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A Bethel Redding School Masquerading as an Assemblies of God Bible Institute?

By Holly Pivec

You’ve probably heard of a single church being taken over by an individual or group from within. But have you ever heard of an entire network of churches within a denomination being taken over? As unprecedented as that may sound, that is exactly what appears to be happening now in the Assemblies of God (AG) denomination in Northern California and Nevada.

The flashpoint for this takeover is a discipleship school now also functioning as an AG Bible institute, housed at Lifehouse (an AG church), in Eureka, California. While the school has existed for 10 years, it recently began offering all the classes required for a person to become licensed and ordained as an AG minister. And this AG Bible institute is pumping out the next generation of AG leaders into Northern California, Nevada, and AG churches in other areas. But what’s wrong with that?

The problem is that the school appears to be a Trojan horse. It is heavily influenced by the teachings of Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, and other “apostles” and “prophets” from the controversial Bethel Church in Redding, California. To those who are paying attention, the name of this AG institute, the Bethel School of Supernatural Discipleship (BSSD), may be the first thing to give it away.

But that’s not where the connections end.

Not What It Seems

Despite the AG label and licensing, BSSD is not actually an AG school – not at its heart. Rather, it seems more accurate to describe it as a school of Bethel Church, intentionally modeled after Bethel Church’s own Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM).

Anyone who knows the rocky history between the AG and Bethel Church will understand why a Bethel school passing itself off as an AG school would concern some people within the AG denomination.

Bethel Church split with the AG denomination in 2006 to pursue what it saw as a different and distinct calling. That calling has included the promotion of many teachings that have been publicly repudiated by the AG, including the teachings that modern “apostles” and “prophets” must hold governing offices in the church; that miraculous gifts are not distributed by the Holy Spirit as He wills, but rather that every Christian can learn to work miracles; and that it is the church’s task to set up God’s physical kingdom on earth prior to Christ’s return.[1]

In short, the AG’s officially stated doctrines and position papers are in direct conflict with many of Bethel’s teachings. And Bethel teachings have caused significant conflict in AG churches. (See my article showing how this conflict recently played out in one AG church in Northern California.)

In light of this troubled history and doctrinal conflict, my claim that the AG’s BSSD is actually a school of Bethel Church may seem difficult to believe. But, below, in what follows, I highlight key facts that show that BSSD is, essentially, a Bethel school – through-and-through – as opposed to an AG institute.

BSSD: Bethel Born and Bred

  • “Sister Schools”: The current BSSD website — which is remarkably similar in structure and content to Bethel Church’s BSSM website – describes BSSM as a “sister school.” And an older BSSD blog, which can still be found online, described BSSD as a “sister campus” to BSSM. Likewise, BSSM staff members reportedly refer to the two schools as sister schools.
  • Same Founders, Core Values, and Culture: The BSSD website also speaks to the key connections between BSSD and Bethel Church, noting the role that Bethel prophet Kris Vallotton played in the AG school’s conception. The BSSD site also declares that BSSD and Bethel Church share the “same core values and culture.” What are those core values? You would expect the BSSD page to list the core values and note, in addition, that these are the same core values as those of BSSM. But what do they do instead? They refer people to the BSSM page for the list of their own core values. The BSSD states:

“In 2009 Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate Leader of Bethel Church, and Marty Pronovost, a Senior Leader of BSSD, envisioned a discipleship school on the North Coast. The school would be a sister school to Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry where students and young revivalists alike could to [sic] take part in kingdom culture, experience the love of God together for growth, receive healing and discover their identities as children of God…. We share the same core values and culture of Bethel Church in Redding, CA.”

