Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – Normalizing Mysticism

By Rick Becker     12 April 2018

The Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry School Planting website has published an article entitled “Pastoring People With Unique Spiritual Giftings.”  Their article reveals their progressive slide into mysticism and Gnosticism and reaffirms the need to expose this school for what it is.  Some have compared it to Hogwarts, the school of Wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series.  Bethel itself has been labeled a cult by others.  What is certain, is that Bethel church and its School of Supernatural Ministry are deceiving thousands of people all around the world.  In this post, we examine an article published on the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry School Planting website.

Bill Johnson has groomed his underlings to take risks beyond the boundaries of scripture. In their attempt to cultivate a new breed of anointed revivalists who walk in signs and wonders, Bethel has created a generation of passionate yet deceived youth. Johnson teaches that Jesus came to model a life for believers. Christ as God, has been downplayed and replaced with Christ as an example:
“So Jesus came and modelled a lifestyle of power and purity because the power of the Spirit of God was on him. He was trying to show those of us who would follow what life would be like in someone who had no sin and was completely empowered by the Spirit of God.” – Bill Johnson, Manifesto for a Normal Christian Life.

Jesus performed his miracles “as a man in right relationship with God…not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us” – Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth.
In other words, whatever miracles Jesus performed, we as his followers can emulate, and even supersede. It is this thought that has influenced the minds of Bethelites, and caused them to view themselves as little gods, hoping to walk through walls, walk on water, and raise the dead – the Trinity has morphed into a quartet. Not content with the confines of scripture, Johnson encourages his followers to take risks: “This generation is a generation of risk takers. And not all the risks taken will be seen as real faith. Some will come to light as steps of foolishness and presumption. But they must be taken just the same. How else can we learn? Make room for risk takers in your life that don’t bat a thousand. They will inspire you to the greatness available in serving a great God.”  – Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth (Expanded Edition)

Like Simon the Sorcerer, this lust for the supernatural, for power, and greatness has overcome many in the New Apostolic Reformation. Steps of foolishness and presumption have led to a rejection of truth, and as a result, a strong delusion has caused them to believe what is false. The fruits of this deception are clearly visible in this article from the BSSM School Planting page:

“Pastoring People With Unique Spiritual Giftings.”

“I knew a man who would know people’s secret sins the moment he laid eyes on them. From what I know this was not a gifting he wanted or sought after, it was just something he experienced. It was a testament to the character of this man that he was also one of the best lovers of people that I’ve ever known.”

Reading the sins of people is not a gift of the Spirit. They would probably try and justify it by calling it a “word of wisdom” or “word of knowledge” but those two gifts were not exactly the fortune telling version present in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and charismania. Secondly, no gift is a testament to a man’s character but rather a testament to God’s character. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, and there is nothing we can do to deserve any gifts. The man in the description is experiencing an involuntary supernatural phenomenon (if the story is true). This is not how the gifts of the Holy Spirit operate.

“I know quite a few people who, from a young age, saw into the spiritual realm as you and I see into the physical realm. They see angels and demons constantly, without actively looking for them.”

And the purpose of seeing angels and demons is? The fact that more angels supposedly appear or are seen in the NAR movement in a week, than in the entire period from Adam to the early church is telling. Jesus had an encounter with the devil in the wilderness, but there is no record in scripture of people seeing demons. This fascination with seeing angels and visions leads to deception: Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,  and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.”  Colossians 2:18-19

“I don’t know about you, but until a couple of years ago this was different from how I experienced the supernatural. I’ve never seen someone’s secret sin written across their forehead. Until a couple of years ago, I had never seen demons and angels flitting about, going about their business. I’ve never fallen into a trance, and I’ve yet to be supernaturally transported anywhere. Spiritual gifts manifest differently for different people, and there are those out there who have very unique manifestations of spiritual gifts, and very unique relationships with God as a result.”

The pastor names the following experiences: seeing sins of people, seeing demons and angels, trances, being supernaturally transported, and then uses the term “spiritual gifts.” None of the experiences he mentioned can be classified as spiritual gifts. The people who have these experiences are now being elevated as some elite breed, yet scripture is silent regarding “unique manifestations of spiritual gifts” or “unique relationships with God as a result.” All believers have been baptised by the Spirit into the body of Christ, and all of us “were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13). There is no hierarchy in the body of Christ enabling some to receive special revelations while the rest of us gather spiritual crumbs off the floor. This BSSM “pastor” is promoting a form of Gnosticism – a heresy that plagued the early church and was addressed by Paul in his letter to the Colossians.  

“People label them as mystics or seers. Personally, I believe this is what should be normal for Christians, and is accessible to all of us.”

Wrong! Scripture is clear regarding the true gifts of the Spirit: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?  Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” 1 Corinthians 12:29-30.
You don’t have to be a cessationist to know that being a “seer” or “mystic” is not “normal for Christians.” In fact, if a believer never experiences any sign gift or some form of encounter with God, they lack nothing according to scripture. Scripture teaches that God has supplied believers with what they require: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence”  2 Peter 1:3.

