The ATS Bible Dictionary says this about Bethel:
House of God, the name of a city west of Hai, on the confines of the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin (Gen. 12:8; 28:10-22), and occupying the spot where Jacob slept and had his memorable dream, the name he then gave it superseding the old name Luz (Judges 1:23). Thirty years after, he again pitched his tent there (Gen. 35:1-15). It was captured by Joshua, and given to Benjamin (Josh. 12:9; 18:22). The Ephraimites, however, expelled the Canaanites (Judges 1:22-26). Here the ark of the covenant, and probably the tabernacle, long remained (Judges 20:26; 1 Samuel 10:3). Samuel held his court here in turn (1 Sam. 7:16). After Solomon, it became a seat of gross idolatry; Jeroboam choosing it as the place for one of his golden calves, from the sacredness previously attached to it (1 Kings 12:29). THE PROPHETS WERE CHARGED WITH MESSAGES AGAINST BETHEL (1 Kings 13:1, 2; Jer. 48:13; Amos 3:14; 7:10).
If it weren’t for all the alarming exposé videos coming out on YouTube about Bethel Church, then I wouldn’t feel so compelled to take a stand against it, but now I feel like I have to. The first time I heard about Bill Johnson and his Bethel Church in Redding, California, was in college. A friend of mine from summer camp (I was a counselor) showed me a book from there: Kris Vallotton’s Basic Training for the Prophetic Ministry. I skimmed it over and read a section where Kris had an open vision of a guy and it brought him to repentance. I was so moved by this, that I soon became very hungry for prophetic visions and dreams in my personal life. I also found that these experiences are not only to be expected by New Testament Christians, but that they are the primary way that the Holy Spirit communicates with prophets (Num. 12:6; Joel 2:28-29; Acts 2:17, etc). So, I was thankful for that little bit of Vallotton influence. I never bought the book or studied it thoroughly; I just began to pray and seek and contemplate the face of God, and listen to God, and the Holy Spirit began to speak specifically to me from time to time, in a theological framework of sermons by Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, and A. W. Tozer via sermonindex.net: a framework which I later identified as Wesleyan-holiness theology: this was ten years ago, in 2006.
My friend’s campus pastor had taken a personal leave of absence for several months; and traveled to Bethel Church to learn about miraculous gifts from their School of Supernatural Ministry; during this time, my friend rented out his house, and an assistant pastor took over the leadership while he was gone. I had seen this Bethel Church as a sort of charismatic renewal movement, and I could see nothing wrong…although my actual knowledge or personal interest in Bethel was very limited. This pastor was a Derek Prince fan; and I had recently read They Shall Expel Demons, so I was a fan too. So, I just thought of Bill Johnson like Derek Prince: just another helpful charismatic teacher on spiritual gifts, but more up to date for this generation. It was in 2006 that Bethel Church broke away from the Assemblies of God, which has a solid Biblical theology. But just like William Branham, when charismatic “prophet” types turn away from AG’s theology, they can get into weird views that contradict the Word of God. This has definitely happened with Bill Johnson and Bethel Church in the past 10 years. Some people have compared Johnson to John Wimber, as a charismatic leader; but I definitely disagree. JOHN WIMBER WAS WAY MORE GROUNDED IN SCRIPTURE THAN BILL JOHNSON! This is why he attracted conservative evangelical theologians from across the world to support the Vineyard (such as Wayne Grudem, Jack Deere, John White, Rich Nathan, and Don Williams, to name a few). The Association of Vineyard Churches, along with the Assemblies of God, passed muster and was accepted into the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). But at this point, there is no way that Bethel Church would be accepted: and Bethel is planting churches in different states; they are actually trying to create a new charismatic denomination. Their popularity seems to be in their praise and worship music and their Jesus Culture band more than it has to do with their teaching and supernatural stories. Compare the Vineyard statement of faith with what you can find on the website of Bethel Church; and you’ll see what I mean.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:15-23, NKJV: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!’”
