[Editor’s Note:] For several years I have been receiving the email messages Andrew Strom sends out. I have also read many of his writings in which he addresses various issues regarding the insidious infusion of New Age teachings and practices into large segments of the Charismatic stream, in particular, as well as issues related to the so-called “New Apostolic Reformation” and the restoration of the prophetic. We also had one extended phone conversation, I believe in 2007, in which we touched briefly upon a number of issues of common concern. While I cannot say that I know everything about his theological/doctrinal positions, beliefs, and motives, and thus am in no way endorsing the totality of his ministry, in general, I agree with much of what he has written regarding the error and delusion associated with the aforementioned movements.
In previous writings, Andrew Strom has criticized and decried both the prophetic and apostolic movements. In particular, he has written critically from a former “insider’s” perspective concerning the “Kansas City Prophets,” spearheaded by Mike Bickle, and their involvement in the prophetic movement that commenced in the mid-1980s. A few years ago, Strom published a book expressing why he left the prophetic movement, citing numerous specific reasons he believes the movement went astray. Additionally, Strom has been sharply critical of the “super-apostles,” as well as the chief principals involved with the various so-called “revivals” of the 1990s and the latest so-called “Lakeland Outpouring,” centered around the extremely controversial and thoroughly discredited figure, Todd Bentley. The archives of Andrew’s messages on his website contain many other messages and exposés that provide further context and background to this latest message. What he is saying on this and related matters is generally consistent with my personal view, which I am confident is also God’s view and attitude, regarding these matters because He reveals same in His Word, the Bible.
Today I received the latest of Andrew’s messages in which he issues another warning regarding the leaders of the mega-church, Bethel Church in Redding, California, Bill and Beni Johnson. It focuses primarily on the wacky and bizarre activities, occurrences, and unscriptural practices that transpire in the “revival” meetings, not only at Bethel Church and the many churches affiliated with the “mother church,” but also in meetings of many of the other ministries with whom the Johnsons are associated globally. I too have been monitoring this whole matter regarding the extremist New Age Neo-Charismatics for many years, and have published a number of articles regarding it, including several articles critical of the “Lakeland Outpouring,” Todd Bentley, and a number of other ministers connected in one way or another with the Neo-Charismatics. I provide links to some of those articles below, following the Strom article.
Please understand there is nothing personal about what is being addressed here. I don’t know and have never met Bill Johnson, personally, and frankly neither of those occurrences would have any bearing whatever on what I address here. In no way am I maligning him as a person or engaging in an ad hominem attack on the man or his family, friends, or his followers, and to allege otherwise is ludicrous. From his public persona in videos I’ve seen, He presents as being a meek, personable, loving, and likable fellow. I appreciate the fact that many who do know him personally and professionally hold him in high regard, including several of my minister friends, who minister in the same circles, some at Bethel Church. Again, I have no beef with him as a person, no ax to grind. My concerns are strictly about the doctrinal and Biblical basis for the issues involved, which is always the case when I feel compelled to write about something. I urge you to read THIS ARTICLE: The Perilous Path of Doctrinal Deviation to understand where I’m coming from in this matter as well as others I write about.
Audio Reading of Editor’s Preface by Dr. Steven Lambert:
Though I’ve often sensed inward urgings to sound the watchman’s alarm more via additional articles and audio messages, time constraints, primarily, precluded me from doing so, making the timing of Strom’s article particularly favorable. I have, however, conversed privately with several minister friends, as well as a few times openly in minister meetings, about my growing concern over the multitudes of neophyte and spiritually immature or Biblically-uninformed professing believers who are being duped, led astray, or led away into actual apostasy by these New Age Pied Pipers and doctrinal heretics. In the case of Bill Johnson, however, as Andrew points out, what makes this purveyor of deception more dangerous and insidious than most, is his seemingly meek and humble, low-key, soft-spoken, and “charming” demeanor and delivery, mirroring, in my view, the Spirit’s description of the devil conveyed through Moses, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made….” (Genesis 3:1)
One last thing I feel a necessity to address before getting to the article, though having to do so really irks me sometimes, primarily because most people don’t take the time or apparently don’t have the good sense to find out more about a commentator/writer/minister such as myself before they draw snap and totally erroneous conclusions when they read articles such as this one criticizing something or someone they have blithely elevated to “rock star” status as so many in the Charismatic movement, particularly the Biblically-illiterate and spiritually-immature adherents, tend to do. I want to state categorically that I myself am a certified, card-carrying Charismatic believer and minister, in the sense that I wholly believe in, teach, and personally operate in the “charismata,” i.e., the Manifestation Gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12). I received the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues more than 35 years ago (at the time of this writing; 1976), and, as I say, have operated in all nine of the “charismata” many, many—literally multitudes of times—in my personal and public (ministerial) life during these three and a half decades since. Knowing how few Spirit-baptized believers actually use their “prayer language” (tongues) and those who do how infrequently and irregularly they practice praying and praising in tongues, I feel I can confidently also say with the Apostle Paul to at least 90% of Spirit-baptized believers, “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all (1 Cor. 14:18).