Furthermore, if we need an encounter or experience to sustain or mature our faith, then what God has supplied through the work of the cross and the indwelling Spirit is insufficient. Mysticism does not train us in righteousness or equip up for every good work, scripture does: while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3: 13-1.
The real gifts of the Holy Spirit cannot be accessed at will as the Holy Spirit distributes them to each individual as he wills: “All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”  1 Cor 12:11.
BSSM leaders are simply regurgitating heresies of the Johnsons. They believe we can access all kinds of encounters and anointings. Beni Johnson (Bill’s wife) promotes contemplative prayer and suggests it can help lead us to access the spiritual realm: “A thin place is where heaven and earth are close. It is easier to experience the spiritual realm in these places.” – Beni Johnson, Mystics, Mystical Experiences and Contemplative Prayer.
This is but one example of how Bethel’s teachings lead their followers into Mysticism and Gnosticism.  While Beni & co are searching for “thin places” to encounter a spiritual realm, those who believe in actual scripture can rest in this objective fact: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.  For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.”  Colossians 2:8-10

“Christianity Should Be Inherently Mystical Because That’s God’s Nature”

“I’m going to use the term seer in this post, simply because it’s easier to attach a label, even though I don’t think it fully describes or captures the gifts I am speaking about, and I think it makes it seem like it’s an experience that is limited to one set of people when it’s not.”

This statement makes things even less clear. It’s not easier to attach a label, especially one that is not found in the New Testament. This article is about experiences, not the legitimate gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christianity should really be inherently clear because God has revealed himself through Christ: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ.”  Eph 1:7-9.

God has chosen to make himself known – through Jesus Christ. At Bethel, the infallible and objective truth found in scripture has been ignored in favor of subjective feelings, intuitions, and experiences.  The hidden treasures Bethelites search for in signs and experiences can only be found in Christ: that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.”  Colossians 2:2-4.
This lust for extra biblical experiences and revelations portrays an ignorant heart, discontent with who Christ is, and what he has done on our behalf.

“I’ve met quite a few people in the Bethel environment that came here because they felt weird elsewhere. These people felt like they didn’t fit in, had their giftings misunderstood in other environments, and often didn’t understand their gifts themselves. So they came here looking to learn, and looking for others like them. What they discover upon getting here is that they are still the weird ones in this environment too; the majority of people don’t understand their experiences, and don’t talk about those kinds of experiences often either.”

If a leader at Bethel finds someone weird because of their giftings, then we have a problem. The purpose of the gifts is to edify the body (1 cor 12:7; 14:12;14:26) not confuse the body. There is nothing weird about the true gifts of the Holy Spirit, neither will the Holy Spirit bestow some supernatural gift on an individual that causes them bewilderment or vexation. 

“Often these people have been misunderstood and hurt by the mainstream church, so they come looking for a safe place to learn about their gifts and to be healed from the pain their gifts have caused them. I know many of these individuals and have done life at a deep level with quite a few of them over the past five or so years. Pastoring them can be unique, because their experiences are potentially different from what many people know is possible, and being misunderstood has hurt them in the past, so what they need most is understanding. They don’t need you to understand their experiences, but rather to understand their hearts.”

Bethel is the last place anyone suffering from “gifts” that have “caused pain” should go to for help.  What biblical truth can they receive from a group that ministers undercover at psychic fairs offering spirit readings, accepts anything that does not feel demonic, and exclude the name of Jesus?
Perhaps some of these people have been warned by others in churches that actually teach the gospel and contend for the faith. It’s possible that they refused to repent of their experiences and admit that they have been delving into occultic powers. They may be wanting to retain their powers or abilities to know or perform the seemingly impossible. What they need first and foremost is the gospel. Are these individuals born again? Sound instruction based on scripture (something foreign to Bethel) is what these individuals need. They don’t need their experiences to be understood; they need their experiences to be tested and compared to the word of God. We know what scripture teaches regarding the heart of man – it’s desperately wicked. For this reason, our task should be to understand what scripture teaches regarding a matter.

“Seek to Understand”
“The fact is, if you don’t experience the supernatural like these individuals then you potentially won’t understand their experiences. I’ve heard about experiences that I had to really take to Holy Spirit and determine if I agreed with from a theological standpoint. It’s important that you don’t do that in the moment with them. In the moment, be open and seek to understand, but don’t get caught up on your understanding of theology or belief/disbelief.”

The fact is, if believers exercise the proper gifts of the Spirit, the body will be edified. The fact that these unique individuals cannot even understand their own supernatural experiences and don’t know what to do with them is enough to suggest that what is needed is proper discernment and the application of God’s word. Bethel’s theological standpoint is “take risks” – even foolish and presumptuous ones. How can you trust in a standpoint that has no objective foundation: “to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know. To do so successfully we must recognize His presence above all.” – Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth (Expanded Edition).

What if the “presence” you recognize leads you in the opposite direction or says something contrary to the “presence” I recognize? How would we determine who has the correct “presence?” This is the problem that mysticism creates, it becomes a case of your experience versus mine, instead of scripture judging both of our experiences.

Where does scripture instruct us to seek encounters and experiences?  Bill Johnson writes: “Many have stopped short of a divine encounter because they were satisfied with good theology”  What does he mean by “divine encounter” – falling backward, uncontrollable hysterical laughter, Kundalini manifestations, gold dust appearing? Johnson rejects what scripture teaches regarding the proper operations of the Holy Spirit. As a result, the “divine encounters” experienced and sought after at Bethel merely serve to enforce their deluded state.

