Hey Bill Johnson and Bethel Church, God Put Himself in a Box Called “Bible”

Conservative evangelicals are often accused by charismatics of having a tendency to box God up.  One charismatic whose mission it is to un-box God is New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) “Super Apostle” Bill Johnson, senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA. Anthony Wood of Mission Bible Church in Tustin, CA quotes Johnson as saying that “to follow Him we must be willing to follow off the map – to go beyond what we know.” Those who listen to him are encouraged to believe that “God colors outside the lines.” As you’re about to see, Wood vehemently disagrees with Johnson’s portrayal of the Creator of the universe as loosey-goosey.  He also takes issue with Bethel Church’s “special blessings” that include “falling feathers, walking with angels, gold dust, animal growling, raising the dead, and miraculous healings.” Wood writes:

Photo credit: Extreme Theology

I receive emails from people around the world who are deeply confused and frightened by the teaching and supposed “miracle” ministry of Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, and Jesus Culture in Redding California. Many of these emails are from well meaning friends and family who have a loved one “immersed” in Bethel culture who won’t respond to their basic appeals for biblical clarity. Interestingly, time and again these lost sheep influenced by Bethel provide the same response to inquisitors. “We don’t put God in a box.”

“We don’t put God in a box.”

This common tagline from Bethel “Don’t put God in a box” or, “God likes to draw outside the lines” appears often in Bill Johnson’s books. Why do they say it? What does it mean? Is it biblical?

For background, virtually every Scripture Johnson uses in his seminal work [When Heaven Invades Earth, Destiny Image, 2003] is taken out of context [In a former post I’ve documented errors of Bethel which we’ll set aside here]. In the first chapter of WHIE, Johnson presumes: What really happened outside the garden of Eden (Gen. 1:28), Satan is empowered through an invented term “agreement” (Rom. 6:16), Jesus supposedly came to recapture man’s dominion (Lk. 19:10), the Father really wanted Satan defeated by man (no text), the word “evil” actually means “sick and poor” (Matt. 6:13), the key of David is held by believers not Christ (Rev. 3:7), miracle power is what got buried in Christ’s parable of the talents (Matt. 25), all should be seeking a special baptism of the Holy Spirit (something the Gospel authors and Paul connected to conversion),[1] and “all we ask or think” really references signs and wonders. (Eph 3:20)

Space won’t allow we exegetically analyze the entire book, but the point should be clear: Johnson fundamentally manipulates large portions of the Bible toward his own end. However, the most egregious and deceptive example of this is the dichotomy Johnson attempts to create between the Bible and the Holy Spirit, as if they operate with two separate missions. Repeatedly Johnson pits the Holy Spirit against the Bible by writing that Scripture is insufficient to discern the voice of God:

“Jesus did not say, ‘My sheep will know my book.’ It is His voice that we are to know. Why the distinction? Because anyone can know the Bible as a book – the devil himself knows and quotes the Scriptures. But only those whose lives are dependent on the person of the Holy Spirit will consistently recognize His voice. This is not to say that the Bible has little or no importance. Quite the opposite is true. The Bible is the Word of God, and scripture will always confirm His voice. That voice gives impact to what is in print…”[2]

Do not miss what Johnson has just done as this sets the stage for removing the “box” on God: “The voice gives impact…” Manipulatively, Johnson has separated God’s voice from God’s Word. This is done to give authority to personal revelation outside of, and over the written Scriptures; a demonic plot that dates back some 1800 years.[3] Johnson continues, “to follow Him we must be willing to follow off the map – to go beyond what we know.” (pg. 76)… and “signs (the Bible) have a purpose… they are not an end in themselves… they point to a greater reality… the sign is real… but it points to a reality greater than itself… We’ve gone as far as we can with our present understanding of Scripture. It’s time to let signs have their place.” (pg. 129)  Continue reading

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24 Responses to Hey Bill Johnson and Bethel Church, God Put Himself in a Box Called “Bible”

  1. Manny1962 June 13, 2017 at 8:41 am #

    One trait I see in all these movements is “outside or special revelation” direct from God to the leader, that way he’s never to be questioned. They put on a mantle like Moses and tell the sheep what to think, say and do! Bethel is a cult, there’s nothing Christian in it, wayward sheep ensnared by the philosophy of the world. These leaders are deceived in themselves and are deceiving thousands. Ironically, Israel could see, there was proof, when God came down to speak with Moses! There were verifying miracles seen by thousands at the same time! There were prophecies spoken that took place within days, this was all a manifestation of God! There was reverence being before The Holy God! No gold dust, chicken feathers or what have you! It’s utter nonsense! It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so pathetic! Yet so many follow and defend these false prophets, 2 Corinthians 11:20.

