The Perils of Careless Christianity

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Truth Matters – Column by Linda J. Cook

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

Hebrews 2:3-4 (KJV)

I mentioned soteriology in my last column, which is the study of the salvation provided by Jesus’ complete, perfect, redemptive work at the cross. This breathtaking sacrificial gift tells us so much about God and not much about ourselves, which is proper because God is fascinating and we are deplorably common and dismal.

Perhaps that is a downer, but I’m done with the nonsense being broadcast in the modern church about a powerless God and divine man having to make decrees so that God can get off His duff. One ‘prophet’ Kris Vallotton, gave a sermon and said, “Prayer (i.e. making prayer declarations) is an act of leadership as it authorizes God to do His will on our planet.” I sat through a sermon where the pastor repeated the drivel that we must “sometimes give grace to God.” I wrote about how vacuous one’s doctrine must be to push that kind of absurdity, and it was the last time I darkened the door of that establishment. Later I heard the pastor had admitted that he could have “made a better choice of words.” Okay, I would have gone with making a better choice of theology, because the common theme in heresy today is that God can be the subject of our gracious tolerance or worse yet, helpless to act unless we get involved.

All the heresies which have arisen in the Christian Church have had a decided tendency to dishonor God and to flatter man.

C.H Spurgeon

Who do we think we are? Has Gen Z entitlement infiltrated the entire church? I say that because what has infiltrated most churches is an intoxicating new heresy headlined by Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church in Redding, California, which has millions of scripturally ignorant people dancing on the cusp of disaster. The most poignant aspect of the deception is that these souls are being fed the notion that they are the spiritual cutting-edge leaders of a brave new world revival. As one former student at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry said, “If I’d just read Deuteronomy once I would have known how wrong what we were doing was.”

My point is nothing they push – from broadcasting false prophecies about Trump staying in power, to well-known decrees to bring back the dead (who stubbornly stayed deceased), to grave sucking, playing prophetic Uno, and speaking to the dead – are found as Christian practices in the Bible. Even their claim that they are the leading force for a Billion Soul Harvest and taking over the world through the Seven Mountain Mandate is non-scriptural. No matter, they had one of their own make up a new Bible, the Passion version, which has gained wide acceptance. Never mind what God has decreed about adding to or subtracting from His Word. These fringe leaders of a theologically aberrant movement appear almost unstoppable by an ignorant and apathetic crowd in the pews. What is the cause of our inertia in the face of a tsunami of deception?

It occurs to me that there are two types of people responsible for this abysmal state of affairs.  The first is in the majority. This is comprised of people who identify as Christian and have read their Bibles yet have not delved deeply into a study of the Word. The second group preys on the first and they have studied the Word, so their twisting of it has all the devious subtly of their father, the devil.

It’s not like we haven’t been warned:

  • “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8 (KJV)
  • “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” I Timothy 4:1-3 (KJV)
  • “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. Any many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” II Peter 2:1-2 (KJV)
  • “I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed.'” Jeremiah 23:25 (KJV)
  • “Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:16 (KJV)

I am currently reading the book Reckless Christianity by Holly Pivec and Douglas Geivett.  They co-wrote another best-seller called Counterfeit Kingdom. Essentially, these books document the heresy pushed by Bethel Church that is infecting the majority of mainstream churches today. When you read them you will learn how the tricksters at Bethel Church have sucked in millions of souls and millions more dollars. I am convinced that II Peter 2 was written to keep Christians clear of this shipwreck.  

And with covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

II Peter 2:3 (KJV)

In their drive for power, the leaders of Bethel have convinced many that they have a special knowledge and connection with God.  Here is an excerpt from Reckless Christianity:

Bethel teaches that apostles and prophets, with their new revelations, are “first” and “second” in God’s “order of priority” in church government. Pastors and elders, who merely expound the Scriptures, must submit to their direction.  In return for coming under apostles’ “spiritual covering,” they are promised miraculous powers, prosperity, and prayers that will be answered by angels they can commission. These are tantalizing promises.

Reckless Christianity

The next reward is money. Bethel Music is separate from the church, but not really. They file under tax code 509(a)(3) which makes them a supporting organization that carries out its exempt purposes by supporting other exempt organizations. They bring in between $11-18 million a year. Bethel TV is a streaming service with about 19,000 paid subscribers. Then there is Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, Bethel Christian School (K-8), schools for art and technology, and a leadership institute. All money makers. Overall, Bethel brings in about $61 million, but that does not count speaking fees and royalties from the endless books they sell.  Bill Johnson’s estimated personal worth is just about $10 million.  He’s not in Joel Osteen’s stratosphere, but he’s doing okay.  According to their website, their new building is costing $148.8 million.

So what is in it for the untold thousands of Bethel adherents? The first hook is pure emotion. That’s what Bethel music evokes, a deeply felt sense of well-being, that one is seen, loved, and pursued by God. Okay, so isn’t that all true? God does love us. He sees us. He’s referred to as the hound of heaven, not for nothing. But is that worship? Is that what God requires? Jesus said that God is to be worshipped “in spirit and truth.”

Our worship was never supposed to be about us, but that is what it has become. Some 80 percent of churches in America utilize (and pay fees) for Bethel worship music and the deadly doctrine frequently found in the lyrics is never discerned because it makes us feel so good.

Feeling good includes feeling powerful and singled out.  It’s not the only driver for the masses that are drawn to Bethel.

It’s critical for Christians to understand what draws people to Bethel. Many seek healing, whether physical or emotional. People who are sick or have experienced trauma are especially vulnerable. We all have psychological vulnerabilities and these can be exploited. Every person wishes to experience hope and joy. We all want lives that matter and we desire to do important things. NAR (Bethel) harnesses that desire with the promise of power to make a difference by working signs and wonders and prophesying.

Reckless Christianity

The good news is that when the miraculous signs do not appear, when the prophecies are not fulfilled (indeed every single prophet of note in this church would either be disregarded completely or stoned by old testament standards), when the love bombing ceases and alienation begins if you ask critical questions, when the nagging feeling that something just isn’t right cannot be suppressed any longer, people break free.

Notably, many people who have shared their stories of deconversion from (Bethel beliefs) express deep remorse and repentance for ever having embraced (Bethel). They acknowledge that those beliefs appealed to their ego and insecurities. They confess their naivete, their ignorance of Scripture, and their disposition to let emotion and ‘crowd psychology’ substitute for a true work of God.”

Reckless Christianity

I was struck by a commendation given by Jesus as told in Revelation 2:2 (KJV), “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not and hast found them liars.”

I have also thought about Matthew 7:21-23 (KJV), “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

In II Timothy 2:15 (KJV) we read, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” It’s crucial to not neglect our salvation, we should seek to know and follow the Lord, because the Word speaks of those who perish because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. We must not be casual about this.

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-16 (KJV)