Here’s a detailed (and disturbing) video of the false teaching from Bill Johnson’s popular YouTube video called “Presence of God by Bill Johnson”
For more information:
A Blog by Steven Kozar
Here’s a detailed (and disturbing) video of the false teaching from Bill Johnson’s popular YouTube video called “Presence of God by Bill Johnson”
For more information:
Imagine that you've never heard a piece of classical music.
You never went to a concert, or even saw one on TV. Now also imagine that you knew absolutely nothing about all the instruments in an orchestra, and you couldn't tell a flute from a tuba or a violin from a piano. Also imagine that you know nothing about the history of classical music throughout the centuries or any of the great composers. Maybe you've heard a few of their names, but you have no idea who they were or what they did.
But now imagine that you and all your friends (who also don't know anything about classical music) were sitting around watching TV one day and you randomly came across a classical performance on PBS for just a few seconds while switching channels; and imagine that you only saw the conductor waving his arms around for those few seconds.
That's all you saw.
Now, what if someone asked you "how familiar are you with classical music being performed by an orchestra?" and you answered "I know all about it! Me and my friends saw that guy waving his arms around on TV."
Would you really know very much about classical music? Of course not. But you insist: "I saw that guy on TV waving his arms around! Don't tell me I don't know about classical music!" And you might add: "and all my friends saw it, too!"
Sorry, but you and all of your friends don't really know what you're talking about! And until you get a lot more information, you're going to remain ignorant of classical music being performed by an orchestra. (And you'd be missing out on a lot!)
This is, very sadly, an illustration of where a lot of Evangelicals stand in regard to Christianity. They're ignorant of their faith's history, its leaders and its key doctrines, and they often believe that any study of theology is inherently bad; which is kinda like saying "I don't care about notes-I only care about music!" or "I don't care about ingredients-I only care about food!"
Yet they believe they know all about their faith based on a guy (their favorite pastor, evangelist or author maybe) "waving his hands around," so to speak. Worst of all, they don't even know very much about the very Word of God that can teach them. The Holy Spirit should be teaching them through the Word of God, but He's been replaced by a bizarre, mystical "genie in a bottle" who requires rock bands in order to "manifest himself" and who always demands more and more attention. Or the Word of God has been reduced to a self-help guide and a handbook of “leadership principles.”
And to make matters worse, these very Christians are gleefully unaware of their own ignorance. They believe their pastor really knows what he's talking about. Why? Because he said so! And all of their (church) friends think so, too!
I know about this topic, because I was one of these ignorant Evangelicals, and I'm very glad to be leaving their ranks. Not because I want to be smarter, but because I want to know the truth about my faith and my God.
I had an extremely limited understanding of Christianity, but I didn't even know it. I thought I was hearing about solid, Biblical Christianity, but in fact, I was only hearing about the American, Arminian, Revivalist, Semi-Pelagianist tip of the pragmatic Protestant Evangelical iceberg. I thought I was going to a "New Testament-styled" church, but it was actually an outgrowth of a number of movements from only the past 200 years or so, and we were impacted even more by recent teachings from just the past few decades. Now if those various Christian movements from the past 200 years had really "improved" or "purified" Christianity (as they claimed), I had no way of really knowing because I was inside that movement and it was all that I knew. Once I stepped outside of the movement and studied what came before it, I could actually see things more clearly and I could compare the teachings of a pastor or church against historical, Biblical Christianity. It was like a (very) cold splash of water to my face. Or more like a slap upside the head that I'm still recovering from. But now that I know much more about all of this I'm very glad to be where I am.
I write about this because I wish nothing more than for all my Christian friends (and everyone else who reads this) to experience something similar in their own lives. I'm so much more at peace and so much more confident in my faith because of what I've learned. As I've learned to see both Law and Gospel in the Bible, I'm not so confused anymore. And I'm excited to learn more everyday-literally!
The thing that really concerns me, is that a lot of Christians, especially as they grow older, are getting tired of pat answers and shallow catch-phrases from pastors who are operating from within the self-contained bubble of “Pop Evangelicalism.” After so many years of shallow answers they start to give up… and then just tune out. They gradually stop attending church and whimper away; but a new crop of younger faces (usually with children in tow) show up to replace them. They'll buy into the shallow catch-phrases and pat answers, but only for a while. And then the cycle begins again. After 10 or 20 years of therapeutic "life-lessons," un-Biblical "success strategies" and unfulfilled "prophetic words" they'll eventually whimper away, too. No amount of cool videos, hip new logos, "relevant" messages or rock bands will fool them anymore... they're done.
If you can relate to this, here are a few ideas that might help you:
First of all, maybe you just need to spend more time reading the Bible. Duh, right? But, seriously, many Christians don't even read God's Word. So just get started. Read entire books, too; don't just skip around to a favorite verse here or there. The New Testament epistles are all pretty short-that might be a great place for you to start if it's been a while. Remember, the real meaning can only be understood properly in context, so reading a whole passage will always help you understand the meaning better.
I don't recommend The Message or The Passion Translation (they're not really Bibles-they are paraphrases of the Bible that sometimes sounds pretty neat, but many times are just plain wrong), but I do read the New Living Translation sometimes (which uses very easy, modern language); otherwise I mostly read a more accurate, but readable, translation like the NASB, ESV, NKJV or the original NIV. For further study, I really like The Lutheran Study Bible. Also, the Reformation Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible, and the NIV Study Bible have tons of helpful content (these are just a few of the excellent study Bibles available).
I sort of went overboard on buying these…
Secondly, here are three great programs (and a couple YouTube channels) that have helped me to leave the foggy land of the Evangelical Industrial Complex (although there are a lot more websites and programs to recommend). All you have to do is listen to them.
Seriously, just start listening ASAP!
This podcast is from my buddy, Chris Rosebrough. As he says, "don't listen with an open mind, listen with an open Bible." This show is a little like Mystery Science Theater 3000; he plays sermons by the "Super Pastors" and interrupts/corrects them using correct interpretive methods (and he usually ends up ripping their bad teaching to shreds). I'm amazed at how much I've learned from this one podcast. I'm sure I've learned more in just 2 or 3 years of listening to this, than in 30 years of sermons. I am not exaggerating. Now that I'm occasionally on the show it's even better. (That was a joke)
"Know what you believe, and why you believe it!" This ministry has been slugging away for over 20 years, trying to teach Christians about the Bible, the Reformation, and why we need another one. You can also find a lot of their shows archived on YouTube here. I love this show, and I don't know where I'd be without the things I've learned here! The people on this program also do an excellent of demonstrating what it’s like when people from different denominational traditions talk together respectfully about their differences, and about the Gospel message that draws them together.
This is a simple radio show that features the excellent teaching of Bob DeWaay. Bob has tackled a lot of the topics that most Christian shows wouldn't touch. And he's taught me a lot! I've listened to many of his half-hour shows over and over again, just so it can all sink in (and correct the confusing stuff I used to believe). He has also published a lot of excellent (and short) articles on the same topics as the radio shows; I often print these off (they're even available in PDF form) and give them to people.
