Who's Who in Pentecost > Hagin, Kenneth E. (Word of Faith)

Kenneth E. Hagin

Kenneth Erwin Hagin (August 20, 1917 - September 19, 2003) was an influential American Pentecostal preacher. He is often referred to as the "father" (or "grandaddy") of the "Word of Faith" movement. Many of his followers often refer to him affectionately as "Dad Hagin" or "Brother Hagin". Hagin never received any formal theological training, however, he received an honorary doctorate from Oral Roberts University in the 1970s.

Personal life

Kenneth Hagin was born in McKinney, Texas, the son of Lillie Viola Drake Hagin and Jess Hagin. He was so small and lifeless that the doctor thought that he was stillborn. He had two children, a son named Kenneth Hagin Jr. who is presently the pastor of Rhema Bible Church and President of Kenneth Hagin Ministries, and a daughter named Patricia Harrison. She is the widow of the late Doyle "Buddy' Harrison and is the owner and publisher of Harrison House, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was married to Oretha Rooker.

On many occasions Kenneth Hagin demonstrated his ability to memorize large portions of scripture and other materials. Testimony of friends and family indicate that he possessed an amazing memory with which he could recall specific details such as the day of the week that a specific date fell on and that days weather.

Hagin died five days after lapsing into a coma due to a heart arrhythmia in September 2003.

Claimed he was healed

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 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 in 1934 by "the revelation of faith in God's Word". There is no firm evidence of the original diagnosis.

Two years later he preached his first sermon as the pastor of a small community church in Roland, Texas, 9 miles from McKinney.

His favorite scripture was Mark 11:23: "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".

Beginning to preach

During the next 12 years he pastored five Assemblies of God churches in Texas: in the cities of Tom Bean, Farmersville (twice), Talco, Greggton, and Van.

Establishing a faith-based corporation

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 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 Hagin Jr., is also heard on the program.

Since its inception in 1963, his organization grew to include numerous media outreaches and ministries. These are:

  • Faith Library Publications – with 65 million book copies in print
  • "RHEMA Praise" – a weekly television program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network
  • "Faith Seminar of the Air" – a radio program heard on many stations nationwide and on the Internet
  • "The Word of Faith" – a free monthly magazine with roughly 250,000 subscribers
  • crusades conducted throughout the nation
  • RHEMA Correspondence Bible School
  • the RHEMA Prayer and Healing Center, located on the Rhema campus in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

In 1974, Hagin founded RHEMA Bible Training Center USA, which now has training centers in fourteen countries and has 23,000 alumni. In 1979, he founded the Prayer and Healing Center there to provide a place for the sick to come to "have the opportunity to build their faith",. Its Healing School continues to be held free of charge twice daily on the RHEMA campus. There are many other outreaches and RBTC graduates throughout the world.

Controversial legacy

Hagin was considered by his followers to be a dynamic preacher, teacher, and prophet known for preaching divine healing and prosperity through searching God's word and believing God in faith for financial gifts, then claiming and receiving them by faith. His Bible teaching focused mainly on faith and the victorious life of a Christian. Hagin's critics, however, including a large number of charismatic critics, believe a number of his teachings including the born again Jesus (as contained in "The Name of Jesus," 1978 ed., pp. 29-33) and 'God has faith' to be outside the confines of Christian orthodoxy.

Plagiarism Controversy

In 1983, two students at Oral Roberts University alleged that the bulk of Hagin's theological teachings were lifted verbatim from the writings of other authors. D.R. McConnell, who wrote his Master's thesis about the Word of Faith movement alleged that Hagin had plagiarized the writings of evangelist E.W. Kenyon, teaching not only the ideas of Kenyon but also lifting text word-for-word from many of Kenyon's eighteen published works.

Dale Simmons, one of McConnell's colleagues doing research for his paper entitled "An Evaluation Of Kenneth E. Hagin's Claim To Be A Prophet", discovered what he has described as plagiarization by Hagin of an author named John A. MacMillan. In this case it is alleged that Hagin not only plagiarized word-for-word, but also the title, "The Authority of the Believer".

