Bethel Redding: A Dangerous Evangelical Cult

beni and bill johnson bethel redding

Bill and Beni Johnson, senior pastors Bethel Redding.

Bethel Redding, an Evangelical charismatic multi-campus church, is located in Redding, California. Its senior pastors are Bill and Beni Johnson. What follows is a compendium of information about Bethel and its methodology.

Bethel offers a surefire way parents can help children troubled by depression and discouragement. Let me introduce you to Vintz, the puppet.

vintz puppet

According to the product listing:

Great for Ages 4-10

Included in the Curriculum:

*Vintz the Puppet: He lives in a barrel and brings the message of God’s presence and joy as priority number one.

*Manual: The manual contains 13 lesson supplements. Short lessons designed to incorporate joy into every week in your children’s ministry.

*DVD: On the DVD is a demonstration of one of the lessons, as well as an interview with Seth Dahl.

Seth Dahl believes in raising a generation of children who are strong (joyful) in the Lord. One of his passions is for them to encounter God and experience His works, preventing them from living a life of Christian form without the Reality. Seth and his family live in Redding, California where he is the Children’s Pastor of Bethel Church.

Here is a video from Bethel detailing how children are taught to prophesy and speak in tongues:

Video Link

This video shows that Bethel is serious about indoctrinating children in the charismatic way of life.

In the following video, Seth Dahl, Bethel’s children’s pastor, details Bethel’s four core values for children:

  • God is in a good mood
  • Jesus’ blood paid for everything
  • I am important
  • Nothing is impossible

On Sundays, children gather together at Bethel and recite the Bethel Kids Declaration:

Video Link

On Sundays, children gather together at Bethel and recite the Bethel Kids Declaration:

bethel kids I declare

Here is another I Declare statement Bethel uses in its children’s programs:

bethel kids I declare 2

I think I can safely add Bethel Redding to the list of churches that emotionally and mentally manipulate children in the name of Jesus.

Bethel Redding attracts thousands of people to its services. Attendees come expecting to see God work in supernatural ways. According to a 2010 Record Searchlight article, Bethel provides healing rooms for those in need of a touch from God. Amanda Winters reports:

Every Saturday morning from 9 to 10:30 a.m., two large rooms in Bethel Church are transformed into the Healing Rooms Ministry; a place where people can come and receive prayer for any kind of ailment.

Randy Castle, who was acting director that Saturday, said the healing rooms generally see 100 or so visitors – and up to 300 on a busy weekend.

Four teams with about 70 people each work the Healing Rooms. Many pray over visitors, commanding the body to be healed, speak in tongues and invite the presence of the Holy Spirit through impartation, or laying on of hands. Others, Castle said, play worship music in the “Encounter Room” where people can go bask in the presence of God.

Music performed in the Encounter Room made its way through the Healing Room speakers, repeating “God is good, God is good, God is good,” while worshippers prayed, danced, laughed, cried, fell down and lay on the floor under what they say is the power of God. According to Bethel leadership, this is the room where people are cured of cancer, broken bones, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and a host of other diseases.

Later in the article, Winters writes about an interview she conducted with Bethel senior pastor Bill Johnson:

Bill Johnson, Bethel’s senior pastor, settled into a plush black couch in his office, his arm around an animal-print pillow. Before anything else, he wanted to talk about healing.

“We just had another brain tumor case of cancer healed,” he said. “We have a lot of that kind of stuff happen. It’s verified by doctors, they do the tests and the cancer’s gone. We have a lot of that sort of thing – miracles.”

Johnson, who himself required hernia surgery last year and wears prescription glasses, teaches that the supernatural miracles that happened in Biblical times still happen today if people just value God’s presence and open themselves up to receiving it.

“Because we have such value for his presence with us, things just happen,” he said.

Johnson said that healings happen all the time and he doesn’t feel he needs to provide any documentation or hard evidence to inquiring minds. He also said he doesn’t check up on people who come to Bethel for healing – he doesn’t have the time.

“If you’re sitting here and you say, ‘I’ve been deaf in my left ear since childbirth,’ and I pray for you and then I have you close your right ear and I whisper 10 feet away and you can hear me, I don’t feel like I need to get a doctor’s report,” he said. “I’m happy you’re happy you can hear. That’s enough for me.”

Though he had people praying for his hernia to heal early in 2009, the condition still required surgery and Johnson said that was OK because God can use doctors as well as he can use Bethel’s healing teams, though both are necessary.

“The doctors serve a great purpose but they’ll tell you they can’t fix everything,” he said. “Some things need to be fixed by a miracle or just aren’t fixed at all.”

Johnson said in his sermons he often tells the congregation stories of miraculous healings to encourage them. One such story was about a group in the small, rural city of Shelton, Wash., whose goal it is to raise people from the dead.

Bethel Redding also operates a college of sorts, Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) . According to its website, in 2012-13 over 1,800 students took classes through BSSM. Much of BSSM’s training consists of reading books. Students receive little theological training. The focus of the school is the impartation and use of supernatural gifts.

Think all this supernatural mumbo jumbo is funny and of no consequence? Think again. In 2008, Jason Michael Carlsen, along with Sarah Koivumaki and Zachary Gudelunas, both students at BSSM, traveled to a California cliff to have a party. Already drunk, Carlsen fell off the 200 foot cliff. Instead of immediately dialing 911, Koivumaki and Gudelunas decided to put their BSSM skills to work. The Record Searchlight reports:

Rather than call police when their drinking partner fell ? or was pushed ? off a nearly 200-foot cliff, two students at a Redding Bible school tried first to reach the severely wounded man and pray him back to life, a lawsuit alleges.

In a lawsuit filed this month in Shasta County Superior Court exactly two years to the day after he was pulled by search-and-rescue crews from the banks of the Sacramento River, Jason Michael Carlsen alleges that when Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students Sarah Elisabeth Koivumaki and Zachary Gudelunas couldn’t reach him to heal him with their prayers, they spent hours debating whether to call the police.

Bethel’s members purport to have the ability to heal people through prayer and bring the dead back to life.

The two later told police they thought Carlsen was killed in the fall.

Worried that they would be exiled from the church, the two Bethel students also went so far as to try to cover up evidence they’d even been at the top of the cliff, the lawsuit alleges…

Carlsen, by the way, is now a paraplegic.

According to Beni Johnson, in 2009 Martin Scott came to Bethel and gave the church a prophetic word about the California drought. Johnson thinks the recent rains are proof that God fulfilled Scott’s utterance.

(video no longer on Vimeo)

Beni Johnson also practices what is commonly called grave sucking (or mantle grabbing). What follows is a picture of Johnson lying on the grave of C.S. Lewis, hoping to suck out of Lewis’ corpse some of his supernatural power.

grave sucking

According to a February 20,2016 Record Searchlight article, Bethel has submitted plans to the planning commission for a new church facility. If approved, Bethel’s new 39.3 acre church plant will include:

  • A 171,708-square-foot campus
  • 1,851 parking spaces
  • An auditorium that will seat 2,600
  • Classroom space at the School of Supernatural Ministry to enroll up to 3,000 students

There is no question is my mind that Bethel Redding is a dangerous Evangelical cult. While people often think of cults being small, secretive, out-of-the-way sects or churches, Bethel is a reminder that some cults hide in plain sight.

If you have ever attended Bethel or had any interaction with its members, please share your experiences in the comment section.

Updated:

Molly Hensley-Clancy, a writer for Buzz Feed, recently wrote a feature article on Bethel. Here’s an excerpt from her insightful article:

The basic theological premise of the School of Supernatural Ministry is this: that the miracles of biblical times — the parted seas and burning bushes and water into wine — did not end in biblical times, and the miracle workers did not die out with Jesus’s earliest disciples. In the modern day, prophets and healers don’t just walk among us, they are us.

To Bethel students, learning, seeing, and performing these “signs and wonders” — be it prophesying about things to come or healing the incurable — aren’t just quirks or side projects of Christianity. They are, in fact, its very center.

….

 

This is the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry’s real goal: creating spiritual warriors, young people who will go out into the world armed with just the kind of supernatural gifts that Bethel believes will bring people into the Kingdom of God.

“Jesus is bringing the Kingdom, and he’s doing it through signs and wonders,” says Dann Farrelly, BSSM’s dean. “They’re the things that make people go, ‘Huh, there’s something about you, about this.’ Jesus even said: You don’t have to believe in me, you believe in the signs I’m doing.”

More simply: Miracles are a really good way to convert people.

BSSM is built on the idea that we are all “naturally supernatural”: We all have the potential to heal the sick and to hear God’s vision for the future. It’s ours because it’s Jesus’s, says Farrelly: Jesus does the work, and humans act as conduits. The school’s job is to foster the supernatural gifts of signs and wonders — to teach people to hear God’s voice and turn it into prophecy.

…..

Stefan, who spent three years at Bethel before eventually leaving evangelicalism, felt for his first few weeks at Bethel like he was really seeing miracles: healings and prophecies that felt like they had come directly from God. Eventually, that changed.

Stefan looks back at his time at BSSM and sees an array of “psychological mind games” — healing via placebo, prophecy through confirmation bias. He’s done some reading lately, he says, on how magicians convince crowds that they are seeing magic and not magic tricks; how believing that you are going to recover from an illness or that your injured limb has been healed can, sometimes, be enough to accomplish healing.

“I think, for me, Bethel was the beginning of realizing, like, this is all bullshit,” says Chris, who went to Bethel in the mid-2000s and asked that his last name not be used because he still has close friends in the church. “When you do it, you convince yourself that this is all really real. But it’s cold reading, that’s what it is. You just dress it up in Jesus.”

Chris was a good prophet, his teachers told him. While he was studying at Bethel, he once had a vision from The Song of Deborah as he prayed over a woman whose name he did not know. As he told her this, she cried out in surprise: Her name was Deborah.

“What I see now is, those are random thoughts,” Chris says. “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, your prophecies are horrible misses. But you don’t remember them being a terrible flop — you remember the one time it worked.”

At BSSM, Chris said, the focus was on testimonies of success — retelling to a group of fellow students the stories of the one “holy shit” moment when their prophecy had worked. No one talked about the times they had failed.

….

Bethel has offered tens of thousands of people a chance to be healed at its massive conferences and on mission trips across the globe. And hundreds of people make the pilgrimage to their Healing Rooms in Redding every week. Many, I am told, practice Bethel’s brand of Christianity, but others are mainstream Christians, dipping their toes in the waters of more radical faith. Others, like me, are not religious at all.

On a Saturday morning, I sit in the lobby of the Healing Rooms, clipboard in my lap and a pen in my hand. On my right knee is the big, ugly black brace, one that I’ve been sporting for six weeks, since a soccer injury left me with two completely torn ligaments. I’m here to have my knee healed — or at least that’s what I write on the Healing Room intake form I’ve been given, which asks me to list my “Physical Prayer Needs.”

I have a lot of physical prayer needs: At the moment, I can’t ride a stationary bike, go down stairs, or even bend my knee at a right angle. I write those down. The form also asks whether I’m “born again” and if I’ve been “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” I check “no” for both.

After an introductory class on the “Biblical foundations of Healing,” we’re led into the main sanctuary, a kind of holding room which is already buzzing with people. Concentric circles of chairs, some of them draped with colorful blankets and pillows, have been set up around a large group of easels where people are painting prophetic art on giant canvases: a pair of hands touching each other, a tree shedding blue leaves. A praise band of beautiful young people wearing flannel plays up on the stage, crooning hypnotic, repetitive strains of viral Bethel Music songs. In the corner, in front of a cross draped with sequined gold cloth, a woman lies prostrate and unmoving, her forehead pressed to the carpet. She does not move the entire time I’m in the sanctuary.

In the back of the room, a row of people with telemarketer-style headphones and laptops are conducting healing sessions via Skype. A pair of large screens in front of us remind us that only Bethel’s ministry team are allowed to heal.

I settle in the corner, waiting for my number to be called, and watch as a trio of prophetic dancers, barefoot and carrying colorful scarves, gather around a woman near me who looks very much like she has just emerged from a brutal chemotherapy treatment. They ask if they can dance for her. She begins to cry, clutching her husband’s hand, as they twirl around her.

After a while, a woman interrupts the praise band to tell us that there is a “healing pool” forming in front of the stage. “It’s a pool where the impossible is possible, where oil and water mix, and here there’s going to be real healing,” she says. As dozens of people come up to the pool, collapsing to their knees or raising their hands in the air, the woman’s voice becomes a hypnotic chant: “Oil and water mix here, outside in the world they don’t, but in here they doooo. Oil and water mix here…”

The ailing woman and her husband make their way to the pool and begin to dance with each other, swaying slowly.

Later, we’re herded into another, smaller room, one where intense healing is going to take place. We wait our turn and watch Bethel’s healers do their work, stationed in pairs in front of people clutching their intake forms.

The woman next to me, who looks about my age, has a squirming little boy on her lap. I peek at her form, which lists just two ailments, scrawled in all-caps: PARASITES and HEARTBREAK.

Finally it’s my turn. “So, you’re not saved, and you’re not born again, right?” one of my healers asks, scrutinizing my form.

I explain clumsily that I was “raised Catholic,” which is only barely true. With my utter lack of faith made clear, the prayers focus not just on my knee, but on my own relationship to God, asking him to “help me on my journey towards faith.”

I can tell I’m a tough case, because a third healer comes over to us, and then a fourth. Soon I’m surrounded by people praying for me, one woman’s hand on my shoulder, another on her knees in front of me, and the force of their expectation — desperation, almost — is palpable. Unrelentingly, every few minutes, they ask me how I’m feeling, whether I’m better.

I try to deflect some of their questions, but it never works. When one healer asks me what I feel, I tell her I feel “your energy and prayers.” She jumps back, “But what about your knee?”

“Well, it’s a really serious injury,” I try. “So I think it might take some time.”

The woman seems almost offended. “Time?” she says. “Jesus doesn’t need time! Jesus can heal you right away.”

We start praying again, and I start feeling a little desperate, like I’ll never get out of here. The next time they ask me how my knee feels, almost automatically, without thinking, I lie.

“I think it’s more flexible now,” I say. I move it back and forth, and I can see my healers’ eyes light up. “I think it’s getting better. Thank you.”

“Thank you, Father!” one of them cries out, taking my hand. We’re both, I think, relieved, though maybe for different reasons. “Thank you for beginning this journey to healing.”

It’s finally over, and my healers ask me to give them my intake form. When I take the paper off of the clipboard, I notice there’s a back side, too, meant to be filled out by Bethel staff: a checklist labeled “Miracles Performed.” It includes healed shoulders and knees, zapped tumors, cured cancer, and limb-straightening, as well as soul-saving. At the very bottom of the list is the very miracle that the Stanford professor told Stefan would convert him: “Limb regrown.”

I hand the form over, wondering if they’re going to check me off as a Miracle Performed. As I leave the room, I think I see one of my healers do just that.

A week later, when I’m back in New York, I pull myself up onto my physical therapist’s table, facedown. The excruciating process of recovering from my injury has, so far, involved forcing my locked-up knee to bend slightly farther at every appointment, a process that always makes me cry out in pain, and sometimes leaves me with tears in my eyes.

“All right, let’s see how you’re doing,” she says. Before I left for Redding, I had told her where I was headed and why, and as I lie there on the table, she jokes, “Maybe you’re healed! This could be our last day.”

I squeeze my eyes shut and feel her bending my knee back. “Wow,” she tells me. “You’re doing really well. You’ve got much more flexibility, actually. I’d say at least 20 degrees.”

I had a lot of downtime in Redding, and I spent most of it doing physical therapy — several hours a day of excruciatingly painful work, lying on the hotel room floor and using a strap to force my knee to bend farther and farther. But still. I turn around to my physical therapist, and she and I exchange a look: just a split second.

You can read the entire article here

Here’s a deeply troubling video of a woman from Bethel Redding putting her beliefs into practice:

Video Link

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214 Comments

  1. Geoff

    Quite clearly the claims of ‘miracles’ are false. The incidence of spontaneous recovery from illness and injury is pretty evenly spread throughout western society, where standards of health and healthcare are generally good, and are independent of prayer. I believe that only 4 reliable studies of the efficacy of prayer have ever been conducted, and that 3 showed it to be statistically consistent with results produced by chance, and one suggested it actually hindered recovery. In any event, miracle cure, even as claimed by these evangelicals, is so haphazard as to be useless, in the sense that any reasoned person would never solely rely on it.