“Ask questions, but from a perspective of openness, rather than trying to prove it wrong. Use discernment, and look for the fruit of the experience. Do not react out of fear or confusion. So many seers have shared their experiences and had it go really poorly, so if you want to be able to learn about them and speak into their lives it’s important that you listen in an open way without causing them to shut down. If they notice you freaking out, they will be unlikely to want to share more.”

Many experiences may seem to bear fruit that seem Christian, but in time what looked like a sprout of wheat often proves to be a tare. Our task is not to study seers, but the word of God.  Questions are necessary to find out exactly what transpired, but “Use discernment” won’t work here, because if you are a leader in a Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry you have none, and you have not been taught to rightly divide the word of truth. The goal of the gifts of the Spirit are to edify the body – what is described here by the BSSM pastor are individuals having experiences.
Bethel, like an evil generation, seek after signs and promote experiences: “Many people criticize those who long to experience more in God, but I don’t trust the ones who don’t. We are not going to be kept free from deception by abandoning experience. In fact, the ones who do not hunger more for God are already deceived.” – Bill Johnson, Experience The Impossible.
Believers who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled, not by experiences, but by abiding in Christ and his word. The Holy Spirit illuminates the word of God to us, and leads us into the discovery of truth that is objective and complete. The “more” sought by Johnson and his underlings is a never ending quest that will entertain their senses and cause them to be mesmerized by the angel of light.

“The Spiritual realm is full of mystery, and God uses language we can understand to represent concepts. Jacob saw angels ascending and descending into Heaven via ladders. This was likely a representation of a spiritual truth rather than angels actually requiring ladders to come and go. Because of this, experiences like this can be quite confusing, and seemingly very bizarre and beyond our understanding.”

When Jacob had his dream, the source was clear: “And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac'” Genesis 28:13.
As a result: Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (vs 16-17).
There was no confusion, no misunderstanding of what had taken place. 

The only mystery we need to be concerned about has been revealed “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them, God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Colossians 1:24-29.

“But if we don’t seek to understand and close ourselves off to things that don’t make sense, we will miss out on learning from these encounters and experiences.”

True believers will never miss out by closing themselves off to “things that don’t make sense.” God is not the author of confusion, and he does not give gifts or experiences that make no sense. Everything we need to learn is in scripture, not mystical encounters. However, when your chief apostle creates a false dichotomy between the Holy Spirit and the Spirit inspired word of God, encounters carry just as much weight as scripture itself:
“It’s difficult to get the same fruit as the early Church when we value a book they didn’t have more than the Holy Spirit they did have. To value the Scriptures above the Holy Spirit is idolatry. It’s not “Father, Son, and Holy Bible.” The Bible reveals God, but is itself not God.” – Bill Johnson, Walking in the Supernatural: Another Cup of Spiritual Java.

“Sometimes seer giftings can be quite overwhelming. You are seeing and hearing things that you don’t feel like you should have access to, and sometimes don’t even want access to.”

This is rank heresy, and unfortunately not surprising because at Bethel a Witch can receive an encouraging word of prophecy. Steven Kozar has written about this encounter here. The witch took some members of her coven with her to Bethel – you can read part one of their story in their own words here (links for parts 2 & 3 are at the end of the article). What these so-called “seers’ are experiencing is not from the Holy Spirit, and in place of explaining the gospel to these tortured souls, Bethel attempts to make them feel understood and encourages their “unique” giftings.

“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day – just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.”  Jude 6-11.

“It’s often information overload! While not a regular experience for me, I’ve had several moments where I’ve heard the thoughts of people around me. It’s always a jarring experience, and one that makes you wonder if you are going crazy.”

That’s a distinct possibility because God is the only one who can read thoughts. Keep in mind this is the pastor speaking. This is the person responsible for helping those who cannot make sense of what they are seeing and hearing in the spiritual realm.

“For me, I used those moments to minister to people, and they gained freedom and healing through it.”

Yet another subjective, unverified, unbiblical tall story emanating from Bethel. How do you gain “freedom and healing” by someone “reading your thoughts?” How is it any different from an accurate psychic reading?

“Understand that while these gifts are exciting, learning how to use them and not let them rule your life can be a process. I passionately believe that gifts from God are positive, and shouldn’t turn into something that makes your life more difficult. I totally believe that, but have seen too many instances of gifts making things difficult for people to say that it doesn’t happen.”

Understand that the gifts of the Holy Spirit never rule a life. Paul makes this clear when addressing the practice of the real gifts:and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.”  1 Corinthians 14:32-33.
What the BSSM pastor is describing is exactly what we find in pagan religions: an external controlling influence that produces bizarre and confusing encounters, often leaving the recipient uncertain of what took place and what the intention was.

“Create Safety”
“The Church has often not known how to deal with people who experience the spiritual realm like this. We’ve either not believed them, demonized them (pun not intended), given them a platform they shouldn’t have had, or prayed for their gifting to go away. I’ve seen all of these options play out, and seen the damage they all cause. Just like any other person in our church or school, we want them to feel safe.”

Safety can only be found in scripture. Bethel does not know how to deal with people who have these encounters. If they cannot discern between a witch and a believer, what hope is there for those who go down to Bethel for help? These individuals are going to be led into further deception by leaders who are clearly unqualified.