This is a great collection of videos about the history of the Christian Church and it's theological development; plus they are presented with a pretty neutral viewpoint. Done in a narration/documentary style, most of these are around 30 minutes or so. I've listened to many of these multiple times, because they're so interesting and well done. Reeves is a Professor with a PhD in Historical Theology from Cambridge; basically, he's giving away college lectures for free!
This is similar to the Ryan Reeves channel, but these are videos of actual lectures given at Mr. Gore's (very fortunate) Sunday School class. He's an engaging teacher, and the lectures have extensive notes and photos to follow along with. There are many other lectures on his channel (Bible studies, Lessons in Philosophy and more), so be sure to check out all of the content there. This is another amazing free resource!
This is just a start, but I hope this helps! (I originally wrote this article before I was a part of Pirate Christian Media, so be sure to check out the many great programs and blogs to be found on this site)
Dear Fellow Christian,
Let's be brutally honest, you've got a difficult road ahead of you. You no longer live in a culture that tolerates Christian beliefs very much, you've got secularists and atheists breathing down your neck, and you're loosing your sons and daughters to the surrounding pagan culture at an alarming rate. There are a lot of things that the Evangelical church is struggling with at this point in history. In the many attempts to remain effective, relevant, and frankly, to try and stay ahead of declining membership, many churches have adopted a solution that is making things even worse-they're throwing gasoline on this raging fire.
Here at Pirate Christian Media we are constantly trying to sound a warning to the church: "You are way off course-you're in great danger!!" is the message we often proclaim. We provide evidence and convincing proofs. On "Fighting for the Faith" Chris Rosebrough plays (and then carefully critiques) hour after hour of sermons from the biggest and most popular pastors in the world. These sermons are terrible. These pastors are using the Bible as a prop-they often don't even read it at all. These pastors are clearly misusing God's Word to say whatever they want to say-to get what they want to get. The proof is abundant and it's overwhelming. If you haven't listened to Fighting for the Faith I expect you to read the previous four sentences with great skepticism. Fine. Listen to a couple dozen episodes and come back to this when you're done (and presumably queazy).
Having enough proof of the false-teaching is not the problem; in fact, it's not even very hard to prove these "super-pastors" are misusing God's Word. Anyone who simply reads their Bible can see what's going on most of the time. So yes, there's a Really Big Problem in the church: False-teaching is the new normal in many mega-churches. Google any list of the "Biggest Mega-Pastors in America" and you'll notice how just about every single one of them has been exposed as a false-teacher on Fighting for the Faith (and some other good podcasts and blogs, too). All sorts of false-teaching is also the norm in many best-selling "Christian" books that are published by "Christian" publishers, and things are really bad on "Christian" television. False teaching is the new normal and it's everywhere, but that's not the Gigantic problem.
The Gigantic Problem is that you're being systematically convinced that sound doctrine is the problem.
You're being told, over and over again, that we need to skim even more lightly across the surface of Christianity and "just love and accept each other no matter what we believe; after all, isn't that what Jesus is all about?..." Churches, pastors and Christians that refuse to take a stand on the meaning of God's Word are not helping anyone-they're making things worse. When they go along with this confusing idea of doctrinal ambiguity, they're throwing gas on a dangerous fire.
This strange new version of Christianity can only be passed off to a church that has rejected God's Word. And make no mistake about it: The American Evangelical Church has abandoned God's Word. It almost never comes right out and says so, but it has. But that's why it's so hard for most Christians to see what's right in front of them: everyone assumes that everything is Biblical and, therefore, everything is okay. Almost never do these false-teachers come right out and proclaim their abandonment of the Bible, because that would set off alarms and they would lose their audience. So a very thin facade covers up a very obvious and overwhelming issue: False-teaching (of many varieties) is the new normal. And the thin facade covering up this obvious false-teaching? Often, it's just the use of the adjective "Biblical." As long as a false-teacher sticks the word "Biblical" in front of their twisted teaching, most people smile and nod in agreement.
I truly wish more people would say things like:
"I wonder if what this guy is saying is really Biblical?"
"I wonder why this pastor sounds exactly like a motivational speaker with Jesus tacked on at the very end?"
"I wonder if this teacher is being accurate with the text? It seems like he's inserting his own meaning into what the Bible says."
"I wonder if this guy is just proof-texting the Bible to make it say what he wants it to say?"
"I wonder if this lady really knows what she's talking about-she talks so fast I can't even keep up with half of what she's saying! I'm gonna check my Bible and test what she's saying."
"I wonder why this supposedly 'new and better' version of Christianity never existed for all of church history... until now?"
"I wonder why this guy always hears a 'fresh new word from God' at exactly the same time as his latest book comes out?"
"Isn't it a strange coincidence that this pastor suddenly changed his view about an important issue and adopted the exact same viewpoint of the surrounding culture?"
"If it's so important for me to emotionally experience the "Presence" of God, why didn't Jesus or the Apostles ever mention it? Why is the church now sounding like the New Age movement??"
Most of the time people don't want to believe bad news-especially bad news that seriously affects their whole view of the world. But when there's really bad news they really don't want to believe it. Having to admit that your favorite pastor/author/teacher is wrong is just too hard for many people to accept. But one's feelings about reality should never be a cover-up for reality itself.
Something is true because it's actually true-whether you like it or not.
Something is false because it's actually false-whether you like it or not.
Something is Biblical because it's actually Biblical, whether you like it or not... no matter what some slick, over-paid and overly-confident pastor might say, even when he's in an expensive and emotionally manipulative video full of half-truths, careful editing and compelling music.
The Bible makes it ridiculously clear that sound doctrine is vital and essential. It's not just a nice hobby for theologians and Bible nerds. Jesus made it ridiculously clear that we should watch out for false teachers-He warns us to not get mislead by them. Then the Apostles did the same thing. But a lot of people are ignoring Jesus and His Apostles (who wrote the New Testament) and following the teachings of men (and quite a few woman, too).
If you listen to many of these super pastors, you'd think there were all sorts of Bible verses instructing us to skip God's Word and follow whatever our pastor says-especially if he seems really sincere (and can muster up tears at the conclusion of his sermons).
If you evaluate the modern Evangelical church, you'd think there were lots of Bible verses telling us to "make it up as you go-as long as your heart is sincere and you seem to be getting results."
If you read many of the Christian best-selling books you'd think that the Bible says: "Listen for your own personal messages from God, because this Bible isn't really good enough."
If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible teaches everyone to navigate this life, and all of eternity based on our feelings, thoughts and personal experiences, because "God just wants us to be happy."
If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible is a success guide to help you achieve the American Dream (and maybe improve your sex life).
If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the Bible says, "listen to the most popular and convincing false teachers, because even though they twist God's Word, they have some good things to say, too."
