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Bill Johnson’s Support for Trump Doesn’t Make Any Sense
Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson has written about why he thinks a Bible-believing Christian should support President-elect Donald Trump. He fails miserably. In this video I go through his list of things that he has “found” in the Bible that would defend the goodness of a Trump presidency, and points out why Johnson has an obvious bias for Trump that makes him twist the Scriptures like crazy. I deeply respect him and his charismatic ministry, but his political views are astonishingly off.
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Are All Christians Demon-Possessed Until Proven Innocent?
My friend Mikael Skogsén is a pastor with a strong prophetic gift who regularly updates his Facebook with testimonies about words of knowledge, healings and salvations that happen in his everyday life. I got his permission to share one of the testimonies, which I did yesterday on my Swedish blog. It’s an amazing story about how he and his friend were eating on a restaurant, when suddenly Mikael starts prophesying about the waiter’s fiancee in Germany and proclaimed healing in his aching back. The man was of course eventually saved.
Now, some people started to suspect and accuse Mikael of using the power of psychic spirits, similar to occultists in Asia, which would produce apparent healings that eventually result in depression and even worse ailments. Now, I’ve grown accustomed to heresy hunters, people who spend too much time on the Internet arguing that millions of charismatic Christians are possessed by Kundalini spirits and that influential Pentecostal leaders like Bill Johnson are false prophets. I’ve argued against their bad arguments time and again. That’s not new. What really bothers me is that it seems that many of these people automatically assume that if a Christian experiences supernatural stuff, it must be demons.
See, when heresy hunters attack Bill Johnson or Todd Bentley they at least have a lot of resources online to base their judgment on (even if they all-too-often aren’t doing much research). These are famous pastors whose theology and practice have been publicly debated. But Mikael Skogsén isn’t famous. The people who commented on my post hadn’t even heard of him before. And yet, the knee-jerk reaction is that his supernatural ministry is demonic. (more…)
Why Heidi Baker and Bill Johnson Love Azusa
My newest video on the HSA Youtube channel is about the Azusa Now event in Los Angeles last month and how the Lord put the Azusa Street revival on my heart six years ago. What the Lord did there is absolutely amazing. Just take a look at this testimony from the first issue of the Azusa magazine Apostolic Faith, published in September 1906:
A Mohammedan, a Soudanese by birth, a man who is an interpreter and speaks sixteen languages, came into the meetings at Azusa Street and the Lord gave him messages which non but himself could understand. he identified, interpreted and wrote in a number of the languages.
Not only were the miracles at Azusa astonishing but its still ongoing global impact is breathtaking. In the video I refer to my PCPJ interview with Jennifer Miskov who has written a book called Ignite Azusa together with Baker, Johnson and Lou Engle. She argues that a new revival greater than that of Azusa will birth a new Jesus Movement that combines miracles with community living and total reconciliation between people.
Amen to that!
Azusa Now: Massive Miracles and Radical Reconciliation
On Saturday, over 100,000 people will gather in Los Angeles to celebrate the 110’th anniversary of the Azusa Street revival and passionately pray for a new revival to break lose. The event is called Azusa Now and is arranged by TheCall. Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson and Daniel Kolenda will speak at the event, so expect it to be huge! It will be streamed online for those who can’t attend.
Jennifer Miskov has been laying the ground for the event by authoring a book called Ignite Azusa: Positioning for a New Jesus Revolution. Being a Vineyarder from John Wimber’s own church in Anaheim, she has a heart to combine charismatic fire with worship and compassion. She knows Heidi Baker and Bill Johnson well and she has founded an amazing charismatic intentional community called Destiny House in Redding.
Last weekend I got the opportunity to interview Dr. Miskov for Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice. Here’s an excerpt:
Biblical Discernment, New Age and Jason Westerfield
Former Christian evangelist Jason Westerfield has become a new age preacher, and sadly some Christians still think that he’s preaching the Gospel. In this video, me and my American friend Zane Welton discuss what the Bible says, what Jason is preaching, and how the two collide. If you’d like to join a Google Hangout on miracles, evangelism, activism or some other topic covered on this blog sometime, just let me know.