  • The “instrumental” and “ongoing” roles and influence of Bethel’s Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, and Bethel Church: A WordPress blog that served as a repository for information in BSSD’s early days remains active. It provides a deeper window into the relationship between BSSD and Bethel Church, boldly proclaiming the centrality of the start-up and ongoing support of BSSD by Bethel Church’s Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton. It states, “BSSD has an incredibly strong relationship with Bethel Church in Redding, California under the direction of Senior Pastor Bill Johnson and Senior Associate Kris Vallotton. Bethel has been instrumental in the start-up and on-going support of BSSD as a sister campus.”
  • Family Ties: One of BSSD’s two co-founders and current senior leaders, Marty Pronovost, has close family ties to Bethel. He is the son-in-law of Kris Vallotton. Marty Pronovost’s wife, Jaime Vallotton Pronovost, is Vallotton’s daughter and the school’s “Third Year Director.”
  • Shared Applications: There is a clear sharing of student applications between BSSD and BSSM, as can be seen in a comment posted to the BSSD website by a former student named Jed Laub. See the comment here (found in the rotating comments at the bottom of the page), where Laub describes how his application sent to BSSM was forwarded to BSSD (seemingly without his knowledge). And this sharing of applications is not a one-off. On her personal blog, another BSSD student reported an experience of applying to BSSM, being rejected, and then being asked for her permission to forward her application to BSSD (where she was accepted). And two other students report similar experiences on their blogs: here and here. What is especially significant here is that the same application is accepted as a basis for being admitted at both places.
  • BSSD, A “Prep School” for BSSM: Apparently, BSSM has made a practice of sending applications they have rejected to BSSD. According to one of the rejected BSSM applicants, BSSD is seen as a “prep school” for BSSM — a school that is “functionally equivalent” to BSSM, but smaller — where students can go to resolve some personal issues before entering BSSM. This perception is confirmed by the BSSM website, which describes BSSD as “an affiliate discipleship school” of BSSM, a school for people “looking for a place to rehab or people who are coming out of lifestyle sins.” The BSSM site also provides a direct link to the BSSD site. But, regardless of the rationale, such application sharing seems to establish an ongoing direct link and influence administratively from Bethel’s BSSM to the AG’s BSSD.
  • “Feeding School”: A Facebook post, written by BSSD co-founder Willy Bowles prior to the school’s launch, stated that BSSD would be “more or less a feeding school” for Bethel Church.
  • Shared Speakers: Many, if not the majority, of the speakers at BSSD hail straight from Bethel Church. These speakers have included Kris Vallotton, Bill Johnson, Eric and Candace Johnson, Chris Overstreet, Dan McCollam, and Anthony Skinner.
  • Direct Bethel Endorsements: Kris Vallotton is featured in a promo video for BSSD, endorsing the school.
  • “Spiritual Fathers”: BSSD co-founder Marty Pronovost refers frequently to Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton as his and Lifehouse Humboldt’s “spiritual fathers.” (Lifehouse Humboldt is a network of AG churches, including the church that houses BSSD.) For example, listen to Pronovost’s message titled “Keys to Unity, in which he refers to Bethel’s leaders as “our fathers” (starting at about 27 minutes).
  • Confusing the Schools: BSSD is so closely tied to Bethel Church that multiple BSSD students have referred their school as being a school of Bethel Church. See examples of three different students raising funds to attend BSSD who make no distinction between BSSD and Bethel Church: here, here and here.
  • Shared Teachings: Like Bethel Church, BSSD teaches that all Christians can learn to work miracles, such as prophesying and healing the sick, in a classroom setting – along with many other Bethel Church teachings. These shared teachings are no surprise given the organizations’ shared founders, values, and speakers.

The Significance

The significance of the above points can’t be overstated. This is not simply an AG school that appears to have a casual connection to Bethel Redding. This is a Bethel-born school, conceived directly by Kris Vallotton, with the support of Bill Johnson, and with Vallotton’s son-in-law Marty Provonost (an ordained AG minster), along with Willy Bowles (another ordained AG minister and a district presbyter for the AG’s Northern California and Nevada District). Said differently, it is the brainchild of leaders at Bethel Church, working in partnership with some AG pastors and officials in the AG Northern California and Nevada District who have close personal ties to Bethel Church. And these individuals have, from the beginning, intentionally modeled BSSD after Bethel’s BSSM. This is a deep-seated connection, and Bethel plays an ongoing and important role in all aspects of the school.

And now BSSD is dispatching, into AG churches, pastors who have been molded theologically by Bethel Church — a church theologically at odds with the AG. This is a brilliant strategy for penetrating and taking over a denomination: seize the hearts of a whole generation of denominational pastors, give them networks of similarly envisioned people from the get-go, and you get more than just a few churches – you gain access to an entire network and denomination.

A Wake-Up Call for AG Leaders (and Other Denominations)

So, an important question is: how did this Bethel born-and-bred school ever receive official recognition as an AG institute in the first place? The school has clearly found support at the denomination’s district level, as seen by the fact that district leaders have had roles in founding the school, endorsing it, and teaching at it.[2] Is it possible that the other leaders in the district are simply unaware of the depth of the connections and relationship between the schools?

The school certainly warrants a closer look by those who may share concerns about Bethel’s influence, and those in leadership positions in the AG who are charged with maintaining the denomination’s doctrinal purity, given what has been coming to light about Bethel Church and the larger New Apostolic Reformation movement of which Bethel is a part.

In one sense, a takeover of the AG, at the district level, has already begun. Thus, it seems that, if the AG wants to reverse this takeover and prevent its spread to the AG at large, its leaders have no choice. They must act and intervene given the growing Bethel influence and the fact that this school claims to be an AG-sanctioned school preparing students for ministry according to AG General Council educational requirements.

What’s taking place right now in the Assemblies of God Church should be a sobering wake-up call – not just for those in Assemblies of God leadership, but also for leaders in other denominations who must remain vigilant. Historically, the Assemblies of God has taken a commendable stand against aberrant teachings, including teachings now being promoted by Bethel Church.[3] As a concerned onlooker, I pray they will take a similar stand again.

About the Author

Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University

Notes

[1] These Bethel teachings can be found in the sermons and literature of Bethel’s leaders, including Bill Johnson’s book When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. The teaching that, biblically, the proper church government consists of apostles and prophets can be found on the church website in the “About” section under the tab titled “Our Mission.” The teaching that all Christians can learn to work miracles is the foundation of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, where students are taught to work miracles. See the following AG position papers, which refute those teachings: “Apostles and Prophets,” “End-Time Revival: Spirit-Led and Spirit-Controlled,” and “The Kingdom of God.”