If you believe the new normal, you'd think that the God of Scripture, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny reside in the same realm; along with the ability to "speak things into existence" and "discover your Destiny" so you can "become a Champion!"
Here's an entire article full of things that aren't in the Bible (but you'd think they were).
Underneath these really bad ideas is the gigantic bad idea that "doctrine doesn't matter-doctrine is the problem." Doctrine is just another word for teaching. The Christian Church gets its teachings from the Bible, and the Bible demands that we adhere to sound doctrine. You cannot bypass the Bible and "just follow Jesus." Sorry, but Jesus never taught that, the Apostles never taught that, and God's Word-The Holy Bible-does not teach that. Does this sound legalistic to you? That's probably because of all the bad doctrine (bad "teaching") that you've received. God demands sound doctrine (good "theology") because He wants you to know the Truth. Remember, the Truth can set you free-but it has to be the Truth.
Think about it: Doesn't it make sense that God would want us to know what's true and avoid everything that's false? And if God has given us His Word, shouldn't we listen to it-instead of the teachings of mere men? The very Good News is that God Himself has intervened into human history and given us His Word; and His Word tells us about the amazing and shockingly Good News that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World, who died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.
Now here's something you really need to read (I dare you to read through the entire page):
Here's another article that might add more clarity to this topic:
Here are a couple of videos that provide convincing evidence of the fallen state of the church:
Here's an interview with Dr. David Wells on Issues, Etc.:
Here is a recently completed survey of the Evangelical landscape that shows how confused Christians are:
This article by Steven Kozar
Here's a very instructive article from Rick Becker's "Famine in the Land" blog:
Note: This article is satire, and it is meant to take Bill Johnson's bad theological ideas to their logical (and ridiculous) conclusion. It is not my intent to make fun of the terrible difficulties that people face because of the Carr Fires; my hope is that the obvious false doctrine of how "we are in control" will be revealed in this crisis. God have mercy on us all. -Steven Kozar
In a brief press conference at the Redding, CA fire station, Bethel Senior Pastor Bill Johnson said, "It's all my fault and I will correct these errors as soon as possible. Unlike God, I'm in control. Please just give me a little more time to speak a rainstorm into existence. Thank you, no questions." After he finished Pastor Bill ran out the door saying to his assistant "Where's my Aston Martin?? Bring it to me now! I can pray while I'm driving..."
Bethel Co-pastor and self-proclaimed "Reformer," Kris Vallotton, could not be reached for comment, since he was out of town giving a prophetic workshop...
Bill Johnson doesn't think we need to "deal with unanswered prayer," so why is he not simply praying the fires away?
Bill Johnson claims that it's our commission "to rule the earth," so why doesn't he lead by example and make the fires stop?
Bill Johnson says that too much knowledge will hinder our obedience, so why doesn't he demonstrate his unwavering obedience (and lack of education) and put out the fires?
If it's true that God "wants to use us to do the impossible" why doesn't Bill Johnson demonstrate this principle right now and put out the terrible fires in his own town?
Bethel is the place that claims to encounter God all the time, which means they should have lots of power, so why don't they demonstrate all that power and make the fires stop?
The Gospel message is all about God rescuing us from sin and death-it's about Jesus Christ dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. The Gospel message is not about us "becoming the Gospel," trying to take dominion over the earth, and "declaring and decreeing" that God must do whatever we want Him to do. -Steven Kozar
The following video is what happens when Word of Faith teaching is really taken to its logical conclusion by someone who seems to believe it; the fire doubled in size within 24 hours of this video:
The marketing geniuses at Bill Johnson's publishing company, Destiny Image, sent out this advertising email on July 31, 2018:
Here's an article from Bill Johnson on August 10th as the fires continue to ravage California:
Here's an article with some good thoughts on this difficult issue:
For more on Bethel & Bill Johnson's teaching:
This is yet another New Apostolic Reformation Big Event that you must attend, because you'll never be the same... it's gonna change everything... this is the Together Conference for the Together Generation!
Experts are currently trying to determine if the "Together Generation" is really just a new incarnation of the "Pepsi Generation."
Here's the Together Manifesto, which is not a manifesto at all, but simply a loose cluster of vague ideas that sound good to the ear of the gullible, especially if they're said in a cool video:
"Something needs to shift.
There is a better way than outrage
In the middle of you/me/us/them
He was snubbed by politicians
and the religious.
He drew the ordinary, the misfit,
calling all into mercy, justice,
So what if I moved closer?
Away from walls that isolate,
toward Jesus and the world
I want to influence, to build bridges,
to take risks.
I will choose to listen and seek
I will love, especially those
who are not like me.
I am part of the radical middle—where
we meet at Jesus from every side.
And we’re on the move."
Now here's the cool video where this pseudo-doctrine can be more emotionally manipulative:
For some reason these two guys are speaking at this event (along with NARpostle Brian Houston, Banning Liebscher, Sammy Rodriguez, Priscilla Shirer and others):
Even though this event is still a few months away, "Together 2018" has done one thing very well already-they're promoting this thing with unabashed confidence. Rarely have such ideals been promised so confidently by an event that surely cannot accomplish any of this stuff:
Wow, they got some good ad writers churning out the catchphrases. So, this day-and-a-half event is not actually an event-IT'S A LIFESTYLE. That's not even a cohesive idea. Heck, that's not even a cohesive sentence! Well, this is from the people who claim that they are: "part of the radical middle—where we meet at Jesus from every side. And we’re on the move." (This is a meaningless word salad, but they copied that last line from Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia.)
There is a glimmer of hope in all of this: it appears that the guy who used to always say "Did I do that??" on that old TV show is one of the guest performers:
Stay home and save the travel expenses. Read your Bible. Go to church. Nothing to see here... just another large group manipulation exercise.
For further reading:
Also, here's a real manifesto:
-This article by Steven Kozar
Step one is essential: "Get in the loop!" What does this mean, you ask? Well, this thought pattern is almost everything you'll need to stay clueless within the confines of Postmodern Christianity. Once you start thinking this way, you'll never get out of "the loop." It goes like this:
"Mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental people are bad, and whatever they believe is instantly invalidated by the fact that they are judgmental, narrow-minded, angry and mean. I get to decide if, and when, they are mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental."
Once you're safely in this loop you won't need to carefully consider the truth claims of another believer with their precious little Bible verses. And, thankfully, you'll never have to learn anything about the theology and creeds that have been passed down for almost two thousand years. Remember, there are still old-fashioned Christians who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, and they are mean, angry, narrow-minded and judgmental. These dinosaurs want to conduct church the same old way and cling to antiquated beliefs that are out of step with today's social climate. You can easily ignore these people if you're "in the loop." Before you know it, you will have completely dehumanized them and it won't even faze you that you've been the judgmental one all along!
