Bob DeWaay: Bill Johnson, IHOP, & Ancient Heresy Reborn


February 24, 2012

It’s been almost two years since my friend Bob DeWaay has joined me for a podcast, but he is back to talk about the heresies found in the International House of Prayer. The discussion is based on an article that Bob wrote for Critical Issues Commentary that he hasn’t yet published entitled “An Invasion of Error: A Review of Bill Johnson – When Heaven Invades Earth“. Johnson is a pastor in Redding, California and is closely associated with IHOP in Kansus City. Much of what Johnson teaches is also pushed by IHOP.

[Update April 2, 2012: The article that this episode is based on is now available]

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An Outline of the Discussion
  • Much of what we discussed revolves around a book by Bill Johnson, a pastor in Redding, California, called “When Heaven Invades Earth.” The book details formulas for performing miracles. Bob contends that once a miracle becomes the outcome of a prescribed formula, it is no longer a miracle, but a natural phenomenon.
  • Jesus as portrayed as a person that could only do miracles in His Earthly ministry because He learned all of the proper formulas.
  • A heretical view of Jesus is taught that says that He laid aside His divinity while on Earth. This is heretical because divinity, by definition, is not a quality that can be laid aside. If ever there was a time that Jesus was not divine, He never was divine to begin with, nor ever will be.
  • Bill Johnson professes a teaching that is shared with IHOP (International House of Prayer) of an “Elijah Generation”, or an elite group of Christians that shows up at the end of the age, is greater than any other group of Christians in history, and do greater miracles than Jesus. Such teaching has its roots in the long-discredited Latter Rain movement that began in the 1940s.
  • The ancient heresy of Kenosis is taught. Kenosis doctrine is based on a misinterpretation of Philippians 2, and teaches that Jesus “emptied Himself of diety”, and was merely a man during His Earthly ministry.
    • Deity cannot be gained, lost, laid down, or set aside. It either is or it isn’t.
    • Deity is defined as: non-contingent eternal existence.
  • Johnson, et. al. operate under an anti-scholastic bias that downplays the importance of scripture in favor of spiritual experience. He states “The letter kills, but the spirit gives life”.
  • The promotion of spiritual experience and special knowledge not found in scripture is a form of gnosticism, a heresy that dates back to the days of the Apostle Paul.
  • The letter kills in that the letter is the law, and the law kills in that it points to Christ, but it is Christ that saves, not the law. The law is a schoolmaster as Paul says in Galatians 3:24
  • Paul warned about gnosticism in his Corinthian letters, Colossians, and elsewhere.
  • Gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge, and gnosticism refers to a special knowledge, not found in scriptures, nor available to all Christians.
  • Gnosticism leads to a strange form of panentheistic worldview.
  • Bob likes to say that “There are no extraordinary Christians, but being an ordinary Christian is an extraordinary thing.”
  • The teaching that there are “elite” Christians parallels the Catholic teaching of supererogation, or works that go above an beyond that which is required by ordinary Christians.
  • “Those who feel safe because of their intellectual grasp of Scriptures enjoy a false sense of security. None of us has a full grasp of Scripture, but we all have the Holy Spirit. He is our common denominator who will always lead us into truth. But to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know.” (Johnson: 76)
  • Docetism is a heresy that says that Christ only seemed to have a body.
  • People who follow false teaching, especially of the sort that Bill Johnson teaches, often decry the “cognitive” as antithetical to “walking in the spirit”. However, they don’t realize that they make their own decisions and form their own beliefs based on a “cognitive” understanding of the world that they like. They merely use a different “cognitive” standard than that of Bible-believing Christians. Gnosticism uses a subjective cognitive standard, as opposed to the objective standard of the Scriptures.
  • Johnson claims that reaction to error often leads to more error. This stands in contrast to much of the New Testament in which Paul, and other New Testament writers, wrote epistles meant to correct error (Galatians, Colossians, Hebrews, etc.)
  • We don’t question a false teacher’s motives or sincerity, we question their doctrine in light of Scripture.
  • Elitism is a heretical view that some Christians are more spiritual than others, and somehow better Christians.
  • Pietism is a reaction to “dead orthodoxy,” and has a heavy emphasis on experience.
  • Fideism teaches faith for the sake of faith. It de-emphasizes the object of faith and replaces it with faith itself.
  • Panentheism is often mistakenly adopted by Christians who misunderstand omnipresence. It teaches that God is in everything (as opposed to Pantheism that teaches that God is everything and everything is God.)
  • The Emergent Church movement is largely panentheistic, and they don’t necessarily deny it.
  • Bill Johnson’s similarities to IHOP (International House of Prayer) in Kansas City include:
    • Common roots in Latter Rain theology
    • Both target young people
    • Elitism – The “Elijah Generation”
    • Manifested Sons of God
    • Bridal paradigm. A sensual relationship between Christ and believers.
    • “Deeper Life.” A gnostic idea that there is a secret that will lead you to a deeper life with Christ.
  • Bill Johnson’s connection to IHOP appears to be informal, though he has spoken at many conferences held by IHOP.
Scripture References
  • Hebrews 10:7
  • John 5:39
  • 2 Corinthians 3:6
  • John 5:46
  • Galatians 3:24
  • Acts 17:11
  • 1 John 4:1-5
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    19 Responses to “Bob DeWaay: Bill Johnson, IHOP, & Ancient Heresy Reborn”

