Over the past few years, Bethel Church in Redding, CA, has gained immense popularity among mainstream evangelicals. Most know them for their chart-topping worship music including hit songs, “Reckless Love,” “Raise a Hallelujah,” and “Goodness of God,” but are not aware of their affiliation with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).
You might recognize them as the church that made national headlines during their attempt to resurrect a deceased child of one of the leaders. She remained in the morgue unburied for more than 6 days while the church gathered on behalf of her parents to sing, dance, decree, and declare. They said that her time on earth was not done, commanded her to wake up, and decreed that God would raise her from the dead. Tragically, after a week of publicly declaring these things, the family had to bury their child. All this happened despite the church having a “dead raising team,” who claim 12 resurrections but offers zero witnesses to these alleged miracles. This instance alone should have been enough to allow onlookers to see that Bethel is full of charlatans and false prophets (2 Peter 2:1-3). However, there’s more.
There are several false teachings promoted at Bethel, and it can be overwhelming to address them all. However, many of them can be understood as overflow from one primary heresy: syncretism. Bethel combines Christianity with the occult and New Age practices and ideologies. In case you’re unaware, these are arguably two of the most demonic religions in the world, advocating all kinds of wickedness. At Bethel, they openly welcome and encourage the use of strictly forbidden occult practices (“Christian” tarot cards, astral projection, incantations, speaking things into existence, etc.).
Their New Age teachings can be found in the pastors’ book, “The Physics of Heaven,” wherein chapter 2 it’s written, “Now we are beginning to hear more and more revelation that is in line with what New Agers have been saying all along and we are hearing more and more teaching about Christians ‘taking back truths’ from the New Age that really belong to citizens of the Kingdom of God.”
The mere notion that historic Christianity needs improvement or could somehow benefit from demonic religions denies Jesus as the only way, truth, and life (John 14:6) and denies the Bible as sufficient for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4).” It’s an insult to the cross of Christ to think the simple gospel needs a revamp.
While many Christians may find themselves discouraged by the notion that some of their beloved celebrity Christians may be false preachers, the Apostle Paul was no stranger to the idea that false teachers are quite common. “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:17).” So the question remains: why can’t earnest Christians see the problem with Bethel? I believe the issue is threefold.
1. They value emotional experience over truth.
Despite public rebuke from sound preachers who have followed the biblical mandate to “mark and avoid” false teachers, some Christians cling tightly to their love for Bethel because of the emotional experience they offer. I’ve often heard Christians who are aware of issues therein defend the church as “doing more good than harm by encouraging greater faith.” They value the emotionalism of the worship music and the mystery of “glory clouds,” which are merely made up of gold glitter in the ventilation system.
2. They don’t know the Scriptures as they should.
Put simply, these Christians aren’t rooted in God’s Word. They are easily deceived by false doctrines because they don’t know the truth of Scripture well enough to discern truth from lies. As I’ve written about before, biblical illiteracy plagues the church. Because they do not know Scripture, they cannot follow the biblical mandate to, “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).”
3. They prefer teachers who preach what they want to hear rather than sound doctrine.
Not only do they not know the Bible, but they also don’t want to hear the truth. Having “itching ears” they embrace Bethel’s nonsense because it suits their preference. “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 4:3-4).”
May God have mercy on those in deception to draw them out and into the light.