[2] Consider this e-mail — dated Sept. 3, 2019 — sent by AG District Presbyter Willy Bowles to AG churches in the Northern California and Nevada District. Bowles introduces the church’s pastors to the school and describes it as “an approved Bible institute for the Assembly of God denomination.” Since Bowles was then acting as a district presbyter,  he presumably had the authority to declare that BSSD is an AG-approved Bible institute. He also informs pastors that, through the school, their parishioners can receive an AG minister’s license. And he states that some of the school’s classes are taught by AG district leaders, including the district superintendent, Brett Allen, and the assistant superintendent, Sam Huddleston. The message of the e-mail is clear: this is an AG school, and it is endorsed by the district’s top leaders.

[3] For example, on September 13, 1949, the General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States passed a resolution denouncing the extreme teachings and practices of the Latter Rain movement. (See Resolution No. 7.) The Latter Rain movement was a precursor to today’s New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement. Like the NAR movement and Bethel Church, it  taught that present-day apostles and prophets must govern the church.

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40 Responses to “A Bethel Redding School Masquerading as an Assemblies of God Bible Institute?”

  1. Circuit Rider Says:

    Excellent research, Holly. Bethel Redding’s influence and involvement in BSSD is obvious. For example, the “Prophetic Ministry” second-year class uses Vallotton’s /Basic Training for the Prophetic/ as their primary text. Their Facebook pages are littered with terms like “prophetic activation” and “mandate.” I also found a video interview with Bill Johnson endorsing a book.

    Visit the BSSD Facebook page (suggest Private/Incognito mode) here: https://www.facebook.com/BSSDHumboldt/ and associated YouTube channels: BSSDHumboldt, BSSDMedia, and LifeHouse Humboldt.

    Another area of Bethel Redding influence on AG churches is the Firestarters course. Pastors are so desperate to fill the sanctuary, they will exchange sound doctrine for parlor tricks and crowd control techniques. True revival is not about the numbers – it’s about the heart condition.

  2. CC Says:

    THANK YOU! I have been hoping for a long time now that one of the discernment ministries I follow would shine a light on the subsummation of AG churches such as Lifehouse, or the “Bethelization of Humboldt” as I call it. It’s a fascinating and sad story that sadly will be repeated across the nation. I will be sharing this!

  3. AWT Says:

    How fitting that Kris Vallotton is actually at Lifehouse Humboldt / BSSD today!

    https://www.facebook.com/LifehouseHumboldt/posts/1584092085087761

    and

    https://www.facebook.com/LifehouseHumboldt/videos/426532408223881/

    I fear we have become too apologetic in our apologetics. In trying to please everyone we end up destroying the truth.” AW Tozer

  4. Claire Says:

    Hm. I think I will drop this article I wrote right here: https://resetexchange.com/mass-occult-invasion-of-the-church-satans-smart-strategy. The title is “Mass Occult Invasion of the Church: Satan’s Smart Strategy [And how Bethel Church drives the push on a worldwide scale].

    It focuses on the occult, but is totally in line with what you are saying.

  5. John Winlow Says:

    The influence of the New Apostolic Reformation has even reached the United Kingdom where I live.
    The sad thing is that the level of Bible study in all churches today is so low that almost any doctrinal error or deception can be passed off as ‘Biblical’.
    The prevailing Western cultural attitude of “Suck it and see” means that terrible harm can be done in the Church before some Christian stands up and says, “Hey folks, this stuff is plain wrong!”

  6. CC Says:

    @AWT

    That’s sad, but not surprising. Lifehouse (which has at least three campuses in Humboldt County; and I know of a fourth church that is not part of Lifehouse, but might as well be, since they are also largely patterned on the Bethel model) has hosted many Bethel speakers over the years. In fact, Lifehouse is AG in name only — they are essentially Bethel satellites, being indistinguishable from Bethel in doctrine and practice. Unlike the church that Holly linked to in her article, the Bethel influence at Lifehouse was not caught and questioned early, so it has been taking root there for at least a decade.

  7. Lori Lindsley Says:

    Dear Holly,

    Thank you for all your research, please keep an eye on THe Rock of Roseville as well; it is a sister church to Bethel.

    https://tinyurl.com/rga6pao

  8. Loes Tam Says:

    Dear Holly,

    You may want to check out “Jerusalem 2020 Empowered21 Global Congress” in light of your concerns regarding BSSD.One of the speakers at their next gathering is George Wood.

    Blessings,
    Loes

  9. John Says:

    Bill Johnson’s Bethel Redding and Mike Bickle of IHOP-KC continue to eat away at the visible church. Thank you for this excellent article and all the time and research it must have taken.

    Those of us who know people in AG churches should make sure this article gets to them.

