Beliefs and Teachings

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Distance Regarding the Bible

It makes sense to start with this aspect of Bethel Church’s teachings, characteristic of Bill Johnson’s approach.

According to him, the Bible is a closed book. He is critical of those who study the Word of God. He cites 1 Corinthians 8:1, “knowledge puffs up.”

He says that “Those who feel safe because of their intellectual grasp of Scriptures enjoy a false sense of security. None of us has a full grasp of Scripture, but we all have the Holy Spirit. He is our common denominator who will always lead us into truth. But to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know.” (Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth, p. 76)[i]

This opens the way to all kinds of drifts as the Word of God is not to be held on to. It is also a convenient way to then refute any point of criticism that would base itself on the Bible. But when a verse supports (or seems to supports) his teaching, he has no problem citing it, even if it means using it out of context.

The apostle Paul wrote Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” 2 Timothy 4:3

He also wrote this, in the same epistle: ”All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.“ 2 Timothy 3:16

In Acts we read, “they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11

“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

Distance with regard to the Bible is also observable in teachings that misrepresent the Word of God in an obvious manner. Here is an example with Kris Vallotton as he spoke at the Kingdom Festival in Fiesch, Switzerland, in 2015. The video can be viewed in its entirety on the website of the Kingdom Festival and on YouTube.

He makes many erroneous claims in his sermon, but the worst of all is found at minute 7:25:

Would anybody accept similar teachings in public schools?

Below, you will find additional examples of Kris Vallotton interpreting the Bible in his own way.

Deity of Jesus

According to Bill Johnson, Jesus was exclusively human when he came to earth. He had no power of his own (reference to John 5:19), as described in his book “The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind” on page 50.

He wasn’t of divine nature. His power came from his relationship with God. Bill Johnson bases these claims on Philippians 2:7, “but [he] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,  being born in the likeness of men.”

According to Bill Johnson, this indicates that Jesus renounced his divinity. But Jesus could in fact not “strip” himself from his divinity. He was and is God. By coming to earth, he renounced his divine privileges. He was both God and man at the same time.

If he had died on the cross as a man, he could not have accomplished what he did. He also didn’t sin while on earth, which is clearly a divine characteristic. He was not like us.

Bill Johnson wants to make us equal with Jesus on earth, and in doing so, entertain the idea that we can perform the same miracles as Jesus, and even greater ones (see the post “Signs and Miracles”).

When he was on earth, Jesus said “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) and “unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

Bill Johnson goes even farther: he claims that Jesus was born again. According to him, Jesus was born for the first time out of Mary’s womb, and he was born again when God resurrected him[1]. He explains that Jesus had to be born again because he was made sin. Of course, this is not biblical. A resurrection does not constitute a new birth, and everything was accomplished on the cross as Jesus said, “it is finished.” The veil was torn then, and not when Jesus rose from the dead.

Dominionism

Bethel Church teaches dominionism – refer to the article on this topic and the article on the New Apostolic Reformation.

According to them, we already live in the era in which Christians reign with Jesus in the heavenly places. This is not a promise awaiting fulfilment; it has already been fulfilled and we are living in those times. In the video below (part 1), Kris Vallotton says that

“you are seated in the heavenly places with Christ, and he’s already put everything under your feet” (minute 10:35).

Ephesians 1:22 says it clearly: God put everything under Jesus’s feet.

He also indicates that Satan was stripped of his power and that his punishment was to watch billions of people be made in the image of God.

Part 1 (duration: 11 minutes)

Part 2 (duration: 15 min)

 

At minute 11:25 (part 2), he explains that Satan is powerless and that we … to “torment the tormenter.”

In parallel to the attack on the deity of Jesus, man is also elevated to the level of deity. This comes from New Age teachings.

In the video above (part 2), he explains that we are god with lowercase d, and that God is God with capital D (minute 6:30)

He adds that in the Garden of Eden, we did not need to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to become like God, because we were born into it.

He also claims that the second half of Daniel 7:27,

“His kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him”

applies to the “people of saints,” that is, to Christians. He explains that “serve […] him” shows that God sees us as ONE man.

However, that same chapter makes it clear that “him” refers to Jesus:

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” Daniel 7:13-14

In the same fashion, Paul writes in Ephesians 1:20-22,

 

[His great might] that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,

We will reign with Him, but it is He who is the head of the Church. The idea of placing man on an equal footing with God goes back to… the Garden of Eden.

Video (4 min 50 sec)

 

Healing and Prosperity Acquired at the Cross

Bill Johnson alleges that at the cross, Jesus delivered us from sin, sickness, and poverty.

According to him, sickness is not caused by God, and He does not allow it either. He even says that God can only give what He has, and since He isn’t sick, He cannot give sickness. This makes Him into an oddly limited God, and that argument does not make sense. Even humans can “give” cancer without having it themselves. For instance, asbestos factories and the atomic bomb have given people cancer, yet neither the owners of the factories nor the makers of the bomb were infected by a cancer.