To follow step two, say something like this: "That may be true for you, but it's not true for me." In days of old, this was only used for superficial matters, like one's preference of Mary Ann over Ginger. But nowadays this simplistic catch phrase serves a vital new purpose: it enables anyone to ignore God's Word with impunity. It used to be that a Christian couldn't just go around rearranging and reinterpreting the Bible, but now it's easy! You may substitute similar catch phrases like "I just feel like it's not wrong for me" or you can even quote that great Bible verse: "What is truth? asked Pilate..."
Step three, in case you haven't already figured it out, is this: Don't take the Bible very serious at all, just give it lip-service. I know, I know, this sounds extreme, but remember this is Postmodern Christianity. Postmodernity is a belief system that says that no belief system is true. It's absolutely certain that nothing is absolutely certain. The Bible is full of absolute truth claims, that's why it's so exclusive, hateful and out-of-date. However, you will still need to make reference to it on occasion, so it's good to have some overly simplistic proof-texts handy. "Thou shall not judge" is the all-time most popular proof-text, so feel free to use it as often as you want. Just remember not to read the entire passage in the actual Bible, otherwise you'll see what Jesus really meant. You can even misquote it like this: "Who are we to judge?" or "Only God can judge-that's not my job!"
The Bible has clear rules about what is right and wrong, so you will need to avoid all of that. Remember, people generally hate God's rules, so you need to stay on their side; instead, make those Bible thumping "traditional" Christians seem like the real problem, i.e. they're bad because they think they're better than anyone else. You must ignore the fact that true Bible-believing Christians don't think they're better than anyone else, they are simply pointing to the unchangeable truth of God's Word as the only ultimate authority. Furthermore, the Gospel itself is only "Good News" because Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins... and we couldn't even have sins unless we were guilty of breaking God's commandments... and since God Himself gave us His commandments we are clearly guilty and in need of a Savior.... do you see how this all falls apart if you start reading the Bible? You'll just turn into a regular Christian-ugh!
Instead of that, keep it simple and just say something like "I believe the way of Jesus is love" or "I believe God just wants everyone to be happy in their own way." Nobody's going to argue with that, right? For more ideas on how to misquote God's Word, just listen to any interview with Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones or any of the hip new emergent leaders. With a good dose of sincerity and direct eye contact (plus some emotional background music), you can say almost anything in the name of Jesus!
Finally, when in doubt, always prefer ambiguity over certainty and truth. Ambiguity is the magic glue that holds Postmodern Christianity together. What does this mean? I don't know, what do you think it means? Is it possible that the ambiguity of uncertainty is really just the context from within which our sense of community can emerge? I don't know, I'm just asking the question, because the beauty of relationship reveals itself through the self-discovery process, as we all find personal meaning collectively and individually. I'm not saying that anyone's version of truth is right or wrong; I'm just asking questions so that a dialogue can be established. Maybe there's a better way, a way where all of our collective narratives can form a cohesive, yet multi-faceted story. Maybe this new meta-narrative can lead us to a place where fear and hatred will be replaced by mystery, beauty, and ongoing book sales. A place with well-attended conferences and substantial speaking fees, a place of extensive radio and T.V. interviews and, ultimately, a regular guest position with Oprah. We must dream. We must hope. We must never reach any conclusions.
(See how easy this is?)
Now get out there and confuse everyone! You can do it!!
Here's a great episode of Fighting for the Faith to help you understand Postmodernism better: A Beginner's Guide to Post-Modernity
Check out this article (with a TON of links) from the Berean Examiner: Postmodern Christianity's End Game?
For a serious look at the "Emerging/Postmodern" church, please watch this extensive video:
For an extensive and serious understanding of Postmodernism please listen to this audio book from Professor Stephen Hicks:
(Thanks to the folks at Pyromaniacs for the memes)
Assertion: (noun) a positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason:
Without providing any evidence, he made an assertion.
Assumption: (noun) something taken for granted; a supposition:
She didn't check the facts to see if it was true, she just made an assumption.
Have you ever received one of those ridiculous emails that claims you are the recipient of a multi-million dollar fortune from somebody in another country? But in order to claim your money you have to send a smaller amount of money to the complete stranger that sent you the email? Emails like this rarely fool people, but they work just enough that different versions of this scam re-emerge from time to time.
The reason these scams don't work most of the time is because the assertion is obviously not true and most people do not assume that it is.
Much of the bad teaching going on in churches has both of these aspects. The pastor/teacher is making assertions and the people listening are simply assuming those assertions must be true. It looks something like this:
Christians often use catch phrases that appear to be true, and the more often these phrases and ideas get repeated the more often they are assumed to be true. Popular pastors often have memes with their own sayings that are nothing more than mere assertions-usually meant to make people feel good.
For example, the following Joel Osteen memes look nice and sound good, but if you click through and read them all, you'll see that they don't say anything Biblical:
All of those sayings are making assertions ("You're gonna do something great and it's right around the corner," etc.) and these assertions are largely derived from a non-Christian, man-centered viewpoint.
If you understand the Word of Faith movement (with some Positive Thinking along side), you'll see how these sayings stem from that belief system.
Now let's click through the ideas expressed in the following memes from Bethel church, where Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton teach:
These memes express a type of mystical, gnostic belief system; really, the only thing they share with Christianity is the use of some similar Bible words and phrases. Notice how the mystical "Yoda" meme actually seems to fit in? A portion of the New Testament was written to combat the gnostic beliefs that were an ongoing threat to the early Church. Here's a basic Christian definition of gnosticism (from the Pirate Lexicon): "Gnosticism is an early heresy which replaced the Gospel with a demand for secret knowledge. Gnostics claimed the only way to be saved was for the spirit to be liberated from the material order, which they considered evil. Elements of Gnosticism remain in modern churches (i.e. personal revelation, secret knowledge and mystical experiences)." Like the previous assertions made by Joel Osteen, these assertions put man at the center of our faith, but on top of that, they denegrade the use of thinking, reasoning and the objective, written Word of God.
This doctrine teaches that doctrine is bad. This teaching teaches that teaching is bad.
This belief says that God wants to be known internally and subjectively through a personal mystical experience. In this religion, He shares His miraculous power only with those who demonstrate the most extreme intimacy, passion and surrender. This has more in common with pagan mysticism and gnosticism than Christianity, but because these assertions are rarely tested, too many people make the assumption that they must be Christian and they must be true.
Now for a striking contrast, here are some assertions from God's Word:
Titus 2:7-8 “...in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.”
1 Thessalonians 5:21 “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good...”
1 John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
2 Timothy 1:13-14 “Hold fast (retain) the pattern of sound words (doctrine) which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”
2 Timothy 3:12-17 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings, which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 4:1-4 “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.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter."
1 Corinthians 16:13 "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong."
Jude 3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.”
One of the fascinating moments captured in the book of Acts is the very brief mention of Paul and Silas visiting the Jewish synagogue in Berea. Acts 17: 11-12 says, "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek woman of high standing as well as men."
The Bible encourages us to be like the Bereans, who "received the word with all eagerness, and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so."
God has given us His Word.
