By Rick Becker 19 December 2019
When you create a theology that believers can walk like Jesus on earth, you have created a theology that is not only unattainable and blasphemous, but one that results in tragic consequences. These consequences are currently unfolding at Bethel church, after the two year old daughter of one of their worship leaders suddenly passed away. It really is a heartbreaking situation, aggravated by the false teachings and false hope created by Bill Johnson: “Jesus became the model for all who would embrace the invitation to invade the impossible in His name. He performed miracles, wonders and signs,as a man in right relationship to God…not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us. But if He did them as a man, I am responsible to pursue His lifestyle.” – Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth : A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles.
On Saturday 14 December, two year old Olive Heiligenthal passed away after she stopped breathing in her sleep. Bethel’s statement to the Daily Mail included the following details: “911 was called immediately, and resuscitation attempts were made by medical professionals at the family’s home and at the hospital, but she was eventually pronounced dead. Her body has been at the Shasta County Coroner’s Office since it was transferred from the hospital on December 14.”
Olive was the daughter Kalley Heiligenthal a worship leader and songwriter at Bethel Church and with Bethel Music.
Kalley sent out this request: “We’re asking for prayer. We believe in a Jesus who died and conclusively defeated every grave, holding the keys to resurrection power. We need it for our little Olive Alayne, who stopped breathing yesterday and has been pronounced dead by doctors. We are asking for bold, unified prayers from the global church to stand with us in belief that He will raise this little girl back to life. Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe boldly, and with confidence wield what King Jesus paid for. It’s time for her to come to life.”
One can only imagine the overwhelming grief Olive’s parents are experiencing, and who can fault them for wanting their precious daughter to come back to life. The real fault is with Bethel’s false teachings that have created all kinds of falsehoods.
Take note Kalley’s words “Her time here is not done.” This is surely a natural response to any parent who has suffered the loss of a child – the feeling that they have been robbed by death. But there is something else at play here, and it stems from the false hope Bill Johnson’s teachings have created in his followers.
This excerpt from our article Seduced By Bethel, provides insight as to why Bethelites are still attempting to raise a child who passed away on Saturday:
“Johnson uses examples such as the death of a child, and a young father killed in a car wreck leaving behind his wife and children in order to lambaste believers who say “God has a reason” or “works in mysterious ways.” He describes this as lazy theology:
“There’s the assumption that if God wanted a different outcome, He would have made it happen. That is lazy theology that somehow releases us from responsibility by shifting the blame to a God who put us in charge…So whom did Jesus leave behind with the same tools of authority, power, and presence to deal with the threats of crisis, tragedy, disease, and disasters that He had? Us. We may not have all the responsibility when there are threats of horrific problems headed our way, but we do have some.”
These tools of authority apparently extend to raising the dead. Jesus raised the dead to prove that he was the messiah, and to be glorified. Johnson knows better, according to him Jesus raised people from the dead “Because not everyone dies in God’s timing.”
The result of Kalley’s request were thousands of decrees, declarations, and even commands for the child’s spirit to return to her body. In other words, instead of making their requests known to God, Bethelites & co responded in line with Bill Johnson’s little god theology by ‘activating their faith’, attempting to take dominion over death, and speak life into the body. This is pure word of faith and dominion theology – two heresies taught at Bethel. The activity has not ceased, Johnson stated that “‘Since that night, and at the continued request of the Heiligenthal family, Bethel Church has hosted prayer and worship gatherings which consist of singing and prayer (this is the first-ever public gathering of prayer for resurrection that Bethel has hosted).”
If you have seen any of the footage from the gatherings you would have noticed the repetitive and unbiblical decrees and commands, which will not “be heard for their many words” Matthew 6:7
Why not emulate Jesus correctly? He spoke three words when resurrecting Lazarus: “Lazarus, come out” John 11:43. Secondly, he did not raise Lazarus from the grave because he wanted to fix an untimely death while God was distracted, he raised Lazarus for the benefit of the disciples: “Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” John 11:14-15
Bill Johnson’s reason for seeking a resurrection: “That evening, the child’s parents requested that friends, family, and others from the church gather to pray for a miracle of resurrection, the basis for which is modeled by Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible. Bethel Church believes in the accounts of healing and physical resurrection found in the Bible (Matthew 10:8), and that the miracles they portray are possible today.”
