From January 16-19, 2010 the Redding Record Searchlight published several articles about Bethel Church, a charismaniac assembly in that California city. In addition to mention of the church's recent claimed growth, the usual (at least in modern charismaniac circles) signs and wonders, a glossary of Bethel terms, and a list of "evangelical" ministries that Bethel lists as friends, there was an article mentioning various miracles (including raising the dead) claimed on behalf of the church by Bethel’s senior pastor, Bill Johnson. However, it seems that Pastor Johnson has had difficulty in getting the "spiritual gifts" related to healing to apply to himself:
Bill Johnson, Bethel’s senior pastor, settled into a plush black couch in his office, his arm around an animal-print pillow. Before anything else, he wanted to talk about healing.
"We just had another brain tumor case of cancer healed," he said. "We have a lot of that kind of stuff happen. It’s verified by doctors, they do the tests and the cancer’s gone. We have a lot of that sort of thing--miracles."
Johnson, who himself required hernia surgery last year and wears prescription glasses, teaches that the supernatural miracles that happened in Biblical times still happen today if people just value God's presence and open themselves up to receiving it.
"Because we have such value for his presence with us, things just happen," he said.
Johnson said that healings happen all the time and he doesn't feel he needs to provide any documentation or hard evidence to inquiring minds. He also said he doesn't check up on people who come to Bethel for healing - he doesn't have the time.
"If you're sitting here and you say, 'I've been deaf in my left ear since childbirth,' and I pray for you and then I have you close your right ear and I whisper 10 feet away and you can hear me, I don't feel like I need to get a doctor's report," he said. "I'm happy you're happy you can hear. That's enough for me."
Though he had people praying for his hernia to heal early in 2009, the condition still required surgery and Johnson said that was OK because God can use doctors as well as he can use Bethel's healing teams, though both are necessary.
Our Lord put it best in Luke 4:23:
And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself...
I'm not going to mention that Pastor Johnson talks out of both sides of his mouth when he says that the healings are verified by doctors, but then refuses to provide any evidence.
Christian Educational and Resource Ministries offers Biblical critiques of false teachers, including Bill Johnson. Heralding Truth is another site containing Biblical analyses of Bethel’s unscriptural doctrines and practices.
October 23, 2010 update: The Redding Record Searchlight for October 21, 2010 published an article about an incident in 2008 when a couple of Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry students were out drinking and encountered an acquaintance who was drunk. The acquaintance fell--or was pushed--off a cliff and fell 200 feet onto the rocks below. The Bethel students thought the man was dead and tried to pray him back to life. Apparently afraid of getting into trouble for violating the school's rules on drinking, they then pulled the old Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick trick and debated for hours whether they should report the incident to police. The injured man survived the fall, and is now a paraplegic. He's suing the students, and accusing them of not immediately summoning assistance. If the behaviour of these students is any indication of the godly behaviour produced by Bethel, then it's a devastating indictment of the place.
HT: m'kayla's korner