The Tragedy of Bethel

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89 Responses

  1. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    The home of the grave suckers.
    There is nothing ‘christian’ about these folks – they are pagan polytheists who live in a world of superstition.

    We need not try to understand them, but condemn them as the direct work of Satan. Some may disagree.

  2. Michael says:

    I have to try to understand them because they are very influential up here
    I would say that the reason we believe them heretics has more to do with tradition and experience than Scripture.
    They are just taking it all very literally in some cases…

  3. Janice Birnbaum says:

    “There is a part of me that feels great anger toward those who have taught these twisted doctrines.

    There is also a part of me that wishes very fervently that they were true…”

    That about sums it up for me, too! Oh how I wish it was true.

    Similar thought … In my CC days, I was told on many occasions I wasn’t saved until I spoke in tongues. Tried to do so many times. Guess I’m not saved, nor do I have enough faith to speak in tongues. (Not really – I’m past that!)

  4. JD says:

    Tragedy followed by a complete absence of hope, this is the result. This church’s response: throw money at it. WOW! Faith and hope in trusting God for the future, what happened to that? So sad!

  5. Nick says:

    “Those answers are veiled in mystery now, but someday the veil will be lifted.”
    Beautifully put.

  6. DavidP says:

    They skirt with heresy on occasion when they drift into modalism and similar teaching (Jesus wasn’t _really_ God until the miracles started, Jesus’s whole point was to show how good people can be if they self-actualize with God). But overall they feel like a mixture of all of the Prosperity/New Thought teaching over the past 200 years combined with dominionism and commodification of faith to make something quite prominent — the power is in us, we need to see it, claim it, pray a lot, take the nation back, buy some books and music, attend some conferences, and attend their unaccredited schools.

    To be clear they aren’t the first and others well-outside of their theological teaching have some of the same tricks (IBLP, Harvest, Mars Hill all come to mind). But the mixture certainly shows its powerlessness when it comes to real life, and right now is when this is most tragically seen.

    That said, I cannot image what these people are going through. The Lord overcame death, and those in him will too. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

  7. Em says:

    I can’t agree with MLD that the folk in question here are pagans…. I do not know what God sees as He looks down on this frenzy of despair.. I do know that this mother’s emotions, perhaps her whole approach to the Faith, have overridden her soul’s capacity to hear God’s comfort, His real ministry to a child of His…
    We should pray for this church, perhaps… God is not the author of confusion.. I read that somewhere. ?
    May God have mercy on this woman in her grief – comfort her in the knowledge that the little one is safe – too soon separated? In our human view, but not in God’s view

  8. Xenia says:

    I do not believe they are pagans, either. They believe the words of Jesus. I would say their prayers are not in line with God’s will, probably, in this case, but I do not fault people for believing the words of Jesus. As for their theology, I generally disagree with many points of Protestant theology.

  9. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    As I said, some would disagree – however if anyone can justify their theology and practice of grave sucking as anything but pagan, then I have issues with those people also.
    All of this ties together in an anti christian theology – they just say the Jesus type words to keep the hounds away.

  10. Em says:

    MLD, you can say they are ignorant, perhaps off base in their understanding of the Faith they claim and i would agree, but grave sucking pagans? Too strong, way too strong – they give an unbecoming picture of us, they MAY not be bona fide and questioning is fine, but you don’t know…. ?

  11. Michael says:

    I haven’t thought it all the way through…but if someone didn’t come to the Scriptures with the experience and traditions we have…you could come up with something similar to what Bethel teaches.

    Maybe the real question is why this sort of prayer isn’t answered…and that is, as I said, shrouded in mystery.

  12. pstrmike says:

    “If your theology teaches that God will do miracles if you just have enough faith, then your child is still dead because you lacked faith”

    Having been to Bethel, I wouldn’t say that the mainline doctrinal idea is if you have enough faith you will be healed, see someone raised from the dead, etc. There is a mix of asking of boldly asking for miracles and the recognition of God’s sovereignty in these things. It’s a strange dance that I can’t articulate, nor do I think they can either.