  10. AWT Says:

    @CC:

    Yes, Lifehouse Humboldt appears to have another campus in Denver as well, led by a former student from BSSD who appears in the article and who seemingly applied to BSSM and then had their application automatically forwarded to BSSD (Jed Laub).

    I was listening to the Podcast, and at about 24 minutes in, one of the Leaders from Lifehouse Humboldt (Marty Pronovost) talks about their relationship to the A/G, the 16 Fundamental truths, and the flexibility (he seems to imply) that the leadership has given them in the relationship and on “agreeing to disagree” in areas of doctrine that have, traditionally, been considered ‘non-negotiable’.

    Here is a link to that podcast if you’re interested:
    https://player.fm/series/sermons-from-lifehouse-denver/marty-pronovost

  11. VWB Says:

    AoG leadership in the N CA/NV district have swung favorably ever since the new district superintendent came on board. At last years’ District Men’s conference they allowed a booth by BSSM to be set up and to recruit students.
    I recently left an AoG Church in the district because the new pastor was bringing Bethel doctrine in. Same pastor at a staff meeting I attended stated that the Superintendent “apologized” for the way the district treated the church.
    First CLC in Santa Cruz and now this.

  12. John Says:

    Bill Johnson’s Bethel Redding is the bridge between the visible church and the new age. https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=15508

  13. Circuit Rider Says:

    Loes and John win the prize for pointing out the Empowered21 (E21) connection. For those who are not familiar with the movement, a quick review of the E21 “Jerusalem 2020” videos on YouTube are a fair introduction. As with heretical teachings, I do not recommend recent converts or those struggling in their faith view them.

    On the surface, the corporate videos make E21 sound like a networking conference for the Charismatic movement. There will be vision casting, popular worship bands, multi-day prayer meetings, and more. Dig a little deeper and you will see someone screaming out on stage, “This is the third Pentecost!” I guess the second would have been Azusa Street? If you properly understand the reason the early believers tarried at Pentecost (Shavuot), you will understand why such proclamations and others about the year 2033 are not Biblical.

    The AG is so deeply entwined with this movement that I doubt it can ever be separated. Current and former U.S. AG executive leaders are part of the E21 leadership council: Alton Garrison, Doug Clay, and George Wood. Executive leadership of the World AG Fellowship in Africa and Asia are also members of the leadership council.

    Who will be sharing the stage with them? A sample: Bill and Beni Johnson (Bethel), Cindy Jacobs (Generals), and Todd White (Lifestyle). Even if this is the first time you’ve visited Holly’s website, those names should ring a warning bell.

    And what is wrong with that? At best, AG participation gives the appearance of credibility and endorsement by the denomination. At worst, these AG leaders become complicit in heresy and deceiving the flock. As for me, I would rather not play with fire and burn innocent sheep.

  14. AWT Says:

    The video someone took and made of this article is a visually compelling adaptation that displays the facts along with the websites and the links contained within the article. It seems difficult to believe someone would take exception with the facts after seeing them in addition to hearing the content. I believe it is worth a listen and share by some of those who are concerned and want to bring awareness.

    https://youtu.be/v6pkk7mLrzI

    Watching it really enhanced the display of compelling facts and evidence Holly links to and includes in the article.

  15. AWT Says:

    @CircuitRider, I concur, and share your concerns and conclusions. At best, the A/G is lending credibility…at worst??? Same thing has happened in the past with other global/ecumenical endeavors. I would have much rather seen some sort of partnership with other global missions and sending organizations outside our stream who are working as partners for Gospel Proclamation in fulfillment of the Great Mandate, as opposed to lending a hand and implied endorsement to movements polluting the stream and bringing heretical teachings and distractions which detract, not enhance, from the Gospel and cardinal doctrines that define our fellowship and have been rejected in our recent past. Apparently influence buys you a seat at the E21 table regardless of doctrine.

  16. Jay G Says:

    As a strong proponent of sound doctrine and the theology I have watched the sort of dispute over many years of my 54 years of life. Though I do not know the details of the split from 2006 of Bethel and the AG, I do recognize the need for fellowships in the body of Christ to function in a way that fulfills the great commission. Many form doctrines while prooftexting scripture. I have seen the error on the other side of that coin as well. As Matthew 10 States, Preach the Kingdom of God, Heal the sick, raise dead, cast out devils… Sadly I do not see churches today functioning in these realms. Yet I have also seen the error and excess of those who have operated in these realms to the detriment of the kingdom. Having strong ties with the AG as well as independent fellowships, one can not overvalue the need for sound theology and biblical teaching and practice. I believe signs and wonders will follow the church who proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ. Has there been any thought given to those who do not have signs & wonders following their ministry in any capacity as opposed to those who seemingly do?
    I understand the passage were people did signs and wonders and Jesus told them to depart. But I also understand the passage of an apostate church the denies the power of the gospel.
    I also find it fascinating that we agree to disagree with our Baptist brothers and sisters who do not believe in the Baptism of Holy Spirit. Yet when apparent gifts of power and revelation flow a flag seems to go up. If doctrine incorrect, then correct it. If falsehoods are being presented as truth correct it. If a Brother of Sister offends..GO TO THEM as scripture teaches.
    “IF” the AG has forged an ungodly bond in the west coast, it will be revealed and corrected. To have such an affiliation and backing with the AG whose HQ is in Missouri, it must be evaluated and sanctioned by HQ.

