This article was prepared from material written by someone who was formerly in the NAR for many years.
Bethel Church in Redding California is a major hub of the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation), and its pastor, Bill Johnson, one of the most influential people in the movement. Bethel is also a major influence on the worldwide Charismatic movement through books, youth ministries such as ‘Jesus Culture’, Bethel Music and the BSSM — Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, Bethel Church has successfully fulfilled the objective of exporting its ideas and creating a reproduceable model for other churches to copy.
It has however essentially departed from any form of biblical faith; and if it ever even was Christian in the first place, it is no longer anything but a hub of New Age and occult teachings and activities. The religion that Bethel embodies is Christian in name only, and would be better described as shamanic mysticism or a form of Gnosticism. It is definitely not in any shape or form orthodox biblical Christianity; and this can be readily deduced from just the following (partial) list of doctrines and practices that Bethel is promoting.
Bill Johnson’s wife, Beni, and many students of Bethel's “supernatural school” practice something called “grave sucking”, or “grave soaking”; this ghoulish practice involves lying or prostrating themselves on the graves of dead leaders or preachers in order to absorb their anointing.
Please see all the photos in the link below. You can also see Bill Johnson himself pictured here. Johnson does not admit it publicly, but he stands behind all of this or they would not be happening in his church or ministry school.
This same practice is also indulged in by other Bethel associates including Benny Hinn and Jeff Jansen. It has also been promoted by one of the NAR’s chief prophets, Bob Jones.
The Bible strictly forbids necromancy (Lev 20:27) as an idolatrous practice.
Beni Johnson soaking on the grave of C.S. Lewis
Beni Johnson absorbing from the grave of pelagian heretic Charles Finney.
BSSM students soaking in the anointing from the grave of false prophet Maria Woodworth Etter. For more on Etter click here.
Bill Johnson at grave of false teacher Smith "throw the baby against the wall" Wigglesworth.
BSSM students explain why they suck.
Fire Tunnels and Glory Puppets
Bethel practices and promotes something called “Fire Tunnels”, in which people walk through the middle of a human “tunnel”, and hands are laid on them by each and every one as they pass through. This practice is nowhere to be found in Scripture, which is our final authority for doctrine and practice.
Bethel’s "fire tunnel" practice is part of their “impartation” philosophy and indeed, something is imparted, strange fire!
This video shows the use of a puppet to touch people as they pass through the fire tunnel. These puppets can be purchased from the Bethel online store for $100, where it is claimed that they “release Heaven into Earth”. Can it get any more ridiculuous?
The behaviour in this video (including homosexual actions) looks more like the pagan “rising up to play” referred to in Exodus 32:6 than anything else.
This information alone should be enough to make any Christian flee in the opposite direction. But there’s much more, -oh so much more.
Bethel promotes something called Destiny Cards, which, like tarot cards, are used to divine the future. But Bethel intimates that their cards are even more effective than their counterparts: “Our cards lead the way” they say! Destiny Cards were created by a ministry in New Zealand called ChristAlignment. Ben Fitzgerald (who also appears in the grave-sucking video), is the son of ChristAlignment’s founders, Ken and Jenny Hodge, and is a Bethel missionary who used to be in their leadership.
After an outcry from Christians, Bethel offered an explanation, and attempted to deny that the Hodges were practising divination or that Destiny cards had any relationship to tarot cards. Not surprisingly, NARpostle Michael Brown, who consistently covers for A-List false teachers and blasphemers such as Bill Johnson, Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland, also attempted a similar denial.
We would simply ask the reader to see for himself from these links below.
And finally to top it all off, there's topless dancing at Christalignments's Encounter Evangelism. See here.
Bethel has continued to support this organisation by twisting scriptures such as Acts 17:22-34 and claiming the Hodges are simply contextualising the gospel in order to reach people involved in the occult or the New Age Movement.
Here is another link that talks about the fruit of Bethel’s ministry. Note that in those festivals they avoid saying ‘Jesus’ or ‘God’ and talk about the ‘Spirit of Creation’ instead. This is not the gospel!