  13. Em says:

    Are these folk confusing Faith with pitching a fit (in Jeses name)?
    It is, for me, a foreign way of approaching a Holy all powerful God. …

  14. Thank you for this piece, written with such sensitivity. How understandable it is that parents would gladly seek for such resurrection now, if only to die again. And how irresponsible for pastors and leaders to affirm such a desire as a possibility.

  15. Erunner says:

    As a father and grandfather I can’t begin to understand the grief if one of ours were to suddenly pass. I would try and lean on the hope that he or she was now in the presence of God. During this Christmas season I can’t help but think of so many who are spending their first Christmas without their child/grandchild. How bittersweet…. It will be tough when they are confronted by the reality their precious child is not coming back. I pray that many who are standing with Kalley will come to realize the truth about beliefs they have bought into.

  16. Bernie says:

    A child in our area was recenly raised from the dead

  17. Wilburn Hunsucker says:

    I have personally witnessed this kind of faith. I assured the grieving wife that yes, our church did believe in the resurrection. I then stood appalled and heartbroken as she wailed in tongues and pleaded for us to join her as she asked God to resurrect her husband from his coffin, in front of their apt building in rural Russia. The city’s gossips had fodder for weeks and months and probably years about how the Russian Baptists tried to raise the dead.

  18. Michael says:


    Prove it.
    If anyone dies and comes back to life in any Western nation there will be documentation of both things happening.
    Let’s see the docs…

  19. Corby says:

    I don’t like it when tragic circumstances provide for object lessons, more specifically, spiritual correction. A woman I know has had five miscarriages. The church she is a part of has been sliding into the Bethel end of the spiritual spectrum. This woman got pregnant again and the prophecies over what the baby was going to do started flowing. Specific prophesies, and I consider any prophecy a “thus saith the Lord” statement, because you are speaking under the unction of the Spirit.

    Tragically, the woman miscarried for a sixth time very late into her pregnancy. The person about whom those prophecies were made died before they were born. I can’t understate the suckiness of that. But I’m also concerned that no one is going to come along anyone in that circle of people and walk them through, lovingly, the fact that they make false prophecies, and that maybe what they are into is not really from the Lord.

    With as much correction as there is in the New Testament, and examples of correcting brothers and sisters out of love and for the power and purity of the body, few want to properly come along side of others and steer them, and few want that kind of oversight.

  20. pstrmike says:

    So much of these moves of God really don’t have a pattern, and the absence of such causes us to believe that none of this can be true. Our attempts to say, “the Bible says this or that” doesn’t always line up with our reality. Or we accept the biblical narrative when it is convenient and reject it at other times.

    I was reading John Bishop’s story last night. Horrible sinner, drug user, alcoholic, unfaithful in his vows, yet he had a large church in Vancouver. He was considered (I admit this could be an embellishment) the unofficial pastor of one of the cartels in Mexico. His life a train wreck, yet he holds to his faith. He smuggles drugs into the US in the same way Bible are smuggled into China….. both are illegal.

    Later that night I’m reading an Advent devotional where the writer is engaging with Raymond Brown’s treatment of Jesus’ genealogy found in Matthew. Tamar sleeps with her father-in-law, Rahab is a prostitute, Ruth a foreigner, David the Tyrant sleeps with one of his loyal men’s wife and then has him killed. Peter is impetuous, John-Mark doesn’t have a backbone, Paul is intolerant….. and on it goes.

    These are all people who stray outside the lines of biblical ethics and yet God chooses them anyway. I understand that God is demonstrating His desire to reach the least of these, that no sin is beyond His love- I get it. But it causes me to ask all kinds of questions about accountability, universal restoration of all things and if our actions and tightly held beliefs really mean anything. I hope they do. I still see that we are held accountable for the actions that our illness produces, but what I see here is that God also seems to color outside the lines at times.

