Apologetics Index

Bill Johnson / Bethel Church, Redding, California

Bill Johnson Ministries

  • Bill and Brenda (Beni) Johnson are the Senior Pastors of Bethel Church in Redding, California.
  • Bethel Church is a Charismatic church, firmly planted within the Word-Faith movement and within the Third Wave movement — currently known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) — with its ‘prophets,’ ‘apostles,’ and other excesses, including strange manifestions.
  • Bill Johson is deeply involved in the so-called New Apostolic Reformation, and is referred to as an ‘apostle’ by C. Peter Wagner. (See below)
  • Bill Johnson was amongst a small group of misguided ‘apostles’ who commissionedoffsite Todd Bentley as an evangelist — two months before the controversial preacher filed for separation from his wife. After that news came out, ‘Convening Apostle‘ C. Peter Wagner tried an attempt at damage control:

    From the Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team
    Written by C. Peter Wagner, Convening Apostle

    Note do we do not endorse Ministry Today magazine (at which that letter is posted), nor any other publication by Strang Communications (which, among other things, also publishes Charisma). Not only do the publishers lack any Christian discernment, but the publications have historically been used to promote countless aberrant and heretical teachers, ministries and movements.

    J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine and Steve Strang, CEO at Strang Communications, are even considered ‘apostles’ in Wagner’s movement — and thus are themselves part of the problem:

    In the above referenced letter, Wagner writes, “Ten other apostles have agreed to work with me in this project: Ché Ahn, Bill Johnson, John Arnott, Chuck Pierce, Stephen Strader, Lee Grady, David Cannistraci, Steve Strang, Jeff Beacham, and Joe Askins.”

  • Bill Johson was part of Todd Bentley’s so-called ‘restoration process’ which was overseen by Rick Joyner, and which took place after Bentley married the woman he had an adulterous relationship with while performing the so-called Lakeland Revival.

#WakeUpOlive — A Biblical Answer to Bethel Church’s Attempts to Raise a Two-Year-Old Child From the Dead

Ep 1.2 | A Pastoral Response to Bethel's #WakeUpOlive | Redeeming Truth
Pastors Jon Benzinger and Costi Hinn offer biblical clarity concerning Bethel Church leader’s recent attempt to raise a two-year-old girl from the dead (#WakeUpOlive) over the course of multiple days. Speakers like Heidi Baker were flown in for special services, and mainstream recording artists like Kari Jobe promoted the efforts that included demanding God to raise Olive from the dead.

‘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


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

Why Our Church No Longer Plays Bethel Or Hillsong Music

Here’s an encouraging development: Some Christians are getting wise to the fact that songs produced by Bethel or Hillsong are not just replete with theological errors; they also are used as tools to recruit people into these movements.

False Teachers
Pastor David Henneke explains to his congregation why his church no longer plays Bethel, Hillsong, or Elevation music.

See also, Why your Church Shouldn’t Play Bethel and Hillsong Music, in which Wretched Radio & TV talks with apologist Justin Peters.

Finally, Pastors Costi Hinn, Dale Thackrah, and Kyle Swanson provide insight into the dangers of supporting ministries like Bethel, that have a false understanding of who Christ is:

Ep 10 | Why We Won't Sing Bethel Music in Our Church | Redeeming Truth

Incidentally, Costi is the nephew of Benny Hinn (whose teachings he has renounced). He is the author of the book, “God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies.”

See also: Bethel, Jesus, and Dove Dung. Bethel’s theology is unbiblical and extremely disturbing. But this cult of Christianity gains influence in churches the world over through its music.

Research Resources

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  • The Gospel according to Bill Johnson [Contra] by James Smith.
  • Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church Preview only. Full article for subscribers. [‘Neutral’] Martyn Wendell Jones, Christianity Today, April 24, 2016. Marked ‘neutral’ because Christianity Today often sits on the fence when it comes to covering controversial churches, movements and individuals. In this article, Bill Johnson distances himself from the New Apostolic Reformation. However, Holly Pivec documents that he is very much part of it.
  • Saved from the Deception of Charismaniaoffsite [Contra] A testimony of how God brought the author out of the Signs and Wonders Movement. The author has been involved in Bethel Church, and has come to understand that it is — theologically — a cult of Christianity.
  • Should We Keep Singing Hillsong? Kelsey Kramer McGinnis, Christianity Today, May 2, 2022. When the megachurch’s former pastors are in the news with allegations of scandal and abuse, what a contentious name it is. Concludes by saying: Lyndsey Winship, dance critic at The Guardian, wrote of Michael Jackson, “It must be possible to condemn the person, even shelve the records, without being ashamed of the influence his music had on us.” That sentiment is strangely relevant to this very different situation. Regardless of how each individual or congregation decides to reckon with Hillsong, the profound spiritual experiences facilitated by its music need not be a source of shame or embarrassment, even if the memories of those experiences are now altered.
  • Yes, Bethel Redding and Bill Johnson are part of the New Apostolic Reformation [Contra] by Holly Pivec. In a recent Christianity Today cover article on Bethel Church, Bill Johnson distanced himself from the New Apostolic Reformation, stating that his church does not have any official ties to the NAR and that he’s “not completely clear on what it is.” Pivec, co-author of the book A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement — an in-depth examinaation of the NAR — documents that despite his denials, Bill Johnson is very much part of the movement.See also Holly’s article, The New Apostolic Reformation: Influence and Teachings.


  • Is Bill Johnson a false teacher? — Compare what he says with the Bible
  • Bethel Church and the New Apostolic Reformation’s False Ideas of Glory In this special “Bethel Church” edition of Cross Encounters Radio, Tony Milano and his guest, Jon Taylor, take a close look at the way Bethel Church and the New Apostolic Reformation misuse the term “glory” in their preaching and teaching.
  • Bethel Church of Redding, CA.offsite Jay Howard, founder and director of the Focus on the Faulty Religious Research Project addresses a number of issues regarding Bethel Church, such as the church’s low opinion of Scripture, and the promotion of heretics like William Branham and Todd Bentley. Find out why Bethel believes that Redding, California has been set aside by God to show His glory upon the earth, to show mankind how God plans to perfect towns and cities throughout the world until God, through massive revivals, brings about a Christianized world. Among the teachings explored: Bethel’s fascination with speaking to the dead, and their belief the Bible is not a closed canon but that in fact the scriptures are in need of “fresh” revelation to be added to them.

See Also

  • Don’t let this be your kid: disturbing video of girl from Bethel Church in Redding, Calif. Holly Pivec writes:

    I frequently hear from Christians who are concerned that their child has gotten involved with Bethel Church in Redding, California. If you don’t know, Bethel Redding is one of the most influential organizations in the controversial New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement and is led by the NAR apostle Bill Johnson. It’s also one of the most popular churches in the United States, and young people are being drawn to it in droves.

    These parents have good reason to be concerned. Among the troubling teachings coming from Johnson is an exaltation of supernatural experience over theology–producing followers who are ripe for spiritual deception. The bad fruit of these teachings can be seen in a disturbing YouTube video I watched the other day.

This entry is curated by Anton Hein, founder and team member of Apologetics Index.

Article details

Category: Bethel Church (Redding - California), Bill Johnson
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First published (or major update) on Sunday, December 29, 2019.
Last updated on May 03, 2022.

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