Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Teaching of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church Examined Part II: Bodily Healing In the Atonement Error

In the first post in this series we looked at the Christological errors being espoused by Bill Johnson. The reader also saw what I believe to be the driving presuppositions behind the denial of Christ's Divine attributes during His earthly ministry, namely an idolatrous esteem for miracles. That same presupposition is explicitly the guiding principle in this next area of examination, the so-called "Healing in the atonement" teaching.

Let me again preface my article by stating where I sympathize with Mr. Johnson. I whole heartily agree with Mr. Johnson that sickness and death are NOT normal. We were not originally made to die, leave our bodies and be unclothed spirits (2 Cor 5:1-4). So, let me be very clear, sickness and death are tragic. As a Christian, I long for the day when that last enemy, death, is put under king Jesus' feet (1 Cor 15:26 cf Psalm 110:1). With that said, I appreciate the passion Bill Johnson has to see these things taken away, he is sincere in wanting to see sickness and death eliminated and health restored, and with that I am in cheerful agreement.

It's the theology that Bill Johnson has built around healing that is the problem, not the aim. He has a good goal but has drifted off the path and into bypass meadow, much in the same mindset of Bunyan's Christian thinking he was achieving something good, yet in reality, falling into error.

Defining The Healing in the Atonement DoctrineLet us firstly define what this healing in the atonement doctrine actually is teaching. The marrow of the healing in the atonement teaching is that just as Christ died for our sins He also died for our bodily healing. Thus, healing is guaranteed to people just as surely as salvation from our sins (and the wrath they deserve) is guaranteed by Christ's death. So, bodily healing is readily available on demand, Christ bought it. The doctrine is said to have its Biblical base in Isaiah 53:4-5 which reads:

"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Now a possible translation of "griefs" in Hebrew "khol-ee'" From H2470; malady, anxiety, calamity: - disease, grief, (is) sick (-ness), is sicknesses. Also, a possible translation for "sorrows" in Hebrew "mak-o-baw'" From H3510; anguish or (figuratively) affliction: - grief, pain, sorrow. So in the text there is a possible meaning of the words that indeed is closely related to sickness, and to this the healing in the atonement teachers have latched on. (Strong's Concordance)

Further Scriptural citation for this doctrine often include the close relationship between individuals being forgiven their sins and being bodily healed. I have personally heard the doctrine being extracted from the healing of the paralytic in Matthew 9 where Christ says:

"For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he then said to the paralytic--"Rise, pick up your bed and go home."
(Matt 9:6)

The logic goes something like this, Jesus in the above account was saying that the evidence that the paralytic was forgiven of his sins was shown in his consequent healing. Or, to put it another way, he was healed because he was forgiven. Therefore, it stands to reason that all those whom Christ has forgiven have full access to this bodily healing, just as he died for their sins that they may be forgiven, He equally died that their bodies might no longer taste sickness. This coupled with the sickness oriented rendering of Isaiah 53, and it seems a pretty airtight argument, especially if you are not thoroughly familiar with all of scripture.

By way of my making a response to this teaching it must be pressed upon the understanding of those who hold to and teach this doctrine that it has broad implications which threaten other Biblical doctrines and our own practice. These Biblical teachings under assault include the sovereignty of God, God's goodness in His sovereignty, the Biblical teaching on sickness and in a more empirical vein the ubiquity of sickness in our world and lives.

Before I go into a rebuttal of the position, I will let these things be stated by Bill Johnson himself. In Video #1 here, Mr. Johnson asserts that sickness is never the will of God and in fact to think that God is sovereign over sickness is actually to make Him out to be a child abuser. I find that almost every time some teacher says things like, "If God is like X then He's a rapist" that the Bible teaches that God in fact is like X. There are also many other statements made in the video I would consider outlandish, particularly the Smith Wigglesworth quote that seems to make God into an impersonal force we tap into.




Video #2 here is Mr. Johnson replying to 3 questions, 1.) Does God ever cause sickness? 2.) Does God ever choose not to heal? 3.) What was Paul's thorn in the flesh? Johnson of course answers no to the first two questions, but in doing so really has to make the devil bigger than he really is and make God smaller than He is, and again God seems more like a force that we tap into the more I listen to Mr. Johnson. In response to the third question Mr. Johnson says he just doesn't know what Paul's thorn in the flesh was, but he knows it wasn't sickness.




In this #3 and last video Mr. Johnson makes a statement that I think is very revealing and really supports my thought as to why there are all of these odd doctrines in Mr. Johnson's theology. Mr. Johnson states at the 1:00 mark, "I refuse to create a theology that allows for sickness." Furthermore, Johnson actually says that if you don't believe in all of this healing on demand business or think Paul's thorn is some sort of bodily ailment you are preaching a different gospel. Please note, this video has written comments by someone obviously not sympathetic to Johnson's position, I rather don't like that, as Johnson's own words are enough.




Having let Mr. Johnson speak for himself I begin my rebuttal with the doctrine of God's sovereignty followed by a Biblical exegesis of the popular healing in the atonement passages, the Biblical accounts of sickness as well as our common experience with sickness.

I. The God Who is Good and Sovereign Over All Things, Including Sickness
One of the "stupid doctrines" to quote Bill Johnson, that he seems nauseated by in the first video, as it implies God is in control of sickness, is the doctrine of God's sovereignty. This teaching is directly under assault by the "sickness is never of God" slogans. Is God in control of all things or is He being controlled by something(s)? It is impossible to hold to the healing on demand position and affirm God's sovereignty, because it would mean that every sickness is from the devil, and God would rather that there were no sickness but for some reason He can't stop that pesky devil from running a muck and spreading the Flu virus. Christians often mouth quaint phrases like, "God is in control" but if we really flush that out we find He is in control of things we'd rather Him not be...but He after all isn't a tame Lion...He isn't safe...but He is good.

A. God's Sovereignty Over Evil

The most moving narrative in Scripture in regards to the sovereignty of God is found in the story of Joseph. In the life of Joseph we see a man who has received a promise from God and yet his entire life is one tragedy and suffering on top of another. From his brothers intending to murder him but instead doing the next best thing and selling him as a slave to Ishmaelites, to his slavery and false accusation of rape from the loose wife of his master. From Jacob Blesses the sons of Josephthere, as a prisoner in a dungeon, to thinking he might get a release by helping the cup bearer of Pharaoh only to be forgotten by the cup bearer for years.

Finally, Joseph is exalted to the place of 2nd over all of the land of Egypt through his interpreting of Pharoah's dreams. In this position he is able to save the lives of many including his own treacherous brothers through his wise preparations for the famine he knew was coming. It is after going through the valley of shadow full of tragedy and suffering that on the other end Joseph can look back recognizing that God did was its author. This reaches a climax as he is able to gaze upon his wicked brothers and see the hand of God guiding even them as he says:

"So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt." (Gen 45:8)

And again,

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Gen 50:20)

Here we see Joseph clearly confessing God's sovereignty over all the events of his life, particularly the evil ones, with a good end intended by God in it all. So, in regard to God's goodness I agree with Mr. Johnson, God is good all the time, we just need to understand God's goodness in the same manner as Joseph, and the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:28. The "all things" includes a lot of trials are struggles.

B. God's Sovereignty Over Sickness in ParticularContrary to Bill Johnson's Q & A answers to the question "Does God ever cause or allow sickness?" the God of the Bible declares that yes indeed He does cause sickness, and the reality of this is something He confesses boldly as it distinguishes His sovereignty and power. We often overlook passages that deal with the LORD specifically striking someone with illness, one instance is the judgement of God upon David's child born out of his adultery with Bathsheba:

"And Nathan departed unto his house. And the LORD struck the child that Uriah's wife bare unto David, and it was very sick." (2 Sam 12:15)

Why did the child get sick? The LORD struck him. The average sentimentalist may not like this but there it is. Let God be God. Other examples worth noting are as follows:

"And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt." (Ex 9:8-9)

"They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people." For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there. The men who did not die were struck with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven." (1 Samuel 5:11-12)

In a more clear cut pronouncement on His sovereignty over sickness we turn to the book of Exodus. We find this proclamation in the context of Moses stating that he is slow of speech and doesn't think he is the best candidate to go before Pharaoh and give him the "Let my people go" speech, to which God replies:

"Then the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?" (Exodus 4:11)

Here we see God confessing that it is He who decides whose eyes will work, whose mouths shall speak, and whose ears shall hear. He decides that, not some fallen angel, running around doing whatever he wants while God bites His nails trembling at the devil's works and fretting that the church hasn't activated the power of healing like Smith Wigglesworth. No, God rules over disabilities and therefore over abilities. When someone is good at sports or music or is very intelligent people will say that person, "Has a gift", whether or not they realize they are recognizing a Gift Giver by saying so.

Yet, on the flip side when people are seen with physical problems, we want to protect God and say He didn't do that. People often become indignant and begin to demand "Why?!" from God to which scripture anticipating such a reaction to God's sovereignty replies:

"But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?" (Romans 9:20-21)

Now I understand that people at first don't like this, they want a God that is manageable rather than One who the Supreme Manager of all things, and that is why Arminianism reigns in regard to soteriology. But, that issue aside, once we submit to this teaching of scripture, we find that the doctrine that seemed so dark and void of comfort is actually teeming with sweetness, comfort and light. After all, when you hear from the doctor, "It's terminal." what is more comforting, the notion that this is just an accident that God wishes wouldn't be but for some reason He can't stop it, or are we comforted to know with scripture that not a hair can fall from our heads without it being the will of our Father in heaven (Matt 10:29-30)?

I'll take the latter over the Johnsonite position.

