Brain Stopper No. 5: Bill Johnson’s Book Ban

In her 5th installment of “Brain stoppers,” Holly Pivec of Spirit of Error addresses Arch Heretic Bill Johnson’s endeavor to stop critical thinking.  Pivec writes:

Censorship“Brain stoppers” is a term I came up with to refer to a variety of tactics used by leaders in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) to discourage their followers from thinking critically about NAR teachings. I’ve written a series of posts about different brain stoppers, starting with “Brain Stopper No. 1: Name Calling.”

Another brain stopper, I call the “Book Ban,” is employed by Bill Johnson–senior pastor and NAR apostle over Bethel Church in Redding, California. Johnson tells his readers not to read books that are critical of teachings he promotes. He does this in his popular book When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. Here are his words.

Be childlike and read the works of those who have succeeded in the healing ministry. Stay away from the books and tapes of those who say it shouldn’t or can’t be done. If the author doesn’t walk in power, don’t listen, no matter how proficient they may be in another field. … Someone once brought a book to my office that was critical of the revival that started in Toronto in January of 1994. I refused to read it and threw it away. … For me to consider the criticisms of this revival would be the same as giving audience to someone trying to prove I should have married another woman. First of all, I love my wife and have no interest in anyone else. Second, I refuse to entertain the thoughts of any person who desires to undermine my love for her. Only those who will add to my commitment to her are allowed such an audience with me. Anything  less would be foolishness on my part. The critics of this revival are unknowingly attempting to separate me from my first love. I will not give them place. (Chapter 10)

Married to a revival?

His words about his wife and “first love” sound nice–even noble. What’s the problem with his analogy? It falls apart in at least three ways.

First, Johnson implies that he’s so committed to the Toronto revival it’s as if he “married” it. He’s making a logical error called a “category mistake.” A commitment to a person and a commitment to a set of beliefs about revival are completely different things. When you marry, it’s for life. But you should be willing to separate from certain beliefs if they’re shown to be in error. To do so takes humility and wisdom.

Second, he’s “begging the question.” By saying he won’t listen to any criticisms of the Toronto revival, Johnson has already determined that this particular revival was a genuine work of God. Yet that’s the very question the critics are asking. He’s made up his mind before they could even present their case.

Third, notice that he switches from talking about the Toronto revival to talking about his “first love.” Presumably, his “first love” is God. He has engaged in a classic bait and switch. The Toronto revival and God are not the same thing. Many people believe in God, and love Him dearly, while challenging the genuineness of certain revivals or specific teachings about revival.

His analogy doesn’t hold.  Continue reading


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11 Responses to Brain Stopper No. 5: Bill Johnson’s Book Ban

  1. Manny1962 May 12, 2016 at 1:24 pm #

    When are people going to wake up and call NAR what it is? A cult! Just like Roman Cathollcism! No different, they like the Romans believe they will usher in the kingdom. They’re just part of the great apostasy that’s decimated Churchianity!!

  2. Maggie May 12, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

    In the Christianity Today (May 2016) article on Bethel Church, Bill Johnson denies association/affiliation with the NAR (I can’t remember the exact wording). Although Bethel, IHOP, and other similar groups are frequently doing events together, I’ve noticed they deny “official” affiliation with each other. Despite denials, they are obviously part of the NAR. Another cult-like practice is their “culture of honor” that teaches people not to criticize ministries, whether within Bethel or others. It’s all an attempt at obfuscation.

    The house church I was briefly a part of had some good Bible teaching and it took time to discern some problems. When I was met with doublespeak while questioning possible association with Bethel and the dangers of its teachings, I got the heck out of there. In hindsight, I remember there was not much mention of Jesus or repentance–big red flag.

    Although the information about NAR’s agenda and practices is readily available on the internet, people who don’t want to know can avoid it. The seduction is great. I know a couple who should “know better” (because of their Christian maturity and knowledge of the Bible) that remained in the house church, despite my urging them to find out what NAR is all about. The only explanation I can find in their case is that they were already introduced to contemplative spirituality in a mainline church and were therefore open to mystical practices. My attempts to show them that these practices were based in the occult were totally fruitless and unwelcome. From their viewpoint, they were rejecting the most extreme practices but were attracted to the group because they took their Christianity seriously and passionately.

    • Maggie May 16, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

      Another means by which false teaching came into Pentecostal churches decades ago is the unbiblical teaching of a “covering.” It essentially teaches that if you are in submission/obedience to a shepherd (pastor) as a “covering” over you, you are protected spiritually from false doctrine or practices. This, of course, discourages an individual believer’s responsibility to test all things, as well places another person between you and God. It is a natural progression to the current day acceptance of the authority of the self-appointed Apostles and Prophets of the NAR.

    • Maggie May 16, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

      Holly Pivec of Spirit of Error addresses Bill Johnson’s comment re ties to NAR in her article:

  3. Manny1962 May 12, 2016 at 10:37 pm #

    “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away”

    2 Timothy 3:5

    The great apostasy unfurling. Every corner of Churchianity is ripe with error.

