Bill Johnson, Bethel and their New Age Deception

SECOND WARNING – BILL JOHNSON and BETHEL CHURCH

by Andrew Strom

A couple of years ago we sent out a Warning itemizing a number of facts about Bill Johnson’s ministry and Bethel church in Redding. Numerous witnesses and videos from Bethel show that this church is spreading an “anointing” very similar to Todd Bentley – ie. spiritual ‘drunkenness’, jerking, hysterical laughter, “angel orbs”, ‘fire tunnels’, spirit travel, mystical “portals”, etc. Plus constant talk in their ministry school of bizarre angel encounters and trips to the ‘third heaven.’ All of it has an extremely ‘New Age’ feel. And it is still going on today. (But even worse – as we shall see).

Bill Johnson strongly defended Todd Bentley – even after his divorce and remarriage. No wonder, for the ‘anointing’ that both men carry seems almost identical (though their “style” is very different). These facts are beyond dispute and have been confirmed by many witnesses.

But whenever I say such things about Bill Johnson, people rush to defend him, saying what a ‘great guy’ he is, and what a great ministry he has. And yes – he is a very charming man who does
say good things. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be so dangerous. Deception always wraps itself in the best “sheep’s wool” it can find. Otherwise it would have no chance of deceiving the sheep! Why do you think the Bible warns of “SEDUCING” spirits in the Last Days – and‘LYING’ signs and wonders? If the deception was not so ‘seductive’ then nobody would fall for it. And this stuff is very seductive indeed

Complete article here: http://www.revivalschool.com/second-warning-bill-johnson-and-bethel-church/

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The Only Way to the Father (God)?

wayI’m coming across more and more people who are ignoring what scripture clearly says and creating meanings totally different to what is plainly written on the page.

 They will appeal to “Spiritual insight” and present a “prophetic” interpretation of what is written OR they claim some kind of special knowledge gained through tradition/education/cultural awareness. Both cases require the average believer to submit to the understanding presented by those with that special knowledge, because we (apparently) haven’t got a hope of understanding scripture for ourselves when we read it.

 

Recently I’ve seen some imaginative claims about the following statement from Jesus:

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

To me that is a straight forward statement about Jesus and His importance.

 The latter part makes clear the exclusivity of access to the Father (God) through Jesus. And yet the imagination of man can work overtime to reinterpret such a simple statement to make it fit with their own personal theological agenda.

 A few weeks ago I saw video of Oprah Winfrey interviewing Joel Osteen. When Oprah pressed Osteen on the claimed exclusivity of Christianity – Osteen gave a reply something along the lines that Jesus is the only way to God, but there are many ways to Jesus.

In today’s relativist and syncretistic world it’s a popular idea that all religions lead to God, that none has a monopoly on truth (regardless of Jesus’ statement that HE is the Truth).

Osteen tried to put a Christian-friendly spin onto that idea. He made sure he presented Jesus as the sole means of access to God (so he wouldn’t alienate his Christian supporters) but not wanting to distance himself from Oprah, inferred that other religions are merely another way to Jesus.

More recently I’ve seen another approach to Jesus’ claim. Pushing aside what Jesus actually said, a blog commenter (a claimed Messianic Jew) suggested that Jesus REALLY meant that the Torah is the Way the Truth and the Life.

While I find it disturbing that someone would need to make such a claim to support a chosen belief system, (which I don’t think is held by most Messianic Jews), I wasn’t really surprised because I’ve had previous disagreements with him regarding the divinity of Jesus. This example seems to be merely another case of diminishing Jesus’ importance.

 There are clearly MULTIPLE ways of changing the clear and simple message of scripture into something more esoteric and each of those ways takes the “average” believer away from the truth, creating a distance between God’s word and the “average” believer that makes it necessary for an intermediary to bridge the gap.

An intermediary between man and God?

Wait a minute – doesn’t scripture tell Jesus is that intermediary? That HE is the only means of access to the Father? At least it does if we are simple enough to accept scripture at face value instead of looking for reasons why the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says.

The Evil of Mens’ Traditions

A strong title?

Maybe it seems a little extreme?

But how else can traditions that create a false image of God be described?

Traditions that misrepresent His character.

Traditions that misrepresent His ways.

Traditions that misrepresent His desires.

Effectively those traditions result in a false gospel and lead to people to follow false paths with a false hope.

There is a big difference between those traditions of men and the Truth of God.

Where do our own desires REALLY lie?

What do WE really want?

Which do we choose?

Moving the Theological Goalposts

goalpostsThe goal posts of the cessationist argument have been moved.

After choosing not to post my link to articles detailing post apostolic examples of the gifts still in use, the “Hip and Thigh” blog owner says:

Everyone is aware of post apostolic miracles. I am completely aware of what Sam Storm believes about supernatural happenings after 100 AD. But none of those examples he supplies demonstrates the continuance of gifted people, just that God acts supernaturally at certain times in response to prayer or in the working out of his providence. That is something no “cessationist” as they are called, disagrees with.