II. The Bible on Healing in the Atonement. Or an Attempt to Exegete the Texts Most Used by Advocates of the Doctrine.A. Isaiah 53

There is no controversy as to the actual language in Isaiah 53:3-4, it certainly can mean sickness and pains, hence the footnotes in your Bible's margin telling you this. So, if we let scripture interpret scripture we must ask, how is the Isaiah passage viewed in the New Testament? Lets see:

"And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses." (Matt 8:14-17)

Apostle Paul by RembrandtIn Matthew's gospel we indeed do see the Isaiah 53:4 text used directly in regard to healing. The healings Christ performed are said to be the fulfillment of the Isaiah text. Yet, I hasten to add that that is it. Bodily healing isn't in the atonement or death of Christ, but rather was in His earthly ministry. It was during His earthly ministry that this part of the Isaiah text was said to be fulfilled in relation to sickness, not on the cross, or so says the Spirit in Matthew's gospel.

Next, in the context of suffering and persecution the Spirit in Peter's first epistle says:

"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
(1 Peter 2:21-25)

Now here Peter, unlike in Matthew's citation of Isaiah 53, is clearly talking about the atonement/death of Christ on the cross. It is also apparent that he understands the "healing" of Christ's atonement to be akin to a lost sheep returning to its shepherd. The healing Peter sees here is relational between man and God centering upon forgiveness. He points to it in an exemplary manner in order to call believers to imitate Christ in His suffering wrongfully at the hands of persecutors. Having been forgiven much they too can forgive.

The healing in the atonement that the Spirit tells us about is that of men who were once at enmity with God (Rom 8:7) being restored to God, what greater form of healing can there be?

With all of that said, we see why the language of "sickness" and "pain" is treated more figuratively in regard to the atonement itself by the Apostle Peter. Sin is described in Isaiah itself as a disgusting sickness (Isaiah 1:1-7). The Spirit uses the word "sins" (1 Pet 2:24) and there do we see the true healing in the atonement. The bodily healing aspect of the prophecy was fulfilled in the healing ministry of Jesus, and the greater reality of the sin bearing savior and sinful man's restoration to God is fulfilled in the substitutionary death of Christ. After all what is sicker than a guilty sinner? Who is in more pain than one who suffers under the wrath and curse of God?

B. Is This Taught in the New Testament?If this healing in the atonement doctrine is such an important part of what Christ did that Bill Johnson actually has the temerity to accuse the deniers of it of "Preaching another gospel" where is it taught in the New Testament? Where does the new testament teach that believers are never to be sick, and that in fact getting a cold is evidence of a demonic assault needing to be resisted? Well, the answer to both of these questions should be obvious, it's nowhere in the New Testament.

But, I return now to the assertion made at the beginning in defining this teaching that Christ in healing individuals made a direct connection with their having been forgiven. They were healed as evidence of forgiveness. Lets look at that passage again:

"For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"--he then said to the paralytic--"Rise, pick up your bed and go home."
(Matt 9:6)

Let me be somewhat silly and say that the text means what it says. Anyone can come up to someone and say "Your sins are forgiven." and that statement be a non-reality, we after all can't see sins leaving someone nor the persons' standing before God. So, to show that Jesus' declaration is not in the same category of a "Your sins are forgiven" declaration from some charlatan, Jesus provides a visual display that He and His proclamation are different from that of some irreverent blasphemer, Jesus gives them a physical display of His authority.

Is there a 1 to 1 correlation here between bodily healing and being forgiven? Absolutely not. The reason for the healing in this instance is given right in the text, and it wasn't that everyone who has been forgiven has access to bodily healing, but rather "But that you may know". Know what? Know who Jesus is. There were skeptics at this display questioning Christ's absolving a man of his sins and Jesus gave the skeptics a visual aid that they might know a bit about the Son of Man and His power.

Another aspect worthy of note is the repeated Johnsonite assertion that Jesus always healed the sick, as sickness was intolerable to Him. Again, as dealt with in the first post, Christ is allegedly our entirely "imitatable" example in this regard according to Mr. Johnson. This "Christ always healed" assertion simply is begging the question. For example, Jesus we know would have passed by a certain beggar who was lame and daily was brought to the gate outside the temple. We know this as this lame man was later healed in Acts 3:2 by Peter.

III. Accounts of Sickness in the New Testament
If the healing in the atonement doctrine is indeed the case, there certainly are a large number of New Testament scriptural accounts attesting to ill believers that contradict this teaching.

Tabitha:
"Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber."(Acts 9:36-37)

Epaphraditus:"Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick.

For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful
." (Phil 2:25-28)

Trophimus:
"Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick." (2 Tim 4:20)

Paul:"And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
" (2 Cor 12:7-10)

The following passage in Galatians is why most Bible scholars assume Paul's thorn in the flesh had to do with sight:

"You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of the blessing you felt? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me." (Gal 4:13-15)

Conclusion:

Didn't all of these believers know that healing was theirs on demand? Didn't they know that sickness was not part of the kingdom reality that was now their possession? What is Paul doing leaving Trophimus sick?

Obviously, the New Testament account contradicts the healing in the atonement/healing on demand doctrine. We have believers like Tabitha falling sick and dying, faithful disciples like Epaphroditus nearly dying , and we see co-laborers with Paul like Trophimus having to be left behind because of sickness rendering them unable to travel. Also, we have the apostle Paul Himself speaking of a "thorn in the flesh". Where is the thorn again? In his flesh. So, whatever that may be (blindness, or nagging injury from a persecution) it is clearly physical, and it's not going away, God Himself has said so.

Unlike Bill Johnson's assertion that he, "Refuses to form a theology that allows for sickness" the honest student of the Bible isn't allowed the luxury of deciding what the Bible says about sickness a-priori. If we just let the Bible say what it says we see that Paul's suffering was not only physical but that he actually saw a God given purpose in his sufferings.

IV. Sickness and Our General Human ExperienceSince Adam, sickness and death has been a part of the human experience. It is not normal, that is why we weep over departed saints. Those who die tend to die of something, and water is wet. With that said, men like Oral Roberts who claimed to have never been sick in decades still die of something regardless of their delusions. As I said in the first post, I have many dear friends who have been heavily influenced by Bill Johnson and the Bethel Redding Church. A number of them I know have gone to doctors for surgeries and medical treatments. Again, if all of this healing in the atonement/on demand business is true, that simply shouldn't be the case.

In fact, Bill Johnson himself was recently hospitalized for anemia. Of course it was called a demonic attack, but that must mean the devil can thwart God and does so...well...A LOT...because I see sick believers all the time. But lets stay on Mr. Johnson himself since he is the one making these extravagant claims and then not living the reality. Leaving aside acute illness, we can casually observe that, Mr. Johnson's hair is gray, he is getting rather wrinkled in the skin, and he has to wear glasses in order to see properly...healing is in the atonement?

Why all of this unreality? I would humbly say the unreality exists because the healing the atonement doctrine simply isn't Biblical.

V. Conclusion
Let's just keep it simple, if healing is in the atonement why does Mr. Johnson wear glasses? Seriously, that really should settle the whole debate, no fancy exegesis required. Rather than paying the $200 every few years for a new pair of spectacles why not pay $25 and purchase his own teaching series, "Healing: Our Birthright" at the Bethel store and grab his healing? If God never causes sickness, then what are we to make of David's child, the tumors in Egypt and on the Ark harboring Philistines all being struck with sickness, which the Bible explicitly state is from God? Not to mention the covenantal threats of disease upon the Israelites in Deuteronomy if they break the covenant.

None of that makes sense if we are to live by a theology based upon quaint slogans. All slogan theology leaves us with is a God somewhat like a doting mother with a head full of curlers who showers us with kisses and cookies everytime we skin our knees playing kick the can in the alley when she told us to clean our room.

Fortunately, man does not live by quaint sayings but the word of God.

Lastly, the Johnsonite view of God's sovereignty is surely muddled, I haven't heard Mr. Johnson explain this doctrine but he is certain to have a good deal of problems in doing so. But, the doctrine of God's sovereignty is just another bloody victim that has been slain alongside Christ's Divine attributes at the idolatrous altar dedicated to miracles that Mr. Johnson has erected. If we approach theology like Mr. Johnson, and from the outset have predetermined that certain conclusions are off limits, as he said, "I refuse to create a theology where God allows sickness", then we shouldn't at all be surprised to find that we have to engage in all sorts of scriptural acrobatics, and outright cut and pasting.

But, as I said previously, I have no personal axe to grind here, and I trust I have been charitable in my critique without compromising the truth. I just haven't really seen a rebuttal of this theology done in a responsible way and am responding to the need.

39 comments:

Jordan said...

Just a thought on your point on V. Your argument kind of sounds similar to the Roman guard's argument that he made while Jesus was on The Cross. Why can't He heal himself? Jesus didn't heal everybody he touched because of different measures of Faith.

Bob said...

The Roman guard question was actually a sensible thing to ask if Christ is who He said He was. Just like, if He's the Son of God why doesn't He come down? We all should ask these and find the answer for why He didn't come down, it wasn't for want of power that Christ remained on the cross so what held Him there?

Also as far as Jesus not healing everybody He touched you need to reference this, where did Jesus try to heal someone and fail because the candidate for healing failed to muster up enough faith?

The word of faith type of doctrine is one of the aspects I actually plan to address in future psosts on the teachings of Bethel Church. But given what you said about levels of faith, it would logically follow Bill Johnson lacks faith because he remains an eye glass wearer. Not only that but couple the word of faith error with the healing in the atonement error it then follows logically that the only reason why any Christian or really anybody continues to have a sickness is because they lack faith, or, it's their own fault for not using faith to "tap in to God" as I once heard a guy from Bethel put it.

josh said...