There is nothing holy about yoga (see here). It is a New Age practice derived from Hinduism and was part of the worship of Hindu deities. Each yoga position is wordless act of homage or invocation to these false gods. However, Bill Johnson's wife, Beni both practices and promotes yoga and writes about it in her book.
Just when you thought Bethel could not get any more bizarre . . . Bethel’s Theresa Dedmon advertises and sells prophetic artwork which can apparently help you to discover your God-given destiny and identity, assist you in recovery from trauma, bring emotional, spiritual and even physical healing and spiritually impart to you an ‘imprint of heaven’. What’s more, you can cover your body with all of this spiritual power. These so called “Destiny Pants” are advertised as “embodying the prophetic art they are created from”, “enhancing awareness of God’s presence” and making the wearer a “walking encounter of Heavens’ message”.
Are your trousers on fire for God? Apparently they can be with Destiny Pants.
Destiny Pants, glory puppets and so on, reveal a belief in objects (or objects that you can purchase) as necessary tools for mediating God's blessing. This is a form of the fetishism practised by shamans and witch-doctors. It is false religion.
Gold Dust, "Angel Feathers" and "Glory" Clouds
Bill Johnson of Bethel is under the impression God literally has feathers like a chicken.
Gold dust or "glory" clouds are frequently experienced during Bethel services. Where something apparently appears conveniently near the air-conditioning vents.
When we compare these pathetic displays with the biblical accounts of the glory of God being revealed, it should become immediately apparent that the Bethel phenomena are pathetic counterfeits.
When the real glory cloud of God appeared in Scripture, men were terrified and prostrated themselves, unable to stand or remain there, and they became immediately aware of their sinful condition in the presence of a holy God, crying out for mercy.
None of these things are present in the carnival of carnality at Bethel Redding New Age church. Rather then revering the true God, the congregation relish the experiences and marvel at the gold dust in their hands which is regarded as if it were the very presence of God itself.
One lady who came out of such a church revealed that it had been her job to dump glitter dust into the ventilation system; and yet in spite of such admissions people will still believe that this gold is real and of supernatural origin. Why? -because they actually want to believe it; and this is terrifying evidence that they have no love of the truth and have already been given over to deception.
Bill Johnson defended the appearance of feathers in church meetings by quoting Psalm 91, “He shall cover you with His feathers”. However the psalm is clearly using the similitude of a mother bird covering her chicks with her wings to illustrate God's care and protection for His own; it is not saying that God has actual feathers that also moult apparently. Johnson's misapplication of this psalm to provide a basis for the feather shower is flippant and blasphemous and reveals both his contempt for the Word of God and its Divine author.
Bethel claims to have witnessed many healings, but very few, if any of these healings, are ever medically verified. Considering the power and anointing they are claiming for their outpouring, and that they claim the ability to do greater works than Jesus: -the blind aren't seeing, the dear are not hearing, neither are the lame walking or the lepers cleansed; and the dead are certainly not being raised, in spite of the fact that they have a "dead raising team". In fact a conspicuous hallmark of Bethel, and their mimics over here, Tikkun under its senior apostle Dan Juster, and his associates Asher Intrater and CEO Ron Cantor who make the same claims about Jn. 14:23, -is the complete absence of not only greater works, but works even remotely comparable to those of Jesus.
When a crowd is primed by suggestion and people are hyped up on adrenalin this often results in a placebo effect which produces a feeling of well-being. However this will evaporate sometime later, and by the time the euphoria or high has worn off they discover that the healing was not real. Unfortunately this "loss" of healing never gets reported, as in prosperity gospel circles it's considered shameful and a mark of weak or absent faith to "lose" healing.
Some healings are deliberate fakes such as the leg-lengthening parlour-trick performed by Todd White and others.
Though most of the claimed healings are outright lies, even when people are actually healed, we should not make the mistake of automatically assuming that it came from God. Jesus Himself says:
"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."