    My one other comment is about God being in a ‘good mood’. What an extraordinary and ill-considered phrase. It seems to me to be part of the silliness of the Old Testament, where God was ‘angry’, or jealous’; now he’s moody. There’s an excellent essay by Jonathan MS Pearce in his book ‘The problem with God’ in which he contends that God can’t possibly be subject to emotions. Generally (not always, but the same principle applies) emotional response is to something unexpected so if you know it’s going to happen then it can’t be unexpected!

    Reply
    1. NICOLE

      This is a PURE LOVING GRACEFUL CHURCH Who is actually following the LORD closely. They fix their eyes on JESUS so do not speak lies about this truth unless you know the staff members personally. Do not judge, or you will be judged. 2For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to notice the beam in your own eye? Matthew 7:2

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Aren’t you doing the very thing you condemn? How about we all agree to make judgments based on evidence and personal experiences.

        Reply
      2. sam

        Actually this proves a point…. the verse is not correctly quoted…out of context…..READ around it.
        We ARE supposed to Judge!!!!! It is clear from the bible , what Jesus said and did, Paul and the old testament.

        It is the issue that those who say ‘do not judge’ do not read or understand their bibles.

        As Paul Washer says ‘ Do not be like Satan and take scripture out of context!’
        REREAD the verses around Matthew to fully understand!

        Reply
        1. Grammar Gramma

          Sam, I DID read around it. It’s from a speech by Jesus often called the sermon on the mount, where Jesus lays out a fundamental recipe for the conduct of the followers. In chapter 6, he is teaching them how to pray, and how to trust in some god for their needs. Among other things, he says “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on,” which seems to be a pretty big order, particularly in this day and age. Further in chapter 6, he repeats the admonishment: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” I don’t know of anyone who can live up to that today. He ends chapter 6 with “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Really? He begins, in chapter 7, with the instruction to his followers not to judge, lest they be judged. There is no segue from chapter 6 – it seems to be a new topic.
          Judge not, that ye be not judged.
          2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
          3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
          4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
          5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
          6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
          I’m looking, Sam. Where did I miss it? Where is there more discussion about judging? It seems to me that Jesus is saying that we need to look inside us when we start to judge other people, not to be hypocrites who point out others’ faults when we have faults that are greater. And that last verse, Sam – don’t give what is holy to the dogs, and don’t cast your pearls before swine. Isn’t that what you are doing here, Sam? Aren’t we the dogs, the swine, that the bible mentions?
          After these six verses discussing judging and hypocrisy, he moves on to further instructions on a new topic making promises about his god that his god does not seem to fulfill: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Where’s your god on these, Sam? I know hundreds of people who have asked your god for knowledge, wisdom, healing, and many other things. They have believed and asked, and they have been rejected. Where is your god, Sam?

          Reply
    2. Ashley

      First as a believer you know that when Jesus died He fulfilled the Old Testament so we don’t live by that anymore. Second, all those declarations are Biblical. Third, you cannot conduct studies of prayer and healing and get “statistics” and results. They are supernatural happenings…case closed.

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        First, you are commenting on an atheist’s blog and most commenters are atheists, agnostics, pagans, or liberal/progressive Christians. Second, the Bible is an errant, man-made book, not a text to be relied upon. Third, you can’t expect us to just take your word for it. Evidence, please. Case closed.

        Reply
        1. Thomad

          If you want evidence then why don’t you read the bible and try it for your self by giving jesis and faith a chance.

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Uh, I was a Christian for 50 years, an Evangelical pastor for 25 of those years. I can safely say that I have given Jesus a chance. As far as reading and studying the Bible: I’ve read it from cover to cover numerous times, prayerfully studied the Bible for thousands of hours, and preached thousands of sermons from its pages. What more would you have me do? I know what the Bible says inside and out…I still don’t believe.

          2. Gil

            You can do all you’ve described and DTILL not have an encounter with Jesus! When you do, GUARAnteed, you will NEVER be the same

          3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            *sigh* In other words, I’ll be just like you. No thanks, I’ll pass.

          4. Fred Hoffman

            Hello Bruce. After so many years as a Christian….what about the teachings of Jesus caused you to give up on Christ and what he offered us? Please know that I am not criticising you. I am interested to know.

      2. Geoff

        Ashley, I’m rather suspecting that you are speaking in the sense that IF you were a believer then this would be your philosophy.

        Whether this is true, or whether you actually believe these things, I want to address your point about prayer. You say you can’t study the power of prayer because it’s supernatural, but I’d take issue and say this doesn’t make sense. If you claim that prayer works, then it must produce results that are visible in the real world (if they aren’t visible then there’d be no point in saying that prayer works). Now studying those visible results is perfectly reasonable, because you are studying the results; the fact that there may be a supernatural force at work in procuring those results is not relevant.

        The problem then is that properly conducted studies of the efficacy of prayer have pretty well determined that it has no palliative effect whatsoever. Any apparent benefits are no greater than that attributable to chance.

        Reply
      3. John Arthur

        Hi Ashley,

        Bill Johnson may CLAIM that miracles of healing are taking place. But such a claim needs to be tested. How many organic illnesses that could not be healed by medicine have actually occurred, been medically verified by an independent doctor (or group of doctors/specialist doctors) and have the before and after situations been carefully examined? I say “before” because the person may not have had the disease (but thought they did) before they went to Johnson’s meetings. “After” because there are so many bogus claims.

        Did you know that some “healing evangelists” take people with them persons who are not sick but are given crutches. When the evangelist “lays hands” on them for healing, they throw away their crutches and other people think they are healed. There is usually no follow up of these cases. So before you start assuming that people are organically healed miraculously, you should keep your eyes open and be very wary. There has (as far as I know) been no proven case of organic healing. If you think there has been, please provide independently verifiable medical evidence from the appropriate medical specialists.

        Shalom,

        John Arthur

        Reply
  2. Peter

    The following video shows students from School of Supernatural Ministry associated with the Bethel Church visiting the grave of Smith Wrigglesworth to get an ‘anointing’ from the dead man.

    This is the sort of thing that causes much disquiet in more traditional church circles.

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Hi Peter,

      This is sheer lunacy. To think that one will get a so-called “anointing” by visiting a dead man’s grave is preposterous. If Evangelicals believe the bible, then there is nothing in the bible to suggest anything like this. It just shows that many of these folk either do not read their bibles or think that they have personal leadings of the Holy Spirit. How do they know that they have leadings of the Spirit? How do they distinguish between so-called “leadings of the Spirit” and their own personal feelings and subjective imaginings? Bizarre behaviour does not help their cause.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
      1. Peter

        John, I am confident these folk read and know their Bibles. It is that they “think that they have personal leadings of the Holy Spirit”.

        This is a similar history throughout the history of the Church. It happens with any folk that stress the Holy Spirit, it started with Montanism in the 2nd century AD and has continued throughout Church history.

        In the Welsh revival of 1904 an example was one person thought the Holy Spirit told him to pull out his own teeth and they would re-grow. Well he did pull out his own teeth and they did not re-grow.

        The pastor of the Church that hosted the BSSM visit to our area said his church would be calling on God for proper miracles like regrowing teeth. I never did hear how that went. I suspect it went nowhere.

        Reply
        1. bob harmsy

          yeah I had the same experience with Dr. s of literature who photographed themselves on the grave sights of poets around the world…weird man truly weird

          Reply
      2. Dennis

        Regarding anointing on dead bones, check out 2 Kings 13:21.

        And as far anyone in this post implying we cant have personal leading of the Holy Spirit, you may not even be saved if you don’t believe that.

        Romans 8:24 says that “All who are LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD ARE SONS OF GOD!”

        If you don’t believe that I question your salvation. It’s more apparent that your depending on intellectual knowledge rather than personal experience with Jesus by way of His Holy Spirit.

        Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17 says that sons and daughters will prophesy in the last days.

        I feel sorry for all of you who are attacking Bethel. Doesn’t the word also say that the validity and authenticity of our relationship with God will be proven by our love for one another, not pointing fingers?

        The people at Bethel are some of the most loving & honoring people I have ever known.

        When was the last time God used you to raise the dead or heal someone?

        I pity you poor-spirited religious people.

        I genuinely feel so sorry for you. I was finally freed from 40+ years of your kind of thinking and I’ve never been more thankful or learned more about how much God the Father loves than I have from Bill Johnson.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Dennis,

          Of course we are not saved…the owner of this blog is an atheist. That’s me, by the way. I once was saved and now I am lost. Preaching, quoting Bible verses, pontificating, etc carries no weight here.

          As far as Bethel is concerned. its beliefs and practices are psychologically harmful, and have, in some instances led to physical harm. I make no apology for calling Bethel a cult. Through this post I have been able to help numerous people steer clear of Johnson and his Elmer Gantry-like sideshow. I have received numerous emails from concerned parents and siblings who are worried about their loved ones obsessive attachment to the crazy-train stuff that goes on at Bethel. They should be worried, and I hope that they can help their family members break free from the hold Bethel (Johnson and Co) has on their lives.

          Reply
          1. axle

            bruce…by your own admition you don’t believe…so if you ever were saved then rejected Jesus as your Lord and Savior you are doomed…if you are trying to curry favor with your new master,satan, then realize it will do no good…your time in hell will be exceptionally painful and eternal…but, if you are just doing this for some other reason then while here in this life you can repent and be forgiven…..also know that just because you know the word doesn’t mean that you are anointed of God…satan also knows what Gods word says..and he knows his time is short. only God knows your true situation but by you trying to decieve the elect …you are in a dangerous place!!! also, i have never been to Bethel, but because of you web site i’ll be visiting this Sunday 4-23-17..and will generously support the ministry …if Bethel gets satan worked up enough to send out his pawns like you then it’s the place for me….

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            *sigh* Hail, Satan *sigh*

          3. Zoe

            Dear axle,

            There is no hell.

        2. John Arthur

          Hi Dennis,

          Are you sure you want to go along with the bizarre behaviour of 2 Kings 13:21? There is some bizarre behaviour in the bible. How many people do you know dance before the Lord in the nude (in front of people) like David? Wouldn’t they be arrested or sent for psychiatric assessment? Is weird behaviour in the bible meant to be emulated by modern congregations?

          By the way, it isn’t only Christians who are capable of showing compassion and kindness. And showing compassion doesn’t necessarily point to the “truth” of Christianity just as compassion shown by many atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews etc. doesn’t necessarily establish the “truth” of their positions.

          And, in case you think that atheists are incapable of love, I think you would be profoundly mistaken. A few years back I attended several Quaker meetings. There were a couple of atheists who were members of the Religious Society of Friends. These found a sense of compassionate and peaceful presence in these meetings through contemplation in the silence. However, they did not attribute their experience to a personal and relational God who intervenes in human history.

          They were inspired by the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and sought to be peacemakers like Jesus commanded his disciples. They just wanted to be guided by the presence of peace and compassion and let this presence affect their lives and lifestyle by loving others. They accepted the Quakers values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community and equality which they believed are consistent with Jesus’ identification with the poor and the powerless, his befriending of outcast and healing of broken hearted persons.

          Bill Johnson is a propagandist for prosperity theology which is the antithesis of the teachings of Jesus. So is love about living in luxury while others go hungry or does it serve with practical help to the “least of these”?

          As for risings from the dead, where has Bill Johnson or any of his Holy Spirit ministry team ever raised the dead. Please put your rational and empirical glasses on and stop wishing what isn’t happening.

          Shalom,

          John Arthur

          Reply
        3. Cece

          We don’t “learn” spiritual gifts and we don’t call down the power of the Holy Spirit! God and the Holy Spirit do not come at our beck and call. Spiritual gifts are not learned…nor are they taught, but they are GIVEN at the discretion of the LORD, NOT at our discretion! Following the Word of God is NOT religion…following your emotions and seeking experience over the knowledge of God is foolishness and you are being led astray by deceiving spirits!! the Bible says TEST the spirits! You are more in bondage than you even know by satan who MASQUERADES AS AN ANGEL OF LIGHT TO DECEIVE… please open your heart and mind to the words of caution written about Bill Johnson and Bethel! Please!

          Reply
    2. Jody

      Peter,
      I believe a few months ago my pastor was talking about these people and basically saying, YES they are dangerous because their beliefs are so far beyond what is considered “normal” even in a church setting. He condemned them for what they were and told us to be careful of anyone claiming extra-biblical power. This doesn’t just go for Christians either.

      Reply
    3. Nikki

      Doesn’t the bible specifically talk about NOT associating with dead people? I used to be a psychic a part of the New Age until God made me see how that was a BAD path to be going down – luckily I wasn’t doing it for that long — but I had SEVERE spiritual attacks. This practice that they are doing with this — feels a LOT like mediumship and anything but holy. Sheep in wolf’s clothing feeling & because I lived on the other side thinking I was “helping people” I was delivered from all of that and growing up believing in Jesus as my personal savior – I feel ashamed I ever went down that path now. Making things “cool”, marketing them or normalizing these kinds of things is SO dangerous. Why the heck would you need the gifts of some man when God the Father will gift you of your own gifts that are actually meant for you through the Holy Spirit. This is incredibly creepy people of Bethel are doing this (and I have loved attending Bethel when I go to Redding ) But I dk – especially if the pastor’s wife is involved in this — that is SUPER creepy and entities can attach to you just by walking in a grave sight, so “calling them up” and praying for people through the dead people’s energy is SUPER creepy and sounds ANYTHING but biblical or ethically moral. This is really sad to see

      Reply
      1. Michael Mock

        This would seem to fall under the “do not practice necromancy” injunction in the Old Testament, yes. Though I seem to recall some Old Testament kinds/patriarchs consulting spirits and still being beloved of God, so… maybe? It’s been a while since I’ve looked at anything on the topic, and off the top of my head I can’t cite chapter and verse for any of it, so take that with a grain of salt.

        Reply
      2. Brian

        I believe the Bible, at least the New Testament IS all about associating with the dead Jesus, isn’t it? And all that gold dust and special winds and feathers: That has to be God, right? What else could it be! Oh, and the holy smoke too! God is busy dropping stuff in places we should be! I get it!

        Reply
      3. Cindy

        My daughter is raising money to attend Bethel next month. She WILL NOT hear anything negative, she just shuts me and her father (we are divorced) OVER and OUT. She is in the process of selling all of her belongings because she believes God has called her to Bethel. …largely, I believe, because of the so-called “Words from God” that people tell her. What advice, can I give her, that is not overtly against Bethel? I believe she does love the Lord. I’m leaning on the hope that her salvation at age 10 was real and my lifelong belief that once you are saved, nothing can TRULY separate you from God. What were your first warning signs that all was not as you had believed with this church/school? Thank you!

        Reply
        1. Brian

          Cindy, you are facing a difficult time. Respect your daughter. Tell her you love her with all your heart and are afraid about things you have heard. Tell her you will always support her in her decisions and you will always be there for her.
          (And if you are leaning on some woo-woo faith that she professed at age ten to please you and the church, then, well, good luck. I would set aside any knowledge you think you have about the true God because your woo-woo will not save her, just hurt her further. Best wishes.

          Reply
        2. Columba Smith

          Cindy, so sorry to hear this. I was in an abusive church similar to Bethel for 12 years. I had severed contact with all family and friends outside the group. I’m sure your daughter does love the Lord. She is misinformed, and probably wants to prove her love for Him.
          You might like Churches That Abuse, by Ronald Enroth. It’s very accurate about this type of situation, and may give you ideas to reach your daughter. I would be happy to talk to your daughter. You can contact me through my website.
          It was my mom’s prayers that finally got me out. Don’t give up. Always pray. I can testify, no matter how imperfect a family may be there is no force more powerful on earth than a mom’s prayers.

          Reply
          1. Cassie

            I love that we are all able to have our own opinions and are all so vastly different in regards to the churches we feel most at home at etc. Eg. I have felt hurt at certain church whilst others have felt totally fine there. Whereas I now go to Bethel in New Zealand and have for 6 years and have never felt so at home/UNabused in my life! However some would probably feel different if they came! Isn’t it funny how we all think/feel/see things differently 🙂

        3. Michael Mock

          I think the best you can do is say something along the lines of, “Look, honey, you’re going to make up your own mind about this, and I understand that. I’m worried because I’m seeing some reports that this particular church practices something that *looks* like Christianity, but ends up being spiritual abuse. I hope I’m wrong about this, but I would feel better if you’d do some independent research before you join them. I’d also like you to remember that you always have a place here, and if you find yourself uncomfortable with Bethel, you can always leave.”