In this video, Johnson once again includes all believers in the instruction to raise the dead, because “Jesus modeled it, and he commands us to do the same.”
Lets examine to text to see if Johnson is correct:
“These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans,but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food.” Matthew 10:5-10
Jesus is addressing “these twelve” not all believers! If Johnson wants to use this text as a basis for raising the dead, then he should obey all the instructions in the passage of scripture, including never evangelizing Gentiles. Furthermore, BethelTV should be free, and Bethelites should expect persecution and martyrdom instead of taking over the seven spheres of society. A fact that Johnson refuses to acknowledge is that Jesus (John 10:38; Acts 2:22) and the apostles (2 Cor 12:12) performed miracles in order to authenticate their status, and their message. The message is now complete, infallible and effective. Since none of us are the messiah, and the office of apostle ceased with Paul, we are not called to model the miracles they performed. Jesus performed signs in order for people to believe that he is God, not for them to believe they are little gods: “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
Johnson continues in the video “some have asked isn’t this interrupting the sovereignty of God, my response is we would never want to violate the sovereignty of God (you couldn’t even if you tried Bill) God is sovereign, he chooses what he wants and we cooperate with him, there’s no question. But then my question is why did Jesus raise the dead? Did he violate the sovereignty of God, did we have the father willing one thing and Jesus willing another, of course not we know that’s not true. The reason Jesus raised the dead is because not everyone dies in God’s timing, and Jesus could tell, he could interrupt that funeral, he would interrupt that process that some would call the sovereignty of God…the point is Jesus set a precedent for us to follow. We rarely know what we’re doing especially when we come into new areas like this, there no manual…what we do have is a biblical precedent, Jesus’ lifestyle, and Jesus’ commands.“
Johnson’s logic – God is sovereign but not powerful enough to prevent someone from dying “before their time.” Did Jesus rectify his father’s mishaps by raising those who died prematurely?
Johnson’s convoluted explanation flies in the face of scripture regarding the time of our death: “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass“ Job 14:5
Gill’s exposition of this verse: “thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; the boundaries of his life the period of his days, beyond which he cannot go; the term of man’s life is so peremptorily fixed by God, that he cannot die sooner, nor live longer, than he has determined he should; as the time of a man’s birth, so the time of his death is according to the purpose of God;”
Barnes‘ Notes: “Thou hast appointed his bounds – Thou hast fixed a limit, or hast determined the time which he is to live, and he cannot go beyond it. There is no elixir of life that can prolong our days beyond that period. Soon we shall come to that outer limit of life, and then we must die.”
Not even the death of a sparrow catches God by surprise: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matthew 10:29
And I’m sure you recall the words of David: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:16
There’s More To It
There is more to this than simply restoring the life of a child to grieving parents. While I have no doubt that the grieving parents would like her to be resurrected for their sake, I fear that this moment has in part been hijacked by Bethel. A resurrection would have been their defining moment. The pinnacle of their superpowers realized. One of Bethel’s core values is that “The Holy Spirit gives every believer the supernatural power to witness and release miracles, signs, and wonders.”
A resurrection would have been an opportunity for Bethel to have a verifiable miracle to boast about, death certificate included. This would be incomparable to Bethel’s usual “testimonies” and tall stories, and even any other legitimate healings (by the grace of God and in spite of Bethel’s false teachings) It’s day six, could you imagine the worldwide response should the child rise from the dead. Bill Johnson’s false theology of modeling Jesus would be vindicated in the eyes of many, thousands would flock to this charismatic cult and be introduced to a false gospel.
When the miracles don’t happen, some question their lack of faith or end up blaming God, both responses are the result of believing in the lie that we can walk like Jesus on earth. This leads us to the following…
The Sad Consequences
In the video, Bill Johnson begins by stating that the parents have “asked us to pray for resurrection.” Who can blame the parents for this request when their own pastor teaches that performing miracles should be normative for believers. The question is this, who will take the blame for the failed resurrection? The mother has already stated that it was not her daughters time to go. In other words, she believes it is God’s will to bring her daughter back to life. In time, after delayed grieving, the parents will be looking for answers, and we all know their first source – Bethel.
