A question I am asking often goes like this, “Is Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry worth going to?” It is noble question as many people walk to learn more about revival, scripture and how to run a ministry. The problem that I see in Redding is that alot of that doesn’t actually happen.
I love Bethel Church, Bill Johnson and the emphasis on expectation. It is something I wish I saw more often to be honest. It reminds me of the time I live in Pensacola in the midst of the Brownsville Revival.
Before I discuss the issues connected to the school, I am by no means telling you that you should not go or be part of the Bethel community. That is a decision that only you can make in a spirit of prayer. Anything else would be the legalistic control of the church that I despite so much.
Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry seems to be a “free for all” theologically.
This is a big concern. Alot of wild ideas fly around the school and the guest speakers coming through the school have so many different ideas about some core values of the Church. Students that are hungry for God soak up everything they can get and sadly, they become some pretty insane doctrines from speakers. One student I knew actually was praying for a trip to heaven to have coffee with Paul. His basis was a questionable story by Todd Bentley. (I still question if that really happened, Todd!)
When I went to Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri; my minor was church history. I love the history of revival especially. I have studied revival from Pentecost to today. I have studied Pentecostal revival in depth. I am not only a student of it but I actually use to teach it at a bible school in Kansas City.
Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry seems to have a very revisionist view of church history and revival history. It is presented as only the victories and the glory of revival. The facts of what was happening, the culture around it, and the failure of the revivals is left out. This is alarming to me. Charles Fox Parham ended up arrested for a child molestation case. Aimee Semple McPherson faked her own kidnapping. A.A. Allen has a massive drinking problem. Lonnie Frisbee died of AIDS from a night of homosexuality affair. All of this is left out of the church history presented. I do not agree with it.
While Bethel Church has a doctrinal statement (that is a different discussion), I do not believe the school itself has one. It is does, or it just uses the one for the church, it does not seem to strictly followed. When I was at CBC, someone who did not believe the 16 Fundamental Truths of the Assemblies of God was not getting near the pulpit of the chapel in any way, shape or form. The same is not true at the Bethel School.
I take issue with the use of “revival”
Alot of people at Bethel, the school, and their network call anything and everything revival. I am of the view that most of the students in the school do not have a clue what revival is, what it looks likes, or the purpose and vision of revival is. It is just the buzz word to say they are having more anointing than the people at the church down the road.
I am a firm believer in defining revival in the context of historical testimony. In light of that, revival is a season of divine manifestation of presence and power of the Spirit. It is evidence by conversions en masse, divine healings, supernatural deliverance and people receiving the infilling of the Spirit. That is the historical definition of revival. Anything short of that is not revival according to the historians. (Note: I said conversions, not decisions. Alot of people want to make a decision for Christ but not convert to faith)
Another word that is seriously abused and left for open interpretation at the Bethel School is the prophetic. Everything because prophetic this and prophetic that. A prophetic book, a prophetic car, a prophetic game, the list goes on. It is flaky at best and blasphemy at worst. Getting loose with prophecy cost a prophet his life. (Read 1 Kings 13 in one setting to understand)
Most prophecy is not going to be “gold words.” Jesus came to save us but the Holy Spirit came to convict us. His primary role to expose the “dirt” and wash it away with the blood of the Savior. He will shine the gold in our lives but He is far more interested in the dirt of sinful behavior. The idea that all prophecy is positive is completely unfounded. Do you know that prophecy is not encouragement? Those are different spiritual gifts.
Masters Commission vs Bible College
I see schools like Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (and IHOP University) as ministry training programs like Master’s Commission in the Assemblies of God churches. There is nothing wrong with this. You will get alot of hands on ministry time but it is not a bible college. You won’t learn much systematic theology at Bethel. That’s my point.
If your goal is to learn the Word and what the scripture teach, you would be much better off to go to a school like Oral Roberts University or do the course of Berean School of the Bible at home. You will get much more sound teaching and you will go deeper into the teachings of the New Testament.
I personally know dozens of graduates from Bethel School and I do not know one of them than could complete an exegesis or explain a position using completely the Greek. Any bible school worth its’ salt requires any theology major to know the Hebrew and Greek of the whole scriptures.
I am not telling you that you should not go to the school. I am just saying you should make sure you are want training on doing ministry. It is not a bible college and you won’t learn much theology there.