Bethel’s delusions of grandeur – impervious to the realities of the Carr fire

By Rick Becker   2 August 2018

As the ashes from the Carr fire settle in Redding,  Bethelites remain in denial that their methodology and theology lie in ashes.  Their prophetic ministry failed – hundreds have been “activated” into the prophetic at Bethel, yet none of them foresaw the Carr fire.  Don’t expect them to cancel any of their prophetic courses – all opportunities for shameful gain will continue….their prophets are in it for a profit or self-aggrandizement.  Any rational person would come to the conclusion that Bethel’s ministry had no impact on the Carr fire. Their decrees and declarations could not extinguish a single ember.  The weather did not obey their commands, the dead were not raised, and Bethel has had to be content with doing the not so miraculous by operating as a distribution hub for the Salvation Army.  So what does Bethel do when their talk differs from their walk?  They make assumptions, camouflage their failed teachings, and continue in their deluded state.

In this post, we examine Theresa Dedmon’s article in response to the tragedy titled “Beauty For Ashes”. But first, some background information on Dedmon. From her webpage:I am on pastoral staff at Bethel Church in Redding, California, where I oversee the Creative Arts department for the Church and School of Supernatural Ministry. I instruct on worship expressions and arts events within the church, as well as strategy and coordination for city transformation and outreach.”
Theresa describes her ministry as “equipping and activating people in prophetic and healing ministry as I show them how to step into their supernatural and creative destinies.”

Her own creativity has resulted in her range of stretch pants, and apparently wearing her art “enhances your awareness of God’s presence, and helps you become a walking encounter of Heaven’s message to those around you.”  Let’s not forget her other brand –  tarot   destiny cards.

Some snippets from Theresa’a blog posts:

Her “passion is to empower others to walk in supernatural power and transform the world through creative expressions of God’s presence.”  Well, we know that’s not going to work out, and neither will this: True creativity restores relationship:  relationship with God and others.  Our creative destiny can only be fulfilled to the degree that we are change agents in culture to restore community and connection in relationship.”

Creativity has replaced the gospel?

Mysticism and Bethel go hand in hand – Dedmon writes the following:  Now if I was to interview people about what they love about San Francisco last weekend, it probably wouldn’t be just one thing like the food, diverse people, hills, and architectural design.  It would be the intangible feelings evoked from the many memories that now are attached to their experiences that happened while they were there.  In the same way, the more we create with God in the unseen realm, we will have intangible feelings of God’s presence associated with our experiences as we have created with Him.”

Have you created with God in the unseen realm?  What does this even mean?

On dreaming, Dedmon writes: “We can literally dream our way to our destinyOur dreams can change us, and the world around us…Anything is possible in the Kingdom of God.  What will you build in your life?  Your dreams will determine the answer!”

Who needs God?

You can read Dedmon’s latest article  here.
Theresa Dedmons (TD) words in italics, with my comments below.

TD: “On July 23rd, a car supposedly malfunctioned in the early morning at Whiskeytown Lake, which sparked the Carr Fire in Shasta County, soon began torching my city of Redding, California, and has decimated over 98,000 acres, burned over 818 homes, and has claimed at least 6 lives. The sad news a week later is that only 20 percent of the fire is contained, and continues to burn, threatening more people’s lives.”

In other words, despite efforts of the ground to contain and extinguish parts of the fire, it has run it’s natural course, wreaking havoc in Shasta county.  The declarations and decrees of Bethelites had no impact on the fire.

TD: “On July 20th my husband Kevin and I left Redding to enjoy a relaxing vacation in Tahoe.  We thought all was well back home, when we received the news on the 26th about the Carr fire potentially engulfing Redding.  We began to get texts from our friends saying that the wind would be shifting later that night and the fire could be heading toward Redding.  That Thursday night, we were with our friends, eating an incredible Italian meal, when all of a sudden we got the message that the fire was only a few miles from our house, and that many were being evacuated.  I felt numb. Everything seemed to stop around me, and I felt like I was in slow motion — a dream — a nightmare. We texted our friends, who began sending us frightening videos and accounts on how unpredictable, fast growing and out of control the fire was. As we watched the fire relentlessly invading into Redding’s city limits, we realized that so many of our friends and church members were also in jeopardy of losing their homes. All of a sudden, I knew that we were in for a fight, but not something that could be fought naturally — this had to be confronted in a supernaturally way by bringing Heaven to earth.”

