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Kenneth Hagin, controversial Pentecostal preacher, dies
Kenneth Hagin, one of the most influential and controversial leaders of charismatic Christianity over the last half-century, died Friday at age 86.

But according to his biography and often-told life story, it wasn't his first time.

Diagnosed with "a deformed heart and an incurable blood disease" from birth, Hagin was partially paralyzed by age 15, confined to bed, and told he had little time to live.

In April 1933, Hagin said, his heart stopped beating, and his other vital signs failed three times. In each of these instances, Hagin said he felt himself being dragged to hell. In the third instance, he prayed for Christ's help and forgiveness—and came back to life.

The miracle would define the rest of his life, and he took as one of his life verses Mark 11:24: "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." By 1934, Hagin said, he had believed that he would be fully healed, and he was. At age 17, after his high school graduation, Hagin began preaching in a predominantly Southern Baptist interdenominational church in Roland, Texas. But Hagin's emphasis on miracles and divine healing soon led him to the Pentecostals. He became an Assemblies of God minister in 1937, pastoring six churches until deciding in 1950 (after what he said was an appearance by Jesus) to become an itinerant healing evangelist.

Hagin claimed the gift not only of healing, but also of prophecy. "When the word of knowledge began to operate in my life after I was filled with the Holy Ghost, I would know things supernaturally about people, places, and things," he wrote in 1972. "Sometimes I would know through a vision. Sometimes while I was preaching, a cloud ...

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