I know the exact moment, on the exact day, that I was genuinely and instantaneously Born Again with a dramatic and emphatic regenerative transaction in my heart, or human spirit! There was no doubt, not for me, or for the two Born Again men, one a minister, who prayed with me and led me to the Lord on that Saturday morning in January of 1976, standing in a safety zone in the parking lot of the Altamonte Springs Mall in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Only a few days after that forceful Born Again experience, God clearly spoke to me a word in a dream in words I was unaware of ever having heard before, and when I awoke he told me where to look in the Bible to find that same exact message in those same exact words:
Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. “Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. “See, I have appointed you this day over the NATIONS and over the KINGDOMS, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:4-10; emphasis on words the Lord emphasized in the dream)
Within only a few months of being saved, God was using me as an “earthly vessel” to minister genuine miracles and healing to people with very serious, sometimes incurable, medical conditions, many of whom the doctors had given up on, sent out by my home church to visit the sick in hospitals in the Orlando Metroplex, after I went to the office and basically prevailed upon them to “let me do something for God, else I was going to blow up!” — because I was so on fire for God! I was saved in January, 1976, and in September of that year I was working in the development of a ministry endeavor called, “Festival of Praise,” that during the course of its nearly 20-years of existence, reached around the world into some 35 nations with a message of the “new thing” God was doing in the church at-large (i.e., all the things associated with the Charismatic Movement) conveyed through the Charismatic praise and worship that came into being during the Charismatic Movement and now is a staple in churches of just about every denomination and affiliation, or non-affiliation, in existence.
In the 1970s I pioneered Charismatic churches in several Florida cities, as well as took the fresh teachings and Spirit-powered ministry associated with the Charismatic Movement to many churches, particularly in Florida. In the 1980s and ’90s I conducted hundreds of “prophetic seminars” in hotel meeting rooms, people’s homes, and churches in Florida, prophesying and teaching about the coming restoration of the prophetic within the Church Jesus is building. I also published a book about the matter of the prophetic and wrote a Bible-college course for which the book is the textbook. During those years, I was pilloried, persecuted, marginalized, blackballed, ridiculed, scorned, ostracized, and called a heretic, for claiming to be a “prophet” and for teaching and prophesying about the restoration of the prophetic gifts and office, as well as the apostolic, and that these two offices remain to be the foundation upon which Jesus, the Head of the Church, is building the real, genuine, and authentic “ekklesia” He is building! Of course, everything I wrote, prophesied, and taught about all that came to pass with precision in subsequent years, and I and my ministry were divinely vindicated, though there’s never been even the slightest admission of that fact from any of my host of detractors and critics. Bottom-line is, and the reason I am recounting all this, is that I PAID THE PRICE for teaching Charismatic-related teachings and beliefs, and PAID MY DUES for the RIGHT to bring the reproof and correction that is so desperately needed to the Charismatic stream. I’m a card-carrying, dues-paying, MEMBER of the Charismatic Church, and as such have a DUTY and a COMMANDMENT FROM GOD to speak the prophetic word of reproof, admonition, and even warning, FROM THE LORD OF HOSTS, THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH, to the Charismatic church. [Read my bio]
NO ONE believes in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit more than I do! I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands, of real, genuine, Holy Ghost perpetrated MIRACLES and manifestations of healing, during my 35 years in the ministry, many of which occurred in my own meetings! Not to mention the thousands of demons I’ve personally expelled from demonized people during those 3.5 decades of deliverance counseling ministry. I’ve seen demons and been visited by angels. Thus, I believe in both! In all my meetings since my very first meeting, people are “slain in the spirit” and “Holy Laughter” breaks out frequently. So I also wholeheartedly believe in both of those as well, and despite the false claims of some, can cite a host of Scriptures supporting both of those Holy Spirit perpetrated supernatural occurrences! When the anointing is flowing, God has “frozen” people in place, not allowing them to move, get up, go down, or speak. In fact, one of the most unusual occurrences that has happened several times in my meetings is that the musicians were under such a strong anointing (according to them)–many times one’s I was PAYING–have been “frozen” and unable to play their instruments and completely “forgot” how to play their instrument–something that made me mad and at the time I had a hard time accepting, since there’s a whole crowd of people there I want to be led into worship! We also know of at least four very expensive sound systems that were “fried” under the anointing, no other reason having ever been found, though I guess I shouldn’t be telling that part because no churches will want me to minister at their church.
