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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.

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Prophetic Disconnect : Feeling disengaged from the prophetic movement

I have been part of the prophetic movement since I was in high school. I was there the first day for the International House of Prayer. I was at The Call in DC. I have been right in the middle of it all. At one time, I was traveling as a speaker at meetings which churches that welcomed the prophetic. However, I have become more and more uncomfortable with what is happening in the movement in recent years. Continue reading Prophetic Disconnect : Feeling disengaged from the prophetic movement

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How to respond to the Carr fires in Redding as Pentecostals?

There are wildfires blazing around Redding, California that is very dangerous and it seems that some believers think now is the time to declare open season on Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding as a result. What is the Spirit saying to the churches about what is happening in the area? Be judgmental and picking apart doctrine is probably not the heart of the Father.  Continue reading How to respond to the Carr fires in Redding as Pentecostals?

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Bethel Church and Destiny Cards : Reponse to Theresa Dedmon

theresa dedmon

I love Bethel Church. I disagree with Bethel Church. I love them and disagree with them. I have defended them and I have confronted them. I love their hunger for the spiritual gifts and I have spoke about their theological challenges. I am not a heresy hunter but I am a supporter with my eyes wide open and ears are listening.  Continue reading Bethel Church and Destiny Cards : Reponse to Theresa Dedmon

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Bethel Church is New Apostolic Reformation? : In defense of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church

There is a reason that I support Bill Johnson and his ministry. It is not because I think that Bethel Church is beyond correctness. I have voiced my own concerns over how the school is run and some of the eschatology that is trumped from Redding. Continue reading Bethel Church is New Apostolic Reformation? : In defense of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church

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My problem with Bethel Church!

Bethel Church in Redding, California is amazing and I love a lot of what comes out of there but I am not a blind dog that takes everything hook, line and sucker. The reality is that we are called to be Bereans who test the teaching against the New Testament.

I have a lot of their books and one that I bought (but never read) was Walking in the Supernatural: Another cup of spiritual java. In this book, I read something that is alarming at best that came from the main leader of Bethel Church, Bill Johnson.

One of my primary jobs is to teach Christians how to discover and spend their inheritance. This basically means teaching people to use the unlimited promises given to us by God to bring about a manifestation of His dominion for the sake of humanity…

While this sounds all great, it has a major flaw in both soteriology and missiology. The purpose of preaching the gospel is to save souls. It is to preach about the bloody Savior on a hill far away to quote the Old Rugged Cross. The primary role of any preacher is to win the lost at all cost. Period.

Any pastor or teacher that is not passionately engaging the lost for the sole purpose of seeing them washed in the blood of the Lamb has lost their way and their reason for even being in ministry. Christianity is not psychology and it is not the latest self-help scheme that quickly becomes sanctified Wicca thinking.

Secondly, the focus of the Christian life should never be “Dominion.” Our goal should be to seek and to save that which is lost. It is what Jesus came to do and it is what we should be doing as a continuation of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke 19:10 makes this very clear.

The goal of the faith is to redeem people from hell; not bring Kingdom Now theology to confused believers.

…We offer people the taste of the Kingdom, over and over, with endless variations. We are like Holy Spirit baristas offering (free) samples of our Father’s excellent  coffee, educating people to appreciate the good stuff and how to bring others into that experience…

I have a serious problem with this comparing the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to a coffee of Joe from Starbucks. The power of the Spirit is holy and should be respected. You don’t treat the Ancient of Days as a latte from Gloria Jeans. The preaching of the gospel is not being a barista!

I have the same problem with John Crowder and others who think you can “toke the ghost.” Having deep respect for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is critical to walk in power and authority like the early church did.

Another major error that many like Bill Johnson and John Bevere are teaching is about the gospel is just “good news.” The gospel is the best news a person can hear if they receive it. It is the worst news they can hear if they reject it. Heaven is real but so is hell. Hell is still hot and people are still going there.

The focus of the believer is to bring people to the Cross of Christ, not into spiritual highs caused by “divine lattes.” The Cross changes everything for everyone!

Too much of the Church has left the riches of Heaven sitting in the bank, thinking that we only get them when we die and go there. The belief that Heaven is a future reality has reduced far too many of God’s declarations in Scripture to positional truth that people acknowledge but never experience.

While I agree with this as far as divine healing and deliverance; it seems they want to make the gospel about prosperity (which I do believe in). Healing is the children’s bread and it is a integral part of the gospel. It is not secondary to the salvation. Healing is part of the message. It is miracles that win the masses to Jesus around the world. Jesus saves, heals, delivers and fills!

Bill Johnson holds that believers should expect “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done.” I have no problem with that to be honest. We should expect the manifestation of the atonement to break into people’s lives. The issue is that Bethel Church thinks this is for the believer. It is not for them but through them. This is a big game changer.

The one thing that bothers me here is the disregard for “positional truth.” That is the Bill Johnson way of talking about sound doctrine. Like it or not, sound theology is pretty important. A lot of people have went nuts in the end because they did not have positional truth. Knowing what you believe keeps you from becoming a heretic. Just ask William Branham.

At the end of the day, the gospel is an experience but it is not just that. I do not need to feel saved every morning to know I am saved. I do not feel God’s mercy when I wake up but I know His mercies are new every morning. Being led by feeling is a dangerous place to be.

Many believers stay immature because they never progress beyond the revelation that they are sinners saved by grace…Those who progress are those who understand that God’s highest purpose was not to merely to forgive us of sin….