I appreciate much of what you have said and shown. I too have concerns over what Bill Johnson and many others teach specifically concerning the sovereignty of God.

One thing I would say in disagreement as a Calvanistic Continuationist. Not all who believe that healing is in the atonement are "hyper-continuationist". It always bothers me when Arminians equate a hyper-Calvinism with true, biblical Calvinism... in the same way that some equate a non-biblical charasmatic with a biblical charasmatic (continuationist).

I do not believe that Jesus provides healing in the same way He provides forgiveness in this age (i.e. we still experience the phyisical effects of the curse though not under the curse anymore because Christ became a curse for us). However, healing is in the atonement in the sense that ALL blessings that believers receive in this life were purchased through the atoning death of Jesus Christ... including if God chooses to heal. In other words, the wrath of God is removed from us because Christ absorbed it in our place so that God treats us as a loving Father. And as a loving Father full of compassion, He is free to heal (or not) as He wills - and this healing was purchased (or comes) through Jesus Christ.

Bob said...

Josh-
That sounds fine, I know there are more stable charismatics out there (Sam Storms, I guess Piper is really a Charismatic), I just frankly have primarily seen the wild guys. I think what is key in what you said that what make your position different from the folk in Bethel Redding is the fact that you used the word "if" in regards to God's choice to heal.

That sort of talk ruffles their feathers and they will assert that healing is guaranteed for all who have faith, treating God again like a force we tap into rather than a Person with a will of His own (His of course being perfect).

I wouldn't go as far as you and say that bodily healing was bought in the atonement, I think that is really in large part a metaphor for our salvation at least that's the way the Spirit interprets it in 1 Peter 2:21-25. It is true that there is a bodily healing referred to in the Isaiah passage but, as it was shown in the post the Spirit expressly states that the physical healing aspect was fulfilled in Christ's earthly ministry in healing the sick (See Matt 8:14-17) and not on the cross.

Thus, if we let scripture interpret scripture it becomes clear that bodily healing is not tied up in the atonement.

Ralph said...

When we consider whether there is healing in the Atonement or not a Kingdom theology perspective is necessary - what I mean is that, yes, the Atonement brings salvation - healing of body, soul, and spirit - to ALL who trust in Christ. All will be healed completely at the Resurrection. Without the Atonement, without the Cross there would be no Resurrection. All who are healing on this side of Eternity are healed by "his stripes" - and all who are eventually made whole at the Resurrection are also healed by "his stripes." So, yes, there is healing in the atonement - some in the "already" and most in the "not yet." There is nothing wrong with Johnson's level of expectation. We don't know why God chooses to heal some completely in this life, but we do know that He will heal all who come to trust in His Son. So, we should pray for all and have a Kingdom expectation based on Christ's compassion for the sick. There is also a measure of spiritual warfare involved here. We should content, pray, believe, press in, so see the "greater things" - no have some quietistic passivity with regards to healing. As John Wimber used to say, if we pray for healing, we will see some healing, if we don't pray, God might decide to heal anyway, but the more we pray, the more healing we will see. God is on the throne and prayer changes things!

Bob said...

Ralph-
I am very sympathetic to what you are saying, we ought to see sickness for what it is, something to be banished by Christ when we enter into glory. That is a clear promise scripturally, there will be no more sickness nor tears as all things shall be made new. Also, we should want to see that now and earnestly pray for the alleviation of sickness in those around us. I am very sympathetic to that.

What I have a hangup with is Johnson's version of that, which as I pointed out clearly undermines other doctrines. Johnson explicitly undermines the sovereignty of God, and has to do violence to texts that clearly teach that God indeed does afflict people with sickness which I pointed out.

Also, Johnson goes much further than you and says that healing in the atonement means that it should happen NOW, not in the not yet but right now. In fact it is guaranteed, which leaves me wondering why he wears eye glasses. I have heard him basically say that Churches with wheelchair ramps ought to be ashamed of themselves, because they should have healed those people and eliminated the need for wheelchairs. Johnson doesn't want to leave things as mysterious as you Ralph, and wonder why God doesn't heal everyone, Johnson has an answer, the church isn't doing it's job.

I can go on, but that was the point of the blog post itself as I flushed out a lot of the problems with this teaching.

Jerry said...

Dear Sir, out of all the YouTube videos and postings in the internet about Bethel church including the teachings of Bill Johnson, I have to say this is the best, most thought out, using solid biblical hermeneutics to articulate the false teachings of Mr. Johnson.

GOOD JOB!

Bob said...

Thank you Jerry, I plan to continue the series but other things have been on my plate. Thanks for the encouragement.

Neil said...

Hi Bob. Thanks for the article, I found it interesting despite disagreeing with most points. I fear Bill is being misrepresented in this article but I see your main issue is with his view on Gods sovereignty. So firstly I think it is helpful to agree that the sovereignty of God is a hugely complex area. I hope I can remain humble as I share my current thinking. While I feel I could could possibly clarify Bills message I want to first look at the area of sovereignty.

The word sovereignty means that God has all authority. On this I would agree. You however seem to take the position that God causes all things and perhaps mix up Gods will (His desires) with what he directly causes. Now ultimately we can agree God causes everything (through creation) however I question that God causes everything that happens in our world. The Lord's prayer seems to indicate clearly that God's will is currently not being done on earth, unless I am missing something? We would both agree that God is in complete control and yet the real argument is not that statement but at what level is he directly controlling every circumstance. The Gen 50:20 verse you mention reminds me of Romans 8:28 and neither imply God causing evil but rather redeeming it towards his purposes.

Gods desire is that none should perish (2 Pet 3:9) and yet we live in a world where not all are saved. It may be that you hold a hyper-calvinist view point in which case we might just have to disagree at this point. In the bible I see a God who created a perfect garden Eden but with two choices of tree and I see a God whose main plan for sharing his love to the entire world was to send out a group of disciples he knew would make mistakes. Eden was a world without sickness and the heaven we are destined for as believers is a world without sickness. Could it be that Gods will is that sickness be eradicated? Could it be that in the same way he sends us to tell the world of his love he wants us to demonstrate that by fighting sickness?

Perhaps we can agree on this point.

On the issue of God causing sickness in the OT my main concern with your biblical interpretation is not that these events did not happen but how do we apply them? The step that seems to be missing is applying scripture of Gods judgement to us as NT believers. All OT scripture must pass through the filter of the cross in any biblical interpretation process. We are in the new covenant. Was Gods wrath satisfied on the cross? Does he still afflict people with disease?

I think it is also vital to remember that the bible makes it clear that Jesus is our best representation of God the Father (1 Col). If we see Jesus we see the Father. Therefore Jesus's attitudes to sickness and healing should be what weights our theology. The same can be said on the other topics Jesus addresses. Of course this still leaves questions but I would suggest Jesus's approach to healing should at the very least reveal the fathers view on the matter. I for one prefer to view life through the revelation of Jesus rather than the lesser old covenant (Hebrews).

In this discussion I suggest that you make the sovereignty of God your cornerstone and Bill makes the goodness of God his cornerstone. Both cause questions.

How for instance do you claim God to be good if he is inflicting disease on people? Not easily without redefining good and questioning whether he really is a good father. Does a good father teach its children through suffering? Discipline yes, suffering no.

Hope that is helpful, happy to interact on other points if you would like.

Bob said...

A fellow named "Pastor Bob" wrote this (I can't seem to publish it under his name, perhaps he changed his mind after he stepped back and read it with a cooler mind):

Hi Bob,
Just a quick question and comment on your posts to get your response. I'm a pastor and had someone in my congregation ask me about something that you posted. I'm also teaching an upcoming apologetics class and I want to show the class what not to do by using a lot of your posts as examples.

I curious to your answer to a question below concerning this post from your web pages:
Let's just keep it simple, if healing is in the atonement why does Mr.[Bill] Johnson [Bethel Church, Jesus Culture] wear glasses?
Seriously, that really should settle the whole debate, no fancy exegesis required. Rather than paying the $200 every few years for a new pair of spectacles why not pay $25 and purchase his own teaching series,"Healing: Our Birthright" at the Bethel store and grab his healing?

Why would you not show biblically where Mr. Johnson is wrong instead of using his perceived inability to receive what he says is ours to have? A 7th grade debate student knows that you don't prove something wrong by using a person's inability to correctly use something as a reason of why the something is wrong. For example, because I can't use a can opener, does that make all can openers wrong. The truth is the truth whether we can perceive them or use them, correct? Mr. Johnson's ability to receive healing for his eyes does not negate the scriptures on healing. To show that healing is not possible would make you a cult by your website's definition because of the vast amount of scriptures where Jesus Himself healed people. To show it in the finished work of the cross is highly possible because of Isaiah 53 saying "by His stripes we are healed" Because someone's inability to receive salvation because they won't follow the bible truths about receiving salvation does not negate salvation.

Bob said...

