Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Reasoning Together" with Bill Johnson

How does one "reason together" with Bill Johnson? Bill and myself have been walking after the Lord, as spirit-filled believers for about the same number of years. We are also about the same age. And also both of us like to hunt deer. I find it intriguing, with those commonalities, that we have very different theological perspectives- I remain Assemblies of God, a pentecostal denomination that has very clearly defined doctrine, Johnson has departed (divided) from that set of beliefs.

Matthew 18 is a hard scripture to work out in a trans-denominational setting, more so when the two parties are separated by great distance. I recently asked a Bethelonian "to whom is Bill Johnson accountable," expecting an answer like "his (hand picked) church board," but the answer I got was "Jesus." OK, that was helpful.

Many would say that Matthew 18 has the sense of "if a brother sins against you. That may or may not apply to someone who is not directly sinning against you, but whom you believe is teaching harmful things, other scriptures about false teaching notwithstanding.

Obviously, if he is accountable only to Jesus, an appeal to his church board, or an apostle over him (is there such a thing) would be pointless. And with a hand-picked board, and the same apostolic friends that "coronated" Todd Bentley while he was in his sinful debauchery in Lakeland, they would not exactly be open to discussion anyhow.

Nonetheless, I have -several times- attempted to engage Johnson in a discussion of some of these issues where he has brought division. Because his teachings were made in public, the discussions took place in public - on his facebook forum.

A non-response, in Johnson's forum of the greater church (more than 90,000 followers) has been his usual response. Or sometimes a trite and snarky response. At this point I suppose I have no recourse except to "treat him like a pagan or a tax collector."

Does James 4 come into play? "Speaking against a brother?" Well, as seen in Matthew 18, we are not to treat one who refuses to entertain a discussion as a brother, but rather as a "pagan."

In a more practical sense, 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to "test all things to see if they are true." If the teaching or practice was made in a public venue, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a public discussion of that teaching or practice. The discussions, of course, should be done in a civil manner, without malice.

I am thankful that no one (recently ) has attempted to lay the "touch not mine anointed" trip on me, based on a faulty understanding of that scripture. Needless to say, I have not attempted to murder Johnson, or even physically touch him. And the "mine anointed" part is still up for discussion.

I think all of us would agree that we are approaching the end times, or at least are closer to it than ever before. The book of Jude tells us of those who "cause divisions."

Bill Johnson has recently taught that those who do not affirm the requirement of signs and wonders as a mandatory part of the gospel are teaching a different gospel - a reference to Galatians 1:6. In that sweeping accusation it is HE that is "causing division." He places himself, and his followers, at odds with the historical church, which has long held to the belief that God has the freedom to do whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). To make it clear- we preach the gospel and leave the signs and wonders to God. And nothing is more wonderful than seeing someone receive the gospel, make a decision to repent and follow Jesus the rest of their days. Nothing. Not even that gold glittery stuff that shows up in Johnson's church that Johnson says has "become the main thing."

OK, let's get down to brass tacks. Scripture tells us to "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24). An example of this might be 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 where Paul "judged" a fornicator in the church - even though that man was not present (bypassing Matthew 18, I might add).

False teachers are also fair game. Romans 16:17 tells us that we are to "mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." We cannot "mark them " unless we judge them.

What do I get out of this? I have no desire to elevate myself at the expense of others. But as one who floundered in the morass called the "charismatic movement" for many years, with its ever-changing doctrinal aberrations, I would be remiss if I did not try to point out error in an attempt to help others. In fact Jude 22 is my personal mission statement, to "snatch them out of the fire."

This was a reference to Amos 4:11, which talks of a brand (coal) plucked from the fire. And with this I am reminded of the immortal words of missionary Eula Goodnight (Katherine Hepburn) in the John Wayne movie Rooster Cogburn:


Our work, sir,
is to pluck brands
from the burning.

If you don't want to be plucked,
then at least show us courtesy.

10 comments:

  1. Bill,

    Its been awhile man. Your blog has certainly evolved into something much more comprehensive and well built than the form I last checked out 3-4 years ago. I appreciate the Presbyterian government that many Assemblies churches practice...Redding/Johnson would do well to submit to such a valid system of accountability.

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  2. Perhaps Johnson was thinking of this scripture by Paul, though not entirely in context of course:

    Rom 15:18 For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed,


    Rom 15:19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

    Some could take this to mean that to fully preach the gospel meant to come by the power of the Spirit of God thus signs and wonders.
    I am not saying that. Not saying it is good exegesis only that I can see it being used. Also Paul speaking of how he was not one who used persuasive words but the demonstration of power has been commented by some authors to mean he was primarily a power person.

    I heard it said once that the reason the church Fathers came up with cecessanism was because after the Apostles died out the next generations failed to operate in the power of the Spirit so they had to come up with a doctrine to excuse the failings in their personal walk with Holy Spirit. Interesting comment if true. It might also explain why the church has been so willing to accept whatever we could get so to speak as long as we can get them in.
    My problem is I see a lot of believers out there who are living lives that are less than what I seem to read about in scripture, including mine.
    I am not happy about my own. Yet when I speak to a many believers they seem perfectly content with their with lives where they have rarely, if ever led someone to the Lord. Almost never pray. Go to church for 1 1/2 hrs on Sunday and are content to walk away feeling good about their lives at the end of the sermon.
    I am not saying what Johnson is offering is what is needed but surely what most of the church in America is offering isn't either.
    Why is so much of the world in revival but we are not? I want it. I need it. I used to spend 8 hrs a day in prayer. Along they way I got beat up mostly by pastors, not blaming them I forgave them a long time ago, who said I did not have to strive so hard. That if God wanted to bring revival to America He would.