So now it seems every historical case of gifts in action is not evidence of the gifts in action, and therefore their continuing availability. Those cases are merely examples of God’s response to prayer or the working out of His providence.

Now the argument is being shifted from the continuance of Spiritual gifts, to the “continuance of gifted people”. And since those gifts allegedly ended with the last of the apostles the term “gifted people” seems to refer to the original apostles.

But the gifts in question have nothing to do with “gifted people” (apostles), and everything to do with a GIFTING God.

The issue isn’t about “gifted people”. The issue is the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit and miracles provided by the God that the apostles worshipped and promoted.
The one and only God who is just as real and no less active in the world today. Any absence of gifts and miracles is not due to a Divine recall or Divine inactivity, but due to human factors (such as lack of belief in the availability of gifts due to false teaching).

Are the Spiritual gifts HE made available to the body (not just the apostles) for the building up of the body, still needed and still available today?
Yes

Did he restrict those gifts to an elite apostleship?
No.

Was their practice limited to an elite apostleship?
No.

Did God withdraw any of those gifts after the last of the apostles?
No.

Are those gifts still valid, available and practiced today and throughout history, even from 100AD to 1900AD and to the present day?

Yes! As attested by the absence of biblical evidence that they would be withdrawn soon after Paul wrote about them, and by the presence of historical evidence that they HAVE continued (some of which can be found at the links provided in my earlier post here: https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/cessationist-evasion/ )

Cessationist Evasion!

In previous posts I’ve given my reasons for believing in the validity of on-going Spiritual gifts*.

To date I’ve still not seen or been given any argument (supportable by scripture) that could even half convince me that God has withdrawn any of the Spiritual gifts described in the New Testament.
I’ve already addressed the most common “scriptural” claim given by cessationsists – found in 1 Corinthians 13*.

The only recent “evidence” I’ve been given came in the form of a question on a cessationist blog: “how do you explain the fact that the gifts were absent from the church between, say, 100AD and 1900AD?”

My first attempt to answer that question didn’t make it past moderation. The moderator/blog owner wouldn’t approve it.

The question is based on an assumption that ignores available evidence. There are many post-apostolic references to the continuation of miracles in the church, recorded in the writings of the early church fathers. I easily found many sources giving details of their writings – which are too numerous and too lengthy for me to quote at length. Instead I’ll point to these articles here:

http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/spiritual-gifts-in-church-history–1-http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/spiritual-gifts-in-church-history–2- http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/spiritual-gifts-in-church-history–3-http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/spiritual-gifts-in-church-history–4-

A link to the above articles was posted on the offending blog in response to his request for an explanation for the alleged almost 2000 year absence of gifts. The comment and the link to the articles didn’t get past moderation.

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*(see here for my reasons and my comments regarding 1 Cor 13): https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/are-we-mature-enough-not-to-need-gods-gifts/ )
Here is a link to the relevant part of the cessationist blog mentioned above:
http://hipandthigh.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/authentic-fire-chapter-2-review/comment-page-1/#comment-10942

God’s Truth Does Not Need to be Unleashed.

Today I followed a link to an article on John MacArthur’s website and found this statement at the top of the home page:

“Unleashing God’s Truth One Verse at a Time”.

Excuse me Mr MacArthur, the bible wasn’t written in “verses”. It wasn’t written to be addressed “one verse at a time”. That approach is guaranteed to lead to error, resulting in false doctrines that are supported by out of context proof texts.

It’s therefore not surprising that MacArthur has fallen for (and promotes) some very harmful theology (including, but not limited to, an unholy trinity of Calvinism, Cessationism and Supersessionism), a very scary thing when he has such a devoted following, and no less dangerous than the extreme charismanics he has been targeting recently.

spirit and truthjpgGod’s truth doesn’t need to be “unleashed” – He has already revealed His truth and it just needs to be received. A good starting point for us is to ask God to give us a love of the truth, and then receive that love when it is given. Another helpful step is to respect the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, who has been sent to teach and equip followers of Jesus instead of denying His continuing work.

May our love of the Truth and desire for it exceed our love of any theology we may have been taught – and be greater than our love for the theologians and teachers who introduced us to it.

David Pawson Exposé ?

1The question of whether David Pawson is a false teacher is still one of the most popular search terms leading people to my blog. I wrote about this previously here:
https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/is-david-pawson-a-false-teacher/

Within the comments section of that post someone drew attention to a long article here: [LINK NOW REMOVED]*

According to the person who posted the link, it “clearly shows Pawson and his false teachings”. The commenter also adds (referring to me) “because you believe some of the lies themselves… you yourself is a false teacher.”

I was quite aware of that article. I’d come across it several times. It used to be the first article listed if David Pawson’s name was “googled”.  And clearly some have found it convincing. I feel it is something I ought to address because I know people have visited that site via the link given by the above mentioned commenter.

