When Bethel Invades Your Church!
by Kathleen Morgan
As a child I was raised a Catholic, which included attending mass, catechism, and a first holy communion. As a young adult I read the Bible and decided to attend a charismatic Bible-based non-denominational church.
Eventually I left the charismatic church and attended a Baptist Church. I had never understood or been interested in the differences between the many denominations within the Christian Church. This fuzzy attitude of mine has changed over the past year, and I would like to share my story with you.
My family's experience at the local charismatic church
My adult daughter recently became involved in New Age and native spirituality. After we had a few discussions and arguments over Christian beliefs and the practices of the New Age movement, she agreed to attend a local non-denominational church with me. As a family we had gone to a Baptist Church together, but I thought that under the circumstances a charismatic church would be a place that would suit the situation. I was hopeful that hearing the Scripture taught would reach her with the message of salvation.
To my surprise the Sunday sermons were less about Scripture and more about
the "revival" happening in the town of Redding, California, where the message of Bill Johnson, senior pastor of Bethel Church, was being preached. I heard about the students of Pastor Johnson's School of the Supernatural and how they are being trained to bring God's power and healing to us. I heard sermons laced with invitations to try "soaking prayer" and experience "fire tunnels." I saw a speaker in church "downloading and processing messages from God." There were invitations to receive God's power and impartations of healing and prophetic words.
This church purchased curriculum from Bethel and invited "those who want to move forward with God" to attend. This was a class on "the supernatural," the same signs and wonders of which the Apostles spoke. Members of the Bethel Church traveled south in order to instruct people to "learn to have visions and dreams" from God. I was not comfortable with the subject matter and did not attend the class. The church also held a Bible Study fellowship and I asked my daughter to go with me. She came several times and enjoyed the meetings. One night a woman give a talk about some kind of inner healing ministry she did with people. When she was finished speaking my daughter said, "Mom, this is what I am learning at the Healing Arts School; she is talking about what is in my book".
Found on the Internet - Signs and Wonders?
Since that time I have grown very concerned with the emphasis on Bill Johnson and
Bethel. I did research on it and found many articles and blogs full of praise for Bethel and the "new things God is doing." There are dozens of Youtube videos and blogs with statements like these: "During one of these meetings a leader in our church saw gold dust begin to appear on her hands. After the meeting she went home and the gold dust appeared again. She understood this sign to be an indicator to pray for her husband and for a visiting relative--both of them were healed. Her husband and her relative began to shout when gold dust appeared on their hands!"
The internet has countless intriguing, sensational, and supernatural stories of healings and gold teeth being imparted. I watched a Youtube video of gold dust stigmata appearing on hands, I saw hands and bibles dripping in oil and angel feathers falling from the rafters. Each time these accounts were attributed to God as "signs and wonders" of his unconditional love.
Modern Day Prophets?
These teachings are not coming solely from Bill Johnson, but they are part of a global alliance of modern day "apostolic and prophetic" persons. They claim to have been given impartations from God himself to prepare his church to usher in the New Heaven. This is a vision shared by many people. The fabric of this "revival" is woven by dreams and visions of men and women who proclaim to know a deeper truth, much of it revealed to them by angels.
Many churches all over the world are partnering with Bethel and other "supernatural" congregations to bring the revival to your area. That statement alone is unnerving to me. There are schools of the supernatural opening up to teach young believers how to tap into God's power.
I read enough of this phenomenon to make me have nightmares. Now I understand that this revival is happening whether we like it or not.
Responses from Other Christians
Astounded by all this, I called a few Christian friends that I have known for years. I asked if they knew about this “revival.” I found a wide range of responses to my questions. Some are committed to this and believe my wariness comes from unbelief. Some think I still need to process the information. They honestly believe these new revelations are coming to us from God through “the corporate church.” Others think it is just weird, a fad of sorts. Then there are those who just ignore it, because they never gave credence to charismatic Christianity in the first place.
Where does that leave me? After researching and experiencing it from a parishioner’s point of view, I find it full of man-made events and mystical occurrences. It troubles me enough to write this article and hope people will educate themselves on this subject. Many of the practices are taken from Shamanism and directly from pagan ceremonies. The ancient rituals hold some power and impart mesmerizing delusions. Christianity does not embrace the ceremonial rites of ancient religions. We preach Christ crucified, for the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Here is a recent article about Bethel from Redding.com news:
Here is a watercolor by Kathleen...