    I have to say, I appreciate the extension of faith that seems to be demonstrated here. Its gutsy and opens up all kinds of potential secondary hurts. But that is what life is often about, we are afflicted and then nurse ours and others afflictions. Life isn’t safe, church isn’t safe, do I dare say God may not be safe in the way that we normally understand safety. It seems from our small perspective that God is rather capricious. Some are healed, spared danger and death while others suffer. The answers to all this are beyond us.

    What concerns me is this idea that we have to get everyone praying….. praying…. praying…. praying…. for this to happen. I also recognize that “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.’ And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:17,18) God can work in many or in few. . . Jonathon understood this.

    I’m big on prayer. I prayed for three friends with terminal diseases and each of them passed away within the last two weeks. Some times we just have to resign ourselves that the narrative of a person’s life will appear incomplete from our perspective and we never fully understand the purpose. I can only offer up the words of Oscar Romero which to me provide a frustrating comfort:
    “It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.”

  21. Destinee Penwood says:

    I don’t understand how people are criticizing this mother asking God to bring her child back. What about all the cases where people have indeed been raised from the dead? That doesn’t mean her child died because lack of faith, her child died because we live in a fallen world where bad things happen. To me the author of this post is wrong and the mother is correct. The Jesus I serve still raises people from the dead, heals people from diseases and makes the impossible possible.. No matter how this situation ends at least she ran straight to her Father who can do all things and can handle her grief. This post sounds like it was written from the perspective of a pharisee…

  22. Michael says:

    Please show me one documented case where anyone has been raised from the dead in the last 500 years.

  23. Michael says:

    Brilliant post pstrmike…

  24. Dan from Georgia says:

    Bernie and Destinee,

    Your belief that someone or some people have been raised from the dead should hold up to scrutiny. Don’t just drop a challenge and then disappear. It isn’t pharisee-like to ask. Jessus didn’t call Thomas a pharisee, did he?

    And no, hearsay isn’t proof.

  25. Michael says:


    This is why we can’t have nice things…
    If you actually read the link, it was clear that the person was “declared” dead because his family couldn’t pay the hospital bill.
    Sometimes, Google is not your friend.

  26. JoelG says:

    Bernie must still be gathering documentation. I’m sure he’ll get back with it shortly.

    But seriously, to echo Pastor Ken earlier, how irresponsible of pastors to make such claims without any evidence whatsoever.

    Good grief…

  27. MM says:

    So why did this toddler die?

    Is anyone asking this question?

    Too often there are rather dark issues behind these things.
    No matter what it’s a very sad situation.

  28. EricL says:

    It may have been SIDS. She’s young enough. No need to suspect some dark cause of death. I’m so saddened for this poor mother and I hope her church leaders give her room to grieve and face her doubts. Being in the presence of our Lord is a fantastic place but it so hurts the rest of us who miss that loved one.

  29. Sean Higgins says:

    I’d rather be caught reaching for the miraculous then sitting on the sidelines scoffing at that who do…

    Does anyone who is shaming these people pray to God to intercede for their problems? Imagine a mom with a son addicted to drugs praying for God to intervene only to read an article that says, “we know how this is going to end, an overdose”!

    It may be a big prayer, but it’s a prayer nonetheless and writing and article about why God won’t answer it and saying they are sick for daring to believe He might is a dark side of Christianity I would be scared to find myself on.