Bill Johnson & co are never going to “bring Heaven to earth.”  Heaven is only going to come to earth when God creates a new earth (Revelation 21)  As time marches on and we draw closer to the second coming of our Lord, we can expect the very opposite of what those in the New Apostolic Reformation teach. Instead of mass revival and a transformed world, scripture predicts a massive falling away and increasing wickedness.  If wars, famines, and earthquakes are merely birth pains, we should not expect man made or natural disasters to decline.

TD: “THE BEST WEAPONS TO USE IN A FIREFIGHT Support:  Immediately we called and texted our friends, and asked them to stand with us. Kevin and I realized that we could not stand alone, but needed the help of those who loved us. I also posted our need for help on social media, so that people in our online community around the world would be praying for our, and our city’s protection. Jesus outlined the benefits of a community of believers coming together in crisis when he promised that: “Truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Matt 18:19

Kevin and I are so thankful that we have invested in a community that stands together in the good times and hard times to fight for God’s will to be done here on earth.”

I agree that a community coming together during a crisis can only be of great assistance to all concerned.  I do agree that the best thing to do in any crisis is pray!  Lets keep in mind that there are conditions to any prayer we offer to God being answered the way we would like. The most important being:  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
(God’s will on earth according to Bethel are encapsulated in the heretical teachings of the New Apostolic Reformation, word of faith and prosperity gospels.)

TD:Spiritual Armor: Ephesians 6:11 says to “put on God’s complete set of armor, so that you will be protected as you fight against the evil strategies of the accuser.”I began to access my prayer language, quote verses about God’s protection, and began asking for angelic intervention, as I wrestled in the spirit throughout that first night.”

One of the weapons of our armor is prayer, and as I have stated prayer in any situation like this should be our first priority.  I presume by “prayer language” Dedmon is referring to speaking in tongues.  Even those who believe the gift of tongues are still in operation, should know that “not all speak in tongues” (1 Cor 12:30)
I just want to dispel the myth that those who claim to speak in tongues, have superior spiritual abilities than those who don’t.  What were the fruits of Dedmon’s spiritual wrestling? Were they in line with scripture or did they result in Bethel’s deceptive teachings coming to the fore?

TD:Declaration: At midnight, while the fires were raging, and could be seen from our outside deck in Redding, we joined with friends on our phone and declared that the winds would shift and the fire would move away from Redding.  Proverbs 18:21 states that, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit”.Our declarations make a difference!  All that night, Kevin and I wrestled in prayer for God’s intervention, as we declared the promises God has given us for our home.”

Proverbs 18v21 does not mean that our words have inherent power; that is an attribute of God, not humans.  It does not mean our words are causative, but that they have an effect: A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.” Proverbs 18:6.
“Declarations make a difference” – says no biblical text.  Has God given you promises for your home?  What does God base this on, and who qualifies?  What about believers around the world currently being persecuted for their faith;  many of their homes are destroyed or taken over by their persecutors. I agree that we can ask God for protection, but I cannot find any guarantee in the New Testament that God guarantees a home, let alone divine protection over it.

TD: Thankfulness: The apostle Paul gives us these specific instructions on how to fight spiritual battles: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6,7).

We began to thank God in advance for my house being saved, we thanked him for the firemen who were risking their lives for me, we thanked God for being in charge of the outcome, and we thanked God for being a Good Father!  A thankful perspective kept my heart from fear and worry, and released faith to believe that God would help us.Just like when Jesus gave thanks when there seemed to not be enough food to feed the multitude, and got supernatural breakthrough, so too, our thankfulness prepares the way for breakthrough.”

