The latest article from one of our favourite polemicists, our good friend Rick Becker from the ‘Famine In The Land’ blog. In this post Rick addresses the idolatry found in Bethel Church Redding ‘pastor’ Theresa Dedmon’s use of the ‘creative arts’. Rick states:
“I thought it worthwhile, to examine two examples from scripture that Dedmon uses as justification for God to use “your song, your art, or your poem.” Perhaps I should just clarify that God can indeed use something we say, write or create, in order to inspire, motivate, and point others to Christ. Some are certainly gifted in the natural sense, with various forms or creativity, which can be used to glorify God. But as we will notice, Dedmon takes this to an imaginative whole new level that I would describe as idolatry.”
Rick Becker writes:
Theresa Dedmon is the creative arts pastor at Bethel. Dedmon claims that in 2002, she received a “prophetic word” that she would lead a “worldwide arts movement.” Dedmon believes “Anointing and healing flows through what we touch and create” You may say she’s a dreamer, but she’s not the only one. Bethel is cultivating a generation of followers attempting to create heaven on earth so that we may all live as one. Co creating with ‘Papa God’ is one of Bethel’s strategies to influence and transform society. While scripture teaches that conditions in the world and the visible church will decay, Bethel clings to the false doctrine that conditions will improve. One of their methodologies to infiltrate culture and transform society is the use of creative arts. In Bethel’s world, balloons, cookies, prophetic pizza and paintings play an integral role in releasing the supernatural and transforming society. In reality, Bethel is playing an integral role in deceiving millions. They are preparing a generation of biblically illiterate people who lust after false unity, false peace, signs and power. These are a people being prepared to be mesmerized by the antichrist.
Dedmon compares this creative move through a worldwide arts movement to the Renaissance because it “touched every sphere of life and brought innovation and prosperity to every sector of society.” One would expect a “pastor” to commit to preaching the gospel, and making disciples, but like “papa Bill,” Dedmon is under the impression that society is in need of some kind of transformation instead of the gospel. In her “About Me” page on her website, Dedmon writes: “Now, this Kingdom Creative Renaissance will touch every person in society as they see God’s desire to partner with them in creativity.” According to Dedmon, God apparently desires a planet full of co-creators instead of saving sinners and building his church. The seven mountain mandate is the motivating force behind Bethel’s desire to influence and transform society. The arts, is one of the spheres or mountains the New Apostolic Reformation believes they will transform: “We want to raise up world changers to go into every realm of society: church, family, business, arts and entertainment, media, and government. As this happens, God’s presence will not only transform the Body of Christ, but also all of culture.” – Theresa Dedmon, Born To Create.
Dedmon makes no bones about the fact that she is a vital cog in God’s machinery. Two more quotes from Dedmon’s website: “I was born to be a catalyst, activating believers to release God’s power as they create.”
The word “activate” is one of the New Apostolic Reformations catch words. It’s not in scripture, but it gives NAR leaders a semblance of power which in reality belongs to God alone.
Naturally, your ability to be effective in this move comes at a cost: “All these years of experience led to the development of Kingdom Creative E courses to further serve and activate the Body of Christ in their supernatural creativity…Come join the Kingdom Creative Renaissance that brings heaven to earth!”
Dedmon’s 28 Lesson Journey Into Unlocking Your Creative Potential” will set you back $129. Part of the sales pitch is that it’s value is worth $1500, and in her own words, you will get the “Opportunity to travel as part of Theresa’s ministry team upon completion (value: priceless)”
In a sponsored Facebook post, Dedmon writes: “Have you seen God move powerfully through your creativity? He absolutely can. Our job is to simply step out and trust that he can use anything. If he can use Paul’s handkerchief to heal this sick, why not your song, your art, or your poem, right? So, if you’re hungry to grow in your Kingdom Creativity, I’ve helped thousands to step out and see people touched by God and their creativity. That’s why I created this free Creative Blueprint Download. It’s designed to help you partner with Papa God while giving you a practical road map to active those dreams inside of you.”
Dedmon’s “freebie” Creative Blueprint Download is an eleven page document that includes an assessment, questions, and as usual, a story. Ultimately it’s just a means of getting the biblically illiterate to purchase a course. Dedmon prefaces the download with this mouthwatering possibility: “You might be wondering “I want to learn how to co-create with God but I don’t know…where to begin…the steps to move to move forward …and how people can be touched by God through what I create”
I thought it worthwhile, to examine two examples from scripture that Dedmon uses as justification for God to use “your song, your art, or your poem.” Perhaps I should just clarify that God can indeed use something we say, write or create, in order to inspire, motivate, and point others to Christ. Some are certainly gifted in the natural sense, with various forms or creativity, which can be used to glorify God. But as we will notice, Dedmon takes this to an imaginative whole new level that I would describe as idolatry.