  30. Em says:

    “saying they are sick for daring to believe He might is a dark side of Christianity I would be scared to find myself on.”
    Sean, it isn’t the fact that God is capable of raising the dead – daring to believe that possibility. Nor is there a lack of compassion for this grieving mother here. What is being questioned is the non stop histrionic approach to asking God for a miracle. Is this wrong? I do remember the O.T. story of the women who would visit the Temple regularly asking God for a child. Her prayer was answered when she overcame her bitterness as i recall. Do we prove our Faith by incessant pleading? Possibly, but not as a general rule.
    If the woman being discussed here has no other way to express her despair and grief than doing what she is doing, God in grace may be merciful. However, to think that, since God IS capable of raising the dead, if you plead long enough and loud enough you will get your way? That is questionable, i think….
    BTW – missionaries have brought back reports of miraculous healings. Not sure of raising the dead. Possible. But those are circumstances where the Faith is simple and God needs to affirm His power – of that i am pretty sure…
    Having experienced losing a one year old son, suddenly and unexpectedly, i can say that God WILL give strength, maybe bless with a reason (yes, He spoke to me). I suspect that is a rare thing, but the strength to go through such, something you’d have said that God would never do, because you wouldn’t survive it, is something that He will bless this woman with. I pray she recovers from this unspeakable heartbreak, receiving God’s comfort and grace, even if her intense prayer for a resurrection is not granted.
    Read the posts, realize that this behavior is being questioned and, by most here, being questioned respectfully.
    There are two aspects, the mother’s grief and her way of dealing with it. It is the latter that is hard to come to terms with by most here. A good time to pray… IMHO

  31. Jon Bartlett says:

    I hesitate to enter this bear pit, as healings and the like seem to raise such strong emotions…. But evidence isn’t so difficult to find.

    Back in the 80’s, when I was living in Hong Kong, I used to go to the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Dinners. There were usually two men giving testimonies. One evening (and I gather this was unplanned) both gave testimony as to how they had been raised from the dead (both were in their 30’s at the time.) I have no reason to doubt their stories, as they were known to people there, that were largely professional expatriates. This made quite an impression on this civil engineer of an Anglican, who dealt every day with evidence and facts! So much so that it must be the only meeting that I can remember from those days.

    I of course have no answer as to why this happens to one person and not to another – but happen (occasionally) it does.

    A blessed Christmas to you all, Jon

  32. Jon Bartlett says:

    PS – I should add that I may be gullible at times, but my wife of 40 years generally complains that my faith is far too analytical….. Jon

  33. Hillbilly NonDenom (FKA JesusFreak) says:


    Google is pretty spiffy. You can scroll through many results…

  34. Duane Arnold says:

    If you use Google for research… it helps to actually read the whole article. The coroner who pronounced the death was an elected official, not a doctor.

  35. Michael says:


    Your reading comprehension leaves something to be desired.
    I’m not trying to be rude, but first you post an obviously fake resurrection, then one with the explanation in it.

  36. Jeff Rodrigues says:

    To add to Duane’s comment regarding the coroner who pronounced the death and him not being a doctor, the coroner’s name is Dexter Howard. According to his Linkedin page (source: ), his education includes an associates degree in funeral service and mortuary science at the Dallas Institute of Funeral Service. His work experience and education shows no indication of any medical training or medical work experience. So this wasn’t an individual who could declare someone dead from a medical standpoint.

  37. Hillbilly NonDenom (FKA JesusFreak) says:

    A lawyer professor of mine once said “whenever someone says ‘I don’t mean to be rude, but’…ignore everything after the ‘but’.”

    This, along with the “I’m sorry you feel that way” from the earlier thread. And calling folks names like Hillbilly (I’ll take a page from the Methodists and own it) or NonDenom.

    Dude…you have a lot of work to do when it comes to condescending behavior.

    I did a quick google so you could see a number of possibilities, as you requested. Scroll. Read. And as for the CNN article…don’t move the goalposts.

    It doesn’t take a Mensa IQ to figure out why the miracles you seek may not be as publicized as you like, or may be explained away as something other than the Lord working.

    But I’ll give you a tip: who is the current ruler of this world?

  38. Michael says:


    I just posted a new article to help people verify these things.
    You have chosen your explanations for such, I reject your explanations.

    I can be sorry someone has issues with me without feeling sorry in the least for a position I take.
    In both these cases, I’m sorry/not sorry.

  39. Kaci says:


    SIDS is for children under one. This girl was two, and is called SUCD ( sudden unexplained child death).

  40. Eric says:

    There’s nothing wrong with praying for the dead be raised, it’s biblical and even commanded. A $100,000 expectation for a funeral is excessive, but she has nothing to do with that personally. That was set up by others.

