Holly Pivec of Spirit of Error addresses Bethel Church lead pastor and so-called apostle Bill Johnson’s teaching that believers ought to regularly pursue direction from outside of Scripture, “from subjective impressions experienced by ourselves and others rather than from the objective Word of God.” Are “subjective impressions” found in the Bible? And do the scriptures suggest that believers are to follow their own imaginations?
Now listen to what Holly Pivec has to say about the very controversial Bill Johnson. She writes:
Yesterday I read chapter 8 of Bill Johnson’s book Hosting the Presence: Unveiling Heaven’s Agenda. In this chapter, titled “Red-Letter Revival,” Johnson teaches that Jesus is the standard for people to follow — his words, his life, and his ministry. And Jesus’ primary mission, writes Johnson, was to reveal God the Father by doing only what he saw the Father doing.
Thus, our primary mission also should be to do only what we see the Father doing. Johnson goes so far as to suggest that perhaps bracelets should be changed from having the letters “WWJD” (“What would Jesus do?”) to “WIFD” (“What is the Father doing?).
To some, Johnson’s admonition — to seek what the Father is doing in the world and then do the same — may come across as biblical, inspiring, even revolutionary. Yet as pious as his mandate may sound, it contains a dangerous pitfall that can lead well-meaning Christians astray. I’ll summarize the three ways Johnson says he seeks to discover what the Father is doing. Then I’ll point out the danger of adhering to Johnson’s practice.
Johnson’s ways for discovering what the Father is doing
Here are ways Johnson teaches people to know what the Father is doing.
- Direct word: Johnson says that sometimes “Jesus heard directly from the Father about what He wanted Jesus to do in a particular situation” (page 142, Kindle edition). He says that those direct words came during Jesus’ long nights in prayer, but also from the Holy Spirit who revealed direction to him in the moment. He suggests that we, too, can learn to hear directly from God in the many ways he speaks to us.
- Seeing faith in another: Johnson says that “Jesus didn’t always seem to know what to do ahead of time, but got His direction by seeing faith in another person” (142). He gives the example of Jesus’ healing of the centurion’s servant in response to the centurion’s great faith (Matt. 8:13). He suggests that we can see how the Holy Spirit is at work in other people’s lives to receive cues for what we should be doing.
- Using our own faith: Johnson says that “often we are unclear as to the specific will of God in a situation” (143). He says that, “in these situations, it is possible to find the will of God through our own faith as we respond to the revealed will of God in His Word” (143). How can we do this? He suggests that we respond to slight impressions we may have or ideas of what God might be doing. Responding in faith to these spiritual hunches can help us discover what the Father is doing.