I have groundbreaking news to report. Bethel Church in Redding CA (BCR) has plans to construct an Apostolic Training Center. According to Bill Johnson, who holds the title "Super-Apostle" (which is comparable to holding the high office of cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church) is “partnering with other catalysts from around the world to propel this mission forward, and are believing for an entirely new, state-of-the-art campus where we can continue to pursue God’s decree over our movement.”
I hope you’re sitting down. The new construct will cost roughly 96 million dollars.
According to Protestia, “In 2019 they launched the ‘Arise and build’ campaign to kickstart Bethel’s 5-year plan to establish and build out the Collyer Campus. The megastructure will include a 171,780 square foot campus, 1851 parking spaces, and 300 bike racks. There will be a worship center that seats 2600 people, and the Apostolic Center will have classroom space for over 3000 students.”
BCR promotes the School of Supernatural Ministry on the “About” page of the church’s website:
Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry is committed to the truth that God loves people, gave Himself for them and has given His Church supernatural power to bring individuals and nations into wholeness. The mission of BSSM is to equip and deploy revivalists who passionately pursue world-wide transformation in their God-given spheres of influence. Students are trained to continue in the ministry style of Jesus: to enjoy the presence of God, say what He is saying, and do what He is doing.
I’ll leave it up to the reader to decided what the church means by “to enjoy the presence of God, say what He is saying, and do what He is doing”.
The new center is bad news considering the church is steeped in unbiblical theology, obviously. BCR’s School of Supernatural Ministry is humorously referred to by its students as “Christian Hogwarts.” Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is where Harry Potter and his friends learned the magic arts. BCR is known for all sorts of bizarre practices such as fire tunnels, grave sucking, and gathering at the church for several days to pray that God would bring a 2-year-old to life after she died – they failed. During the church’s worship service, you might witness angel feathers and gold particles coming out of a “glory cloud” a term not found in the Old Testament, or discover a precious gem under your seat. The controversial Jesus Culture band got its beginning at BCR. Bethel Sozo is BCR’s healing ministry. There’s no getting away from the fact that BCR spends much of its time plumbing new debts of buffoonery. It is for this reason I have for years warned that it is a metaphysical cult. No, really, BCR is actually a cult. Moreover, it's a works-based cult that promotes works-based salvation. Oddly, Mormonism is also a works-based cult. But I digress.
Surprised by what you just read? Continue reading because I’m going to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the teaching coming from BCR’s leadership is not in any way connected to historic, orthodox biblical Christianity. BCR has even diverged from traditional Pentecostal and Charismatic theology. Even though those who hold to their teaching declare themselves Christians, sad to say they are not. If by the end of this article you’re unconvinced, I recommend that you explore their teaching. What you’ll discover is that many Bethelites are into the occult arts, what the Bible calls sorcery and many other aberrant activities.
Word Faith Heresy
Those involved in BCR’s leadership are Word of Faith (WoF) teachers. Without getting too far afield I’ll give you a nutshell version of what WoF teaches and provide research links below. Supporters of the “word-faith” (name-it-and-claim-it) movement believe faith works like a mighty power or force. Through faith, we can obtain anything we want — health, wealth, success, whatever. Faith is released through the spoken word. As we speak words of faith, power is discharged to accomplish our desires. Deception In The Church explains WoF beliefs thusly:
God framed the world with His words. You can't build without substance. He took words – faith-Filled words were God's substance. Here, essentially, is what God did. God filled His words with faith. He used His words as containers to hold His faith and contain that spiritual force and transport it out there into the vast darkness by saying 'Light be!' That's the way God transported His faith causing creation and transformation.
Nowhere in the pages of Scripture will you find anything even remotely like this to describe faith. What you just read is NOT authentic Christianity.
File this under New Age metaphysical teachin
New Apostolic Reformation
Those involved in BCR are a part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). For those who are unfamiliar with the NAR, the first thing you need to know is that NAR believes that they have the truth; thus, all other denominations are in error. The movement came about in the late 1940’s in Saskatchewan, Canada through what was then called the New Order of the Latter Rain. The name comes from Joel 2:23.
