“When listening to Johnson’s sermon, one may get the impression that, for him, the bottom line isn’t orthodoxy vs. heresy. The line is not godliness vs. immorality. The issue for Johnson appears to boil down to one word: power.”
(Holly Pivec – Spirit of Error) “Eat the meat and spit out the bones” is a common refrain in NAR. Typically, it means that if you hear a teacher give a questionable teaching — something that you don’t understand or that seems off somehow — ignore that particular teaching. But don’t stop listening to his other teachings.
Bill Johnson, one of the movement’s most influential “apostles,” delivered an entire sermon promoting this idea. It’s titled “Don’t Eat the Bones.” In context, Johnson is speaking about men, including the “prophet” William Branham and the “healing evangelist” Todd Bentley, who claimed to operate in miraculous power and led major revivals. Yet they fell into heresy or sinful lifestyles. Critics of NAR have argued that the heretical teachings and immoral lifestyles of these men — and of other influential NAR prophets, such as Bob Jones and Paul Cain — raise the question of whether these individuals actually may have been false prophets. Their unsavory behavior challenges the validity of the revivals led by them — or so the critics say.
But Johnson argues that it’s a mistake to write off these “prophets” and the “moves of God” they pioneered, or their other teachings, simply because of their failures. He prays that Christians will be able to discern how God sometimes works through “unusual tools,” including individuals with lifestyles of secret, hidden sin. He states:
You can’t tell me you’re hungry and have me give you a chicken and say, ‘I’m not gonna eat it because there’s bones in it.’ Learn to eat meat and throw out the bones. (00:30:25)