  2. Maggie June 13, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    Good article. I like that the author pointed out that teaching and practices from Bill Johnson and Bethel use gnosticism and syncretism. Their interpretation of Scripture is so corrupted and subjective that it just serves as a prop for what they want to promote. I have mentioned this before, and it is missing from this article, the “downloads” of special revelation and experiences come as a result of entering into a state of altered consciousness. This is the same state used by those practicing Santeria, witchcraft, and shamanism. This passive state allows the person to enter into the spiritual realm, allowing influence from demonic forces, and it shuts down critical thinking. Bethel, IHOP, etc., purposely use repetitive dreamy music and prolonged worship to bring people in attendance into this state of “experiencing the Holy Spirit.” Once inebriated in this fashion, they are vulnerable to accept the teaching given them. This may be a main reason why these aberrant teachings and practices have been so readily accepted on a mass scale.

    • berlorac June 13, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

      [This is the same state used by those practicing Santeria, witchcraft, and shamanism.]

      Maggie, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is the same “technique” employed by the Catholic mystics, particularly of the Middle Ages, yes?

      While Johnson, et. al., would not associate themselves with Santeria or shamanism, they certainly have no problem endorsing Catholic mysticism because they’ve convinced many that Catholicism is just another Christian denomination from which we can learn.

      Thanks for reminding us from whence this evil practice originates. Ultimately, it is satanic.

      • Maggie June 13, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

        Berlorac, when Johnson and others in NAR state that we need to “take back” the practices of the New Age (occult), it seems they are already caught in the delusion spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.

        NAR groups refer to terms like “contemplative prayer” and “listening prayer” when teaching techniques for listening to God’s voice. This is the same as what Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen and current Catholic mystics teach. There is no distinction except that the Roman Catholics may be listening for the voice of Mary or another saint. These practices are revived from the Middle Ages mystics. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/ is a good resource for learning more.

        There is a short video I just watched regarding use of trance state in the occult, as well as in the NAR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn1xPxw__Hk

        • SusanJ June 15, 2017 at 1:50 am #

          Hi Maggie I followed the link and watched what the man has to say and a couple more of his videos. He seems to have done his research and is giving good warnings on NAR visions etc.. I wondered if his name was familiar but not sure. I went to the church website and looked around.

          Maybe you know this church? I saw a few things that made me raise my eyebrows but don’t want to judge too quickly. I see his wife Katie does part of the preaching and they are involved in an inter faith council, which of course may be for reasons of sharing the gospel.

          I ended up on Gospel Meditation #223. July 10, 2016. There are instructions and one includes saying The Lord’s prayer or cant The Jesus Prayer. Also in the programme they come to a time of “Receiving Jesus in the bread and the cup”. Again eyebrows raised as this statement says something else to me that I would not be involved in.

          If you can shed further light please do. Thanks.

          • Maggie June 15, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

            SusanJ,
            When I first started doing my research on the NAR, I found an old article that I liked from the 1990s regarding the Toronto Blessing by Kent Philpott. His subsequent writing continues to refute popular false teaching. He also has an outreach to Muslims. I thought it was worth mentioning because he makes the point that the trance state is used by both the practitioners of the occult and the NAR to experience visions, astral projection, etc.

      • Maggie June 13, 2017 at 3:40 pm #

        [My reply went into moderation because I included links. Here is my reply without links.]

        Berlorac, when Johnson and others in NAR state that we need to “take back” the practices of the New Age (occult), it seems they are already caught in the delusion spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.

        NAR groups refer to terms like “contemplative prayer,” “listening prayer” or “soaking prayer” when teaching techniques for listening to God’s voice. This is the same as what Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen and current Catholic mystics teach. There is no distinction except that the Roman Catholics may be listening for the voice of Mary or another saint. These mystic practices are revived from the Middle Ages.

        • berlorac June 13, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

          Ah, yes, “new age” is anything but new! Thanks, Maggie!

          • Maggie June 14, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

            Berlorac, it looks like my comment of 6/13 at 3:27 pm passed moderation. See my links.

            Lighthouse Trails Research website has a lot of information about contemplative spirituality, as well as an article/booklet called “The New Age Propensities of Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson.” The short video link is entitled, “Trance State and the NAR.”

          • berlorac June 14, 2017 at 9:04 pm #

            Thanks, Maggie. I watched that short video. I can definitely see the connections. These are very dangerous practices and it saddens me to see so many people I care about getting mixed up in it. But they don’t want to listen.