Those involved in the movement claimed that the Holy Spirit was about to demonstrate His power in a way the world had never seen before – more powerful than the move of the Spirit at Pentecost. They thought they were on the verge of possessing powers greater than the miraculous signs & wonders performed by the original apostles. They were convinced that the Holy Spirit was going to use believers to prepare the world for Christ’s Second Coming.
What’s important to grasp is that NAR is an offshoot of the Latter Rain cult. Latter Rain movement (LR) wanted to establish a “New Order” in the Church. They claimed that God had restored the governmental offices of apostle and prophets and based this claim on Ephesians 4:11-12. According to LR, at the end of days there will be a government of apostles and prophets that will rule the world after establishing a global spiritual revival that will culminate in Christ’s return.
BCR has also been influenced by the early1980s movement dubbed by C. Peter Wagner the Third Wave, a.k.a. the Third Wave of the Holy Spirit and the Signs and Wonders Movement. Wagner coined the Third Wave because he believed it was the third of three distinct Pentecostal/Charismatic movements in the Church. Herescope explains:
Those evangelicals who suddenly became aware of the power dimension of the Gospel became known as “The Third Wave.” According to C. Peter Wagner, “The First Wave was the Pentecostal movement, the Second, the Charismatics, and now the Third Wave is joining them. (Source)
The second wave brought a newfound popularity to the Word of Faith/name-it-and-claim-it/health&wealth teachings addressed above.
Bethel’s Diabolical Beliefs
Following is an excerpt from Apologetics Index. What they've laid out will help people who wish to know the truth from getting drawn into this diabolical teaching:
[D]istinctives of the Third Wave movement include – but are not limited to – the following:
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is identified with conversion. This is unlike other Pentecostal movements, in which the baptism with the Spirit is either a separate and/or a recurring experience.
- the belief that the spiritual gifts are valid for today; that Christians can ask for, receive and learn how to use these spiritual gifts (and become better at using them with practice.
- the belief that the primary use of the spiritual gifts is for ministry in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit – both to bless and heal those inside the church and to minister to those outside the church ("Power Evangelism."). This ministry includes healing the sick, casting out demons, prophesying, etcetera.
- active promotion of unity – sometimes at any cost (e.g. the Toronto Blessing Movement 's acceptance of certain Word-Faith teachers. "Unity over doctrine"
- the belief that people, Christians included, can be possessed (or 'demonized' – or 'oppressed,' something seen as a lesser form of possession) by evil spirits with or without their consent
- the belief that objects or places can project evil influence and act as conduits for demonic oppression
- the belief that traumatic events, either in our lives or in our ancestral past, can make us particularly vulnerable to demonic influence, possession or oppression
- the belief that some Christians – using appropriate spiritual gifts – can identify and cast out demonic spirits
- a general acceptance of Kingdom Now theology, which has led to the practice of so-called 'Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare' or SLSW – an unbiblical concept in which Christians identify (through 'spiritual mapping') and then target (with SLSW) 'Territorial Spirits.' (all links are AI's – Source)
None of what was just described is even remotely biblical. Even though Third Wave teaching is undiluted heresy its influence has become widespread in the visible Church. Sadly, Shepherds have bought into it hook line and sinker and are teaching it as truth to gullible sheep. It’s important, dear readers, to grasp that those who attend Bethel will learn about a different Jesus than the Jesus of the Bible. And when the gospel is mentioned, it is an entirely different gospel. Although some of BCR’s teaching is biblical, much of what is taught mixes truth with error – grievous error. Paul warns his beloved to flee from false teachers:
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:8
So with this backdrop in place, following is BCR’s announcement snipped from a Protestia piece with permission (bold theirs):
Last Sunday we broke ground on our new Apostolic Training Center! Bethel – the people, the vision, and the legacy; In the oracles of history there are always a few exceptional individuals who by virtue or by new-birth [sic] push the envelope of human expectation and shape the destiny of nations. Often born into adverse conditions and in the midst of perilous times these revivalists refuse to be reduced to their circumstances; instead, they somehow find the capacity of the soul to rise in dark times and courageously shift society towards wholeness.