  1. By Christine Pack on Feb 25, 2012

    So happy to see my friend and brother in Christ, Bob DeWaay, back on the radio. A friend alerted me to this broadcast, I’m downloading now.

  2. By Susan Billings on Feb 25, 2012

    I am deeply saddened that a former Pastor friend of mine, who I used to work for in Florida, moved to Kansas City and has become extremely involved in IHOP. He and his wife and children are so involved. How do you witness to someone like that? How do I even begin? He used to be so “spot on” with his walk and beliefs. I loved his preaching/teaching. Now he is so “gone”.

  3. By Andy Olson on Feb 25, 2012

    Susan, I’m sorry, I just don’t know how to respond. I have many friends that are caught up into New Apostolic Reformation and IHOP teachings, and have never been able to get anywhere with them (that I can see anyway). The experiences that they encounter inside these teachings are very real, and it is hard to convince them that such experiences are contrary to the teachings of Scripture. Some of them have come to believe that I am the one who is apostate because I reject such experiences. I am the one they see as being involved in cultic practices, since I reject the spirit that they follow.

    I wish I could say something other than just to pray, but prayer is a powerful weapon, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Those of us who are in Christ are such because He has drawn us, and it is His drawing that is the only thing that will bring our friends and loved-ones out of false teachings like IHOP.

  4. By Douglas Bass on Feb 26, 2012

    Many years ago, I read the book “Why Revival Tarries” by Leonard Ravenhill. I enjoyed the book for the most part at the time, but the mention of “an aristocracy of the spirit” was a sour note for me an in an otherwise beautiful melody.

    I recalled that moment when I read the bit in this post about “the Elijah generation”

  5. By Rose Vosburgh on Mar 5, 2012

    I just logged on and was so excited to find this interview with Bob DeWaay. I am downloading to mp3 right now and can’t wait to listen. I have learned so much from Bob’s Critical Issues in Commentary website. It will be great to hear from him again…have missed him!

    Susan, don’t give up! My family was into the NAR, too. I got the same reaction when I tried to explain how it is false and it made the relationship strained. But I kept on praying God would open their eyes and He did finally. One by one they got out of it. Prayer is the key. Keep praying and trusting the Lord.

  6. By Elizabeth on Mar 14, 2012

    Thank you for this very informative podcast and outline. I live in Redding, CA and see the Bill Johnson/Bethel folks everywhere. Even at Starbucks! Or I should say especially at Starbucks. I’ve seen some frightening things at when they arrive to give “a word” to strangers. It’s a very creepy feeling to be around it.