“I’ve seen it happen that people get excited by the gifts in someone’s life and create a platform for them. Gifts are not the same as character. Spiritual gifts are not an indication of Godly character. Do not give someone a platform simply because of the gifts on their life; it will damage them, and it will damage people around them if their character is unable to sustain the platform they find themselves in. I think it’s important that you create pathways for communication where seers can inform you of what they are feeling in an atmosphere, and ideally you want that pathway for all of your students to be able to communicate what they are sensing.”

“Seers” informing “you of what they are feeling in an atmosphere” is not biblical Christianity, but pure mysticism and paganism. Bethel believes they can shift atmospheres but this is not a principle taught in scripture. “Feeling” and “sensing” is subjective and that is the reason we have scripture – an objective standard by which to measure and test all things. The disciples spent time in cities full of paganism, wicked rulers, and wicked people. Despite that hostile and evil environment they never bound any territorial spirits, shifted atmospheres, blew Shofars, or spoke declarations over the cities. The atmosphere is important to Bill Johnson: “The atmosphere issue is a big deal for me,” Bill says. “The two things that I keep focusing on the most are the principles of the kingdom and the presence of the King. If I can keep those two things in focus, we find that He ends up doing more stuff. You end up having more stuff happen by accident than we ever used to have on purpose. When the glory of God begins to come into the room, I’m not going to stop that to teach. I don’t have anything that important to say. To me, it’s all about the presence.”
“The presence” is entirely subjective when it comes to Bethel, and that’s why all kinds of “stuff” forbidden in scripture take place there.

“I have also seen it play out where a seer gifting was causing a young person pain. They communicated the things they had experienced to people who reacted out of fear, or were simply terrified by the things they were seeing. The Church, genuinely wanting to help the person but not knowing how, prayed for the gift to be shut down.”

Bethel’s culture of cultivating any sort of supernatural activity at the expense of sound doctrine and true discernment is bearing fruit, and this is a prime example. I don’t believe this is describing a situation that is a mix of some truth, and some error. This is purely demonic. In the early church, experiences were not communicated, the truth was. Fear is not a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and gifts getting “shut down” is God’s prerogative, not man’s.

 “Pastoring someone in their gift is always a better option than shutting it down”
“In shutting down a gift you are shutting down part of that person; they are still going to be experiencing things, but their awareness of what they are experiencing is going to be limited.”

Chapter, verse? This is nonsense of course.  

“In the long term it’s more sustainable and life-giving for them to learn how to operate in their giftings and simply to be pastored, loved, and covered in that gifting. You do not need to understand their gifts in order to love and encourage them. Community where they are loved, where risk is celebrated, and there is room to fail is going to provide the best environment for someone to learn and grow in their seer giftings. Create safety by listening, seeking to understand, and providing them with tools to process and get healing from any pain that their giftings may have caused them.”

What’s the point of the gifts if they are not understood? What this BSSM pastor is doing is simply guiding people (many probably not even born again) in their mystical journey of encounters with evil spirits or their own imaginations. “Risk celebrated” is the equivalent of error tolerated in this context.

“Normalize Their Experience”
“If you have never experienced anything like what they are experiencing you will not be able to personally relate to their experience, but it’s helpful and freeing for them to know that they are not crazy, and that people have been, and are experiencing similar things. My wife and I meet with a group of similarly gifted people each week, and it’s been incredibly helpful. As we listen to each other’s experiences, we learn about the spiritual realm, we learn things we didn’t realize about our giftings, we grow in them, and we also have a group that we can be accountable to if what we are experiencing doesn’t sound like Jesus.”

“Normalising” an experience does not make it biblical. You don’t learn about the spiritual realm by “listening to others’ experiences.” The pastor should be teaching the word of God to the group instead of discussing experiences. The infallible word of God has been replaced with subjective experiences as a source of truth. The modus operandi of deception is that it looks like truth. Jesus warned that false prophets “come in sheep’s clothing” and Paul warned the Corinthians that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”  The way to determine if an experience or gift is from God is not by asking the question does it “sound like Jesus?” Very often, deception will “sound like Jesus.” By neglecting the word of God and its authority, Bethel have created a quagmire from which they cannot escape unless they repent of their false teachings.

“If possible, help seers find other people like them, so that they can normalize their experiences together. If that is not possible, there are hundreds of books you can point them towards to help them understand what they are experiencing, as well as numerous passages in the Bible that describe supernatural experiences that can help them understand their experience. Studying the lives of people such as William Branham, Maria Woodworth Etter, or St Teresa of Avila can also help them understand themselves.”

The third option this pastor suggests is scripture, this should be the first and only option that will provide a definitive test for any experience. Now the pastor suggests that these gifted seers study the lives of people, and provides three examples:
• William Branham (1909-1965) – Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton have a great deal of respect for the ministry of William Branham. Vallotton went so far as to ask God for the mantle of Branham. It’s possible his request was answered because Branham was a heretic. Here are some of his beliefs: The serpent’s seed doctrine – Eve and the serpent had sexual intercourse in the garden of Eden, resulting in the birth of Cain. Hell is not eternal. Denial of the Trinity. God wrote three bibles – the scriptures, the Zodiac and the Pyramids (pyramidology and astrology)
Maria Woodworth Etter (1844-1924) – known as “the Trance Evangelist” or “mesmeric revivalist” people were slain in the spirit and went into trances under her ministry. One of her false prophecies was that San Francisco would be destroyed by a tidal wave.
• St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a Spanish mystic and nun belonging to the Carmelite order. Teresa prayed to the Virgin Mary, experienced trances, visions and used prayer and devotion to attain some form of mystical ecstasy.