    So as a fellow believer I leave you with this question, what have each of us done today to win a soul to Christ and make disciples?

  17. AWT Says:

    @Jay G – Thanks for your strong admonishment to going out to proclaim the Gospel today and every day. These issues of theology can become such an unnecessary distraction and an invitation to simply debate and foster a contentious spirit.

    I think there are some distinctions here that need to be made. For example, when the A/G links arms with say the SBC, maybe partnering with the IMB to do a missions project, the A/G is not asking the IMB or SBC to link arm and arm doctrinally and SBC doctrine will not suddenly be taught within its ranks because the organizations are distinctly different. SBC churches are not going to suddenly be training A/G ministers either and, conversely, SBC churches will not become A/G BIble Institutes training future SBC ministers.

    The distinguishing issue here, imo, is the infiltration by a group with aberrant doctrine to not only the A/G, but to much of Evangelical Christianity at large, and it appears they have gained access and growing influence theologically to en entire Network of churches including those who are now training future A/G ministerial candidates. Imo, that is a significantly more concerning issue and something happening to other concerned denominations as well.

  18. Circuit Rider Says:

    Jay, I am willing to try to explain why this is important, but I first need to understand your view of Bethel Redding. Do you believe their practices and teachings are inspired by the Holy Spirit? Can you give some examples of what you mean by apparent gifts of power and revelation?

    Also, do you think people have not privately approached the leadership with concerns about their practices and teachings? (Matt 18:15-17)

    As to your last question, I witnessed to a young man about how my relationship with Christ defines my work ethic. How about you?

  19. AWT Says:

    @Jay G – The admonishment to “Go to them” is certainly a good principle outlined in Matthew 18 as the means by which individuals experiencing interpersonal conflict with another brother/sister can go about resolution of such conflict or concern. It is specifically applied to a local church context as it prescribes how to handle it if they refuse correction up to the point of involving other witnesses and even bringing it before the church to resolve. I would assume the A/G district is probably experiencing quite a bit of concerned inquiries at this point from brothers and sisters inside and outside its walls.

    That being said, we do not see the same New Testament pattern applied with regards to those seen as false teachers or promoting deceiving doctrine that infiltrates the Church and leads others astray into heresy and possibly into spiritual destruction and futility. Some examples might include Gnostism, Judaizers, anti-christs, those using smooth speech to capture followers and tickle ears, etc. that Paul, John and Peter routinely call out in their epistles and letters. They all address and name heretical doctrine and practices and/or those promoting them. The spread and influence was too enormous for those NT writers to consider them merely a “personal” issue. Likewise, this is not simply a matter of personal offense. So, while I would expect those with personal relationships with those involved to go to them directly with concerns, I would also expect the larger network of Evangelical leaders and brothers and sisters who may be concerned to raise up their voices as well and to protect their shared interest in the protection of the Church. This is simultaneously about one denomination, but also about them all. The time for personal concerns to be brought from within was probably missed multiple tims along the way as Bethel’s trail of destruction through unsuspecting and vulnerable churches is well documented. I have to believe there were some who have raised and voiced those concerns from within, through the years. Many people stated here and elsewhere that they left churches or sounded alarms for years.

    I agree the AG is ultimately responsible to investigate goings on and derive whatever conclusions and actions from there for its churches. But, the larger Church looking in need not be silent if heretical teachings and practices are infiltrating the Body of Christ. As I understand it, many other denominations are experiencing this same, including my own, and others like my friends in the Nazarene movement…which the article admonishes to stay vigilant. Bethel (and related ministries) have been under a lot of fire by biblical apologists of all persuasions, including those from within pentecostal and charismatic circles growing weary of ever increasingly deviations. There are also many from within former New Age movements, and students who left the BSSM school after experiencing some things they deemed too occult in nature, and they are blowing the whistle and sounding the alarms…hopefully some Pentecostal denominations like the A/G, Foursquare, etc. will listen and will either confirm or deny their acceptance of these theological deviances.

  20. Circuit Rider Says:

    Thank you for responding competently and with compassion, @AWT. To understand the unique Bethel Redding/BSSM view of God, you must return to the source… and therein lies the danger to the AG in credentialing ministers who subscribe to these views. Examine what Bill Johnson and his wife Beni have taught, and then compare those fundamental teachings to God’s Word – that’s the Bible, in case any readers have been taught otherwise.

    Bill teaches that Jesus lived as a man in right relationship with God (being devoid of his divinity), not that He was, is, and forever will be God (Col 1:19, Heb 1:3). This teaching is known as the kenotic doctrine and it is widely taught in NAR/WoF churches. For the record, it violates the AG Fundamental Truths #2 and #3.