Thus, in NO WAY am I denigrating the Charismatic experience or Biblical teachings restored during the Charismatic Movement or engaging in any semblance of Charismatic-bashing. Rather, I am proffering what I am fully convinced is valid and very much needed, God-inspired reproof and correction of patently unscriptural doctrines, practices, and counterfeit signs and wonders that have been gradually emerging in the Charismatic stream for at least two decades. The problem has now risen to a place of “critical mass.” It MUST BE ADDRESSED! Far too few other voices are speaking out, which, looking at it from a completely carnal and self-centered perspective, is understandable, because the “business” of a genuine prophet, a la Elijah, Elisha, John The Baptist, and the prophets of the Bible, is anything other than a popular or self-aggrandizing endeavor. The church has always “killed” the genuine watchman and judgment prophets, and Jesus made it clear it would always be that way until He returns. Not exactly a “vocation” anyone in his right mind would wake up one day and say, “I think I’ll become a prophet.” As has been said before, “You don’t HAVE to be out of your mind to do this, but it sure helps!”
In no way do the reproofs and admonitions I proffer mean I am anti-Charismatic or anti-Pentecostal, as some spiritually immature Charismatics are wont to allege at the mere hint of criticism of anything relevant to the Charismatic realm. I am neither anti-Charismatic nor anti-Pentecostal, but rather PRO both. My analysis, conclusions, and commentary here and in all my writings and speaking is not sheer criticism for the sake of being critical or for the purpose of pillorying the Charismatic-Pentecostal church, but rather reproof for its perfection.
This article by Andrew Strom will hopefully trumpet forth a much needed and long overdue warning shot concerning the wacky and kooky wildfire that’s being offered up by these New Age Neo-Charismatic stigmaticists, gnostic mystics, Elmer Gantrys, and Simon-like sorcerers and blasphemers, who “blaspheme the fair name by which (we) have been called,” and who pose as legitimate apostles and apostlettes, prophets and prophetesses, peddling their weirdo mysticism and far-out doctrines, “for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah” (Jude 1:11)
These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12-13)
[Dr. Steven Lambert, Founder/Editor]
WARNING—BILL JOHNSON and BETHEL CHURCH
by Andrew Strom
I am really hoping to make this the last of this type of article for awhile. Some people think I “love” putting out this stuff. But I honestly wish it would all go away, so we could get on with the “real” work of building the kingdom.
However, Bill Johnson is doing such damage to the Body of Christ around the world that I simply cannot stay silent. In New Zealand (where I am currently) he holds a huge Conference once a year called “Manifest Presence”. This is amost certainly the biggest and most influential Christian conference in the whole country. And likewise in other nations, such as UK, Australia, Singapore, and many others. His influence is enormous.
Bill Johnson is a very charming man. He also emphasizes a number of things that I heartily agree with – such as street evangelism using the gifts of the Spirit, prophecy and healing on the streets, etc. But the problem is that he endorses and promotes an “anointing” exactly identical to the one that Todd Bentley promotes. The “drunken glory”, fire-tunnel, laughing, jerking, gold-dust, “Angel-mania”-type anointing that has done such damage to the Charismatic movement around the world—and in many cases reduced it to a shocking travesty of what it once was. What would Derek Prince or Keith Green think of the things these men are into—spiritual drunkenness, “portals”, “visualization,” spirit-travel, fire-tunnels, angel-orbs and the like? (Found all the way through the New Age movement, but not in the Bible).