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Bethel is not a church that bases its ministry on Bible teaching. It is all based on subjective spiritual experiences; and then they twist the Bible to support their experiences non-judgmentally. They don’t believe the devil can speak to them; they have little to no Biblical discernment. As the years progress, it seems THEY ARE NOT CONSERVATIVE EVANGELICALS ANYMORE; and are becoming a lot more like a liberal Christian ecumenical version of THE NEW AGE MOVEMENT. There are some people, such as discernment ministries and heresy hunters, which are hyper prone to call anything miraculous in charismatic churches “New Age,” but I’m not like that. I wouldn’t say that about IHOP, or the Brownsville Revival, or the Vineyard, or even MorningStar Ministries (although I think Rick Joyner is carnal and overly tolerant of sin). But in the case of Bethel Church, and especially after the publication of their weird book on quantum mysticism called The Physics of Heaven (2012), one has to only conclude that Bethel Church in particular is sliding into New Age ideas (and actually already has). It seems that ever since 2012, when this book came out, Bethel Church has gotten weirder and weirder and more false; and hundreds if not thousands of videos have come out on YouTube against it.
The biggest problem I have with Bethel Church is their theology (or lack thereof). What are the YouTubers out there saying about Bethel?
- Some Bethel people do Christian yoga (even one leader).
- Grave sucking (some say this is occult; it is weird; not so sure: 2 Kgs. 3:21).
- Jenn Johnson blasphemes and compares the Holy Spirit to the genie in Aladdin.
- Some youth in Bethel use the f-word and nobody corrects them.
- They depreciate the Bible and exalt experience of the Holy Spirit instead.
- Bill says people should follow him “off the map” of the Bible (When Heaven, p. 76).
- There is an anti-theological attitude; and an almost despising of sound doctrine.
- Some youth have expressed universalist “love” ideas (cp. Rob Bell’s Love Wins).
- Painful electrical power coursing through hands and body (cp. kundalini power).
- Seductive female musicians dancing, sexy attire, breathy singing, during worship.
- Non-judgmental tolerance of theological errors; hostile to Biblical truth speakers.
- They don’t preach lordship salvation or repentance from sin (they scoff at it).
- They have Word of Faith / prosperity gospel views.
- Beni Johnson is co-pastor: exercising authority over men (against 1 Tim. 2:12).
- Beni does “earthing” to get healing power from the ground (New Age).
- Beni says “Wakey! Wakey!” to wake up sleeping giant angels in the desert.
- Beni does reflexology.
- Beni says people saved not by the Gospel, but by angels ringing bells.
- Signing tithing contracts to remain a church member (against 2 Cor. 9:7).
- Shepherding Movement / covering theology / authoritarianism (“culture of honor”).
- No limit on number of prophecies in church services (1 Cor. 14:29).
- Deification and self-glorification of charismatics (theosis / against Acts 14:14).
- Arian view of Christ – sometimes expressed as kenosis, sometimes not.
- False claims of healing.
- Quantum Mysticism book (The Physics of Heaven).
- Young people wallowing on the floor in a “drunken spirit” (looks like an orgy).
- One young man said he can use animals to prophesy words from God (New Age).
- Against open-air preaching of lordship salvation.
- Annoyance to the community of Redding, CA (contradicts 1 Tim. 3:7).
- Bill Johnson drives an Aston Martin (as of 2015): materialism (Jas. 5:5).
- Gold dust and other gold miracles are demonic signs for the money preaching.
- Respect for Benny Hinn (false prophet; materialistic preacher).
- Friends with Patricia King (sadly, she was the only “holiness” in the prophetic).
- Friends with Todd Bentley (even after adultery; cussing, laughing; cheap grace).
- Friends with John Crowder (blasphemous antinomian and universalist).