This BSSM pastor is recommending false prophets and frauds as a resource instead of God’s word. By normalizing what is forbidden in scripture, Bethel is placing itself in a precarious position: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8

“The exciting truth is, even if you don’t experience the spiritual realm like these individuals do, you can not only pastor them and learn from their experiences, but you can begin to cultivate and experience those giftings for yourself in your own lives. A friend of mine recently said “The age of the mystics is over, it’s time for the Church to grow in mysticism.”

The exciting news is that you should NOT be experiencing the spiritual realm like these individuals.  Believers are complete in Christ and do not need to chase after encounters or receive any new revelations. Cofounder of the BSSM Kris Vallotton tantalizes those with an appetite for new revelations in a recent post by claiming: “In my encounter, the Lord said He is going to pour out revelation on this generation that has been held in the vault of heaven for eons of ages.”

His statement implies that scripture is incomplete, opening the door for doctrines of demons to deceive those who are ignorant, or have rejected the truth.

Bethel are not revealing new truth or accessing unique gifts, they are simply promulgating old heresies and delving in either vain imaginations or the occult.  A real apostle – Paul, warned that mysticism and Gnosticism have no place in the church. Wisdom and knowledge can be found in Christ, not in supernatural experiences or special knowledge given to the “uniquely gifted.” God has revealed himself in and through Christ, with the purpose of giving us understanding; understanding that helps us discern between truth and error. God gives us full assurance and understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery:
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments.”  Colossians 2:1-4.

Let me conclude with this quote from B B Warfield:

“This Christian mysticism, now, obviously differs in no essential respect from the parallel phenomena which are observable in other religions. It is only general mysticism manifesting itself on Christian ground and interpreting itself accordingly in the forms of Christian thought. It is mysticism which has learned to speak in Christian language.
We may be mystics, or we may be Christians. We cannot be both. And the pretension of being both usually merely veils defection from Christianity. Mysticism baptized with the name of Christianity is not thereby made Christianity. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a rose will possess the rose’s fragrance.” – B B Warfield – Mysticism and Christianity,The Biblical Review (vol. 2 ,1917, pp. 169-191).




34 thoughts on “Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry – Normalizing Mysticism”

  1. What Bethel calls “seers” are otherwise known as shamans–those whose supposed knowledge of the spirits enables them to mediate between the individual and the spirit world. The practice promoted by Bethel is something the Bible calls “divination,” and is strictly prohibited.

    Simon the Sorcerer would have quite a business today; he’d be buying up churches all over the world and renaming them after himself as franchises.

  2. Hey, there! I googled the following title (“Mystics, Mystical Experiences…”) but have come up empty-handed. Was this a book, essay, blog, etc., that Beni Johnson was quoted from? Just wondering if you can provide a link or more information for the source.

    “A thin place is where heaven and earth are close. It is easier to experience the spiritual realm in these places.” – Beni Johnson, Mystics, Mystical Experiences and Contemplative Prayer


    1. Hi Erica, the quote is from Beni’s chapter (Mystics, Mystical Experiences and Contemplative Prayer) in the book she compiled: Prayer Changes Things – taking your life to the next prayer level. Destiny Image Publishers, 2012.

  3. Thankyou for this post. The school of the Supernatural is in our town and has been for a few short years now. I have been invited a few times to come as the Lord has given gifts upon me since I became born again at the age of 11, now 56, for His Glory, not my own. I renounced more than once anything, any gift that is not of God and for the Lord to remove it.
    As soon as I heard about the school, my feelers pricked up and then I found out it was Bill Johnson’s School of the Supernatural. I have asked our Lord Jesus to give sound confirmation in this matter. My immediate sense was to stay away and that has been confirmed again and again and now again with the article. Thankyou!
    My biggest concern at this time is, there is a group at our church are in the school here in town and then I have just found out they have gone down to Redding to Bethel. They were very excited and were in aw of what transpired,,laying on of hands and readings? My first thought that came to me when one was talking about selling everything he has and moving there. From Canada to California. The scripture that says, if you hear I am here or there or there, don’t go..I said it actually out loud, had an odd look..God is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent..He can do anything He chooses anywhere…I do believe this, absolute! I am feeling a bit pinched in my church at times and have been asking of the Lord if I should go or stay? Our pastors in the most part preach God’s Word from the poppet, but is accepting of this teaching it seems, as well has spoken well of Rick Warren? It is really all so subtle, and I just really want you all to know how much I appreciate this article…Please keep up the work of exposing the subtle and sometimes, not so subtle, doctrines of demons out there..We are looking and listening as we search and love the Word of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

  4. This is an extremely well written piece – I appreciate that you gave a good scriptural rebuttal for the errors of Redding. Don’t know how anyone could argue with the Word of God.

