The Child-Friendly Voo-Doo “Christianity” of Bethel Church
“Nothing short of the total destruction of a believer will ever satisfy our adversary. Satan would rend the believer in pieces, break his bones, and utterly destroy him if he could. Do not, therefore, indulge the thought that the main purpose of Satan is to make you miserable. Satan is pleased with that, but that is not his ultimate end. Sometimes he may even make you happy, for he has dainty poisons sweet to the taste that he administers to God’s people. If he feels that our destruction can be more readily achieved by sweets than by bitters, he certainly would prefer that which would best effect his end.” C.H. Spurgeon
Most believers who “abide in my word” (John 8:31) know that Bethel Church is a hotbed of charlatanry. It hurls a false gospel with a false messiah through its multitude of on-staff false teachers and those charlatans invited to the Bethel stage to ever keep its undiscerning members swimming with hyped-up, ecstatic misdirection. (When a “church” hosts perhaps the grand poobah of false teaching infamy, the grand huckster of healing Benny Hinn, their claim to being a legitimate church is as equally invalid as their claim to be “Christian.”) So busy are they reveling in the supposed supernatural that legitimate study of Scripture, in order to come to ‘knowledge and all discernment” and be “able to approve what is excellent,” (Philippians 1:9-10) is intentionally precluded by staged theatrics.
Obviously, it’s an easy enough chore to build a “church” when emotions management and manipulation are the underlying impetus, rather than Gospel understanding and “rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) It’s easy to whip up a crowd into an ecstatic frenzy, but much harder to do the diligent work of teaching the Word. What’s temporally sexy and easy to sell is manifestly more valuable than what is edifying and eternally significant.
“Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” 1 Corinthians 5:6
While the church in Corinth had numerous issues that required at least three letters of stern rebuke, explanatory guidance, and apostolic encouragement from Paul (two of these three epistles are in the N.T.), one could only guess at the gallons of ink the apostle would consume in addressing the Scripturally-offensive teachings and practices of Bethel. But perhaps Paul might’ve penned a much pithier epistle were he writing to Bethel. Though it’s a different “Bethel,” one could imagine a Pauline missive today that would not be unlike the “Thus saith the Lord” warning of Amos.
“For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:
“Seek me and live;
but do not seek Bethel” Amos 5:4-5
A Bible-imbibing believer must always be Berean – in all things. Though unfortunate for those Gospel-void souls trapped in the voo-doo “Christianity” of Bethel, authentic believers can look at it as a source of what not to do, what not to believe, and what to avoid in the Christian life and in a legitimate Christian “church.” Bethel is what you do not want to emulate. Bethel is not what you want to seek.
One of the most saddening things hurled out of Bethel is a vigorous “ministry” geared towards children. The effort is couched sufficiently in Christianese and slathered with enough of a “Jesus loves the little children” veneer that makes the endeavors seem noble, authentic, and upright. But the depth of false teaching behind the shiny, welcoming veneer is toxic to the true Christian faith and reveals an effort to indoctrinate children into the bootleg Bethel brand of unbiblical supernatural religion. As the apostle said, in a non-plussed sort of remark about the false teachers of Corinth, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) Paul would not be surprised to find the enemy at work in the church today, and perhaps no place more than Bethel.
One of the mechanisms of Bethel’s “ministry” to children is in the K-8 private school it operates. Bethel Christian School publishes its monthly “Bethel Buzz” newsletter. An excerpt from February 2017’s issue reflects something of the intentionally supernatural flavor of the school:
“Ms. Brown had Eden open her arms in a wide circle, prophetically declaring that she was ready to receive the abundance of heaven. Meanwhile classmates held their hands in front of them, palms together, their top hand flicking their bottom to symbolize all the resources coming her way. During this brief time of prophetic prayer, one student felt led to take some coins from his backpack and to drop them through Eden’s circled arms.” (Source)
From Bethel’s online bookstore, under the “Children/Youth” category, you’ll find a wide array of false charismaniacal teaching targeting children. Of the over 150 children’s titles for sale, you’ll find the book by “Mama G.” entitled God’s Li’l People and Miracles. There’s “prophet” Shawn Bolz’ book, Growing Up With God: Everyday Adventures Of Hearing God’s Voice, in which kids are introduced to “automatic writing” by listening to the presumed voice of God in their heads and then writing down the words. (Go HERE for more on this atrocity.) And then there are the My Super Powers book series by Dan McCollam.
McCollam is, according to the author bio from Amazon, a “prophetic speaker and trainer” and “serves on the the teaching faculty of Bethel School of the Prophets.” (This, of course, begs the question – why does one need to be “trained” to use a spiritual “gift” given by the Holy Spirit? The apostles didn’t establish a training school for spiritual gifts. Paul didn’t graduate from one, teach at one, or mention one. Have the Holy Spirit’s imbuing powers waned since the first century such that now we need Bethel to teach what the Holy Spirit no longer can? Absurd. It is charlatanry for profit. See 2 Peter 2:1-3)
But McCollam has, in the My Super Powers children books, answered an obvious question that parents who expose their children to the doctrinal toxins and illicit spiritual behaviors of Bethel must face: How do we explain this to the kids?