          I’m afraid, though, that if she’s already in the process of selling her belongings, it’s probably too late to stop her from joining. The best you can do is make sure she knows that she can leave if she needs to. And it is possible that if she has a fairly clear impression of what Christianity should look like, and how churches should work, that might help warn her when something doesn’t feel right.

          I wish you both the best.

          Reply
          1. Leighton

            I don’t think its so much a matter of the doctrines they teach it’s that they use a vocabulary that goes nowhere. In actual college you learn completely different forms of language computer programming logic, biology when it’s taught truthfully explains in depth the principles of descent, evolution and there’s no way around that. I understand how to rework everything these people say, however they are unable to understand anything I say because their reality is inside of a bubble. The real world insists that algorithms are made a certain way because onto the words hang scripts that do attach a living presence of a new vocabulary that adds on features. The evangelical cults are not doing that. Thus they distort language for easy to say sounding nice BS like prayer and praise which have no methods or framework or any real scaffolding. They are now trying to launch this Bethel coding school where for $14000 you take a programming class and become a good programmer. I actually agree that you could improve your theology by studying coding and Kabbalah but that isn’t what they are offering. It’s easy to say “together with you” language which just isn’t reality at all. I can translate those types of thoughts but I end up interpreting scripture 180 degrees different than they do and they don’t want to listen to that. And I don’t think they offer much in the way of spirituality. Being nice to me is not a spiritual action,

        4. M. White

          I am praying for you and your daughter. I can only imagine how concerned you are. Pray for God to open her eyes to yheir practices.

          Reply
        5. Mina

          Hi Cindy… I was a part of a church that received a lot of direction from bethel church and decided to leave that church after living in one of their community homes for a year… many students from bethel visited and has spent thousands of dollars to attend bethel…. my best advice is to try to keep your daughter in your life otherwise she will try to push you away if you criticize the church. I know because it happened to me once I started to ask too many questions about bethel and my own church…praying for her and you and hoping that she continues to read the word. Many in bethel atom reading the Bible because they think they only need God to tell them things personally. Be very wary…

          Reply
      4. Amanda

        I got involved in New age stuff. Now I am a Christian. I repented of that and I believe I have been delivered from that. I was thinking of moving to Redding for work and Bethel. Is Bethel that bad?

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Amanda,

          This is probably not a good place to ask for church attendance advice. That said, Bethel is a cult. You put your psychological well-being at risk if you get involved with them.

          Bruce

          Reply
          1. Paul

            Bruce I am curious as to why a man like yourself would invest so much time and energy in his life only to reject it. What was the reason for becoming athiest?

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            The short answer is that I concluded, at the age of 50, that the Bible was not what Christians claim it is, and that the central claims of Christianity — the divinity of Christ, resurrection of Christ, virgin birth, original sin, heaven, hell, and the need for personal salvation/redemption, to name a few — are false. Concerning the nature, history, and the textual issues related to the Bible, I’ve found Dr. Bart Ehrman’s books to be quite helpful.

            You can read more about my journey here https://brucegerencser.net/why/

        2. Dr. JP Loucky

          Amanda–U will only know them by their fruits. Talk only with those who have actually completed 1-2 yrs of study with them. Our daughter has & is much better & more mature as a result. Many are! Go to God and His Word whose Spirit will lead U far better than one fallen away like Bruce hosting this page, who “left the ministry in 2005 and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.” IF HE POSTS THIS, THEN AT LEAST HE IS OPEN TO DISCUSSION. IF NOT, he’s basically a deceived & controlling person.

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Nice textbook example of a passive-aggressive approach.

            I am not open to discussion. Christianity, by definition, is a cult. Bethel in particular is a pernicious cult that causes great psychological (and at times physical) harm.

            Using your logic, the only people who can speak the “truth” about Bethel are those who have already drank the Kool-Aid. They are, in fact, the least likely people to tell the truth. Having bought in to what Bethel is selling, they have a vested interest in it being the truth.

            Please keep in mind that this is an atheist website. Any “proof” you might conger up will be rejected on skeptical, rational grounds. If you plan to make extraordinary claims, you will be asked to provide extraordinary evidence for your claims. Faith, the Bible says, or personal experience will not convince the regular readers of this blog. A Lazarus experience, one that can be watched and verified would be a good place to start. There are plenty of three day old corpses ripe for being bought back to life. Do that — without any form of medical intervention — and you’ll at least have my attention.

          2. Brian

            “Our daughter has & is much better & more mature as a result. ”
            Well, you would be the best one to assess that and inform us, huh Doc? I smell a rat here. What if you are a controlling, narrow person who sacrificed a daughter to delusion? The army trains harmed young people and makes them kill for God and Country. Then some of them come home and keep killing. How does that happen, doc? They were so much better, dressed up in the uniform, the belief, spouting the yes sirs and praise Gods!
            I feel sad for your daughter. I think what you are really saying perhaps is that you feel better about your daughter after her attendance at Woo-land.

          3. Geoff

            Dr Loucky. I’m just curious. Is the title ‘Dr’ actually one you earned, or is from an unaccredited, theological college?

          4. John Arthur

            Hi Dr. Loucky,

            I’m not sure how much of Bruce’s article and comments you have read. Some commentators have mentioned various kinds of bizarre behaviour they have witnessed at Bethel. None of this is indicative of mature behaviour so, although you claim that your daughter is more mature as a result of attending Bethel, I suspect that this is not generally true.

            While Pentecostal and Charismatic churches do attract some balanced persons, too often bizarre kinds of behaviour are accepted as normal and such churches have a tendency to attract a disproportionate number of crackpots.

            If the “crackpot” behaviour that is attributed to this church is accurate, then church folk need to keep away from it for the sake of their own mental and emotional well being.

            Shalom,

            John Arthur

          5. John Arthur

            Hi Dr Loucky

            If the Holy Spirit is leading persons, how do you explain the numerous different (and often contradictory ) interpretations of the bible among evangelicals, who all claim to be led by the Spirit?

            Are Bethel’s courses academically accredited? (I doubt it)?

            Bethel does not seem to believe in the sufficiency of Scripture that some evangelicals adhere to.

            Does Bethel apply historical and critical techniques to the study of the bible?

            Do Bethel leaders use a contextual framework in their exegesis of the bible?

            I just wondered how much your daughter actually learnt during her two years of study at Bethel.

            Shalom,

            John Arthur

        3. John Arthur

          Hi Amanda,

          Bethel is a new age cult, masquerading as a Charismatic church. See http//:heavensphysics.com

          Reply
  3. Peter

    A couple of years ago I attended an event when students from the BSSM were visiting my town on a field trip where they would engage in supernatural ministry. They testified that they had been in the town and going up to people at random and asking if they wanted supernatural healing.

    The meeting I attended was brim full of earnest Christian folk of the Pentecostal bent. The format of the meeting was, songs, words of prophecy, prayer for healing, then prayer for special blessings as one went through the ‘prayer tunnel’.

    I left some three hours later disappointed as I had not received any blessing, healing or prophecy. I wondered, was it because I lacked faith. Perhaps I was too selfish.

    A large number of people claimed healings. Though of the people I knew personally at meeting none of them were healed despite one of them having special prayer by the meeting leader.

    One of my friends received a special prophetic word, but it was a general thing like, ‘God sees what a great person you are’ and I should point out this person was the former pastor of the host Church so was perhaps the best known and respected Christian leader in my town.

    So I left disappointed, I was really keyed up for the out pouring of the power of God. But was not sure what to make of it all.

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Hi Peter,

      If these people were really engaging in supernatural ministry and people were actually being healed of organic diseases, then why is it that these folk don’t visit hospitals and have people healed. The answer is simple: they do not heal anyone supernaturally.

      Sure, there may be healing of some with psycho-somatic illnesses,but this type of healing is not supernatural.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  4. Peter

    Make of this what one will. The supposed Glory Cloud at a Bethel Service. There are other videos which show Gold Dust falling on folk at the Church.

    Reply
    1. Becky Wiren

      People are pretty gullible to think this is anything other than a man-created phenomenon.

      Reply
    2. John Arthur

      Hi Peter,

      This is pure, manipulative nonsense!

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  5. lclass003

    I find the beliefs of BSSM very troubling, as they are telling children that part of being a Christian is having super powers. To encourage kids to have similar delusions, and, I am sure, to tell them if they do not, to look at the sin in their own lives that is blocking the spirit, just gives me shivers. I feel some concern for the young adults who attend their ” college ” as it keeps them in the bubble of protection from the outside world. I was raised by devout Christian parents who repeatedly encouraged us to ask our questions, and go to colleges outside the bubble. I had never met anyone outside of my denomination
    , the CRC, other than Catholics, whom we prayed for in church, to repent and believe and turn away from their idol worship. I always found the idea of predestination troubling, and would refer to it is a man made idea. Again, my family didn’t freak out and send me to a camp or recovery institute, they let me work out what I believed. I am so grateful we were allowed to follow our own understanding of scripture. I fear for people who spend the first 22 years in this BSSM , as they may be utterly devastated by their lack of super powers, and belief that they have had hidden sin that keeps them from ” all that God has for them,” as well as deep concern for anyone who thinks lying on a grave gives them special super powers. Bruc, they absolutely should be on the list of spiritual abusers. Horrors!

    Reply
  6. Suzanne

    I sat under Bill Johnson’s supernatural healing teachings many different places, including over at Global Awakenings in Harrisonburg, Pa. At the time I believed all this, thought it was just awesome. Now I’m just deeply ashamed I fell for this crackpot con job.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Hi Suzanne, just a quick note to you to say that I am glad you are able to feel and that your feelings matter to you… that you were led into a kind of masturbation by sick creeps does not diminish the value of your ability to feel as a human being and I regret that you feel deeply ashamed that you were manipulated. The fact is, you are a whole human being with needs and feelings and can therefore be swayed in the course of your life. The important aspect of having been at the feet of a crackpot is that you now know the crackpot con job and are free to be, to speak and help others of us who are in danger of being duped. My greatest help has come from people like you who are human and have made mistakes that they can speak truly of in places like this…. gracias.

      Reply
    2. NN777

      I know. They sell hype and sizzle, makes you feel excited and then when you realize it is not biblical very deflated. No more shame for you. Praise God he showed you the truth. You now know more than others in being deceived. Your discernment will be stronger. It hurts a tad when you realize you were tricked and followed a man instead of God. For me it is just the bible. Very selective in other books that offer others view points

      Reply
  7. Steven

    Does everyone reading this know that the owner of this website is an atheist? He admits it in his “about me section.” I live in Redding. I do not attend Bethel, but what Bethel has done for the city is amazing. I know many of the leaders and members. They are not a cult. Not even close. The love of Jesus shown to the poor and sick is amazing and having Bethel in this city has transformed so many lives. Bill and Beni are not perfect, but they are Godly. I don’t agree with everything they have ever said or done, but they teach what Jesus taught and do their best to love well. The signs and wonders have been normal for many Christians throughout church history. A friend of mine was healed of cancer years ago while in a prayer meeting. It wasn’t even associated with Bethel. God still heals. I have witnessed many physical healings while being around Bethel church. My collarbone was healed last week after breaking it during a sports game. I have x rays to prove it. Bethel may be brave to try new things and confident enough to look different then other churches, but that doesn’t make them a cult. They are some of the most alive, powerful, and loving people I have ever met. And btw Bethel church is responsible for some of the greatest worship songs of our generation: Fierce by Jesus Culture and Holy Spirit by Brian and Katie Torwalt are just two of the latest examples.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Why did you attempt to post your comment under two different names?

      Reply
    2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      “Does everyone reading this know that the owner of this website is an atheist? He admits it in his “about me section.”

      OMG!!!! Really? Finally my secret is out.

      Reply
      1. Geoff

        I know Bruce, all this time and I never realised you were an atheist!

        Reply
        1. Brian

          Bruce G. is not an atheist. He just thinks he is because he is being used to make the KJV eternally eternal, if you know what I am saying. He was chosen before time existed and is now fulfilling the choice part of choosing which has to do with him faking being an atheist and even believing it while he is being used as an instrument that cuts both ways!
          Sure, sure, he does state this and that about Christianity but he is just a ‘hired hand’, a marionette. He thinks he can get away with all this frou-frah transgender homosexual cross-dressing bathroom confusion stuff but he is just plain a pawn in the big chess game in the sky. Don’t worry about him. Is the Queen cross-dressing? Has the Prince stolen the Queen’s undergarments for his own closet? Of course not!
          I have received a telegram (nudge-nudge) informing me that Gerencser will start a new church very very soon and all this silly internet foolishness will be made over and anointed anew! or anew anointed! I even know the exact date of all this change but will not share it here among those who are not ready to see what can be seen by those seeing…

          Reply
      2. Becky Wiren

        Oh noes!!! *faints dead away* We’re doomed!

        Reply
    3. Geoff

      Steven, you may think someone was healed by the power of prayer but I defy you to provide one shred of evidence. I don’t believe your story about your collarbone; either you are a liar or you are deluded.

      Nobody has ever been healed by prayer, and any palliative effect it may, rarely, have is placebo based and temporary in nature.

      Reply
      1. Lindsey

        Not everyone may understand the true power of God or the love of God, but that doesnt make it void or nonexistent. God does heal and preform miracles, and he does use people to preform those very miracles. God is God and he can do anything, but he chooses to show who he is through us. People are annointed with different giftings and God uses us to heal, prophecy to others, cast out demons, etc. That is something that Jesus himself did. Maybe so many dont believe it because we dont have faith like those in the bible, maybe we have lost site of the very real supernatural aspects of God, jesus, and the holy spirit

        Reply
        1. Geoff

          Lindsey, I’ll throw you the same challenge I threw Steven, and which he was unable to respond to; show us some evidence of these things you allege this god person can do and perhaps I’ll reconsider my position.

          Trouble is so many have spoken as you speak, and nobody, not one person, has ever produced the slightest hint of evidence. Indeed, the very opposite. The evidence is heavily suggestive that your god does not exist.

          Reply
          1. Brandon

            Hey Jeff–what type of evidence would you accept for God’s existence?

            Feel free to provide the evidence that he doesn’t…

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            It is the theist that asserts that a God exists, so it is up to them to provide evidence for their claim.

            Let’s suppose you and I meet one day and I say to you, Sasquatch is real! I am making a positive affirmation…Sasquatch exists. It would be reasonable for you to ask, “what evidence do you have for this claim?” And if I replied, “I have never seen Sasquatch but I know he exists. He talks to me and I feel him in my heart. I just know he is real.” Would my claims be sufficient evidence for the existence of Sasquatch? Would you believe without seeing? Of course not.

            So it is with a God. Believers say all sorts of things about their God. I know he is real because __________________. When asked to give credible evidence for their claims, believers are forced to admit they have none. The foundation of belief in a God is not evidence, it is faith. The same goes for Sasquatch believers.

            Perhaps the greater question is why Christians so readily assert their God exists, yet quickly reject claims for the existence of other Gods. You might point to creation and say, “see, proof!”To which I would reply, “fine. I accept your premise. Now show me, from creation that it is your specific God who is the creator.” What evidence could you give me that would not equally apply to all the other gods humans have created?

            Eventually, the Abrahamic religions all appeal to written religious texts. For Christians, it’s the Bible that provides “proof” for their God’s existence. Is that the path you wish to take? I am more than happy to discuss the Bible with you, but be prepared to have all of your solid, cherished beliefs challenged and questioned.

            Bruce

          3. Brandon

            Hey Bruce–I was responding because he made a claim that there is evidence that suggests God does not exist, therefore it seems as though he is making a claim that God does not exist. I understand your point, which is why I did not make a positive claim in my posting.

            What type of evidence would it take you to believe in a God? I never said it was the Christian God of even a theistic God at all… That was what you inserted into the discussion.

          4. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            I am just trying to cut to the chase and eliminate dozens of comments before you admit that the God you are speaking of is the Christian God. So, to eliminate unnecessary verbiage, please present your evidence for the existence of a God. Please not the indefinite article. Let’s hear what evidence you think points to the existence of some sort of deity.

          5. Brandon

            With all due respect Bruce, you still have not answered my question. I will be more than happy to provide you with my thoughts, but I would like to take one step at a time and it seems you have forgotten to answer me again… What evidence would it take for you to believe in a God?

          6. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            You have one more opportunity, Brandon. Use it wisely.