HE GOES ON:

I'll say this also, your ability to point out what you view as doctrinal errors in, by the looks of your website, almost everything and everyone does not make you safe, saved or right. The Pharisees could do that very well and even called Jesus and His followers a cult, not based on their error but based on the Pharisees lack of understanding about what Jesus said and their twisted view of the scriptures. I think you fit perfectly into this category. I read a few of your articles and in all of them you use phrases that people say and repudiate them based off of scare tactics and not scripturally. What this does is cause people to be afraid of everything and by doing so you make them afraid of physical, financial and spiritual things given to us by our Heavenly Father. Receiving salvation and pushing off vast other biblical gifts and promised things does not keep you safe as you think, it makes you the wicked servant that hid his master's talent because he was afraid. You can throw fear at all manifestations done in the name of the Lord and you might be right some and you will be wrong some. In almost all of your posts you spend all your time telling about what everybody is doing wrong and hardly a mention of proper teaching of the scriptures that you claim to be defending. You say not to live by "theology based upon quaint slogans" but this is exactly what you do with you're sarcastic jabs at what other's say with no scriptural backing. Mr. Bob, how about if you actually step out and teach something about the bible instead of just critiquing others?
As you correctly decide whether a teaching is wrong, use the proper biblical basis to do so. Jesus said that we will know them (teachers) by their FRUITS. Not if they are completely correct in every word that they utter (and I'm a stickler on biblical correctness). Jesus Himself said that to those that could understand what He said to believe because of the miracles. In you're run down of discernment you have to bypass both of these because neither fit into how you decide if someone is right. You mention a lot of ministers that are producing very good fruit and you, like the Pharisees, are trying to catch them in their words. You try to catch them in their words because you don't understand their words because you have the same spirit that was on the religious leaders in Jesus day. That is a very dangerous place to post denunciations about fruit producing ministries. And by the way I'm not including every person that you post about, ie the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses and other agreed upon cults.
Lastly, if you're such a stickler on proper doctrine why don't you have any articles about gross errors in the mainline denominations such as the Baptists view of eternal security, the Christian Church's addition of baptism to salvation, the Church of Christ's unscriptural exemption of musical instruments in service or the Catholic's many unscriptural errors? If you want to snake hunt, hunt there. Don't pick and choose your snakes. Thank you.

Bob said...

Firstly to reply to "Pastor Bob"

"I'm also teaching an upcoming apologetics class and I want to show the class what not to do by using a lot of your posts as examples.

Glad I can be of some use.

"I curious to your answer to a question below concerning this post from your web pages:"

And you're planning on using my writing as a superlative bad example? Anyway to something of some substance:

"Why would you not show biblically where Mr. Johnson is wrong instead of using his perceived inability to receive what he says is ours to have? A 7th grade debate student knows that you don't prove something wrong by using a person's inability to correctly use something as a reason of why the something is wrong."

Well the 7th grader, assuming he is grounded is a bit of classical logic, would see the argument about glasses as a standard reductio ad absurdum argument.

P1 Johnson teaches healing on demand
p2 Johnson has many health issues (not P1)
.:/C p1 Therefore we have an absurdity or contradiction in the premises.

Also, I DID deal with the healing in the atonement doctrine Biblically, it is so frustrating to hear these accusations there are two entire sections conveniently labelled:

"II. The Bible on Healing in the Atonement. Or an Attempt to Exegete the Texts Most Used by Advocates of the Doctrine."

and

"III. Accounts of Sickness in the New Testament"

If you had been a more judicious reader these surely would not have escaped your attention as they actually occupy the bulk of the post.

"To show that healing is not possible would make you a cult by your website's definition because of the vast amount of scriptures where Jesus Himself healed people. To show it in the finished work of the cross is highly possible because of Isaiah 53 saying "by His stripes we are healed" Because someone's inability to receive salvation because they won't follow the bible truths about receiving salvation does not negate salvation."

Firstly, nowhere did I ever deny that Jesus healed people or continues to do so today. What I am denying is the notion that we can have healing on demand. That is all. Secondly, again in the post I dealt with Isaiah 53, I assume your sloppy reading is due to the fact that this is a personal issue for you and you teach these docrtines... again I made the point that if bodily healing is tied in with the atonement if you don't have faith to be healed (or open the can as you put it) then logically (you brought it up) you also lack the faith to be saved by Christ's blood.

Bob said...

"I'll say this also, your ability to point out what you view as doctrinal errors in, by the looks of your website, almost everything and everyone does not make you safe, saved or right."

I hear you, I don't want to be like that, I want to be very charitable, that said, nowhere, I repeat NOWHERE do I state that I think Bill Johnson is not a Christian or unsaved. I think he is teaching error, he does border on heresy with some of his Christology. It just seems to me that we too often don't value the truth as highly as God (Jer 9:3).

"The Pharisees could do that very well and even called Jesus and His followers a cult, not based on their error but based on the Pharisees lack of understanding about what Jesus said and their twisted view of the scriptures. I think you fit perfectly into this category."

The old Pharisee smack down strikes again, it's the ultimate Christian to Christian insult, "You're a Pharisee". Well you make a grave mistake if you think the problem with the pharisees was that they cared too much about doctrine, their problem is that they added to the word of God by their traditions, and trusted in their own righteousness.

Look, I am full of sin and I need the blood of Christ everyday, that's all I got. But because the blood of Christ is so precious to me I want to defend the pure teaching of my Master.

"I read a few of your articles and in all of them you use phrases that people say and repudiate them based off of scare tactics and not scripturally.

Can you be a little more specific? This is just a broad brush swipe. This is also the 2nd time you've accuseb me of not using the Bible enough yet nowhere in your rantings do you use the Bible.

"What this does is cause people to be afraid of everything and by doing so you make them afraid of physical, financial and spiritual things given to us by our Heavenly Father. Receiving salvation and pushing off vast other biblical gifts and promised things does not keep you safe as you think, it makes you the wicked servant that hid his master's talent because he was afraid."

Again this borders on incoherent, but I think you are saying I am making people afraid to use the gift of healing? I don't see how I have done that, all I have said is that healing is not guaranteed from the Bible. That's it, if that scares you that's your problem.

Bob said...

"In almost all of your posts you spend all your time telling about what everybody is doing wrong and hardly a mention of proper teaching of the scriptures that you claim to be defending. You say not to live by "theology based upon quaint slogans" but this is exactly what you do with you're [sic] sarcastic jabs at what other's [sic] say with no scriptural backing. Mr. Bob, how about if you actually step out and teach something about the bible instead of just critiquing others?"

I thought I have, you need to read more of what I have on the page if you think all that I do is critiques. But point taken, we can be overly critical and I hear that and I know I can fall into it. But again I can not let this lame duck charge that I never used the scripture to stand, this charge is simply insufferable, particularly on a post like this where I took great pains to walk the reader through scripturally why bodily healing is NOT in the atonement.

If you missed the numerous scriptural and exegetical references in this post it is simply out of your own laziness as a reader or unwillingness to deal honestly with what I wrote.

"As you correctly decide whether a teaching is wrong, use the proper biblical basis to do so. Jesus said that we will know them (teachers) by their FRUITS. Not if they are completely correct in every word that they utter (and I'm a stickler on biblical correctness)."

This is right, I'll let you judge this one in light of Johnson's laying hands on an unrepentant adulterer in Todd Bently and putting him back into a position of leadership. That's fruit isn't it?

But then you contrast that fruit test with a doctrinal test as if it is one or the other, creating a false dilemma. Well I know it's not my style but I'll quote the scriptures just this one time to show how you are wrong here:

"Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (1 Tim 4:16)

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself." (1 Tim 6:3-5)

Paul here seems to me to be saying that we know a false teacher by the things he teaches AND the fruit he is bearing (strife etc). I could cite a number of other verses but my point is made, we do not identify false teaching ONLY by lifestyle fruit, but also whether it aligns with that which was given to us by Christ and the apostles. After all, there are plenty of guys who are real nice guys but are flaming heretics (Mormons for ex).

Bob said...

(FINAL OF 3 PART REPLY to "Pastor Bob" Why blogger did this limited reply space I don't know but I really dislike it)

You continue:
"You mention a lot of ministers that are producing very good fruit and you, like the Pharisees, are trying to catch them in their words. You try to catch them in their words because you don't understand their words because you have the same spirit that was on the religious leaders in Jesus day."

Again with this Pharisee club. I put up the audio quotes of Bill Johnson so there is no mistake regarding what he teaches, so I can't be accused of putting words into his mouth. For doing this I am called a pharisee trying to trap him in his speech...sheesh.

Look Mr. Johnson said things that are just plain ridiculous, "I refuse to create a theology where God allows for sickness" being one of them. This flies in the face of numerous scriptures WHICH I HAVE IN THE POST!

Also, I was very careful in my post to NEVER attack Bill Johnson personally. I can see that you lack this courtesy as you continue to level personal attacks against me saying the same spirit of the pharisees is on me. Well if we are going to do that sort of stuff, I am rubber and you are glue...

"That is a very dangerous place to post denunciations about fruit producing ministries.

I question the fruit of Bethel Redding, I think their teaching is awful, I years ago have been to meetings where "gold dust" appeared. All the people were giggling away amazed by it, well when I saw what they were all giddy about it was just glitter. The kind you buy at the Bartz party store. someone probably sprinkled it on the seats before the meeting and it got on peoples clothes. They ought to be ashamed of themselves.

The same goes for the angel feathers, why doesn't someone take those feathers to a lab just so the scientists can be amazed by the otherworldly feather? You know why? It's a fraud, just like the smoke machine in the air duct "glory cloud" gimick. That's some of the fruit. I can go on.

Finally we come to the end:
"Lastly, if you're such a stickler on proper doctrine why don't you have any articles about gross errors in the mainline denominations such as the Baptists view of eternal security, the Christian Church's addition of baptism to salvation, the Church of Christ's unscriptural exemption of musical instruments in service or the Catholic's many unscriptural errors? If you want to snake hunt, hunt there. Don't pick and choose your snakes. Thank you.

Why haven't I dealt with those issues but I picked this one? Well, frankly there are only 24 hours in a day. I believe in the perseverence of the saints, I am a calvinist, as for musical instrumentation in worship I am all for it, if some people don't want to use them in worship that's up to them. As for Rome, I think you're a big boy and can figure out whether the claims of the pope about himself are valid.

