Bill Johnson, Jesus Culture, Glory Cloud, and Mysticism

I will not write off the entire charismatic movement because I believe there are authentic Christians who attend these churches, but I will focus on non-biblical practices in this movement which seem to be in line with mysticism.  One such ritual is the observance of the presence of God in the “glory cloud” at Bill Johnson’s church in Redding, CA, the home base of the hugely popular band Jesus Culture.

In the first video, as the Jesus Culture band plays “Show Me Your Glory” the crowd is fixated on the lights in the ceiling waiting for the “glory cloud…” and it appears at minute 1:45.  Please observe and decide if that is the presence of God…

The next video is a short documentary on Bill Johnson and the “glory cloud” phenomenon at Bethel in Redding, CA.

Let us go back to the Bible and reflect on some passages that tell us about the presence of God and the what truly happens when God “shows up,” and then we can compare such descriptions with what we see in these videos.

Isaiah 6  

1 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost…”

Exodus 19

16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.

Exodus 20

18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.

Revelation 1

16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. 17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead.

The point I am trying to make is that when God truly shows up in a physical way like Bill Johnson claims, THERE WILL BE SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.  Holy men like John fell “as though dead” in the physical presence of the Lord.  Isaiah said “woe to me” and temple’s foundations shook.  Israel could not bear to hear God’s voice and stand in the presence of God “lest we die.”

And Bill Johnson is trying to convince us that the “glory cloud” made of glitter and fanned by the air conditioning is a sign and wonder of the presence of God?

54 comments on “Bill Johnson, Jesus Culture, Glory Cloud, and Mysticism

    • Val, I know about IT. Gabi send me his sermon at philadelphia in Portland last Sunday… You can see the last 10 min of it where he calls Johnson the foremost important leader of revival of our time.

      I was disappointed to say the least. IT has worn every single possible coat you can imagine in his career. Baptist, atheist, back to baptist, then charismatic in England, then baptist (cessationist?), then new theology on Trinity, now charismatic galore Bill Johnson style…

      I went to Jesus Culture concert and conference last year in LA and while the music was very well done for a concert setting (not church setting), the teaching was skewed. By skewed, I mean it was focused only on certain aspects of the Bible taken to a far extreme.

      Their gospel was centered on power, not on Jesus. Nothing on repentance, obedience, the cross. However, plenty on Matthew 10, go raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons. They were taking testimonies from the audience… It was weak… People were saying: $3.95 just bought salvation for someone, I bought them a sandwich and told them that Jesus loves them…. Are you kidding me? It is a cheap gospel Val and you know it.

      • Honestly, I do not know anything about it–these are the only clips I have seen–nothing bad in the clips as far as I can tell.
        I would like to hear the message from Portland myself and I agree with you on IT–controversial, sleek, dishonest;however, no Romanian gets on his case;instead they get on others’ less prominent and influential and less of a problem.. You begin to wonder why they pretend they don’t notice!
        Anyway, can you send me the link with IT’s message? Really, we have to give him credit for one thing–he is not an ignorant guy and he knows his stuff–he might have stayed in the closet too long but he might be right in part about these guys.. We’ll see

  1. Hm, this is the first clip I have seen about these guys…if this is the worst of this movement, I’ll embrace it…Honestly, I find it sound doctrinally and very balanced Scripurally–at least according to these 2 clips.

    • Val, I know you use sarcasm sometimes… but you usually add a smiley… Are you kidding?

      If God shows up PHYSICALLY like Johnson claims in a cloud at his church, and I mean PHYSICALLY, I doubt anyone there would survive the event!

    • Also, check out on youtube the tunnel of fire at Johnson’s church. A concept from eastern religions, kundalini and that kind of stuff, where energy is transferred from person to person. That has no place in Christian faith.

      • Chris,
        Believe me, I am no fan of heresy and most of the stuff that goes on in the US under the umbrella of revival, most of the time–I think there is a lot of cheap stuff going on and ministers are “desperate” for something to happen so their churches will grow etc. Having said this, we have to be careful that we do not discard a move just because it has errors (even big ones), e.g. if you read the study the writings of Martin Luther and the first reformation, you will find some good, but also a lot a bad–corruption, manipulation, people being killed and burned at the stake for not being protestants, Luther declaring that Jews are to be destroyed, etc (which later inspired Hitler)…See, if we are not careful, most revivals (if not all) had lots to be desired (even the ones in the Bible–they all had lots of problems), but, in spite of all that, God moved and was in those movements. It’s hard to explain God and it’s easy to be missed, especially by the most conservative of His people because He does move in strange ways.
        Peter, quoting the prophet said on Pentecost, that strange signs follow His appearance or rather before His appearance–..
        So, anyway…while we have to be careful and watchful and call evil for what it is, we also have to call good for what it is too…

        • Ok, got it.
          Need to say that while most high level pentecostal pastors and many charismatics embraced IT as a hero when he had his fall-out with his baptists, I warned everyone on different blogs that IT is a big troublemaker and an unrepentant guy, even a fraud (to some extent). I warned that he was going to cause trouble even for the Watchmen and he did. Now all IT supporters do not want to own up to their lack of discernment and expose him for who he really is, because some of them made a god out of him, singing his praises to no end–now that is hypocrisy to the core–and refusing negative comments about the guy.
          So here is my point, (ultra)conservatives are just a gullible to not recognizing the fake from the real–they just mostly by the way you dress and talk, but not by the spirit behind the guy like IT… So, I dont put much stock in what the so called conservatives say about a movement–they can be even worse in misleading us.

