By Rick Becker 17 May 2018
The New Apostolic Reformation is alive and thriving in South Africa. Should we be concerned? Yes, because this insidious movement is deceiving thousands. Should we be surprised? No, because scriptures warn us of deception in these last days. Those who refuse to love the truth will be given over to delusion. Should we keep quiet? Certainly not. It is our duty to warn those caught up in this deception. Bethel church is one of the leading churches in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The false doctrines of Bethel church have played a pivotal role in influencing this particular South African church – hence the term “Bethelized.” In this post we look at how one church has been cloned by Bethel.
John Crumpton is the lead elder of Breakthru Life Church (BLC) in Weltevreden Park, Johannesburg. Part of the vision of BLC is to “attract and enjoy His Presence.” Sound familiar? This is Bill Johnson terminology, and it’s not scriptural. There is nothing we can do to attract God’s presence. How does a believer “attract” God when he dwells in them in the first place? BLC has certainly attracted Bethel, and is hosting New Apostolic Reformation false teachings.
BLC host the annual “Kingdom Come SA” conference. It’s described as an “opportunity for fresh impartation.”
The agenda of course, is in line with the New Apostolic Reformation’s goal of bringing heaven to earth by transforming society, and they are brazen in their explanation:
“Now is the time for ever-increasing outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in South Africa with a resultant revival of the saints and a reformation of society. The harvest is ready and it is time for believers to be empowered and step into the field to release Heaven on Earth.”
The 2017 conference speakers included Bill Johnson, alongside Bethel Worship Leader, Sean Feucht and Paul Manwaring. This years conference saw Eric Johnson, and Banning Liebscher, founder and leader of Jesus Culture take the stage.
Johnson was supposed to speak at this years conference, but “had to understandably take the decision to support his wife, Beni, who faced a major challenge with her health and made the decision to cancel his planned ministry trips to San Diego, France, Geneva, and South Africa.”
Later this year BLC will be hosting “REVIVAL NIGHT OF FIRE” with Georgian Banov and a “LIMITLESS CONFERENCE” with Kevin & Theresa Dedmon – creator of the infamous “Destiny Cards.”
Courses on offer at BLC include:
1. HOSTING THE PRESENCE By Bill Johnson
“If God’s Presence lives inside of me, how does this impact my life? If I’m supposed to imitate Jesus, can I also walk in miracles and power? If the Holy Spirit is always with me, how do I hear and respond to Him? In this eight-session curriculum Pastor Bill Johnson takes you on an unforgettable journey, answering these questions from Scripture and reveals what it looks like to host God’s Presence in your everyday life.”
2. YOUR FINANCES – GOD’S WAY
“This is a course designed to guide you through the biblical steps necessary to walk in financial freedom, and will give you tools to safeguard your future from the pitfalls of financial traps. Father wants you to be in divine health- including your money.”
3. FIRESTARTERS SA
Developed by Bethel, this course “is designed to assist you in becoming a modern-day revivalist; to become a world-changer and history-maker in whatever sphere of influence in society God has placed you, whether in the marketplace, school, neighbourhood, community or home. The goal is to equip, empower and activate newcomers to a revival culture; new believers, as well as those who have never been fully activated in a supernatural Kingdom revival lifestyle. Throughout the course curriculum, the primary focus of Firestarters will be to help you encounter the Fire (passion) of the Father, demonstrated in signs and wonders, miracles, healing and prophetic insights that propel you towards your destiny as a modern-day revivalist.”
In other words – it’s all about you! Someone in the book of Acts believed himself to be a history- maker: “But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great.” Acts 8:9
Our calling and giftings within the body of Christ are not our choice. Many within the NAR are obsessed with leadership, recognition, leaving a legacy, and receiving honor. Is that any different to what the unregenerate desire?
This is how Bethel describe the Firestarters course: “Firestarters is the fast track to the revival culture and is a place where you will learn how to burn with passion for God as you experience His passion for you. As a class you will learn to walk in your God-given identity and purpose, and experience the power to heal, prophesy, and live a victorious life.”
Sounds like the kind of course Simon the sorcerer would have signed up for:
“ Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” Acts 8:18 – 19
What the apostles rejected, is accepted within NAR circles – receiving money for activations, impartations, and so called supernatural powers.
The supernatural works recorded in the book of Acts were genuine; the so called miracles flaunted daily by NAR workers are largely fake. Simon coveted the real gift whereas today’s breed of “revivalists” are learning to operate in the flesh and the counterfeit. Peter’s reply to Simon serves as a stern warning to those who profit from selling the supernatural:
“But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.” Acts 8:20-22
Firestarters was designed by Kevin Dedmon who explains “Firestarters seek to demonstrate God’s love the way that Jesus does – through a demonstration of power that proves His love and care. Bill Johnson says, “We owe the world an encounter.” Firestarters are possessed by an encounter of God’s fiery powerful presence that releases an encounter of God’s fiery powerful presence to others around us in supernatural ways that help them….Competency only comes through continual, persistent practice. Firestarters are not perfect, but are willing to continue to take risk in starting fires. The pathway of risk is the primary way we step into our supernatural destiny as Firestarters”
We owe the world the gospel, not NAR heresy. “Starting fires” by presumptuous works of the flesh, sow confusion and deception. The “pathway of risk” can only lead to further deception and illusions of grandeur.
