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"Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. - John 14: 12 (ESV)
I wrote recently about the new age worship phenomena spreading through the modern church like cancer known as "prophetic worship." Especially popular in the youth circles and the false signs and lying wonders movement, prophetic worship is basically turning the worship of God over to our most carnal instincts and then blaming the results on the Holy Spirit. While not everyone knows the term, many have probably sat through some of this experience before. Unlike traditional worship, there is usually no specific song involved. Instead the worship leader has been trained to "listen" for what God wants to say through them, hence the alleged prophetic part of it. So they are trained to listen to their hearts and that "still small voice" so they can then impart that as a song during worship. The result is usually a mantra repeated over and over again as the musicians amp up the volume and intensity to have people confuse an emotional response with a spiritual one. Mind you, no one is suggesting this is even conscious on the part of the people who are so deceived as to traffic in it. When you come from Bethel Church for example you are not being taught proper biblical exegesis to begin with. Bethel in fact is so unbiblical they actually run a school for the supernatural where they teach not only this prophetic worship heresy but they claim to teach the gifts of the spirit despite the Word making it clear that the gifts are only given by the Spirit as He wills. Outside of Jesus Culture, which emanated from Bethel, their most popular worship leaders are Brian and Jenn Johnson. Before a worship conference in 2013 they sat down for an hour to be interviewed about their prophetic worship style and their own admissions are a fascinating glimpse into the deceived mind. This interview can be found here:
Let me start by saying that these two people seem like really nice folks. Beloved this is not a personal matter. It is a matter of doctrine and proper reverence and worship of Almighty God. Watching the first five minutes and having them discuss how they met and how they both grew up as worshippers makes me feel really bad. Not bad because of the truth but bad because of the lies they have been taught. The deception they are sitting under in their pastor, Bill Johnson. The deception and demonic spiritual warfare they openly traffic in. The fact that they lead others unwittingly into these same heresies. I feel bad because Brian and Jenn Johnson seem like nice people and I am sure they are on every level except what they do in ministry. That is the sad part of discernment ministries beloved. But I consider the anguish when people will stand before Christ only to hear Him say He never knew them. After spending a lifetime thinking they were serving Him. When Jesus looked over Jerusalem He wept for they were like sheep without a shepherd. When I see two people as seemingly authentic as Brian and Jenn Johnson I weep for them for they know not what they do.
Jenn admits early on that they were heavily influenced by the Vineyard movement and Hillsong, both false worship outfits in their own right. Then they hooked up with Bethel and Bill Johnson and it is no wonder that their deception only grew. At the six minute mark they are asked about the strange things they have seen at Bethel and Jenn launches into this description of the glory clouds filled with gold dust that Bill Johnson is famous for claiming are from God in his auditorium. These of course are completely unbiblical yet to this young couple they believe it is real. Beloved hear me very clearly. These manifestations are either fabricated or demonic. Remember there are other spirits in this world besides the Holy Spirit and even the emissaries of Satan masquerade as angels of light. The only defense offered is that "God can do anything"; which is no defense at all. Yes He can do anything but that doesn't mean He does. That is why He gave us His Word! So we can discern what is from Him and what is from the evil spirits of this world. There are no biblical supports for these manifestations of gold dust, angel feathers, gem stones, or glory clouds. Yet Bill Johnson claims they all have manifested at Bethel Church. If we take him at his word then the amount of demonic activity at Bethel is enormous. What is interesting is the admission from Jenn that she does not understand the glory cloud of gold but she loves it. This love of confusion is contradictory to the God of order presented in the Bible and leads her to claim that we must go into worship expectantly. She bases this conclusion apparently upon our key verse. She keeps saying "we will see greater things!" It sounds so spiritual it is a shame to point out the inaccuracy. The verse first of all does not say we will see greater things but rather that we will do greater things, probably referring to the actual miracles of Christ. Most scholars agree this is a promise for the disciples themselves not for us. That the term greater probably refers to the amount not the quality. It matters not because the caveat Jesus throws in at the end is because He is going to the Father, foreshadowing the coming of the Holy Spirit. Thus any greater claims all fall back to God. He does the greater things, not us. Either way, it has nothing to do with seeing greater things and it certainly has nothing to do with clouds of gold flecks on a Friday night in Redding California. Do we realize how utterly silly this claim is? That as Jesus is comforting His disciples about the fact that He would have to leave them and be crucified He was really portending a glory cloud manifestation at Bethel Church 2000 years later. For what purpose?