  41. Michael says:

    Where does the Bible command that we pray that each dead Christian be raised? I just watched part of the prayer/worship service…and I find it too strange to even understand. This…is a brutal story.

  42. Eric says:

    Wondering who you are to be judgmental and critical? Do you not believe the Bible? Do you not believe that God has the power to raise the dead? He’s done it several times. He can and will do it again. In this case? I don’t know. But your lack of faith isn’t going to help anyone or anything. Just keep your unbiblical opinions to yourself, huh?

  43. Michael says:

    Last time I checked I’m the one paying the bills here and my name is on the site.
    I’ll write what I choose to.
    You may want to engage with one of the actual arguments that have been made….

  44. bob1 says:

    Just keep your unbiblical opinions to yourself, huh?

    Wow. Now there’s a special kind of stupid.

  45. MM says:

    I keep coming back to the question, “what was the cause of this child’s death?”

    It seems even more fishy to me when it appears a non-medical professional made the death pronouncement. Why am I bothered by this?

    Yes I’m behind the idea of encouraging people to pray for miracles and looking to God for the impossible when it’s needed. But, in many of these young children death cases there is a perpetrator somewhere in the background. Or maybe some other sinister thing which caused her to not “thrive.”

    Basically I’m less bothered by the “nut case” praying for a “resurrection from the dead” than I am if there was some terrible injustice done by someone in this child’s circle. What if this is really a cover up of the truth?

    Hopefully the local officials (I believe this is in the UK?) will properly investigate this poor child’s death.

    Just my thoughts. Back to the other “nut case” oops Impeachment thread.

    (No Kevin you aren’t the “nut case”)

  46. Michael says:

    Turns out that our new friend Eric is a pastor.
    Guess where he did his ministry training…

  47. MM says:

    OK I was wrong, the link from the article led to a UK site but this Bethel is the one in California.

    BTW I believe God is as capable of raising the dead today as in the past.

    What I don’t believe is the leader of this church has the goods/faith to make the connection. His teachings are definitely not in line with the full narrative of scripture. It’s more about “me” than it is about Him!

  48. Michael says:

    Ok, so everyone believes God can raise people from the dead before the eschaton.
    The question is whether He does or not and there is not a shred of evidence that He has done so in the church age.
    How long must a loved one lie in the morgue before we let them rest in peace and dignity?

  49. DebraD says:

    Janice, since no one has corrected your thought maybe misunderstood your comment. It was not clear if you were trying to suggest that Calvary somehow taught that if you did not speak in tongues you were not saved! If so that would be factually not correct nor appropriate to equate to the Bethel tragedy.

  50. Michael says:

    Some Calvary Chapels did indeed teach that in prior years.

  51. DavidP says:

    An update from Bill Johnson – nothing too noteworthy, just acknowledging that A) yes, the child is in the morgue and B) there seems to some hint that they may be moving on at some point soon. Otherwise just some random scripture claiming all of this is just what Jesus would do.

    Anyway, yes – I’m good with praying for someone who just died if the Spirit leads. But watching the mother face-down on a stage crying while people run and scream around her feels more like Elijah’s rivals than Jesus calling forth Lazarus.

  52. Clarification here, from my friend of 35 years, who is a mortician/funeral director and deputy coroner for a county in WA state: “As deputy coroner, I may lawfully declare a person’s death. And I am frequently asked when I go to a home for a hospice death to confirm that their loved one is in fact dead.”

    Yes, he has “only” an AA (some states require a 4 year degree… like OK, CA and Washington don’t), but I started helping the guy haul bodies when we were in high school and he was a mortician’s apprentice, so I know a bit about what morticians do and what they are required to know and how they are educated, but I asked him just to make sure.

    Could be that guy in the story was biased, but morticians are fully qualified to determine death which makes sense, yes?

    The last time I visited him, we picked up a body from an accident. From my view, there wasn’t obvious physical trauma, though he looked dead to me. The deputies let us take the body. We didn’t need to call an MD to confirm it.