So what are the claims made in the article and how valid are they?
Firstly it is a very long article containing a transcript of a talk given by Pawson that probably went for 45 minutes to an hour, so doing an extensive, line by line critique isn’t practical in a blog post, but then again it isn’t necessary because most of the objections raised are 1) repetitive and 2) they are focused on aspects of Dispensationalism , a theology clearly held by the writer of the article.

So what evidence does the writer give to “prove” that Pawson is a false teacher? And how valid is that evidence? Here are some of the claims made, followed by my response to those claims:

Claim 1.

David Pawson does not believe and preach of meeting the Lord in the air at His return.

Pawson certainly DOES believe in the event commonly referred to as “the rapture”. But he believes it will occur AFTER the period known as the great tribulation. But what happens AFTER that meeting? What happens to the believers who were caught up and where do they go? Pawson believes (as it states in scripture) that those believers alive at the Lord’s return will be changed and put on immortality and will return to the earth with the Lord (who they have met in the air) to take part in His 1000 year reign.

Claim 2.

Scripture refutes that Christians will go through “the most fearful period in the history of the planet.

when Jesus returnsScripture does nothing of the kind.
Pawson believes and teaches what scripture DOES say about this. His teachings about the end times are accessible through many recorded sermons found on the website http://davidpawson.org/resources/category/belief/when-jesus-returns/ ) as well as in several books he has written.
Like the author of the article, I was a believer in the pre-trib rapture for several years. It was the view I’d been taught in church. But my beliefs totally changed when I took the time to study scripture for myself. I later came across Pawson’s teaching on this subject, and that helped me accept that my new understanding wasn’t off-track.

Claim 3.

Pawson preaches “we will enter the Millennial Reign of Christ STILL IN OUR MORTAL BODIES, for we have never been Raptured”.

This has been dealt with above in “claim 1”. The accusation made couldn’t be more false. It is a total lie, a complete misrepresentation of what Pawson preaches.

Claim 4.

“Pawson seems to make the Church of Jesus Christ take the place that ISRAEL takes in Biblical prophecy, in the period of the Tribulation.”

It is only the erroneous Dispensationalist view point that separates the church and Israel in this way, placing the “raptured church” in heaven, while Israel suffers through the tribulation. Pawson believes that both the church and Israel go through that period and each have their place. The church doesn’t replace Israel but neither does Israel replace the church.

Claim 5.

“Most disturbing of all is the fact that Pawson believes and teaches that “Jesus Christ” will soon appear, and we should be waiting for Him to take over the planet and transform it into a new world.”

bloodmoonPawson believes that when Jesus returns He will defeat the beast (commonly known as the anti-christ) and He will take over the planet and reign from Jerusalem. This will all happen after the Tribulation, it will be unmistakable and cannot be confused with the rise of antichrist who has already been made known before Jesus returns.
Pawson does NOT preach that Christians will take dominion over the word’s systems etc. before Jesus’s return. JESUS takes dominion over them after His unmistakable return during which HE gathers His saints in the air. No one believing the same way as Pawson would be deceived by a false Christ, a man who does NOT come to prominence in the immediate, highly visible and public way that will mark the return of Jesus.
Pawson also believes that the Millennial reign will be followed by the creation of a new heavens and a new earth, that will replace the current creation. A new creation where only righteousness dwells.

The above addresses the first page or so of that article and I think that is more than enough to expose the article’s lack of validity. The article is a tangled web of lies and false accusations based around the very dangerous dispensationalist theology.

I’ve read through the 57 pages in which a transcript of Pawson’s message is interrupted by interjections from the writer of the article and I could possibly highlight countless more of the kind of falsehoods I’ve mentioned above, but it would merely be more and more of the same and the interjections merely highlight how much the writer has been conditioned by Dispensationalism and that she is reading things into Pawson’s message that haven’t been said or even implied (as I’ve already shown above). And at times the writer accuses Pawson of saying things that are in complete disagreement with what he DOES say.

The writer makes the continued claim that Pawson was avoiding scripture, but maybe if the writer had been more familiar with scripture instead of Dispensationalist teaching (and I find her ignorance of what scripture says to be genuinely heartbreaking considering the role she has taken upon herself with that article), she would have recognised that Pawson’s teaching was totally consistent with scripture – even though he avoids the common practice of bombarding listeners with “proof texts”.

Ironically the writer makes reference to the Bereans early in the article but doesn’t seem to realise that the Bereans SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES to see whether Paul was speaking the truth. They did not look up a handful of conveniently provided proof texts quoted by Paul. Nor did they expect Paul to provide that list of “texts” to make their task easier.

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Most of the above comes from a reply I wrote in the comments after the “Is David Pawson a False Teacher article.

 

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* I’ve now removed the link to the article, deciding I don’t want to further expose readers to the very questionable theology and false accusations made at that site.