Charisma Magazine reports on why Bill Johnson didn’t immediately shut down ‘grave sucking’.

We advise our readers that ‘Charisma Magazine’ exists to promote the cause of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Included in the NARisma article below, you will read of other apostles involved in the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (ICAL) and Bethel Church. Jesus Culture founder Liebscher addressed several controversies surrounding Bethel Church – including grave sucking.

In previous CWC articles, we reported how these NAR ‘apostles’ lie about (or downplay) their NARpostleship. Both Bill Johnson and Joseph Mattera have done this – with Mattera specifically downplaying the idea of there being apostles but rather saying they operate with an ‘apostolic function’. What is problematic with the Charisma piece is that they neglected to offer any form of ethical journalism or biblical discernment. Instead they attempted to polish the image of Bill Johnson and Bethel church – distancing Johnson from the occultic practices of necromancy, (called ‘grave-sucking’), by suggesting it was only their students who practiced it and not Johnson and his staff.

At this point we highlight their definition of ‘grave-sucking’ and expose their dishonest journalism by contrasting their statement with that of Bill Johnson’s wife Beni:

According to Beni Johnson, grave-sucking is ‘what I do’. In other words, this occultic practice was promoted from the top down, not from the bottom up (as Charisma News suggests in their reporting).

The article demonstrates that Johnson displays none of the characteristics of a true Apostle or even remotely reflects the heart of a true pastor. When the Pharisees mocked Jesus for dining with sinners, Jesus talks of a shepherd going after the one stray sheep, a woman cleaning her house to find that one precious coin and a father watching and waiting for his lost son to return. Not so with Bethel leaders.

When their students went astray by practicing occultism, Liebscher says ‘Bethel doesn’t police its students, even in activities that go against standard charismatic behavior’. And in regards to Bill Johnson’s pastoral oversight?

“…rather than policing student activities, Liebscher says Johnson’s heart is for revival and pleasing God.”

This disclosure by Liebscher exposes the heart of a false teacher, equivalent to Jesus accusing the Pharisees of being hirelings, caring only for themselves and not the sheep under their care. Bill Johnson often uses his pulpit to ‘virtue signal’ to his congregation how they need to be wary of the demonic yet does nothing to discipline his leaders and students for dabbling in occult activity.

This makes what Leibscher further says troubling:

“And when Bethel is put in the spotlight over odd practices, Liebscher says he believes it boils down to a simple attitude.

“Much of the controversy surrounding Bethel is actually just people who have a problem with charismatics…”

There are charismatics who have expressed concern about this aberrant practice when Bethel and other NARpostolic ministries are promoting it on social media. In fact many were concerned when Benny Hinn and Cal Pierce talked about their own practice of praying at the graves of deceased heretics ‘to receive impartations, mantles or anointing’. John Crowder popularised its practice at the time of the 2008 Lakeland Revival, also receiving much criticism.

It seems that Leibscher (and Charisma Magazine) are pushing the emphasis away from Bethel leadership by suggesting it is their sheep who are wayward, not them:

“And we’re in a staff meeting going, ‘What? That’s weird. Why are you doing that?’ Somebody go pastor them and talk to them. Students that are trying to walk through walls, because it’s in the Bible, right? So they walk through walls. They’re trying to practice walking through walls. And we all are like ‘Uhhh, yeah, that’s a little out there.'”

But with Beni Johnson practicing ‘grave-sucking’ and Bill Johnson deflecting by pointing the finger at their students for doing the same, other Bethel leaders do too. Here is Bethel pastor and teacher Kevin Dedmon encouraging people the congregation that they too can walk on water and walk through walls.

The systemic spiritual abuse in Bethel is wicked. When top leaders of Bethel engage in demonic practices, it’s ‘biblical’. But when it’s criticised by discerning believers? Like the hirelings they are, they blame their sheep for doing it and making them look bad.

The last thing we address is this statement by Liebscher:

“Our theology is a charismatic theology, like many other churches. Bethel would just be more visible or Bethel would have more of that supernatural happening kind of deal, which is messy.”

This is deceptive. Charismatics believe in the renewed gifts (charisma) in God’s end-times church. Logically – their theology leads them to NARismaticism. NARismatics believe in the renewed offices of Apostles and Prophets and Bethel have made it clear that they embrace Apostles and Prophets today with Bill Johnson being their ‘Apostle’ and Kris Vallotton their ‘Prophet’.

They don’t embrace a charismatic theology. They embrace a NARismatic theology.

It is clear that Charisma and Bethel leaders show no desire to be loving or honest in their dialogue with true believers. This is why they are so dangerous. Mark and avoid them.


