This post is part of a series focused on the “bring the kingdom” teaching of ministries like Bethel Church in Redding, CA and ministers like Bill Johnson and the fruit in real people’s lives.
This post will make a lot more sense if you’ve seen the video in the previous post.
My son, IF you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Yes, IF you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
IF you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
THEN you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God…
When wisdom enters your heart,
And knowledge is pleasant to your soul,
Discretion will preserve you;
Understanding will keep you,
To deliver you from the way of evil,
From the man who speaks perverse things,
From those who leave the paths of uprightness
To walk in the ways of darkness;
Who rejoice in doing evil,
And delight in the perversity of the wicked;
Whose ways are crooked,
And who are devious in their paths… Proverbs 2:1-5, 10-15
During my travels, I have loved to see the old castles that dot the hillsides, especially in Ireland and Scotland. Most are in disrepair, walls and rocks falling down, worth very little to anyone now. Not too bad for being 600 years old. I figure my house won’t last this century, by comparison. Consider the era in which those fortresses were built, in which it actually meant life or death whether the walls were strong or weak, whether the gate were lowered for friends and raised against enemies, whether Vikings or Romans could drop by and scoop up your children to sell as slaves, or would actually have to wear themselves out with battering rams and sieges and enough troops to spare to your bows and arrows and boiling oil, raining from the advantage of height. Imagine yourself the king of the castle.
But what if they didn’t need hoards of gold to buy 6 months provision, pay tens of thousands of troops, pile up mounds of dirt against the wall to climb over, or batter down your gates…what if they could just knock on the door and convince you to let them in? What if they presented as friends, sent by a Friend? What if you had no discernment? What use would your castle be then? If an enemy could sneak in by stealth, and stage a coup, then your money, your children, your wife, your service…all for the benefit of another man (This is a judgment, by the way: Amos 5:4-11, Zeph 1:12-13). I wish that I could not say that as I write these words, I know of multiple stories from my own acquaintances in the prophetic movement, of plundering from each of these categories. Wives drawn into immorality by “ministers” and “prophets,” children molested, money misused, and years of service given that evaporate into nothing.
I am sorry that my stories are not more funny and uplifting. But I am much more sorry that the charismatic church has opened wide her gates to the enemy. How did this happen?
I had an unforgettable experience with some people very close to me. I was in the midst of coming to see the deceptions I had been in, and had tried to share with them and warn them, particularly about the sensuality and perversion in their midst. Their reaction was too hard-hearted to describe. In one final sort of conversation, I dropped by their house, which they had just begun to rent for a brief time. They apologized for being delayed by a long, “WONDERFUL” conversation with a police officer. They told me how enjoyable his company was, and how they just fell into conversation for hours and hours. “Why was a police officer here?” I asked.
“Ohhhh, well, he was coming to investigate the previous tenant and see if we knew where he was. Apparently, he molested a child in another state and the police have been searching for him, and found out he was moving around the community.” (This was in a community that has frequent rent turnovers as people come to visit the prophetic movement). I am not sure what my face looked like, but something must have registered because an admonition quickly ensued. “NOW, DON’T go thinking anything…that is something that could happen in ANY community, ANYwhere. He probably is just somebody who is searching for the Lord, and needs some healing, but maybe has never been discipled…this is a place where people come to find the LORD…”
And at that point, something in me went silent, and I turned from using my tongue to typing with my fingers. What could I say? They were insisting I take my unloving discernment elsewhere.
But the Word of God promises discernment. It talks about discernment over and over again, and the promise to those who fear the Lord in Prov 2 (see above) is that the one who fears the Lord will be able to discern an evil man. I, as someone who confesses to the world that I spent years not discerning false teachers and prophets, absolutely believe that promise. My lack of discernment was due to MY SIN and that of others’. God didn’t fail me. The areas where I was duped were areas where I lacked fear of the Lord and had pride, and confessing that was part of “crying out for discernment.” Indeed, let God be true, and every man a liar… Rom 3:4
So if the Bible clearly teaches that the fear of the Lord will give you wisdom and discernment that will protect you from evil people, why is it that almost without exception those in the prophetic movements, particularly Bethel church, believe the exact opposite? Believe that God would by no means want us to discern the crooked or perverse, but would want us to welcome them, honor them, and convince them of their identity in God? Who taught the people of God not only to throw open the gates, but to burn them in the courtyard and advertise their openness to the world?
