Bethel Church’s “apostle” Bill Johnson: A Comedy Of Errors, Part 1 (By Marsha West)

October 20, 2014
Bill Johnson is no stranger to controversy. For one thing, he claims to be an apostle, as in the unique position held by the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He was given this high honor by C. Peter Wagner who holds many titles himself, including president of Global Harvest Ministries, chancellor of Wagner Leadership Institute, convening apostle of the New Apostolic Roundtable, and my personal favorite: presiding apostle of International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). So for the purpose of this article I’ll dub him Presiding Apostle Peter or PA Peter for short. What’s important to know about him is that he’s sort of like the pope of the “new apostolic-prophetic movement.”Following is ICA’s definition of modern day apostle:

An apostle is a Christian leader gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church.

What role do the so-called apostles play? There are a couple of tasks, says PA Peter. First, apostles are to “set things in order” and “they’re to assure that the body of Christ is operating on the basis of sound, biblical doctrine.”

Sound biblical doctrine my Aunt Fanny!

PA Peter and his self-proclaimed apostles and prophets are out-and-out false teachers! These men and women (yes, there are women apostles) are well aware that accusations of heresy have been leveled against them by a large number of highly regarded orthodox Bible scholars and still they continue the pretense.

In this two part series you’ll discover the many twists and turns the new apostolic-prophetic movement has taken over the years and why those of us who are in an online discernment ministry believe it is a clear and present danger to the Body of Christ, thus we will continue warning the brethren. (Acts 20:31)

Now, keep in mind that the men and women involved in this heretical movement are sincere in their belief that they’re in the same league as the Old Testament prophets and the Lord’s hand-picked disciples who later became the Twelve Apostles. The leaders have convinced their followers that the office of apostleship is not reserved for a select few, as the Bible teaches. Moreover, they’ve led people to believe that Christ is once again choosing apostles and prophets to preside over His Church. Listen to Got Questions‘ dire warning:

Those claiming the office of apostle seek authority equal to, or at least rivaling, the authority of the original twelve apostles. There is absolutely no biblical evidence to support such an understanding of the role of apostle today. This would fit with the New Testament’s warning against false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13).

So – if it’s true that Christ is giving authority to a select few apostles and prophets why, pray tell, would our Lord give it to individuals who possess questionable character? I’ll have more on this in a moment.

Suffice it to say C. Peter Wagner and Bill Johnson believe that the Lord has given them the authority to rule over the Church. So – if it’s also true that the so-called apostles are called by Christ to form a government to control the Church and that they will hold Church leaders accountable then who, pray tell, is going to hold them accountable?

Itching Ears

Without getting too far afield, since the new apostolic-prophetic movement’s inception it has been referred to in a number of different ways, i.e.Dominionism…Latter Rain…Joel’s Army…Manifest[ed] Sons of God…Kingdom Now…Charismatic Renewal…Positive Confession and a few others. Its current handle, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), was coined by Presiding Apostle Peter in the 1990s. He “reinvigorated the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God false prophecies about a great endtime revival accompanied by signs and wonders.” As I said, NAR leaders teach that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance – and they are His chosen ones to bring it to fruition!

Do not be surprised:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,; and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths 2 Timothy 4:3

In Paul’s final warning to the Church he never suggested that they embrace new movements. On the contrary, he warned that they would not listen to the truth. Commentator Matthew Poole clarifies:

Having itching ears; for their ears itch, and they must have those that will scratch them. The disease of lust in their souls brings forth an itch in their ears, that they will have a mind to hear only such as will by scratching please them.

Shall they heap to themselves teachers, will be finding out teachers, not according to God’s, but to their own hearts; and there will be plenty of them to be found, they shall heap them up, choosing them without any judgment, regarding nothing but whether they will not be smart upon their lusts.(emphasis in original)

Paul’s message throughout his entire letter was that the church must “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me” (1:13); “guard the good deposit entrusted to you (1:14); “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2:2).

Unity Over Doctrine

Now to Bill Johnson, head pastor of Bethel Church (BC). BC’s leadership holds to the theology of the Word of Faith (WoF) movement. WoF doctrine teaches the occult belief that:

He [God] framed the world with His words. You can’t build without substance. He took words – faith-Filled words were God’s substance. Here, essentially, is what God did. God filled His words with faith. He used His words as containers to hold His faith and contain that spiritual force and transport it out there into the vast darkness by saying ‘Light be!’ That’s the way God transported His faith causing creation and transformation. (Source)

One word: unscriptural!