Frankly, I dealt with this issue regarding Bill Johnson for the reasons laid out in the post, I told the reader why, had you been a more careful reader and less quick to draw your guns you wouldn't ask such daft questions.

Bob said...

Neil-
You seem a bit more level headed than our friend "Pastor Bob" and probably deserved the time I gave to that fellow since you asked real questions rather than throwing out wild accusations.

You wrote:
"Hi Bob. Thanks for the article, I found it interesting despite disagreeing with most points. I fear Bill is being misrepresented in this article but I see your main issue is with his view on Gods sovereignty."

That is one of my main problems with Bill to be sure, I wonder how I misrepresented him though. I sought to avoid this charge by letting him speak for himself in the numerous videos.

"The word sovereignty means that God has all authority. On this I would agree."

Sovereignty is in part authority, it really means rule. God's sovereignty means he rules or governs absolutely everything. (Dan 4:35)

"Now ultimately we can agree God causes everything (through creation) however I question that God causes everything that happens in our world. The Lord's prayer seems to indicate clearly that God's will is currently not being done on earth, unless I am missing something?"

I think this is a great question and point to raise. When we pray "Thy will be done..." are we praying that God would get the upper hand over the intentions of devils and sinful men and their plans and come out on top? I think not. Remember in Job Satan had to get permission to do anything. Likewise with Joseph's brothers, they were carrying out God's plan in their evil.

So when we pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven", I think it is more of a prayer that we would be obedient and submissive like the angels. We are praying for hearts that are tuned to obedience. Great question.

Bob said...

(I really dislike this word limit) but here's part 2 of my reply to you Neil:


"The Gen 50:20 verse you mention reminds me of Romans 8:28 and neither imply God causing evil but rather redeeming it towards his purposes."

Well remember what it says though, "God meant it for good", God is not just playing clean up, this was planned. Just like the betrayal, kangaroo trial and murder of Jesus was planned by God, these are not "whoops! but I think I can use it" scenarios, frankly such a God is not omnipotent or omni anything for that matter. (Acts 2:23)

You state:
"Eden was a world without sickness and the heaven we are destined for as believers is a world without sickness. Could it be that Gods will is that sickness be eradicated? Could it be that in the same way he sends us to tell the world of his love he wants us to demonstrate that by fighting sickness?

Perhaps we can agree on this point."


Absolutely. As I said in the post I share Johnson's passionate disgust over sickness, this is NOT normal. Cancer is NOT normal. Death is the last enemy to be conquered.

"On the issue of God causing sickness in the OT my main concern with your biblical interpretation is not that these events did not happen but how do we apply them? The step that seems to be missing is applying scripture of Gods judgement to us as NT believers. All OT scripture must pass through the filter of the cross in any biblical interpretation process. We are in the new covenant. Was Gods wrath satisfied on the cross? Does he still afflict people with disease?

Again good questions, and you are right we do need to see these things in light of the New Covenant. But it is the same God, if God was sovereign over sickness then, He is today. The thing is that we live in the now and not yet, and Johnson is not content with that.

The day is coming when there will be no more sorrow, sickness, pain or death. However that Day hasn't come yet, we still live under the effects of the curse, the most important aspect of the curse has been removed, we are justified before God due to the work of Christ but right now sickness is not one of the things that is done away with. And again, if we believe that God is sovereign, then yes he governs disease.

Honestly, what comforts you more, the idea that an all wise God has marked your days according to His plan and when you get the cancer diagnosis you can rest in His hands knowing that this is part of His plan? Or do you take comfort in the idea that God is wishing cancer didn't get you but for some reason He is powerless to stop it?

You state with emphasis:
"In this discussion I suggest that you make the sovereignty of God your cornerstone and Bill makes the goodness of God his cornerstone. Both cause questions.

I think that is an interesting thought. My only reply is that I think he has misunderstood the goodness of God then. And intellectually says, "God couldn't be good if He governed disease." well the Bible clearly says God does control disease and even send it out, so I think for Johnson to think such things is idolatrous. If he's willing to lop off attributes of God to preserve a concept of an acceptable God that's an idol.

That's in part what I was getting at when I recoiled at his statement, "I refuse to create a theology where God allows for sickness" that's idolatry. Let God be God.

Neil said...

PART 1
Thanks for your gracious reply Bob. It sounds like we have differing opinions on how God acts in our world. I would whole heartedly agree that God has the ability to do whatever he wants in his world. He can cause sickness or wipe out people groups. In the OT he does, something that makes most Christians really nervous. I also whole heartedly agree that God does not change. Where we part company is in your implication that God deals with the people of the earth the same both sides of the finished work of the cross. He is the same God and yet Jesus made a way for us to have relationship outside of the Jewish law. He satisfied Gods holy desire for justice and righteousness. He wanted to know us and yet we were sinful and so in order to enforce his justice and righteoussness he sacrificed his only son. Do you expect God to act in the same ways towards humanity after such a pivotal moment in all of history where the 'rules of engagement' have changed?

I agree with the Daniel verse you quote to show God can do whatever he pleases. Your rebuttal of the Gen 50:20 comments I made seems to miss my point however. "God meant it for good" or intended(NIV)/purposed it for good can be said without claims he caused evil. Throughout scripture we are told that the "purposes of God" cannot be thwarted. I again agree. Gods purposes always happen and cannot be stopped. Gods purposes always happen no matter what the attack of the enenemy. This is best seen in the cross and is also in Josephs story. His brothers approach to Joseph is definitely not Gods heart for our human interactions (see the sermon on the mount) and yet God got Joseph exactly where he was purposed to be. Your mention of Job is interesting but I fear you might have shot yourself in the foot. Job is one of the main examples where we get to see behind the curtain of our reality and what do we find? We find Satan afflicting Job with disease after he challenges Gods relationship with humans. God turns up and restores Jobs health and wealth and he then has 140 years of blessing. Job is primarily about Jobs faith in circumstances he does not understand and Gods response.

I find your defence of the Lords prayer lacking. You seem to imply that all prayer is for our benefit and has no affect which I find troubling. Scripture does not teach this and the Jews never held this opinion. You mention it makes us submissive like the angels, well lets be clear that not all the angels have been submissive! Were Jesus's intentions that we would submit to God in obedience in this statement he certainly could have said this without implying Gods will was not being done. Our interpretation must be done based on the words on the page, within the context of what Jesus did. The prayer is that Gods will/his desires/his purposes would come to pass on earth in the same way that they are already being done in heaven.

I think this whole discussion is best served by a focus on Jesus. I would love to hear your views on the paragraph I included in my original reply around Jesus being our best representation of God the Father. I think that is where you will find the keys to many of these doctrines you struggle with. A Christian that claims there are no troublesome passages in the OT simply has not read it! As far as we know Jesus heals everyone that comes to him. He trains up a group of disciples and empowers them to do the same. At the end of his life he says as the father sent him he sends the disciples. Before he returns to the father he charges the disciples to replicate, to make disciples of nations. Healing was a large part of their training, therefore it would seem odd if they were fighting against the God that commissioned them. Jesus never once attributes sickness to God or to the person who is sick but always to the devil or a natural cause.

Neil said...

PART 2
Now the issues of sovereignty are not ones we are likely to resolve in this thread, though they are interesting to discuss. I suspect they are also much much bigger than your disagreement with Bill. Large parts of the wider church hold to similar views to Bethel in the area of Gods sovereignty, without recieving the critisism that Bill often gets. So I wonder if I can perhaps better serve you and other readers by moving on to look at your concerns over Bill.

Your dislike of Bills statement "I refuse to create a theology where God allows for sickness" seems to be that you think its a poor foundation. I think you are misunderstanding. This is the conclusion of his theology not the starting place. This is what he has found through study and experience not the starting place for his study. It is a rather bold statement I will give you that.

The main area where I think Bill is being misrepresented is that you think he is teaching healing happens on demand. Having interacted a lot with Bethel/Bill over a number of years I can assure you they do not hold to a slot machine view of God. It is sadly easy to point at youtube videos of parts of sermons to specific audiences and find disagreement. I enjoy that most blogs are at a level above the name calling that happens on youtube. My exposure to Bill has not left me feeling he believes everyone will be healed if they just have faith. Infact I have heard him rebut this personally. My main concern with your comments are that they make him out to be stupid. As you point out he wears glasses but this is just the tip of the iceberg. His dad died from cancer a few years ago and his son has serious hearing difficulties. He knows fine well not everyone is healed. What he is promoting in the church is a gospel that more closely matches Jesus's training school for the disciples, of which a large portion is devoted to healing the sick. The disciples did not heal everyone, they did however look at it as an opportunity to learn and grow for next time. Bill believes that Gods Kingdom is not fully here. You are right however that he is not content with that. He sees in the Lords prayer a call for us to bring heaven to earth. What limit does God place on the breaking in of his Kingdom to earth? I suspect we put the limits on God rather than the other way round.

Given your reply I still hold that your are making your view of Gods sovereignty redefine your view of goodness. You have chosen one aspect of Gods character over another, something we all do to some degree. Good has always meant good, even in hebrew! You say, looking at the OT, that God causes sickness and therefore you say that must be wrapped up in goodness in some way. You ignore the fact of the covenant change and that in many cases sickness was a judgement from God because of the covenant they were under. When good starts meaning evil we get into some real trouble! I would agree that we need to let God be God, the real issue is what kind of God is he? A great place to start on that journey is with the clearest representation of God. I can honestly say I am most comforted by the truth of who God is as revealed to us perfectly by Jesus; a good father, filled with compassion for our pain and powerful enough to overcome the pain and sickness in our lives. In Jesus I see a God determined to reveal his heart to people through undoing the works of the devil(1 John 3:8).