  7. By Sunny Lee on Mar 26, 2012

    I am so thankful Bob DeWaay is here to help us. Northern California is being overrun by this apostasy and Gnosticism! People routinely call themselves “co-Creators with God” as they invite young people to some place where they say they can create the environment to unleash heaven and give everyone a slain in the spirit experience. This is vain imagination (ref: Isaiah) at its worst, and demon or kundalani serpent control at its worst. Besides being just pure blasphemy (does Bill Johnson not know that if he saw God’s face he would die? Wish I could get him a little Reformed education like maybe RC Sproul’s “fear and trembling” series, especially lesson 2 on “Holy Holy Holy”. These people have no respect for the holy persons of God the Father, Jesus the only begotten son, and the person of the Holy Spirit. They look to toss them around like they have powers of “impartation” to manipulate “the force”. If you bring up scripture, they call you arrogant. But as Robert Godfrey said at the 2012 National Ligonier Conference “nothing is as arrogant as ignorance”. And the Bethel Church people and Bill Johnson are so anti-scholatic they have WILLFUL ignorance (they don’t want to know). How willfully blind can you be of all the uses of repentance in the Old and New Testament to not pick up the meaning of sorrowful regret and turning from sin? But Bill Johnson somehow comes up with “repent” to mean to return to the penthouse to see things from God’s perspective. What? (See deceptioninthechurch.com for discussion of his bad word studies). Returning to “the source” is Hinduism and Gnosticism where the eminations (our supposed divine potential within) return to the souce through secret knowledge. Bill Johnson sounds a lot like a Mormon who believes he can actually become perfect and a god. But mathematics says otherwise: if you start counting from 1 now, you will never reach infinity (perfection). It is not possible. Perfection (the Lord) must reach down to us, we can’t reach up to Him. Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I am SO glad Bob DeWaay is here to help us out. The twisting and the lies are relentless. You would think the utter lack of any medically documented healing (just like Todd Bentley has none) would be enough for people. But they are willfully chosing to believe what they WANT to believe, to create their own idea of God, and just like the Mormon “burining in the bossum”, they look to “just believe” despite all evidence that the basis of their belief is not true. P.S. That we are “co-Creators with God” is a doctrine of Wicca. So how is it not obvious to people that this is blasphemy. We can’t speak things into existence, only God can.

  8. By Pastor Watch on Mar 26, 2012

    Bob DeWaay! Hooray! Sir, please keep writing always. Your articles unravel knots and lay things out so clearly they are truly a blessing to so many. We need your very thoughtful research and writing so badly now because the lies are getting a little more subtle, the original wrong assumptions are starting to be forgotten, and the presentation skills of false preachers are getting a little smoother. Bill Johnson, for example, has high quality videos, a mellow talk-show-stlyle speaking manner, and relaxed clothing. He doesn’t look or sound so much like, for example, the brash and abrasive Kenneth or Gloria Copeland with their Texas twang. Though he does have frightening “releases” of who-knows-what-spirit extatic dances unjulating to drum beats, and fake showmanship like the mists of gold dust, he doesn’t have tatoos or marital infidelity like Todd Bentley. He puts out videos of “stories” of healings, though still none documented. Consequently lots of California kids are “cool with it”, ok with his style, and don’t recognize that he is teaching much of the same IHOP, Latter Rain, and Word of Faith doctrines that you and people like Justin Peters help unravel. And yes, a good part of it is Gnosticism and other ancient heresies long ago refuted, brought back to life. So glad we have someone knowledgable like you, who actually knows what those early heresies are and what those greek words mean, to write about it! Looking forward to your article on Bill Johnson’s book and we hope for many more good articles to come. (Or even books, I’ve purchased several copies of your books to give to friends and family over th e years). God bless and thanks again.

  9. By Sunny Lee on Mar 27, 2012

    Sorry, I meant the prophecies and the conjurings are at best vain imaginations (reference Jeremiah, not Isaiah)…at worst the other…Jeremiah has the many references to vain imaginations.