  5. I just stumbled across your blog for the first time and i would like to thank you for the very detailed description and biblical rebuttal to these strange teachings. I couldn’t help but remember my own experiences when i was heavily involved in the occult by reading some of these passages, like the ones below:

    “I know quite a few people who, from a young age, saw into the spiritual realm like you and I see into the physical realm. They see angels and demons constantly, without actively looking for them.”

    “The pastor names the following experiences: seeing sins of people, seeing demons and angels, trances, being supernaturally transported, and then uses the term “spiritual gifts.” ”

    I still remember seeing the demons and had plenty of other spiritual experiences, i remember seeing specific demons “attached” to random people on the street, so i knew what “sins” those people had because one had a demon of adultery, another one a demon of alcohol, and so on. I could tell things other people’s secrets simply because the demons would tell me everything there is to know about that person, even the things they thought they did in “secret” (since they saw those things). I could “predict” the future because the demons would do their best to change the course of events so that those things might come true, and so on. Of course, the only problem was that God interfered with those plans sometimes 🙂

    After being born again through God’s incredible grace these “experiences” stopped completely. I was shocked and horrified to see the same kind of “experiences” and all kind of weird manifestations in the church (which for me were 100% demonic before) being attributed to God for some reason. It’s so disheartening to see people deceived this far, and the worst part is that the more you get involved in the occult, the harder is to free yourself up. But i trust God still has sufficient power and mercy to save these people, if they ever want to be free again.

    I don’t like to remember or mention the experiences i had before being born again, but i hope some of the people reading this will be more careful about seeking spiritual experiences at all cost.

    1. As I read your article I kept agreeing that we are seeing witchcraft and divination as well as mystical out of body experiences that many describe like the Old Testament prophets or John the Revelator. Yet we are told that in those days your young men will dream dreams and your old will see visions. Paul writes extensively about our identity in Christ and our position of authority (Eph 2:6) So since we battle not against flesh and blood… and I’m told by Jesus that He would send the Holy Spirit to Guide us into all truth, and by Paul to do battle (Eph 6) how do I do that without using that power given to us?
      I believe that as a Professional Counselor morphed into a healing prayer minister that I’m sometimes given words of truth to work into the conversation or prayer that unlock the door to healing. My question to you is how does one know it’s God vs some kind of divination? One prays first that any evil spirit be barred in Jesus name of course. And sometimes an oppressive spirit has to be commanded to depart in Jesus Name. I can’t tell if you are ok with this current practice so common in Christ centered healing today. Your comments please ?

      1. Hi Elaine, thanks for the comment. I’m not up to speed with current practices in what you call “Christ centered healing” but I will attempt to hopefully clarify some issues. I spent many years in the charismatic move, I experienced and witnessed many “deliverance” and “inner healing” sessions. As I look back, most of what I experienced was fruitless, and not clearly defined in scripture. Scripture contains “the truth” that Jesus promised the disciples in John 16:13, note that Jesus is speaking directly to the disciples: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” The truth about salvation and “things to come” have now been recorded in scripture. The Holy Spirit does remind us of what has been spoken, of our position in Christ, and of our response to truth. These elements were lacking during my experiences during counseling. When it comes to counseling an individual, our task is to present the truth, and I believe the Holy Spirit does guide us and give us wisdom. I do believe that the whole concept of spiritual warfare however (as I witnessed being practiced) has detracted from the clear instruction – submit to God, resist the devil. The context of Matthew 16:19 (binding and loosing) has nothing to do with spiritual warfare, see also Matthew 18:18 – it’s regarding church discipline. Very often we have replaced “renewing the mind” with all kinds of shortcuts that don’t work. To answer question – “how does one know it’s God vs some kind of divination?” you would have to give me an example of the “words of truth” you received. As I have said, I do believe God gives us wisdom, and at the same time it’s the word of God that brings truth to an individual, whether we feel it is working or not is irrelevant. Not sure if that answers any of your questions, but feel free to continue the conversation, you can also email us: [email protected]
        Kind regards

  6. Thank you for this very well written article. If I can get around to it, since it is a lot of pages, would you be ok if I translate it into Swedish? and share it in my group about heretical teaching and those preaching it, as well as on my blog, obviously I would have a link to this sida as well. God bless you in the work you do. your sister in the Lord ingemo.

  7. I have a child wanting to attend Bethel in the fall. I have valid concerns. She is supporting herself and 21. Please send me some.materials to provide her? And pray !
    Thank you

      1. I guess what you don’t understand you condemn! Please do your own research don’t depend on someone else’s views and comments. That’s just what Satan wants you to do, be swayed be an uninformed individual who wants to take everyone down with them.

        1. Hi Cindy, I’m not sure what you mean by “uninformed individual.” This post is based on an official BSSM article, it’s public, it displays their heretical beliefs, and it should be tested. Scripture condemns their teachings and practices, which I understand perfectly. What Satan wants, is to lead people into deception and delusion, and the BSSM are playing their role in helping him achieve this.

  8. Please pray for a young lady named Faith who has been with BSSM for the past few years. Please pray that her eyes be opened, and she escapes Bethel and Redding altogether…in Jesus’ Name!
    Praying that people get back to what God has to say in His Word, not man. History shows us what can happen when you follow men…like Jim Jones.

