I’ve written a number of articles on Bethel Church and its various associated artists under the Bethel Collective umbrella. Bethel Church in Redding, California, is pastored and co-pastored by Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, respectively, who believe themselves to be prophets and Apostles of God. Bethel is well-known for its debunked “manifestations” of the Holy Spirit, including its infamous spectacle known as “glory clouds.” The “glory cloud” spectacle has been thoroughly debunked and its various other acts of blasphemy, like grave sucking, have been shown to be contra-biblical and heterodox.
As we’ve explained before, Bethel Redding is essentially a cult that revolves around the visions of its two main “Apostles” while minimizing the truth of Scripture. Its livelihood depends on the fantastic tales relayed by its pastors as “revelations” from God coupled with the “experience” of worship through its deep emotionally-stimulating music.
Bethel’s doctrines of demons and false teachings have spread widely and rapidly throughout not only charismatic and Pentecostal churches but also into mainstream Evangelical churches primarily through the conduit of its musical influence. All of Bethel’s music is shallow—but most of it is filled with false teachings and improper doctrinal emphasis. And while a broken clock can be right twice a day, occasionally, Bethel and its member artists can produce a song or two that isn’t outright false on the surface. And this is how their musical influence affects the Church.
Cory Asbury is one of the member artists in the Bethel Collective—and Cory Asbury has demonstrated himself to be a rank heretic. In a recent interview with Relevant Magazine, Asbury described God as “vulnerable.” I want to break this down a bit as this is typical charismatic theology that depicts God as less than who He has revealed Himself to be.
In the interview, he states:
We’re all going through stuff. None of our lives are perfect and easy. I hope that people maybe lose a little bit of that religion or some of that stuff that we’ve grown up with in church — the idea that God is only ever big and strong and bear-chested — and they could see Him as vulnerable, as on a cross with His arms wide open naked, bruised, beaten, bloody, for them and not be afraid to come to Him in that way.
There’s a Tozer quote that says ‘God waits to be wanted’ and I think that’s a concept that throws a lot of Christians off because it seems weak. I think it threw a lot of people off with the idea of ‘Reckless Love.’
You know, they thought it makes God seem weak or it makes Him seem vulnerable. I think the truth is, God is vulnerable and that’s the beauty of God. He keeps His heart wide open. If people could get ahold of that idea, that He’s not the aloof, far off big dude who lives up in the sky who rarely intervenes in our lives — if they could see Him as close, as kind, with a smile on His face, not a scowl, I think that’s a huge part of it.
First off, he describes God as “not the…big dude who lives up in the sky.” To clarify, the Scriptures do reveal God as the one who “sits in Heaven and does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3). I understand that Asbury wasn’t trying to contradict that particular truth here, but I wanted to just add that for clarity. God is the sovereign God who sits in Heaven and does what He pleases.
But this is where the “vulnerability” part comes in. The Scriptures nowhere describe God as “vulnerable” to anything. God is the sovereign God, in control of all things, and who upholds the universe by the Word of His Power (Hebrews 1:3). This includes the cross. God is sovereign over every action that took place on the cross and, in fact, if He weren’t, we’d be in big trouble.
What Asbury is stating here is actually rather blasphemous. God wasn’t actually suffering on the cross, it was Christ the man suffering. As God, He didn’t suffer. This is included in the mystery that is the hypostatic union. God doesn’t change.
This is an attempt to reduce God to human—to destroy the transcendent for the sake of immanence. My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Yes, Asbury’s false teachings should, and rightly so, threw a lot of people off because they are contradictory to the revealed Word of God.