        • Marsha West June 13, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

          Here’s my two cents. 😉 Contemplative prayer is the “Christianized” version of Transcendental Meditation. The desire of those who practice TM is to induce an altered state of consciousness which is the brain state where the person loses his identity. TM has its roots in Hinduism. It was brought to the West by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. You may remember him as the Beatles guru who taught them to meditate — and a whole lot more!

          • Manny1962 June 13, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

            Yes! At the roots? Syncretism!!! Remember “My sweet Lord” by George Harrison? How many Christians would sing along to that deceitful garbage under the illusion it was a “Christian” song?

            From wiki:

            “Harrison wrote “My Sweet Lord” in praise of the Hindu god Krishna,[1] while at the same time intending the lyrics to serve as a call to abandon religious sectarianism through his deliberate blending of the Hebrew word hallelujah with chants of “Hare Krishna” and Vedic prayer.[2] The recording features producer Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound treatment and heralded the arrival of Harrison’s much-admired slide guitar technique, which one biographer described as being “musically as distinctive a signature as the mark of Zorro”.[3] Preston, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, and the group Badfinger are among the other musicians appearing on the recording.”

            How many foolish Christians followed along!

          • Marsha West June 14, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

            I was one of those “Christians,” Manny. Loved that song. LOVED the Beatles. But that was “Yesterday.” 😉

          • Manny1962 June 14, 2017 at 12:52 pm #

            Many did not realize how terrible that song was! Just because it said Lord and Hallelujah!!! Harrison was singing to, praisng and worshipping a demon! I remember when that song was released! It scared the daylights out of me! I was 8 years old, and when I heard the word Krishna! I got scared and turned off the radio!

          • berlorac June 14, 2017 at 1:41 pm #

            Growing up in the 70s, I liked that song. Then, as a young adult in the 80s, I sort of felt good about that song because that “religious” part of all of us wanted to feel okay with God. I wasn’t saved then. I knew nothing about God, but that song made me feel like I was a good person because I “believed in God.” I didn’t know what hallelujah meant and I didn’t even hear the hare Krishna.

            After I was saved in 1997, I heard that song and suddenly I really heard it for the first time. My ears were opened and it was so clear to me that he was saying hare Krishna. I’ve hated the song ever since.

          • Manny1962 June 14, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

            That song! Scared me bad!!!l I was a little kid and I thought Krishna was going to get me because I heard the song!!! Lol!!!! Kids!

          • Manny1962 June 14, 2017 at 1:58 pm #

            In my opinion, it is one of the most surreptitious songs ever recorded! It’s ingenious how he mixed in Judeo/Christian themes while promoting Eastern Ways and demons! To this day, when I hear that song (usually in a supermarket) it makes my hair stand on end! It still freaks me out! Lol!!

          • Manny1962 June 14, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

            Interesting tid-bit…… The Beatles album Sargeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, includes besides many gurus, a picture of Alistair Crowley a Satanist revered by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, he went on to buy Crowley’s manse! The 60s debauchery under the name “free love” and satanism under the name “secret knowledge.” Eastern Mysticism and Satanism, the same thing with different names.

          • Manny1962 June 14, 2017 at 2:49 pm #

            By the way, Jesus Christ was removed from the cover because Lennon said this:

            “More popular than Jesus” (or “bigger than Jesus”)[ was a controversial remark made by the Beatles’ John Lennon in 1966. During an interview, he argued that Christianity was in decline and that it may be outlived by rock music, explaining “We’re more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first – rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”

            So for those that thought the Beatles were mild……….think again! Lennon’s attitude is what we find in Churchianity today.

  3. Manny1962 June 13, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

    Thank you Maggie for repeating that! People forget just how dangerous it is to enter an altered state, they leave themselves open to demonic influence!

    • Maggie June 13, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

      God gave us our faculties to use. The Bible does not teach us to become passive and be taken over. On the contrary, it instructs God’s People to stay away from the practices of the pagans so they are not led astray and chasing after these experiences represents idolatry/adultery to a holy God. (Can you tell I’m passionate about this?)

      • Manny1962 June 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

        Yes! And I’m thankful for that! People have forgotten how much “Eastern ways” have entered the church….

      • berlorac June 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm #

        Hey Manny and Maggie, I hear what you’re both saying and heartily agree. The problem, though, is that most Christians don’t look at the Bible as the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If Christians actually believed that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God and is sufficient, then we might be able to correct them from the Scriptures. But that’s impossible to do when they choose to doubt the Scriptures or selectively obey them.

        • Manny1962 June 13, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

          Amen brother, amen….. People don’t want the truth any longer, just tickled ears and feel-good catch phrases.

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