Artist Profile – Bethel Music/Church
By Harrison Cunha & Derek Greenhalgh
Who are they? – Bethel music is a ministry of Bethel church in Redding, California. The worship pastor, Brian Johnson is the president and cofounder of Bethel Music. Moreover, he is also the son of the senior pastors, Bill & Beni Johnson. Bethel has their own record label and multiple well-known musical artists that have gone out from them (Jeremy Riddle, Cory Asbury, Kristene DiMarco, and many others). They started in 2001 as part of Bethel church’s music program, but they quickly gained worldwide fame and, thus, rose rapidly to being a global outreach. Many of their songs have become chart-toppers such as “Reckless Love”, “Raise a Hallelujah”, “No Longer Slaves”, and “King of My Heart.” Their music ministry is composed of a few dozen artists who have come and gone throughout the years and, in turn, have started their own ministries that are connected with Bethel music such as Jesus Culture. Together, the music ministry of Bethel church receives millions of views on YouTube and music streaming platforms such as Spotify per song/year.
Theological Issues: Bethel Church, and their senior pastors Bill & Beni Johnson, are part of the Word of Faith movement. More specifically, they
are part of the New Apostolic Reformation movement. Bethel subscribes to a number of erroneous beliefs and practices such as, but not limited to; The Seven Mountains Mandate (essentially they focus on transforming society as opposed to the individual, see footnote for further info); They believe in “Jesus Christ as Perfect theology” meaning it is always Jesus’ will to heal someone (this contradicts Num. 12:13-15, 2 Cor. 12:7-9 & 2 Tim. 4:20); Bethel preaches and teaches from the Passion Translation of the Bible which fails to adhere to the original text; They believe that gold dust frequently appears during their worship service from a “glory cloud.” (parlor tricks); The Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry is taught by apostles and Prophets with the expressed purpose to teach their students how to heal the sick, cast out demons, prophecy and much more (this contradicts Acts 1:21-22 & 1 Cor. 12:11); They also practice “Grave Soaking” essentially the belief that if you lay on the grave of a mature believer who passed away you can “suck up their anointing” (extra biblical and mystical practice); and finally, Bethel endorses a practice called “Christaliment” which is a form of fortune telling using cards, similar to tarot cards but under the guise of prophecy, these cards are used to reach out to non-believers but with no biblical language of sin, repentance, and faith.
What are their associations? – Like many artists in the Contemporary Christian Music industry, they associate with many other musicians and record wherever possible. Heretical church music groups like Elevation church, Hillsong church, and Jesus Culture frequently record and work with Bethel. Not only groups, but individual artists such as Phil Wickham and Kim Walker Smith have also collaborated with Bethel music in the past.
Another concern is Bethel’s theological associations with New Apostolic Reformation, Word of Faith movement, and Prosperity Gospel movement. These groups are clearly heretical and advocate a false gospel, along with a false Jesus. Moreover, Bill Johnson attended the Toronto Blessing revival meetings. Thus, associating with Randy Clark and other popular false teachers. As a result, his associations and influences have significantly grown. Common associates of Bethel and Bill Johnson include, but not limited to: Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn, and Brian Houston, to name a few.
Why we won’t play their music: The reason for diving so far into Bethel church when looking at Bethel Music, is because the church’s
theology informs and influences their music. Therefore, we cannot exclude the church when examining their music ministry. Although many of the
songs sound biblical and seem harmless to listen to, or even play within church, they are not. There are direct and indirect consequences from listening to and playing Bethel Music. First, people who listen to Bethel could subsequently buy and download their music. As a result, they are financially supporting not just the music ministry, but ultimately Bethel church. Moreover, these people who listen could potentially influence others to listen to and buy their music. Then, those who are influenced could also assume that they are biblically sound as a church and potentially run across their teaching on the internet. If they are young in the faith, they could be lead astray. Second, every time a Bethel song is played in any church, they receive money from that church under the CCLI licensing agreement. CCLI is a Christian organization that pays out royalties to the “Christian” song writer/performers. Hence, Bethel receives financial support from these churches. Third, when a church plays Bethel music it is essentially putting its stamp of approval on Bethel theology. People attending and/or visiting the church will look at our associations, including the music we play, and assume that they are essentially like-minded with us. Thus, we could potentially be leading people down a wrong theological path. Praise and worship music is never divorced from theology and the intended theology of the song writer. Therefore, we must make every effort to only play music that glorifies and honors God theologically, financially, and consequentially.
“I urge you brothers to watch out for those who…put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.” (Romans 16:17)
Additional informative blogs on this subject:
Todd Friel With Wretch Radio
Bill Johnson and Christian Tarot cards I e. “Christaliment cards”
Bethel’s statement about the cards.
Bill Johnson asking people to pray for a 2 year old child’s resurrection. Ultimately God did not raise the child. This means that per Johnson’s own words, they lacked the faith necessary to raise the child. Sad day for the parents receiving false hope.
 In a review for Themelios, Andrew G. Shead concludes that Simmons abandons “all interest in textual accuracy, playing fast and loose with the original languages, and inserting so much new material into the text that it is at least 50% longer than the original. The result is a strongly sectarian translation that no longer counts as Scripture; by masquerading as a Bible it threatens to bind entire churches in thrall to a false god.”