In this video, I explain why I don’t just let false teaching pass and remain silent, but apologetically rebukes it:
Update on What Jason Preached on the November 28 Web Conference
As you can see in the commentary section of my previous blog post, some people still aren’t convinced that Jason has abandoned Christianity and preaches new age – they think that what he says in the video is completely compatible with following Jesus. Apparently, several Christians attended Jason’s web conference on November 28th either because they thought he was OK or because they wanted to know what was going on. The following is a statement by some of these Christians, where they describe in detail some of the stuff that Jason was saying: (more…)
It’s Official: Jason Westerfield Preaches New Age
One of the most popular and controversial blog posts on this site is Does Bill Johnson rebuking Jason Westerfield prove that Bethel is New Age? In it, I commented on how Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson warned against the false teachings of a friend and student of his, Jason Westerfield. I pointed to some indications that Jason is preaching astrological new age, and therefore I thought that Bill had done the right thing.
However, no public comment on this from Jason himself could be found online. Because of this many people questioned whether we should take the claims of Bill Johnson, along with film producer Darren Wilson who knows both these guys and affirmed that he had heard Jason talk about aliens, at face value. What if they’re wrong?
Well, they weren’t. Now there’s official proof that Jason is, in fact, a new age consultant, as I explain here:
Finger of God Movie Review
Darren Wilson’s documentary Finger of God is one of the best and most influential films I have ever seen. It introduced me to Heidi Baker and Iris Global as well as to Bill Johnson and Bethel Church, it showed me amazing miracles at a time where I doubted that those really happen, and it stirred me to create Christian film clips of my own. This week, Wilson’s new film Holy Ghost Reborn has been released, and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to review all his previous films, starting up with Finger of God. Here’s the review:
Where is Jason Westerfield?
It’s almost been one month since pastor Bill Johnson called evangelist Jason Westerfield out as a false prophet, but Jason has still not said anything about this publicly. Here, I talk about this and comments some of the comments I’ve received from my previous video and blog post about Bill and Jason. I hope and pray that Jason soon will announce that he does not believe in new age and that he confesses Jesus Christ as divine Son of God.
Does Bill Johnson rebuking Jason Westerfield prove that Bethel is New Age?
Two weeks ago something quite unusal happened: Bill Johnson, pastor in Bethel Church, Redding, which is one of the most influential charismatic churches in the US, opened his Sunday sermon with publicly warning against prophetic evangelist Jason Westerfield. Westerfield has been a student at Bethel, and both he and Johnson were filmed in the amazing charismatic documentaries Finger of God and Furious Love, that covers miraculous stuff that God is doing around the globe.
Now, Johnson said, “There has actually been a spiritual deception welcomed in his life to such a degree that it’s absolutely frightening. In over 40 years of ministry, I’ve never seen one individual being able to spiritually contaminate so many in one night…. The deception is crazy, there’s a real insanity involved.”
Darren Wilson, who has made the documentaries mentioned above, comments this on his Charisma blog (which I really recommend). He says that since Furious Love he hadn’t met Jason until a brief meeting two years ago, which perplexed him:
…the longer we talked, the more my heart sank. This wasn’t the same guy I had known. In fact, he was hardly recognizable to me anymore.
I won’t get into the particulars of our meeting or what we talked about, but suffice to say that Jason steered it into very odd and bizarre territory (aliens, interplanetary travel, etc.) and the whole time I just kept thinking, “What does any of this have to do with the gospel?“
True False Prophets
Bill Johnson, Randy Clark and Heidi Baker aren’t false prophets, as some wrongfully claim, but who then are true false prophets? About a month ago I argued in a Youtube video that several charismatic leaders are falsely accused if being false prophets by primarily Christian internet warriors; many of them are even accused of being driven by false, demonic spirit.