The first example is from the sponsored Facebook post – “If he can use Paul’s handkerchief to heal this sick, why not your song, your art, or your poem, right?”
Let’s examine the text: “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” Acts 19:11-12
We observe that these were special, or extraordinary miracles. We know that signs and wonders authenticated the message and ministry of the Apostles (2 Cor 12:12) Paul did not join an international apostolic coalition with membership fees in order to function as an apostle, he was called by God (1 Cor 1:1) and taught God’s gospel (Gal 1:11-12) not the New Apostolic Reformations twisted doctrines.
Four glaring differences between what took place in the text compared to the methods that are found in modern day movements:
• Paul was not praying over handkerchiefs.
• Paul was not selling handkerchiefs.
• Paul was not training people or “activating” them to perform this extraordinary miracle.
• God was doing the miracle, the handkerchiefs did not have magical powers.
There were some in Ephesus who thought they could emulate the exorcisms taking place under Paul’s ministry: “Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Acts 19:13
Most of us should recall the outcome, as scripture paints quite a vivid (and painful) picture of their failure: ““Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all.” Acts 19:14-19
Ultimately, God was glorified, and people repented of something that could well describe Bethel’s methodology -the practice of using “magic arts.”
The second example Dedmon refers to, can be found in her Creative Destiny blueprint. Dedmon tells the story of painting live with a fellow artist during a service: “we painted live in worship at Tree of Life church. As I saw Simon’s painting after worship, I knew God wanted to release healing to those suffering with eye problems. So, after my husband and I spoke, I shared God’s heart for healing eyes through looking at Simon’s painting (read Numbers 21 for a story of healing through art). As those with eye problems came forward andlooked at the painting, God’s presence began to touch them and the result was miraculous. Cataracts and floaters disappeared, stigmatism was healed, and people’s eyesight improved. This time, I introduced Simon to another way of painting with the Holy Spirit’s direction. I was able to give Simon the gift of seeing new ways his art can release physical healing.”
Some may ask, well what’s wrong with God working in this manner? The answer is that we don’t enact descriptive passages in scripture to receive a miracle. James gives instructions for the sick: “Is any sick among you? let him
look at a painting call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”James 5:14
Dedmon justifies her methodology of receiving healing by looking at a painting because the Israelites were healed “through art” when they looked at the brazen serpent. Numbers 21 recounts the story of the Israelites, who at that stage spoke against God and Moses. God’s punishment for this rebellion was lethal:
“ Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.” Numbers 21:6-9
This was of course symbolic of the work of the cross: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14-15
The Israelites were healed because they had followed God’s instructions. God spoke, whoever obeyed was healed by God – not the brazen serpent. To use such a miraculous and significant event to justify healing (if there were any real healing’s) by looking at a piece of art is idolatrous. Israel made the same mistake with the bronze serpent. After the incident in Numbers, it’s purpose expired, apart from the fact that it was a type of Christ. The Israelites held on to this piece of art, and what was merely symbolic, became an idol: “In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan)”
2 Kings 18:1-4
The seven sons of Sceva trusted in a formula, the Israelites placed their faith in a piece of art, what Dedmon is doing is no different.
Dedmon is however blinded to the fact that Bethel thrive on teaching formula’s: “There is no formula, only relationship! Jesus never healed anyone the same way for a reason. He was looking for what the Father was doing for that particular person and situation. Our minds tend to want things to be the same because then we can follow a procedure. But we need to follow Jesus’ footsteps of dependence on the Father.” – Theresa Dedmon, Born to Create: Stepping into Your Supernatural Destiny.
The fact is, this method of receiving healing by looking at art is clearly becoming a modus operandi for Dedmon. In this video on Dedmon’s Facebook page, she once again refers to the story of the bronze serpent, followed by the statement that they are going to “release healing” to the sick in the audience. Dedmon is holding a small image of a tree she painted, and approaches one of the young ladies standing up front. Dedmon: “so Lord we just release them, so that when they look at this picture, that God is going to heal…. whoooaaaa…whoooaaa.. (mild contortion as in stomach cramps – supposedly a sign that the anointing is upon Dedmon) yeah, just go ahead look at the picture, and see that…we say pain go.”
In this blog post, Dedmon tells more stories of people receiving healing by looking at paintings. The focus is not on Christ, but on the artworks, and the ability of Bethelites to dish out portions of presence: “There were countless other miracles because my team listened to the Holy Spirit and creatively released His Presence to bring healing to others who were physically in pain or who needed a breakthrough from depression and other issues.”
