When the leaders of false movements fill the hearts of their followers with false doctrine, should we be surprised to hear this sad story coming out of Bethel? Ps Chris Rosebrough from ‘Fighting For The Faith’ addresses the sudden death of two-year-old Olive Heiligentha and the wicked manipulation of this tragedy by Bethel leader Bill Johnson and other senior leaders.
Ps. Rosebrough states, in part:
“This is utterly tragic, utterly tragic. It’s time for Bethel to wake up, it’s time for people to wake up about Bethel. They need to bury Olive and trust in the real promises that we have in the resurrection, that we all are promised on the last day for all who believe in Jesus. They need to repent. This is just straight out spiritual abuse and manipulation, based upon false teaching, and twisting and manipulation of God’s Word – all because of their super emphasis on signs and wonders.”
“Bill Johnson is a false apostle, Kris Vallotton is a false prophet. Bethel is a cult and they should be avoided like the plague. And what we are seeing unfolding before our eyes, is one of the most tragic and sad examples being played out on social media, on the Internet and in the traditional media, of spiritual abuse that I have ever see. Have mercy on these parents and let them bury their daughter so that they can grieve and look forward to the hope they have on the last day – when Jesus returns in glory. And we will all be raised from the dead. Again this is one of the most horrific things I have ever witnessed in my life and it shows just how far off not only Bethel is but shows just how dangerous these false doctrines of theirs truly are.” (Source)
Source: Ps. Chris Rosebrough, ‘Bethel, Wake Up!’, Pirate Christian Media YouTube Channel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9yIj9PS0xo. Premiered December 20, 2019. (Accessed December 20, 2019.)
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
“Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:17-27
Holly Pivec from ‘Spirit of Error’ also draws her readers’ attention to the role the New Apostolic Reformation plays in this still unfolding tragedy in the following article :
‘What’s being missed with the ‘waking’ of Olive at Bethel Church, Redding?’
“In the New Apostolic Reformation — the global movement that Bethel Church is part of — equivocation is common. By equivocation, I mean that leaders in the movement often call two different things by the same name. The result is ambiguity that allows them to promote non-biblical teachings while cloaking those teachings in biblical terminology.” (Source)
Holly Pivec writes:
The story out of Bethel Church in Redding, California, this past week — following the sudden death of two-year-old Olive Heiligenthal — is tragic. The hearts of people across the nation have gone out to her parents in compassion — not just because they lost a child, but also because of the false hope they’ve clung to that their little girl would come back to life.
Many news sources have already reported on this story. But I want to point out what has been missed. In their coverage of the fiasco, reporters have noted that the parents’ church, Bethel Church, has rallied around the parents’ prayers for a resurrection — calling for people across the globe to join them in those prayers. But what Bethel Church has been engaged in, since Olive Heiligenthal died on Saturday, is not prayer. They’ve actually been making “declarations.” There’s a big difference.
Prayer vs. Declarations
In the New Apostolic Reformation — the global movement that Bethel Church is part of — equivocation is common. By equivocation, I mean that leaders in the movement often call two different things by the same name. The result is ambiguity that allows them to promote non-biblical teachings while cloaking those teachings in biblical terminology.
Case in point: Consider Bethel Church’s use of the word “prayer.” Historically, prayer has been understood by Christians as making petitions or requests of God to do such-and-such a thing. That’s how prayer is taught in the Bible. And that’s the understanding most people will have of the word prayer when they read articles stating that Bethel Church is “praying for a resurrection.”
But when Bethel Church uses the word “prayer,” they often mean something very different. They’re generally not requesting or asking God to do such-and-such a thing, such as asking Him to resurrect Olive Heiligenthal. Rather, they’re often referring to the making of “prayer declarations,” or just “declarations,” for short. So, what is a declaration?
A declaration is making verbal affirmations that allegedly release God’s power to create a desired reality. In much the way God spoke and brought the world into existence, believers today – who are created in the image of God – also have the power to bring things into existence through their spoken words, according to Bethel teachings. Declarations are seen to be more effective than traditional prayer because they don’t ask God to do something He has already authorized believers to do themselves. These teachings about declarations can be found in Bethel “apostle” Bill Johnson’s books, including When Heaven Invades Earth. Yet they’re not supported by Scripture. Rather, they’re in line with the teachings of Word of Faith movement leaders such as Kenneth Hagin and Kenneth Copeland.
Yet the uninitiated missed the fact that what Bethel has been calling for is not actually prayer as it is normally understood. Instead they’ve been calling for declarations. Here’s the call the church issued on their Facebook page, December 15.
Our God is the God of miracles, and nothing is impossible for Him! We are asking you, our global church family, to join with us in prayer and in declaring life and resurrection over@kalleyheili and @apheiligenthal’s daughter, Olive Alayne! (emphasis mine)
The phrase “declaring life and resurrection over … Olive” was lost on the media as well as many mainstream Christians. Yet Bethel’s call for declarations wasn’t lost on the insiders, i.e., those who hold to Bethel teachings. This can be seen in the nearly 3,000 comments posted on the church’s Facebook page, in response to the call. Notice the many Bethel followers who used the words “declare” or “declaring,” such as this comment posted by a Rick Davis: “Praying, and declaringresurrection Life for Olive … Little Olive, arise, in Jesus’s name!” And here is a similar comment from Susie Mehlig: “Father in Jesus name we decree and declare Spirit of life come back into Olive!” (emphasis mine).
And this video shows Olive Heiligenthal’s parents, Kalley and Andrew, on stage at Bethel Church leading congregants in the singing of a declaration: “Olive, come out of that grave. Come out of that grave, in Jesus’ name.”
Even the hashtag that has gone viral, #wakeupolive, reflects the language of declaration, not petitionary prayer.
Equivocation of ‘Prayer’ to Downplay Bethel’s Failure
Bill Johnson has employed this equivocation in an apparent attempt to downplay the church’s failure to resurrect Olive Heiligenthal. Notice, in his official statement to the media, he suggests that the only things Bethel Church has been doing at their meetings this past week is taking part in “singing and prayer.” Here’s what Johnson said:
“Since that night, and at the continued request of the Heiligenthal family, Bethel Church has hosted prayer and worship gatherings which consist of singing and prayer (this is the first-ever public gathering of prayer for resurrection that Bethel has hosted).”
Prayer and worship gatherings. He makes it sound as if the church has been engaged in merely an old-fashioned prayer meeting. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yet why would Johnson downplay the main activity — making declarations — taking place at the Bethel Church meetings this week? Could it be because, despite the thousands of declarations that have been made on Olive Heiligenthal’s behalf for five days, her lifeless body still lies at the morgue? This is certainly tragic — but even more so because so many of Johnson’s followers have doubled down and refused to admit what’s obvious to everyone else — they have a broken theology.
And here’s the kicker. The failure of the church’s declarations suggests something bigger than failure to raise one little girl. It suggests that Bethel Church’s entire paradigm — of bringing heaven (or God’s physical Kingdom) to earth through spoken declarations — is also based on false hope.
Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University
Source: Holly Pivec, ‘Spirit Of Error’ blog, http://www.spiritoferror.org/2019/12/whats-being-missed-with-the-waking-of-olive-at-bethel-church-redding/8840?fbclid=IwAR3ICR8Wq6pwkzemO8Tz8FcseJ_rRzCZ8lmbj0Mv8jw-rjckZX598Z2dOww. Published December 19, 2019. (Accessed December 20, 2019.)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” John 5:25-29
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