If you read my previous post and watched the videos, you already know the answer. These teachers and leaders did. Steadily, with certainty, carefully, with precision, with finesse, THEY HAVE TAUGHT US THAT WHAT GOD VALUES IS NOT WISDOM AND DISCERNMENT, but inclusion, flattery, pretending, and denial. THEY HAVE TAUGHT THE CHURCH TO HATE DISCERNMENT. If you have not read the previous post, please go watch the video I posted of Bill Johnson choking up as he exhibits and extols his own charity for Todd Bentley. Presidential spin doctors could not have done a better job of damage control.
His performance is so moving. When I say performance, I do not mean that I know his heart and that he is faking. He may well believe every word. My experience with the most effective false teachers and prophets in charismania is that they are as effective as they are because they fully believe what they are saying. I say performance, because I hope I can make you think a little harder than Bill wants you to. Watch the video: Bill wants you to feel. With a few short sentences and poignant pauses, he wants you to feel indignation at the “critics,” the gentleness and kindness of his own superior insight, the beauty of the grace and loyalty he is extending to Todd, and how blessed you are to have been enlightened with the true understanding of “grace” and “honor.” He is so effective, the poor misguided soul who posted the video to youtube entitled it, “Best Example of Honor I Have Seen.”
I hope it won’t offend you too much if I ask you to put those feelings on hold for a second and THINK this through. Let’s put ourselves in Todd’s shoes. Let’s imagine your life is a swirl revolving around NIGHTLY meetings in which you believe you are imparting the HOLY SPIRIT to the thousands of people flying in from around the world. You believe that when you lay hands (kick, punch, etc.) on these folks, cancers are leaving them. You are looking at cameras, announcing to someone on the other end that their dead child will be raised by listening to you and receiving the glory right now, that their cancer is gone, that the money is coming and the spirit of poverty is cast down…(these are things you would do, right? Totally, I mean, let’s put ourselves in his shoes!) You are DEAD TIRED from keeping up this circus night after night for weeks and months. You sleep late in the morning after your intense late nights of ministry. You struggle to find ten minutes with your wife or an hour with your kids (who are little). Your wife is disabled and you are busy, so you have a nanny, whom you handpicked from your staff to be a live-in. You can afford her because you are (not) working. (These are things you would do, right? As a married man, you’d pick the pretty intern and tell her to move into your house?) Then, somehow, in the midst of the exhaustion, craziness, and CONSTANT INFILLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, you find yourself getting intimate with the nanny. It could happen to anybody! Throw in a few episodes of drunkenness and get up and impart the SPIRIT to the world some more, declare to MORE people how they are being healed and delivered, without remorse… (You’re tracking, right? I mean, you and Bill, you can all see how this could happen to anyone…you can see how one thing would lead to another, and you might continue declaring yourself the channel of revival and oracle of the Spirit of God even though you know you are drinking and planning to divorce your wife…) AND THEN! AFTER ALL THAT! I want you to imagine you are exposed before the entire world, your shame made public. And instead of breaking down the show and getting help for your marriage, you take the opportunity to throw off the mother of your children, abandon them to her care, divorce her, and TAKE THE YOUNG, ATTRACTIVE BABYSITTER FOR A WIFE! All the while publicly insisting that there was no ADULTERY because you waited until the legal separation from your wife! (“Only an emotional affair, folks! Nothing to write home about!”) You maintain that position while Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner assure the public of your genuine repentance, while it leaks out that this is not the first affair you’ve had and covered up in the course of your ministry, with the help of your staff. (But we all find ourselves lying about absolutely everything for extended periods of time, don’t we?) Then, you take the pretty nanny with you into the “ministry” of imparting the spirit that has taken possession of your being to as many as will have it. (Who hasn’t?) Finally, I want you to imagine facing the judgment seat of God having defamed His holy name among the nations. Put yourself in his shoes for that.