    Bill also teaches/approves of New Age and quantum mysticism, although he would tell you this secret knowledge (gnosticism, anyone?) was stolen by the occult and needs to be reclaimed. I am not going to rehash all of the associated weird practices at Bethel Redding. Bill very plainly states that Christianity can learn a lot from New Age and occult practices. I can’t find an AG Fundamental Truth that addresses this specifically – but do they really need to call out that one??

    BSSM mimics Simon of Samaria (Acts 8:14-24) in that spiritual gifts can be bought, taught, and transferred at will. Sorry, you cannot become a prophet by reading Kris Valotten’s books, Heidi Baker uttering over you, nor will paying your BSSM tuition bill on time guarantee your “prophetic destiny” will be fulfilled. Refer to the AG position paper “Apostles and Prophets” published in 2001.

    Finally, I encourage readers to watch a few minutes of this interview with Elijah Stephens, who teaches apologetics at BSSM: https://youtu.be/sEBaqQfsNIc. You get a clear picture within the first 20-30 minutes – Elijah cannot reconcile Bill Johnson’s conflicting statements and even explains them away by saying Bill does not get enough sleep while traveling. I can’t say it better than the professor: (Bethel) has a big mess to clean up. Does the AG really want to be tied up with this mess?

    I encourage believers reading this to pray for Elijah. He is immersed in the NAR world (http://simplykingdom.com/about) but I hear self-doubt in the October interview, as he tries to whitewash obvious flaws in the Bethel theology. May God reveal His truth.

  21. John Winlow Says:

    Took me a little while to find out what ‘BBSM’ means, Duh!
    I looked at their website to see what they get up to, and it made me very sad to see so many young people being led into false doctrines.
    There are some churches here in the United Kingdom that are being influenced by all this stuff, but it’s mostly piecemeal, like for example Houses of Prayer springing up, and these Sozo healing courses, centreing prayers etc.
    The real problem is an ignorance of the central doctrines of the faith, the character of God and the pastoral writings. Personally I do believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit but I think fruit bearing and putting into practice what you do understand of the faith, is far more important.

  22. Circuit Rider Says:

    Sincere question: Has anyone thought about “following” graduates of BSSM and related schools to see whether they end up in leadership positions at AG churches? I do not mean to suggest stalking them… just see whether there is a correlation between BSSM/BSSD graduates in leadership positions and local congregations adopting Bethel Redding/NAR apostolic alignment.

    I wonder just how many Christian Life Center of Santa Cruz style stories are out there, but not well-publicized?

  23. AWT Says:

    @Circuit Rider, I am aware of dozens of stories, literally. Spanning back 2 decades, an untold number of churches have been influenced, especially on the West Coast, which makes sense given the proximity.

    What makes CLC unique, in my opinion, is that they took steps to reject it before it was too late. Although, arguably, damage was still done and casualties inflicted in that effort. Division is often the most lasting fruit of these NAR takeovers. I’ve never seen a church yet that didn’t suffer a large level of division regardless of the final outcome.

    The churches I know of that eventually ousted their NAR pastors (usually over heretical teaching from the pulpit of some kind that conflicted with A/G doctrinal positions), were never the same. Of those that didn’t, many left the A/G or are continuing as A/G in name, but Bethel in doctrine. I say Bethel in doctrine, because there are obvious doctrinal errors that are not in alignment with A/G doctrine and bylaws. I think that’s far more concerning and dangerous than those that choose to leave and become independent, non-denominational Bethel affiliated entities.

  24. Circuit Rider Says:

    I posted a similar message in a different thread and invite feedback. I believe this is another example of how the AG is being influenced from the inside. Please watch this video presentation by Doug Clay (AG chief executive) on “The Prayer Experience” at GC19 last year: https://www.facebook.com/AssembliesofGodUSA/videos/695966420848810/

    I feel unsettled by some of the imagery, and the repeated encouragement to “contemplate” and “soak”. Note that this room was first deployed at an AG kids’ camp. Churches are encouraged to create their own “Prayer Experience” using an online guide.

  25. AWT Says:

    @Circuit Rider, Thanks for sharing the link, I had not seen that particular video. I’m not sure what to make of it. I want to be quick to give Doug Clay and A/G national leadership the benefit of the doubt that this is a just a creative opportunity and expression. Given all the uneasiness over Bethel’s influence, however, I find myself cautiously optimistic while remaining guarded.

    It’s hard not to be concerned when Bethel remains the largest tither to the District in which it is located, seceded from, and holds some significant theological views incompatible with core A/G doctrine and several of the fundamental truths. It is common knowledge and sense to expect that $$$ and influence are strongly correlated, and especially when there is a large amount of existing crossover due to Bethel’s history, proximity, relationships and networks with many A/G pastors, former pastors, churches, former churches, constituents and former constituents, etc. They own missions and ministries still regularly frequented by A/G churches, their Bethel Redding staff is filled with former A/G ministers and adherents, etc, and they now have a BSSM School Planting and Sister School campus of 10 years that has started offering courses for A/G licensing and ordination prep (as outlined so clearly in the article). I see no difference, whatsoever, than if Global University were contracting with Bethel Redding directly to offer the same courses on site or at any of their planted schools. Obviously, this particular school holds special relationship to Bethel, being named on BSSM’s website, having a page largely given to praising Kris Vallotton as co-founder, and given all the Bethel speakers (including Bill himself) who regularly come, in addition to one of the founders being a direct relation to Kris Vallotton who was apparently there the day the article went live! The relationship is undeniable. This is what leads me to my position of cautious but guarded optimism regarding the link you shared, because I don’t think anything can be assumed anymore absent a positional statement from A/G leadership at some point.

