My, My, Pastor. What Big Teeth You Have.

I was reading a post on a blog I enjoy reading from time to time, m’kayla’s korner, about someone in the UK whose church became ‘Bethelized”. Now, this isn’t a word you’ll find in any dictionary, but this isn’t the first place I’ve seen it used. For a church to become “Bethelized” is to adopt the ways and practices of Bethel Church in Redding, California.

For those who aren’t familiar with Bethel Church or their practices, they are a church in Redding, CA that’s pastored by a man named Bill Johnson. They started out as an Assemblies of God church but around a couple of years ago, they voted to withdraw from the Assemblies and go it on their own. They didn’t want the restraint of a denomination keeping them from promoting some of their heretical doctrines, as if the Assemblies of God are much of a restraint these days.

This blog post, here on m’kayla’s korner, got me to thinking further about some events that’s transpired this past few weeks in my own life. As I’ve stated here before, my wife and I have been on a search for a new church for over a year. As it turns out, I guess God led us to a church within a couple of months of our searching, but we were still too hurt to recognize it. We ended up moving on from that church and looked for another six months before we realized that was where we are supposed to be in the first place.

This church we’ve chosen isn’t perfect. We would wish for some other things if it was up to us, but one thing I’ve come to learn on our journey for a new church home is that there aren’t many pastors that open a Bible and teach extensively from scripture. This church we’ve chosen does. The pastor doesn’t sweat, he doesn’t yell, and he doesn’t “impart”. He simply teaches line by line and verse by verse through each book of the Bible, the way the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to do. It’s done the same way in our children’s church……line by line, verse by verse so that as little of the pastor’s philosophies are woven into the teaching as possible.

Now back to what’s been on my mind the last couple of weeks. We still have some friends that attend our old Assembly of God church. Our old Assembly of God church along with all of the other Assemblies of God in the area have been at youth camp this past week. Each year the camp gets a themed name. This year’s themed name was “Supernatural Camp“. I thing it goes without saying just what the camp focused on this year, and it wasn’t preaching the Gospel (though I’m sure they thought that’s exactly what they were doing).

The focus was on imparting the “Fire of God” on the kids for them to take back to their local churches.

The focus of the camp wasn’t on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was on acquiring the “power” of God, the dreams, visions, the supernatural knowledge. In fact, I would go so far to say that most of these AG kids left camp and weren’t able to articulate the Gospel at all. You see, I know they can’t, because none of our former friends’ kids can.

The youth pastor of our former church was trained at another AG church who adored Bethel Church. If you was to go today to this church’s website in Irving, Texas it’s really nothing more than an idol to Bethel Church and Bill Johnson. There’s nearly as much on their website about Bethel as their own church. The sad part is that the pastor of this church in Irving, Texas is a Section Leader of the Assemblies of God while promoting a church that cast off it’s restraints from the Assemblies of God. Probably all done in a spirit of “interdenominational unity”, of course.

My wife posted on her Facebook this past Sunday something along the lines of “Something I love to hear in church on Sunday, ‘Church, open your Bibles to………’ “. I can’t count the amount of churches we went to that claimed to be Bible-centered, Gospel-preaching churches. These claims were made proudly on their websites and in their bulletins. But, you see, just because a pastor gives a 1-hour sermon on something and backs it up with several scriptures scattered from across the range of the books of the Bible, doesn’t mean it’s Bible centered. It only means they’ve used scripture to support their teaching. All those mis-contextualized scriptures makes the sermon sound so…..scriptural. But in all but one of these other churches, we never heard the Gospel presented. I’m not talking about an invitation to “receive Jesus”, but the actual death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with a call to repentance.

In other words, there are more than 60 churches within a 5-mile radius of our house (this IS Texas, ya know) and of the 20 or so churches we tried, only two preached gospel centered preaching directly from scripture. Two. By the way, the other 40 or so churches were easily dismissed from their websites. It was obvious we weren’t going to hear the Gospel in those churches.

It’s a sad state of church affairs out there. I guess I was in for a shock just how complacent God’s people have become. Oh sure there’s a lot of hollering and screaming in churches all across America every Sunday, but that doesn’t equate to line by line, verse by verse Gospel centered preaching. The infection is only getting worse as churches like Bethel, and IHOP, and Morningstar among a growing tsunami of other self-promoting ministries take their heresies worldwide.

So if you’ve become a frog in a pan of water on a stove, I can’t advise you to run from your current church. What I can advise, however is to search your heart, search out God, and search out the whole council of God’s word, the Bible, and see if you’re sitting under a self-centered, empire-building wolf…….you might just have become so used to your surroundings that you’re failing to realize your about to be eaten.

Most of all, be a Berean and hold every minister of the Gospel accountable for every word that comes out of their mouth. Remember, Luke called the Bereans noble for holding the Apostle Paul accountable.

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9 Comments

Filed under Charismania, Christianity, Church, Life, Pastors, Televangelists

9 responses to “My, My, Pastor. What Big Teeth You Have.

  1. Hello. Very well said. 🙂
    It seems there are very few real churches anymore, and I am finding this to be true not only in the US, but all over the world. Will Christ find faith when He returns?

    Thanks for all you do here and for the mention of my blog!

    Blessings!

  2. Yes, I too am in the search of a church in my area. We are a very small town and it seems everyone either follows the “big successful” churches ways (110% Purpose Driven) or they follow the NAR and/or Dominionism. I thought the local A/G might be ok because the pastor has his Doctorate in Theology, but then one day as I was looking over his own personal blog site, he had a section on books he liked and he referenced a couple of Bethel’s Bill Johnsons books. Oh my… and he told me that after Brownsville this church imploded and it took two years for it to get back on it’s feet. Now where is he going?!