4. BREAKTHRU SCHOOL OF SUPERNATURAL MINISTRY
This is based on the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry curriculum.
This is how Bill Johnson describes their school of supernatural ministry:
“Our primary emphasis in this school is for believers to return to Signs and Wonders as a lifestyle. Those who simply want good doctrine on miracles will not fit in here. As John Wimber put it, faith is spelled “r-i-s-k”. We have worked to create an environment where people can take risks in learning to operate in the supernatural without fear of rejection or failure. This gospel must go forth with power for massive world wide revival!”
What Bill really means here is that doctrine does not matter. If it did to Bill, he would know that only the Holy Spirit gives gifts, and that his “environment of risk” has created a generation of youth listening to the voices in their head or deceptive spirits. Fixated on signs but knowing nothing of Christ crucified, these risk takers offer spirit readings at psychic fairs and purposely exclude the name of Jesus.
Outreaches are described as “Treasure Hunting” You are probably wondering what this means; here is the explanation from Bethel: “Towards the end of January 2005, a group of Second Year “Firestorm” students, lead by Kevin and Theresa Dedmon, drove down to southern California to minister. Typically, this type of team travels to churches that desire more “fire” to be “nitro” to their “glycerin.” Following the Holy Spirit, they began a “treasure hunt” to find people needing a touch from God, prayer, or even a simple kind word. They spent a few minutes receiving a “download” from the Holy Spirit, asking for words of knowledge, visions, people’s names, or a place they should go. Word by word, they received revelatory “clues” from the Holy Spirit”
Bethel terminology and methodology evident in the BLC Worship team:
The worship directors for Breakthru Worship received a prophecy that “God was going to release new songs for our nation and beyond from BLC.” Their description of their newly released album “Kingdom Come” : “Each song comes out of different encounters with God, messages that were being preached at BLC, and even prophetic artworks. Jumping ahead to 2018, by February, miraculously we had seven songs ready for recording — seven songs filled with hope, joy and vision for South Africa. In early March this year, we did the LIVE recording at Breakthru Life Church. We are astounded that throughout this project we could feel God’s hand on the process, and His grace for creativity and acceleration. We are excited to be sharing a project with quality and presence and to have seen it all come together so easily and quickly. We can see that God is in this, and that His heart is to see passionate worship rise from Africa,that celebrates the diversity of what He’s doing in our land”
A recent article in Gateway News (a South African site that promotes the NAR and charismania) reveals John Crumpton’s progressive capture by Bethel. Excerpts from the article in italics, with our comments below:
G News: “The son of Derek Crumpton who initiated, organised and convened two of the first multiracial “Come Holy Spirit” conferences in South Africa, in 1977 and 1980, John too has a global view of God’s Kingdom. Through the years he has become aware that a large portion of the church in South Africa and the continent of Africa, is largely focused on the Gospel of salvation, rather than on the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.”
Jesus and his apostles apparently forgot to tell us that there are two gospels, so we will have to let Bill Johnson explain:
“THE CHURCH HAS LARGELY REPLACED THE GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM WITH THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION.
The Gospel of salvation is focused on getting people saved and going to Heaven. The Gospel of the Kingdom is focused on the transformation of lives, cities, and nations through the effect of God’s present rule—this is made manifest by bringing the reality of Heaven to earth. We must not confuse our destiny with our assignment. Heaven is my destiny, while bringing the Kingdom is my assignment. The focus of the Kingdom message is the rightful dominion of God over everything. Whatever is inconsistent with Heaven—namely, disease, torment, hatred, division, sin habits, etc.—must come under the authority of the King. These kinds of issues are broken off of people’s lives because inferior realms cannot stand wherever the dominion of God becomes manifest. As we succeed in displaying this message, we are positioned to bring about cultural change in education, business, politics, the environment, and the other essential issues that we face today. This creates a most unusual phenomenon: the fruit of revival becomes the fuel of revival. And as long as we stay true to the message, the movement increases unto reformation…When you declare the right message, you create the atmosphere where everyone is able to press in. No matter the need, there is an answer now. The right message marries the truth of Jesus as the desire of the nations with the nations themselves. The right message changes the atmosphere to make the manifestation of His dominion realized. Perhaps this is the context in which the irresistible grace of God is embraced, thus fulfilling the desire found in the heart of every person alive. .”