  26. Rich Says:

    ANGEL’s of Light, DEMONS OF DARKNESS. Worshipping the wrong Spirit .
    Beware they are dangerous, Not preaching the truth. Turn and run ask God for a Spirit of discernment.
    God Will Not Be Mocked. Pray for them to be delivered from the darkness.

  27. Harry Says:

    The Assemblies of God as a once great movement of God has drifted from is Azusa Street days and actually fearful of the power of the Holy Spirit. It is also amazing the those on the forum will bash Bethel Church without any Scriptural support. What I primarily see here is feeding off of sound bites that wants to control the Assemblies of God by fleshy understanding. The AOG congregation that are acceptable to Bethel Church are doing it to uncontain the Holy Spirit. I have followed Bethel for along time I have never seen anything that did not lift Jesus up or the Word. As far as some of the supernatural manifested experience that is the uncontrolled power of the Holy Spirit that most churches are afraid of. God said, “He will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh”, we are seeing that in Redding and many other churches that wants the undiluted power of God.

  28. Jay Says:

    AWT; Thank you for your lengthy but complete response. Some of which you presented I have never heard before about some of the teaching points. My context to Bethel is from afar. Though I have listened to a number of Pastor Bills messages. I have not gotten to the gnosticism message as yet. I say that from the standpoint of by no means is my exposure to the ministry exhaustive.
    I will look into it further and thank you for the links that I more fully take a look at what you stated. I truly appreciate the response and communication.
    Years ago, at the recommendation of my Pastor in NJ, when I attended an AG college in FL, I decided to go to Benny Hinns church in Orlando because I wished to see and hear things first hand. Not that he agreed with everything necessarily, but was to learn. With that being said, Bro Benny took the stage and publicly announced the Tape #XXX should be returned to the ministry or destroyed. The ministry would replace it with another if they contacted the office free of charge. The reason he stated was that he was approached by some AG brothers and informed him that something he had preached was in opposition to what scripture teaches. If nothing else, I respected his public retraction of the error, with humble a humble apology and offer to make good on it.
    One would hope and pray that Bethel or and other organization would operate with the same heart.
    Blessings!

  29. DON MOISANT Says:

    how many sister churches are bethels

  30. Circuit Rider Says:

    @Harry, if I can summarize your reply: Bethel Redding and churches within their apostolic sphere (including some AG churches) are moving in signs and wonders, taking the Holy Spirit out of the box, and people who criticize them are acting out of the flesh. Critics have, to borrow a popular phrase, “a religious spirit.”

    With few exceptions, the people I’ve encountered in discernment ministries serve out of love for God and the church at large. Many of us are pastors, missionaries, evangelists, and ministry leaders. A few of us are even current or former AG ministers. Regardless of background, many are concerned about the AG because it presents a large target for the enemy’s attacks.

    It did not take long for me to come up with eight Bethel practices and teachings that are contrary to scripture. These are things Bethel “owns” and are taught from their pulpit, written in books, and spread by them all over social media, not rumors spread by malcontents.
    Here is the first one: Bill Johnson very clearly teaches Jesus Christ was just a man in right relationship with the Father, not a member of the eternal triune Godhead (Colossians 1:19, Hebrews 1:3). Look up “kenotic Christology” to understand why this is marked as heresy by the church at large. If Bill’s understanding of the nature of Christ is wrong, how can you believe or be surprised by anything that proceeds from Bethel’s pulpit?

    Also, some of the content Bethel/BSSM/BSSD posts online as evidence of God’s presence resembles “weird manifestations” (https://youtu.be/IrpW6Xctg8Q). Not the Holy Spirit unleashed, uncontained, on the loose, on the move – but a different spirit of false signs and wonders. I pray that you seek God’s truth and ask the Holy Spirit for discernment in this matter.

  31. Circuit Rider Says:

    @Harry and others – I am not affiliated with the website or the people involved, but this article covers many of the core issues with Bethel’s theology: https://churchwatchcentral.com/2019/08/04/bethels-false-gospel-many-well-known-pastors-and-theologians-come-out-against-bethel-church/

    And, of course, @Holly has a number of other excellent articles about Bethel 🙂

  32. AWT Says:

    The reality is, Bethel Redding teaches several things in direct conflict with the A/G’s 16 Fundamental Truths, its bylaws, etc . Whatever personal affinity some may have for Bill Johnson and Bethel’s ministry or what they believe is the work of the Holy Spirit, it is a re-branding of the New Order of the Latter Rain movement which was denounced by the A/G in 1949 and those teachings are the subject of multiple position papers that are freely available to read and consider. Quite simply, Bethel’s doctrine is not compatible with A/G doctrine. For those who are “A/G”, I suggest researching these things more deeply. Bethel preaches “another gospel”, and I would encourage those in the A/G to research the Bylaws and position papers for the points where Bethel’s practices and doctrine differ from core A/G teaching and beliefs. If you struggle with the idea that Bethel preaches “another gospel”, I highly recommend you go and listen to Albert Mohler’s Dec. 20 “The Briefing” podcast. He does an excellent job pointing out some major flaws in light of the press Bethel was receiving during that time.