Bill Johnson was one of the biggest supporters of the Lakeland revival led by Todd Bentley. And even after the fiasco that it became, he publicly endorsed Todd Bentley’s ministry again in 2011. But Bill does it all with such “down-to-earth” charm and wise-sounding words – “how could this be deception?” That is what makes him so dangerous.
His wife Beni is co-pastor with Bill of Bethel church in Redding, California. And interestingly she is even more open about the bizarre things that they are into. She even puts it in writing on the Internet, for all the world to see.
For example, in her “Life and Wellness” blog on July 6 this year, here is what she wrote in an entry called ‘Love Shack Time': “I was talking with Ray Hughes the other day and was telling him about using a 528 HZ tuning fork as a prophetic act. Someone told me that this tuning fork is called the tuning fork of LOVE…” (Please note that crystals and tuning forks are used in NEW AGE therapy – and have nothing to do with Christianity in any way).
Beni continued: “Recently I got up to speak at a meeting and walked up to the song “Love Shack” by the B52’s. I was calling people to more love. It was so fun.”
I guess we are now beginning to get a sense of the strange spiritual world that these people inhabit. Another blog post that Beni wrote about WAKING UP ANGELS in March 2009 was also very revealing:
“In the last couple of months, I personally have become more aware of the angelic activity in this realm. One of those times was when we were on a prayer trip to Arizona… One morning as we were driving up over Tehachapi Pass and coming down into the Mojave Desert, I began to feel angels. The closer we got, the stronger the impression felt. I could see them everywhere!.. I announced this to the group and said, “We have got to stop! We have to stop somewhere…” As we drove around a corner I said, “I think that we are going to wake up some angels here…”
“We knew we were to turn around, get out of the RV and wake up the angels. I wish I could convey to you the energy and the quickness of how God was working. We jumped out of the RV, I blew the shofar and rang the bell, and we yelled “WAKEY WAKEY.” We got back into the RV and drove off. As we drove off, hilarious laughter broke out! We were stunned at the speed at which this all took place and were spinning from the adventure and the angelic activity. What in the world had just happened?! Heaven collided with earth. Woo hoo!!
“Since that time, there has been a stirring in me to awaken the angels for use in this Kingdom reign that is upon us here on earth. I have shared these two stories in other places and have done a prophetic act of waking up the angels: having everybody cry out, “WAKEY WAKEY!” I know it is strange but it is very effective… One of our gals who enjoys God’s angels… gets pretty wacked when they are around…”
The reference that Beni makes here to “Heaven colliding with earth” is of course directly tied to Bill Johnson’s most famous teaching on “When Heaven Invades Earth”. Clearly, this is the kind of thing they mean when they use that phrase. So if we get with their program so-to-speak, we too can go around “waking up angels” and getting “pretty wacked” when these ‘angels’ are around.
I guess the obvious question is whether they are “serious” about all this. Sadly, the answer is “Yes.” When you get so completely deceived that you think “drunken glory” and “tuning forks” and getting “wacked” are normal Christian behaviour, you are open to anything. Tragically, if we look at all that these people have said and done now for years and years, we have to conclude that one of Christendom’s biggest leaders (Bill Johnson) inhabits the most bizarre quasi-spiritual universe that you can imagine. And he is spreading this deceived foolishness in the Body of Christ on a mass scale. It might seem almost “funny” if it wasn’t so “New Age” serious.
One young lady named Johanna who had been a student for many months at Bill Johnson’s ‘Bethel’ school wrote to me the following:
“In August 2008 I moved to Redding, California to attend Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM). I graduated in May 2009… Almost right away I began to question the bizarre behavior that is so normal there.
“At Bethel, there are many sayings that are tossed around daily… “God only has nice things to say,” “There´s no high like the Most High.” There would be all kinds of distracting behavior (random shouting, laughing, etc.) during school sessions and church services. When any guest speaker came to school, students would flock to the front to get as close to the speaker as possible. We were taught that any anointing we wanted could be received by simply “claiming it” for ourselves. Students would rush the stage and the front of the sanctuary so the speakers could lay hands on them.