He didn't "sort of" give us His Word. He didn't give us His Word with a bunch of exceptions and exclusions, and cause us to become dependent on new "prophets" and "apostles." And He certainly didn't give anyone permission to add or subtract from his Word.
Here's an article that explains the false assertions in the messed up church:
-This article by Steven Kozar
Bethel "pastor" Kris Vallotton thinks it would be wrong to confess our sins to each other, because that would "create a culture where we are always looking for what is wrong with each other." Instead, Vallotton says we should look for the "goodness, the GODness, the gifts that God has given us."
Kris Vallotton says that sometimes his group of disciples had to invent sins because they really didn't have any sins to confess that week. While it is not necessary to spell out the specifics of our sins, we should always be willing to "confess our sins to one another." Kris Vallotton teaches a twisted form of theology that believes "we just don't know how good we are." Check out this article and video to learn more: The (False) Gospel According to Moana.
Here is one of the things that Jesus instructed us to ask for in the Lord's prayer:
Why would Jesus want us to ask for forgiveness? Doesn't Jesus want us to look for the GODness in each other??
Listen to Kris Vallotton twist the daylights out of God's Word in the second half of this episode of Fighting for the Faith
If everyone knew about what happened on this day (and stopped making excuses for it) a whole bunch of false teachers would put their tail between their legs, pack up their bags and go home. The "New Apostolic Reformation," the "Signs and Wonders Movement," the Hyper-Charismatic Movement (whatever it's being called at the moment) should not even exist.
Here's a video showing part of what happened on live television that day:
The "Super Apostles" were so proud of themselves that day; they could hardly believe that they were even gathered together at the same place. C. Peter Wagner (who does the official "commissioning" here) is the man who made up the name "New Apostolic Reformation" and then appointed himself God's leader of it. Other important "Super Apostles" on stage were Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, Che Ahn, John and Carol Arnott, and the Super Star of the whole, messed up day: Todd Bentley.
These men were all gathered in Lakeland, Florida, to officially "commission" Todd Bentley to become part of the "Super Apostle" club. This is what the founder of the New Apostolic Reformation, C. Peter Wagner, said:
"I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to you, Todd Bentley:
But within two months Todd Bentley's "revival" completely fell apart and these men were proven horribly wrong; they were proven to be false prophets on television for all the world to see!
Here's Bentley telling the audience to call down angels at the Lakeland "Revival:"
ALL of these "Super Apostles" claim to hear directly from God and claim to have special "powers" and "anointings." They claim that they are part of a new and better church-not like the old, stuffy Bible-focused churches. They claim to "move in the prophetic" and some even claim to be "seers" who can predict the future. Rick Joyner claims to go to heaven on a regular basis-he evens claims to talk to the original (real) apostles, and he claims they wish they were him! Why didn't God tell any of these people the truth about Todd Bentley?
They were 100% wrong about Todd Bentley, and they were clueless about it! They stood up on that stage like blathering buffoons, talking all about how great Todd Bentley was, and all about the great things that were going to happen. Stacy Campbell even went through the trouble to hiss like a snake as she violently jerked her head back and forth, while she "prophesied over" Todd Bentley:
A few years later, Todd's new wife (the woman he had an affair with) showed that she could hiss and shake her head, too.
C. Peter Wagner should have tried to disband this New Apostolic Reformation, but he didn't; instead, he made excuses for what happened. Rick Joyner and Bill Johnson should have admitted that they don't really hear directly from God, but instead they decided to take Todd Bentley under their wing and tried to "restore" him to ministry. You can read more about this (and see more videos of the entire bizarre "commissioning") here: Grace to You.
These men and woman have all proven that they do not know what they're doing.
They do not know what they're talking about.
They do not rightly handle God's Word.
They do NOT speak for God.
“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
“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
— 1 Corinthians 14: 33
“An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?”
— Jeremiah 5: 30-31
“And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken.”
— Ezekiel 22: 28
“Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions; they have not exposed your iniquity
to restore your fortunes, but have seen for you oracles that are false and misleading.”
— Lamentations 2: 14
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”
— Matthew 24: 24
Lastly, it needs to said that not all Charismatics and Pentecostals are in agreement with the leaders in these videos (The NAR leaders). They've fought against the ideas in "The New Apostolic Reformation" and they are to be commended for that. Unfortunately, their voice is largely being drowned out by the much more prominent and popular leaders who've declared themselves the Super Apostles. God help us all to be faithful to His Word, and to ignore the teachings of men.
Here are few more articles about this event:
Here's recent case where Todd Bentley claims to be raising the dead with absolutely no proof: My Phone Conversation With TMU RE: Bentley's Resurrection Claim (Audio)
Here are some things the Super Apostles do NOT want you to know: Shocking Stuff You're Not Supposed to Know
"Smart phone prophet" Shawn Bolz and Todd Bentley together at "Azusa Now" in April 2016:
Here's a recent video showing Bill Johnson endorsing his good friend Todd Bentley:
-This article by Steven Kozar
Or how about this far:
Or how about this far:
-This article by Steven Kozar
Jesse Duplantis and Kenneth Copeland are two of the biggest Word of Faith teachers in the world. They both expect their gullible followers to buy them numerous private jets "for the Lord."
Here's a video from a pilot who is very familiar with the world of corporate jets, who tells the unvarnished truth about these clowns:
Here are some other related articles/videos/podcasts:
In this episode of the podcast Steve talks with Marcia Montenegro about the very popular book "One Thousand Gifts."
Here is Marcia's article (with more links) that we used as an outline for this podcast: "One Thousand Gifts" Christian Answers for the New Age
Here is another helpful article from Bob DeWaay: Romantic Panentheism: A Review of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Here's an episode of Fighting for the Faith where Chris Rosebrough talks about Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" book: Mystical Estrogen
In Andy Stanley's latest series, called "Aftermath," he suggests that Christians can unhinge their faith from the Bible while attaching their faith to the historically reliable resurrection of Christ (which is something we learn about from the Bible). Along with propagating doubt in God's Word, Andy Stanley is teaching a modern version of Marcionism, which is an ancient heresy that eliminates the Old Testament. Here are some recent articles that explain this in greater detail:
Here are some direct quotes from this truly bizarre and confusing "sermon" series:
It only took about ten minutes into the first sermon for Stanley to dismantle the authority of the Bible and give high praise to the sincerity and intelligence of atheists like Sam Harris, but then he spends the rest of the "sermon" talking about the ministry of Jesus and the early church while quoting from the Bible. But the obvious question should be: why is he using the Bible at all?
Here is an excellent podcast from Matthew Garnett that carefully dissects the flawed and dangerous content of the first sermon, which was called Aftermath Part 1: Stand Alone:
Here are some more direct quotes:
Here is a terrific video from Chris Rosebrough reviewing Andy Stanley's third sermon in the series called Aftermath Part 3: Not Difficult:
This latest series from Andy Stanley is not much different than some of the other disturbing things he has been teaching for years. For much more information see:
Do you feel that Church is not enough? Are you bored with the Bible? What you need is to directly contact God in a sorta creepy, yet experiential way. That's right, it's...