  33. Harry Says:

    Everything above is refutable. Bethel’s core values statement says, “that Jesus is fully God”. Psalm 103:3. States God “heals all deases”, therefore it is God’s will to heal all sicknesses. Much of the justification for attacking Bill Johnson is base on junk freshly theology and not on the Bible in its original Holy Spirit context. As far as being impressive with religious acquired credential like Pharisees has no Godly value. There is no greater damage to the purpose of God in salvation of souls than heresy hunters, like this site, tearing down His work through His servants He ordained that wants keep God in their fleshly box.

  34. Circuit Rider Says:

    Harry, if you read my message again, I was not claiming or proclaiming credentials. I was saying most of us minister full-time and this is a voluntary labor of love. Mock me, call me names, and falsely accuse me all you want, but consider the source of those fruits (James 3:13-18).

    God loves you more than you can comprehend, and was Himself nailed to the cross as the only acceptable atonement for the sin of all mankind. That is why it is so important to get the nature of Christ right. I could not care less about Bethel’s website because the content is screened by a PR firm… I only care about what is being taught in the church, the schools, streamed online, and written by Bill in books.

  35. Aaron Says:

    The Assemblies of God used to have a school up in that part of California, called Bethany University, but it closed down some years ago. Ultimately, every church in the Assemblies of God is autonomous. There is very little oversight of the churches from the district level. I’m a lifelong member of the Assemblies of God.

  36. VWB Says:

    Aaron –
    THAT Bethany College/University was located in Santa Cruz CA. It was closed down many years ago. “Bethany” is a popular name for many churches, not just AG.

  37. Brad Says:

    So what I’d like to know is how long has this been going on with AG. We went to an AG church in Vancouver WA for 9 years and I was friends with two of the pastors and that church relationship and friendship unfortunately ended suddenly when our 6 yr old came us an said “Mom they tried to teach me Yoga in Sunday School” Then when my wife confronted the Senior Pastor, (one of my former “friends”) he growled at her with a nasty scowl and said -“it’s just excercise”

    I sent them a two hour video with information from former new agers and Carol Matrisciana and other about evils of Yoga and they ignored me and didn’t even apologize for introducing our 6 yr old that we entrusted to them.

    I always thought AOG was solid for a Pentecostal church but we found otherwise. Senior Pastors father was from Southern Oregon so I wonder if he picked up NAR from Bethel that isn’t that far away.

    Anyone else notice how heretics are awakening and popping out of the woodwork like a giant sleeper cell awakening and starting the work of the master and king Lucifer?

    Come and come quickly Messiah, I’m tired of this Alien Mudball

  38. Angela Says:

    Hi again Holly and everyone,

    In the two years of looking into NAR have boted one of their big things is the networks which all interlink as they seek to spread their kingdom now dominionism across the visible church ….

    Today just spotted this …the new British Isles Council of Prophets – please note their NAR aims and terminology as well as the names of people involved. Brethren in the UK may have heard of some of them ….

    Am still watching for an equivalent “UK council of apostles” ….

    https://www.prophets.org.uk/

    Maranatha!!! Angela

  39. Donald Bate Says:

    Re “..Marty Pronovost refers frequently to Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton as his.. “spiritual fathers.”” I say, that’s a red flag right there. Jesus implicitly commanded in Matt 23:9 NOT to call anyone on earth ‘father’, for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Marty would do well to change his allegiance, and be a good example to his students by obeying Jesus’s teachings.

  40. Brad Says:

    Bill Johnson and Bethel are not by themselves in evil. They are part of NAR – New Apostolic Reformation. They think they are actual Apostles (even though there are rules for Apostles) they don’t think they need to abide by Sola Scriptura and they make up their own rules. They are also pushing the Kingdom now heresies and they are pushing the 1st century Greek Orthodox Heresy of Theosis where we are being made gods by Jesus.

    Bill Johnson, Heidi Baker, Che Ahn, Kenneth Copeland and a dozen or so other heretical false teachers all call themselves New Apostles and there are hybrids like Paula White and Robert Jeffress and Franklin Graham from Southern Baptist that are wreaking havoc with heresies as well. You can also throw Michael Brown from Tikkun International and NAR-Israel…and Jeff Durbin and James white from Apologia Studios/Church. Michael Heiser has aligned himself Celebration Church which is aligned with Tikkun and NAR-Israel.

    A worse bed of Vipers has never been seen and is drawing millions into hell with them

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