If you’ve followed Reformation Charlotte at all, you know we’ve covered the contemporary Christian music movement and have written about several of its mainstream figures, including Kari Jobe and Hillsong. It’s no secret we believe that the relentless promotion of much of this flesh-feeding ecstatic music does no good for the edification of the body of Christ. But perhaps one of the most deceitfully nefarious organizations that are pumping out poisonous exhaust is Bethel Music.
Bethel Music is a collection of individual artists and bands which have joined together to form the worship ministry at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Some of its artists include Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, Amanda Cook, William Matthews, Kristene DiMarco (of Jesus Culture, also out of Bethel Church), and quite a few others.
Bethel Music is known for its popular songs, such as This Is Amazing Grace and We Will Not Be Shaken, that are played throughout churches of varying denominations, creeds, and beliefs on Sunday mornings. While some of their music may appear orthodox and doctrinally sound on the surface, in reality, is this just a deceptive bait to reel you in? For even Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and he’s always looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). This is why we must be sober-minded and alert, and always on the watch for his deceptions.
Bethel Music unashamedly promotes false doctrine. Let’s be clear, all of the music that comes from this church are designed to draw people in and promote the message of Bethel Church. Recently, Jenn Johnson, wife of one of the pastors, described the Bethel worship experience on social media as something like going into a drug-induced trance and flying up off her feet.
Under the leadership of Bill Johnson, the church promotes a message that is anti-gospel and cultish. Bethel is a New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) church that promotes nefarious theologies such as Word of Faith, Dominionism, Latter Rain, and Joel’s Army. Below is a video of Bethel Church practicing what they call a “fire tunnel,” in which people will quickly pass through the tunnel while others supposedly speak blessings and healings on the participants.
The NAR is a movement that elevates experience above doctrinal truth. Often times you will see many with contradictory beliefs about the basic tenets of Christianity come together in prayer and worship. Bethel’s pastor, Bill Johnson, who was labeled an Apostle by C. Peter Wagner, advocates for less Scriptural knowledge and promotes extra-biblical experiences as security for your relationship with God. He says in his book When Heaven Invades Earth:
Those who feel safe because of their intellectual grasp of Scriptures enjoy a false sense of security. None of us has a full grasp of Scripture, but we all have the Holy Spirit. He is our common denominator who will always lead us into truth. But to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know (Johnson, p. 76)
This is clearly a denial of the sufficiency of Scripture, and promotion of extra-biblical revelation. It’s no wonder that most of their music is shallow and insipid. Johnson was also instrumental in bringing false prophet Todd Bentley back into the mainstream. Bentley, who claims to raise people from the dead, is a false teacher that promotes Word of Faith theology and performs false signs and wonders.
But if that isn’t enough, Bethel Church recently hosted false prophet Heidi Baker, to impart demons and cast spells in front of their congregation.
This is purely demonic witchcraft, and there is absolutely nothing Christian about this.
The New Apostolic Reformation is the driving force behind modern worship. They use a deceptive tactic that mixes a little bit of truth with error which gives their music the appearance of holiness. But the fact is much of the music that comes out of this demonic center of darkness is designed to empty your mind by the use of repetitive lyrics, sensual music, and a fleshly experience that puts you in a state of hypnotic trance. An example of this would be Jesus Culture’s song, Fill Me Up, which repeats these phrases over and over, inviting an altered state of mind, and opening one’s self up to suggestion. John MacArthur says of this kind of music, “This is paganism. This is the Kundalini cult…This is what Hindus do.”
…I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. –1 Corinthians 14:15
Besides the bad theology in much of the music’s lyrics, the bigger problem lies in the music itself. There is no question that Bethel Music exists to make money and to promote their ideology, false signs and wonders, and the so-called ministry of their leaders. But the music they put out that has the appearance of holiness only serves to attract people to the blatantly unholy.
This unholiness is further demonstrated in their irreverence for God. Again, Jenn Johnson, who describes herself as being transported into the presence of God during Bethel’s worship sessions, also has the audacity to mock and make fun of God’s throne. During a “comedy” session at Bethel, just describes the throne of God as angels flying around texting each other and having “farting contests.”
You can pretty much rest assured that anyone who has ever been in the presence of God is not going to speak of God in this manner. Is this how Moses reacted when he came face to face with God? No, fear and trembling is the only appropriate response. Certainly not this.
Most people just assume that because Bethel Music and Jesus Culture are labeled “Christian music,” that it’s fine, but it isn’t. The music serves to marginalize God from true worship in truth and spirit (John 4:24), and promotes the singers, or even music itself as the object(s) of worship.
This is mainstream contemporary Christian music. It feeds the flesh and weakens our mission (Galatians 5:16). Bethel music, in its insatiable lust for more followers, is seeking to devour anyone who has itching ears (2 Tim 4:3). We are commanded in Scripture to avoid these false teachers, these workers of darkness who produce bad fruits, to have absolutely nothing to do with them, rather expose them (Eph 5:11). Christians need to turn from their fleshly desires of unholy worship and focus on that which is acceptable in the eyes of God, and what brings Him alone glory.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. –Romans 12:2