Okay, that exhausted me, but I hope I’ve made my point. I would like ONE PERSON to look me in the face and say, ‘Sure, I can see myself doing that. It could happen to anybody. We need to rally around this guy and really support this guy through “tough times.”‘
But that’s exactly what Bill did. And all he had to do was tickle a million heartstrings, and around the world, hundreds of thousands of people fell for it, before the exposure and afterward. He took time to explain to us all that this was a great opportunity for us all to learn how to grow in grace and navigate sin in believers’ lives. And yes, he needs to give this training because this sort of situation absolutely will be a normal part of church life where the true gospel is not preached. He used that knowing pastor’s voice to hit the high points of the need for repentance, Todd’s regret (every fact belies this), his concern for Todd’s family’s welfare (which family?), and then recommends him to us for ministry AGAIN! Voila! Ever wondered what a sensual, false teacher might sound like? Now you know. He sounds like butter, and it feels so good.
Note: I won’t even speak at the moment about Rick Joyner’s spectacle of an attempt to publicly restore Todd, which was endorsed and overseen by a thoughtful Bill Johnson. Look up, “Church of Thyatira, How to Tolerate Jezebel in your Midst and Still Think You’re Right with God” in youtube to see their “sessions.” (That was a joke. Look it up in Revelations 2, not on youtube.)
I still remember a woman who loved Bethel, at the time, showing me the video that I posted for you. She had long since kicked her husband off the seat of honor in her heart, and given it to Bill. But boy, that day, she would have bought Bill ten dozen roses. She was so grateful to him for helping her to navigate such a tough situation by putting herself in Todd’s shoes. I didn’t have the courage to do my version of “put yourself in his shoes” or “put yourself in his cast-off wife’s shoes” or “put yourself in his abandoned children’s shoes,” because you did not dare speak a questioning word about Bill around her. Or, in my experience, anyone else who has really bought into Bethel, for that matter.
You don’t have to look far to find the formal teaching of hatred of discernment from Bethel, if you understand what you’re looking for. This post and the last are intended to display for you how in slow motion, Bill Johnson took an utter atrocity and made it all normal and palatable for all of us. Who did Bill tell us was the problem? The judgmental naysayers who thought he should not endorse Todd. Just like my story at the beginning in which I was warned, “Now don’t you dare think there’s something wrong with child molesters and adulterers running around ministering to people…you judgmental pharisee…” They teach that DISCERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM.
Let me finish with this. The message of the “Culture of Honor,” the message of Bill’s false grace and sophisticated patience with Todd, the message I received about child molesters…the core of it is this: LOVE DOES NOT JUDGE, AND SO DISCERNMENT IS UNLOVING. Bill’s strong, tearful rebuke of Todd’s naysayers introduces a new sort of love, one that is loud and blind and frankly (hopefully you’re catching on to this theme) incredibly judgmental, taking anyone who might discern even the most blatant sin to the guillotine on the “Culture of Honor’s” stage. That’s the one fault they will not tolerate. Well, I stand condemned by the “Culture of Honor.” I think that anyone with sense, even unbelievers, could have discerned Todd Bentley. I stand with Christ, whose love is inseparable from discernment and righteousness: And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God… Phil. 1:9-11
Bethel’s attitude, this sensual deception that opens the gate wide to sin, has nothing to do with love. Shepherds who LOVE the sheep most, discern and fight the wolves most fiercely. When you reject discernment, destruction is in one of two places: either already upon you, or on its way. Todd’s story is a first fruit. So are the many others I have told. There is much more to come, as sensual, false gospels increase their hold around the world.
For this is a people without discernment;
therefore he who made them will not have compassion on them;
he who formed them will show them no favor. Is. 27:11b