    WE (myself and my wife) are still seraching for a church, think we might have found one but I am not convinced yet. They are about 25% PDL but from the sermons I hear on the radio from the pastors they are doing expository preaching. We’ll give it a go and see, but I am wary.

    I know several people that jumped ship at a local church and went to Bethel (school). The pastor of this local church even stood up and denounced Lakeland and the teachings coming from these people but unfortunantely the church split and the district eventually moved him on to another church in another state. Sad.

    Well, I just found your site from MKaylas and I will look you over to see what you have shared here.

    Thank You

    • Each Assembly of God congregation is what they term as a “Voluntary Cooperative Fellowship”. In other words, the “joining” of the Assemblies of God by a local congregation is “voluntary”. The Assemblies of God ordains the minister and charters the congregation, but the local congregation establishes it’s own bylaws and constitution and from day to day governs itself.

      I say all of this to establish that there are many local AG congregations that have escaped some of the nonsense that has began to increasingly infect the AG. However, for the same reasons the General Council of the Assemblies of God has been far too reluctant to step in and put a stop to some of the gross error within their ranks (such as Jim and Tammy Baker, Jimmy Swaggert, the Lakeland [Todd Bentley] “revival’, and the Brownsville ‘revival”).

      Additionally, a little known fact, there is currently a total revamping going on behind the scenes in the AG. From the top down. From all across America, certain local “powerful” AG ministers have been hand selected by the Sectional Presbyters and have been being trained for the last two years to become more “missional”. These ministers will in turn come back to their local sections and train smaller church ministers for the next couple of years and so on and so on. This comes on the heel of a relative failure of the AG to plant an additional 1000 churches in the US by 2009 (MX2009 initiative). They now think the answer is to adapt the AG to the current culture of the US (read hip, cool, and youth oriented here) and they are in the beginning stages of a total makeover.

      Mark my words, the AG, as a whole, will only fall more and more into error as time goes on.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Christopher

    Let’s talk about the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ. Have you found this in the Bible? It actually says Gospel of the Kingdom. It means Good News of the Kingdom of God. When Jesus told the apostles to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom that included praying for healing and casting out demons.

    The emphasis on healing is because so few churches do so. Not because it is the only thing in the Bible. Take a peek sometime to see what “Bethel” means. You’ll find it in the Bible.

    God bless you.

    • Um, yes Christopher I have. Multiple places.

      Do a search on the word “repent” in the New Testament and carefully read each passage. Again, the gospel is clearly a gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, not signs and wonders. Signs and wonders were used to demonstrate that Jesus was God and that He had the power to forgive sins. Signs and wonders are not the gospel and this is as plain as it can be to anyone who wants to see it.

      The emphasis, in fact, is not on healing. It’s on repentance and forgiveness and sins. Take for instance Matt 9:

      9:1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing [1] their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men

      You see, ultimately all the paralytic needed was to believe that Jesus was his savior, and he did. Therefore Jesus stated “Take heed, your sins are forgiven”. If healing was the focus, he would merely have laid hands on him and sent him on his way. But in order to demonstrate that He was God and had the authority to forgive sins, He healed the man.

      Again take what Paul said in 1 Cor 15:

      15:1 Now I would remind you, brothers, [1] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

      Notice what Paul said what was of first importance…..It wasn’t the signs and wonders.

      Because, you see Christopher, there’s something else that Jesus said in Matt 7:

      21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

      Signs and wonders have nothing to do with whether someone is going to heaven or not. In other words, just because a person can cast out a demon and lay hands on the sick doesn’t mean they actually know the Lord. Jesus himself said so and I believe Him. The only sign whether or not someone is from the lord is whether or not he/she has a love for the Gospel and that they are bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galations 6). Again, signs and wonders are not the exclusive territory of the Holy Spirit….especially the colored chicken feather and cubic zirconia kind.

      Over and over again all throughout the New Testament, not only in the Gospels, but especially in Paul’s writings and in Peter’s writings the emphasis is on repentance and forgiveness of sins. Over and over again. That’s where in the Bible I find it…..all over From Genesis to Revelation. Repentance, grace, and forgiveness of a Holy and Mighty God. Because, ultimately it would be better for me to enter into heaven without one of my favorite body parts than to receive healing devoid of the gospel and fail to enter heaven.

  4. Yep – hip, cool, (relevant) and youth oriented. That is missional, which is to say emergent/contemplative (eastern religion-RC) going into universalism. Youth-oriented aka Joel’s Army..I’ve seen some pretty creepy videos regarding the goings on with very young children at Bethel and Bethel influenced churches. It’s madness. It seems every where you go Bethel is there.

    • I have a friend that’s a worship leader at another church and he’s getting deeper and deeper into the “Jesus Culture” worship. I don’t attend his church, but from what I can tell the worship time is becoming steadily more and more about “feeling” the tangible tingling of God each Sunday morning……… It hurts me deeply to see this.

      • That is very sad about your friend and I know exactly what he is referring to.

        I know there is a Jesus Culture thing going on in Chicago right now. Bethel, Hillsong, Lou Engle, Cindy Jacobs and some other. It streams live for free too. What a way to get the garbage out there. So sorry to see all of this happening.

        I appreciated your comment back to Christopher and hope he is helped to see the difference too.

  5. riles

    Your experience mirrors ours. We helped start a church with a group that separated from the local AG. We started seeing some odd teachings, but could not put a finger on it. Finally came Lakeland, and it all became clear. We saw who this Bentley was, and what this movement was all about. They were showing that garbage almost every night in the church. We are just about to celebrate 3rd anniversary at our little CC, and it is refreshing to just study the Bible. Meanwhile our old church has drifted more and more toward Bethel, Morningstar and Dominionism, even preaching the 7 mountains from the pulpit. We do not miss it.

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