“Among the guest speakers were Bob Jones, Heidi Baker, Georgian and Winnie Banov, Randy Clark, John and Carol Arnott… We also had regular sessions with Bill Johnson, Beni Johnson… and other Bethel pastors. The drunken behavior and questionable teachings from some, if not all, of these speakers was shocking at times. I can safely say that I never heard the word “repentance” once in any teaching.
“I remember when the Banovs came, the whole place was complete chaos. When they touched someone, that person would jerk violently or stumble around as if they were drunk. The Banovs minister to people in trash dumps around the world… What I remember them talking about was love, joy, bliss, and the new wine.
“Angels were often talked about. I remember Beni Johnson actually took an RV across Arizona and New Mexico to wake up angels that were supposedly sleeping. (Another one of the common phrases, “Wakey wakey”). I would always hear people talking about their encounters with angels and how they visited heaven. One young woman I knew said she could see angels everywhere, she talked to them all the time, and she would help her friends to do the same… God becomes like Santa Claus. Without the preaching of the true gospel, the fear of the Lord is lost.”
ANDREW AGAIN: As you can see from all these reports, the ministry of Bill Johnson is highly suspect. Sadly, because the deception is not as “obvious” as Todd Bentley, people are charmed into thinking he’s “fine”. Charismatic leaders around the world flock to his meetings and openly endorse his teachings. For this reason I believe he is far more dangerous than Todd Bentley ever was. The Bible says that in the last days will come false teachers and “lying signs and wonders” to deceive if possible the “very elect.” And what do we see today? New Age practices and spirits are flooding the church. And it is men like Bill Johnson that have become the “acceptable face” of this invasion. Please, friends, steer well clear.###
Andrew Strom’s website: http://www.johnthebaptisttv.com
Other related articles by authored Dr. Lambert:
- Florida Wildfires and “Lakeland Wildfire”
- False Unity and the Lakeland Revival Cult (Part 1)
- False Unity and the Lakeland Revival Cult (Part 2)
- The Perilous Path of Doctrinal Deviation
Recommended series of 10 articles by Kevin Kleint, who for seven years was the webmaster for “The Elijah List” and had personal interactions with many of the high-profile principals of the “prophetic movement” of the 80s/90s: http://www.honorofkings.org/elijahlist.
Absolute blasphemous craziness pre-tatted-Biker-Dude-conversion, Todd Bentley, claims happened to him during a meeting in which Bill Johnson was the speaker, which he tells about at a meeting at Toronto Airport Church (this is not a message of a genuine prophet of God, but someone with serious mental and substance-abuse problems, in my opinion [ed.]):
SHOCKING DOCUMENTARY 1- Evil counterfeit spirits invade the church – KUNDALINI WARNING – Andrew Strom – Part 1 (Be sure to watch ALL THREE PARTS of the documentary; in Part 3, Andrew identifies more of the main characters and history of this deceptive movement of neo-gnosticism inspired by “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons”):
Video of New Age, self-proclaimed “prophetess,” Patricia King (an alias), interviewing Todd Bentley and his chief mentor, Bob Jones (deceased, 2-14-2014), another heretical mystic with an admitted history of mental health problems, on the subject of “portals,” “open-heavens,” and on-demand, at-will “translations in the Spirit” into Heaven:
Hank Hanegraaff on Todd Bentley (June 8 2008) [Bill Johnson openly endorses and associates himself and his ministry with Todd Bentley, has been a long-time adviser/mentor and member of Bentley’s ministry board, has had Bentley minister at his church numerous times, and was part of the cadre of Neo-Charismatic “super-apostles,” led by then International Coalition of Apostles leader, C. Peter Wagner, who came to the Lakeland Outpouring to publicly endorse Bentley’s ministry, and decree Bentley’s “alignment” with the global “Apostolic Movement,” which Wagner has dubbed the “New Apostolic Reformation.”]:
[NOTE: I do not agree with Hanegraaff’s beliefs about the “Slain in the Spirit” phenomenon, particularly the position he states in this clip that there is no Scriptural support for it.(Ed.)]
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