If you are considering commenting or sending me an e-mail objecting to the fact that I warn against certain teachers, please click here and read this article first. Your objection is most likely answered here. I won’t be publishing comments or answering emails that are answered by this article.
This article is what I call a “clearinghouse article”. It is a collection of articles written by others on the teacher, ministry, or unbiblical trend named below. Either I have not had the time to write a full blown article on it myself, or I felt that the articles listed did a fine job of explaining the biblical issues and there was no need to reinvent the wheel.
Disclaimer: I did not write most of the articles below, and I am not thoroughly familiar with all of the websites used in my clearinghouse articles. I do not endorse anything on these sites that deviates from Scripture or conflicts with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome” or “Statement of Faith” tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.
Here are the biblical criteria I use when deciding whether or not to recommend a teacher, ministry, etc.:
Generally speaking, in order for me to recommend a teacher, speaker, author, or ministry, he/she/it has to meet three criteria:
a) A female teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly preach to or teach men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. A male teacher or pastor cannot allow women to carry out this violation of Scripture in his ministry. The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be living in any other sin (for example, cohabiting with her boyfriend or living as a homosexual).
b) The pastor or teacher cannot currently and unrepentantly be partnering with or frequently appearing with false teachers. This is a violation of Scripture.
c) The pastor, teacher, or ministry cannot currently and unrepentantly be teaching false doctrine.
I recommend against any teacher or ministry who violates one or more of these biblical tenets.
If you’d like to check out some pastors and teachers I heartily recommend, click the Recommended Bible Teachers tab at the top of this page.
Bethel / Bethel Music / Jesus Culture / Bill Johnson
Primary issues with Bethel / Bethel Music / Jesus Culture / Bill Johnson: Heresy (New Apostolic Reformation – NAR), false teachers/heretics, women “pastors”/preachers
Bethel “Church” in Redding, California, and IHOP are, functionally, ground zero for the New Apostolic Reformation heresy. Heresy. Not, “They just have a more expressive, contemporary style of worship,”. Not, “It’s a secondary theological issue we can agree to disagree on.” Heresy. Denial of the deity of Christ. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Demonstrably false prophecy that the head of IHOP, Mike Bickle, has publicly rejoiced in (He estimates that 80% of IHOP’s “prophecies” are false.) And that’s just the tip of our metaphorical ice berg when it comes to the NAR.
IHOP and Bethel are, by biblical definition, not Christian organizations and certainly not Christian churches. They are pagan centers of idol worship just as much as the Old Testament temples of Baal were. The only difference is that, instead of being creative and coming up with their own name for their god, they’ve stolen the name Jesus and blasphemously baptized their idol with that moniker.
The point in this whole debate [over the song Reckless Love] is not the word “reckless”. The point is that Christian churches should not have anything whatsoever to do with idol worshiping pagans as they approach God in worship. Yet Sunday after Sunday churches use Bethel music, Jesus Culture music, Hillsong music, and the like, in their worship of God.
New Apostolic Reformation
The Mailbag: Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”? (Contains videos and discussion of blasphemous NAR music, practices, and beliefs, many at/connected to Bethel)
Articles by Unbelievers
Meet The “Young Saints” Of Bethel Who Go To College To Perform Miracles at BuzzFeed (This article is from a secular source and was written by a non-Christian journalist, under cover at Bethel. It contains a smattering of profanity.)
Born Again Witch: Witches at a Pentecostal Church – Healings and Prophecies by Annika Mongan (This article is the third in a series and was written by a practicing witch whose coven visited Bethel. No one shared the gospel with them, and they were affirmed in their sin.)
Bethel EXPOSED with Emilio Ramos and Justin Peters
Errors of Bethel & Jesus Culture by Anthony Wood
Bethel Church Believes a Different Gospel by Gabriel Hughes
Bill Johnson’s Different Gospel? at WWUTT
Dangers of Bethel (Kenotic Heresy) at Christ Is the Cure
Defining Deception: Freeing the Church from the Mystical-Miracle Movement by Costi W. Hinn & Anthony G. Wood
The Dangerous Teachings of the Jesus Culture Movement at Pointing to Christ
Jesus Culture is more dangerous than bad politics with Todd Friel and Phil Johnson
Book Review: When Heaven Invades Earth, by Bill Johnson by David Schrock
Specific Incidents at Bethel
Lindsay Davis and The Escape From Hogwarts at Fighting for the Faith
Bethel Church’s Use of Lord of the Rings Staff to End Racism Sparks Debate at Christian Headlines
Collections of Articles/Episodes
Bethel articles at CrossEncounters with Tony Miano
Bethel articles at Berean Research
Bill Johnson articles at Berean Research
Bethel posts/episodes at Fighting for the Faith
Bill Johnson posts/episodes at Fighting for the Faith
If you came here looking for a critique of individual Bethel/Jesus Culture songs, that’s not really what this is about. Everything connected to Bill Johnson – Bethel “Church,” Bethel Music/Jesus Culture (as entities and all individual songs), all Bethel personnel, materials, programs, and events – are all fruit of the poisonous tree of false teacher, Bill Johnson. No, you cannot biblically pick and choose songs from Bethel Music/Jesus Culture that don’t seem to overtly violate Scripture. The Bible never tells us to “chew up the meat and spit out the bones.” It says:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. Romans 16:17-18
“Watch out” for false teachers. “Avoid them.” That includes everything about them: all their materials, books, events, music, social media, etc. Would the God who breathed out these words of Scripture be pleased if we ourselves, or our churches, use materials by people who “do not serve our Lord Christ”?