He goes even further, saying that those who believe that God allows sickness preach a different gospel.

In a video, Bill Johnson answers three questions. Here are summaries of his answers:

  • Can God cause sickness?
    • You can only give what you have. God is not sick; he can’t give sickness. You can’t give cancer if you don’t have it.

  • Can God choose not to heal?
    • Two thousand years ago, Jesus made a purchase. Two thousand years ago, he chose to heal. Either the payment was sufficient for all sins or no sins. Healing and forgiveness work in tandem throughout the Scripture. It was the same payment. There’s a third element: poverty. So the brushstroke of God’s redemption was to wipe out the root of sin, the root of illness, and the root of poverty.

  • What was the thorn in the flesh mentioned by Paul?
    • It indicates that Paul was from an Asian culture, from the Middle-East, and that he used a parable or proverb from that region. [4]

He doesn’t believe the Paul had an illness. In another sermon, he says that those who say that Paul had an illness preach a different gospel.

Interestingly, both Bill Johnson and his wife Beni wear medical glasses. He also underwent surgery in 2009 and had a polyp (surgically) removed in 2016. Moreover, their son is deaf. [5]

Those declarations by Bill Johnson are not in line with the Word. To cite a few examples:

  • Then the Lord will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. Deuteronomy 28:59
  • And after all this the Lord struck him in his bowels with an incurable disease. 2 Chronicles 21:18

We believe that God is almighty and that He still heals today, but we also believe that God allows sickness and the absence of healing does not result from a lack of faith. After Christ returns, we will have transformed bodies and will then no longer suffer from sicknesses.

Signs and Miracles

According to Bill Johnson, Jesus performed miracles as a man in a relationship with God, and not as God. This is the reason why we can do today the same things that Jesus did; we have the same ability. (Bill Johnson, “When Heaven Invades Earth”) [ii]

Bill Johnson places man on an equal footing with Jesus on earth, and for this reason, we are allegedly able to perform the same miracles that Jesus did, and even greater ones.

He bases this claim on John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

On the one hand, Jesus was talking to his disciples, and on the other hand, “works” in this passage is not synonymous with miracles.

Even without discussing this verse further, we clearly see that neither Bill Johnson nor his fellow New Apostolic Reformation members are performing greater miracles than Jesus.

Jesus calmed storms, healed paralytics, and raised the dead. There was no “half-healing,” and no healing that would only be sustained for a few days.

Sometimes, a “glory cloud” appears at Bethel Church. It can be seen in several YouTube videos. Does it really testify to the full extent of the glory of God? Scroll down for a chapter on this topic (further down this page).

Jesus said the following concerning miracles:

“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

Thus, the performance of a miracle is no proof that the author did it through the Holy Spirit. The Bible includes a wealth of miracles performed by other spirits. This is the very reason why we are called to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” 1 John 4:1

One of the ways that we can know that a miracle comes from God is by judging it on its “quality” (though this is not the only criterion). Yet even by looking solely at that aspect, NAR miracles fail to pass the test.

For instance, Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry alumni created dead-raising team. They even founded a dead-raising school, but they did not provide the proofs that we requested from them. Their website does not give any proofs either.

While today’s media outlets report minor facts from all the corners of the world, those stories of raised dead are going unnoticed. And the dead raising team does not go through the trouble of recounting a single example. This is odd to say the least.

Apostles and Prophets

See the article on the New Apostolic Reformation.

Possibility to “Ascend to the Heavenly Realms”

Basing his teaching on John 3:13, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man,” Bill Johnson indicates that this happens before Jesus’s death, which means that what is described in the verse is a lifestyle of intimacy with the Father. Even as he was on earth, Jesus ascended to the heavenly realms in his relationship with God. He adds that it is an invitation to all believers [6] (beginning of the sermon). This is to be understood alongside his view that Jesus was just a man when he was on earth.

Invitation to Awaken Angels

Beni Johnson testifies of having awoken angels in order that they might help to establish the kingdom of God. [7]

She this page: 

References:

[i] Those who feel safe because of their intellectual grasp of Scriptures enjoy a false sense of security. None of us has a full grasp of Scripture, but we all have the Holy Spirit. He is our common denominator who will always lead us into truth. But to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know.

(Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth)

[ii] JESUS COULD NOT HEAL THE SICK. Neither could He deliver the tormented from demons or raise the dead. To believe otherwise is to ignore what He said about Himself, and more importantly, to miss the purpose of His self-imposed restriction to live as a man. Jesus Christ said of Himself, “The Son can do nothing” (John 5:19). In the Greek language that word nothing has a unique meaning—it means nothing, just like it does in English! He had no supernatural capabilities whatsoever! While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once he was redeemed. He made that point over and over again. Jesus became the model for all who would embrace the invitation to invade the impossible in His name. He performed miracles, wonders, and signs as a man in right relationship to God…not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us. But if He did them as a man, I am responsible to pursue His lifestyle. (Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth)

 

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