Kris Vallotons words will be of little comfort :“The truth is that Christ defeated and disarmed the enemy once and for all on the cross (see Col. 2:15). God has condemned him as guilty and handed over the authority he had usurped from Adam to Jesus Christ, the second Adam. Our job as “little Christs” is as deputies who enforce that judgment in every situation we come across. God created a world where our vote counts and where our agreement with what He’s doing is necessary to release His power into the world.” – Kris Vallotton & Bill Johnson, The Supernatural Ways of Royalty.
Have the “Little Christs” at Bethel failed to enforce a victory over death? Have they failed to stand in sufficient agreement” Has their lack of faith incapacitated God’s power to raise the child? These are the kinds of questions that any follower of Bethel should be asking. They are questions that arise from having an elevated view of man, and the answers will bring one of two things, or a combination of both – condemnation, and a resurgence to pursue their unbiblical passion.
Lets take a look at what Bill Johnson teaches regarding failed healings, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to apply his answers to this case. It’s also quite likely that the parents will already know and believe these specific statements by Johnson. He writes the following regarding healing:
“There are no deficiencies on His end – neither the covenant is deficient, nor His compassion or promises. All lack is on our end of the equation. The only time someone wasn’t healed in the Bible (gospels) is when the disciples prayed for them. For example, Mark 9 when they prayed for the tormented child. They did not have breakthrough. But then, Jesus came and brought healing and deliverance to the child. Jesus Christ is perfect theology – He is the will of God. We can’t lower the standard of scripture to our level of experience . . . or in most cases, inexperience. It’s a very uncomfortable realization – not everyone can handle it. Most create doctrine that you can’t find in the person of Jesus. He is the will of God. How do we fix the problem?
1. Realize it’s not God’s fault.”
If it’s not God’s fault, and the parents initiated the call for a resurrection, who is going to look for reasons within themselves for a failed resurrection?
Johnson: ” 2. Learn from others who see miracles. Have them pray for you. If you don’t know people who see miracles, find them. Books will help, if the author has a miracle lifestyle.”
Well, there was no need to go looking, apart from their own apostle, prophet, and students trained and “activated” into the supernatural, Heidi Baker was preaching at Bethel the day after the child’s passing. The same Heidi Baker that claimed the following in this article: “In recent years, she says, 100 percent of the deaf in the Chiure area have been healed through prayer. Not only that, she claims, scores have risen from the dead, food has been multiplied, the crippled and blind have been restored, and the gospel has spread like fire. Baker’s church association now numbers 10,000 congregations, maybe more.”
In conclusion, the Heiligenthal’s will be experiencing the worst kind of sorrow, and will in all probability due to the false teachings they are caught up in, have more to deal with than grief. Bethel will persist in their quest for the supernatural and miracles, and will probably use this tragedy as a catalyst for something new, or claim that something has shifted in the heavenlies…who knows what they will come up with.
We cannot claim to love the truth and at the same time ignore error. We cannot claim to love people, and remain silent while they are being ravaged by wolves. We cannot pretend to care for those in pain, while providing a false remedy.
We cannot claim to have the same powers as Christ, yet rely on a hit and miss theology of miracles. We cannot say we rarely know what we’re doing, when scripture has provided guidelines.
Please keep the Heiligenthal family in your prayers during this difficult time. Pray that God would remove the scales from their eyes, and that truth would enter. Pray for those trapped in the quagmire of deception at Bethel, and all those caught up in the heretical New Apostolic Reformation.
Update 21 December
Statement from Bethel Music: “Here is where we are: Olive hasn’t been raised. The breakthrough we have sought hasn’t come. With the same heart of confidence in God’s goodness, we receive the comfort of the Good Shepherd as Andrew, Kalley, and Olive’s big sister Elsie, their family, and our church walk together through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23). And so, we are moving towards a memorial service and celebration of her life.”
Bethel concede they cannot raise Olive Heiligenthal from the dead. I use the word “they” intentionally, because they did not ask God for his will to be done after requesting a miracle, they decreed, declared, and commanded the child to come back to life. They took responsibility, they must take accountability.
This won’t stop them from their heretical quest to model Jesus, but we pray this will open the eyes of people caught up in Bethel’s deception