  2. Val …every revival was messy but not every revival is heretical… and no true revival ever used tricks and lies to influence a crowd…

    When it comes to IT …I think some defended the continuation of the Gifts…. but at least some of us have to courage to admit that we were (at least) partially wrong on him ….The first time realized that he is going the wrong way (in my opinion) was when he came out with his new theology on the kingdom of God … he taking the legalistic road

    When it comes to Redding/johnson… that movement has heretical teachings… they are part of the “new apostolic reformation” , Toronto etc…

    If you have time , watch this video … it might get you off the charismatic bandwagon 🙂
    It was done by a (former) charismatic word of faith healer

    • When I was a little boy in Romania, I remember hearing someone by the name of Ton having weekly sermons la Europa Libera or some radio post like that and everyone used to listen to them…

      Fast forward about 30 years and I heard the first Ton message preached at Philadephia Portland about 2 years ago… The message where Gabi said there were 2,500 Romanians present and it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop…

      That night IT mentioned something weird that caught me off guard with respect to Trinity doctrine. He later expanded on it while on Tour in Pentecostal churches in Romania. He talks about us humans having fellowship with Trinitarian Persons, us being invited to partake in Their counsel… Kept referring to “Them” in plural terms and this special invitation that we have to partake in this beauty.

      I found that to be unbiblical and I never jumped on the IT bandwagon for that reason. We now have evidence of far out charismatism with IT, unfortunately.

    • Gabi,
      If this guy is right, then I am lost–I embraced all these revivals even though I am not embracing many of their practices (prosperity, and all that comes with it). As for the manifestations, while same are men-in-fa-station, they were real. I vouch for them.. While I have not witnessed the Redding revival, from the clips Chris posted I see nothing bad.
      Read Acts 2:19-20

      • Kundalini revivals… so you been doing the crazy shaking, falling down, screaming, laughing hysterically?

        I guess Christianity used to civilize people..now since the hippies got a hold of Christianity they turned it into a whacked out religion that turn people back to their primitive basic form of expressions…

        Val if you are into all that weird stuff…I am sorry….the fruit of the spirit is
        Galatians 5:22-24

        But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

      • Val … actually I did…personally …. he said he loves them.(those type of manifestations ).. i am not joking… and all the romanian pentecostal pastors will not touch the subject with a ten foot poll

        N

        • Gabi,
          You wonder why nobody wants to touch the subject–tht is my anguish too…to me it’s plain hypocrisy especially on the part of those who made a monster of cross signs, a unlawful dance and a unusual song–my conclusion is these men are not interested in the truth or in protecting the flock, but rather in keeping their influence and positions..I am repulsed by them more than I can ever tell….

        • Gabi,
          Maybe you are getting to realize that people like even Chris (I see Chris writing about M.D., C.S., but no article on I.T denouncing him as a heretic) are not after the truth–they just want to keep the Romanian flock from going to American Churches..that is all, my friend–it’s all business. What is worse, there are Romanian pastors (in the conservative bunch) who are actually charismatic–some even agree with I.T.–but b/c they make a living within the conservative group, they keep their convictions to themselves…That is why I despise Romanian gatherings–you do not know who’s who there 😦

        • Gabi,
          What do you think would be on the conservatives’ blogs if Oniga or Pustan did what I.T. does? Just think about it… 🙂

  3. Val, you raise some valid issues.

    Regarding IT, If you want to keep selling books, you have to keep changing your theology so that you have new material. 🙂

    If you have to throw some heresies in there, that’s just the cost of doing business.

    • I don’t think people pay attention to IT anymore. He’s changed this theology so much that it is a non issue now. I can only think of one big church here in the US who had him preach in the recent past, and what he taught at that time did not go well with the church.

  4. Val, Manuela … in the pentecostal circles ,doctrine does not matter… when was the last time you heard of anybody being reprimanded for any kind of doctrinal issue ? …yep .. you are right …never

    So as long as you don’t or dance you live happily ever after in our circles

    That is why you have so many heresies going around specially in charismatic circles … they have no creeds or a doctrine that they can build on… anything goes … as long as you love… or feel good you are fine ….

      • I bet it was about the gifts off the spirit…but I was asking if someone was ever “pus deoparte” for reason if heretical teaching

    • Gabi,
      Pustan didnt dance.. 🙂
      Besides, IT claims dancing it’s part of worship;more than that, he considers the weirdest manifestations (according to you) the best ever…So, dont tell me this is the reason why–it’s because they are hypocritical (in short, politicians).