          7. Brandon

            Opportunity? For what?
            The ball is in your court Bruce to continue the discussion I posed to you. If you chose to avoid the question again it’s your choice to end the discussion before it has even started. If that is your choice then so be it, I will not lose any sleep over it. I did choose carefully to ask you a question and it continues to go unaddressed.

            On a side note I really enjoyed reading your bio and some of your articles!

          8. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            I assume you read the commenting rules? If so, you know you get one opportunity to make your case for the existence of a God. You have been given that opportunity and you have squandered it. If your objective is to provide some sort of argument for the existence of a God, then get on with it. After eight plus years of dealing with theists of all sorts, I have zero tolerance for word games or philosophical tag.

            I will assume based on your responses that no evidence is forthcoming. That’s fine.

            Bruce

          9. Brandon

            Hi Bruce,
            I am truly baffled by your lack of desire to have a discussion. Your right, it’s your site so you can do or avoid anything you would like. I am not sure how you come to the conclusion that I have no evidence for God by you avoiding answering a simple question. Should you change your mind you know how to find me. Take care, Bruce.

        2. Becky Wiren

          Lindsey, since your God can do all that healing, why don’t you and your church members go to your local hospital and start healing? I imagine as soon as you all do that, we will all become totally convinced that YOUR specific god exists! Such a simple, perfect idea. Let me know so I can be on the lookout for all the miracles and all the atheists, agnostics, and non-Christians becoming Christian. 😉

          PS: If you say, well, we can’t do that etc etc, then of course you realize we will merely think you are bullshitting us.

          Reply
          1. Peter

            Becky a few years ago a very good friend of mine appeared to have a profound spiritual experience at a church meeting as was ‘miraculously’ healed of a number of ailments. Or so it seemed (more on this later).

            I was so impressed that I told many of my friends of how I had witnessed this miraculous healing. I was absolutely confident. I knew the person I knew his health problems. I met him a few days later and he explained how everything had changed, his ailments had disappeared. So I knew it was ‘true’, I spread this news far and wide with great confidence.

            But a few months later all the ailments were back and were worse than ever. So what do I conclude? It was all psychological. Later when I found out it was not a real healing I did not correct the record – shame upon me.

          2. Becky Wiren

            I believe it Peter. The denomination I came from didn’t rely on faith healing, and believed that modern medicine was from God. (Seventh-day Adventist.) I’ve read studies about the placebo effect, and it is tremendous. Being positive can certainly help our health, at least in the short-term. Possibly long-term as I also read a study that people with cancer lived longer when they were positive. All kinds of good chemicals are released in our bodies when we believe!

            To Lindsey: I reread my answer and I meant all of it. And maybe your certainty set off my sarcasm meter. I will apologize for that. I don’t even want to shake your faith in your god. I DO want you to think and use reason. Emotion, even possibly godly emotion, is no way to make decisions.

        3. John Arthur

          Hi Lindsay,

          If God is healing supernaturally, why aren’t these Bethel people healing seriously sick people in hospitals ? It’s clearly a fraud. These students who attend the “supernatural School of Ministry” waste their money. Bill is laughing all the way to the bank.

          These students have faith that God will heal organic diseases, but he doesn’t. What a joke!

          Shalom,

          John Arthur

          Reply
        4. J.D. Matthews

          Hey Lindsey… why don’t you come on over and heal me? I’ve got a list of problems I need dealt with. Or heal Bruce. His health is not the best, either. If you or your buddies can heal either one of us, I will be your God’s disciple for life.

          What say you?

          Reply
      2. Brandon

        Hi Geoff,
        What do you mean by placebo?

        Reply
        1. Brian

          Brandon, There is this thing, fairly recent I guess, called Google. Reather than ask somebody, look it up and think for yourself. I suggest the same for your ‘belief’ answers and questions. Oh wait, no, strike that: You do not choose to Google ‘placebo’ because you want to use your question as bait for Geoff to play your rather stupid game. Everything he says, you will pick apart in a shallow manner (i.e. what do you mean by placebo?) and use that to wear the day down to a muddly little puddly that proves God does/does not exist…
          The other thing you might try is a healing-meeting probably on in a tent near you! Hooga be googa begone! Margoe Gortner could fix you up lickety-split.

          Reply
          1. Brandon

            Lol I enjoyed your response. Thanks for the laugh Brian. Although you literally said nothing and just tried to put me down, it was well worth the laugh.

    4. Ben

      Thank you for this. It’s discouraging to see so much criticism and negativity; I’m glad you took the time to write this.

      Reply
    5. John Arthur

      Hi Steven,

      Where did Jesus teach Quantum Glory? Where did Jesus teach about being on the right vibrational wavelength? Where did Jesus teach about the so-called “Physics of heaven”? This group is a cult. (http://heavensphysics.com/)

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  8. Geoff

    Brandon asks the question as to why I claim the evidence suggests that God does not exist, as opposed to the more passive claim that there is no evidence for the existence of God.

    The underlying reason why I claim that there is evidence, and I’d go as far as using words such as compelling and overwhelming, that God does not exist, is two-fold. Firstly, the appearance and development of the world around us, in every facet, is much more readily explained in the absence of a guiding hand creator. Secondly, in those areas where people of faith claim they have evidence of a guiding hand creator, and I include all faiths here, they are shown to be wrong every time.

    As to the natural world, just look at all the pain and suffering that a God could alleviate so easily simply by providing clean water to everybody (actually, a sensible God may have built us without the need to keep having to seek out water, but that’s another matter). Look at tsunamis, or hurricanes, or erupting volcanoes, all easily explained by modern science, yet all previously awarded to the hand of God.

    As for God intervening in our every day lives, each claim can be seen to be either false or, at best, deluded. Prayer, petitionary or otherwise is shown to be ineffective, no miracle has ever been evidenced as happening, and the bible, both Old and New Testaments, is so riddled with inconsistency, plain nonsense, and unacceptable practices, that there’s almost no material to hold the holes together.

    There is a mountain more evidence out there that I could mention, and anyone actually interested in checking it out would do well to read Victor Stenger God:The failed Hypothesis. The fact that Christian apologists direct their whole careers to trying to unscramble the points I make, explain them away, woefully I’m afraid, shows that they are well aware of the problems they confront.

    Reply
    1. Brandon

      Hey Geoff (sorry I butchered your name earlier). Thanks for the thoughtful response!

      I would argue that you’re dismissing the design and fine tuning too quickly. Just because you do not like a design or think it was poorly created, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t. I wish my iPhone was faster and had a longer battery life, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t designed simply because I don’t like it or would do it differently. I also do not know the intent of the designer, so it’s hard to argue it is poor design if I don’t know what the intent of the design actually is. Richard Dawkins makes it clear that biology is the study of things that give the appearance of design. He even openly admits that even in the smallest aspects of the human cell things looked designed. Christopher Hitchens was also very open and stated that design was the best and most compelling argument for God. I know this is CLEARLY not proof, but dismissing design so quickly without a fair study is not intellectually honest. (I am not saying you have not looked into it or studied, I am just speaking generally).

      In response to paragraph 3, my view is that the entire earth is fallen and not just humans. We should not be surprised seeing these things happen from a Christian worldview and it will only get worse according to biblical prophesy

      In paragraph 4 you mention many, many arguments against God’s existence… Is there one in particular we can talk about?

      we should actually expect them to get much worse.

      On another side note, I want to just let you know I am not trying to force you to believe anything or angry towards you. I think open dialogue about big issues is healthy for our society and important for building tolerance is such a hostile and divided world and nation at this time.

      Reply
      1. Peter

        Brandon some people argue that the design of the human eye points to design, but I could counter that the number of people who lose their sight or need glasses suggests that the design could have been improved.

        Reply
        1. Brandon

          Hey Peter–great point. I am not sure what the designers purpose was with the eye in so its hard to say, but I do think you make a great point.
          What’s more amazing to me than the eye is that we are able to use a mind to determine the malfunctions in the eye and think critically about how to come up with a solution such as glasses or eye surgery to fix it. To me that is evidence that we have a mind capable of thinking rationally and critically.

          Reply
      2. Geoff

        Nice try Brandon, but your responses are old hat now, and easily refuted. Incidentally I’m more than happy to keep polite dialogue going, but it’s Bruce who controls things here.

        Let me address your general points.

        Fine tuning is the argument dreamt up by William Lane Craig (I think he first conceived it, he’s certainly its main proponent) as a sort of desperate last ditch effort to find something new. Every other argument has been soundly debunked. The idea goes that the universe, and the life it contains of which we are aware, is so closely aligned to the physical parameters of the universe so to render it statistically impossible to have happened accidentally. Craig calculates odds at trillions to one. Of course, he’s been debunked on this as well, not least his maths being incorrectly calculated, even were his premises correct. The scientific refutations, whilst no doubt sound, can be complex (for example multiverse) and not readily understandable, though there are plenty of Google hits to be had which try to do that. Personally I think we over complicate it. The parameters of the universe are what they are, and life began, developed, and evolved round those parameters. Different parameters may have led to different life forms. Think of it as ingredients. If you blend and cook eggs and potatoes in a certain way you get Spanish omelette. No matter how hard you try you’ll never get Spanish omelette using jam and custard.

        Dawkins and Hitchens, plus every other living scientist or philosopher, might make the comment that life can give the appearance of design, but this is always, without exception, a precursor to the comment ‘but of course it isn’t’. There are many arguments here, boiling down to two things. One, we know that life evolved from the simplest of organisms to what it is now, and the whole nature of evolution is that it is random (but note NOT a matter of chance) and unguided. Second, there are far too many examples of ‘bad design’ out there to have a designer. By this I mean that using evolution as an explanation for, for example the laryngeal nerve, is satisfactory, but trying to explain it by design is, quite frankly, tedious and contrived.

        Lastly, my points throughout my earlier comment are presented as evidence that God does not exist. Add to the list general pain and suffering. And remember, the saying that ‘absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence’ was invented by theologians trying to defend the existence of an invisible God.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Feel free to flog away, my friend. ?? I wouldn’t want to keep you from having some fun, ??even though I know exactly where this discussion is headed and how it will end. I am, after all, Bruce Almighty. ??

          Thank you for taking the time to engage Brandon.

          Bruce

          Reply
          1. Brandon

            Lol! I loved that movie.

        2. Brandon

          Hey Geoff–I would have to disagree about WLC. Although he is a big cheerleader for ID, I believe design theory has been around for ages.

          I do not know the functions of many things that we view as poorly designed, but in time science will probably tell us. We used to think that about junk DNA expecting it to be a result of evolution and we now know that it is just false

          I agree the the theory of evolution is based on the idea that it is unguided and random. If your computer was created unguided and randomly, would you trust it with your taxes?

          Reply
          1. Geoff

            Brandon, you are confusing Intelligent Design, originally conceived by Michael Behe, with the fine tuning argument. Perhaps my wording did that to some extent, but they are completely different. Incidentally ID, the basis of which is a concept called irreducible complexity, has been refuted.

            As for computers versus evolution, that’s a fallacious comparison. We know as a matter of fact that evolution happens, but we need the theory to try and understand it, and of course we cannot necessarily accurately predict where it will go. Computers are designed and built specifically to serve a purpose. Totally different.

      3. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        I’m sure Geoff might indulge your unoriginal proof for the existence of a God, but I will avoid the initial discussion,and, as I stated earlier, cut to the chase. I will, for argument sake, grant your premise. So, then, who/what is this God? And since your latest comment reveals you are a theist, a Christian theist, and you think the Bible is an authoritative text, how can we, based on your argument for a God’s existence, conclude that this God is the Christian God?

        Brandon, I have had this exact same discussion with Christians more times than I can count. It is not about avoiding; it’s about repeating. Since it has been years since any theist has made an original argument for the existence of God, I choose not to beat to death the same horse over, and over, and over again.

        Reply
  9. Elise

    I know several Christian acquaintances who are very dedicated and serious believers. I saw them at the Christian conferences, concerts, different churches, Hebrew class, Bible studies, etc… They always wanted to talk about Jesus. They are leaders within their churches. These same believers were also always talking about Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson’s Bethel church and his School of the Supernatural, Darren Wilson’s films, Todd White, Randy Clark, etc… So, naturally, I became intrigued and wanted to learn more.
    I saw Heidi’s documentary and thought she seemed nice, although I admit, I was baffled at the uncontrollable “Shake Babe” and “Woah”s. I watched quite a few of sermons by these teachers and read some of their books. A lot of what they said was good, and some ideas were new to me.

    One day, I was invited to one of these acquaintance’s church because he was speaking. At the end of his sermon, they said that Holy Spirit wanted to heal people. All around me, I saw people being healed. One guy had just had knee surgery and was using a walker, and he left jumping up and down. So, I went up and asked for them to pray for my back (I had herniated a disc). Immediately, as we all prayed, I felt this incredible, warm, energized wave undulate through me 2-3 times. It was so strong and I was so shocked. My back was healed! I was so amazed and so excited about what God was doing. God was showing me new things and taking me to a new level.

    I dove in even further and decided to go to a Bethel conference in CA. After my back was healed, I was really open to everything they were teaching, a lot of which I had never heard before. They had amazing worship, big displays of prophecy and healing, and they believed once you are healed, you are “imparted” with the gift of healing. They raised man to a very high level, calling us all “Apostles” and said we had the power to bring Heaven to earth. There were breakout sessions where they were teaching us how to prophesy. The four days I was there, they barely mentioned Jesus and never presented the Gospel and they didn’t really teach from the Bible. At this expensive conference, they passed the tithing plate every single night. It was all about what man could do to affect his surrounding. A lot of the members had the uncontrollable gestures, jerking, laughing uncontrollably, saying “Woah!”

    A man from the School from the Supernatural came up to me and asked if he could pray with me, and immediately, he told me all about my sister. He didn’t even know my name or that I had a sister, but he knew all the intimate details of her life, some things only a handful of people know. Meanwhile, I had been praying considerably for her and even fasting once a week. At the end of the prayer, he said, “Real faith is when you stop praying,” implying that you have the faith the God will answer.

    All along, through all of these experiences, I kept asking, “Where is that in the Bible?” “Where is that in the Bible?!” Some of their beliefs were vaguely supported by some obscure, somewhat twisted Bible verses, but a lot of it was based on “new revelation” and placed experiences and feeling above the Word of God. It is very deceiving because there is power behind it (I’ve felt it!), and it can feel great, but that doesn’t mean it’s God. Just because someone is a great person and gives up everything to serve God, doesn’t mean she can’t be deceived. We are all susceptible to satan’s schemes. Some of the nicest and religious people I know are Mormons, but I wouldn’t want to go to their Bible study.

    Right after that conference, I decided I was going to research the New Age so that I could understand what my sister believes and be a better witness to her. I was astounded to hear testimony after testimony from people who are believers but had been deeply involved in the New Age, yoga, occult, Hinduism, even Satanism who said that these practices had already invaded the Christian church and some of them were the very things I had experienced! Telepathy, familiar spirits, demonic healing, demonic tongues, divination, reiki, etc.. I didn’t know satan had the power to heal or to make a person experience bliss! They said that false teachers will mix 98% truth with 2% lie. In the end, those several friends from Hawaii were teaching New Age techniques and calling it Christianity!!

    Reply
    1. Becky Wiren

      Sorry, but there are no demons. No spirits, no ghosts whatnot. I do believe in a divine Power. I’m not an atheist or agnostic like most people here. But even if those things existed, isn’t the God you believe in greater? Doesn’t following Jesus protect you? If not, then you should reexamine what you believe. Doesn’t perfect love cast out fear?

      Reply
    2. Brian

      When one is prepared and primed for ‘miracles’, then how long does it take for something unexplainable/supernatural to occur? These matters have to do with our deepest histories, our wishes and our human suffering too. They are about what goes on in our minds beyond the conscious level. Elise, I have never seen a true, lasting magic healing but you feel you are one. My response is of course you are and your body responded to your wish to hasten healing regarding your back. Did you heal 100 percent and have a 20 year old’s back again or just lose your pain for a time? You see, I have to question and detail over what I simply cannot believe. It is the same with God-belief for me. The big unknown is us. We shape the darkness, the unknown, to fit needs we can sometimes not even verbalize. We do things because we learned to do them as children. We, most of us are not shown how to be free but how to be in bondage to one thing or another. You are busy running around looking for Yoga Satans and spooky demons and you will likely find them. That does not mean they exist any more than the pink elephant you will see filling your living room right now! Is that elephant from Satan or your local pastor? You are free to be, Elise. Or not. My brother witnesses to me in every exchange we share. He will not stop. I no longer know who he is when all he does is say Jesus is my Shepherd and God is great and I am thankful unto the father, all day long. What happened to my brother? Elise, please think about just being with your sis and really listening to her when she shares something. Try to be there with her, that’s all. Love is attending, not witnessing. Witnessing is virus. (When you are tired of sharing your digs with the big pink guy, let me know and I will send him elsewhere. 😉

      Reply
      1. Peter

        Brian, Charles Templeton is an interesting case, he was at one time the Canadian equivalent of Billy Graham, but eventually left the faith. Anyway he said he had two experiences when he prayed for people and they appeared to be unexpectedly healed, he certainly had not been expecting a miracle.

