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Yes, Bethel Redding and Bill Johnson are part of the New Apostolic Reformation

Bill Johnson headshot

Bill Johnson

Following Christianity Today’s recent cover story on Bethel Church in Redding, California, I’ve been contacted by people wondering about Bill Johnson’s statements made in that article distancing himself from the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). The two specific statements he made are that his church does not have any official ties to the NAR and that he’s “not completely clear on what it is.”

Despite Johnson’s distancing himself from the NAR, he very clearly is part of it. Let’s look at his two claims.

What makes the NAR the NAR?

One of Johnson’s claims is that he’s not completely clear on what the NAR is. Interestingly, the author of the Christianity Today article said he laughed with disbelief. I. too, find Johnson’s claim hard to believe because the NAR is all about apostles–and Johnson clearly sees himself as one.

What makes the NAR the NAR? While there are a number of associated teachings, the core NAR teaching is that present-day apostles and prophets must govern the church. By govern, I mean they claim to hold formal offices in church government–like pastors or elders. Except NAR apostles and prophets wield much more authority than pastors and elders because they get direct revelation from God. Pastors and elders are supposed to submit to apostles and prophets, receive their new revelation, and implement the revelation in their churches. Also, unlike pastors or elders, many apostles and prophets have jurisdiction over multiple churches, and not mere oversight of a single church. And the authority of NAR apostles and prophets can extend beyond churches–to workplaces, cities and nations–among institutions that have no connection to the church. Only when churches embrace a government led by apostles and prophets will they be able to transform culture.

So, does Johnson believe that apostles and prophets must govern the church? You bet. Take a look at the Bethel Redding website. Under the tabs “About” and “Our Mission,” you will find these words: “We embrace the biblical government of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.” Here’s a screen capture from the current site.


Bethel Church biblical government belief








Later in the interview, Johnson said, in his view, the NAR is merely about a desire to see the culture change. He told the reporter: “I’ve seen my name on the list, but if it’s what I think it is, all we’re saying is, we want the culture around us to change.” This is misdirection. Many Christians desire to see the culture change. But Johnson forgot to mention a crucial difference in the view held by him and other NAR leaders: to see the culture change you need apostles.

“No official ties”

The second thing Johnson claimed is that Bethel Church doesn’t have any official ties to the NAR. But Johnson didn’t tell the whole story. What he didn’t mention is that it’s impossible for any church to have official ties to the NAR because the NAR isn’t an organization or a denomination. So there’s no official listing of NAR churches. It’s a large movement in which participants are unified by a shared set of beliefs (beliefs in present-day apostles and prophets who govern the church). And you can’t have official, organizational ties to a set of beliefs. However, many of those in the NAR, including Johnson, have developed intentional networks with one another.

Johnson is unquestionably, if not officially, tied to the NAR. One incident in this regard is very telling. In 2008, Johnson was heralded on international television via GOD TV–along with two other prominent NAR apostles, Che Ahn and John Arnott–as “apostolic pillars of today’s church.” This description of Johnson, Ahn, and Arnott was given by NAR apostle C. Peter Wagner, who also likened them to three of Christ’s twelve apostles–Peter, James, and John. This all took place during a commissioning ceremony for NAR evangelist Todd Bentley, during the Lakeland Revival in Florida.

The purpose of the ceremony was to celebrate the formal “apostolic alignment” of Bentley with these three apostles, who represent an apostolic network called Revival Alliance. By becoming apostolically aligned with these three apostles Bentley was agreeing to come under their authority. This is in line with the NAR teaching that all offices of the church, including the office of evangelist, must submit to apostles.

If that commissioning ceremony doesn’t tie Johnson to the NAR, then what possibly could? Watch the ceremony here.

For a more detailed explanation of NAR teachings, including documentation on how Bethel Church and Johnson promote these teachings, see my co-authored books, A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement (an in-depth examination of the NAR) and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement (a beginner’s introduction to the movement containing practical advice for those who have loved ones in the NAR).

Johnson at Bentley commissioning

Bill Johnson speaking on the platform at the 2008 commissioning ceremony for evangelist Todd Bentley, when Bentley agreed to submit to the apostolic authority of Johnson and two other prominent NAR apostles.