  9. Nice of you to put the Holy Spirit in a box, and then declare any group to be a cult that doesn’t fit Into your box.
    I agree with you that scripture is the authority. You speak of the gifts of the spirit as if you believe in them, but I would postulate that you do not. Do you or anyone you respect have any of the gifts? That’s a bit suspicious, isn’t it? God gave all these gifts and yet no-one has them? This reminds me of my wife’s grandmother (a staunch Baptist) who warned us not to speak in tongues.
    Us: “Grandma, you believe the Bible, right?”
    Grandma: “Every Word.”
    Us: “Then why don’t you believe I Corinthians 14:39 where we are commanded not to forbid speaking in tongues.”
    Grandma: Silence. Conversation over.

    People do have visions and revelations:
    Bill Wiese had a famous vision of hell.
    Paul was blinded by a light from heaven as Jesus spoke to him.
    Paul was taken to the “third heaven”.
    I saw my Dad saying “goodbye” in a dream at the same moment he had a heart attack.
    Acts 2:17 says “your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17.)

    And regarding angels, Paul said that many entertain angels unaware. What’s your issue with someone seeing an angel?

    I don’t go to Bethel, but from what I know, they are not a cult. Cults seek to control you and Bethel does not. If you check out their School of Minustry website, it is clear that you are free, probably even more free than the shackles your group tries to put on those who believe that the trinity is the Father, Son AND Holy Spirit.

    1. Hi Bill
      I believe every word of the bible – in context. I don’t place the Holy Spirit in a box, I simply believe what scripture teaches about how the gifts should operate, and their purpose. Below are some quotes from the BSSM, perhaps you could answer the questions –

      “I knew a man who would know people’s secret sins the moment he laid eyes on them” – What gift is this?
      “They see angels and demons constantly, without actively looking for them” Name a believer in scripture who “saw” demons
      “It’s often information overload! While not a regular experience for me, I’ve had several moments where I’ve heard the thoughts of people around me. It’s always a jarring experience, and one that makes you wonder if you are going crazy.” – what gift is this?
      “Sometimes seer giftings can be quite overwhelming. You are seeing and hearing things that you don’t feel like you should have access to, and sometimes don’t even want access to.” – why would anyone earnestly desire this gift?

      Do some research on Bethel please, cult or not they must be marked and avoided as they bring a different doctrine – word of faith, prosperity gospel, and Dominion theology.

      1. I will attempt to answer your questions.

        Example 1:
        “I knew a man who would know people’s secret sins the moment he laid eyes on them” – What gift is this?

        It is called the Word of Knowledge and it is one of the gifts of the Spirit given in I Corinthians 12. We don’t know the background to this scenario. Perhaps the person who discerned these things was in a position to bring correction to the errant ones. Perhaps he was interviewing them for a church position and the Lord was showing him who they really were. We don’t know. But the Holy Spirit could reveal these things. Read Acts 5 where the Holy Spirit revealed the lies of Ananias to Peter.

        Example 2:
        “They see angels and demons constantly, without actively looking for them” Name a believer in scripture who “saw” demons.

        In Matthew 10:1, “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them the authority to drive out impure spirits…” How can you drive out something unless you can see it is there? In Acts 19:15, “the evil spirit answered them…”, so they were clearly in the presence of a demon.

        Example 3:
        “It’s often information overload! While not a regular experience for me, I’ve had several moments where I’ve heard the thoughts of people around me. It’s always a jarring experience, and one that makes you wonder if you are going crazy.” – what gift is this?

        We don’t know the whole story for this. He did not say “I often hear other people’s thoughts.” He said, “I’ve had several moments…” And I don’t know the reason. Perhaps it was a Word of Knowledge given for a specific purpose. (See the Example 1 above.)

        Example 4:
        “Sometimes seer giftings can be quite overwhelming. You are seeing and hearing things that you don’t feel like you should have access to, and sometimes don’t even want access to.” – why would anyone earnestly desire this gift?

        You have to grow in your gifts to understand them. And you do have a choice to accept a gift or reject it. It is a gift, right?

        Which brings up my point: It appears you have rejected all the spiritual gifts. Honestly, do you have any of them? Does anyone you respect have any of the gifts? Paul instructed us to “covet to prophesy”, which is one of the gifts. Curious, do you do that? The Lord dedicated an entire chapter of the Bible to the spiritual gifts (I Corinthians 12). The chapter is there for a reason.

        Have a good day.

        1. Bill, I have no issue with signs and context and if they fulfil a purpose. There were signs of an apostle (2 Cor 12:12) which explains Acts 5, as well as many of the other miracles performed at the hands of the apostles. Are there any apostles today that need to verify their ministry through signs and wonders? Do they meet the requirements that the twelve had to meet(eyewitnesses of Christ’s ministry for example) Did the early church have a complete new testament? Were “words of knowledge” about people’s street addresses, birth date, name of their dog, interpretations of tattoos? I see no need for the sign gifts, but I do believe God heals people and operates supernaturally (the greatest wonder is the new birth) according to his will. There are spiritual gifts we overlook because they don’t put people in the limelight – mercy, serving, teaching, leadership. There are many I respect that have these gifts. Did Paul instruct me to covet prophesy, or the church in Corinth who were without the complete canon of scripture? The issue at Bethel is not about cessationism, the gifts are not an area that will cause me to divide from a brother or sister in Christ, or respect them any less if I differ with them. There are many Charismatics that expose the false teachings of Bill Johnson and their methodologies.