        Templeton was a deep thinking person and even though he eventually rejected Christianity he concluded something happened in these cases, though he was not sure what or why. In his view there might be aspects about the human body that science has yet to fully understand and he suggested this might be something that could be considered further.

        The problem from a scientific perspective is that it is really hard to develop ways of testing these matters.

        Reply
        1. Geoff

          An interesting comment Peter, but I don’t think it’s in any way meaningful.

          You say this guy Templeton concluded that ‘something happened’ in these cases? What happened? Did people really get healed? What tests were performed?

          And what’s this about ‘there are aspects about the human body that science has yet to fully understand’? I’m sure there are and I’m sure that scientists, including doctors of course, would be the first to agree, but I’ll lay odds that they don’t expect it to involve Templeton and his miracle claims.

          Ultimately there have been countless thousands of these miracle cure claims and none ever withstand scrutiny. There is no problem from a scientific perspective; if the effects of something manifest themselves in the real world then they are scientifically testable. If they are so minor, or infrequent, or vague that they don’t lend themselves to scientific scrutiny (and I’d use the term here in the widest sense) then they aren’t actually evidence.

          Reply
        2. Brian

          Charles T. was a bug in my preacher father’s bonnet for awhile especially as T moved away rather publically from belief. I heard it said among Baptist believers that Templeton suffered a dark intelligence and Christians know that too much knowledge is a bad thing. The Devil is known to be able intellectually surpass any mortal…
          Regarding miracles, it is a pointless word in Science. It merely alludes in a most general way to a presently unexplainable event. When we put our minds to it, as they say, human beings can accomplish sometimes unexplainable feats. That is not a problem to worry over unless we need a supernatural host for our musings. If we need the host, then we can suggest wildly that such a such a healing was surely impossible without the supernatural agent, preferrably Agent 003 in triune Christianity. Religion of the fundamentalist sort in the major religions goes further and demands that we acknowledge and obey the prime Agent! Otherwise, punishment; burn eternally.
          One of my first impressions of God was to do with magic powers. As I grew older and realized God as a human construct, I began to wonder how on earth people could so easily ascribe to God all the things they simply wondered over and could not explain. It is an intellectual laziness perhaps or more likely an emotionally driven need for woo-woo.

          Reply
    3. John Arthur

      Hi Elise,

      All these supposed ‘revelations’ need to be taken with “a grain of salt”. Just because some religious guru thinks he or she has a” private telephone to god” (whether it is in the bible or not), you would be advised to check any claims against what can be learned about the real world by science. If they are inconsistent, don’t reject science, rather would it not be better to reject what the religious guru is saying? Gullible people are easily taken in by religious quacks like the Johnsons, and are likely to find that their wallets are lighter.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
    4. John Arthur

      Hi Elise,

      Power yoga is a physical and mental discipline that builds strength, endurance and flexibility. I think you have an unreasonable fear of it, probably based on listening to too many Fundamentalists but you are wise to be sceptical of these Charismaniacs that are at Bethel.

      Shalom,

      John Arthurl

      Reply
    5. NN777

      You are right on track. This church is beyond a cult. Some of what they are mixing in is old new age. I remember growing up in Calif. There was a retail store it had all this unique angel items. Wings,get your guardian angel here, and angel feathers. Next thing you know angel feathers are appearing at Bill’s church. Almost 28 years ago. A few months later it was a native american store. Selling neat looking rocks with animals etched into them. Get indian spirit here. These people jerking laughing drunk in the spirit laying on graves these are not found in scripture. Looks demonic to me.

      Reply
  10. John Arthur

    Hi Elise,

    Why are you so scared about yoga? Power yoga is great physical exercise that improves strength, endurance, flexibility and balance.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
    1. Geoff

      And you know this demonic tongues thing? I’d like to learn that one. Do you think you can buy courses online?

      Reply
  11. Angie

    GOD LOVES YOU NO MATTER WHAT (:

    Reply
  12. John Arthur

    Hi Angie,

    The real question isn’t whether ‘god’ loves Bruce or not but whether you are prepared to treat Bruce with dignity and respect? Do you have enough respect for Bruce to allow him to hold views different from yourself?

    I understand that you have only read one article by Bruce. Yet I read on another blog article by Bruce that you left a comment to the effect that God loves Bruce, no matter how much he hates god. You assume that Bruce hates god. But what I want to know is why you think that anyone would hate someone whose probability of existence they consider to be very slight indeed?

    I also find it interesting that, of all the articles that Bruce has written, you happen to read this one article that is a critique of a dangerous and crazy Charismatic cult.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
  13. Billy Tanner

    I attented Bethel, went to their school of ministry and lived in Redding for 8 years. My take is this, many people hear about Bethel and how “great” it is and years later leave disappointed.

    My biggest issues with Bethel are that so few people there actually think for themselves. They take the “leaders” and “prophets” words as if its God speaking directly. When you questioned something out of sheer curiosity or zealously for the Lord they made sure to make you look foolish or even shame you. Kris Vallotton is also an incredibly arrogant man under the guise of passion. Most the guys there are just super lame as well, highly into appearance, v-necks, hipsters, iphones/social media, feminine types. A rugged guy like myself couldn’t relate to the majority of them.

    Also, there is so little actual biblical teaching or call to repetence. They make speak about 1 verse the entire sermon and just give their thoughts. Chris Farley (sp?) was actually the best teacher as far as getting context and understanding of the bible.

    Bill johnson drives around in a Mazzerati in case anyone didnt know, and I’ve seen Beni driving in her deluxe Benz around town many a time. Do you really think the apostles in the bible who lived day to day and by faith would want to be driving around in 100k cars. If that’s not flaunting your wealth, I don’t know what is.

    Also, they leadership team releases new books constantly. Books that students are forced to purchase for school, but they are all the same material. There maybe a few books that are excellent, but when you are churning these things out so frequently it makes one wonder what their real motives are. Maybe as the church has kept growing, the leadership fell into the the lust for more money. Something Jesus warned us all very solemenly about doing.

    I have a problem that so many young people go there and can’t take any criticism, or think whatever they do must be of god. They will just attack you for being unbelieving if you don’t have the same hive mentally about god as them.

    I would just tell one that goes there to make sure to think for themselves and not swallow everything this place has to offer.

    Reply
    1. Michael Mock

      “My biggest issues with Bethel are that so few people there actually think for themselves. They take the “leaders” and “prophets” words as if its God speaking directly.”

      “Also, they leadership team releases new books constantly. Books that students are forced to purchase for school…”

      “They will just attack you for being unbelieving if you don’t have the same hive mentally about god as them.”

      Okay, just reading your description of it… that doesn’t sound like a few minor quibbles with how they run things; that sounds like a cult. I mean, what you’re describing here is like a list of warning signs for “How To Know When You Belong To A Cult”.

      Thanks for adding your perspective.

      Reply
    2. Kathy Carter

      Billy, by chance would you be. Willing to contact my son about your experience at Bethel? He is going there in the fall and I am so against it. Trying to educate him that its a cult.

      Reply
  14. Michael leehan

    I agree that I believe Bethel is a cult. I have friends who associate with Bethel beliefs and such. No evidence of these healings. The prosperity doctrine I call charismatic gambling.

    But people by the millions follow such teaching. I believe very much in Christ as my Savior. But this stuff is out and out crazy. Fire tunnels, pennance caves, giant gems, gold dust, angel feathers……. People will fall for anything.

    Reply
  15. Mr Bill

    Bruce, good little blog. I found you while using the miracle known as google…seaching “is Bethel a cult”. Based on what I have read here it sounds like Bethel is a minimum a cult. What is this stuff about Angel feathers or lying on a grave for knowledge? Sounds like this Bethel thing is a pyramid scheme rolled into a church
    ..is that far off?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      In many charismatic churches, subjective emotional experiences are given great weight. Once people start believing such things are from “God” anything is possible.

      Reply
  16. Audre Lynn Jankowski

    I am so glad I’ve found your article. I was raised with teachings from the NAR and participated in many Bethel and their other counter part’s “revivals” and “outpourings”. In high school, I was even a worship leader who got sucked into the IHOP (another scary radicalized evangelical cult that works with Bethel) scene and started my own “worship room” in my home town. I’ve experienced the frenzy, the mania, the unbelievable feelings these mass desensitizing and mind altering services evoke and it’s hard to come back from. I left this radicalized evangelical movement when I was around 19, 20. I’m 21 now and I’m having such a hard time adjusting to normal life. Like this life of gold dust and seeking after the “glory” is all I’ve known. I was taught so many things that I’ve found out not to be true. Heck I was homeschooled! I didn’t even have a school to go to that would show me other lifestyles other than this. I was never prepared for college or focusing on a career. Instead I was prepared to fight the spiritual forces of the world and anything that stands in God’s way. I feel like I’m the product of this extremist religious experiment gone wrong. I’m doing as much research as I can to help me figure out where I came from so I can move on. I have wishful thinking even to make a documentary of my experiences and expose the truth about radicalized evangelicals. Thank you for writing this so I know I’m not the only one who sees this. I feel a little less crazy. Thank you thank you thank you.

    Reply
    1. anotherami

      Audre, as a 56-year old woman who had far less exposure to fundamentalist/evangelical religion and is only now discovering the decades old wounds I got there, I urge you to seek a secular, professional counselor and to not settle for one that you are in any way uncomfortable with. As you say, you are woefully unprepared for secular society, regardless of where your religious beliefs end up. A counselor can be an excellent way to gain insight into the life you want to create for yourself and figure out what your options are, as well as help you cope with the magnitude of change you are experiencing. Further reading of Bruce’s blog can be a great help too, as he and many of his readers have faced similar crises of faith, though not all of us ended up as atheists (I didn’t).
      Finally, you are NOT crazy!! My suggestion to seek out a counselor is so that you have someone to turn to who will not have an agenda. The counselor will not be seeking to gain some advantage for themselves, nor persuade you to a particular point of view, but will be able to help you spot the deficiencies in your upbringing and help you learn the skills you need. You have a lifetime ahead of you and a little planning now can make it brilliant. I wish you well.

      Reply
      1. Audre Lynn Jankowski

        Thank you <3 I will definitely take your advice.

        Reply
  17. Gilbert Hodges

    I live in Redding. Have for over 30 yrs. Bethelites are the worst neighbors one could have. A group of eight will rent a house. Never mow the lawn,clog the street with their cars and deplete our county services for the poor. Rental prices are so high the local people can’t afford to live here. They only care for themselves and think we should thank them for being here. They, for the most part, are the spoiled children of the wealthy. Tonight, groups of them went through the neighborhood trick or treating, begging for candy and spoiling the fun for the little kids. They are a deplorable lot who seem to think they are entitled to any free service meant for the native poor.

    Reply
  18. Shefali O'Hara

    I do believe miracles can happen as I am a cancer survivor. The doctor gave me 18 months to live, but I’m here 12 years later. HOWEVER, if Bethel is claiming miraculous healing, they should be willing to provide proof. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I had CAT scans done, a biopsy, etc. I also went through modern allopathic treatment as well as using natural healing modalities and prayer. I do believe God can heal but He gave us brains, free will, hands – so we can think, make decisions, take action, etc. As a Christian, I trust in God but I also do my part. When I was in school, if I had a test, sure I’d pray, but I also studied. At work, I always tried to do the best job I could and in fact I always tried to do a little bit extra.

    As far as the Bethel ministry – it seems really skewed. They don’t seem to talk about sin and redemption. I realize the author is now an atheist, but as a minister in prior times, he’s got a good understanding of traditional Biblical teaching. And what seems to be lacking with the Bethel teaching (and correct me if I’m wrong) is HUMILITY.

    I have neighbors who go to a church which is heavily influenced by Bethel. They seem to be all about experiencing God but don’t seem to ask deeper questions. I have felt something is subtly wrong with them in that I don’t feel they have compassion for others who might come from a different place. One thing I have found bizarre is that they rely on prophecy – even when a particular “prophet” is proven wrong over and over. I think the Biblical prophets had a 100% batting average. Me, personally, if someone claimed to be a prophet but their prophecies did not come true… I’d be wary of them. Again, I do believe prophecy does occur, but it’s not something common, it’s not like going to the store and buying groceries – it’s something rare.

    Another thing I find troubling – they were friendly with us (my husband and I) until we made it clear we were not into their church. Then they became less friendly. Again, to me, friendship should not be based on a desire simply to make converts. I also have a devout Muslim neighbor who is really friendly and generous but it’s obvious her motivation is conversion. That just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As an evangelical, of course I would love to see people that I care about come to know Christ, but their decision is not going to affect my friendship. I have friends who are Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, atheist, etc., and they matter to me regardless of whether or not they will come to know Christ. To make friendship conditional seems really shallow and wrong.

    Reply
  19. Morgan

    My little sister is applying to this school and I am worried. She was diagnosed with ADHD, Bipolar and Aspergers at a young age. Because of her disabilities she has struggled with the public education system. She started going to private, religious school’s around the 4th grade. I’m not sure if it was her church or her friends but someone has convinced her that if she prays then the lord will heal her and she won’t need medication. She is now 19 and refuses to take her medication or even see doctors. She’s never had a real job, she has no drivers license and she doesn’t understand the concept of money. She’s set on attending this school and is getting funding from local churches. How can we keep her from joining this school?

    Reply
    1. Brian

      She went to religious schools and you are now asking why she might get these ideas she has? She seems to want more of the same now, perhaps because it somehow makes her feel hopeful or promises freedom. If you attempt to restrain her you will only feed the delusion. Try to be there for your sis and support her. Try to make her life easier than it appears to be now. Spend time with her in shared pursuits if you can… You have a very tough challenge, a scary one too. Christianity takes advantage of people, profits from their fears and problems. Jesus heals…. well, unless he doesn’t and then bingo it is the fault of the believer for not doing it right… You cannot win this battle. Just love your sister as best you can, Morgan. Let go of the idea of Control and work on sharing concerns and issues that both of you have.

      Reply
  20. Belinda Botes

    A dear friend committed suicide last week. Her memorial was held at Bethel Ministries in Cape Town, the first time I became aware of this church. Not once did the man who calls himself Apostle/Prophet talk about Jesus and forgiveness and the sermon wasn’t entirely biblical. I spoke with his wife afterwards who revealed they convinced my friend to go off her medication and be delivered and healed supernaturally. This woman kept talking about witches and demons and their power, rather than the power of Jesus. Another friend and I found this very bizarre and Googled this denomination and found very disturbing information so far. In my opinion they must be a cult.

    Reply
    1. Zoe

      So very sad Belinda. I wish these people who advised your friend to go off meds would be prosecuted for murder. 🙁

      My condolences to you.

      Reply
    2. Brian

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/tamara-lovett-ryan-failing-provide-necessaries-trial-decision-1.3947694
      This link is a story now unfolding in the Courts regarding a mom who decided to treat a child’s strep infection holistically and watched her 7 year old (I think) die. She has been charged with failing to provide the necessities of life.
      Bethel fails to provide the necessities of life when they cajole and shame sick people into trusting Gawd and forgetting medicine. They should have to stand up and admit that they want people to die if Gawd chooses to take them like this…. It is a very sick, cultish world there.

      Reply
  21. Brian

    Wouldn’t it be good if a Seminary would allow one of their students at the Master level to do a study of suicidal gestures and successful suicides at Bethel Ministries and other fundamentalist evangelical orgs. If they cared about people instead of Jesus, they might consider such a study as useful perhaps to prevent further loss. But God is looking after it all, isn’t he…. He decided to claim Belinda’s dear friend. (I am so sorry for your loss, Belinda. It breaks my heart to hear of people encouraged to rely only on ‘faith’ and to step aside from the world and medical help. It makes me so sad and very very angry.) In your opinion and in mine they are indeed a cult. They are Christianity that harms.
    Please continue to be strong and to look for ways to speak the truth. Thank-you for sharing here.

