirit.

In fact the Boswell brothers were teaching Word of Faith before Hagin in massive healing rallies at the turn of the 20th century, and they, in turn, had been influenced by other ministries which went back as far as the Brush Arbor meetings of the US, and still others who influenced the Welsh revival, along with a number of revival meetings which were happening around these times. There is nothing new under the sun. Kenyon could not be the author of the Faith movement in this regard. There are other areas of difference which separate Hagin from Kenyon.

But the kicker in the churchwatcher piece is the reference to Kenyon being into metaphysics. You see, in attempting to make Kenyon the founder of the Faith movement, McConnell then went on to suggest to his readers that, in fact, Kenyon himself was influenced by teachers of New Thought and metaphysics. Then chookwatch, quoting McConnell, names *Mary Baker Eddy, Ralph Waldo Trine and Ralph Waldo Emmerson.

Kenyon had no association with Baker Eddy in his life, but, being a contemporary, extensively wrote against her Christian Science. I have read this in his books and pamphlets and he is very clear. He also speaks out against New Thought.

He had no association with Ralph Waldo Emerson.

McConnell and churchwatcher make the same mistake of confusing the names. Watch this carefully:

Kenyon spent one year in an oratory school, Emerson College, when he wanted to become an actor. He had left the Holiness Church, being disenchanted, and decided to go onto the stage at the age of 19. This was in 1892. Mark the date. The school was run by Charles Wesley Emerson, not Ralph Waldo Emerson. In Kenyon’s class was Ralph Waldo Trine, who also taught rhetoric. Do you see where the confusion over names and influences could arise for critics?

Charles Wesley Emerson also had, at the college, classes for people going into Christian ministry. Kenyon says he fought with the students who were studying for the ministry for a while but then realised the error of his way and, in his words, ‘came back’, meaning his faith was restored.

Ralph Waldo Trine did not write the book chookwatch quotes as influencing Kenyon until 1896. Kenyon had repented and been restored to faith in 1893, and studied to become a pastor with the Free Baptists in 1894, after he met the woman who became his wife in the same year. He was long gone from his one year at college by the time Trine had even written his first book on New Thought.

The accusation is that Kenyon was into metaphysics simply because there was someone in his class at college who was moving towards metaphysics even though Kenyon has made it clear he wasn’t . That’s like saying you are a Jehovah’s Witness because there was a Jehovah’s Witness in your class at University. Well, that’s a complete nonsense.

So here are McConnell and chookwatch basing the doctrine of an entire move of God on one man’s gap year! You can see how McConnell’s and chookwatch’s argument falls down right there at the beginning premise.

Kenyon was not influenced by New Thought. He was not the founder of Word of Faith. He is and was respected on certain subjects by faith teachers, but is not the founder. The basis of Word of Faith teaching is not metaphysics. It is the gospel.

Now to the switchcraft…

What churchwatcher then does is use their new weapon called ‘compare’, in which they say ‘let’s compare the teaching of Phil Pringle and some new-ager”. Then churchwatcher proceeds to list, in depth, the writings of the new-ager followed by one paragraph, whether related or not, from Phil.So the sleight of hand of this is that people can be fooled into supposing that the quotes of the new ager are in fact those of Phil Pringle, which they are not. By the time you’ve read through the muddle and mire of the new ager you are thinking, “Is this what Phil believes and teaches”? But it’s not.

It is an amazing mental conjuring trick. A magician says that the secret of deceiving the audience is to distract them from the real action. Create a diversion under which to do the magic. Whilst you’re doing something shifty with your left hand show them something more dramatic with your right.

This is simply switchcraft, which is not Harry Potter and his kindergarden hocus pocus, nor a huddle of hags in black pointy hats, stirring potions, chanting or waving magic wands, which are the distractions, but the manipulation of people’s thoughts, will and actions by sleight of hand and suggestion.

It happens when and where you least suspect it.