Dedmon should pay heed to the verse she quotes, note that it reads: “present your requests” and not “make your declaration before God.”  The outcome of the prayer, does not necessarily include favourable circumstances.  She may have lost her house, and God would still have been in charge.  What God does offer, is His peace, a peace that comes regardless of circumstances.  Consider the plight of the Hebrew Christians:
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.” Hebrews 10:33-34

And that of real Apostles:
 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure;  when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.” 1 Corinthians 4:11-13

There may be no “breakthrough” in the natural despite any thankfulness on our part.  Being thankful, is not a formula to achieve a breakthrough, and Jesus certainly did not use thankfulness in order to access the supernatural. It’s not surprising however that Bethelites look for formulas and ways to imitate the miraculous that Jesus displayed.  In Bill Johnsons book “Strengthen Yourself in the Lord,” he writes: “Jesus did everything as a man, laying aside His divinity in order to become a model for us”.   Jesus did not perform miracles to show us what we can be mini gods, but to show that he is God:Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;  but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John 20:30-31  

TD:Seeing The Victory Through.  When we got up the next morning, the winds had shifted, and the fires were being pushed in the opposite direction.  We got word from many of our friends that their homes had been spared through prayer as well. While we battled and have won through prayer on so many fronts, we have also grieved those who have died or lost their homes or businesses. We are grieve over the loss of our beautiful natural wildlife around Whiskeytown Lake.”

Dedmon makes it sound as if the winds had shifted as a result of their declarations and thankfulness, as does her husband who posted this on his facebook wall:


What about Bethel members who did lose their home? Were they unthankful?  Did they fail to access their prayer language?  Were they short of declarations?  Why were they robbed of a breakthrough?  These are the questions that must be asked when a man centered theology takes stage.  This is the dilemma that word of faith theology and a faulty view of spiritual warfare creates.

TD:Beauty for Ashes.  During this process, the firefighters have shared about how our intercession, cards, and encouraging posters have helped them fight this fire.  After one week, this fire has not conquered the human spirit to fight with weapons on the ground and in the Heavenly realms.  I believe Redding will rise from the ashes and will be crowned with splendorJesus is calling us to, “rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations” (Isaiah 61:3,4).”

Bill Johnson does not know, and has never taught his congregation the basics of hermeneutics, and it’s common for his disciples to pluck texts out of context.  Lets examine the text Dedmon quotes: to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations
Isaiah 61:3-4.
Practically speaking, this text refers to Israel after coming out of captivity, they would rebuild the cities that had been left to ruin during their exile.  Any symbolic or spiritual application, refers to the church.  Jesus is not calling for the rebuilding of Redding, that task lies at the feet of Redding’s city council.  The church is “crowned with splendor” because of what Christ has done in and through it, not because of anything we can contribute.  How Redding will be “crowned with splendor” is anyone’s guess. I do know that Bethel’s presence in Redding has not decreased crime or disease, and clearly has had no effect on the devastation of the Carr fire.

TD: “All of us have most likely experienced raging fires, like the Carr fire, that has come against us either in our relationships, pursuing our dreams, or feeling secure for our future.  Remember, that support from others, hearing God’s voice, declaring, and giving thanks will be key for your victory. I can hardly wait to share with you stories of victory and breakthrough as we press in for God’s mercy and blessing for protection and restoration. Remember you are Born to Create, and declare life!”

Ah, yes, it’s always about “our dreams” when it comes to an ear tickling gospel that excites the natural man instead of offending him.  Lets walk through Dedmon’s final words:
“Support from others” – community was God’s idea, and it’s heartwarming to witness the kindness being displayed by the folk in Redding.  I have no doubt that real testimonies will come to light, and that the true gospel will fall on ears to hear.
“Hearing God’s voice”  – There is one way to guarantee that voice will be infallible – read scripture aloud.
“Declaring” – Unless you are God, don’t bother, instead make your supplications known to him.
“Giving thanks”  – Amen, but not to unlock a breakthrough: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
key for your victory”  – That would be the realization that God is in charge, and in control. This heretical statement from false apostle Bill Johnson, would make any person in Bethel not under a spiritual delusion flee immediately:

Remember you are Born to Create, and declare life!” – I can’t think of any scripture telling us we were “born to create.”  Declaring life will have no impact, I challenge Dedmon to “declare life” over a burnt stump in the ground and see if that tree grows back at supernatural speed.  Where are we taught to “declare life” in scripture? 