  53. filbertz says:

    Sad. I’m still sad that God didn’t intervene in my son’s death. But I rejoice that in the instant he passed from this life, Jesus was there to welcome him into the next. Our fixation on this present world skews our ultimate hope and confidence in the gospel and the promise of everlasting life. Resurrection back into this mess is not hope in my book, but hype. Yes, I live with the grief of loss of a beloved first born, yet wouldn’t for a moment wish him back here where days are filled with all the s**t we long to be delivered from. Our faith often seems to be spoken out of both sides of our mouths.

  54. Additionally, my fiend said that sheriff’s deputies are technically deputy coroners, but that they almost always call an ambulance to run an EKG strip to determine no cardiac rhythm. So paramedics with no degrees (but a lot of training… my buddy is a former Life Flight Paramedic who was a first responder at the OKC bombing), are qualified to declare death.

    As for Bethel? They should have kept it in house, the story made Drudge.

  55. DebraD says:

    Michael that was never an acceptable doctrinal position within the Calvary system or at the Bible College.
    Calvary would have swiftly acted sending a cease and desist or get out of Calvary order and probably did!
    Any pastor that taught that doctrine was not in line with Calvary Mecca.

  56. Michael says:

    I don’t know who you are, but I was in CC and have written about it for 20 years.
    I know that what Janice described happened and if I wanted to sift through ancient email I could name names.
    I don’t give a damn what Chuck officially taught, I know it happened.

  57. DebraD says:

    Probably should have started out Merry Christmas and sent a bottle of cheer. Thank you for the opportunity to apologize to Janice if she misunderstood my attempt for clarification and correction. Janice if you were given the impression that a question arose from what happened to you personally from a Calvary pastor (correct?) please accept my sincere apology I do believe you and Michael that it happened.
    Nevertheless the historical position of Calvary Chapel and specifically Pastor Chuck has never wavier on this doctrinal position nor to date has CCA or CGA. and Janice you, Michael and others have a right to know that.

  58. Jess says:

    How dare you?
    Jesus literally was risen from the dead. He RAISED people from the dead. “Wicked.”
    Show some respect.

    If you aren’t going to have faith, like the BIBLE TELLS YOU TO, stay out of it.

  59. Michael says:


    You Bethel folk have a difficult time actually engaging with what was written…here and in the Bible.

  60. Em says:

    Hmmm. I wonder how much blood, sweat and tears Jess has invested in the Kingdom….. ?
    Can’t talk the walk … Most who walk have a more gracious demeanor… Dunno, though, do i… ?

  61. bob1 says:

    I like this CT article. about the Bethel situation.The author has written a 2-volume tome about miracles through church history, in fact. So he’s not a skeptic, by any means.

    Money quote:

    But nowhere do we get the idea that God raises everyone who dies. Jesus does not try to raise his friend John the Baptist (Matt. 14:13). Believers buried and grieved for Stephen rather than raising him (Acts 8:2). A physician who shared with me his direct experience of a patient miraculously raised from the dead also recounted that God did not raise the physician’s own child when he died from leukemia.

  62. Hillbilly NonDenom (FKA JesusFreak) says:

    To the ‘speaking in tongues’ discussion: my understanding is that this was not an official ‘distinctive’ of CC. It may be that some CC pastors taught this…my suspicion is they were part of the group that split from CC to form Vineyard. That was a group that wanted more emphasis on ‘gifts’ and Chuck did not agree with such an emphasis.

  63. bob1 says:

    Good article Michael.

    The grave sucking stuff — isn’t that the same crap that Benny Hinn’s been
    talking about for decades WRT Kathryn Kuhlmann? A lot of it just looks like
    recycled Toronto Blessing junque.

  64. Michael says:

    I forgot that Hinn was creeping around the graves of Kuhlman and McPherson.
    Hinn has never had an original thought. so this must have been going on in some circles before…

  65. DebraD says:

    Hillbilly-very good insight thank you!

  66. Erunner says:

    This word from Bill Johnson was placed on youtube in the last few hours. Listening, I couldn’t help but see why so many follow him. He comes across very well. His message is what you would expect. What a tragic situation……..