Releasing God’s presence is not taught in scripture. God is not a genie in a bottle that needs periodical release by his handlers in order to achieve something.
Bethel are so steeped in the new age and mysticism they won’t recognize staring at a painting in order to receive healing is a form of hypnosis and idolatry. Dedmon describes her mystical process of painting in her book “Born to Create: Stepping into Your Supernatural Destiny.” (All the quotes that follow are excerpts from the Kindle edition of this book, emphasis mine) Dedmon was invited to exhibit at a doctors office in Redding during an “Art Hop” evening.
Dedmon: “..as I usually do when I paint, I soaked in God’s presence and asked for a supernatural anointing to be released through my paintbrush. Since I was painting pictures for a doctor’s office, I asked for an anointing that would heal those who entered the office and looked at my paintings.”
Paintings are not the only creative tool that Dedmon utilizes : “I train people to prophesy and call out the gold in people through every way imaginable because it’s legal to be creative in the Kingdom of God! One of these creative expressions is balloons—that’s right, balloons! I train people to prophesy with balloon crowns and to knight men with balloon swords. It is such a powerful medium!”
The only medium in this instance is Dedmon. Prophecy is a gift, you cannot train people to exercise a gift that has not been given. Even those who hold to continuationism will struggle to find prophetic words in scripture that “call out the gold in people.” But because Bethel conjure up “prophetic words” and teach that people are inherently good, they have no problem calling evil good, and good evil. Jesus did not return to heaven and leave us with balloons or paintings as mediums, the real power is in the gospel, and the working of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 1:16; John 16:7-8) Bethel talk about ‘hosting the presence’ of God, but in fact they are always searching for and relying upon some external medium for power and authority. From seeking the mantles of false teachers such as William Branham, to utilizing puppets, destiny cards, stretch pants, balloons and paintings, Bethel have turned their backs on the all sufficient word of God; the finished work of Christ; the real operations of the Holy Spirit, and embraced a different gospel.
Imagination forms the bedrock of Dedmon’s philosophy, in fact she believes the imagination is a vehicle for transformation. Dedmon writes: “We need the whole Body of Christ to realize the potential lying dormant in the imagination.”
As an example of someone who left a “legacy” because he used his imagination, Dedmon points to King David : “The life of King David provides a great example of using the imagination to transform the world…Aren’t you glad David used his imagination and taught other psalmists to do the same?”
We could all agree the the book of Psalms resonates with just about every conceivable human emotion, and that David was a gifted psalmist. However, David was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and scripture is incomparable to anything written by a Bethelite after a soaking session in their Alabaster prayer house. David’s imagination did not “transform the world” and neither will the continual use of Bethel’s catch phrases that contradict scripture achieve anything.
It gets worse: “We were made with imaginations that reflect the heart of Creator God, who imagined you and me into being! The more we release our imaginations to dream and visualize from Heaven’s perspective, the more God can create things through us to fulfill His purposes!”
God’s purposes on earth are limited by our imaginations and creations?
Dedmon: “The enemy comes to kill, rob, and destroy. He wants to divide families, nations, churches, and people’s lives. When people are creative, the enemy fails to have power because he has nothing that can stop God’s creative sound.”
Dedmon believes that Gideon’s trumpet, David’s harp, and Paul and Silas praising God in prison are proof that creativity makes the Devil tremble as these sounds are released. Dedmon has obviously been influenced by one of the most heretical and new age books sold by Bethel – The Physics Of Heaven. Bethel’s description of the book is telling: “Read what some of the most beloved leaders in the Christian charismatic movement have to say as they explore the mysteries of God hidden in sound, light, vibrations, frequencies, energy, and quantum physics. Contributors include Bill and Beni Johnson..”
(For an excellent 6 part review on this book, click here)
Dedmon: “In May of 2011, Bill Johnson spoke in the School of Supernatural Ministry and said that creative miracles will happen when creative sons and daughter begin to create. Why is this? I believe it is because we have to “see” the greater glory before it is released. Art, songs, writings, fashion, music, and dance have the capacity to usher in the supernatural, unseen realm of the miraculous.”
Do you need any more evidence that Bethel have placed their faith in creative expressions instead of God?
Dedmon: “Now I understand how creative expressions can not only enhance the Kingdom message, but also can embody it. They not only deserve a platform, but they also have relevance for others who need to understand who God is through a different creative expression. A prophetic painting can be worth a thousand sermons. Transformation happens in our imaginations, whether or not we “get it” at the time. My imagination painted a vision of what my life was like through my restricted religious lens. I needed an adjustment to embrace my full destiny. God knew I couldn’t receive it in word form, so He gave me a picture that could not be forgotten. God used my imagination to awaken me to the role of creativity in communicating and receiving the Kingdom of God.”