...Could it be that this move of God birthed in the small mountain town of Weaverville is called by God to alter the course of nations? It just might be that we are in the midst of the third Great Awakening…that the 10,000 reformers who have come here from more than 80 nations to be trained and equipped are just the beginning of the fulfillment of the Prophet Isaiah’s vision of kings coming to the brightness of our rising.
We are obligated by the sheer number of souls migrating here to be equipped for greatness to ready ourselves for growth. We must prepare our facility, enlarge our capacity, and deepen our resolve. We are not here to erect a monument to the glory of God! [WHAT?!? -Ed.] We are fueling a movement, forging a legacy, and hosting His presence.
Like Antioch in the first century, we are preparing an apostolic center to mold future revivalists who will reach into the darkest corners of the planet with the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom. With all this in mind, we must arise and build…build a house for the mighty…build a people who are equipped to restore ruined cities…build a launching site for the generations to come…build a community that models “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Please join us in this epic endeavor to transform the world until the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our God!
Those who contribute to this endeavor will be helping to “build a launching site” that will house a movement rife with reckless charismaticism, false prophets, narcissistic clowns, charlatans, and lest we not forget loony toon neo-Gnostics who claim special revelation from God. In other words, they want us to believe that God speaks to them directly. They claim God also speaks to them through visions and dreams. What does the Bible tell us about how the Almighty communicates to mankind? The writer of Hebrews summarizes His methods of communication thusly:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son [Jesus Christ], whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1-2
Let that sink in.
Before I move on, I should also warn you about a growing number of charismatics on YouTube who call themselves “watchmen.” What are they watching for? The rapture of the Church which they claim is imminent. Some even set dates for the rapture and have been doing so for 5 or 6 years that I’m aware of. The watchmen are heavily into “signs & wonders” and so are their biblically challenged subscribers. These “knowers” speculate daily about world events so that those who follow them (subscribe to and *like* their channel) will get their expert opinion on what is going on in the world, especially in the political arena. The real carrot for subscribers is that they’ll know in advance when Jesus will return to beam them up. These “Christians” claim that God channels info into their minds (direct revelation), through visions and dreams as well as through unbiblical practices gleaned from unbiblical practices. Lead pastor of Sullivan Creek church, Tim Henderson, is one of the charismatic prophets who has the inside scoop on the rapture. Tim’s channel has a gazillion subscribers.
Returning to BCR, I’ve shown you some of the heretical beliefs they hold. But there are a whole lot more. (See the Research paper below) BCR is part and parcel of the New Apostolic Reformation cult. The NAR is spreading rapidly. It has “ten million members in 60,000 locations worldwide, mostly in Europe, with perhaps 250 congregations in the U.S.” It’s heartbreaking to think that those involved in this movement do not know the Jesus Christ of Sacred Scripture.
Follow BCR like I do and their unbiblical teaching will soon become apparent. Follow BCR like I do and you’ll find their teaching is unscriptural and deeply offensive. Follow BCR like I do and you’ll observe them making out like the Holy Spirit is their own personal power source – the Holy Energizer Bunny.
Believers in the Lord Jesus must get it into their noggins that Satan’s desire is to keep people, especially God’s children, from reading the Holy Spirit inspired, “breathed out by God” (speech of God) scriptures. So for Pete’s sake, tune out any so-called prophet who claims to hear directly from God. The inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God is where you must go for Truth.
One last point to ponder. The Spiritual Forces of Wickedness will feel right at home in BCR’s Apostolic Training Center. Why wouldn’t they?
New Apostolic Reformation – Watch the videos. Check out the list of names and organizations.
The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.