Bill Johnson is no stranger to controversy. For one thing, he claims to be an apostle, as in the unique position held by the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He was given this high honor by [the late] C. Peter Wagner who holds many titles himself, including president of Global Harvest Ministries, chancellor of Wagner Leadership Institute, convening apostle of the New Apostolic Roundtable, and my personal favorite: presiding apostle of International Coalition of Apostles (ICA). So for the purpose of this article I’ll refer to presiding apostle C. Peter Wagner as PA Peter. What’s important to know about this man is that he’s sort of like the pope of the “new apostolic-prophetic movement” [prior to his death].
Here’s ICA’s definition of a modern day apostle:
An apostle is a Christian leader gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church.
What role does a so-called apostle play? There are a couple of tasks, says PA Peter. First, apostles are to “set things in order” and “they’re to assure that the body of Christ is operating on the basis of sound, biblical doctrine.”
Sound biblical doctrine my Aunt Fanny!
PA Peter and his self-proclaimed apostles and prophets are false teachers. These men and women (yes, there are women apostles) are well aware that accusations of heresy have been leveled against them by a large number of highly regarded orthodox Bible scholars. Yet they continue the pretense.
In this two part series you’ll discover that the new apostolic-prophetic movement has taken many twists and turns over the years and why those of us involved in online discernment believe that this movement is a clear and present danger to the Body of Christ; thus, we will continue to warn the brethren about them. (Acts 20:31)
Now, keep in mind that the men and women involved in this movement sincerely believe that they’re in the same league as the Old Testament prophets and our Lord’s hand-picked disciples who later became the Twelve Apostles. NAR leaders have convinced people that the office of apostleship is not reserved for a select few, as the Bible clearly teaches. They’ve convinced a large number of their followers that Christ is once again choosing apostles and prophets to preside over His Church. Got Questions’ has this warning:
Those claiming the office of apostle seek authority equal to, or at least rivaling, the authority of the original twelve apostles. There is absolutely no biblical evidence to support such an understanding of the role of apostle today. This would fit with the New Testament’s warning against false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:13).
So – if it’s true that Christ is giving authority to a select few apostles and prophets, why would He choose individuals who possess questionable character? I’ll have more on this in a moment.
Suffice it to say C. Peter Wagner and Bill Johnson believe that the Lord has given them the authority to rule over the Church. If it’s also true that the so-called apostles are called by Christ to form a government to control the Church and that they will hold Church leaders accountable then who, pray tell, will hold them accountable?
Without getting too far afield, since the new apostolic-prophetic movement’s inception it has been referred to in a number of different ways, i.e. Dominionism…Latter Rain…Joel’s Army…Manifest[ed] Sons of God…Kingdom Now…Charismatic Renewal…Positive Confession and a few others. Its current handle, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), was coined by PA Peter in the 1990s. He “reinvigorated the Latter Rain/Manifest Sons of God false prophecies about a great endtime revival accompanied by signs and wonders.” As I said, NAR leaders teach that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance – and they are His chosen ones to bring it to fruition!
Do not be surprised:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,; and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths 2 Timothy 4:3
In Paul’s final warning to the Church he never suggested that believers embrace new movements. On the contrary. Paul warned that they would not listen to the truth. Commentator Matthew Poole clarifies:
Having itching ears; for their ears itch, and they must have those that will scratch them. The disease of lust in their souls brings forth an itch in their ears, that they will have a mind to hear only such as will by scratching please them.
Shall they heap to themselves teachers, will be finding out teachers, not according to God’s, but to their own hearts; and there will be plenty of them to be found, they shall heap them up, choosing them without any judgment, regarding nothing but whether they will not be smart upon their lusts. (emphasis in original)
Paul’s message throughout his entire letter was that the church must “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me” (1:13); “guard the good deposit entrusted to you (1:14); “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2:2).
Unity Over Doctrine
Now to “apostle” Bill Johnson. Bethel Redding’s leadership holds to the theology of the Word of Faith (WoF) movement. WoF doctrine teaches the occult belief that:
He [God] framed the world with His words. You can’t build without substance. He took words — faith-Filled words were God’s substance. Here, essentially, is what God did. God filled His words with faith. He used His words as containers to hold His faith and contain that spiritual force and transport it out there into the vast darkness by saying ‘Light be!’ That’s the way God transported His faith causing creation and transformation. (Source)
One word: unscriptural
BC also has its roots in the early1980s movement dubbed by PA Peter the Third Wave (TW).
Following is an excerpt from Apologetics Index. What they’ve laid out here should help prevent people from getting drawn into TW:
[D]istinctives of the Third Wave movement include — but are not limited to — the following:
- The baptism with the Holy Spirit is identified with conversion. This is unlike other Pentecostal movements, in which the baptism with the Spirit is either a separate and/or a recurring experience.
- the belief that the spiritual gifts are valid for today; that Christians can ask for, receive and learn how to use these spiritual gifts (and become better at using them with practice.
- the belief that the primary use of the spiritual gifts is for ministry in the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit – both to bless and heal those inside the church and to minister to those outside the church (“Power Evangelism.”). This ministry includes healing the sick, casting out demons, prophesying, etcetera.
