Tagged in: Bethel Redding

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.

 

Bethel Redding is going for the Kingdom now!

I recently read an article from Premier Christianity about Bethel Redding. It was quite positive and I did like it, even with many of the wrong information that was in it. As I have said before, I love the church that Bill Johnson leads even if I disagree with them on a regular basis about missiology and the prophetic. I can love and disagree at the same time. That’s a spiritual gift that many in the Pentecostal movement need.

Let me start out by saying this, Bethel Redding is not the largest or most prominent Charismatic church in California. It would not not even be consider Charismatic. It is a Pentecostal church in the theological tradition of the Assemblies of God. In fact, the church was called Bethel Assembly under a few years ago. Bill Johnson’s theological training was at the Bethany Bible College in Scott Valley, CA.




It would be hard to say that Bethel is the largest Spirit-filled church, either. Jack Hayford’s Church on the Way, Matthew Barnett’s Angeles Temple, and Fred Price’s Crenshaw Christian Center are all much more known and larger in scope. Bethel is a niche church and I like it that way.

Bethel Redding can’t make you a revivalist

In the article, Andy Peck, says that 2,100 students are there learning to become revivalists. This is simply not true. Being a revivalist has to do with impartation, not information. As with everything in the anointing; it can only caught but it can not be taught. What they are doing is giving people who have the anointing a platform to grow safely and that includes screwing up as they grow.




Many of the students becoming revivalists by taking risk and stepping out of the water so to speak. Being in Redding is like a cheap version of doing Master’s Commission in my opinion. It is theology practiced in the community; not the classroom. I really wish that Oral Roberts University had the practical application of ministry than Bethel does. It is where the rubber meets the road.

If anything, they are helping train people who have caught the revivalist anointing in another wave of healing revival. It might or might not look like the 1950’s revival with Jack Coe, A.A. Allen and Gordon Lindsey. Who knows, there could become alot of tent revivals again; especially in small towns. Interestingly, it was in Redding that Jack Coe had some of his most powerful services.

With that said, I would recommend that something going to Bethel Redding to grow in revival have a strong foundation of what they believe and do not believe. Bill Johnson loves to push the employ alot and doing so can lead to some really crazy doctrines. If you do not believe me, ask Jason Westerfield.




I would liken the school to more of an internship after getting a traditional bible education at a school like Oral Roberts University or Evangel University. If you bring those together, you have a very powerful foundation to launch a worldwide healing revival ministry.

What about the unusual signs and wonders?

They are just that: unusual. They are should never become the focus. I have a friend that lives in Redding that learned to let the focus be on miracles, not bizarre stuff the hard way. In the end, he publically talked about his fixation to gemstones and how it was misplaced. He loved the presence of the Holy Spirit and realized that being in the presence is most important, with or without gemstones.




Personally, I will always take someone that is extreme in their views on signs and wonder over a church that the signs and wonders you have is wondering how old the sign out front is. It is always easier to tame a wild believer than set a dead on fire. I am just being real here.

I tend to agree with the old boys at the Pentecostal church that we should focus on Jesus, not the signs and wonders. However, as much as they might hate to admit it the unusual stuff is very encouraging. I have never had an angelic encounter and did not feel encouraged and closer to Christ.

I have been in some meetings that was just out of control. I remember speaking at a conference and another speaker, David Herzog (cool guy) was talking an hour about supernatural weight loss. I am not even joking. It would be alot better than Weight Watchers. That much I know.




The problem was everyone was “in faith” for God to take off their extra weight when most of them just need a membership to Gold’s Gym and change their eating habits.

Open your mind but keep your brain

I remember hearing Paul Cain warn people over and over again in the heyday of the “Kansas City Prophets” to be open minded. He would tell people to “open your mind but don’t let your brain fall out.” This only became more and more of an issue when the renewal broke out that become known as the Toronto Blessing with John and Carol Arnott.

I believe this applies with Bethel Redding too. Be open minded and receive what God is doing but don’t start making new doctrine and patterns to canonize an experience. I have seen many knock the hell out of people like Smith Wigglesworth did but I have very few people actually heal the sick doing it like Smith did! Remember the message is what is sacred; not the message. 




In my mind, it is about being open to what God is doing in your environment and doing what John Wimber said we must always do: keep the main thing the main thing. Focus on the core values of Jesus (intimacy and evangelism) and you will have encounters with the Holy Spirit that are mind blowing. You can trust me on that.

In the end, I love Bethel Redding, what they are about, who they are as a people and their mandate to the world. I am not a groupie nor do I live in Redding. I celebrate them even when I disagree with some of the things that come out of the pulpit there. Really, it is possible.