BC also has its roots in the early1980s movement dubbed by C. Peter Wagner the Third Wave (TW).

Following is an excerpt from Apologetics Index. What they’ve laid out here should help prevent people from getting drawn into TW:

[D]istinctives of the Third Wave movement include – but are not limited to – the following:

  • The baptism with the Holy Spirit is identified with conversion. This is unlike other Pentecostal movements, in which the baptism with the Spirit is either a separate and/or a recurring experience.
  • the belief that the spiritual gifts are valid for today; that Christians can ask for, receive and learn how to use these spiritual gifts (and become better at using them with practice.
  • the belief that the primary use of the spiritual gifts is for ministry in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit – both to bless and heal those inside the church and to minister to those outside the church (“Power Evangelism.”). This ministry includes healing the sick,casting out demons, prophesying, etcetera.
  • active promotion of unity – sometimes at any cost (e.g. the Toronto Blessing Movement ‘s acceptance of certain Word-Faith teachers. “Unity over doctrine
  • the belief that people, Christians included, can be possessed (or ‘demonized’ – or ‘oppressed,’ something seen as a lesser form of possession) by evil spirits with or without their consent
  • the belief that objects or places can project evil influence and act as conduits for demonic oppression
  • the belief that traumatic events, either in our lives or in our ancestral past, can make us particularly vulnerable to demonic influence, possession or oppression
  • the belief that some Christians – using appropriate spiritual gifts – can identify and cast out demonic spirits
  • a general acceptance of Kingdom Now theology, which has led to the practice of so-called ‘Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare‘ or SLSW – an unbiblical concept in which Christians identify (through ‘spiritual mapping‘) and then target (with SLSW) ‘Territorial Spirits.’(all links are AI’s) (Source)

WoF and TW leaders are false teachers. (You’ll find the names of these as well as many other false teachers on my website.) Over the years self-proclaimed apostles and prophets have managed to coax undiscerning individuals to involve themselves in some of the strangest physical manifestations imaginable. Those who participate in church services where “signs and wonders” take place like to blame their crude behavior on the Holy Spirit. Now, try to imagine giants of the faith such as John, Peter, James or even Paul “drunk in the spirit,” crawling on all fours barking like a dog, clucking like a chicken, jerking and twitching, rolling on the floor, laughingthemselves into a convulsive state. People involved in NAR have done these things in the past and continue them to this day. When I think about it, it really wouldn’t surprise me to witness Apostle Bill on all fours, nose in the air, howling like a wolf. But I digress.

Two Super Apostles Restore A Fraud

During the alleged Lakeland Outpouring aka Lakeland Revival in Florida, a story hit the news that put NAR evangelist Todd Bentley in a bad light. It was revealed that that the rock-star evangelist was in an adulterous relationship with a female intern – and suddenly all hell broke loose. In my column “We have had enough of false prophets” I scrutinized the NAR’s leaders and pointed out that Apostle Bill,

calls those who exposed Todd Bentley as a false prophet “sharks.” He also says:

“I’ll never blame the opponents [sharks] of this outpouring for Todd’s choices[sin]. However, it had a greater effect on the outcome than any of his critics will likely own up to in this lifetime. History proves this.”

(More on the Bentley brouhaha here, here and here.)

Apostle Bill and fellow apostate – oops! – apostle-prophet Rick Joynerdecided to involve themselves in Bentley’s “restoration process.” Just so you know, Rick Joyner’s the founder and Executive Director of MorningStar Publications and Ministries and is a big promoter of the “new breed” of apostles and prophets.

Both Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner, who are seasoned apostle-prophets, claim to hold the title “Super-Apostle” and/or “Super-Prophet” which is comparable to holding the high office of cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Chew on that for a moment. As an aside I should mention that some “Super-Apostles” have been accused of using cultic mind control techniques on those they prey upon.

Listen to Apostle Rick pontificate about how he sees himself:

Even though I have not been able to go to journalism school, or even Bible school, in many ways I would not trade my education for anyone’s. Like Paul, I can say that what I received I did not receive from men.

I mean, really, are we supposed to believe him? And why would we?