          1. I received a miracle healing several years ago. I am sorry you see no need for the spiritual gifts. As I said, the chapter on spiritual gifts is in the Bible for a reason. It appears that your hostility against Bethel is just an extension of your apparent antagonism against the Charismatic Movement and the gifts in general. Many millions of believers and practitioners in the spiritual gifts would politely disagree with you. Again, have a good day.

          2. Like I said, I believe God still heals today, according to his will, and I’m aware that millions would disagree with my position, I was one of them. If you know someone with the gift of healing, I would like them to come to my city, there is a children’s hospital nearby, many children in the final stages of life and I would like to see them exercise their gift. We could document their miracles, and produce doctors reports of verified miraculous healings. How many doctors reports have Bethel produced? If you research Bethel, and get the big picture, you would not be entertaining this red herring but would be warning your friends and family about this huge deception called the New Apostolic Reformation.





          3. I read your articles and it is clear the writers are cessationists, who believe the gifts of the Spirit disappeared early in the first century. Scripture does not support this position, and I would be glad to debate anyone who espouses this position. The quotes they use from Bethel are one-sentence excerpts meant to take them out of context. The truth is that these critics of Bethel believe that the Holy Spirit decided to go away after a few years in the early first century. Bethel believes all of the fundamental truths of the Bible. The churches of the anti-Holy Spirit types are losing members while the pro-Holy Spirit churches are growing. One of the writers scoffed at the very kind of miracle healing I received. And by the way, your challenge of having someone go into the hospitals and heal everyone is contrary to Jesus’ actions in the Bible. For example, Jesus healed only one man at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5). In Matthew 13:58 (near his home town), Jesus “…did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”

          4. Mike Winger (the first link) is Charismatic, Don Pirozok is a Charismatic preacher who regularly exposes the false teachings on Bethel, you are welcome to debate him ( The churches that are growing are the Bethel type NAR churches because they are tickling ears and feeding the senses of gullible folk.

            “your challenge of having someone go into the hospitals and heal everyone..” Did I say everyone? One documented healing would be enough, no tall stories from Bethel’s stage, give us a doctors report of a rotten corpse that was raised from the dead by someone who has the gift. God heals according to his will, but no individual has the gift. Do you agree with Bill Johnson that if someone is not healed, the problem lies with them, not God? What do your friends with the gift of healing say about those who were not healed?

          5. What did Jesus usually say when he healed someone? He said “Your faith has made you whole.” No offense intended, but if you and others like you don’t believe that Jesus will heal you, then He won’t. And for those who do pray, “heal me if you want to, but I’m not sure about this” is not a prayer of faith. You have to expect to be healed. Faith is critical.
            James 1:6 – When you ask, you must believe and not doubt.
            James 5:15 –
            The prayer of faith WILL save the sick and the Lord WILL raise him up. There are many scriptures about healing and faith. Doubt and disbelief will kill prayers.

          6. If that’s the case, you should contact Bill and Beni Johnson, and ask them why they are preaching what they cannot practice. Both of them required surgery the past few years, Beni underwent surgery this year for cancer and shortly thereafter travelled to Europe for further treatment, both wear glasses, their son is 80% deaf, go on to their pages and ask them why they have doubt and disbelief.

            Why did Paul not rebuke Trophimus and Timothy for their lack of faith and doubt?
            How much faith did Lazarus have?

        2. God is not against doctors. But there are many things doctors cannot heal. Why did Bill Johnson go to the doctor? I don’t know. Even if he believes in prayer, that does not require him to avoid doctors at all costs.
          But you have to agree with my earlier point: The critical element in healings performed by Jesus was faith. Regarding Lazarus, perhaps Jesus was responding to the cries of his sisters.

          1. Bill and Beni need surgery because they were not healed. They were not healed (according to your belief) because of lack of faith or doubt.
            The critical element in healing is the will of God, Jesus did not heal everyone, and sometimes healed because he had compassion on people and to show that he was the messiah (John 9: 1-5; Matt 12:9-13) Faith was not always a determining factor.

          2. You stated something that is not true. You said Bill Johnson was not healed because of lack of faith or doubt. I never said a person has to pray for supernatural healing for every ailment. Maybe he wanted to go to the doctor. Faith is the largest factor in healing, and I stand by my comment that the largest factor in Jesus’ healings was faith. The scriptures support this position. Healing by whatever means IS the will of God. Why else did James say the power of faith WILL heal the sick? Why did John write he desired that we be in health even as our souls prosper. Why did Isaiah write that by the stripes of Jesus we are healed? My son was healed of deafness by prayer. Why do you fight God’s miracles and healing power? When Jesus healed the man of palsy in the synagogue, the Pharisees wanted to kill him. Take joy in the gifts of God.

          3. Bill Johnson, the man who teaches that it’s always God’s will to heal, who has healing rooms in his church, who has a school of supernatural ministry, who teaches that the gospel without signs and wonders in incomplete…”wanted to go to the doctor” ?

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