    Reply
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  23. Miller

    All I’m gonna say is Bethel doesn’t write hurtful articles about atheists, about reformists, about calvinists, etc. In fact I’ve never heard Bill Johnson talk in a demeaning way about anyone.
    I’d much rather listen to a leader who is kind, like him, than a voice that hurts others, Like all y’all are doing

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Very understandable, Miller. One of the first and most effective ways of shutting down discourse and healthy questioning is imputing harm to the other, saying they are rude or hurtful. The one who speaks in the kindest voice is therefore correct and worthy. I suggest you have no interest in the well-being of others and that questioning makes you feel uncomfortable. Sorry that you have been so shamed in your life. You can’t even speak to one issue, a real one, other than saying people are being hurtful.

      Reply
    2. John Arthur

      Hi Miller,

      “I’d much rather listen to a leader who is kind, like him, than a voice that hurts others, Like all y’all are doing”.

      You need to look harder and see if behind Bill Johnson’s velvet glove of kindness, there isn’t an iron fist inside that is controlling. Ask yourself, what happens if someone disagrees ( in a major or minor way) with Johnson’s theology and his so-called school of the Holy Spirit?

      Is it kind to promise people of faith miraculous healing when it does not occur? Is it kind when people’s spirits are broken by their failure to be healed and they are told that they lack faith?

      Rather than trusting Johnson, begin your own empirical observation and follow up (where you are able) on those who have claimed miraculous healing. You may find that the healing is psycho-somatic and that it may only be temporary. Do not simply accept these just because Johnson claims they happen. Just follow up on the disappointment , psychological and physical suffering that occurs and the church induced guilt that these people suffer and ask yourself whether Johnson is so loving.

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  24. jaeson

    Sorry to hear you left the faith- but you are quite correct in that Bethel and its ilk are in the cult level. I had some relatives get into the whole Latter Rain false teachings… then they lured everyone else in my family in. I left because I thought it was so weird. I think there is some supernatural power and manipulation there, but I don’t think it is from God at all. I think it is places like this that give Christianity a horrible name. Super-experiential, the false prosperity gospel, etc. So sad. I think people are brainwashed into it though. It doesn’t happen overnight. Bethel’s false doctrines are slowly introduced in churches until people don’t notice they aren’t even from the Bible.

    boo.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      And you think that they are not really really really from the one true faith Bible??? Oh, jaeson, what a responsibility you carry! To have the weight of the one true faith on your shoulders…. Don’t worry, people are brainwashed into it. Yeah, right.

      Reply
    2. Cece

      So right Jaeson!!

      Reply
  25. Paul McLaughlin

    I just spent a very entertaining couple of hours reading christian attacks on Bethel, IHOP and the Toronto Blessing. The gist of the attacks is, my mumbo jumbo logic is truer than your mumbo jumbo experience.

    I don’t really care what adults believe or do as long as they don’t exploit the vulnerable, as they do when they brainwash children into uncritical thinking and convince people with serious diseases to discard their meds and treatments.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      I agree Paul, and that’s why Bethel is a dangerous (criminal?) Evangelical cult. I’m an atheist, but I recognize that most people will never embrace atheism. So the goal is to encourage people to embrace less harmful forms of religious belief.

      Reply
  26. Kathy Carter

    Hi Bruce,
    I came across this site researching once again Bethel Church and their school. My son has been getting brainwashed for months now by a woman whose son in law went there. He was accepted to go to Bethel School in the fall. I am so sick over this. It has ripped apart our family (we have 7 kids at home). My son is so different now he told me the other night he has been sinless for five months now and after one year of going to Bethel will be just as powerful as Jesus. He flat out refuses to research the school but only listen to what this woman tells him and our pastor where we used to attend church (we now Have left that church). This devastates me and my husband along with his siblings.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Kathy,

      Welcome and thank you for commenting. I am so sorry that you have to go through this with your son. The ideas preached by Bethel can be intoxicating, and often lead otherwise good people to engage in bizarre behaviors. This is why Bethel needs to be exposed for the cult it is.

      I wish you well. I hope, in time, your son will see the light and get away from Bethel. What worries me in the short term for your son is his interest in their school. It is at the school where the intense indoctrination takes place. I hope you can get him to not go to the school. The less he is indoctrinated the better.

      Bruce

      Reply
  27. Kathy Carter

    This is to the author Axle who posted his/her comment to Bruce about Bethel just within the last couple of days. I would just like to warn you about your visit to Bethel Church and/or school in Redding. I came across Bruce’s site looking for more facts about this cult. I am a Christian and my son has been brainwashed by a few people into attending there in the fall. Do your research about this place, they are not Christians and DO NOT speak of Jesus as our savior, they believe they are sinless as my son does now and they also lay on gravesites to try and get the dead’s supernatural karma along with many other non Biblical things. Axle you show me in the Bible where it says its okay to do this! My son is going there just to “get the experience” … of what ??? My son used to be a wonderful person and now I watch him change into something that he is not, he is one of nine children, I do not know if you have children but watching your child waste his life on experiences like this is sickening. If you truly attend there this weekend you better ask for the blood of Jesus to protect you. One more thing I would like to point out, you don’t know anything about Bruce and neither do I, but what I have read about him in his blogs. Do not judge this man nor preach to this man, he had been in the ministry for years. You have not walked in his shoes, you do not know why he has changed his views, many people changed their views about things in life, many people question God, Jesus, the Bible and life along the way. Bruce is not trying to deceive people about Bethel but to educate them about this place. All you have to do is look online about the stories of others that were sucked into this cult and eventually pulled away and there are many other people out there (Christians) that talk about this Bethel. So please do not judge Bruce or others about their statements.

    Reply
    1. Michelle

      Anyone that thinks Bethel is a cult despite their God loving and worship music is clearly not a Christian! I suppose you think speaking in tongues is Satan Lol! You obviously haven’t experienced God in any way. I hope someday you do.

      Reply
      1. Kathy Carter

        Michelle,
        I have experienced speaking in tongues, as a matter of fact I attend Assemblies of God where they do indeed speak in tongue and as a matter of fact my son who is going to go to Bethel used to speak in tongues and had a gift given to him by God BUT that gift is gone now and has been gone since he began his journey towards attending Bethel. I have experienced God in many ways with helping raise my children in the right moral way and especially with my husbands medical issues the last few years. I experience God every day of my life. I am a Christian and I have done my research on Bethels teachings and they do not line up with the Bible at all. Do you believe Jesus/God came down from heaven to save us from our sins? Well Bethel believes Jesus was just another human being that could do miracles and healings. Show me in the Bible where it says its okay to lay on the graves of dead people to try and get their spiritual gifts/karma? It doesn’t. Spiritual Gifts are given to us not drawn out of gravesites. What does their worship music have to do with their teachings? My son has been taught the last few months that he is sinless, only One is sinless and that is Jesus. He has told his family that he will indeed within time be as powerful as Jesus, so he is saying he will be God. Is that right Michelle? This is what Bethel is teaching him. 2 John 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Do not judge me nor tell me I am not a Christian, as Mr. Arthur has said, because of what I have researched not only on my own but as Bruce and many others have found to be the fact here about Bethel, there are many stories of young people that have attended there but pulled away for many reasons because their eyes were opened.

        Reply
        1. Geoff

          I can’t believe people in this day and age are referring to ‘speaking in tongues’ and expecting to be taken seriously.

          Speaking in tongues is bullshit. It’s the sort of thing I might expect in some African tribal superstitious ritual, but in supposedly educated western civilisation it’s embarrassing.

          Reply
    2. jaeson

      Thank you! I agree with your comment. Really I don’t care what Bruce thinks, he def has some great information here on his site. I’m sorry to hear about your son.. 🙁 I have lost 5 cousins so far to this cult, 3 aunts, 2 uncles, and probably all of their children (since they are currently being brainwashed).

      So sad. Its not regular Christianity– -its dominionism, special snowflake syndrome and idolotry of spiritual power..

      I think there is a spiritual force at work there – but I do not think it is holy…

      If anyone there encountered the actual glory of God they would be weeping in repentance.

      Reply
  28. John Arthur

    Hi Michelle,

    “Anyone that thinks Bethel is a cult despite their God loving and worship music is clearly not a Christian”.

    Do you mean to say not your type of Christian? There are over 40,000 different denominations in the world today, each differing on one or more theological points.

    And what makes “god loving and worship music”? Is music the test of whether one is a Christian or not? Many cults are loving on the outside, but behind the velvet glove is an iron fist.

    Kathy Carter did not tell you what her opinion was on” tongues’. You do know that many Evangelical Christians hold that speaking in tongues is “of the devil”, others think it is a purely natural phenomenon (without attributing anything to the so-called “devil”), while others think it is a sign of the baptism in the Holy Spirit (though few would suggest that you need to speak in tongues to be saved).

    How can you jump to the conclusion that Kathy Carter (“You obviously haven’t experienced God in any way.”) has not had a religious conversion experience?

    Now, I think that subjective experiences of God are no evidence for the existence of God. Subjective certainty and objective evidence are two different things. Tell me, how do you know that what you are experiencing is something simply happening in your head and heart (without any objective evidence of a being external to you causing your subjective experience) or is there objective evidence for the existence a such a being you call God? Please present the evidence.

    What makes your experience of “God” any superior to that of Kathy Carter. Kathy acknowledges she is a Christian, yet you come and denigrate her position because you don’t like what she correctly says about Bethel being a cult.

    Shalom,

    John Arthur

    Reply
  29. jaeson

    Bethel is a cult- along with its sister partners in crime IHOP (International House of Prayer), Vineyard churches/fellowships, H-Rock in Pasadena, Brownsville, & Toronto “blessing.” Its all the same weird source (Vineyard kick off in the 80’s). I think to be honest there is some spiritual force at work in these places, but it certain is NOT holy. It causes people to want and idolize ministers, ministry, and spiritual forces…Not Christ.

    The people i’ve encountered that go to these places are in gross error theologically and/or habitual sinners. Examples:

    1) a husband who refuses to work when his wife is ill– gotta chase the glory clouds all over N.America even though technically you are homeless
    2) a couple who lied saying they were ministers and basically took people’s money so they could go to meetings with the glory cloud
    3) another couple who are having many kids for their “joel’s army” — literally– and each baby has a weird old testament name…this isn’t biblical!
    4) a young man who moved to hollywood to be an actor (that was 15 years ago) now he is poor..but you know that prophecy said he would be successful!
    5) the couple who is ill but “ministers” at the “healing rooms” in bethel all the time….yeah um what? shouldn’t they be in perfect health because they are in “the presence” all the time? =p
    6) the lady I know who thinks its fine to have oral sex to men she’s not married to — (yep!– ) goes to church each week- she’s in her 50s!
    7) Porn addicted minister…yeah um needs no explanation.. but goes to church each week and conferences..
    8) Their lead prophet- bob jones- groped a woman and told her to strip so he could hear from God..
    9) Their other lead prophet- paul cain was a homosexual who tried to cover it up. YET THESE people are still considered “accurate” and had “giftings.”
    10) Every single idolized preacher from Azusa and whatnot were all druggies/sex addicts and disgraced ministers….

    These churches never preach the true word of God about holiness and repentance…

    Reply
  30. Brian

    I find it more and more strange as I get older in this life to hear people talking about God in every flavour, trying hard to point out that the other guy is wrong and that the one true God is somewhere else. When God is a figment, a relic of our earliest histories, a fantasy deep and wide, then God is everything to everybody.
    Regarding religion, organized or disorganized, there are untold faiths, and as many Gods, one true Gods as stars in the sky, as grains of sand.
    The human mind is truly a wonder/horror to behold.
    Religion is designed to harm. It is not as openly blatant as all-out war but it accomplishes the same thing: It harms, maims, kills, all the while sending out missionaries of ‘peace’ offering gifts.
    Those of us who have walked through the glory, tongues, fire et al, and come out the other side, stand quite amazed that we survived it. So many fall in battle and never make it.

    Reply
  31. rs

    This place is definitely a cult. I have multiple friends who attended BSSM. I visited them in Redding multiple times because there they were closer to where I live than where they normally are. So it’s an easy trip. Most of them did not have cars, so I basically ended up as their ride most days. I elected to stay in the common area while they attended services, class, and went into “healing rooms”.

    Here are a some things I experienced in my time spent around my friends, at Bethel, and other people who attended.

    Various people – all of whom I did not know, insisted on doing readings. Or, “prophesying”. The first one I finally agreed to just for the hell of it. One of my friends there recorded it. It was a lot like a horoscope reading. Very generalized things, most of which didn’t apply to me. Another friend who was there said what this person said about my future sounded a lot like me. I almost laughed in their face. I said no, hardly. They insisted they could “see” these things happening to me. Things I couldn’t yet see myself. Yeah, okay buddy.

    The other two readings were all but forced on me. On one particular trip, I was staying in a guest house of this (disgustingly rich) friend of my friends. We were in the kitchen after having been there for several hours, after a lot of intense religious discussions that I stayed out of, keeping quiet. There were about 5-6 of them. One asked about doing a reading. I passed. They insisted. Again, I said no thanks. Instead of backing off, that person launched into a reading anyway. I looked toward my friends for help but they looked super interested in what their friend had to say, not caring that I wanted no part of this. Everything this person said reminded me of people who do “psychic” readings. Someone who pays attention and picks up on things, and then uses that to “prove” they know stuff. I’d spent almost an entire day around these people and every single thing this person said was basically just observations about me. But everyone else was eating it up! The third reading was by the mother of the above mentioned friend of my friends. Rich people. They were having a gathering at their mansion (and it was the tackiest place I’ve ever seen with my own eyes…). And again, like above, they were having intense conversations about faith, God, Jesus, the healings they’ve witnessed/done, people they’ve prayed over, etc. At least this time one of my friends was giving me sympathetic looks. At one point, the mother came and asked me if she could do a reading. I said no thanks. She insisted. Again, I turned her down. She started to look mad and I remembered I was a guest staying in her house, so I gave in. She took me to a quiet place in the house. It was basically a combination of the two “readings” I’d already had. A combination of horoscope-y type stuff, and things picked up from watching me or from what I’m sure her son told her about me. At this point I was just tired. I could tell from her line of questioning she was clearly looking for certain answers (like “struggling with my faith”–because I wasn’t participating in conversation, I’m sure), so I said whatever she wanted to hear so I could get it over with.

    Another thing I don’t see those leaders or members mention much unless you’re actually inside the building or know someone who goes there – if you’re not healed after being prayed over, it’s your fault. They said this in not so many words. Something is “blocking” them from being healed. It broke my heart because there were people from all over the country–and the world, in fact–seeking out healing. People with congenital issues, injuries from accidents… one of the friends of my friends pointed this one woman and her son out to me. He was in a wheelchair. They both looked completely discouraged and he clearly didn’t want to be there. The person who pointed them out to me said that those people had been there for a month, trying to get the son healed–no longer paralyzed. They were from China. They basically spent all their money to go there, to stay, and in tithings. I felt so bad for them. I wanted to go over and tell them to leave. To stop wasting their money. That it was a scam and what frauds these people were. That these people were happily taking their money while blaming them for him not being healed.

    One night I was there I was sitting in the common area while a couple of my friends were in the church, and another friend was at their other off-site facility. I heard a lot of cheering at one point and my friends excitedly came out to tell me that someone’s blindness had been “cured”. I wasn’t impressed. News spread quickly. Not long after, my friend at the other building called me. They didn’t understand why I didn’t believe this actually happened. It was at least a 30 minute phone call. They were genuinely upset that I did not believe someone was actually cured of their blindness.

    And people there frequently get “drunk” on the spirit. They shake, cry, collapse… one of my friends came out of a service, sat down across from me, then slid out of the chair and onto the floor. I was alarmed and asked if they were okay and my friends were just like, “it’s fine, [name] is just drunk on the Lord!” um… okay. They were laying on the floor for at least 20 minutes, alternating between twitching, crying, and seeming high on drugs.