  10. By Pastor Watch on Mar 27, 2012

    Mr. DeWaay: for your research, see the many videos about Bill Johnson and Bethel Church in Redding at

    http://www.youtube.com/user/raideragent

    which come from the info page (bottom) on the Facebook page “Bethel Church and Christianity” at

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bethel-Church-and-Christianity/148396958530669?sk=info

  11. By Sunny Lee on Mar 27, 2012

    Yes, those videos are very telling, exposing much.

    A big problem not understanding the Sovereignty of God shown on this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhG1x4fOtBw&list=UUXnbNj45HJOy_STt3GUpo-g&index=9&feature=plcp

  12. By Pastor Watch on Mar 27, 2012

    It certainly is hard to pick which one of those videos is the most ridiculous or concerning.

    But if I had to pick one, I guess I would pick the one where the young woman thinks she has the power to forgive sins:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4VpH1FKkSQ&list=UUXnbNj45HJOy_STt3GUpo-g&index=19&feature=plcp

    Bill Johnson is a wolf who is preying on naive young people like this one.

  13. By Diana Putzkammer on Mar 28, 2012

    Yes there are some amazing captures of Bill Johnson on Facebook in the photo section of the Facebook page “Bethel Church and Christianity”…in about the 10th wall photo down there is a capture of a Facebook or twitter exchange where someone asks Bill Johnson

    Q: “Can you give me your definition of “grace”?

    Bill Johnson: “Empowering presence.”

    Oh my. There is so so much to refute here. I pray the Lord will strengthen those like Bob DeWaay who make the most thorough efforts to answer these errors with biblical answers.

  14. By Diana Putzkammer on Mar 29, 2012

    Here is Luke Skywalker from Star Wars on the web site of “idreamculture.com” from Bill Johnson’s miracles institute.

    http://idreamculture.com/category/co-laboring-with-god/

    So to the interviewer’s point, yep there it is, teaching the Star Wars stuff of how you can tap into “the force” to get whatever you want (insulting since God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are sovereign holy PERSONS).

    Would be great if in this or later papers Bob DeWaay could address the passage of Genesis about naming the animals that these people quote to prove God needs our cooperation as “co-Creators” to “co-Redeem” the world. I have found the doctrine that we are “co-Creators” on the websites of Wiccans ;-/

  15. By Woody Bailey on Apr 2, 2012

    Every time I watch one of Bill Johnson’s teachings, and I don’t do it very often, he basically just talks about why things are the way they are spiritually. I rarely hear him reference scripture. I can see why his teaching is attractive. It appeals to our desire to have control over the evil in this world. I would like to see Justin Peters do an expose of him also.

  16. By virginia on Apr 9, 2012

    thank God that Bob Dewaay is back!!! Make yourself heard, sir. You are head and shoulders above many pastors in fighting the heresies. Keep up the good fight for the Lord!May the Lord give you good health and fill your days with His peace and joy.

  17. By Dylan on Apr 11, 2012

    So, I’m curious, does anyone here claim they walk as Christ walked?

  18. By Dylan on Apr 11, 2012

    I’m also curious, what purpose is there in tearing an individual down with our words? Would not a much greater purpose be done in encouraging each other to seek Christ as the Truth, instead of condemning people when we think their beliefs are out of step with the truth? Even if Bill Johnson were deceived by a love for some spirit that was not the Spirit of God, would God condemn him? Surely not. God so loves the world, that he sent His Son so we might believe. I’m also reminded that when the Pharisees witnessed what Jesus did, they accused Him of being possessed by a devil. It strikes me as quite odd that people who claim believe in Jesus and in the Bible would look at the thousands of healings that have occurred at Bethel and say those people were healed by a natural phenomena. Do we not know that God is our healer? Do we not believe that we are to walk as Jesus walked if we claim to follow him?

  19. By Andy Olson on Apr 12, 2012

    The Pharisee Card has been played!

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