John Crowder is an outspoken blasphemer, antinomian, and universalist, as is evident on his Jesus Trip videos (see my video “Three Concerns About John Crowder”), and he is welcomed with open arms into Bethel Church as a teacher; there is a video of Brian “Head” Welch with John Crowder passing communion out to people; and then in the blasphemous Holy Ghost movie (2014), Welch says that God led him to join the cussing and sexually immoral band Korn again, after years before, he said to do that would be considered backsliding. In the Holy Ghost movie, Bill Johnson is revered as a leader in all of the charismatic ministries represented. Bethel Church is a kind of headquarters for this false charismatic movement. This movie is so blasphemous; over and over, the traditional evangelical lordship Gospel is disrespected, maligned, and ridiculed. Instead, a new universalist gospel of love emerges as what “God” is really trying to say through these New Agey, false, charismatic prophets. There is even a time when a “praise and worship leader” goes into a Hindu temple and sings a song to “God” and everyone is getting along. Afterwards, he says, “We’re not trying to convert anybody.”
UNIVERSALISM. ANTINOMIANISM. HERESY. NEW AGE. STAY AWAY.
I would recommend avoiding the ministries of all these people who support Bethel Church:
- Bill Johnson
- Beni Johnson
- Kris Vallotton
- Kevin Dedmon
- Andrew White
- Brother Yun (sorry to see that)
- Claudio Friedzon
- David Hogan
- Georgian Banov
- Graham Cooke
- Harold Eberle
- HEIDI BAKER (definitely stay away)
- James Maloney
- Larry Randolph
- Lou Engle (sorry to see that)
- Mahesh Chavda
- Mario Murillo
- Randall Worley
- Randy Clark
- Ray Hughes
- Sy Rogers
- Tracy Evans
Why? Because I do not love you? God knows! But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:11-15).
YouTube Exposé Videos on Bethel Church
I personally don’t agree with eveything on these videos. For instance, I believe in Christian contemplative prayer (Christ-centered), but I reject centering prayer. I believe people can be slain in the Spirit during true Gospel preaching, and I believe all of the miraculous gifts are for today. I just side against the “lawless enthusiasts” of Bethel Church; and I am against them trying to hijack Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity with antinomianism and universalism, that’s all. I would recommend watching Tony Miano’s videos (“Why I Must Speak Out,” “Bethel Church and the NAR,” “On the Road”) and Andrew Strom (“BILL JOHNSON & THE NEW AGE”), and “Bethel Redding Exposed.”
- Bill Johnson on Wretched Radio with Todd Friel – 3/26/09 (Man cusses on stage with Todd Bentley at Lakeland Revival and everyone laughs; Bill Johnson compares Todd Bentley to the woman caught in adultery; however, Todd wasn’t told “go and sin no more,” he’s still “married” to the adulteress: no regard for 1 Timothy and Titus).
- Bill Johnson’s and Mike Bickle’s False Teachings – 12/28/12 (I disagree with some things in this video. I think that Bickle himself has kept himself safe from supporting heresies that have cropped up by some of his associates; anti-theological attitude; charismatic cult followings of Johnson or Bickle due to the downplaying of Biblical authority; I disagree with this video’s cessationist view of Christ, as if the Scripture never said, “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do” (John 14:12); quotes Bill Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth, p. 76, where he says charismatics should be willing to go “off the map” of Bible knowledge in order to experience supernatural things; man acting like a turkey at the Toronto Blessing, at which Bill Johnson got his “power” from (“power animal” / New Age); Bickle and the “manifested sons of God,” sensual “bridal paradigm,” revelations for an elite end-times “Joel’s Army” (Latter Rain).
- Exposing the False Teaching of Bill Johnson at Bethel Church – 8/13/13
- Escaping Bethel Church, Bill Johnson and Jesus Culture – 10/29/13 (Probably kundalini spiritual power that electrically shocks, burns, and hurts your body; sensual women in worship; non-judgmental tolerance; no lordship salvation).