One sermon that correctly divides the word of God, is worth all the “prophetic paintings” Dedmon’s team could create. “Adjustment” or transformation comes through the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2) That takes place as we study the word of God, not through entertaining our imaginations.
What would a sermon or book from a Bethelite be without tall stories – it would be half the length for starters. This tall story takes a leaf out of Revelation:
Dedmon: “When we take risks, God shows up and moves in and through us. I ask my students who go out weekly to release creativity and ask the Holy Spirit what He wants them to do. One person received the same Scripture I had received from Revelation 22:2 and felt the Holy Spirit wanted them to go outside and find leaves to anoint. The group went out with the leaves and asked a man they met if he needed healing. He said that his foot was in continual pain. The girl who had anointed the leaves shared the Scripture and what God had shown her. Before she had even given him the leaves, all of the pain left his foot! They looked down, asking him to move it around to confirm the healing and saw that a leaf had fallen on the healed foot! No matter how hard he tried to get the leaf off by shaking, it clung to his shoe. He stomped his foot, jumped around, and was completely healed.”
This story is the envy of struggling artists who run short of paint:
Dedmon: “A student named Kimberly Humphrey asked the Holy Spirit what she should bring on her trip to Mozambique, Africa, and she brought four 8-ounce tubes of paints. She miraculously painted four murals in prisons during the time she was there! Some of the walls were 10 feet by 8 feet. When she returned, there was still paint in those tubes. If God can multiply food to feed the hungry, He can multiply paint to save the nations! As prisoners look at the murals, they are coming to Christ.”
Balloons, leaves, murals….what’s next? Apparently Food!
Under the sub heading “If You Give A Revivalist A Cookie” Dedmon writes:
“I know that everyone is excited about this creative expression: food! Wait, you can prophesy through food and see people get healed? Yes. Food not only invites our senses to encounter God’s goodness, but it can also be a way to prophesy life to others. I know all the chefs out there will love it! The basic concept is that you can ask the Holy Spirit for a recipe or a prophetic word that goes along with the food you prepare. This is also powerful because you anoint the food with your hands and with love!”
Fortune cookies, tea, and revelatory pizzas…
Dedmon: “At the School of Creativity’s culinary arts booth, they prophesied over others through cookies with a prophetic message of encouragement inside. They offered soothing tea for healing and made prophetic pizzas.”
In the words of Brian Houston, there is more. According to Dedmon “dance changes the atmosphere” and is a “way of bringing freedom and His presence everywhere you go!”
But don’t settle for less when you can have a double anointing. How so you ask – is this double anointing acquired through prayers, fasting and meditation? No, remember this is Bethel, so according to Dedmon “drama Improv brings double anointing!”
Lets not forget Dedmon’s
tarot destiny cards: “A supernatural art card is a pictorial representation of what you see in the Spirit over a person, and it usually requires an interpretation.”
Sadly, the children at Bethel are not spared the indoctrination of this Charismatic cult. From a young age, they are taught to rely on their feelings, images and voices in their minds. Instead of teaching children from the scripture – what God has said, Bethel are encouraging a form of channeling. What may start out as acting upon the imagination, can end in acting on demonic influences.
Dedmon: “Did you know that children could be taught to prophesy and heal the sick? As children are taught who God is and how to listen to His voice, they create things that transform people’s lives. After all, there is no “junior” Holy Spirit. We need to cultivate faith in our children so they can hear from God and experience the miraculous, laying the foundation for their history with God. At Bethel, children are taught to ask God what He is saying and then to express what they hear in dance, singing, drawing, and writing.”
There is no junior gospel, children need to hear the same message of repentance as adults. Dedmon prefers to work on children’s self esteem:
“As I have mentioned before, we want to bring value to the children in our community. We prophesy and bless children through face painting, balloon animals, and destiny art. We declare their destinies as we knight and crown them with balloons, signifying that they are royalty. We have everyone stop and clap after we announce, “Everybody, we have a princess or we have a knight.”
No Theresa, you have a child that needs to hear the gospel!
It seems as if Bethel’s spirit can’t get by without a little help from its friends. Dedmon has enhanced the waiting area at Bethel’s healing rooms by introducing arts such as painting and dancing.She believes these creative expressions have contributed to healings: “People are now getting healed in the waiting room before they receive prayer from anyone, just by being in His presence through the atmosphere that has been created! They call the waiting room, “the Encounter Room.” The healing rooms are lined with volunteers who can’t wait to create and release His presence creatively so others can be healed.”
