WARNING - BILL JOHNSON and BETHEL CHURCH
by Andrew Strom
I am really hoping to make this the last of this type of article for awhile. Some people think I "love" putting out this stuff. But I honestly wish it would all go away, so we could get on with the 'real' work of building the kingdom.
However, Bill Johnson is doing such damage to the Body of Christ around the world that I simply cannot stay silent. In New Zealand (where I am currently) he holds a huge Conference once a year called "Manifest Presence". This is amost certainly the biggest and most influential Christian conference in the whole country. And likewise in other nations, such as UK, Australia, Singapore, and many others. His influence is enormous.
Bill Johnson is a very charming man. He also emphasizes a number of things that I heartily agree with - such as street evangelism using the gifts of the Spirit, prophecy and healing on the streets, etc. But the problem is that he endorses and promotes an "anointing" exactly identical to the one that Todd Bentley promotes. The "drunken glory", fire-tunnel, laughing, jerking, gold-dust, "Angel-mania"-type anointing that has done such damage to the Charismatic movement around the world and in many cases reduced it to a shocking travesty of what it once was. What would Derek Prince or Keith Green think of the things these men are into - spiritual drunkenness, "portals", 'visualization', spirit-travel, fire-tunnels, angel-orbs and the like? (Found all the way through the New Age movement, but not in the Bible).
Bill Johnson was one of the biggest supporters of the Lakeland revival led by Todd Bentley. And even after the fiasco that it became, he publicly endorsed Todd Bentley's ministry again in 2011. But Bill does it all with such "down-to-earth" charm and wise-sounding words - "how could this be deception?" That is what makes him so dangerous.
His wife Beni is co-pastor with Bill of Bethel church in Redding, California. And interestingly she is even more open about the bizarre things that theyare into. She even puts it in writing on the Internet, for all the world to see.
For example, in her "Life and Wellness" blog on July 6 this year, here is what she wrote in an entry called 'Love Shack Time': "I was talking with Ray Hughes the other day and was telling him about using a 528 HZ tuning fork as a prophetic act. Someone told me that this tuning fork is called the tuning fork of LOVE..." (Please note that crystals and tuning forks are used in NEW AGE therapy - and have nothing to do with Christianity in any way).
Beni continued: "Recently I got up to speak at a meeting and walked up to the song "Love Shack" by the B52's. I was calling people to more love. It was so fun."
I guess we are now beginning to get a sense of the strange spiritual world that these people inhabit. Another blog post that Beni wrote about 'WAKING UP ANGELS' in March 2009 was also very revealing:
"In the last couple of months, I personally have become more aware of the angelic activity in this realm. One of those times was when we were on a prayer trip to Arizona... One morning as we were driving up over Tehachapi Pass and coming down into the Mojave Desert, I began to feel angels. The closer we got, the stronger the impression felt. I could see them everywhere!.. I announced this to the group and said, "We have got to stop! We have to stop somewhere..." As we drove around a corner I said, "I think that we are going to wake up some angels here..."
"We knew we were to turn around, get out of the RV and wake up the angels. I wish I could convey to you the energy and the quickness of how God was working. We jumped out of the RV, I blew the shofar and rang the bell, and we yelled "WAKEY WAKEY." We got back into the RV and drove off. As we drove off, hilarious laughter broke out! We were stunned at the speed at which this all took place and were spinning from the adventure and the angelic activity. What in the world had just happened?! Heaven collided with earth. Woo hoo!!
"Since that time, there has been astirring in me to awaken the angels for use in this Kingdom reign that is upon us here on earth. I have shared these two stories in other places and have done a prophetic act of waking up the angels: having everybody cry out, "WAKEY WAKEY!" I know it is strange but it is very effective... One of our gals who enjoys God's angels... gets pretty wacked when they are around..."
The reference that Beni makes here to "Heaven colliding with earth" is of course directly tied to Bill Johnson's most famous teaching on "When Heaven Invades Earth". Clearly, this is the kind of thing they mean when they use that phrase. So if we get with their program so-to-speak, we too can go around "waking up angels" and getting "pretty wacked" when these 'angels' are around.
I guess the obvious question is whether they are "serious" about all this. Sadly, the answer is "Yes." When you get so completely deceived that you think "drunken glory" and 'tuning forks' and getting "wacked" are normal Christian behaviour, you are open to anything. Tragically, if we look at all that these people have said and done now for years and years, we have to conclude that one of Christendom's biggest leaders (Bill Johnson) inhabits the most bizarre quasi-spiritual universe that you can imagine. And he is spreading this deceived foolishness in the Body of Christ on a mass scale. It might seem almost "funny" if it wasn't so 'New Age' serious.
One young lady named Johanna who had been a student for many months at Bill Johnson's 'Bethel' school wrote to me the following:
"In August 2008 I moved to Redding, California to attend Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). I graduated in May 2009... Almost right away I began to question the bizarre behavior that is so normal there.
"At Bethel, there are many sayings that are tossed around daily... "God only has nice things to say," "There´s no high like the Most High." There would be all kinds of distracting behavior (random shouting, laughing, etc.) during school sessions and church services. When any guest speaker came to school, students would flock to the front to get as close to the speaker as possible. We were taught that any anointing we wanted could be received by simply "claiming it" for ourselves. Students would rush the stage and the front of the sanctuary so the speakers could lay hands on them.
"Among the guest speakers were Bob Jones, Heidi Baker, Georgian and Winnie Banov, Randy Clark, John and Carol Arnott... We also had regular sessions with Bill Johnson, Beni Johnson... and other Bethel pastors. The drunken behavior and questionable teachings from some, if not all, of these speakers was shocking at times. I can safely say that I never heard the word "repentance" once in any teaching.
"I remember when the Banovs came, the whole place was complete chaos. When they touched someone, that person would jerk violently or stumble around as if they were drunk. The Banovs minister to people in trash dumps around the world... What I remember them talking about was love, joy, bliss, and the new wine.
"Angels were often talked about. I remember Beni Johnson actually took an RV across Arizona and New Mexico to wake up angels that were supposedly sleeping. (Another one of the common phrases, "Wakey wakey"). I would always hear people talking about their encounters with angels and how they visited heaven. One young woman I knew said she could see angels everywhere, she talked to them all the time, and she would help her friends to do the same... God becomes like Santa Claus. Without the preaching of the true gospel, the fear of the Lord is lost."
ANDREW AGAIN: As you can see from all these reports, the ministry of Bill Johnson is highly suspect. Sadly, because the deception is not as "obvious" as Todd Bentley, people are charmed into thinking he's "fine". Charismatic leaders around the world flock to his meetings and openly endorse his teachings. For this reason I believe he is far more dangerous than Todd Bentley ever was. The Bible says that in the last days will come false teachers and "lying signs and wonders" to deceive if possible the "very elect." And what do we see today? New Age practices and spirits are flooding the church. And it is men like Bill Johnson that have become the "acceptable face" of this invasion. Please, friends, steer well clear.
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