Banning Liebscher: Why Bill Johnson Didn’t Immediately Shut Down Grave Sucking 

In a new interview, Jesus Culture founder Liebscher addressed several controversies surrounding the Redding, California, church—including grave sucking. His comments here were part of a larger conversation between Liebscher and Preston Sprinkle, starting at 13 minutes into the interview.

“I’m not a proponent for it, I’m just saying like there’s an anointing on Elijah or Elisha, there’s an anointing on his grave that made the guy come back to life, and maybe there’s an anointing [here],” says Liebscher, the founder and director of Jesus Culture. “And then it started getting to where like, I don’t know man, I don’t know what students were doing. But it was weird. But that’s the stuff that all of a sudden has blown up all over the place.”

Grave sucking, sometimes called grave soaking, is the process by which someone lays on the grave of a deceased Christian in order to absorb their mantle or anointing.

“We have a real passion for history and revival history and men and women of God, so whatever it is—the Whitfields and the Wesleys and the Luthers and the Booths and for us, the John G. Lakes and the Kathryn Kuhlmans,” Liebscher says. “We read that stuff, love that, stirs us, inspires us. I don’t know who would be a good example—I don’t know who would’ve been over there. John Wesley. Going to John Wesley’s grave if you’re over in England or Booth’s grave, just going and visiting it and just praying at the grave like ‘Lord, what General Booth did in the Salvation Army, God, do it again in our day and let us see a transformation happen in society like he did.’ We’d go visit that and people might pray or whatever. And then—again, these are students—and then it kind of starts going like, alright, well now they’re lying on the grave.”

The practice stirred up significant controversy and garnered international responses.

Apostolic leader Joseph Mattera called out the practice sweeping through charismatic circles in recent years.

“Many charismatics want shortcuts to the anointing and desire results from an instant microwave experience or a one-time event. Instead of wasting their time traveling to ‘grave suck,’ they should discipline themselves to seek God, pour over His Word and dig down deep in His presence,” Mattera says.

When the move wasn’t immediately publicly shut down by Bethel founder Bill Johnson, there was some outcry. But Liebscher says Bethel doesn’t police its students, even in activities that go against standard charismatic behavior. Johnson did address some controversies in an interview with Dr. Michael Brown.

But rather than policing student activities, Liebscher says Johnson’s heart is for revival and pleasing God.

“And at some level, in all honesty, and this is not a negative, he just doesn’t care what people think,” Liebscher says. “People can speak into his life, but he just wants to please God. That’s his main passion. … “And Bill is a supernatural guy. He believes in the power of God. He believes in the supernatural working of God. He believes in healing. He believes it is part of the atonement, and it’s available, and deliverance and all that stuff.”

That revival birthed the School of Supernatural Ministry where thousands of students have pursued the presence of God and been filled with the Spirit. Supernatural activities flood the environment, and sometimes people can get carried away.

“We were in staff one time and these students—I don’t even know where this came from—but I was getting emails from this from my pastor friends from around the nation,” Liebscher says. “And social media puts it all out there right now. But they were like putting coins on the wall, and they were staying. And they’re like, ‘Oh man, this is God. This is supernatural.’ Because the coins were staying on the wall. This is literally what happened.’

“And we’re in a staff meeting going, ‘What? That’s weird. Why are you doing that?’ Somebody go pastor them and talk to them. Students that are trying to walk through walls, because it’s in the Bible, right? So they walk through walls. They’re trying to practice walking through walls. And we all are like ‘Uhhh, yeah, that’s a little out there.’

“But the deal is that Bill is not going to get up in the pulpit because Bill doesn’t mind a little bit of mess. Bill’s like, ‘Where there’s oxen, there’s mess.’ So I’m not going to get up, because he doesn’t want to shut down those that are really seeking and those that are really trying to press in for more of God, he doesn’t want to shut that stuff down by starting to get up and police everything from the pulpit.”

When students start embracing the, well, weird, Liebscher says Bethel has a specific, private process to address the issues.

“Bill does not want to control things. Students may be out in kind of the fringe. They’re pressing into the supernatural in a way that’s like, ‘OK, that’s weird man. That’s weird.’ But Bill’s not going to publicly get up and start reprimanding everybody. We pastor it one on one.”

And when Bethel is put in the spotlight over odd practices, Liebscher says he believes it boils down to a simple attitude.

“Much of the controversy surrounding Bethel is actually just people who have a problem with charismatics,” Liebscher says. “Our theology is a charismatic theology, like many other churches. Bethel would just be more visible or Bethel would have more of that supernatural happening kind of deal, which is messy.”

Source: Jessilyn Justice & Taylor Berglund, https://www.charismamag.com/spirit/church-ministry/36641-bethel-pastor-why-bill-johnson-didn-t-immediately-shut-down-grave-sucking Published April 19, 2018. (Accessed August 28, 2018.)


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Categories: Bethel "Church", United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (USCAL)

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