I want to preface this article with the disclaimer that this is in no way intended to be spiteful or distasteful nor is it meant to disgrace these people in any way. Despite the grave errors and even damnable heresies of the extreme charismatic movement and, in particular, Bethel Church, these are still people who, like you and I, are sinners in need of a savior.
Sadly, for false teachers like these, they do not yet have that Savior—who is Jesus Christ.
In case you were unaware, Beni Johnson, the wife of Bill Johnson who is the lead pastor of the notorious Bethel Church in Redding, California, has been diagnosed with advanced cancer and her condition continues to worsen.
Bethel Church is widely known for its false teaching of “faith healing” and the church even has what they call “healing rooms.” The idea of “faith healing” is a charismatic notion that if one has enough faith–and goes through the right rituals of healing–then one can be healed of anything. On the flip side, this unbiblical doctrine also teaches that if one is sick and unable to be healed, one is lacking in faith.
A few years ago, the extreme dark side of Bethel’s “healing” doctrine was exposed when a 2-year-old child of one of the worship leaders suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. Kalley Heiligenthal asked for prayers after her daughter stopped breathing. Her daughter, Olive Alayne passed away on Saturday, December 14, 2019. The next day, she was asking for prayers to resurrect her daughter.
The saddest part is that during this mother’s grief and sadness, she wasn’t asking for prayers to deal with her grief and emotional distress — I could only imagine being horrific — but that she had been deceived by her cult that this is what she should be seeking. Sadly — and obviously — it did not happen.
I do not want to downplay this mother’s loss or make light of it, but I wholeheartedly hold her church accountable for this. Instead of teaching her how to think rightly and biblically about this tragic loss, her pastors and church were encouraging her in idolatrous thoughts.
This is where we’re at now with the pastor’s wife. Bethel Church–which really isn’t a church since it is devoid of the gospel and is largely built on the foundation of its idolatry–has been hit repeatedly with sudden tragedies. I am not suggesting that these tragedies are God’s punishment for idolatry; we have no way of knowing that. However, what we do know is that these tragedies are exposing the false movement within this church and the charismatic movement as a whole.
While it is loving and biblical to pray for God to heal–and we do believe that God is sovereign over the lives, pains, sufferings, and prosperity of people–it is untrue that the charismatic teaching that one’s health or wealth is directly tied to how much faith one has. What we, as Christians, should hope and pray for during this tragedy is that Beni Johnson, the pastor, Bill, and the entire congregation at Bethel Church, come to a true and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and trust in Him alone for the salvation of their souls. We should pray that God uses these tragedies to open their eyes and turn them toward Christ.