A popular theory is that Kundalini spirits from India have infected large parts if the Christian, charismatic movement, but as I showed one month ago this Kundalini myth has neither biblical nor empirical support, and so saying that influential charismatic leaders are Hindus in disguise is quite similar to the claim that the pope and US president are alien lizards in disguise.
I received some feedback on my Kundalini Myth video that I want to address today. My friend Robert Martin wondered if it isn’t so that “weird manifestations” may be the result of demonic activity, even if the person has not any connection to a Kundalini sect. He mentions dog barking and laughter.
John Wimber vs Bill Johnson
There are many who have compared John Wimber and Bill Johnson. And they surely are similar: both are white, middle-aged male pastors from California with confusingly similar names. The main parallel people usually draw is that John Wimber in his time (the 80’s and 90’s) was arguably the most influential person in the Western charismatic movement, and the same can be rightly said about Bill Johnson today.
John Wimber, who went home to God in 1997, opened the door to the charismatic Renewal in America’s evangelical community through its healthy and relaxed attitude to the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the hysteria and manipulation that charismatics usually are associated with. His Vineyard movement boomed through church planting, and today it includes over a thousand churches in the world.
Bill Johnson is also a laid-back charismatic preacher, his Bethel Church in Redding is a place of pilgrimage for thousands of charismatics, and he gets invited to speak at a variety of conferences around the world. Although Bethel is not a denomination that starts churches, many churches have been impacted and inspired by Johnson.
Johnson has said repeatedly that he is very inspired by Wimber. Both base their charismatic theology on God’s Kingdom. Both have seen many miracles. Both are true prophets.
However. While Wimber is one of my greatest spiritual role models that undoubtedly has shaped my own view of the Spiritual gifts the most, I am not a very big fan of Johnson. Again, I do not deny that Johnson is a man of God who has many good things to say, but I would like to point out a few things where he is very different from Wimber that I think one should be aware of. (more…)
Compelled by Love – Movie Review
This is my review of Compelled by Love, a new film about Heidi and Rolland Baker and their organization Iris Global. You can watch the movie for free until tomorrow at Bethel TV.
Wow, wow, wow. Compelled by Love is seriously one of the best films I’ve ever seen. It’s radical, passionate, moving, inspiring and awesome, it combines joyful happiness with serious pain and sorrow, and in the end I just sat in awe agreeing completely with Heidi Baker when she said that it’s all about Him – what this film portraits is nothing else than the life of Jesus today in one of the poorest nations in the world. It’s a film about an amazing missionary couple and their organization, yes, and for that very reason it is a film about Christ, because Christ is all they stand for in an amazing way.
The film is 100% Iris. It’s emotional. It’s beautiful. It’s messy. Some professional film makers would perhaps react to the patchwork-style; the film is chronological for only 30 minutes or so, and then holy anarachy is released with a multitude of different messages, themes and stories presented, some of which have already been published in YouTube clips. I love it! Shara Pradhan and her team simply takes the best Iris have directly from the field.
The Bethel and Iris culture (those ministries are basically “married” by now) talk a lot about honor, and this film truly wants to honor the life of Heidi and Rolland Baker. Bill Johnson is interviewed when he states that he simply knows no one who has constantly said “yes” to God the way Heidi has, and while she and Rolland are so extraordinary in that they always, continously, give everything to Him, their passion is multiplied to so many others that see that they are not superheroes but carrier of the divine presence of the Holy Spirit that are available for all of us. The film carefully emphasizes both sides of this paradox – the Bakers are amazing saints and should be recognized as such, but their gifts are not excluded to them but constantly multiplied to those who follow their example as they follow Christ. After all, it is the Mozambiqan bush pastors that have raised over 100 dead people within Iris, not the Bakers.
The Kundalini Myth
Andrew Strom is a Christian who believes that large parts of the global charismatic movement is demonic. In his video Kundalini Warning, as well as in the book with the same name, he claims that false spirits have invaded ministries like Catch the Fire (the “Toronto Blessing” church), IHOP, Bethel Church, Morningstar, and more. These false spirits originate in the Hindu kundalini cult in India, Strom argues.