Dedmon and Bethel failed to bring Heaven to earth through their decrees, declarations and commands during this disaster.  There is no indication that Bethel’s prayers for: structures to “miraculously resist igniting”,  water to be “multiplied” in “trucks and airplanes,” or that their commanding the “wind to calm down” came to pass:


The man centered theology of Bethel is clearly visible in the comments on their facebook page, here is one example:

The prayer starts off well – “Lord I surrender the Carr fire..your will be done” and then immediately after,  Bill Johnson’s theology takes over.  There are no wildfires in Heaven, there is also no death in Heaven, yet every Bethelite like the rest of us, will die. The real Apostles were miserable failures in the light of Bill Johnson’s Heaven to earth teaching.

The man centered theology begins – “I decree…I say…I command…”
The ludicrous and blasphemous fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation teachings culminate in the final sentence: “I decree for your will to go into effect starting now and I authorize You to work..”
Fancy that, a mortal giving God permission to finally get His way in a situation.
This individuals commands, decrees, and authorization failed!
Bethel’s declarations and commands have failed!

The results speak for themselves: 115,538 acres burned, 1,018 residences, 12 commerical structures, 435 outbuildings destroyed – 181 residences, 6 commercial structures and 61 outbuildings damaged, 6 fatalites (2 were firefighters)
According to this report, the “Carr is now the seventh most destructive fire in state history and the most destructive ever for Shasta County.”
According to this report the fire  “is so large and hot that it is creating its own localized weather system with variable strong winds, making it difficult for experts to predict which way the blaze will spread.”

The dominionists at Bethel who probably use insect killers in their homes, thought they could take on a wildfire, but they are powerless, their theology has proven to be useless. 

If God has left Bethel “in control” as Bill Johnson claims, they should be sued.
In reality, God is not a white-knuckled deity, pacing up and down some heavenly chamber hoping his charges on earth take risks and finally conquer the world so that he can return.  That’s a weak god, a slightly elevated mortal who needs us to help him accomplish his purposes. We can hope that Bethel’s failure to impact the Carr fire through their supposed supernatural abilities and declarations would open the eyes of many of their followers, but reality is no match for those given over to a delusion by God because they have rejected truth.

Bethel are already capitalising on this tragedy.  Charisma News featured this short article yesterday: “How Bethel Is Meeting the Physical, Spiritual Needs of Its Community”
A short video clip of failed prophet Kris Vallotton saying a few words, is followed by this paragraph: “As Redding residents stream back into their neighborhoods after evacuation notices lifted, many are left with nothing.The Carr Fire in Shasta County, California, has consumed 112,888 acres and is now 30 percent contained. In addition to the mass intercession Bethel conducted in the last few days, the Spirit-filled congregation is now able to meet the physical needs of its community. Donations must be dropped off through the Salvation Army, but the Bethel building is the charity’s distribution center.

We have established that Bethel’s prayers are usually instructions to God, and an exercise in vanity.  “Spirit filled congregation” – which spirit are we talking about, because the Holy Spirit is grieved at Bethel, so it must be another spirit. Note that Bethel is merely distributing the donations from the public.  Bethel are not the only church or organization that are helping in some manner. Behind the scenes and not hogging the limelight are many faithful servants of God, serving the community in practical means, and bringing the true gospel to those in need.

If Bethel can afford to build a new  $96 million campus in north Redding, one would hope they make their own donations as well, even though their profits come from teaching for shameful gain.  While we should be grateful for any practical support from Bethel, lets keep in mind that this is an outreach opportunity for them. People who collect supplies are invited to go to Bethel’s prayer room and receive counselling and prayer.  Victims of the fire, may become victims of Bethel’s dangerous Sozo counselling ministry.  Those who may have lost earthly possessions in the Carr fire, are now exposed to a far greater risk – a spiritual delusion that will have eternal consequences. This is an opportunity for Bethel to introduce their false teachings and methods to vulnerable people, who will sadly be hearing  “another gospel.” 

Conclusion

Unlike Bethel, scripture does not teach that we can command miracles to happen, release God’s presence, or decree, declare, and speak things into existence.  Knowing Bethel’s tendency to tell tall stories, exaggerate, and confuse synthetic gold dust and glitter with the manifest glory of God, I’ll treat their claims of miracles during this disaster with a pinch of salt.  No doubt, prophetic words will resume, and many Bethelites will see this fire as symbolic of new life rising from the ashes in the form of a greater anointing, greater breakthrough, new shift etc.