- Why I Must Speak Out Against the NAR and Bethel Church – 12/13/13 (I disagree with Miano labeling Mike Bickle a false prophet; states that John Piper associated with Jesus Culture once at an event; have a false Jesus (2 Cor. 11:4), false gospel, false Holy Spirit; Word of Faith prosperity gospel; Beni Johnson mocked Tony Miano’s call to repentance and faith (the lordship salvation gospel); they deny original sin (Eric Johnson); “honor the leaders” (authoritarianism / shepherding movement); John Crowder identified as a friend of Bethel Church).
- Bethel Church and the NAR’s False Ideas of Glory – 12/21/13 (No limit on number of prophecies in church services (1 Cor. 14:29); I disagree with Miano’s cessationism; deification of charismatic Christians; Arian view of Jesus; friends with Todd Bentley; Patricia King in 2015 on Facebook said, “I deeply respect Bill Johnson…as a lead apostle”; how opposite to the Reformed view of “glory to God alone” (soli Deo gloria).
- Jesus Culture: The Next Generation of Heretics – 5/31/14 (Exalting the presence of God over Bible study; I disagree with labeling John Wimber as a heretic, simply because Jesus Culture was influenced by Vineyard music (but they do say they are partnered with Bethel Church); Heather Clark (seductive musician); Bill Johnson blessed Todd Bentley at the false Lakeland Revival (and after); ecstatic prophecy by Jessa Bentley; they respect Benny Hinn; they respect Reinhard Bonnke (I’m undecided about; has weak statement of faith, but still strongly evangelical).
- Women From Bethel – 7/1/14 (Yoga; universalism; scoffing at lordship salvation).
- Lying Signs and Wonders – 10/26/14 (Neo-universalism connected with many charismatics and their miracles; Beni says salvation by angels ringing bells; Benny Hinn blatantly teaches that born again Christians are little gods: refers to John Lanagan’s The New Age Propensities of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson; money-centered preaching and gold dust, gold filling miracles, jewels, diamonds).
- On the Road: The Dangers of Bethel Redding – 5/26/15 (I disagree with Miano’s statement “I don’t have a problem with a guy being rich” driving a ridiculously expensive sports car; Johnson drives a $250k Aston Martin; no preaching of repentance and faith (no lordship salvation); false claims of healing; Beni Johnson is co-pastor, exercising authority over men; Beni “earthing”; Beni says she can wake up giant angels in the desert by saying “Wakey! Wakey!”; annoyance to their community; against open-air gospel preaching; one kid said he can use animals to prophesy words from God (sounds like “power animals” / New Age).
- BILL JOHNSON & THE NEW AGE – 9/14/15 (Grave sucking; young people wallowing on the floor in a “drunken spirit” (looks like an orgy); Beni likes reflexology; Physics of Heaven).
- Bethel Blasphemy Alert – 9/22/15 (Seth Dahl, the Children’s Pastor, has a vision of Jesus holding him, and says, “Please forgive Me,” on behalf of a pastor who said emotionally abusive things to him: totally demonic blasphemy…JESUS ISN’T TO BLAME…JESUS IS SINLESS! (1 John 3:5).
- The Heretic Bill Johnson of Bethel Church – 12/24/15 (Says that Bill Johnson denies the deity of Christ; signing tithing contracts for church membership; “apostolic” authoritarianism; reference to R. Douglas Geivett and Holly Pivec’s A New Apostolic Reformation? on apologeticsindex.org).
- False Prophet Bill Johnson EXPOSED – 1/6/16 (Heidi Baker at 8:05 at Bethel Church laying hands on a young man and imparting a painful spiritual power into his body, probably a New Age spirit, kundalini possibly, Baker expresses universalist view in Holy Ghost).
- Bethel Church Horror Story – 5/11/16 (Yoga and f-words).
- Bethel Redding Exposed – 5/18/16 (Yoga; scoffing at lordship preaching; universalist).
- MANY, MANY, MORE