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21 Responses to “Yes, Bethel Redding and Bill Johnson are part of the New Apostolic Reformation”

  1. Riles Says:

    Holly, I don’t know if you have heard, but Mr “I won’t have a theology that allows for sickness” is in the hospital with what seems to be an intestinal blockage?  His son, Eric, posted on facebook, which was shared by a friend of ours who has moved to Redding to attend BetHell.

  2. Holly Says:

    Yes, I heard about Bill Johnson’s health. Let’s pray for him.

  3. Josh Halls Says:

    Im with you Holly, on praying for Bill. God ain’t finished with Bill yet 🙂

  4. Woody Bailey Says:

    I first heard about Bethel back in 2007 from a couple that eventually went to the BSSM for 2 years I believe. I began to investigate their teaching and continued to find things that raised concerns. I don’t post negative things on FB about them because I probably have close to 100 friends that follow Bill Johnson and his colleagues and I am just not ready to stir the pot that much. They seem to base their teaching on 2 verses. John 14 :12 and the Lord’s prayer where Jesus instructs them to pray the God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Plus the name of their school. Not biblical ministry but supernatural ministry. I believe the leadership at Bethel gives everyone free reign to do whatever they believe God is telling them to do with little discernment. Plus, Johnson states clearly in his book; “When Heaven Invades Earth” that he has a problem with biblical scholarship because there is so much disagreement on the text. Plus the entire thing of saying they don’t chase after signs and wonders but they seem to make a pretty big deal of it.

  5. Woody Livingston Says:

    Many people are fleeing to Bethel church from my area in NY, sad to say, this is like a very bad drug…the focus should be onto Jesus. Does anyone want to stand up for Christ anymore? This is so deceiving….many people are fleeing to Satan, true Christians need to be out there to pull many out of that demonic church….the snake salesman is working overtime…if I’m in Christ, why do I need to go anywhere for the “spirit” when Christ is already right in front of you? Let spread the Gospel and the Truth…
    Keep up the great work Holly!!!! God bless you!!!

  6. John Says:

    Bill Johnson is definatly part of this movement. I was at a couple conferences back in 2003-2006 at Harvest Rock Church that he preached at… It was such a zoo… We called them the “piles of pastors” conferences because people were falling all over each other… I was such a baby christian, I didnt know any better.


  7. Cath Says:

    How very sad that your very evident talents reveal so little of the love of God, when people whose love of God is simply beyond question are being discussed. Jesus was far more radical than some of the people you mention but then he too was criticised for what he did and said.

    These people are lovers of God who so long for the kingdom that they dare to take risks in the name of Jesus. And hey….people are healed! Oh that we would all dare half as much if it reveals to people the extravagant love of God.

    Jesus said we are called to be salt and light…to reveal him to the world and to change it simply by being his children in the darkness of the world. It is impossible not to be changed once you have come face to face with God.

    I pray that your heart will be filled with his love and that you’ll  know more and more of how amazing God is and how far his love extends. God bless you.

  8. Holly Says:

    Cath, can you please explain to me how exactly my article is unloving? It is factual, merely pointing out Johnson’s beliefs in present-day apostles and prophets, and his claim to be an apostle. I’m not clear about how discussing his beliefs is unloving. Is your discussion of my article unloving?

  9. Richard Hartley Says:

    Bill Johson is a heretic, false teacher.

  10. Richard Hartley Says:

    Bill Johnson teaches Kenosis theory, which is a dangerous and false doctrine.

  11. Candace Says:

    There was criteria to be an Apostle in the capacity of the original 12 and one of those was they had to be a witness of Jesus while he was on earth dying his ministry. The 11 then 1 that was added after Christ’s ascension was to lay the foundation of the Church by spreading the gospel thru dir t revelation from God. This had o occur because we didn’t have the written Word at that time. The foundation has been laid. We have Gods Word so there is no need for Apostles in the capacity as Christ called the original 12. A modern name for a person traveling and spreading the gospel would be what we call a missionary now. You also will find that only the Apostles could lay on hands and people be healed and saved. That was not a gift we have found given to anyone else besides those who were an Apostle. I believe God can and does heal but I do not believe that a person carries that gift around to lay their hand in someone and use it like the Apostles could. I’ve not found anywhere that falling out in the spirit is Biblical and tongues was used as a sign for the Jews to know that it was God. I do believe tongues is still used but in the way we are instructed and not just to make a show and cause chaos. I grew up in a Pentecostal type church so I’ve been exposed many years to the charismatic style worship. After lots of studying I found that I disagree with many of the teachings and views that are taught. I believe there are many good people that just don’t know any other way and don’t realize how self promoting and self exalting the doctrines are that are taught. Need lots of prayer for truth o shine forth.