- active promotion of unity — sometimes at any cost (e.g. the Toronto Blessing Movement ‘s acceptance of certain Word-Faith teachers. “Unity over doctrine“
- the belief that people, Christians included, can be possessed (or ‘demonized’ — or ‘oppressed,’ something seen as a lesser form of possession) by evil spirits with or without their consent
- the belief that objects or places can project evil influence and act as conduits for demonic oppression
- the belief that traumatic events, either in our lives or in our ancestral past, can make us particularly vulnerable to demonic influence, possession or oppression
- the belief that some Christians — using appropriate spiritual gifts — can identify and cast out demonic spirits
- a general acceptance of Kingdom Now theology, which has led to the practice of so-called ‘Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare‘ or SLSW — an unbiblical concept in which Christians identify (through ‘spiritual mapping‘) and then target (with SLSW) ‘Territorial Spirits.’ (all links are AI’s) (Source)
WoF and TW leaders are false teachers. (You’ll find the names of these and other false teachers here.) Over the years self-proclaimed apostles and prophets have managed to coax undiscerning individuals to involve themselves in some of the strangest physical manifestations imaginable. Those who participate in church services where “signs and wonders” take place like to blame their crude behavior on the Holy Spirit. Now, try to imagine giants of the faith such as John, Peter, James or even Paul “drunk in the spirit,” crawling on all fours barking like a dog, clucking like a chicken, jerking and twitching, rolling on the floor, laughing themselves into a convulsive state. People involved in NAR have done these things in the past and continue this behavior to this day. When I think about it, it really wouldn’t surprise me to witness Apostle Bill on all fours, nose in the air, howling like a wolf. But I digress.
Two Super Apostles Restore A Fraud
During the alleged Lakeland Outpouring aka Lakeland Revival in Florida, a story hit the news that put NAR evangelist Todd Bentley in a bad light. It was revealed that the rock-star evangelist was in an adulterous relationship with a female intern – and suddenly all hell broke loose. In my column “We have had enough of false prophets” I scrutinized the NAR’s leaders and pointed out that Apostle Bill,
calls those who exposed Todd Bentley as a false prophet “sharks.” He also says:
“I’ll never blame the opponents [sharks] of this outpouring for Todd’s choices [sin]. However, it had a greater effect on the outcome than any of his critics will likely own up to in this lifetime. History proves this.”
Apostle Bill and fellow apostate – oops! — apostle-prophet Rick Joyner decided to involve themselves in Bentley’s “restoration process.” Just so you’ll know, Rick Joyner’s the founder and Executive Director of MorningStar Publications and Ministries and promotes the “new breed” of apostles and prophets.
Both Bill Johnson and Rick Joyner, who are seasoned apostle-prophets, claim to hold the title “Super-Apostle” and/or “Super-Prophet” which is comparable to holding the high office of cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. Chew on that for a moment, brethren. As an aside I should mention that some “Super-Apostles” have been accused of using cultic mind control techniques on those they prey upon.
Listen to Apostle Rick pontificate about how he sees himself:
Even though I have not been able to go to journalism school, or even Bible school, in many ways I would not trade my education for anyone’s. Like Paul, I can say that what I received I did not receive from men.
Are we supposed to believe him? And why would we?
Now, back to Bentley. Bringing this man under submission took place following his divorce and after marrying the Proverbs 7 woman who, by the way, wasn’t the only woman he had an extra marital affair with. Apostle Bill was well aware that the fraud-evangelist was involved in a prior dalliance. Both “Super-Apostles” knew that he was drunk during his Lakeland stage act, yet they returned him to ministry anyway. But, then, no one has ever accused NAR leaders of doing much of anything by The Book.
Todd Bentley is no more qualified for ministry than is disgraced televangelist/prosperity preacher Jim Bakker, who was incarcerated for fleecing the flock (fraud). After his release from prison, what did Bakker do? Still craving attention, he returned to public ministry.
So – how should churches handle a person in a leadership role when he/she brings shame on the Name of our Lord Jesus? I addressed this topic in Does the Bible Really Say We’re Not to Judge?
The way in which to handle the sin of adultery biblically is for the church hierarchy to apply an appropriate level of discipline necessary to bring the person to true repentance. Church leaders who have a “moral failing” must publicly repent of his/her sin against God. They then must seek spiritual guidance and accountability and move out of the spotlight altogether. Once the person is restored, he/she is encouraged to serve the Lord behind the scenes. Sadly, this hasn’t been the case with Todd Bentley. Why? Because self-appointed Super Apostles Bill and Rick found it in their hearts—not in the Bible—to return the man to public ministry.
I’ll close this with a plea from a genuine apostle:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:17-18)
Strange Fire Conference Q&A—Phil Johnson interviews John MacArthur
Peter Wagner launches WLI Seattle, Sonrise Chapel, Feb. 3, 2008–Around 54:00 into the session, Wagner responds to a question during the Q&A. He tells the audience that when the Holy Spirit stopped revealing things through the written Word, He kept on revealing new things to us through the “Rhema Word.” He claims that the Holy Spirit still speaks to us today by giving us information that you cannot find in the 66 books of the Bible, info that the Bible doesn’t address, but it’s not contradictory.
Why I Must Speak Out Against the NAR and Bethel Church—Tony Miano, host of Cross Encounters radio, discusses, among other things, the music of BC’s music team Jesus Culture (more below). Listen to Tony tell of his Twitter chat with Beni Johnson, Bill’s pastorette wife.
Bill Johnson…scroll down—Apologetics Index
New Apostolic Reformation/Dominionism —On Solid Rock Resources
Bethel Church’s Music & Entertainment:
Watch And Weep:
Copyright by Marsha West, 2014. All rights reserved.