  67. MM says:

    In light of Bill Johnson’s Charisma this must be heard:

    “This isn’t some weird random happening with Bethel. This is business as usual at a place that has strayed many years ago into a rather strange place being led by Bill Johnson. I know Bill, and he’s a very convincing, convicting charismatic leader. Have heard him speak many times, he comes across as a guy with all the answers, so much so that you can almost miss all of the cult-esque things he’s saying.1”


    “The whole idea of “Glory Clouds” falling gold dust, gemstones and feathers came out of Bethel along with the idea of “Grave Sucking”. Now Bethel has now started to slightly denounce and back away from “Grave Sucking” but they still teach a signs, wonders, and angelogy type theology. They claim all of these things and more are signs of God’s presence in that place.1”

    He made it all up!!!

    It isn’t about Jesus at all.


  68. pstrmike says:

    Thanks E.

    I appreciate Johnson’s statement. Three quotes from the video that really ask for much further theological exploration.

    “God is sovereign, He chooses what He wants, and we co-operate with Him.”

    “when it doesn’t work, we don’t blame God, we give Him the glory . . . ”

    “not everyone dies in God’s timing . . .”

  69. pstrmike says:

    I had friend pass away just before Thanksgiving. We went to the home and I asked the Holy Spirit for me to be sensitive to HIs direction. His widow asked me to pray and I laid the crucifix from my prayer beads on the deceased forehead and thanked God for his life and that Christ had prepared a place for him. I sensed no compulsion to ask God to raise him from the dead, and I am confident He will do so for all of us who believe on the last day.

  70. Michael says:

    I was not impressed by Johnson’s statement…he scares the hell out of me.
    “not everyone dies in God’s timing . . .”
    That takes some big ones to say…

  71. bob1 says:

    Sounds downright idolatrous.

  72. Erunner says:

    pstrmike, thank you for your comments.


    I believe in a God with no faults. Perfect in all He does and allows to happen.

    A young girl is struck by a drunk driver and dies instantly. I understand He knew of this tragedy before the earth was formed.

    God called this young girl home just as He did with the child people are praying for her life to return after so many days.

    Yet the question gnaws at me that maybe it wasn’t that young girls time in my example. She died as the result of an evil act. I can’t help but wonder.

    I agree that bill Johnson is a very dangerous man.

  73. pstrmike says:

    Without posting all the verses here, the Bible declares both that God repents and also does not repent. We can’t pick one declaration at the expense of the other, both are true.

    This opens up all the questions of theodicy where God is sovereign and holy and yet evil exists, and even prospers. Thus there is the long list of atrocities that have happened throughout history where our sovereign God appears to allow evil and injustice to flourish. There are really no good answers to these questions but it is seen in many aspects of our lives and the christian faith. We are told to pray, because it can change things. Who can tell whether God will be gracious to us?


    God scared the hell out of me years ago, and He continues to do so all the days of my life..


    Why is this idolatrous? I fail to see the connection.

  74. Mentioning Theodicy may open a can of Theological and Philosophical worms.

    My personal feeling is that all flesh dies, sans Enoch and Elijah, though the latter later did. Dead at 3 or 93 is still dead. Thus, fear God.

  75. bob1 says:


    I think it borders on blasphemy to assert that you know what God’s timing is in the first place!

    Just strikes me as pretty presumptious, especially for a creature.

  76. Michael says:

    The problem with Bill Johnson and all cultists is that they know one thing most evangelicals deny.
    You can use the Bible to prove almost anything and a good speaker can make anything sound plausible.

    If you don’t use tradition and reason to aid in your hermeneutic, you can end up leaving a child in a morgue for a week while you dance like the prophets of Baal trying to revive her.

    On the other hand, the line between great faith and utter insanity has always been very thin…

  77. pstrmike says:

    ok, is it blasphemy or idolatry? There is a difference. Preachers are “presumptuous” all the time. We just don’t notice when they presume something that we agree with.