What do you tell your child about your ecstatic, abnormal, and irreverent behavior during “worship?” How do you answer your child who asks about your drunken-like unintelligible speech? How do you respond to a youngster who has perhaps seen their older teenage sibling writhing on the floor in a mosh pit of presumed mindless worship? What explanation is there if you have your child wait outside a Bethel “healing room” while you go in to get a cavity filled by a healer? (There have, btw, been claims of people receiving gold fillings as a result of Bethel’s supernatural dental work.)
The answer McCollam’s series reveals is that you simply teach your children to mimic the same illicit, irreverent behavior that you’re exhibiting. His My Super Powers series does just that. The books include the following “Dear Parent” introduction:
“My Super Powers is a series of children’s books based on the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in First Corinthians 12:8-9. I believe that children can and should be activated in the gifts of the Spirit at an early age.”
Of course McCollam and Bethel believe in “early age activation.” It’s necessary for the continued growth of the “church” by continuing the deception to the next generation. But “activation” is not a Biblical endeavor for a believer of any age.
Given Spurgeon’s assessment, Satan’s nefarious ambition is not always to make you miserable, but to sometimes make you happy. Thus, Bethel’s comic book appeal to children serves as a formidable tool of deception. The child reared on My Super Powers fodder will likely have no capacity for discernment when, as a teen, the opportunity to roll around “drunk in the Spirit” at a Bethel “worship” service comes around. They’ll likely find “Bethel fire tunnels” a legitimate extension of super powers they’ve been taught since they were a toddler. From that, it’s just a leap and a jump to “grave sucking” with the grown-ups.
The My Super Powers series includes the following nine, comic-book style volumes:
The series has apparently been so domestically popular that it has been released in a three-volume set called the “Global Edition,” with each book containing three of the nine “super powers.” They sell for about $16 on Amazon.
The description from one of the books gives a flavor of how the volume is written to appeal to children. For volume 8, the gift of tongues, the summary says:
“Marco and Mia think their television is broken until Mom explains that it’s just on a foreign language channel. Hearing unknown languages makes the children wish they could speak in another language. That’s when Mom uses stories from her special Book to help them discover God’s amazing gift of speaking in unknown tongues.”
The problem is here is obvious. While little Marco and Mia may be told that Scripture – denoted as “Mom’s special Book”-(implying, it seems, that children might not possess, need, or should be able to read their own copy) describes “tongues” as actual foreign languages, the evidence they might see in Mom’s behavior at Bethel is decidedly different. What’s likely “all Greek to me” for the kids is equally “all Greek” to the rest of us because ecstatic gibberish is not a language, and it is ecstatic gibberish that is predominately profiled throughout charismania.
Before I knew it, tongues was rolling out of my mouth like water. It was such a beautiful experience, and it elevated my connection to God. I could easily pray for others by speaking in tongues, and even though I didn’t know what I was saying, I could see with my spirit that it was affecting great change on their behalf in the spirit realm! I also have the gift of discerning spirits, so I can sense demons and angels. Even the demons respond to speaking in tongues! I most often pray for others in tongues, but it is so nice to have a special language to speak to God with, when I just don’t know what words to use. (Source)
Disregarding the staggering heterodoxic problems within this quote, it makes clear that the “experience” of tongues in the modern church is explicitly not the tongues of Scripture. Yet, as is evidenced by this randomly googled citation, it is the emotional benefit that fuzzy-wuzzy linguistics offer that is the implicit appeal of the practice. Actual understanding of God’s Word and rational comprehension of authentic, Biblically-informed spiritual behavior are, if even present, distant concerns.
“I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.” William Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s line from Othello has been lost at Bethel and by most participants in charismania. By putting the false doctrines “in their mouths” and the mouths of their children, rational apprehension of God’s Truth, and obedient behavior in response to that Truth, has been abandoned. A thief has been introduced. Their brains have been stolen. And their behavior is the evidence.
Bethel is comfortable indoctrinating their children in their toxic teaching of supernatural “super powers,” but doing so is not Christian and not Biblical. From way, way back in the Pentateuch, the Lord made clear to His people that knowing and understanding His Word was paramount for an obedient life of faithfulness, and that it was His Word that was to be taught – diligently taught – to the children.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Deuteronomy 6:4-7
The Word of the Lord heard by Israel from its inception, and the Word we hear today from His Scripture, are not ecstatic, unintelligible, feel-good, fuzzy-wuzzies. It is antithetical that God would “reveal” Himself by unintelligible utterances. Why then should our apprehension of Him be reflected in behavior marked by mindless gibberish? He spoke so that we might understand, and understanding so that we might obey, and in obeying we might know Him.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:6
Presumed spiritual super powers are illicit but deceptively attractive. And by teaching children to pursue and revel in unbiblical “Super Powers” maneuvers, it’s clear Bethel cares little about doing as the apostle proclaimed:
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14
Indeed, for those trapped in the beguilement of Bethel – and their children – they could easily be hearkening to the words of Amos, “Come to Bethel, and transgress.” (Amos 4:4). As Matthew Henry commented about the idolatrous Israelites of Amos’ day, so too does his commentary apply when considering the modern Bethel Church:
“What is got by extortion is commonly used to provide for the flesh, and to fulfil the lusts thereof. What is got by oppression cannot be enjoyed with satisfaction. How miserable are those whose confidence in unscriptural observances only prove that they believe a lie! Let us see to it that our faith, hope, and worship, are warranted by the Divine word.” Matthew Henry
My Super Powers books are copyrighted by Dan McCollam and published by Sounds of the Nations of Vacaville, CA.
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]