    Many of their students live in poverty because they have to pay the $4k+ tuition fee out of pocket. They also have to pay for their apartments. Most people had apartments with at least two rooms, with two people to a room. So at least rent is cheaper than it could be for those ones. But while two of my friends there had amazing support from their home churches and had more than enough money to get by, my other friend could barely afford the tuition, let alone the rent, as little as it was for them. Shortly after I left the first visit (where I’d been sleeping on the couch), my friend had been kicked out of the room and had to sleep on the couch, so that they could bring in another person to pay rent. My friend had had a car when they arrived in Redding. They had to sell the car before I even got there. They had to walk several miles one-way to class and church every day. After I left, they had to sell even more of their belongings, like electronics. This was back when iPods were newer and they cherished theirs. It had all their music on it, and they listened to it on the way to/from class/church. They had to sell it to have the extra money to put toward their last month there. They wanted to attend another year of school but they couldn’t get the tuition money raised.

    The second visit I made, I had to stay with these people I didn’t even know. Which was fine–I had a place to sleep and shower, so I couldn’t complain too much. What astounded me was that one of these people was married and wasn’t allowed to live with their spouse! They were living separately. While they attended the school, they weren’t allowed “private time” with each other. They always had to have other people present if they wanted to spend time together.

    One of my friends had been on an outing with this group from the church. Supposedly the bus broke down, and that demons had been in the engine and caused it. My friend said “the entire bus” witnessed “angels coming down to fight the demons”. O… k….

    Another person there had told me the story of them evading a car accident because God “picked up their car and moved them out of the way”.

    I just… these people are crazy. Two of my friends aren’t quite that extreme any more, though they do go on “missions” still. The school was (is?) very big on those. People would have to raise their own money, of course. They basically sounded like glorified vacation trips. One of them went to Norway, for example. Thankfully, my other friend (the one who had to sell their iPod) became disillusioned. Like, completely. They’re still a Christian but are back to being a “normal” one. Actually, I think they’re more liberal, now. For example, they’re getting married and have been living with their partner for over a year now. (Scandalous!)

    Anyway. It’s almost been ten years, and to this day I’m still massively creeped out by my visits there and the people at that church. And it makes me sad that it’s a culture of people who are rich enough to afford the tuition/living expenses on their own, people who were fortunate enough to raise the thousands of dollars it cost to attend and live there, and those who had absolutely nothing. Asking complete strangers for money. Even fellow students! Those who were having to do odd jobs for people. It was really hard for students to get jobs in that town. One person who was out of country on a student visa, had to “trade” their talents for food and rent money. They couldn’t “earn” money since it was a student visa.

    Sick, manipulative people running and in that place.

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Hi rs,

      “Sick, manipulative people running and in that place.”

      Thanks for your comments on your experience of these people. Bill Johnson is a contributor to the book “The Physics of heaven,” Of course, there is no such thing as the physics of heaven recorded in the bible nor in books on quantum physics. So where did he get his information from?

      My guess is that he is so steeped in new age thought and tries to marry this with the bible, then leads people to be caught and trapped in his manipulative system,

      If there is a heaven, then I believe that heaven’s reign is compassion. Bill Johnson seems to show little compassion towards the poor and those of the sick that fail to get healed at his meetings. Apparently, He, and his supporters, think it is the fault of the poor that they are not rich and that those that fail to be healed. Doesn’t Johnson realise that Jesus “had nowhere to lay his head”? Doesn’t Johnson realise that Paul “left Trophimus at Miletus sick?

      Thanks for your expose!

      Shalom,

      John Arthur

      Reply
  32. Steven Pearce

    Hello everyone. My name is Steven Pearce and I used to attend Bethel Church from the time of my youth until I became Muslim 20 years ago at the age of 23. Bethel Church is a large reason as to why I became a Muslim. The pastor of my youth, Ray Larson, was having affairs with the wives of congregants that he was supposed to be counseling. Then their youth pastor, Dan Farrely, told us not to study science at Shasta College because science was used to make people Atheist and that dinosaurs never existed. God put the bones in the ground in order to test the faith of the true believers. Also, they would have sleep overs of youth at the church mixing boys and girls and we would find a girl to go to an unsupervised part of the church to do our thing. As I got older and became a Muslim I realized how dangerous that this was. Even young girls who were involved in the leadership and their family is still part of the church were getting pregnant as young teens out of wedlock.

    Fast forward to 2017 and now these Bethel people harass everyone in this city. They bother people even during their gym workouts. They have bought many businesses and are buying up all of the real estate. They have made it that only their members can get good employment in Redding.

    Reply
  33. Gabriela T

    Bruce,
    How do I get a friend out of Bethel? He is sick and refuses medical help hoping for God to make a miracle there at Bethel!! This is unbelieveble how they are brainwashed!! Also his parents encouraged him to “heal” at Bethel! I am really worried about him and there is nothing I can do about it 🙁

    Reply
  34. Brady Mayo

    I have been to a Bill Johnson dance and pony show. Even though my issue is not with Bill Johnson nor his supporters (Ephesians 6:12) I do have a problem with the enemies influence that is behind Bill Johnson’s ministry (Mathew 24:22-25). My heart goes out to those caught up in this terrible cult. But the people themselves are not the enemy.

    Reply
    1. Paul McLaughlin

      I disagree. The gullible and uncritical adult dupes who let themselves get taken in by religious charlatans and con artists should be held responsible for the effects of their actions. Without their support, the cultists wouldn’t be able to create their little empires. They don’t get a free pass just because they let themselves be victimized.

      Also, if you read other posts on this blog, you will realize that quoting scripture is not viewed as an effective argument here.

      Reply
      1. Brady Mayo

        Good point but what about Ephesians 6:12?

        Reply
  35. Paul McLaughlin

    Well, what about Ephesians 6:12? It has no relevance to modern life other than as a fact about the superstitious mindset of a small cult of religious fanatics 2000 years ago, for those who might be interested in such historical minutiae. It provides no insight into what is going on at Bethel Redding and other evangelical hot-spots, where the source of the evil is not spiritual forces in the heavenly realms but good old, down-to-earth human greed, pride and ambition.

    And while we are in Ephesians, what about
    5: 22-24
    22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    and 6: 5-8

    5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

    Do you follow these archaic precepts as well?

    Reply
    1. Jw King

      why not?

      Reply
  36. Brady Mayo

    You missed my point. But I do agree with you about Bethel and the way in which they are leading people a stray. I’m in agreement with you about the deception but do not understand the point you were trying to make with your scripture verses.

    Reply
    1. Paul McLaughlin

      I didn’t miss your point. You stated that you believe that the people at Bethel Redding (including the leaders) should not be held to account because what is going on there is actually caused by evil spiritual forces, not by evil humans. You cite Ephesians and Matthew to support your belief.

      I called BS because on this forum, quotes from scripture not accepted as a warrant for the factual truth of anything.

      I also pointed out that there are 2 passages in Ephesians very close to 6:12 and I asked if you also accept them as having the same authority as 6:12, given their misogyny (5: 22-24) and countenancing of slavery(6: 5-8).

      IOW, do you accept everything in the Bible? Or do you pick and choose the parts you like and ignore the inconvenient verses?

      Reply
      1. Brady Mayo

        Bruce I would love to have a dialogue with you in which you weren’t so disrespectful. 2 Timothy 2:24. We have to understand that these posts are public and are also viewed by those who don’t know Christ. So when your ready for a civil exchange of ideas please let me know.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Uh, I didn’t respond to you, someone else did. You do know that Bruce, that’s me, is an atheist. I am not too worried about what unbelievers think. ?

          Paul reminded you that quoting Bible verses on this site carries about as much weight as quoting from the Harry Potter books.

          Reply
          1. Brady Mayo

            Sorry, my message was for Paul not Bruce. And Bruce, you have more faith than I do!

  37. Geoff

    Brady Mayo said “And Bruce, you have more faith than I do!”

    I have no idea what that means.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      It takes more faith to be an atheist than it does a Christian. I plan to write a post on this sometime next week. Stay tuned, oh man of great faith. ??

      Reply
      1. Geoff

        Oh right, I’ve heard that before. I don’t understand it so I look forward to your explanation.

        If Brady’s right then I’m probably something like an atheist bishop!

        Reply
        1. Brady Mayo

          This definition of faith contains two aspects: intellectual assent and trust. Intellectual assent is believing something to be true. Trust is actually relying on the fact that the something is true. A chair is often used to help illustrate this. Intellectual assent is recognizing that a chair is a chair and agreeing that it is designed to support a person who sits on it. Trust is actually sitting in the chair.

          Reply
          1. Geoff

            Brady Mayo

            I’ll sit in a chair, probably any chair, confident in the knowledge that it has safely supported many before me. The second it gives way my trust in that particular chair is very much diminished, though in chairs generally by only a small amount.

            Presumably you are trying to equate this to religious faith. It doesn’t work, not one iota, totally zilch. Religious faith consists of inventing a character many call God, or perhaps Jesus. He is then imbued with super powers. One then pretends (convincingly much of the time) to claim to have faith in this imaginary person. Really? What’s that got to do with chairs?

  38. Brady Mayo

    Well, Even though I respect your opinion I believe there are strong similarities. I will start by asking you a question. What existed before the Big Bang?

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yes, Brady, “what existed before the Big Bang?” No Bible verse quoting permitted.

      Reply
      1. Brady Mayo

        I don’t know what Bible verse your talking about? Let me rephrase. Do you believe that the universe had a beginning or is it eternal? Or maybe you have another theory. Just a very simple question.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          No one knows what happened before the Big Bang. The scientist says, we don’t know, so we continue to investigate. The Evangelical says, the Bible says _______________. The difference between the two was aptly shown is the debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham.

          I am comfortable with ambiguity and unanswered questions. We know, because science tells us so, that from the Big Bang forward, there is no need for a deity, There’s much we still don’t know, but as we continue to learn, one thing is sure: God (especially the concept of the Abrahamic God) is irrelevant.

          This line of discussion is wandering quite a bit away from the content/context of this post. You might want to hunt up a more suitable post to carry on this discussion. A lot of energy has been expended on this subject, with Christians always, in the end, retreating to the pages of the Bible and the safety of faith.

          Reply
          1. Geoff

            I agree entirely, Bruce. Inventing an answer to a question on a subject where the honest answer is ‘we don’t know’ is not only meaningless, it’s positively obstructive in seeking real answers.

            In any event, I’m not sure that using the term ‘before’ with regard to the Big Bang is helpful. Before is a temporal implying word, and time as we understand it may not be relevant outside of the existing universe.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            I don’t spend much intellectual capital on this question. I’m far more concerned about the next Big Bang, brought to the world by Asshole-in-Chief Donald Trump. I’m satisfied and confident that science has provided us a good framework for understanding our world — no God needed. The questions are many, but appealing to faith or an ancient religious text is not the answer.

      2. Brian

        What existed before the big bang was puberty, as I recall. The big bang ended all that and whooping it up in the aisles ensued. I think they call that the indwelling.
        What existed before existence? What was before is?
        I heard a train whistle once but no train came…. I began to understand the deeper meaning of advertising but what existed before advertising?
        Dylan heard a slow train coming…. me too. Bible versing allowed; why not? Also hymns…
        Wait, if the big bang was ‘you know who’, then does make make the boom-box a church instrument?
        Have I understood the question? Sheesh, it’s late…

        Reply
  39. Paul McLaughlin

    Brady, how about answering the question I posted several days ago: Do you agree with the ideas expressed in Ephesians 5: 22-24 and 6: 5-8?

    Reply
    1. Brady Mayo

      Paul you should know that when applying hermeneutics to scripture that there are rules to be followed. The first rule to be followed is always interpret scripture using scripture. For instance, Paul said in Galatians 3:28 – “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal.” Wow! This was completely revolutionary within the historical/social context of the first century. Woman and slaves were viewed as being less than human by Roman standards and all most every culture.

      Also, you have to look at why Paul wrote this letter, its main purpose and the biblical and cultural context that it was written in. Did you know that slaves made up almost half of the Roman Empire during this time? Paul understood this and the purpose of his statement was not in anyway condoning slavery. As a matter of fact he was addressing the abuse of this system and raising the bar for masters to treat their slaves with respect and vice versa. This was also revolutionary for that time period. It was a call for social justice because in Jesus eyes the slave, the master, the male and the female were all equal. Incredible for that time period. Incredible!

      Also your question is misleading. Do I believe that the scripture you mentioned about slaves and females was a good idea for that time period? Yes! He called out masters to treat their slaves or servants with respect. Does it apply today? No! And Paul’s statement was not a command to KEEP slavery as an institution. Jesus said we are all equal in God’s eyes.

      As far as wife’s having to submit, again interpret scripture with scripture. I find it interesting that you did not mention verse 21. God’s ultimate command is for everyone and that means everyone to “submit to one another”. But remember that Jesus ultimate aim was not to change the social structure and behavior of people but to transform the heart. That is where real change will take place. That is what led William Wilberforce and the Christian abolitionists to fight with their very lives to get rid of slavery altogether. Did you know that is was Christians that led this movement and not the secular world?

      Reply
      1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

        Ah yes, the comparing Scriputre with Scripture rule, also known as “find other proof texts to justify my peculiar interpretation.” What’s next? Appeals to the analogy of faith, what the “church” has historically believed, or harmonization?

        Why should readers of the Bible follow your rules? Shouldn’t the Holy Spirit be a sufficient teacher and guide?

        I encourage people to read each book of the Bible on its own. This allows readers to determine what the writer of that particular book intended to say (which we do for all other literary works but the Bible). Of course, reading each book on its own causes all sorts of problems for Christians. Things such as the pluraility of plans of salvation(Jesus, Paul, Peter, James all preached different gospels) in the Bible and the fact that Genesis is polytheistic and not Trinitarian.

        Reply
        1. Brady Mayo

          Paul, you are simply wrong. You are doing exactly what Paul admonished heretics for during the first century. Paul made it clear that there would be wolves in sheeps clothing who would preach a different Gospel. And if you are being led by the Holy Spirit then the obvious response to the Gospel is to love. Count how many times God calls us to love in the scriptures. The Holy Spirit leads to wisdom and wisdom tells the the one being led what each scripture really means and how it should be applied. If you read the Bible you should see the command to love your neighbor throughout scripture. If you are not being led then it would make sense that you are also seeing the scriptures at face value and pulling them out of context.

          Reply
          1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Bruce, not Paul, I assume.

      2. Brady Mayo

        And Paul, the Bible commands us to treat others better than you treat yourself (Phillipians 2:3). God knows that real change does not take place on the outside. That is why God is more concerned with the heart. If the heart is changed then there would be no slavery, corruption, greed, or selfish ambition of any kind. Sadly, “christians”, if you even call them that, use scripture out of context to justify killing others and enslaving others. That is called heresy.

        Reply
        1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

          Brady, you are sermonizing now. Most readers of this blog aren’t the least bit interested in what you think your God thinks, knows, or says.

          Reply
          1. Brady Mayo

            Bruce, Paul is a big boy. He does not need you to defend him.

          2. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Hey Brady, I’m not defending Paul. I am, however, as the owner of this blog telling you to stop the sermonizing. It is not welcome, nor will be tolerated.

          3. Brady Mayo

            And Bruce I am not the one trolling atheistic blogs looking for a fight.

          4. Brady Mayo

            Bruce all I am doing is answering questions. It is you who are sermonizing. I am not looking to convert anyone but you are based on your past responses.

          5. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Brady, this is where I tell people as yourself to go fornicate with themselves. I gave you space to comment, much more than I normally do for Evangelicals. Thank you for commenting, but I will approve no further comments of yours.

          6. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Brady, this is where I tell people such as yourself to go fornicate with themselves. I gave you space to comment, much more than I normally do for Evangelicals.

            Thank you for commenting, but I will approve no further comments of yours. My house, my rules.

            Bruce

          7. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

            Sorry, Paul is not a troll. I’ve said all I am going to say on this matter.

            https://brucegerencser.net/comment-rules/

          8. Brady Mayo

            Bruce I will just let your comment for me to go fornicate with myself stand on its own. Thank you for your respectful input. I also will leave you alone.

          9. Paul McLaughlin

            I know I should just let it go but I can’t resist one more comment about Brady’s linguistic contortions.

            First, the so-called law of hermeneutics explains why so many evangelical discussions of Bible verses seem to take place in a vacuum inside a time warp. When combined with inerrancy, this so-called law inevitably leads to endless self-contradictory positions, such as Brady’s claims that, despite what Ephesians unequivocally states, the Bible advocates gender equality and doesn’t actually condone slavery.