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  3. I was searching for certain verses and comments and I happen to run into your blog. Thanks for you concern, and zeal for the things of our God. It sounds like the man has made an impact in your life! Perhaps we shouldnt be soo afraid of other believers, ministries and movements ... perhaps is time to set our eyes on the King, our hearts on what He is doing, and our efforts towards building His kingdom... in ways that are beyond our experience.

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  4. When have you had Gold Dust in your Church? When have you pulled a man dying from leukemia out of a hospital bed, and SEEN life come back into him? When have you laid hands on a woman who was bound to a wheelchair for 14 year, and watched her get up and walk?
    Do not speak against a man of God. Because the words you speak against him, you will eat them in the days to come. Bill is a Holy man of God, and he should be honored and respected as one.

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  5. Am I not too a "Holy Man of God?" Why is it that Bill Johnson, in spite of his teachings on the "Culture of Honor" consisteantly dishonors me by refusing dialogue?

    It works both ways, sweetie...,.

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    1. Who died and left you boss as to what the standards of being a Christian is? What kind of dialogue can there be when get offended if someone doesn't see what you do? Do you really think you have nothing left to learn or experience as a Christian? Are you beginning to see how your approach to people might effect how you perceive things? Why did I write these questions? Is your opinion more important than everyone else? If you think you have "all the answers" you are either 1 wrong 2 God. Dude from my perspective your style appears to be one who is checking everybody's eyes for tiny splinters is all I'm saying even when you are spot on.

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  6. Dear Bill,
    Thanks for all your research and documentation concerning these false teachings. And so sorry for all the scorn heaped upon you by those who walk in darkness. It is apparent that many defending these false teachers are deceived -- and the problem with being deceived is that you don't know you're deceived!

    For all those talking about "when's the last time you led someone to the LORD?" the answer is NEVER!! It is ALWAYS the Holy Spirit Who leads anyone to the LORD and it is always God the Father Who draws them to saving faith in Jesus His Son. Such a spirit of pride in these self-ordained (false!) prophets! God causes the growth of His Body, the Church. His saints merely plant seeds and water, and harvest as He allows. Please read your Bibles & come out of the darkness.

    Thanks again for researching and posting this blog, and for enduring the scorn. Lifting you up in prayer & praying that your work here will snatch some from the flames. Praying for those deceived as well. God Bless & hold you tight, -Brenda

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  7. I find it interesting Clue...that both Alexander Dowie and Wm Branham..toward the end of their lives stated the were Elijah restored.

    Paul Cain who was mentored by Branham..fell of the boat later in his life. Not sure who mentored Bob Jones? Beware of anyone who says they are Elijah returned...so sad <><

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  8. Having attended Bill Johnson's church for a year or more, I found myself in agreement that signs and wonders are to be more normative than we generally see. However, in Johnson's church, I came to a couple of conclusions:
    It took me a long time to figure out the "glory dust" stuff. I was in the middle of it, so thick that I was literally choking on the dust. But after much prayer, I concluded the obvious: Jesus will not be anyone's magician. He will do no magic tricks, especially to tittilate the fickle emotions of pseudo-believers. When HE was asked to do "signs", HE said that it is a sinful and adulterous generation that seeks after signs. So when the Bethel crowd seeks "glory dust", they reveal that they are a sinful and adulterous generation. And I believe the word adulterous can be taken both as physically and spiritually adulterous.
    The second thing so sad at Bethel is their tremendous emphasis on healing, but which is not there. If signs & wonders is speaking of God meeting severe needs, especially healing, I say very strongly that Jesus wants that to be normative. But when Bethel talks about it, it seems to be very rare that any genuine healing actually takes place where it is desperately needed. Most of what goes on at Bethel seems to be fluff without substance. And desperate people who are not healed there go home to die.
    One more area of heartache at Bethel: Their teaching about modern-day prophets and prophecy. They directly contradict the directions given in such places as Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 13. And when they are confronted with that, they counter with that being Old Testament, which does not count today. II Peter 1:21, speaking of true prophets, says they were holy. But Bethel has ZERO emphasis on holiness.
    They also equate "risk" with "faith", going so far as to translate Hebrews 11:6 instead of "But without faith it is impossible to plesase Him", they translate it as "without risk it is impossible to please Him." (See their manual "Firestarters"). To me that is simply an example of adding to Scripture, with we are commanded not to do. Also, in common with many other charismatic churches, it must be "positive", or they will not permit it. I wonder what Jeremiiah would say to that?, or John the Baptizer?
    Thanks!

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  9. I attended Bill's church for over a year, and having heard about countless miracles. I have been through the endless fire tunnels. Walked in a circle in the adjacent room, before evening service, were people where laughing hysterically and falling all over the place incoherently. I was there when Bob Jones said to everyone he could tele transport us to heaven, just close our eyes and follow him (utter nonsense). Hearing Beni's store about the waki waki angel ( I did not angels were asleep). I would have liked to see just one person who has a limb that is either deformed or lost in an accident be restored. I would liked to see one person confined to a wheelchair stand and not need their wheelchair anymore. A paraplegic have full motion restored to their limbs. See Eric healed from his ear problems and his speech impediment. See Bill healed from his hernia by prayer not through doctors. Would have liked to seen, when Todd Bentley was being anointed on the stage with all the people from NAR, just one of them have the decrement that he was in a adulteress relationship, with his mistress living in his families home. Talk about all the signs and wonders you want, give some real proof, other then healing backs and growing legs.

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