  4. Faith May 13, 2016 at 6:02 pm #

    Anyone who tells you not to scrutinize their work, get outta there.
    They are afraid that you will test it and find it wanting. You will see the errors. If they truly were confident about it, they would not shy away from people evaluating it. So, what are they afraid of? Exactly. And it is theirs, not God’s.

    We have nothing to fear from the truth. People should be encouraged to be critical thinkers. Cults always discourage that because they know you will see through it. I have seen this over the years, the mind games, manipulation, control, conditioning, and the list goes on. That is wrong. Get out of that, step back, get alone with God and His Word, and test all things by it. Once familiar with the genuine, you will smell a counterfeit a mile away.

    Plus, these ‘test not’ types are putting themselves above even God. See for yourself:
    “O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34; 8
    “Do not treat prophecies with contempt, but test all things. Hold fast to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5; 20-21
    “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world.” 1 John 4; 1

  5. Faith May 13, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

    Concerning any so called ‘culture of honor’ mentioned by Maggie above about not ‘criticizing other ministries’, that Bethel was promoting, that too is of the devil.
    Below is the biblical culture and code of honor when it comes to these things:

    “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it was taught, so that by sound teaching he will be able to encourage others and refute those who contradict this message. For many are rebellious and full of empty talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced. For the sake of dishonorable gain, they undermine entire households and teach things they should not.”
    Titus 1; 9-11 Here Paul the Apostle (a real one) is calling out and criticizing other ministries (those of the circumcision) which were false. He says to REFUTE any message that contradicts the biblical gospel. So there you have it. That is what a true shepherd does and advocates for others to do, to protect the sheep. And that is really a …. no brainer!

    “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4; 1-5

    By the way, one of those myths is ‘do not criticize.’ The word of God says the opposite. But of course the enemy does not want you to know that. I’m always stunned at how gullible people are. Or is it just the desire for ear tickling at work? Either way, it’s stunning.

    That ministry is a circus. People always looking for some new thing, tired of the ‘same old manna.’ They all want a fireworks show of signs and wonders. A new sensation, a new stimulation, a new golden calf to ‘lead them into the Promised Land’. They want to schedule a revival, as if that were possible. They just forget all the right ingredients for the recipe (like… uh… repentance?) and that God is sovereign and He does not follow their agenda (nor are they following His). It also makes a mockery and a spectacle of the real via the counterfeit operation. If you so much as mention the Holy Spirit, right away people’s minds jump to all these theatrics and 3-ring circus acts. Yes, the enemy is clever by all of this false teaching and performance to steer people away from what really is from God.

  6. Manny1962 May 16, 2016 at 7:36 am #

    Well said Faith.

  7. Criag Kersey May 26, 2016 at 6:06 am #

    All I simply ask any of you who criticise Bethel Church(from distance with no relationship.. gossiping..) , when have you healed the sick, freed people from demons and personally preached the gospel to someone other than another Christian…. (a Command from Jesus)..People from Bethel are doing this on a daily basis and helping people meet Jesus… Their ministry helped save my marriage and bring me to a closer relationship to our Creator.. Do they get it right all the time no, but do you?
    if you put the same amount of time and energy into hunting ‘false prophets’, into praying for your neighbours and forming relationships with them so that they can meet Jesus, and see a powerful God at work…
    My neighbour came to know a powerful God from me praying for him as he had a seizure in front of me, he no longer has them.
    Stop criticising those that are actually getting out there and Doing what Jesus commanded them to Do… Start Loving your Brothers and Sisters in Christ, maybe then the world will want to know a God that helps people to do that..

    • Dani September 19, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

      Amen, Craig! I attended Bethel for over a year as God had called us to be there for a season. Before that, I gleaned from their books and sermons and I have to say that I have never experienced so much growth in all my life as a Christian. I have grown up in the church and have been a part of church leadership since my early twenties. I read my Bible everyday (What?! Bethel followers read their Bibles?! Uh, ya.) and have always sought God to lead me in every area of my life. Bethel opened my eyes and heart to a relationship with God I have never experienced. God did so much work in my heart during this time. It was through understanding my identity as a daughter of God and more fully experiencing the love of Christ that was I led to a deeper surrender, which resulted in some big time repentance for those deep-down sins I was completely unaware of. To say Bethel doesn’t teach repentance is an utter lie. The fruit in my life is a deeper connection with the Father, a healthier marriage, better connection with my kids, better relationships with the people around me, and a bigger thirst for God. I don’t see how a demonic cult could succeed in leading so many people into a deeper connection with God. I also experienced crazy healings all around me. My husband’s body was healed. The unborn baby of my good friend came back to life in her womb after doctors confirmed she was dead. These are all the norm at Bethel. Not only that, but I witness on a regular basis marriages restored, addictions ceased, and hearts healed. After reading through this article and all these comments, I’m realizing how many people have incredibly wrong assumptions of Bethel.

      • Q September 19, 2017 at 9:06 pm #

        Dani did you see any amputees or people born without limbs, get their limbs restored?

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