Where Have All the Good Pentecostals Gone?
I can't believe it's been ten years since he passed on.
In 1986 I was attending Oral Roberts University. One Friday night, one of my wingmates came down to my room, said he was going to hear Kenneth Hagin, and asked if I wanted to go. I had read some of Hagin's books, and had read somewhere that his school was in Broken Arrow, but I had no idea he was just 20 minutes away. I told Keith yes, and couldn't wait to go.
We had to park in a field, which was the "overflow" lot. When we entered the foyer, there was an excitement in the air, but nothing different from any other Pentecostal meetings in those days. But when I stepped on the carpet of the auditorium, something happened to me. I can't describe it better than that it felt like an electrified Spidey sense, you know, what Spider-Man says he gets, came on me. I knew I'd be attending Rhema that following year. I knew it better than I knew my own name.
I experienced the most meteoric growth in my faith over the next two years. I had experienced many manifestations of the power of God and gifts of the Spirit before attending Rhema. I was grateful for them but felt somewhat of an outlier, because most of the pastors and ardent believers I had talked hadn't had the same experiences. Hagin not only had had similar experiences, he put them all in the proper New Testament context. I loved my time at his school.
In the late 80s and early 90s a number of ministers maligned Hagin's ministry. They said his teachings on Jesus' death-that he died spiritually as well as physically on the cross-were heretical. They also criticized him for his teachings on prosperity, that God wanted his sons and daughters to prosper, both spiritually and materially. But Hagin didn't flinch.
Once this brouhaha flared up, I studied the scriptures about the nature of Jesus' death, and the arguments these ministers made against Hagin. I concluded not only had Hagin had been right, but that he actually hadn't gone far enough. There are a large number of psalms, for instance, that are the first-person voice of Christ between his death on the cross and his resurrection to new life (see psalms 40 and 69, for example). As for his prosperity teachings, a second generation of faith preachers who point to him as their spiritual father unquestionably have mishandled the scriptures in this area. But the man himself was spot on.
I didn't get to know Dad Hagin personally, but I miss him. He knew the leading of the Spirit better than anyone else I've ever seen or known.