(Click the GIFs to see more)
Make sure the hypnotic and emotionally manipulative "praise" music is cranked up and prepare to get zapped!
If the chaos, confusion, and scariness remind you of a haunted house, then you KNOW it's a movement of God! You can FEEL it!!
This is from Bethel "pastor" Seth Dahl, who is selling this prophetic puppet on the Bethel store (we posted this article about it in February, 2016):
In summary: Fire tunnels are a terrific way to spread germs, spirits, demons, weirdness and puppets (if you've got $100).
We hope this was helpful in your pursuit of the Encounter Gospel, but if you need more information:
Here's a related, serious article:
After interacting with people on social media (mostly Facebook and YouTube) it's become painfully obvious that plenty of the "Christians" who are making comments are more like cult-members than anything else. When the bad doctrine of a false teacher is pointed out, these followers feel compelled to step in to defend their revered leaders. Most of the time this becomes a demonstration of how poorly they've been taught, how Biblically illiterate they are, and how confident they are in their foolish thinking.
Let's take a look at how Benny Hinn's followers react to a YouTube video of a brief TV news segment where Costi Hinn is interviewed. In this video, Costi gently refutes the "prosperity gospel" of his uncle, Benny Hinn. Here are some comments against Costi; you'll notice that I lost my temper and decided to confront some of these people, after getting so many horrible comments:
Note: This next comment should be taken seriously, since it comes from Eden Menastrees:
Here is what it looks like when Benny Hinn followers try to defend him:
This next guy was really on a roll...
Although this video has plenty of comments displaying subjective, unbiblical, feelings-based thinking, the following comment is a really shocking example of delusional, cult-like thinking:
In this podcast Steve talks to Christian author & apologist, Robert M. Bowman Jr. about his book "The Word-Faith Controversy." Does the Word of Faith movement really have its origins in the New Thought movement, or is there a more accurate way to understand this gigantic movement?
Bowman clears up some misunderstandings and over-simplifications that other Christian discernment ministries have perpetuated, based on incomplete research. If you are trying to understand the New Apostolic Reformation, you need to hear this podcast.
1. Bill Johnson & Kris Vallotton (and other Bethel pastors) put their own words above the Word of God. Listen to them talk and you'll hear very few actual Bible verses, but you will hear a lot of their own thoughts and ideas that they claim to have received directly from God. This is not accidental. They believe they are a new and better type of Christian leader who can hear directly from God and get "downloads" of new information. They believe the Bible is merely a good starting point that has useful information about God, but to really know Him you must go further than the Bible-you need to go "off the map."
2. Go back to the previous point. Seriously, that is enough to end the discussion. If the Bible is only a starting point (because we need to get new and better information) than this is not the historic Christian church. In fact, even the Roman Catholic Church believes that we can't have a bunch of different people running around claiming to speak for God; that's why they have only one Pope. In the Bethel/NAR way of thinking, practically everyone is their own Pope! Bethel teaches that we must have a subjective and mystical connection to the Holy Spirit that allows us to receive more than the clear meaning of the Word of God, because the Word of God isn't enough.
3. Are you carefully considering how dangerous it is to degrade and devalue the Word of God the way Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton and Bethel does? Are you really comfortable abandoning what the Christian Church has taught, confessed and believed since its very beginning? On top of that, are you really comfortable handing over the Christian Church and its doctrines to men like Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton? These men are getting rich off of the sheep they claim to serve; they are constantly selling stuff and giving speeches for money. These men make no bones about it-they make a lot of money and they're happy to continue making more. Is that who we should trust with the future of the Christian faith?
Please check out A Biblical Guide to the Prosperity Gospel.
4. Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton and Bethel twist the Bible to make it say what they want it to say. Bill Johnson will take the English word from the Bible and try to extract some special new meaning from it; but the original word was never in English! Here's a really embarrassing example:
The word "repent" has nothing to do with penthouses-obviously! The original Greek word transliterated is "metanoia" and it means "I repent, change my mind, change the inner man (particularly with reference to acceptance of the will of God), repent," according to Strong's concordance. This is horrendous Bible twisting from a man who either has no idea what he's doing (and Bill Johnson has no training in the ancient languages that the Bible was written in), or he's so confident that he's hearing new messages from God that he doesn't care. Here's another example from the same book:
Bill Johnson doesn't even bother to consult a concordance, which is a very simple way to learn the meaning of any word found in the Bible. Instead, he demonstrates that he is horribly incapable of teaching a Biblical passage. The Hebrew word translated into english as desire is "mishalah." It simply means "request" or "petition," but Bill Johnson is telling people that "God is after their desires" because de and sire means "of the father," according to him. This is a complete fabrication and a deliberate twisting of God's Word. Why would he do that? Who knows? Maybe it's because he's appealing to the selfish desires of his gullible audience. He is definitely tickling itching ears.
5. Bill Johnson didn't have enough sense to know that he was getting scammed by Todd Bentley at The Charismatic Day of Infamy. All of the "Apostles" of the New Apostolic Reformation gathered together to commission Todd Bentley as the great new leader whose revival meetings (the "Lakeland Revival") were a big deal for a few months of glory in 2008. But Todd Bentley was a fraud, adulterer and drunk, and none of those "Apostles" (Bill Johnson being a primary member) had enough discernment to figure it out. These are the men who claim to have all sorts of special insights directly from God, but they were utterly clueless. Does that sound like the kind of guy whose direct "downloads" should be trusted to establish new doctrine? After Todd Bentley abandoned his wife and children, Bill Johnson tried to restore him back to ministry-ignoring the fact that he was utterly disqualified by his despicable, sinful behavior. Even today, Bill Johnson supports and promotes the fraud Todd Bentley. Here's something he posted on his Facebook wall just recently:
So Bill Johnson openly supports and endorses his friend, the fraud Todd Bentley. By the way, even that promo for Bentley's "revival" is fraudulent: that's a an old photograph of a Billy Graham meeting in Los Angeles.
6. Bill Johnson & Kris Vallotton are both big fans of the creepy cult leader William Branham (1909-1965). Branham was so detached from Biblical Christianity that even Word of Faith founder Kenneth Hagin called him a false teacher and predicted he would die two years before it happened from a car accident in 1965. Although he died on Dec. 24, 1965, Branham's followers refused to bury his body since they believed he would rise from the dead. They finally gave up and buried him on April 11th of the next year. Branham didn't believe in the Trinity. Branham believed he was the end-time "Elijah." Branham taught that Eve and the serpent had sexual intercourse and Cain was born, and that consequently every woman potentially carried the literal seed of the devil, so he always believed women to be inferior and untrustworthy. Branham was a pathological liar who told many variations of stories for decades with conflicting details. Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton have stated that they want the "mantle" of William Branham.