I am not even quite sure where to start with this. The soteriology of Bethel Church in Redding, CA is just completely out of wack. We never graduate from being saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. There is no progressing from that. That is always where we stand and on what basis we operate spiritually.

There is no moving beyond the salvation experience and it is something that must be valued at every turn of the faith. It is what redeemed us from the flames of hell. It is what keeps us and makes us children of God.

I love the risk culture of Bethel Church and I realize value the heart of Bill Johnson for people to expect the supernatural to break through in their lives. However, a honest look at the soteriology of what is coming out of the pulpit and their books is concerning to put it lightly.


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Bethel School of Ministry bible college?

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. Continue reading Bethel School of Ministry bible college?

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Keep your love on will not bring revival!

Latter Rains is deeply committed to revival and we are not going to change the subject of revival for anything. Until people are saved, healed, delivered, and filled en masse; the vision for revival is still a dream. I do not believe this Keep your love on teaching will get us there. Continue reading Keep your love on will not bring revival!

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Azusa Now, I am not coming!

Azusa Now is the latest in big meetings done by Lou Engle and other in the prayer movement. I love Lou, Mike Bickle and Bill Johnson. However, I think these meetings have outlasted their effectiveness and might actually be a hindrance to the very thing they want to bring: revival.

I was in Washington DC when Lou Engle gathered 400,000 people to fast and pray for the 2000 elections. It was truly mind blowing. Out of that, came six more major prayer meetings across America. I was at all of them. It was a huge cultural shift that took place. It has its’ season and it was over. Finished and done!

However, like anything in the Charismatic church, we can’t let something be done. If we think we can milk it the dead cow a little more, we will. That is why they called everyone to Nashville in 2007. It was a great experience but it was largely a failure. Nothing major came out of it, no real change and there was no hints of revival anywhere in America.

As much as I respect Lou, I know how he thinks. He could not stand there was not a major prayer rally somewhere. He is not happy if people are not crying out for revival. He wants what happened in DC to be a daily experience. I know that. Azusa Now was his best attempt to raise the dead cow from the dead.

Paul CainAzusa Now is not nameless, faceless anymore

One of the big pushes for The Call in Washington DC was “come and pray. No speakers will be named. No worship leaders will be announced. Come for Jesus only.” That was what we all signed up for. I was on staff at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City at the time. Alot of us went to DC for one reason: we wanted to be there to support Lou when no one came! We were blown away when hundreds of thousands were on the lawn to pray with us.

Azusa Now was very different. It was leaders making big announcements saying, “I am coming to Azusa Now. I hope to see you there.” If you follow leaders on Facebook or Twitter; you knew the whole list of leaders that were speaking, praying and leading worship. It was not like The Call DC; it was a glorified conference.

Revival is to nameless and faceless, not well marketed and organized. Revival is when a miracle breaks out in a side room of a church and by next week, the corn field outside of town is packed with people from 100 miles around crying out to God in repentance. Real revival is when the child molesters are getting delivered and people who have been on LSD for decades are set free. If you do not have dramatic stories of deliverance; I question if you have revival. You might have church but not revival.

Stadium Christianity is about when a student prays for another in a classroom, the whole class falls on their face crying out for the presence of God. In a few minutes, the whole building is being taken by the glory of the Lord. By the afternoon, classes are called off and the whole student body is in the chapel in intercession. At the evening, the field around it is packed with random people and the gospel is preached with power and authority. No marketing. No promotions. No planning. It is pure organic growth.

Azusa Now StageAzusa Now was NOT wrong!

Some might take and think I am against the meeting. Hardly. There is alot of good that will come out of it. People were encouraged. People were prayed for. People were called to the mission field. Many will feed off that for a very long time. I still remember the revival meeting on August 4, 1998 when the Holy Spirit branded me by fire at the Brownsville Revival. I know that many people received that branding at the Azusa Now.

The bigger problem here is we do not seem to understand that we are largely in adultery in North America. We want an Event based revival. We love the Conference mentality and live for that next big meeting in hope that will be “the one.” It is idolatry.  The early church did not have that. They had a lifestyle based revival.

We do not want to really live in revival if we are to honest. We want something we can look forward to and get our “revival fix.” Living revival would cost us too much. That is why we loved Azusa Now.

Azusa Now necklaceLet Ananias and Sapphira be a reminder

We all know the story from Acts 5. The couple lied to the Apostles and because the Apostles had so much anointing, they died on the spot, right? I think you are missing alot of the story if you do not look deeper.

They were not keeping money back for selfish reasons. They was not saying, “Let’s keep 20%, go invest it and then we can retire early with a nice portfolio.” It was not like that at all.

What they are saying is more like this, “What if this revival thing does not work out? We do not want to be without anything to fall back on. We need to have a nest to reach for if things go south.” It was not that they didn’t want revival; they just was very double minded about it. They had one foot in and one foot out.

People who change the world do it when they have committed to the point that there is no backing out, no reservation, no other option. They are there crying for revival when the prayer meeting is over. Smith Wigglesworth crying out for the presence of God for 10 days straight. A.A. Allen spend all day in a closet tarrying. They knew the Holy Spirit and couldn’t do anything with Him.

It is easy to cry out for revival with 50,000 people praying for revival. It is easy to say “I will die for Christ” in a meeting of 1,000 other people saying the same thing. It is not that easy when you are crying out in your closet or look at a AK-47 in the hands of ISIS in front of you. This is where the having a lifestyle of revival happens. This is where the rubber meets the road!