I am enjoying our discussion and await your response.

Bob said...

Hey Neil, thanks for continuing the conversation, here's what I have to say in regard to Part 1:

You said in regard to God's sovereignty over sickness:
"I also whole heartedly agree that God does not change. Where we part company is in your implication that God deals with the people of the earth the same both sides of the finished work of the cross.

Well, do people still get sick on this side of the cross? Does the cross eliminate Exodus 4:11? If God is not governing sickness but some other force is, and this is by God's choice I presume, where is that referred to in Scripture?

"I agree with the Daniel verse you quote to show God can do whatever he pleases.

Do not lessen the effect and scope of Daniel 4:35, it is not ability "God can do as He pleases" it is a confession He does as He pleases with all the earth and the events that transpire therein. Language is important, one little word changes the entire meaning and the meaning of Dan 4:35 is entirely changed by your use of "can" rather than "does".

I make a big deal out of this because I think it is important to point out how you have probably unwittingly changed the text to fit your understanding of God's sovereignty. Let Dan 4:35 and texts like Ephesians 1:11 define what it means for God to sovereign, everything that happens happens by His wise ordination.

In regards to evil, the guilt of those that bring it about (Joseph's brothers, Judas, Obama) is not lessened simply because it is part of God's sovereign plan. (Rom 9:19-21)

"His brothers approach to Joseph is definitely not Gods heart for our human interactions (see the sermon on the mount) and yet God got Joseph exactly where he was purposed to be.

Right, reformed theologians (those that glory in God' sovereignty) have often found it helpful to describe two wills in God a moral and a sovereign/decreetal. Nothing happens that is outside of the plan of God, that does not mean that God morally approves of actions of agents (men, devils) that make up His plan. God obviously morally opposes the actions of Josephs brothers, Satan, and Judas. However, He has in His wisdom ordained all of their actions, again Eph 1:11, and Dan 4:35 should force us to accept this.

Regarding Job, the fact that Satan afflicted Job is rather moot, I hardly see how I shot myself in the foot, my point again is that Satan had to get God's permission to do anything. Again, who is really in charge here?

Regarding prayer you ask some good questions again:
"You mention it makes us submissive like the angels, well lets be clear that not all the angels have been submissive!"

Well the angels that are still in heaven are perfectly submissive though.

Regarding prayer, in light of the total sovereignty of God and His predestining everything that comes to pass, prayer is one of the things God ordained, and by His grace He makes us partakers in the outworking of His wise plan through prayer. God not only ordains the end but also the means, prayer being one of the means.

I mean honestly, this is how we have to understand prayer unless we are going to start lopping off attributes of God and say that He isn't all knowing, or isn't all powerful. For some reason people picture this cosmic battle and our prayers somehow tipping the scales in God's favor for victory, that's just ridiculous. A God that needs our help (through prayer) isn't worth worshiping.

You state:
"The prayer is that Gods will/his desires/his purposes would come to pass on earth in the same way that they are already being done in heaven.

So how do you square what you just said with Daniel 4:35 & Eph 1:11? What you said seems to imply that God's purposes aren't happening and He needs us to help him by praying. Kind of like the clapping for Tinkerbell idea.

Bob said...

As for focusing on the signs of Jesus and the apostles I would argue that they were unique, that is the definition of a wonder mind you. There was a period of signs of healings and other miracles to confirm the ministry and message of Christ and the apostles, now that we have the Bible they are rather superfluous. I am not saying that God doesn't heal people today, what I am saying is that there was a unique manifestation in the ministries of Christ and the apostles to confirm their witness, thus we can't hold them up as models in regard to supernatural ministry like Bill Johnson does.

You used the word "training" in regard to the healings performed by the apostles and I think that is problematic, it was a unique outpouring of the Spirit not something that they attained through some sort of works. Again this is contra Bill Johnson who has a school to teach people how to operate in the supernatural which is frankly preposterous.

You state:
"Jesus never once attributes sickness to God or to the person who is sick but always to the devil or a natural cause.

That's fine, but who governs nature? Who does the devil need permission from to do anything? I have no problem with germ theory, but again God is sovereign over every molecule that exists, if it were not so He would not be God.

I jump to this comment of yours:
"The main area where I think Bill is being misrepresented is that you think he is teaching healing happens on demand. Having interacted a lot with Bethel/Bill over a number of years I can assure you they do not hold to a slot machine view of God. It is sadly easy to point at youtube videos of parts of sermons to specific audiences and find disagreement.

"Healing on demand" may not be the phraseology used by Bethel folks but that is what it boils down to if healing is in the atonement. I linked to a series by Johnson called "Healing our birthright" it is clear that they think healing is being held out to us we just need to claim it. Again this is not scriptural.

To be clear I am sympathetic to hating sickness, I have loved ones with cancer, and even a young cousin who at a tender age has had his life drastically altered by cancer. In it all he has praised God, his life is a rebuke to all the whining I see in myself.

For me to look at his cancer and say that it was an accident and God isn't in control affords no comfort. I am comforted when I see those situations to know that God is on the throne and in His wisdom he has ordained even this.

In regard to God and goodness, which you think I eclipse with sovereignty, I would ask you to broaden your understanding of God's goodness to include evil. This is paradoxical, but the key to the paradox is the cross of Christ itself. Christ was murdered by liars, greedy crooks, prideful men, power driven religious leaders, justice perverting Pontius Pilate, and betraying Judas, ALL BY GODS DESIGN.

Here are some key things I see in what you are saying that I think you should ponder:

1. Are the OT and the NT as opposed to one another as you think? Is not the New Covenant the fulfillment and thus flowering of the Old Covenant?

2. Is God in control of all things right now (Dan 4:35, Eph 1:11)? Is not sickness among the all things?

3. Can not God ordain evil for an ultimate good while at the same time hating it? For ex: Joseph, the Crucifixion, the election of Obama and as I am arguing sickness?

4. What does prayer do? Particularly in light of the fact that God is all knowing, and all powerful and has predestined all things, what is happening in prayer?

Bob said...

Thank you again Neil, your comments are insightful and they have provoked much thought, I am not just saying this to be a nice guy. God bless.

Neil said...

Thanks Bob glad you have found our conversation enjoyable. I enjoy a good discussion and having your thinking challenged is good. Iron sharpens iron.

Wow these responses get long quickly(several parts again!)! The danger is how to respond to each point. I started to write a response to you which didn't necessarily address the points you list at the end so I scrapped it to try and discuss the areas you mention I should consider. Blogs don't always lend themselves to long discussion.

1. Are the OT and the NT as opposed to one another as you think? Is not the New Covenant the fulfillment and thus flowering of the Old Covenant?

I don't think the OT and NT oppose one another. In the OT relationship with God is defined by the mosaic law, a series of rules and ceremonies that pointed to Gods absolute holiness. Following these rules as defined by God brought them favour, divine health (Ex 15) and blessing, not following the rules brought judgement. As a broad statement the OT reveals the fallen state of man and the holiness of God as revealed through his judgement of sin. Throughout the OT we have God longing for relationship with his people and yet they reject him reguarly and he is forced to judge them.

The NT is where God sends his own son, Jesus to deal with the sin issue once and for. He died in our place and thus made a way for us to know God without knowing his judgement, if we would believe and trust in Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the mosaic law by living a sinless life, meeting all the requirements set out. The New Covenant is marked with blessings, like the Old but goes beyond anything in the OT. We now have God himself living in us (Col 1:27) and his Spirit within us. So when I talk about Biblical interpretation needing to be filtered through the New Covenant it means taking into consideration our new position relationally with God and all the blessings that come with that. Many aspects of the OT relate to judgement for sin within Israel. The book of Hebrews goes to great length explaining how the New Covenant is much better and Pauls warns many of the NT churches about turning back to an OT perspective on life.

Neil said...

2. Is God in control of all things right now (Dan 4:35, Eph 1:11)? Is not sickness among the all things?

I believe God is completely in control right now. Where I think we disagree is in the area of 'free will'. I believe God is in control and yet is not responsible for every action. He created an environment which allowed for humans to make choices and yet for him to remain completely in control. A world without free will creates problems. The implications are serious, is relationship even possible when there is no choice in the matter? Did God create us all to be autonomous robots who only trust and love God because he leaves them no choice (Interestingly, the accusation that Satan made against God at the start of Job). Can we really have love or hope in a world where we have no choice. Love by its very definition is an act of free will. The other major problem is human responsibility. For the sake of example my theology allows that I walk up to someone I do not know on the street and punch them in the face without the need to say that God caused it. I am entirely responsible for my own actions, and I see this reinforced throughout the entire body of scripture. Sin of course being the biggest issue in a world without responsiblity.

If God is causing all things then he presents a very confusing and contradictory story in the bible. God causing Satan to rebel from his authority only for him to plan his destruction. God causing the fall of man only to have to plan a rescue. God creating a nation to represent him then causing them to rebel and sending messengers (the prophets) who are persecuted for trying to call his people back into relationship. The idea that people are choosing to rebel and God is calling them back into relationship matches the dialogue and history documented in the OT. Throughout all this God remains in control and is working things out in every circumstance but if you say he causes everything you have a God who contradicts his own nature in several areas. Aside from obvious things like his justice and goodness, does God say one thing and then do another?

When the Pharisees challenged Jesus for delivering demons by the devil his response was this:
Mark 3:24 "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand."
The same could be said of the idea of God driving out demons that God put there.

I would suggest that the Ephesians verse taken as an entire sentence above tells us that predestined that we would be for the praise of Gods glory. In other words God predestines his purposes rather than his people. Everytime the NT refers to predestination it refers to Gods purposes. God destined we should all be for the praise of his glory!