        • I agree pustan had to be called out on his behavior… but IT even more so… so, the point is the big hypocrites who fussed about Pustan, no sit around and pretend nothing is happening–that has been my point all along…I am not blaming the conservative who always minded their own business, just the ones who cried out against smaller things and now put up with a whole false doctrine–IT is in heresy big time with his kingdom teachings and all the kissing up he does to the Redding crowd

        • Val, cultul reprimanded pustan and he complied. With IT things were not discerned until he really defined his theology. You must remember that 3 years ago we were not talking kingdom coming down to Redding… We were talking cessationism vs continuationism in the setting that IT accept tongues and gifts! Who knew IT embraces Bill Johnson? This is a newer phenomenon.

          I’m glad you see Johnson/IT/redding as heresy big time

        • Chris, excellent points, I remember immediately after Ton jumped ship he said that he is coming out with a new theology and that he believes that the evangelicals were wrong all along to base their theology on Paul and the Cross. I just read a little of his new book where he says that the Cross is only the door, and the real accent should be put on the teachings of Jesus. The error ( I believe ) is here , smells like legalism to me, salvation is not by the law ( the OT view) but by the ‘Jesus Teachings”, so we are ultimately earning our salvation…

          The Cross only took the “title” from Satan hands and gave it to us, now is our turn to follow the Teachings of Jesus in order to bring the Kingdom on this earth.

          I really don’t know how he views the epistles

          It is sad that IT goes everywhere in Europe and in Romania and you know that in Pentecostal/charismatic churches as soon as you talk about healings and gifts, they all fall like flies.

          He puts a burden on people that he himself was not able to carry ( we all know his past) .

          Paul used very strong words against those that put people under the yoke of legalism ( Gal. 5:12)

          But there is unwillingness in the Romanian Pentecostals circles to go after anything that is theological .
          Asked a pastor if there was anybody reprimanded on theological grounds in the CP , ever, he thought for a long time , and he said that he doesn’t remember. Most were reprimanded on political or moral grounds.

        • Gabi,
          I agree… What do you make of the fact that the big blogger from (don’t want to get too specific) sits quietly and is not concerned with exposing the guy? I used to chase flies now he is not bothered by something this big?!!
          The other “giant” from got upset when I asked why he doesn’t at least publish the news…Listen, these guys talk about how bias the media is in RO and USA…then they turn around and hide the biggest christian news of all–they are more biased then both of them combined. And my question is, too, where are all the conservative, true-faith defenders from their blogs???? Beats me!!!

  5. Chris,
    It would not be fair to say that I see Redding as a heretical place–I know nothing of them..The only thing I know of them is from you 2 clips–and they seem ok–What is heretical is IT’s statements such as, Redding is the only place on earth where people believe God 100%, etc…It’s IT’s theology on the Gospel’s teachings being superior to the rest of the Bible, etc…The movement from Redding might be ok, but when one kisses up to them in an ungodly way, that makes him a heretic, not necessarily them…It’s very possible though that these guys do promote some heretical teachings such as “Kingdom now”, prosperity and the like…..–don’t want to be part of such things at all…

    Even though I embraced the 3-4 revivals I mentioned before, it does not mean I also embraced their “church politics”, etc… I believe God gives us revival, but that does not mean that we become examples in everything we do. On the contrary, many times, we pervert the blessing and commercialize it and try to make a cash cow out of it…So, no my friend… far from me to embrace anything other that what God gave..

    I want to be mature enough to not throw the baby out with the bath water and to know how to chew the meat and spit out the bones… 🙂

  6. Reblogged this on Where's God In All of This? and commented:
    Delight in Truth’s article goes right along with the article I just posted warning people about Bill Johnson and his heretical teachings. The happenings at Bill Johnson’s church are actually mysticism in action. Don’t be deceived! This isn’t God’s presence, glory or cloud. It’s created by man. It breaks my heart to see so many deceived followers of this man.

  7. For some great articles on the false doctrines of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church please see the Crosswise blog:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/category/bethel-church/

    Much of BJ’s teachings match well with the Theosophical teachings of Alice Bailey, and Craig, the author at Crosswise has made his case well, with a great deal of research and biblical refutation. The hundreds of comments of ongoing discussion, particularly on the three most recent articles also explore and clearly show the hard-core new age teachings in Bill Johnson’s heresy.

    There are also some excellent contributors at the blog (no, I am not counting myself!) who have been saved out of these movements in the States and give compelling testimony for the purpose of warning the true Body of Christ, and helping to call people out of these spiritually dangerous movements. All respectful questions will be answered by the author so I encourage you to read for yourself, Bible in hand (oh, and open!).

    This is bad voodoo folks. The time has past for keeping silent.

  8. What has happened to those called to preach and teach God’s truths? I have downloaded 2 of his sermons not knowing all the ‘happenings behind the scene’. I believe ministers of the Word are not infallible; they make mistakes, and are in need of God saving them out of the mess sometimes. Popularity might have caught up with them that instead of getting people to focus on God, people are unknowingly led to focus on God’s minisers. I believe God himself will do the restoring work. Let us leave this work to Him and Him alone.

  9. Pingback: Bill Johnson, Jesus Culture, Glory Cloud, and Mysticism | Intrepid Didymus

  10. They need to take this performance outside and see it the “glory cloud” shows up there; without the use of air vents to circulate the glitter.

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