In the past few weeks, Bill Johnson has been the center of a lot of controversy. With Montanist apologists like Michael Brown defending his errors and whitewashing his heresies and others falling prey to his exploitation, the fact that he is a heretic at all is being questioned. Bill Johnson seriously needs to be tested against the Scripture.
The Kenosis heresy teaches that Jesus set aside His divinity while on Earth. According to this doctrine, Jesus was no longer divine from His birth to His ascension. Bill Johnson has promoted this heresy in Face to Face with God on page 108. He said,
“Jesus set aside His divinity, choosing instead to live as a man completely dependent on God.”
Truth is, if Jesus set aside His divinity and became a man, Jesus would have been nothing more than a man. This is not the only time that Johnson promoted Kenosis. In chapter 7 of When Heaven Meets Earth, Johnson claimed,
“[Jesus] laid His divinity aside as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father.”
To claim that Jesus put His divinity aside while on Earth brings another Gospel. If Jesus was not divine when He died on the Cross, then He would not have been a sufficient sacrifice. In that case His death would be in vain and so would our faith. Instead, Jesus is treated like God while He is on Earth. He received worship (John 20:28, Matthew 2:2, Matthew 14:33, Matthew 28:9), claimed to be God (John 5:18, John 8:24, John 8:58), and did things only God could do all while on Earth (Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:5, 1 Peter 2:22).
Johnson has also taught the false gospel of Osteenism, more commonly called the Prosperity Gospel. The Prosperity Gospel teaches that health, wealth, and prosperity are promises of salvation or obedience. In a 2013 article entitled Courage to Leave a Legacy, Johnson wrote,
“Our connection with God is obviously the source of all blessing, prosperity and goodness in our lives. We make our way prosperous through obedience because when we do what He asks us to do, we strengthen our connection with the source of life.”
I would remind Bill that the most obedient person of the Bible was a poor carpenter who was brutally crucified, and someone who was called the greatest person born of a normal birth (Matthew 11:11) was a nomad who lived in the desert, wore camel hair for clothing, ate locusts and honey, and had his head cut off for his obedience.
Throughout the Bible, we see James get beheaded, Stephen get stoned, and the number of people who have gotten sick appear to pile up: Timothy, Epaphroditus, Trophimus, and even possibly Paul himself. However, that does not stop Johnson from saying Jesus died for our physical healing. In an article entitled Is It Always God’s Will to Heal Someone?, Johnson claims,
“When He bore stripes in His body He made a payment for our miracle.”
There is another false teaching out there pushed by people such as Kenneth Copeland and Joyce Meyer that teaches that Jesus was born again. I called this teaching “Retanism”, and if it was a civil crime to preach it then Bill Johnson would be found guilty. In one sermon (Which has been reviewed on Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith), Johnson can be quoted as saying,
“So [Jesus] was born through Mary, the Virgin, and then he was born again in the resurrection.”
Jesus was not born again because He did not need to be Born Again. He did not have a sinful nature and He, though tempted, did not desire to rebel against God. He was not dead in trespasses and sins, so He did not need to be made alive. However, Bill Johnson says Jesus was born again in many places, including this video, where he asks,
“Did you know that Jesus was born again?”
The Kenyonist heresy, which is more commonly known as the Word of Faith heresy, states that our words have supernatural power akin to that of God when He spoke the world into existence. It states that just like God created with His words, we can create things with our words. In this video (Time: 59:48), Johnson teaches people how to do faith healing (Something that never had to be taught to those who could do it in the Bible). He says,
“As you’re praying over them, command now the spirit of affliction, ‘Loose that hip, in Jesus’ name.’ Command it gone. Just speak health into that hip. Some actually need a creative miracle. There’s degenerative condition in the joint. So the worlds were made when God spoke them into being, so speak to that new hip.”
This heresy not only elevates man but actually leads to a lower view of God. We do not have the power to speak things into existence.
Bill Johnson preaches the heresy of the Montanists, which is that prophecy is still being given and the canon of Scripture is either incomplete or insufficient. Johnson often claims prophecy in visions. In one article on his site, he teaches people how to receive prophecy (Note: The prophets never had to be taught how to receive prophecy). He instructs readers,
“Ask Him specifically to minister to you in the night through visions and dreams. Once you have a dream or vision, write it out, and ask Him for understanding.”
In this YouTube video, the Montanism that Johnson teaches is taken to its logical conclusion. He says,
“It’s difficult to expect the same fruit of the early church when we value a book they didn’t have more than the Holy Spirit they did have. It’s not Father, Son and Holy Bible.”
To claim the Early Church did not have the Bible is almost as false as this diminishing of the authority of Scripture is blasphemous. And yet this is the low view of Scripture that Montanism leads to. He even goes as far as to teach that all Christians have the ability to prophesy. In a sermon clip entitled “All Must Prophesy”, he said,
“All of the people of God [are] carrying prophetic anointing.”
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12:29 (ESV), “Are all prophets?” and in the Greek the language implies “No”.
Bill Johnson is a dangerous false teacher. No matter how many times his heresies are whitewashed, they will still stand and he will still be guilty of them unless he repents. One may say that they are simply doing Christianity different than the rest of us, but I would argue that Nadab and Abihu were only doing Judaism different from the Israelites, and, “fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them.” (Leviticus 10:2, ESV).
Avoid Bethel at all costs. They teach a false gospel and a false Jesus and a false view of Scripture. They offer up unauthorized fire. They are to be rebuked and separated from, not endorsed, commended, whitewashed, and visited.