Lindsay Davis just wanted to learn more about Jesus. Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, CA seemed like the answer. She eventually realized what she learned there strayed from Scriptural teaching and made leaders Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton the only trustworthy spiritual authorities.
In other words, she found herself in a cult.
God graciously opened her eyes when she watched the excellent documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone and began to study Scripture. After trying to confront the school for its faulty theology, she found herself ostracized and eventually expelled.
I’m grateful Davis recently shared her story on the Cultish Podcast (see links below). I share her story because, as they say in the podcast, I don’t want anyone to believe in a God who doesn’t exist and a Jesus who doesn’t save. I don’t typically take a polemical route on this blog because my purpose is to build up in truth and point to Christ. But I take false doctrine very seriously and know Bethel has a major international influence in the world, largely in part due to their music, Jesus Culture and Bethel Music, which is listened to each month on Spotify by over 2.5 million. Bethel has also created their own “translation” of the Bible (see a helpful critique from Andrew Wilson).
Unfortunately, I have personally seen movements like Bethel destroy the faith of a friend. My friend could never stir up enough spiritual “power” for miraculous experiences or break away from sinful patterns, and thus became disillusioned altogether with Christianity.
I pray that these episodes would strengthen your biblical discernment muscles and rescue some from following mystical experiences and emotionalism down a path of destruction.
More resources for discerning Bethel:
- Examining the Theology and Practice of the Bethel Movement by Stephen Tan at TGC-Australia
- 9Marks review of Bill Johnson’s Book, When Heaven Invades Earth
- Watch Lindsay Davis’ testimony on American Gospel
The podcast description of the three-part series “Defecting from Bethel”
In this highly anticipated Cultish exclusive, co-hosts Jeff Durbin and Jeremiah Roberts are joined in Studio by former BSSM student Lindsay Davis.
Just a few weeks ago, Lindsay created much controversy with the announcement that she was expelled from the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry for publicly speaking out against the school.
Why did this happen?
What caused her to doubt Bethel’s cause and begin to think differently than she had a few months prior?
In this three-part series, we speak in depth with Lindsay Davis about her time at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and discover what makes this worldwide movement so alluring.
We also discuss some very concerning psychological and sociological cultish behaviors which line up with descriptions given by experts like Steven Hassan and Rick Allen Ross, who have extensively researched recent cultish movements in the United States.
Most importantly, we discuss the theological cultish behaviors that fall under Walter Martin’s classic definition:
“A group of people gathered around a specific person or person’s misinterpretation of the Bible. “
Additionally, we explore the physical and supernatural manifestations happening at Bethel, which brings up the question: are these experiences movements of God, psychosomatic episodes, or something else?
Could it be possible to experience healing and the supernatural apart from God?
There is no doubt that Bethel Church has worldwide influence, and because of this, it is imperative to have this conversation.
We invite you, regardless of where you stand on this issue, to be part of this conversation and listen to Lindsay’s story with an open mind.
* Special thanks to my friend Mike for his thoughts on this post.