3. Can not God ordain evil for an ultimate good while at the same time hating it? For ex: Joseph, the Crucifixion, the election of Obama and as I am arguing sickness?

I believe that God can turn evil for his purposes (Romans 8:28). In this sense he is more powerful than a God who creates and uses evil. He can turn anything good or evil for his purposes whilst remaining good. In the example of the cross of course God knew how things would work out. He knows the future. The enemy thought he was winning a victory over God and yet God was using it all for his purposes. The idea of being sick for a greater good is something that Jesus never encountered with in all the miracles he did. He made everyone well.

Neil said...

4. What does prayer do? Particularly in light of the fact that God is all knowing, and all powerful and has predestined all things, what is happening in prayer?

James 5:14-16
"14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

I disagree with the idea that God predestines all things and so I feel like the onous is on you to describe the role of prayer. I believe there is a battle going on and our prayers make a difference by bringing God into the situation. Daniel is a great place for learning about the power of prayer also. He discovers in a vision that as soon as he prayed an angel was dispatched to help him. The idea that we are in a battle between good and evil is throughout scripture:
Ephesians 6:11-12 "11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Luke 10:19 "I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you."

Now much like you I am convinced that God is much greater than any other force or authority but for the sake of free will he is patiently waiting for us to choose him, whilst empowering us to increase his Kingdom on earth by defeating the plans of the enemy.

"There was a period of signs of healings and other miracles to confirm the ministry and message of Christ and the apostles, now that we have the Bible they are rather superfluous."

This idea of the cessation of miracles is widespread amongst the church but I have to ask you the same question you rightly ask me. Where do you get that from scripture? What did they have that was different to us? Noone can deny that after the disciples there was a drop in the reported number of miracles. An argument from experience, over the word of God seems to be dangerous in my view. If the experience were the other way round would this still be claimed?

"You used the word "training" in regard to the healings performed by the apostles and I think that is problematic, it was a unique outpouring of the Spirit not something that they attained through some sort of works. "

I feel like I want to clarify the idea of "training" the disciples. I do not intend to say the disciples worked up miracles but I stand my the word training. The concept in the first century of a teacher with a group of disciples was common within the Jewish tradition. Disciples would follow a rabbi or teacher to both learn from them and copy their example. Jesus's disciples did the same. Reading the gospels with this historical context reveals a lot. They follow Jesus and watch with a view to learn and copy. We see this clearest when Jesus calls together the twelve, gives them instructions and sends them out to do the same works he did. If this wasn't enough of a clear model he then calls 72 disciples and does the same. This was clearly a model of training and expansion. We also see at least one example where the disciples come to Jesus after praying for someone for instruction as to why the person was not healed. They were learning how to pray from Jesus. Before Jesus goes to the cross he leaves them final instructions. He then gives them authority and calls them to make disciples, not converts. In essence he was calling them the new teachers, people would follow their example. This is I refer to the disciples training.

Awaiting your thoughts!

Bob said...

(This is From Pastor Bob, Again There is Some Issue With Publishing his Posts)

"Pastor Bob" States:

"Bob,
I saw that you commented on my post. I will reply to your comments.
To start - “A fellow named "Pastor Bob" wrote this (I can't seem to publish it under his name, perhaps he changed his mind after he stepped back and read it with a cooler mind)”
I didn’t see a place to put my name at the end of the post. I did send you an email to the email address on your site and at the end of it I listed my name, church, church website, cell number and office number. You refer to me as being disparaging towards you and I won’t deny it. Contempt for you is stirred up by your own sarcasm in about everything you write and your own very disparaging comments about many good people. When it’s your website and you set the rules of conduct don’t wince when other’s simply follow the rules. Fair?
You said, “Well the 7th grader, assuming he is grounded is a bit of classical logic, would see the argument about glasses as a standard reductio ad absurdum argument. P1 Johnson teaches healing on demand p2 Johnson has many health issues (not P1) .:/C p1 Therefore we have an absurdity or contradiction in the premises.”
You completely missed the point. You are saying that Bill Johnson is wrong in his teaching because the very thing that he teaches doesn’t work for him. It doesn’t have to work for him to be biblical and true which is why I illustrated the point by say that if someone can describe biblically how to obtain salvation but themselves is unable to obtain salvation because they refuse to follow by faith the steps to be saved it doesn’t make what they taught about salvation wrong. You cannot point to Mr. Johnson’s inability to receive what he teaches as a basis that what he teaches is wrong. You must go to the scriptures to prove he is in error.
You said, “What I am denying is the notion that we can have healing on demand. That is all”
Who made the decision to heal the woman with the issue of blood? Jesus or her? What constitutes whether we get healed, our faith or Jesus choice? If you say Jesus choice then how does He pick and choose? Whether you want to categorize every healing, deliverance or salvation under the personal distribution of Jesus or not, it’s still obtained by our faith and willingness to follow the scriptural basis of obtaining them. If Jesus picks and chooses then it makes Him a respecter of persons and that is against scripture."

Bob said...

(Pastor Bob Continued):
Continued --
You said, “nowhere, I repeat NOWHERE do I state that I think Bill Johnson is not a Christian or unsaved. I think he is teaching error, he does border on heresy with some of his Christology”
I understand this is your opinion and to be honest it used to be mine, until I had the same religious, Pharisaical scales removed from my eyes that Paul did. I’ve been in the ministry for 30 years now and about 20 years ago God made me sit out for 6 years. During those years God made me examine every one of my beliefs and I found that when I stopped running scared from everything that had the potential of being used wrong and really read the bible I found that a lot of what I was preaching against was actually biblical. And I do believe that there are people preaching that are phonies, only wanting money and fame (and that doesn’t include everyone teaching about money). My point in writing is the same as yours, it is my opinion that you are exactly what you accuse Mr. Johnson of, in error and in some thing you border on heresy. It think you fit into the following scripture, Jude 10 KJV “But these speak evil of those things which they know not” or as the NAS bible puts it “But these men revile the things which they do not understand” I call you a Pharisee not as a Christian smack down as you put it but because you do what they did. The Pharisees did add to the Word of God and they were arrogant in their own righteousness. They didn’t view it as adding to the Word though, they thought they were defending scripture. This was because their own self righteous pride caused them to not see the scriptures clearly. You speak evil of what you don’t understand because you only see ankle deep understanding of the scriptures. Your view of God’s Word has been tainted like the Pharisees. My guess is because of what you’ve been taught by our false doctrine infested church world, i.e. your adherence to Calvinism. By the way Calvinism is not just another doctrinal stance that churches and denominations have chosen to allow each other to have. If it’s unbiblical, it’s wrong whether an entire denomination believes it or not. Calvinism is great, hyper Calvinism is dangerous because of the removal of free will. That, I suppose, is another topic that as I said in my first post is as dangerous as anything you’re posting about Mr. Johnson. OK, one story to tell you why. I had a married couple come to my church for awhile. They left and when someone inquired why they said that my references to the ability it lose their salvation was wrong. They were saved and that can’t change. Then they told others in church that they smoked pot and by smoking pot as a Christian they were having some very intense encounters with God and the supernatural realm. When they were questioned about being right with God they said that they were saved and that could never change and as God’s children He would never let them go astray. And all because they were raised in a church where they heard this teaching. That’s one of many I’ve encountered. Amazing!!

Bob said...

(Pastor Bob again published by me due to difficulties)


final --
“Johnson's laying hands on an unrepentant adulterer in Todd Bently” is not fruit. Fruit is the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of lives being changed under their ministry. How do you know Bently is unrepentant and why wouldn’t Bill want to lay his hands on him. There was obvious failure in Todd. Galatians 6:1 say Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Wasn’t Bill just doing this? The word restore in the Greek means to repair and place back as new. This is because the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. If God didn’t remove king David after his sin under the old covenant how much more does He want people restored under the new covenant of grace? Again, here you go, another self righteous attack of a Pharisee thinking you’re defending the gospel. I gave you a list of major intrusions that you need to deal with and you blew them off as insignificant say that you only have 24 hours in a day. I believe you fit into both of the 1 Timothy 4:16 and 6:3-5 scriptures that you list because you are the strife stirrer. Here is a scripture that fits you, Matthew 23:13 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Your attack on good ministries cause others to not obtain good truths coming from those ministries and not obtain the very things Jesus came to give them.
I understand you question the fruit of Bethel. I think they’re on the fringe too but I don’t call something bad because I can’t understand it. What is so bad about Mr. Johnson teaching people that there is free access to healing? Jesus went about healing everywhere, freely. If He did it what is so bad about people pursing healing? Can some use it wrong? Sure, but that doesn’t make it bad. Paul said that after he left people would come in and twist what he said. Did that make what he said bad? No!!
When you tell me that I quickly draw guns, you need to look in the mirror. There’s a set of cannons in your own hands and you need to be careful where you point them.

Bob said...

Pastor Bob let me be clear, I don't see you as my enemy, I can tell this is a personal issue for you as you are very sharp in your replies, I don't mind that, I have a thick skin. But to be clear I am sorry if anything I wrote was offensive to you, I don't mean to be unnecessarily offensive in these things, so if I have done this I am sorry. My tone in my writing isn't mean I can assure you, writing often fails to convey tone, I am rather a jovial fellow and my writing should be read in this light. moving to the things you wrote:

You state:
"You completely missed the point...You cannot point to Mr. Johnson’s inability to receive what he teaches as a basis that what he teaches is wrong. You must go to the scriptures to prove he is in error."

