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.
Witchcraft is a strong word, but describes the practice of seeking power, revelation, and encounters from the spirit realm apart from Jesus Christ. I use it on purpose. The true gospel of Jesus Christ does not particularly appeal to those who are seeking these things. The gospel of Jesus Christ is for those who, as Jesus said, are seeking the kingdom and its RIGHTEOUSNESS. When the access point, the gate, the door, if you will, to spiritual experience is a convoluted set of ideas and guidelines for experiencing God sensually (by the senses), rather than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have not just deviated from truth, we’re defying it. Any spirit that meets us on the other side is a deceiver. This is why if you visit a few new age sites like this one, and you’ve been around these movements, you will be struck by how similar the methods, guidelines, experiences and revelations are to the sermons, revelations, and prophecies you heard and learned in church.
If that’s not simple enough, just consider this. Why so many sermons with so many instructions that ARE NOT GIVEN BY THE APOSTLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT to the church as plain commands? If this is how to “bring the kingdom” and “experience the Presence,” why is it not what Jesus and the apostles taught us to do? Why did they spend their time and parchment on other commands, insisting we not be moved from them? Why, if the HOLY Spirit wants to teach us to interact and host Him in these ways, did He not say so in Scripture?
Note: this post is not focusing on false doctrine, but on occultic practices.
Here’s a random sampling of Bethel’s spiritism or occultism, in no particular order:
Getting anointing from the dead:
Spiritual power of a tuning fork (Bill’s wife Beni Johnson’s blog):
Beni on spiritually significant numbers:
Beni on Full Moons:
Fire tunnel and spiritual drunkenness:
Bethel students explain to us how to get drunk or “whacked” in the Holy Spirit, and believe for “impartation through video,” they teach us to “fire bomb” the HS, and if you watch to the end, you can make a “barrel” with your arms for God to fill…this is what they’ve learned in school! Bethel’s School!
Soaking Prayer (which has many forms, but mainly involves laying or sitting in the “Presence” and receiving from the Holy Spirit, instead of actively engaging with the mind:
Bethel believes in consistent interactions with angels for all believers, and talk about visitations from archangels as if it is normal Christian living. Here are a couple examples. Beni’s blog:
At about 4:30 sec, here’s Jenn Johnson teaching about angels around the throne having “farting contests.” “God’s a heck of a lot more fun than we think He is!” she says, but explains that it does not take away from awe of Him. Listen to her scripture-defying sermon and wonder that this has been made public.
There’s much more to be highlighted, such as the similarity between Bethel’s idea of “hosting the Presence” in a geographical location and portals (the Bible calls them “high places”), prophecy that sounds like clairvoyancy and aura-reading, and other occultic practices too numerous to mention. The refrain is echoed to excuse this again and again that ‘Satan offers counterfeits, but God is “restoring” the originals’ (see Beni’s blogs). You’ll hear this idea often in charismatic circles.
But the truth is that Bethel is one of the most poignant examples of what my blog exists to identify: they most clearly articulate in their teachings a false gospel of spiritualism. Instead of the gospel handed down from the apostles, which we obey by the guidance of the New Testament record, this is a gospel of methods and rituals and practices and guidelines for how to welcome, cultivate, host, honor, hear from, experience, and impart the Holy Spirit (please try to find these words in the Bible). But not obey. Not obey. That is not a word you will hear much, though the New Testament makes it clear that according to the true gospel, the work of the Spirit is OBEDIENCE in a believer’s life. Bill Johnson and company have offered so many thousands of words and concepts in substitution for Galatians 5:16-25, which describes a war between the Spirit and the flesh, a war that requires crucifixion of the deeds of the flesh. In the false gospel of spiritualism, sin is not the problem, but lack of cultivation, inadequate hunger, not enough impartation, insufficient soaking, etc. are the problem. And in this false gospel FAITH manifests (to repeat myself) not in warring against sin and the lusts of the flesh, striving to obey the gospel, but in supernatural encounters and experiences. It’s a false faith, that produces real power.
I’m gonna say it again. It’s a false faith, that produces real power. But not the power of God’s Holy Spirit, who brings conviction of sin and produces righteousness. A power that does…well, all the things mentioned above. That moves the senses: elates, titillates, excites, comforts, and deceives. And then does so much more, wreaking havoc and destruction and inviting God’s judgment. While there are lots of false teachers out there that warp people’s thinking, Bill Johnson’s Bethel is particularly dangerous because they are consistently teaching people to operate in unauthorized spiritual activity and they’re regularly contacting, hosting, entertaining and actively revelling in spiritual activity that is demonic, and presenting it as Christian.
There are many resources, and so many voices have cried out in warning. Here are a few articles (by linking I do not necessarily endorse every view of these teachers or sites, but appreciate the article I link to):
I will follow up with some scriptures that tell us MOST IMPORTANTLY what God says in warning.
Finally, here is a video that was very important to us as we began to understand this deception.