Now, you expect some strong evidence to support these radical claims, don’t you? Perhaps Strom have discovered some documents proving that before the Toronto Blessing began, pastors John and Carol Arnott went to India to receive kundalini teaching from a guru. Or perhaps Strom have made an interview with Bethel Church’s pastor Bill Johnson and found out that his greatest inspiration is Lama Rama Ding Ding from Uttar Pradesh?
Nope. On the contrary, none of these ministries have ever preached kundalini teaching, nor have they had any association with Hindu groups whatsoever.
So how does Andrew Strom then know that the spirit through which these ministries experience miracles isn’t the Holy Spirit but a kundalini spirit? The answer is of course: YOUTUBE VIDEOS! In Kundalini Warning, Strom shows us recordings from a kundalini meeting, where people according to him behave just like charismatic Christians. The guru lays his hands on people, and they start to shake, laugh, cry and praise the gods. Thus, when John Arnott lays his hands on people and they start to shake, laugh, cry and praise God, it is the work of the devil. If they are quiet, say amen and go and drink coffee afterwards, it’s the Holy Spirit, I guess.
Marc Dupont, minister, prophet and revivalist, has in his book Healing Today (co-written with Anglican minister Mark Stibbe) described a creative miracle he experienced in the 80’s. By creative miracle, I mean a healing which involves the sudden appearence of something that previously did not exist, for example like when Jesus gave a man, who was blind from birth, his sight (Jn 9). In Dupont’s case, it concerned a clubfoot that transformed into a normal one (pp. 130f.):
A woman brought her young son, who had a clubfoot, to me for prayer at the end of a meeting. In fact, it was the last of four nightly meetings held while I was visiting a church in the mid-west of the United States. After four nights of extensive ministry I was very tired. So when she showed me his foot with the obvious deformity, my tiredness took over and I felt no faith whatsoever to pray for this five- or six-year-old boy.
As she explained that he could walk OK, but had never been able to run successfully in his life, my heart went out to him, but I still felt my tiredness upon me. To step into a faith mode and believe for the impossible seemed even more impossible at that point in time.
However, as I knelt down and began to pray for his foot, almost immediately right in front of my eyes it began to change shape. What had, more or less, appeared as a block of wood covered by skin began to change into a normal foot with toes, an arch etc, all in normal size and shape. It had taken place so quickly that I was a bit dizzy. I wasn’t sure whether I was actually seeing a miracle happen, or was imagining it. It took all about five seconds for the transition to take place.
The Bible is nothing without the Holy Spirit
The title above may seem provocative to some, but it shouldn’t be. The Bible is holy only because the Holy Spirit inspired it. And so, there is no opposition between studying the Word and pursuing the presence of the Author. I don’t agree with everything Bill Johnson says, but to these words, qouted from an article in Charisma News, I say amen:
For decades, maybe centuries, the church has gathered weekly around a sermon. Our reasons are noble: We value the Scriptures and know that our lives are to be anchored in truth. But the study of the Scriptures is meant to launch us into an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ.
In that moment of connection, we obtain life. Without encountering the One to whom Scriptures point, we are a people to be pitied. As Jesus told the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
Nearly every leader wants revival in one way or another, and many want healings, deliverances and miracles. But it’s hard to have the same fruit as the early church when we value a book they didn’t have above the Holy Spirit they did have.
That statement is not intended to get us to put less value on Scripture. That would be a great mistake. I simply point to the fact that without the Holy Spirit, the Bible is a closed book. The Bible was written in such a way that only those in relationship with God have ongoing access to its mysteries. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see truth. Jesus is the truth we long to understand. Jesus Christ is perfect theology.
The church camps around the sermon; Israel camped around the presence. Learning to recognize, treasure and carry this presence is at the heart of the Christian life. Recalibrating our hearts to this supreme value affects everything.