    Thin indeed. This might be what life looks like on corner of faith and believing the impossible. As you said, they have swallowed the whole chicken, feathers and all.

    “You can use the Bible to prove almost anything and a good speaker can make anything sound plausible.”

    Who doesn’t do that? As I tell my church over and over, the problem is not with the Bible, it is how we interpret it. And we all pick and choose. Much of modern evangelicalism has condemned tradition to hell and with that thrown out reason. Should we really be surprised by any of this?

    Johnson has built this empire on signs and wonders. His theology and his commitment to build such a cultural and belief structure leaves him no choice than to play this thing out.

    Aside from all that, my heart goes out to the Heligenthals and I am so sorrow for their loss.

  78. Michael says:


    Well said.
    I think at the end of the day the Bethel branch of Christianity is a danger to the veracity of the faith.
    I also have more than a few visceral objections that have yet to name themselves…but this all seems very dark to me.

  79. pstrmike says:

    Michael, as you know, I wouldn’t want to be a part of this culture, even after having been there and experienced some of what I would call super-natural. What I found was wheat and chaff, a lot of spiritual noise. Secondly, being at Bethel, I heard echos of Calvary Chapel thinking and surprised by the similarities.
    I was talking with a friend about this who told me that ” it is like trying to hold the power of God and we aren’t made for that. Its what Jesus modeled in Gethsemane—asking for heart desires and surrender because it is too much for us.”

    This kind of thing is really beyond our pay-grade, but in typing this, I reminded that Johnson thinks he is an apostle, so again, his belief system demands this.

  80. genericeric says:

    Such a sad occurrence I could not even imagine the pain or longing if I lost one of my precious children, or even worse my grandbaby. I can certainly empathize with the parents and easily see myself in their shoes beseeching God to do like He did before. Can only really pray for peace in the situation, and peace on the hearts of the family. My nephew passed away this morning, he had battled a cancerous growth in his head that caused him to go blind and slowly waste away. The family glories in the fact he is pain free and walking with his Lord, while we all deal with the Brandon sized hole that has opened in our lives. I thank God that his wife and family have solid godly council and support, I wish the same was true for this poor young couple as they tread forward with a baby sized hole in their hearts.

  81. Michael says:


    Our condolences to you on the loss of your nephew.
    Our prayers are with you.

  82. genericeric says:

    It was truly a blessing, as sad as that is to say. He has suffered so much for the past few years. Thank you for your thoughts. Was so surprised to see this place still here, thankful for that.

  83. Hillbilly Nondenom (FKA JesusFreak) says:

    “Much of modern evangelicalism has condemned tradition to hell and with that thrown out reason. ”

    I think we need to be SUPER careful with over generalizations, especially when talking of fellow brethren. I would also be genuinely interested in learning more about ‘thrown out reason’. (It immediately strikes me that Martin Luther threw out ‘tradition’ and Christ’s Kingdom is ultimately the better for it. However, I do not profess to be a learned theologian.)

    G: very sorry for your loss. I’ve witnessed something similar firsthand – it is gut wrenching. Prayers of comfort and peace for your family.

  84. Shawn says:

    Praying that the same a Jesus who raised Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter and the son of the widow, would raise a two year old who should have her whole life ahead of her is perfectly sane for any Christian who reads and believes their bible. The $100,000 may be a lot, but also Bethel is a church known for encouraging church members to be generous as per biblical mandates that Christians love one another and do good to those- especially in the house of Faith. Read your bible- this is possible and available. Reinhardt Bonkke wrote w book about a man in Africa who was raised from the dead in A church he was dedicating – the man was in a coffin in the basement.

  85. Erunner says:

    I listen to music from Bethel, Jesus Culture, Hillsong and the Vineyard. I listen knowing full well the false teachings that have been a part of these labels.

    A question that has been on my mind since this tragedy has taken place is if any artists from these artists have come to realize that the beliefs that came out of Bethel were wrong and are questioning those beliefs? No matter what back peddeling Bill Johnson has done I hope and pray some are having their eyes opened to those beliefs and will see the world and suffering for what it is.

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