7. Bethel Church claims to be special place where the "Presence" is tangible, and miracles happen every day, yet when a coven of witches went there to get prophetic words spoken over them, they were told nothing but positive things and were actually encouraged to continue in their witchcraft. Seriously. Read about it: Bethel Church Tells Witch that She's "On the Right Path" and "God is So Proud of Her!"
8. Bill Johnson has established new doctrines that are not taught anywhere in Scripture, and these new doctrines have become foundational beliefs that have caused a great deal of confusion. For example, a foundational belief at Bethel is that "we must create a culture that welcomes risk-taking." Once this belief is established, people feel free to make stuff up and do things that are weird, harmful and unbiblical. Another foundational belief is that "we owe people an encounter with God."
This "Encounter Gospel" teaches that people cannot believe in God unless we do some supernatural miracle for them, and it eliminates the need for a sinner to repent of their sins. This idea adds a great deal of confusion and it conflicts with the Bible's teaching that the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to convert people. On top of these new doctrines, Bill Johnson & Co. are always degrading the use of reason and elevating a mystical/gnostic approach to knowledge. This is a recipe for utter confusion, and it lays a foundation for people to abandon their Christian faith, which should be based on God's Word. Check out these Bethel sayings and notice how murky, unbiblical and anti-intellectual the thinking is:
9. Although Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton and other Bethel pastors will claim to be focusing on "nothing but Jesus" the truth is that they don't. Listen to these people "preach" and you'll hear lots of talking and stories, but the emphasis is never on the simple and finished Gospel message that Jesus Christ came and gave His life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. The Apostle Paul said "I preach Christ and Him crucified," but the Bethel message is focused on what they're doing and what's going to happen next. This is no accident. Bill Johnson has repeatedly said that he wants Bethel to focus on only one thing: "revival." This is not what the Bible teaches-but it's what Bill Johnson teaches. Why? Because Bill Johnson had an experience at the "Toronto Blessing" that caused him to devote himself to this form of "revival." The Toronto Blessing was so controversial that the founder of the Vineyard movement, John Wimber, went to the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church and told them they were in serious error. Wimber then cut the church out of his Vineyard fellowship for being too far removed from Biblical Christianity. Bill Johnson took over Bethel Church and steered it into the very controversial Toronto Blessing kind of teaching, and that caused the Assemblies of God to cut them off in a similar way. Bethel Church is so far on the fringe that it is creating its own new and unbiblical doctrines.
10. Benny Hinn. He's an obvious false teacher who is known for his outlandish and luxurious lifestyle, his highly staged "Miracle Crusades," and his Prosperity Preaching (which only makes Benny Hinn prosperous).
Bethel loves this guy.
There is no excuse for this, and if you are trying to justify this in your mind right now, you are part of the problem. Benny Hinn is a showman and a huckster, and he knows what to say in order to retain as large an audience as possible. Benny Hinn recently made a special appearance at Bethel.
Here's an "NBC Dateline" segment on Benny Hinn from 2005:
Bethel Bonus section:
What a Bargain-Bill Johnson's $400 Thumb Drive!! (Maybe that's how he can afford an Aston Martin?)
Bethel Redding's Liturgical Prayer to the God of Mammon (it's just the heretical prosperity "gospel" rearing its ugly head)
The Lord Grabbed Jenn Johnson by the Hair and Sent Her Into Outer Space (This is Bill Johnson's daughter-in-law "preaching" at Bethel)
Jenn Johnson: "The Lord Has A Reflector Mirror Under His Armpit" (This is normal in the world of Bethel)
Jenn Johnson Got More Cute By Believing What God Said About Her (Yes, she really said this)
Kris Vallotton: "Wealth is the Magnetic Attraction to Prosperity" (Kris Vallotton is getting more and more wealthy as he tells everyone: "But it's not just about money!...")
Kris Vallotton: Prosperity Preacher Exchanging Love for Wealth (This guy really loves to talk about getting wealthy, but remember, it's "not just about the money!...")
Kris Vallotton LIES About the Bible (And Carey Nieuwhof loves it)
Topless Dancing at Christalignment "Workshop"-Does Kris Vallotton Approve? (This is so weird, creepy and unbelievable it should be another whole series of articles, oh wait, it is. There are many links in this article)
Bethel Redding Fire Tunnel with Puppets (Bethel Pastor, Seth Dahl, is selling and biting a man on the neck with his $100 puppets, just watch this video because it can't be explained...)
Victims of Bill Johnson’s SOZO Ministry speak out (This is another can of worms, and articles...)
In summary, Bethel Church, Redding, has bad Christology, bad Pneumatology, and bad Soteriology. If you believe that "theology doesn't matter," you're a perfect candidate to fall for this bad theology. Theology is just a word that means "teaching about God." By definition, Bethel teaches theology, but they disguise it as something so totally new and fresh that people are fooled into thinking it's something "better" or "more spiritual." But it's just their version of teaching about God. Remember, as soon as someone starts teaching about God, they are doing theology.
So, Christology is what you believe about Jesus Christ, Soteriology is what you believe about salvation and Pneumatology is what you believe about the Holy Spirit. Those issues can be discussed in another article.
Do your homework. Take your Christian faith seriously and stop following these false teachers. Here is another article that can help you think more about this:
Bethel is part of The New Apostolic Reformation:
-This article by Steven Kozar
(This is an incredible article & video by today's guest author, Brandon Kimber)
If you have young children or are a Disney fan, then you’ve likely seen the movie: Moana (Disney, 2016). Quite a few people in my life have brought up their love for the ending scene where Moana restores the heart of Tafiti because it reminds them of the Christian gospel. On a surface level, I would agree that there are some similarities; the imagery of an evil monster transforming into something beautiful can be compared to the doctrine of regeneration (what Jesus calls being “born again”). But if you dig a little deeper into the details you’ll see that this aligns more with the false gospel coming out of Word of Faith or NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) theology. I noticed a lot of similarities in the phrases and imagery used, so I decided to make a quick edit. I used clips from William Paul Young (author of ‘The Shack’), Oprah Winfrey, Kris Vallotton (Bethel Church), Todd White (Lifestyle Christianity), and Kenneth Copeland.
Check out the clip and then my explanation below:
In the film, Moana (the human) is playing the Christ/savior role:
"I have crossed the horizon to find you. I know your name.”
She’s the hero who restores (or transforms) the heart of the monster. The goddess is playing the role of the monster (or sinner). This flip in roles is what first grabbed my attention and made me realize that this wasn’t like the true gospel at all. If you’re familiar with some of the Word of Faith/NAR teaching (Kenneth Copeland, Bethel Church, Todd White, William Paul Young, etc.) you’ll see some striking similarities; they demote the deity of God by teaching that Jesus did not live as God, but only as a man. They don’t deny that Christ was eternally God prior to His incarnation, but claim that in His incarnation “He laid fully God aside”. This is called kenotic theology- a Christological heresy. The miracles that we see in scripture were signs that pointed to, or proved Christ’s deity, and showed that he had the authority as God to forgive sins:
“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins”- then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” (Matthew 9:6)
NAR theology flips this upside-down, claiming that Christ’s miracles were merely an example of what we can do and the power we can have. This view is problematic because if Christ had no power within Himself to physically heal the sick, then how would he have the power to provide our spiritual healing (forgiveness of sins)? Scripture teaches that Christ could only do this because He was fully and truly God, and fully and truly man while He walked the Earth.