I believe God is able, and does intervene in tragedies such as this according to His will.  I’m all for his supernatural intervention to spare lives, and my prayer would have been for His protection during this raging fire. I think believers will have testimonies of God’s peace and provision during this tragedy, and I include believers from Bethel who have been temporarily caught up in the false teachings of Bethel.  Those who have suffered loss in any form can cling to God’s assurance that: “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28
As believers we must pray for those who have suffered loss in this tragedy, mourn with them, comfort them, and help them in any way we can.

 


Are the fires in Redding a sign of God’s judgement on Bethel?

By Rick Becker  28 July 2018

The Carr fire that has caused devastation in California, has weaved it’s way into Redding, home of Bethel church.  Hundreds of homes have been destroyed, and at the time of this writing two lives have been lost.  This tragedy comes shortly after the horrific fires in Greece that took the lives of at least sixty people.  Across the world, other tragedies are taking place in the form of other natural disasters, wars, disease, and starvation.  The Carr fire has captured the attention of those familiar with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) due to one of the chief proponents of NAR false doctrines being Bethel church.  In this brief post, I would like to address the speculation concerning the reason for the fire.

Naturally, many who have been a victim of the aberrant teachings and practices of Bethel church are wondering whether the fire is God’s judgement on Bethel church.  For the answer, we need to look to scripture.  The cause for calamity being assigned to sin is nothing new.  Job was the unfortunate victim of such false counsel, and in the end his counsellors were proven wrong.  The misconception that we should escape tragedy due to our level of righteousness (or correct doctrine) is one that ignores scripture, and reality itself.  In fact God  “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” Matthew 5:45
To assume that a tragedy is in direct proportion to our sin is to fall back under the law!  If God were to punish (by wildfire) cities, states and countries that had sinned, or that had churches in them that taught false doctrine the whole earth would be on fire.  In attributing sin as the cause of suffering, we are in fact coming to the same rash, and faulty conclusion NAR teachers espouse – we are sick due to lack of faith, we are poor due to not tithing, we are suffering due to lack of spiritual warfare or failure to decree, declare and shift atmospheres etc.

In Luke chapter 13, Jesus addresses this very issue of calamity being proportional to sin, or what people deserve:There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Luke 13:1-4

It seems as if those who were speaking to Jesus, were attempting to get a reason as to why these tragedies occurred.  This is the same question many are asking regarding the Carr fire.  Jesus does not entertain their suspicions, but instead asked them to examine their own hearts.  He dispels the notion that these tragedies are proportional to any level of wickedness on the individuals part. Jesus makes three things patently clear:

Suffering is no indication of how sinful we are.
Speculation as to the reasons for tragedies is a mistake on our part.
Similar tragedies could befall anyone.

A wildfire and it’s aftermath are not going to persuade those who have bought into the lies of Bethel, that their doctrine is false.  If Bethel’s buildings were reduced to ashes, they have the dollars to rent another, and their new $96 million campus has already been approved.  Scripture warns that imposters like Johnson and Vallotton will grow in their delusion: “while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” 2 Timothy 3:13.  They have rejected truth, and been given over to a delusion. Only God can open the eyes of those caught up in deception, and our task is to contend for the faith, and pray for those who have been blinded by an angel of light.
Mark my words, Bethel will have many “testimonies” in due course.  Comments on social media from Bethel fans, reveal that their state of delusion has not diminished, as they still believe they can decree, declare and take authority over the fires. Here are a few examples:


We all suffer the effects of living in a fallen world and in earthly tents.  Despite our desire for justice and wholeness is this present age, God tells us to look to the future, where he will wipe away all our tears and bring complete restoration.  Despite our desire for the wicked to receive compensation in this age, God tells us to leave that up to Him, as He alone is holy and just, and will reward and punish those according to His righteous judgement.  Lets not make the same mistake as those in the NAR and attribute our prosperity and comfort to our level of obedience or spirituality.  Let us instead, examine our own hearts:Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139: 23-24

 As believers, we should do what we can to offer assistance to victims of the fire – all victims!  As believers, we should ask God for mercy, pray for rain, pray for those affected.  As believers, we should pray that in the midst of this suffering, the only real hope in this world, and the world to come is proclaimed – the gospel of Jesus Christ.