  12. Candace Says:

    I forgot to mention about Paul as an Apostle also. He also was a witness to Christ and was sent to spread the gospel to the Gentiles. He was the 13th Apostle and no where in Scripture does it say that these positions were filled once each one died. We find other positions but not Apostles.  We have the revelation of God in the written Word today and there is no new Revelation. If someone teaches or preaches a new revelation I would leave and pray God’s truth will be revealed.

  13. Woody Livingston Says:

    Beautifully said Candace!! Praise the Lord!!

  14. Mark Anaonymous Says:

    With all of the slamming and judging –extremely non-Christian slamming and judging, I might add– going on within this article and the comments section, I have yet to see any Biblical references backing any beliefs and prejudices expressed by either the author of the article or the commenters. Rather than spending time praising Christ, praying, or handling disagreements with others in the way instructed by the Bible, it’s clearly better to create websites based of judgmental thoughts and spreading negative ideas. 

    Personally, I can think of a number of scripture right off hand that will refute the Godliness of what you all are doing right here… Maybe the focus of your minds and hearts should return to Biblical study and seeking to be more like Christ; I do believe that would be what the Bible teaches. 

    As for the way that churches should be structured, Paul very clearly lays out roles for church leaders, men, and women. He also very clearly lays out a plan of action for instances in which you have a complaint or have found fault with your brother, and, believe it or not, it does not include putting them on blast to the world. Also, when was the last time that a miracle or the Power of God was shown through you or within your church? If it hasn’t, maybe you should be focused of the logs in your own eyes rather than focusing on blemishes of others. Pray, live the life of and have the heart of Jesus, read and re-read scripture, and simply love people. This website and those who contribute will receive the very reward that has come from the heart. And to anyone who causes someone else to sin… Be careful.

  15. Erik Says:

    I didn’t hear anyone slamming or judging in any way on this blog. Also, the Bible commands us to judge righteously those who claim to be saints but live otherwise. (1 Corinthians 5) The Bible also says to expose the unfruitful works of darkness including those who propagate error and that we should mark and avoid them. (Ephesians 5, Romans 16) So yes, above all, we should be studying the Bible and seeking to be more like Christ, and actually obeying him by doing what His word says like many on this blog are doing. So let’s continue to test all things as the Bible says.

  16. Kristina Says:

    Wonderful article!  Helpful and insightful!  God warned us that this would happen.  Matt. 7:15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  Also Acts 20:28-30 warns us to be “on guard” that from among our own selves men will arise speaking perverse things to draw disciples after themselves.  2 Timothy 4:3-4 also warns us about only wanting to hear what our itching ears want instead of sound doctrine as many will be led astray.  
    I pray that Bill Johnson and his family and all his followers come to know God and break free of their false conversion.  I believe that there are many within Bethel who are being led astray by their teachings and the faulty, self aggrandizing ideas of NAR aligned churches & leaders.

  17. Mike Says:

    Perhaps it should be more concerning that the Word of God lists Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers but the present day church seems to only validate the role of Pastors! Why aren’t we concerned with that?

    Sunday school teachers rank slightly above Evangelists. They’re not paid, of course. You would think the Evangelist would be a very important role and you’d see them all over the place. Nope. Greg Laurie, Billy Graham come to mind. The Evangelist appears to be only a global office, how many local churches could point to one in the same way they’re able to point to thier Pastor?

    The real issue here is why 5 giftings are listed and we really only see one truly validated and functioning in the church. If you’re looking to point out error, that might be a good place to start.

  18. Holly Says:


    I think we do see those five giftings functioning in the church. The problem with NAR is it asserts, without biblical warrant, that people who have those giftings must hold formal, governmental offices in the church.

  19. Lorenz Says:

    Dear Holly
    Thanks very much for all your efforts. Great work you are doing!
    I just discovered that the link pasted above has no video any more. It should go to the commissioning ceremony of Todd Bentley.
    Best regards

  20. Holly Says:

    Lorenz, I updated the link so it works now. Thanks for letting me know that the video was missing. And thanks for your encouraging words.

  21. Annie Says:

    Cath, Many people may love God but be ignorantly following a false prophert or apostle. Here are some key verses I recommend: Hebrews 1:1-2 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” and Matthew 24:24 “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

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