This theology not only diminishes the deity of Christ, but it elevates and deifies man by claiming that we’re ‘little gods’ with ‘divine DNA’ who can do greater miracles than Jesus did.
Copeland: “You don’t have a god in you. You are one.”
Todd White: “You have the divine DNA of Abba!”
Copeland: “You have the exact same spiritual DNA as Jesus! You are a twin to the Master Himself!”
For more examples of Copeland and White’s view on this, checkout this video:
In sum, this view of God and man is directly connected to the first lie in the Garden of Eden, “…you will be like God” (Gen 3:4)
William Paul Young (The Shack), Oprah, and Todd White all teach a similar self-esteem message; they diminish the seriousness of sin and reject what the Bible teaches about man’s nature.
WPY: “I think the lie is that all we are is a piece of crap.”
Oprah: “That’s a lie some religions tell people. You are born in sin.”
WPY: “You’re depraved. You’re worthless.”
Todd White: “The cross isn’t just the revelation of your sin, the cross is the revealing of your value. Sin was an issue, but something underneath that sin was of great importance for heaven to go bankrupt to get you back.”
Let’s compare these ideas about the nature of man to Holy Scripture:
Moana: “This is not who you are. You know who you are. Who you truly are.”
If you are familiar with Kris Vallotton, Todd White, Dan Mohler or a bunch of similar teachers, you’ll recognize that this “knowing who you are” is the foundation of their evangelistic methods and their teaching on sonship (“knowing who you are”, “sonship”, “seeing your value”, etc.). When Todd speaks to an audience of struggling Christians (and even in speaking to non-Christians) he says that their problem is that they just don’t know who they are. They don’t know that they’re a “son” or that they’re amazing or valuable to God.
First, what does the Bible mean when it talks about being a son? In Scripture all those who have been born again are called adopted sons and daughters of God:
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:14-16)
Jesus says those who are not Christian are sons of the devil:
"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.” (John 8:44)
Essentially Todd, Kris and all the other teachers are saying that the way for a sinner to be made right with God is just give mental assent to knowing that they are born again (because they're so valuable). It doesn’t work like that; just thinking that we are born again doesn’t make us born again. The act of regeneration is a mystery and a work done by the Holy Spirit through the hearing of the (actual) Gospel. Jesus compares this work of the Spirit to the wind (something we can’t see, or have control over):
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:7-8)
In evangelism, the first thing someone needs to hear isn’t “God thinks you’re amazing and you have a purpose! He’s so in love with you and thinks about you all the time!” (If you’ve ever watched a documentary by Darren Wilson-Holy Ghost, Furious Love, Father of Lights, etc.- this is the extent of the content of their "gospel"). A person who is not a Christian doesn’t need a boost in their self-esteem, but they need to understand that they have broken the law of God and are currently under His wrath (an enemy of God). The Biblical call of the Gospel is to repent (which is granted by God);turning from sin towards Christ, and trusting in His finished work alone.
If you never tell people this bad news about who they truly are apart from Christ, then the good news is meaningless and has no power (it’s just news). If your message is all about boosting the ego instead of calling people to “die to self” and turn from their sin, then you aren’t preaching the Biblical Gospel. The Gospel can not be two different and opposing messages; either we were saved by Christ in spite of our sin, or we were saved by Christ because of how "valuable" or "good" we are. But if we're so valuable or good, why did Jesus die?
WPY: “I think the process of transformation is not about becoming something that we weren’t, but unveiling what we were the whole time.”
Oprah: “So there’s nothing to transform, but all of this to uncover.”
Todd White: “Something underneath that sin was of great importance for heaven to go bankrupt to get you back.”
Sin isn’t just something that is external that covers us, it actually flows out of our corrupt hearts (see verses in #2 above). Our hearts don’t just need a cleanup or a makeover, but they need to be replaced or resurrected.
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stonefrom your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statues, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
I believe Scripture says the process of transformation IS about becoming something that we weren’t: a dead sinner, now made alive in Christ!
All of these details may seem unimportant, but they have a huge impact on how someone responds to the gospel and our understanding of why God loves us. If we look to God’s relationship with Israel we can get a better picture:
"The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deut. 7:7)
God loves Israel (and us) because He loves us. He doesn’t love us because of our value, but He loves and has compassion on us in spite of our lost value. Yes, we were created in the image of God, but after the Fall we lost our value in our sin. And now apart from Christ we are described as worthless (Romans 3:11-12), tares to be burned (Matthew 13:29), branches to be burned (John 15:6), deserving of hell.
If I believe that God’s motivation for saving me is because of my value or how amazing I am, then my self-esteem or pride is fueled. I now have something to boast about before God. Grace is now seen as something I deserved because of how amazing I am. It’s all about me. But if I see that God, out of His compassion and love for a people who didn’t deserve to be loved, chose to love us because He chose to love us, then I am deeply humbled. There’s nothing in me that is worthy, and therefore my focus is fixed on Christ and His worth and value- not my own. Remember this isn’t about whether or not we’re valuable to God. This is about why we’re valuable. God doesn’t love me because I am valuable. I am valuable to God because He loves me.
Brandon Kimber is a filmmaker currently working on the film: American Gospel.
There's a recent video sermon from Francis Chan which has eerie similarities to a cult leader indoctrinating his followers. His basic argument is this:
In this sermon, Francis Chan merges and tangles two different topics into a frightening blend of confusion; on one hand he talks about people who gossip and complain about their fellow believers, but on the other hand, he talks about all doctrinal differences as if they were mere preferences. While his comments about gossiping apply to personal relationships, his comments about unifying with everyone who claims to "love the Lord" are very concerning to anyone who takes the Bible seriously.
Here are some passages from God's Word that tell us to be on guard against false teachers in the Church. Please notice that false teachers will appear to "love the Lord," and we are told to judge them by their doctrine:
Matthew 7:15-23 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.'”
Matthew 24: 3-14; 24-25 “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Vs. 24): For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (25) Behold, I have told you in advance.”
2 Peter 2:1-3 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
Acts 20:28-31 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.”
Titus 1:7-11 “For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.”
James 3: 1 "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness."
Titus 2:1 “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.”
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of a brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those on the outside. Remove the evil person from among you."
Here's a much better sermon: The Sheep Judge Their Shepherds by C. F. W. Walther
Here's another helpful article on this same sermon/video: Lighthouse Trails
-This article by Steven Kozar
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“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3)
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