Should Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding be rejected as heretical?
A question many have is what to do with the teachings of Bethel Redding in light of their eschatological bent toward Partial Preterism and promotion of Kingdom Now theology?
Let me state it very directly: Partial Preterism is not just wrong, it is a doctrine of demons. The doctrine of Kingdom Now is just as dangerous and must be rejected.
However, I believe that many true believers are believing things such as them and many ministries doing amazing things for the cause of Christ are promoting them. Do we really throw the baby out with the bathwater?
Bill Johnson and the people at Bethel Redding have fully adopted the Partial Preterism heresy as their preferred estachology and there is very strong Kingdom Now features. The problem is many are confused at best.
While it is true that Bethel Redding has rejected classic Pentecostal eschatology (Thus, why they are no longer Assemblies of God), they are still faithful to the gospel and a core conviction that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is for all.
It is also important to note some leaders within the church and especially the school seem to teaching Open Theism or “moral government of God.” This concept has gathered a following in recent years among missionary groups such as YWAM as well.
Understanding Partial Preterism
It is a teaching that has been on the edge of the doctrine concerning the end times since 1620’s. It has never been widely accepted, especially within the evangelical churches. Selective priests in the Catholic tradition has taught it.
It is also important to understand that this is not the same things as people like George Eldon Ladd and later John Wimber taught. The emphasis on the Kingdom of God was known as Inaugurated eschatology. This is different.
In its’ simplest form, Partial Preterism teaches that everything negative such as the Great Tribulation happened when the Roman empire feel in 70AD. As believers born afterwards, we are just going to see more and more positive things and increased spiritual manifestations.
The first problem is that it puts way too much emphasis on one event that is not even directly discussed in the New Testament, only heavily implied. While many people who believe in dispensationalism ignore much of what happened in 70AD; partial preterists think it is the end all of everything theologically. Both are wrong.
The second issue with the teaching is that they remove any desire for the imminent coming back of the Savior. Some of the people who actually teach it have a very mocking attitude toward any mention of the catching up. They are full blown scoffers.
As people of faith and power, we can not allow ourselves to be deceived by the smooth words of teachers who try and convict us that Jesus is not coming back for the saints. 1 Thessalonians 4 tells us to encourage others in the catching up. Partial Preterism discourage people from it and even are known to mock any type of a “rapture.”
Kingdom Now in Redding?
Once they have laid the eschatological foundation to explain away any negative events; they build on it with what is known as Kingdom Now theology. This doctrine from the late 1980’s is very tempting to be people confused about their eschatology.
R. J. Rushdoony started preaching this concept in the 1960’s in his very radical Calvinism and was passionately a supporter of cessationism. It is amazing that so much of this damnable doctrine came from someone who was an enemy of Pentecostalism. It is also interesting that it is Post-Millennial in eschatology.
It seems that the idea came out of a prophecy related to the Latter Rain revival of the late 1940’s and later, some of the writings of C. Peter Wagner. It is noted that Wagner did celebrate the writings of Rushdoony. This is how the doctrine got rooted in Pentecostal churches that are Arminian in nature.
In its’ current form, it is a doctrine that states that as believers we are to be the leaders in the “Seven Mountain of society.” In the case of Bethel Redding, they believe they are “to bring the Kingdom of God to every sphere of life.”
It is important to note that this is not New Testament theology and it is actually goes against the clear teachings of it. We are to be the salt and light of this broken world. The church has always been strongest when marginalized.
Our friends that are part of Bethel Redding seem to disagree.
Bethel’s love for Trump
One thing that is alarming is the fixation on Donald Trump that many in Redding have, Bill Johnson included. As one would listen to them speak of the President; you can only think of a core conviction of Kingdom Now doctrine at its’ core.
It seems that they believe that Donald Trump and his platform is going to bring a new era of faith for Pentecostals. That he is preparing the government to receive us and that we are moving politically “from glory to glory.” It has concerned me more than once.
The gospel does not change based on who is in the Oval Office. The message of a bloody Savior is still the same and it does not alter. Nothing that a political leader can do will change the spiritual climate of sin and wickedness in the land.
If anything, history shows the greatest advances of the gospel has been in the face of some of the most wicked of men in politics. The gospel spread in Acts despite the government, not because of it. The same is true in every century since.
It is important for us to realize the Kingdom Now is actually keeping us from revival; not preparing the way for it. The Church will only lose its’ voice for repentance and righteousness as we lay in bed with politics in the nation.
It is one thing to support people that agree with you philosophically; it is another to publicly state God put a wicked man in the presidency for the “purposes of the Kingdom.”
Is Bethel Church bad?
The truth is that there is some amazing things they are doing and they are touching a lot of people. The emphasis they have on miracles is something that the scriptures encourages to have. They are going a lot of good things.
So what do we do about the doctrine of demons that is coming out of there in the form of Partial Preterism and Kingdom Now? We rebuke it. We correct it. We address it. This is the model given to us in Revelation 2-3.
I tend to agree that many seem to rubber stamp approval on what is happening in Redding and in doing so, they are leading a generation into deception. It is time to stand up and say, “but these things I have against you.”
I can not understand how some leaders look past these issues and just stand smiling for the picture time. It is important to have things like soteriology and estachology right! After all, when we miss these; all our theology will be screwed up!
I am aware that many that follow Azusa Report are also friendly to Bethel Redding. I still have many relationships in Redding. However, I am not going to stop that from asking the hard questions about what is happening.