            Ironically, Brady does not follow his own “law” but instead appeals to a superficial canned history of the Roman Empire to explain and justify the contradictions. He doesn’t seem to realize that once an evangelical admits the relevance of the historical context, the claim that the Bible is self-explanatory is lost.

            Second, it must take an enormous amount of psychic energy to maintain beliefs that are internally self-contradictory and inconsistent with normal human experience. Maybe that is why so many evangelicals are so wound up: if they let themselves relax, their whole world view will collapse. It must be exhausting.

            It might also explain how some of the black-collar criminals Bruce exposes are able to rationalize their misdeeds: they have been trained to square circles, so it is within their concept of the possible that god wants them to diddle children, or that their misbehavior is not their fault but can be blamed on the devil.

            Okay that’s it. I’m done with this conversation.

        2. John Arthur

          “Sadly, “Christians”, if you even call them that, use scripture out of context to justify killing others and enslaving others. That is called heresy.”

          So the bible has some heresy in it? Doesn’t the bible allege that God commanded the Israelites to wipe out the Canaanites, including little children and babies? Doesn’t the bible justify mass killing by commanding the murder of little babies and children? Not only are the Israelis commanded to put whole cities to the sword, but to make sure these barbaric people did a thorough job, they were to burn these cities to the ground.

          How is this consistent with Jesus’ view that that we are to love our enemies and his attitude to little children? The bible justifies slavery and other immoral things. It’s full of immorality, but never mind, all this immorality is alleged to come from the God of the bible who is full of “heresy”.

          Reply
  40. Kathy Carter

    So I feel like I have lost the battle. My son leaves for Bethel school next week..since the last time I posted he has become more distant from the family. We have had many medical emergencies with his father and myself and he didn’t even care even though he lives under our roof. So sad how these young people can be pulled into this mess but I will hold him accountable for his actions because he knows what he is in store for there. A disaster. Shame on Bethel and some of these “men of God” that promote this place.

    Reply
    1. Brian

      Kathy, I hear your loss and that you feel you have lost the battle. Remember, this is your son, your beloved child. Do not stop loving him and try not to judge him. I am sorry you feel he did not care about medical emergencies but I encourage you to support him in every way you can and to leave the lines of love and communication open to him so that as he is able, he will know you wait for him and love him. It worries me that you want to judge him and hold him accountable, a very sick, Christian-sounding shame-blame scenario. Allow him to follow his heart. Disagree and support him in love as a parent. I find it very sad that you are writing him off as some lost cause. Nobody guaranteed smooth sailing. The Christian promise of God being in control of all is a crap-wagon of wasted fertilizer. Try love and live that as your son finds his own way. I am truly sorry you face so much pain in yourself. Perhaps your son feels how you use your belief to harm him and so seeks a true religion that is not your shame and blame? Dunno. What I do know is that when I was trying to escape fundamental, evangelical belief, I could have used help from a loving parent who though perhaps disagreed with me, continued to support and dialogue instead of ‘holding me responsible’.

      Reply
      1. Kathy Carter

        Hi Brian, I do love my son and my husband and I have been supportive of him with everything except for this in his life. We never treated him differently he began treating his family differently when he got involved with Bethel. He has 8 siblings,6 of them were still at home with him when he left. He stopped associating with all of them. He told all of us he was now sinless and was going to be as powerful as Jesus was. He felt he was better than us. That is not how I raised him. He is aware of what he is involved in now and the way he is treating his family even with him gone now.

        Reply
        1. Brian

          Greetings Kathy Carter, I am so sorry to hear that your son is mentally unwell. His rash statements regarding his sinlessness and being Jesus-perfect are certainly very worrisome. Your love for him might allow him to join with his family again as he works through his sickness. Please don’t feel that I am suggesting you don’t love your son as it is clear you do. All I am suggesting is what I feel would have assisted me in my young journey. I’m 65 now and look back wishing we as parents had more self-love, more basic well-bing to allow our children their own lives without needing to impress on them how they will be held responsible! I wish you inner peace as you continue to love your son in his choice of excess. Your balanced love, your open and non-judgmental caring is finally far far stronger than any cultic gathering. It is my observation at this time in my life that much religion, much faith-gathering is designed as much to harm people as help them.

          Reply
  41. John

    I grew up in a church culture that didn’t have any expectation or belief for miracles to happen. There was always a mental ascent that God does rarely do them, mainly in distant foreign lands, but I had no reason to expect to see anything phenomenal in my own city or life.

    Being invited into a church with connections to Bethel, I was surrounded by people who’s belief was that God is still in the business of healing today. Through prayer, I’ve personally had agonizing back pain completely and instantly go away, as well as some shoulder pain. I’ve also seen someone with a broken arm completely healed, 2 weeks after the bone broke. Before they were prayed over, they couldn’t move their fingers, and had throbbing pain. After, complete return of mobility and pain free. They went right back to the doctor and the scan came back with not a trace of fracture. Had many more amazing stories since then, but I wanted to share these because I believe that clever arguments aren;t going to overcome anyone’s skepticism.

    Since experiencing these things, I decided to go to visit Bethel for myself, and when I went there, I was delighted to meet some of the kindest, most generous people I’ve ever met. I can’t speak for anyone else’s experience, but all I can say is that from having gone myself, and having met many friends who have gone to the school itself, I can wholeheartedly support this community, and the people that come out of that community.

    There are always going to be the few “crazies” and I don’t think it’s fair to use the extremes to characterize the whole.

    Reply
    1. Geoff

      John, I’m sorry but I don’t believe what you say. Either you are lying, delusional, or naive in accepting the word of others in believing stories of such miraculous healing. Had any such recovery occurred, and actually been recorded by a legitimate doctor of medicine, then medical journals would have been full of the stories.

      I cannot for the life of me understand why people can make these sorts of claim and be expected to be taken seriously. Prayer does not work in any genuine palliative way and miracles don’t happen. Ever.

      Reply
  42. Brady Mayo

    Dr. Gary Habermas does circles around Bart Erhman. Things have changed the last 30 years. Please take the time to listen:

    https://youtu.be/ay_Db4RwZ_M

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      What’s changed in the last thirty years? New evidence? New manuscript finds? No, of course not. All that’s changed is the color of the lipstick put on the pig. Ehrman’s core claims are generally accepted by scholars outside of Evangelicalism (and some within). Evangelical scholars who are honest will admit that Ehrman is correct. Where they disagree is on how the evidence is interpreted. Millions of Evangelical congregants believe the Bible is inerrant/infallible. No reputable Biblical scholar believes this. Why don’t pastors tell their churches the truth about the Biblical text?

      Habermas? Please. Just another Evangelical with a vested interest in defending the irrational belief that dead people can come back to life. All the evidence suggests otherwise. Dead people stay dead, and that includes Jesus. Believing otherwise requires faith, a faith I do not have. I don’t need another book, podcast, or video — been there, done that. I’m satisfied that my understanding of the relevant data and arguments is sufficient. When new evidence is presented, I shall consider it. Until then, I remain confident that the claims of Christianity are false.

      Reply
  43. Brady Mayo

    Dr. James Tour is one of the top ten chemist in the world today. He is currently at professor at Rice University. He has a challenge that you may be interested in.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/a-world-famous-chemist-tells-the-truth-theres-no-scientist-alive-today-who-understands-macroevolution/

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Look, this forum is for discussion not link sharing. Surely you know that most readers are not going to bother to click on your links. Giving links to anything by a professor from a Fundamentalist college such as Liberty University (Habermas) will not be well received. I prefer direct discussion, as do most readers of this blog. If YOU have an argument, make it.

      Reply
      1. Geoff

        Gary Habermas couldn’t do circles round an ice rink, never mind Bart Ehrman, and I’d completely agree that anyone connected with Liberty University is suspect. The second link is to a chemist trying to discuss evolution, and he appears equally off his rocker. In any event, in signing up to a Discovery Institute document he totally lost any credibility he may have had.

        Reply
  44. steve

    wow…sad commentary. I have never met such loving and gracious people as the ones at Bethel Redding. It always amazes me how people can judge from a distance, not knowing the folks involved. i’ve been a pastor for 39 years in US and Canada. I have a masters degree. i have been married 39 years…..kids….grandkids…pretty normal. i would highly recommend readers to investigate further. these people will go down in history for being catalytic in revival and restoration of core values in america. Go bethel!

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      Did you know Bill Johnson has written a chapter in the book called “The Physics of heaven”. This appears to be new age material and I would be surprised to see pastors in most other denominations supporting its views,

      Don’t forget that often behind a velvet glove of love is an iron fist. Sure, people should love one another but love grants the freedom to disagree. Do Bill Johnson and his associates allow for diversity of views within the church? Does one have the freedom to disagree with what is being taught or are strong sanctions applied?

      Is it kind to blame those who don’t receive healing for their failure to do so? This seems to be very cruel.

      Can a person perform “greater works” than Jesus? Is such a person as or more powerful than him? I’m an atheist, so I don’t believe the miracle stories attributed to Jesus but, if you are a Christian you probably believe them, but very few Christians actually believe that you can “do the works of Jesus and greater works then these”. All modern miracle workers leave a trail of “devastation” in their wake. Isn’t this what Bill Johnson and Bethel are doing? Never mind, they’re raking in the money.

      The sooner these Bethel churches close down the better.

      Reply
  45. Kathy

    Hi Steve,
    I have a few questions for you, you state you are a pastor for many years, can you please show me in the Bible where it says it okay to lay on peoples graves to get their supernatural power as Mrs Johnson does? I have never once ever heard any pastor speak about that. Where does the Bible show that once we become believers we become sinless and will be as powerful as Jesus and raise people from the dead and heal them? This is what my son has been taught by Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry the last 10 months. Have you watched some of the videos from the guest speakers and the young people that attend there and how they laugh and throw themselves on the ground? This is not normal, nor did it happen in Biblical times. So please present your facts on how Bethel is following scripture? I don’t have to judge it from a distance, I am living it with my son and its not right.

    Reply
  46. Steven Pearce

    These people know that they are devious. They prey on the weak minded people in order to get money from them. They look for people with physical ailments that they believe might be desperate, get them to their church in order to get 10% of their income. They are very pushy and have zero manners. They have come up to me multiple times because I have a slight limp due to having a hip replacement. Then they insist on praying for me. I tell them that I am Muslim and that I only pray to Allah swt. Then they will lie and say that if I let them pray for me that my titanium hip will turn into flesh and that they have had the metal in people’s bodies turn into flesh. These people are liars and have no shame. They lie in order to take advantage of the poor and these people will be in the Hellfire for sure.

    Reply
  47. Grace

    I attended Bethel Church a few times because my two roommates were diehard Bethelites. I was so uncomfortable. The shaking, laughing, dancing, convulsing, it seemed like it was a cult. These people are so deep into their own heads they actually believe this bs. I left that church and have since lost any faith, it just doesn’t add up and the church was painfully charismatic in an “I’m putting on a show” kind of way.

    Reply
  48. Craig Matthews

    My experience with Bethel. I just moved to Redding in the last month and went to Bethel a few times, and have also worked in construction trade recently with a few of its members. It hasn’t taken me long to realize something is very wrong in this church. For one, they say there’s a big revival going on there, but I have not seen one shred of deep repentance in that place, nor any kind of humility, nor compassion toward other folks, especially for folks outside the church, and particularly for the poor and down and out. Instead, its judgement and “shame on you for your circumstances and the situation you are in”, in not so many words. I moved here with basically no money in my pocket, and a truck that barely runs. So, once the members noticed me in my situation, they treated me like a leper. All I got from these people is “you must be living in sin”, because you “should” be prosperous, in not so many words. They never once had any real interest in me, asked anything about me, nor did any one of them want to talk to me or get to know me. Instead they are so much into themselves and the signs and wonders for them, not for anyone on the outside. and I’m not up to their kind of level. Because in their minds a prosperous life is means wealthy and rich(that’s the real meaning in their minds). They don’t come right out and say it like that, but their actions speak so much louder then their words. “If you are not driving a nice expensive car, and own a nice house, then you are a bad person, and we don’t want anything to do with you”…is basically what they are really about. They say they follow Jesus, but man, I don’t remember Jesus being anything like that in my readings of the New Testament. The Jesus I know doesn’t shame people and cast judgment on them for the situation they are in, whether it be poverty, or sickness, or injury, or disparity or whatever. The Jesus I know makes friends with the lowly, sick, and down and out, gives them comfort, and helps them out. The Jesus I know doesn’t rape people of who they are, rape people of their souls and beat them into submission by the whip of guilt and shame. I apologize to the author here if this comes across as “preachy”. I don’t want to sound that way at all. I just want to get the point across of where I am in this life in relation to my experience with this church, in hopes that this testimony to this church can be of some help to someone out there who is also struggling through life, to keep them away from this church. Because this church hurts people! This church rapes people of who they are, takes their minds and plays little games with other people. I’d go as far as to say the term “cult” is a term that is to light for them. I feel very bad for some of the folks trapped in this church and hope they get out, but the rest, especially those that know what is actually going on there….shame on them!!! I don’t even want to be in Redding anymore because of this church. Get me outta here!!!

    Reply
  49. Yuri

    Bruce, thank you for your website dedicated to this topic, after reading it I went to Bethel in Redding and absolutely loved the people, the services and I’m a regular here now, thank you!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      That’s too bad. I never like to see anyone join a cult. Nothing in my writing would encourage you to make such a choice.

      Reply
      1. Brian

        You are quite right Gerencser but what Bethel can do is allow people to show what creeps they are and how God helps them hate others with hardly clever comments. Yuri, fuck off.

        Reply
  50. Dale

    To those who think the Bible is false, I just like to point out this scripture in Bible verses deleted.

    This is a perfect description of what is going on in the world today. Satanism has infiltrated most people and most everything. Here’s the thing. It’s only getting worse and if you allow Jesus to open your eyes to it you will see the obvious truth that the devil has so cleverly hidden to you who don’t believe in Jesus or God’s Holy Bible (KJV).

    Bible verses deleted says this about Satan….

    Reply
    1. John Arthur

      There is no evidence for any Satan. He’s a mythical entity symbolising evil in human lives and in human relationships. How can Jesus open eyes if he still lies in the grave?

      Have you read all of the bible? Please do! It will help you become an atheist or an agnostic , or perhaps a liberal Christian. Are the barbaric and violent passages that are alleged to be commanded by God (such as the murder of little children and babies commanded by Yahweh through the false prophet Samuel and given to Saul to commit genocide against the Amalekites for what they did to Israel about 400 years previously) inspired of God. If so, then your god is a butcher. He’s a different god from the one whom Jesus followed.

      Jesus told us to love our enemies, not to kill them. He claimed that God is compassionate towards the ungrateful and the wicked, and so must his disciples be. So is it compassionate to put little children and babies to the sword for something that was done by a different generation of Amalekites. It was not their fault what their ancestors did.

      So how is Yahweh of the OT and different from the so-called Satan? How can anyone believe in the Holy Bible? It’s completely barbaric and was written by ancient savages who created god in their own image. You ought to throw this barbaric book in the dustbin where it belongs, if you think that it was written by the God of Jesus.

      Reply
  51. Nan

    Fifth graders “prophecying” for 3.5 hours with a 15 minute break. This is child abuse. Have they been reported?

    Reply
  52. Charlie

    I went there as a kid. I’d never felt indoctrinated more in my life.

    I hear the same stuff out of multiple people’s mouths: “I’m not religious. I’m a follower of Jesus christ.”

    At least my neighbors have the decency to never talk about that with us. Maybe because they are aware of how insane their Church sounds.

    Reply
  53. Gwenwyvere

    Hi, I don’t trust bethel. A group of them tried to attack me at my job. I think they are a satatnic gang guised as Christian’s. They worship morning star. Also trying to get power from the dead is satanic. The dead know nothing. That’s straight up demons. I only worship Yahweh. They are a cult. Beware. Oh yeah I had prayer with my cancer but I also got treatment at a hospital. It was the treatment that cured me or I’d be dead. I am appalled by how they use people and faith to con the sick. May God have mercy.

    Reply
  54. Mike Armstrong

    If it walks like a cult, looks like a cult and smells like a cult…its a cult. I have read the article and every response on here and I have to agree with the majority of folks that this “ministry” is nothing more than a cult gimmick to brainwash young kids.

    Reply
  55. Craig Matthews

    Bethel leadership and associates are strong supporters of Dominion Theology and the 7 Mountains Mandate, which, in essence believes they can take dominion over the whole earth. Didn’t Hitler believe in this as well?

    Reply

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