Where was God’s presence before the paintings and dancers arrived? Did Jesus (after whom Bethel model their ministry) need a creative team from Nazareth to accompany him. Was James selling us short by neglecting to tell us how important the atmosphere was before praying for the sick? Did Paul leave behind a sick Trophimus in Miletus because he failed to release the presence?
In this excerpt from one of the countless testimonies, another unbiblical practice unfolds. Beni Johnson is deluded enough to think she can wake up angels when they take a break or are idle. While angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14) we don’t have the authority to command them, let alone “release them.”
Dedmon: “Here is another testimony from Louisa Barry, who paints in the healing rooms: I began painting for a woman who had never seen prophetic art before. I explained that I was releasing angelic breakthrough. I didn’t want to control or shape the image, as we can’t control the angelic presence that brings healing.”
Automatic painting releases angelic breakthrough and healing? You don’t have to be a bible scholar to know that what Bethel teach and practice is bizarre, mystical, and not taught in scripture.
Perhaps influenced by Mark Batterson’s mystical book “The Circle Maker,” one of Dedmon’s students tries another formula by partnering with a myth instead of obeying scripture.
Dedmon: “One of my students, Francesco Sideli, who has a degree in art, came to the school hungry for the supernatural and to encounter God. As he began partnering with the Holy Spirit, his creativity became supernatural. People were healed when he drew a circle with chalk and they stepped into that circle.
Like their heretical friends over at Christalignment, Bethel like to blend in at new age festivals. Real disciples were hounded, persecuted, chased out of cities, and many ultimately martyred. But Bethel blend in with the pagans to such an extent there’s little difference between the two.
Dedmon: “Another time, we did destiny art at a New Age festival in Shasta City, California, inside a large gymnasium. As we came in to set up destiny writing and art, we could hear chanting going on over the loudspeaker. As we were busily drawing, all of a sudden, I heard one of our team members playing the congas and singing in the Spirit over the loud speaker. The New Agers liked it so much that they invited her back for another hour! It’s amazing how much God wants to get in to the world’s parties and show off!”
In 2010, Dedmon’s school held a one day arts festival in a park. Some folk are ashamed of the gospel, they know the truth but are reluctant in sharing as they fear they might offended people. In one sense, that’s the sign of the true gospel – it’s offensive to the natural man. In Bethel’s case it’s not that they are ashamed of the gospel, the issue is that they have a different gospel.
Dedmon: “My team strategically created booths that would make people aware of the needs of the children in Africa, but would also covertly bring the Kingdom into people’s lives and carry the power of the supernatural to transform them. We set up booths for dream interpretation, destiny writing, destiny cards, hourly crafts for children, destiny makeovers (makeup and hair), healing, and massage,“
The future is bleak, for the world and the false church, both are under God’s judgement, and both are getting progressively worse by the day. Those who have been captivated by the current delusion in the visible church, will view anyone who is prepared to contend for the faith as a “bully.”
Dedmon: “We need tomorrow to be strewn with innovative ideas because our children were taught God’s plans and were able to infiltrate His core values into the systems and institutions of this world. The future is not bleak—our Dad is around to beat up every bully of religion, fear, or inferior thinking and living.”
In conclusion, I’d like to expound on this sentence by Dedmon : “The enemy comes to kill, rob, and destroy. He wants to divide families, nations, churches, and people’s lives.”
Dedmon is referring to John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Jesus identifies the “enemy” or “thief” and it’s not the devil, it’s false teachers and Dedmon is an example of one. Dedmon is profiteering through fleecing ignorant sheep and inquisitive goats. It is God who brings a necessary division within families: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Matthew 10:34-36
It is God who brings a healthy division between a false church, false teachers, and the body of Christ. Scripture instructs us to mark and avoid those who bring a different doctrine. The world peace and false unity Bethel seeks will come, but under the rule of the antichrist, someone they would probably identify as having an apostolic anointing. Dedmon and Bethel are playing their role in this current mass delusion by rejecting truth, introducing deceiving spirits and propagating doctrines of demons.
Source: Rick Becker, ‘Famine In The Land’ blog, https://fitl.co.za/2019/11/21/bethels-creative-renaissance-idolatry/?fbclid=IwAR3HEXTZSwFkuqG0m9mCyehl_a4n68ZeWm2Yviru1jYUyZQyMEPhGVxPA4E Published November 21, 2019. (Accessed November 22, 2019.)
“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:16
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