Question: I’ve been attending a large and growing church (about 5,000 members) in Southern California where the pastor’s sermons seemed to be biblical. However, I began extra classes in the School of Ministry and found a reliance upon Kenneth Hagin’s books. The second session the school’s director began to talk about a “blood covenant” and “mingling” man’s blood with God’s. The textbooks he took this from are booklets “The Blood Covenant” by E. W. Kenyon and “Unraveling the Mystery of the Blood Covenant” by John Osteen. I am really becoming confused by the blood of Christ being somehow involved in what he claims is the most ancient and sacred covenant known to man. Can you help me?
Response: Kenneth Hagin plagiarized some of E. W. Kenyon’s writings and thus introduced his heresies into the word faith movement of which Hagin is recognized as founder. Hagin is emulated by Kenneth Copeland, Frederick K. C. Price, Paul Crouch and many other positive-confession leaders and their followers. It was Kenyon who taught (and Hagin, et al. perpetuated it) that when Christ on the cross said it was finished it was only the old covenant, not the work of redemption, that was finished. Christ had to sink into hell to be tortured by Satan three days and three nights for our salvation. Therefore, the shedding of Christ’s blood upon the cross did not atone for sin even though the Bible says we have “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph:1:7; Col:1:14). From this false gospel the “Blood Covenant” doctrine developed.
Supposedly the most sacred and powerful relationship man can enter into is a blood covenant which, from the beginning, has been practiced by all mankind (including pagans and witches and even the Mafia). This covenant involves the mingling of blood from both participants. This sacred mingling occurred when journalist/explorer Stanley entered into a blood covenant with powerful chieftains in Africa, supposedly thereby opening Africa to the gospel.
Allegedly, it is this most sacred of human covenants which God entered into with Abraham! Plagiarizing Kenyon, in “Unraveling,” John Osteen says, “When Abraham was circumcised, he mingled his blood with God’s blood.” Likewise, “Jesus shed His blood on the cross, mingling the human and the divine” (p. 42). So this amazing covenant that all mankind has practiced since the beginning of time was entered into by God with the human race through circumcision and then through the Cross. That’s blasphemy!
Kenyon acknowledges that Christ died for our sins and that salvation is by grace through faith. However, the assurance of our eternal reconciliation to God is not because His justice has been satisfied through Christ’s sacrifice for sin, but because of this amazing covenant, which, though of human origin, God honors and entered into with mankind.
Kenyon says, “The Blood Covenant was the basis of all primitive religions....The Blood Covenant [with God], or what we call the Lord’s Table, is based upon the oldest known covenant in the human family....Today, hundreds of tribes in equatorial Africa cut the covenant. Stanley cut the covenant fifty times with different tribes.” If missionaries only realized it, “the blood covenant practiced today would open the doors in every tribe for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ” (pp. 5,7). Two men cut their arms, allow their blood to drip into a cup of wine, the wine is stirred, the bloods are mixed, then each drinks from it. “Now they have become blood brothers....It is the one covenant that is perfectly sacred among all primitive peoples....Stanley said he never knew this covenant to be broken in Africa, no matter what the provocation. ...The vilest enemies become trusted friends as soon as the covenant is cut....When Abraham and God cut the covenant, they became one” (pp. 9-10, 54).
Drinking blood is absolutely forbidden in the Bible. Moreover, the covenant must be kept by both parties: thus man is as responsible as God. Kenyon says of Abraham, “God had found a man that would keep the covenant...Abraham had proved his worthiness of God’s confidence” (pp. 20-21). In fact, our salvation is by grace, not on the basis of our keeping a covenant. Paul said we “have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil:3:3); yet God trusts us to do our part? No man is worthy of God’s confidence. This “blood covenant” is a works salvation.
At the end of the booklet, the “sinner’s prayer” which Osteen asks people to pray is all about entering into a covenant with God, requiring giving up my sin as my part of the deal: “Salvation is your coming to the place where you make an unqualified commitment to God. When Stanley and the African chief cut the covenant, they...were totally committed to each other and forever bound by their covenant....When you say, ‘God, I’m tired of sin, I’m tired of the world...I make an unqualified commitment of everything I’ve got, spirit, soul, and body to You. I want to be a covenant-man. I want Jesus. I want to get in on what He died for,’ God will save you!” (p. 45). That is not the gospel Paul preached.
Kenyon claims that at the Last Supper the disciples “knew that when they cut the Covenant with Jesus in the upper room that night, they had entered into the strongest, most sacred Covenant known to the human heart” (p. 30). Did the disciples cut themselves and mingle their blood with that of Christ? No! Following Kenyon almost word-for-word, Osteen plagiarizes, “The old Blood Covenant was the foundation on which the New Covenant was established. When Jesus said, ‘This cup is the New Testament in My blood, which is shed for you,’ the disciples knew...that when they took the elements of the Communion with Jesus that night, they were entering into the strongest, most sacred covenant in existence. And this is what we must understand when we take Communion” (p. 51). God forbid.
So instead of the blood of Christ being efficacious because it was shed for our sins when He took the penalty His own infinite justice demanded, Christ’s blood derives its power from becoming part of this “strongest, most sacred covenant” known to man, a blood covenant practiced even by pagans! The covenant provides salvation; the blood of Jesus shed for sin is only the means whereby this covenant long practiced between men is entered into with God. What a perversion.
This sacred covenant gives magical powers to the blood of Jesus. Osteen declares, “He took the blood of the everlasting covenant beyond the stars and sprinkled it in the presence of the Father as an everlasting memorial that God has cut a New Covenant with me and with you.”
On the contrary, the blood of Christ was shed on the cross for our sins; it is not preserved in heaven. We have redemption in His blood because Christ paid the penalty for our sins and God’s justice was satisfied. On that basis alone we are saved, not because of some occult covenant being the most sacred thing known to man. This is deadly heresy.