Now, back to Bentley. Bringing this man under submission took place following his divorce and after he married the Proverbs 7 woman, who, by the way, wasn’t the only woman he had an extra marital affair with. Apostle Bill was well aware that the fraud-evangelist had had a prior dalliance. Both “Super-Apostles” knew that he was drunk during his Lakeland stage act yet they chose to return him to ministry. But, then, no one has ever accused NAR leaders of doing much of anything by The Book.

Todd Bentley is no more qualified for ministry than is disgraced televangelist/prosperity preacher Jim Bakker, who was incarcerated for fleecing the flock (fraud). After his release from prison, what did Bakker do? Still craving attention, he returned to public ministry.

So – how should churches handle a person in a leadership role when he/she brings shame on the Name of our Lord Jesus? I’ve already addressed this topic in my column entitled Does the Bible Really Say We’re Not to Judge? In a nutshell the biblical way to handle it is for the church hierarchy to apply an appropriate level of discipline necessary to bring the person to true repentance. Church leaders who have a “moral failing” must publically repent of his/her sin against God. They then must seek spiritual guidance and accountability and move out of the limelight altogether. Once the person’s restored, he/she’s most often encouraged to serve the Lord behind the scenes. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case with Todd Bentley. And the reason for this is that the self-appointed Super Apostles Bill and Rick found it in their hearts – not in the Bible – to reinstate the man to public ministry.

I’ll close part 1 with a plea from a genuine apostle:

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:17-18)

Part 2 coming up!

Resources:

Strange Fire Conference Q&A – Phil Johnson interviews John MacArthur

The New Age Propensities of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson – By John Lanagan

C. Peter Wagner launches WLI Seattle, Sonrise Chapel, Feb. 3, 2008 – Around 54:00 into the session, Wagner responds to a question during the Q&A. He tells the audience that when the Holy Spirit stopped revealing things through the written Word, He kept on revealing new things to us through the “Rhema Word.” He claims that the Holy Spirit still speaks to us today by giving us information that you cannot find in the 66 books of the Bible, info that the Bible doesn’t address, but it’s not contradictory.

NAR “Apostle C. Peter Wagner teaching its key doctrine of Dominionism

Todd Friel of Wretched Radio/TV on Bill Johnson – 2:14 min.

Why I Must Speak Out Against the NAR and Bethel Church – Tony Miano, host of Cross Encounters radio, discusses, among other things, the music of BC’s music team Jesus Culture (more below). Listen to Tony tell of his Twitter chat with Beni Johnson, Bill’s pastorette wife.

Bill Johnson…scroll down – Apologetics Index

New Apostolic Reformation/Dominionism – On Solid Rock Resources

Bethel Church’s Music & Entertainment:

Jesus Culture of Bethel Church and Practicing Raising the Dead – Ken Silva

The Holy Spirit Makes A Movie? I Don’t Think So… – Amy Spreeman

The “Jesus Culture” – a petri dish for growing young new heretics?

Watch And Weep:

Try this Bethel Redding Snack Pack – My Word Like Fire

Gold dust rains at Bethel service

Bethel Church Dance

Bethel Church children’s director and “trips to heaven, with kids”

Creative Miracles at Bethel

Bethel Church Dance

Kundalini Spirit at Redding

School of Worship – Prophetic Song


Marsha West is a religious/political writer and owner of EmailBrigade.com. She is also the founder and editor of the Email Brigade News Report, a biweekly news resource for people of faith that is chock-full of critical news and information. Marsha is dedicated to restoring a more common sense approach to our nation’s governance by encouraging people to thoroughly understand the issues that impact American lives. Marsha’s articles have been published widely online and in print and appear regularly in the Christian Post blog section as well as News With Views, Renew America, Worldview Times, Big World Watch, Conservative Crusader, Veracity Voice, Web Commentary, and she is a correspondent for the Christian Research Network. Marsha is currently writing a fiction series for Christian children that will equip them to defend their faith and live for Christ. Visit Marsha’s website:http://emailbrigade.com

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One Response to Bethel Church’s “apostle” Bill Johnson: A Comedy Of Errors, Part 1 (By Marsha West)

  1. Pingback: Bethel Church’s “apostle” Bill Johnson: A Comedy Of Errors, Part 1 (By Marsha West) – discipleship4everlastinglife

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