This is nonsense of course! This is false doctrine called dominion theology as well as a health and wealth gospel. Some typical Bill Johnson gobbledygook is also thrown in the mix. The wealth part has worked for Bill Johnson and his right hand false prophet – Kris Vallotton. That’s because they make money peddling their heresies. The health part, well, judge for yourself – Bill and his wife Beni Johnson wear glasses and both underwent surgery recently. Without medical intervention the son of Bethel Music CEO Joel Taylor would have died, and Bill’s son Eric is 85 to 90% deaf in both ears. The healing rooms at Bethel have failed their own “papa.”
Redding itself (where Bethel is located) is nowhere near closer to heaven despite all the decrees, declarations, and shifting atmospheres emanating from Bethel. In other words Bethel is like a man dying from snake poison trying to sell you an anti venom he swears by.
This false dichotomy of two gospels is being promulgated by those who teach dominion/kingdom now theology. There is only ONE gospel, and it includes salvation and discipleship – both possible because of what Christ has done. Only Christ can bring the kingdom in it’s fullness to earth. Creating atmospheres, in Bethel’s terms, means ignoring scripture and stepping out into one’s imagination or the spirit world to achieve results. The right message is the gospel of repentance, and the world hates it. Scripture is clear regarding the condition of the visible church prior to Christ’s return, and it wont be a billion soul harvest: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first”
2 Thessalonians 2:3
G News: “When John first read this message of the Kingdom of God in Bill Johnson’s books, he immediately identified with the passion to bring “heaven to earth” through releasing God’s influence into every aspect of society. He realised that the revelation of this truth has the power to transform not only individuals, but communities, cities and nations.”
The kingdom of God is about God’s influence on an individual, not a society or nation. Believers may well have an influence on their communities, society, and the world, but that is the fruit of salvation, not the means of salvation. Furthermore, it must be noted that some believe literal nations will be saved or born again. When Jesus said “go and make disciples of all nations” he was indicating that the gospel was not just for the lost house of Israel, but the Gentiles – all nations. Previously, Jesus had instructed them avoid the Gentiles or Samaritan towns. Nations wont be saved, people from all nations will: “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”
.G News: “Hungry for more, John first visited Bethel Church in Redding, California in 2008 and during the last decade, he has travelled there numerous times accompanied by interested leaders. He has found unprecedented favour as well as some meaningful friendships in the Bethel community…God gave John a vision to establish a new initiative called Kingdom Come South Africa to expose as many local South African church leaders to the message of the Kingdom of God. It was to embrace as many believers as possible across the board, without the baggage or history that may exclude or threaten any segment of the body of Christ. It would not be connected to any individual church, denomination, cultural or racial group but hopefully include them all!“
This is how the New Apostolic Reformation and other false doctrines have spread across South Africa, and the world. In most cases there is no need for a church to abandon it’s denomination or affiliations; they simply assimilate the false doctrines, and the change becomes obvious. Terminology changes (atmosphere, dominion, shift, accelerate, apostolic,) courses are introduced (schools of supernatural ministry), signs are sought, and new vision introduced. Prophetic words justify the new direction, and those who ask questions are quickly sidelined and branded as rebellious or out of touch with what God is doing. The “Apostolic council” of the church has “heard from God” – so who are you to question their vision? The focus shifts from what Christ has done, to what we can accomplish.
G News: “In 2007, before Bethel Church became as well-known as it is now, a close colleague of John’s had a dream about a rugby match between the Springboks and the British & Irish Lions. In the dream Bill Johnson pulls on a Springbok rugby jersey and is introduced as an “impact player”. The Lord spoke clearly to John of the impact Bill Johnson was to make in this nation.”
The Lord clearly “spoke” to many people – Charles Russel, Joseph Smith and David Koresh. Our safeguard is in what the Lord has clearly spoken: Scripture.
Johnson and Bethel have definitely made an impact; I don’t need a dream to tell me what his impact has been as it’s already in scripture: “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.
The doctrines taught by Bethel – word of faith, health and wealth, and dominion theology are all false doctrines. Why would God want a false gospel to influence South Africa?
G News: “John saw that Bill was uniquely equipped to address two evident weaknesses in the South African church. Firstly he would speak as a spiritual father to the orphan spirit/fatherlessness of the church and would help us to establish our identity as sons and daughters of the King. Secondly, he would be able to release a revelation of spiritual legacy into the church – the partnering of multi-generational leaders who honour and embrace each other’s anointing and gifts, rather than being threatened by the emerging generation.”
Sounds like we have a saviour in Bill Johnson. The revelation we need has already been given – it’s called Scripture – and it’s Christ alone who should be honored. The legacy the New Apostolic Reformation will leave will be one of deception and of shipwrecking the faith of many.
G News: “Finally Bill accepted John’s request to speak at the first Kingdom Come South Africa in February 2017.”
G News: Watch this space for “Kingdom Come South Africa 2019” …! After all, isn’t that our heart cry as a nation?”
No it’s not! What South Africa needs is the gospel, not New Apostolic Reformation deception.
Link to other articles on Bethel.