Upon discovering Hagin's use of MacMillan's material, Simmons contacted the publishing house that published MacMillan's original work. The president of the publishing company confronted Hagin with evidence of the plagiarism. Hagin's response was to claim that he had not plagiarized anyone but that his acknowledgment of MacMillan had been an oversight. Hagin then implicitly claimed that the plagiarism was actually proof that his teaching and MacMillan's teaching were from God. In a portion of a letter printed on page 68 of "A Different Gospel" by D.R. McConnell, Hagin argued that persons speaking on the same subject use 'virtually the same words' because 'it is the same Spirit that is leading and directing.' Simmons did not accept this argument, noting that it begged the question why Hagin felt it necessary to read any books at all if God was going to inspire him to have the same thoughts and words as another author. This information is available from Oral Roberts University in Dale H. Simmons' Master's thesis, An Evaluation of Kenneth E. Hagin's Claim To Be A Prophet. Simmons repeats these charges in his 1997 book, E.W. Kenyon: The Postbellum Pursuit of Peace, Prosperity, And Plenty. Hagin did, however, give credit to MacMillan when a new copy with a new title ("The Believer's Authority") was released in 1984.

The real question, however, is not whether Hagin plagiarized. That fact has been established in numerous places. The question is whether or not Hagin received the plagiarism from God as he alleges.

At present, Kenyon's Gospel Publishing Company, based in Washington state, argues that Hagin did not plagiarize based on the fact that his books were merely sermons that were converted into book form. This claim, however, contradicts the statements of Ruth Kenyon Houseworth, Kenyon's daughter, given to both Judith Matta and D.R. McConnell in 1982.

William DeArteaga, a defender of the Faith movement, acknowledged that Hagin was guilty of plagiarism in his 1992 book, "Quenching The Spirit" (p. 243-245 of the 1996 edition). Geir Lie, a scholar who is favorable to E.W. Kenyon went so far as to say that Hagin's plagiarism was conscious and systematic (according to DeArteaga). Derek Vreeland, another charismatic scholar, presented his findings at the Thirtieth Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies [1]. Vreeland, too, believes Hagin unintentionally used the thoughts and ideas of Kenyon without properly attributing them to Kenyon.

Dale Simmons, who discovered Hagin's plagiarism of John A. MacMillan, concurs that Hagin plagiarized, but he theorizes that it was an instance of informal borrowing in Hagin's early preaching ministry.

The 'informal borrowing' that is common among preachers may account for some of the instances of plagiarism. Hagin lived near Dallas in his formative years, and E.W. Kenyon's works were very popular in the Dallas area at that time (the 1930s). Although this fails to explain the massive amount of plagiarism Hagin apparently committed, it is worth noting that in many instances he has cited by name sources that he used including Dr. Lillian B. Yeomans, Smith Wigglesworth, Corrie ten Boom, Ethan O. Allen, and some other (mostly Pentecostal-type) preachers. He has also favorably remarked about the ministry of Charles G. Finney.

Allegations of introducing gnostic heresies

Author Judith Irene Matta, M.Th., has accused Hagin of being instrumental in reviving gnosticism. Matta has written extensively on the perceived word of faith heresy founded by E.W. Kenyon. Church father Irenaeus of Lyon's "Against Heresies" (180 ad) is considered by many the backbone of all Christian criticism of gnosticism. Matta's book uses Irenaios' systematic exposition of these teachings to debunk what she considers the revived gnosticism in word of faith teachings. What Matta labels Kenyon's gnostic system was adopted by Kenneth Hagin, colleagues Kenneth Copeland, Fred Price and many others. Matta asserts that Kenyon's word of faith movement has basically taken over the pentecostal churches and Christian television; her first book, "The Born-Again Jesus of Word-Faith Teachings" (1985) documents the foundational teaching that Jesus lost his divinity, was born-again in Hell after suffering there in torment "paying for our sins". In fact, Hagin and Copeland never did teach that Jesus lost His Divinity. Their teaching was interpreted by critics as such that Jesus lost His divinity. This issue revives the ancient gnostic teaching of the Redeemed Redeemer. The alleged heresy is, according to Matta, lifted verbatim from Kenyon's book, "What Happened from the Cross to the Throne", and repeated in Hagin's and Copeland's books and tapes of the same name and basic content

Healed permanently with exception of an injury from an accident

It has also been noted that although Hagin argued in numerous books - including "Healing Belongs To Us," "Seven Things You Need To Know About Divine Healing" and "Faith Takes Back What The Devil's Stolen" - that he had never been sick since 1933.

In his book I Believe In Visions, Hagin writes "The Lord told me...that he would restore 99 percent of the use of that arm. He said He was going to leave that 1 percent disability (not from sickness) to remind me not to disobey Him again, but to use the ministry He had given me." (p. 93, second edition).

Hagin also writes, "The Lord...He said...instead of being angry with Me for not preventing it, you should be glad I allowed it to happen. If I hadn't permitted Satan to do this to arrest your attention you would not have lived past the age of 55, because you would have continued in my permissive will instead of my perfect will." (p. 92, second edition).


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