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Bill Johnson / Bethel Church, Redding, California



Bill Johnson Ministries

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'Angel Feathers,' 'Diamonds,' and 'Gold Dust'

When "angel feathers" first started to fall at Bethel Church, Bill Johnson thought birds had nested in the air conditioning ducts, he said.

"Then it happened in a restaurant and all different places - on an airplane," he said. "I don't know, I don't teach it, it just happens."

Johnson said he bases his belief that the feathers are a sign from God on a Bible verse that says, "there is healing in his wings," and he doesn't try to explain it.

"I don't want to be able to explain everything," he said. "Then I'll have a God that looks like me. That's not very impressive."

Bud Press, director of the Christian Research Service based in North Carolina, devotes his time to researching claims made by Christians for the purpose of debunking or confirming the claims. Bethel is part of the Signs and Wonders movement, within the Word of Faith movement, he said. Aside from claims of angel feathers, people in the movement say diamonds and gold dust show up at church and in their homes, he said.

Press said he contacted many church leaders, including Johnson, who claimed to have angel feathers, asking them to send some for a study. Most ignored him but one obliged and sent a package containing a few feathers, which Press said he took to ornithologists, scientists who study birds.

David H. Ellis, an ornithologist and chairman of the Union for the Conservation of Raptors' Science Advisory Board, was one such scientist. In his responding statement, dated Nov. 12, 2008, Ellis wrote: "The feathers you sent me are very obviously like normal bird feathers, and there is nothing about them to suggest they are other than bird."

Press said there is nothing in the Bible to back up the claims of angel feathers but there are a host of other explanations.

"Birds shed feathers all the time, even in flight," he said. "It's nothing to see a feather floating down from a building or something like that. But if you're caught up in the deception and went to church last night and they talked about feathers falling from heaven ... immediately you're going to think it's a feather from heaven."

Press said he believes the signs and wonders movement is spiritually dangerous and cited Bible passages that warn against it.

On his Web site, Press links to the story of a Washington man who was caught and later admitted to planting gemstones in an Arizona Vineyard church, claiming they were put there by God.

"Jesus himself warned that a corrupt generation, a deceptive generation, seeks after signs and wonders," he said. "Because individuals have been caught red-handed spreading around not only angel feathers but diamonds, precious gems, gold dust from heaven and all of that, it's very clearly deception."
- Source: Bethel's 'signs and wonders' include angel feathers, gold dust and diamonds, Amanda Winters, The Record Starlight, Redding, California, Jan. 19, 2010


Those who examine the practices of Bethel identify it as being part of a larger movement known as the Word of Faith movement. Connected to prominent revivalists and prophets including Todd Bentley, Patricia King, Bob Jones, and the leadership of the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, the Word of Faith doctrine teaches that faith is a force through which anything can be done, said John Wolf, founder of the Church Education Resource Ministries.

Wolf is one of Johnson's many critics and is no stranger to Bethel Church.
- Source: Bethel's 'signs and wonders' include angel feathers, gold dust and diamonds, Amanda Winters, The Record Starlight, Redding, California, Jan. 19, 2010

Lawsuit

In October, 2010 this story appeared in a local newspaper that has published an extensive report on Bethel Church:

Rather than call police when their drinking partner fell — or was pushed — off a nearly 200-foot cliff, two students at a Redding Bible school tried first to reach the severely wounded man and pray him back to life, a lawsuit alleges.

In a lawsuit filed this month in Shasta County Superior Court exactly two years to the day after he was pulled by search-and-rescue crews from the banks of the Sacramento River, Jason Michael Carlsen alleges that when Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students Sarah Elisabeth Koivumaki and Zachary Gudelunas couldn’t reach him to heal him with their prayers, they spent hours debating whether to call the police.

Bethel’s members purport to have the ability to heal people through prayer and bring the dead back to life.

The two later told police they thought Carlsen was killed in the fall.

Worried that they would be exiled from the church, the two Bethel students also went so far as to try to cover up evidence they’d even been at the top of the cliff, the lawsuit alleges.
[...]

That a pair of Bethel students would use prayer to try heal an injured man — or even bring one back to life — isn’t unusual. In fact, the church’s leaders claim to do just that every day. [...more...]
- Source: Faith healing or foul play? 2008 cliff-fall victim sues Bethel students, Ryan Sabalow, Redding Record Searchlight, Oct. 21, 2010


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This post was last updated: Jun. 25, 2013