I got the point, I just disagree. Bill Johnson says that healing is ours for the taking yet he has health issues, there is a contradiction here. I think because healing isn't in the atonement. As I said before I DID deal with the doctrine Biblically, the eye glasses and trips to the hospital are only extra toppings for the readers edification in a reductio ad absurdum fashion.

You ask some interesting questions that demonstrate your thinking as you ask:
"Who made the decision to heal the woman with the issue of blood? Jesus or her? What constitutes whether we get healed, our faith or Jesus choice? If you say Jesus choice then how does He pick and choose?

Jesus is under no obligation to heal anybody. This gets back to the slot machine thing that Neil was asking about, it seems often many charismatics fall into treating God like a force we tap into with this thing called "faith" to get good stuff. When Jesus chose to heal it was entirely out of grace and mercy. How does He choose who He will heal and who He won't? That's according to His wisdom.

Look, we all have family members and friends who have died of various diseases, in my charismatic days we prayed like crazy for this one guy and he was a Christian, but still he died. At the end of the day God is in control we are not, He is not a tame lion and we need to be content with a God that doesn't fit into our boxes, we can't control Him.

"Whether you want to categorize every healing, deliverance or salvation under the personal distribution of Jesus or not, it’s still obtained by our faith and willingness to follow the scriptural basis of obtaining them. If Jesus picks and chooses then it makes Him a respecter of persons and that is against scripture

Being a respecter of persons would be Jesus noticing certain people with certain traits and based upon that healing or saving them. Something like faith for example. It is something in us that gets Him to do things we want. So the application of this text actually is more of a problem for what you are saying, since He would be a respecter of persons if based upon something in us He heals us.

I am saying if anyone gets healed it is shear grace, nothing in them merited it. Hardly a respecter of persons here.

Bob said...

You then go on this very personal attack which can be summed up with this sentence:

"You speak evil of what you don’t understand because you only see ankle deep understanding of the scriptures.

Thanks, so essentially I'm a Pharisaical ignoramus. Again we are on the playground, so I will reply in kind, I know you are but what am I.

I've been a Christian for 10 years, I am an old school Calvinistic Presbyterian, with a heavy dose of Lutheranism to boot, I am in Seminary right now actually and I have 4 baptized children 6 and under. I have a long way to grow in my understanding, but these childish attacks have no place in adult conversation; I am sorry it simply doesn't. Just calling me a ignorant and a Pharisee is no substitute for showing me how I am wrong.

You bring up a couple that left your church saying "Once saved always saved, so we can smoke pot and worship God."

That's not Calvinism, that's just easy believe-ism. Calvinists hold to Perseverence of the saints not I prayed a prayer and now I can live like the devil because I can't lose my salvation. Someone living like that needs to question whether they ever were saved to begin with.

Every truth can and will be abused, just look at grace and Romans 6:1, but that doesn't mean we don't preach the free grace of God. You say this yourself at the end of your post.

We then move to the Todd Bentley debacle:
"Johnson's laying hands on an unrepentant adulterer in Todd Bently” is not fruit. Fruit is the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of lives being changed under their ministry. How do you know Bently is unrepentant and why wouldn’t Bill want to lay his hands on him.

I would disagree, reinstating Todd Bentley is a big rotten worm riddled example of fruit. How do I know he is unrepentant? He "remarried" his mistress! Repentance would be going back to his wife and kids to be a husband and father. As of right now he is living in adultery. Even if he did repent he has no business in leadership if we are going to take the Biblical requirements for leadership seriously (I Tim ch 3).

As for Gal 6:1 and the use of "restore" how about we restore him to his wife? Or his kids? Also, that text is not talking about leadership, you honestly think that's how that text should be applied? So I can go cheat on my wife leave my 4 kids get married to my mistress and be put back into ministry based upon Gal 6:1?
Apparently Gal 6:1 takes precedence over Titus ch 1 and I Tim ch 3 which are actually dealing with qualifications for church leaders. I agree lets seek to restore Todd, restore him to his wife and kids and family, and hopefully to the church as a member, but not to leadership.

The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable that's why I don't believe you can lose your salvation if you truly are saved. Cipher.

Bob said...

"Again, here you go, another self righteous attack of a Pharisee thinking you’re defending the gospel.

Seriously with the Pharisee thing again? Dude, I don't think I am better than Todd Bentley apart from the grace of God there go I. I said that in the post about his "restoration". Apparently I'm a Pharisee because I think we should take qualifications for leaders seriously and that in doing so an unrepentant adulterer is disqualified, I guess that is Pharisaical nowadays in our weak and effeminate churches that refuse to exercise church discipline.

"I understand you question the fruit of Bethel. I think they’re on the fringe too but I don’t call something bad because I can’t understand it.

Nor do I, I also don't call people names and call them ignorant instead of showing them how they are wrong. How do I not "understand" Bill Johnson's teaching on healing what am I overlooking?

Seems to me you just don't like what I have to say so you call me names.

"What is so bad about Mr. Johnson teaching people that there is free access to healing?

What is so bad about teaching something that isn't true and putting God's name on it? hmmm...Does the 3rd commandment mean anything here? Is God's name not precious?

My problem is that we just don't have warrant to teach these things about healing. It was interesting to me to go to Bethel meetings years ago, you want to know what they ALL had in common? They NEVER preached the gospel. It was ALL about signs and wonders and wild mystical experiences, the cross of Christ was nowhere in their messages.

So again, my problem with these teachings is that they simply aren't Biblical, and frankly in these circles they have eclipsed the gospel as central.

People in the NT got sick and died, people weren't healed, Paul had a thorn in his flesh, Trophimus was left sick by Paul, Epaphroditus nearly died of illness. Living disease free is not normal Christianity, it is an over realized eschaton, we live in the now and not yet. I want sickness to go away too, but that doesn't mean I can teach the things they do at Bethel just because they sound nice on a superficial level.

Bob said...

Neil-
Thanks again for the thoughtful replies, I will have more time to reply tomorrow as I have a paper to write tonight.

Not to leave you without any food for thought though, I noticed you mentioned "free will" a lot. How free is the will of a dead man? Eph 2:1

Neil said...

Thanks Bob, no rush, I understand you have other things to do.

Re Eph 2:1. We are dead to sin as believers not choice, as the verse says. The fact we are dead to sin is to do with our sin nature not our freedom to make decisions.

Looking forward to your response.

Jess said...

Romans 8 pretty much sums it up I think. One of the comments here mentioned that we aren't under the curse anymore, but Romans 8:19-23 seems to state otherwise. This life will include suffering, we hopefully have support when that season comes. We do have a lot of great things to look forward to. Eternity is the long part, here is short. Hold on fellow christians, finish this part well!

Bob said...

Amen Jess, we live in the now and not yet. We enjoy the benefits of what Christ did right now, but there is also a not yet aspect to this. We are waiting to see all things put under His feet still, the last enemy put under His feet is death (I Cor 15). Simply put they have an over-realized eschatology, and I say that as a postmillennialist!

chevas said...

I read both part 1 and 2 regarding Bill Johnson, in full. Thank you for taking the time to write them. I needed it. I think you nailed it in your description of how his idolatry is eating away at Christ's divine nature, which is a wholly primary issue and hyper-dangerous to contend with.

Internally I have been frustrated with the lack of desire in American church to pray at all, including healing. I have friends who go to Bill Johnson's church and I've studied up on him a few times, but was never comfortable with him. God is God, He is a person, and sometimes He just says no to the child, despite their begging.

But, like Ralph's comment towards to the top, we should pray more. We have a lot we can ask, like the persistent widow, but we must remember God is a person who relates with us, not a draft beer we can "tap" into impersonally.

I really think Ralph nailed it when he used the language (which we hear a lot) "the already and not yet". There is some already and not yet regarding all kinds of wonderful things, including healing.

I do believe there is healing in the atonement, as Ralph points out, but I agree with you that the primary act of healing is redemption & forgiveness of sins. I also believe it is physical as well since we are given new bodies at the resurrection.

I don't think you can limit Matt 8:14-17 to just Jesus' earthly ministry. It references Isaiah and Isaiah is declaring this promise of healing by God to Israel. The true Israel, includes the Church, grafted into the tree of Israel (believers are sons and daughters of Abraham). Therefore, all believers must be beneficiaries of this promise, at the least in the resurrection. To limit Matt 8:14-17 to just Jesus's earthly ministry would deny the majority of "Israel" this promise.

Jesus's earthly healing ministry is a sign that He is God and Healer of all Israel (including the Church).

Again, however, idolatry is creeping around the corner waiting to devour a helpless Christian. Thank you so much for sorting out this stuff. I would like to see people healed, but I love Jesus all the more and I am willing to let Him be God and sovereign over every nuance of every aspect of existence.

Chevas
http://chev.as

Seth Powell said...

You have taken this quote out of context. The Roman's questions was in regard to his disbelief in Christ. It was a sarcastic remark by a sinner towards a God he didn't believe in. Are you saying Jesus could not heal himself, because he lacked faith? The guard's question was directed at Jesus and HIS suffering. Which, indeed, points to the truth that even evil is ordained and used by God (though he is never the author of it). Christ was to suffer, because it was his duty in the plan of atonement. Hebrews says that, "though he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered." Likewise, who are we to think that God would not subject us to suffering (which will be meant for our good - see James 1:2), when Christ himself (fully God and fully man) was subjected to suffering according to the eternal plan and the counsel of the Lord's will?

R.S. Ladwig said...

Chevas,
Great thoughts, particularly the draft beer analogy, that's great. We do need to be in prayer for healing, and active in alleviating the effects of the curse. Christ came to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found, and we are to be a part of that.

God bless

R.S. Ladwig said...

Seth is referring to Jess' comment I believe.