Jenn continues to reveal however how their false beliefs form their false worship. She admits that she believes you will eat what you are hungry for and what she is hungry for is things she cannot explain. Once again I will take her at her word as I think this reveals the warped mindset she is under. God has already explained everything to us beloved in His Word. There is nothing He left out. There is nothing He forgot. The author of confusion and doubt is Satan, not God. Whenever I have been overwhelmed to the point of weeping in worship it was not because I was confused about something God was doing. It was always in realizing who God is. God provides clarity, not confusion.
The next question deals with explaining what prophetic worship is and Brian offers up that it is anything that has the "breath of the Spirit" on it. Wow, how deep. Of course it is biblically vacuous. In fact, the Holy Spirit is who will lead us into all truth so if something has the breath of the Spirit on it, first it must be biblical. If it contradicts or adds to scripture then that is not the breath of the Holy Spirit you are encountering. Not even close. Brian goes on to admit that the technique he uses during the breaks between songs is essentially clairvoyance. He says that he tries to hear in the spirit realm and for example he might say, "I'm kinda hearing the name Emily and that I'm hearing her offering is to surrender." This is the same trick psychics and mediums use. Realize there are several hundred people there. Chances are there is an Emily and who would argue with such a banal "prophecy" such as "surrender" for someone who came to a Friday night prayer meeting. If there is no Emily, just mosey on to the next thing your deceitful little heart tells you. Go back and read the Old Testament. I do not recall Elijah saying to Ahab and Jezebel, "I kinda hear the Lord saying something about surrender." Yet this style of false prophecy is riddled throughout the church today. Do these sound familiar?
"I hear the Lord saying to me something about you needing to be strong and mighty."
"The Lord is showing me Jericho's walls in your life and how you need them to come down."
"God is telling me that you need the smooth stone of faith for that Goliath at work."
This is all clairvoyant nonsense beloved. Who doesn't have something in their life that would come to mind as a Jericho moment, Goliath moment, or the need to be strong and mighty? This isn't prophecy. It is the Great Carnac from the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Only now it has moved out from the shadow of traveling false prophets and it is invading our worship of Almighty God. At this point Jenn chimes in that the word prophetic may seem spooky or eerie but it really just means encouragement and exhortation. In her mind she says that the prophetic has been abused because people will prophesy the negative and that it "misses the Father's heart." That God is so good that He would never proclaim anything that is horrible. Wow. Where do we start there? This is a frightening glimpse into the carnal mind and what it can do with the things of God. Prophecy is simple. It is claiming to have heard from God. It is speaking on behalf of God. Can it be encouraging? Sure but the vast majority of prophecies in the Bible are of the "horrible" variety. Let us look at the story of a little known prophet named Micaiah, who prophesied during the reign of the wicked King Ahab. Jehoshaphat and Ahab are considering going to war with Ramoth-gilead. Jehoshaphat asks Ahab to inquire from his prophets what sayeth the Lord in this matter and they all tell him exactly what he wants to hear. Go to war! You will win! Jehoshaphat realizes however that he has heard from yes men and not the Lord:
But Jehoshaphat said, "Is there not here another prophet of the Lord of whom we may inquire?" And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil." - 1Kings 22: 7-8 (ESV)
That Micaiah is always so negative! Why can't he be more encouraging and exhort me! To Jenn Johnson, Micaiah has "missed the Father's heart" even though he was the one actually hearing from God. To her Micaiah abuses the prophetic by speaking the truth. By the way, people who follow this sort of false teaching miss the larger point. Micaiah was actually the encouraging prophet because he was telling the truth. Ahab listened instead to the lying prophets and he was killed in battle exactly how Micaiah prophesied so negatively he would.
The next portion sees the Johnsons asked if they are afraid of "getting it wrong." Their answers continue to reveal how poor their biblical grounding is. If you understand the Bible and prophecy then you know there is no "getting it wrong." Those on the Old Testament who got it wrong were stoned to death for lying about hearing from the Lord. Let us not lose sight of this as we hear Jenn wax eloquently about "practicing" the prophetic. There is no practice. You are either hearing from God or you are not. If you claim to have heard and been proven false then you are a false prophet, period, end of story. Yet people like the Kansas City Prophets, who Bill Johnson is tight with, claim that you can be wrong as much as 35% of the time and that still makes you a good prophet. What utter unbiblical nonsense. Does God stutter? Is He ever wrong? No beloved; just no. Yet Jenn Johnson says that she believes it is more important to have the courage to "go for it" than the fear of failure and therein lies the problem. It does not take courage to guess what God is saying. It takes irreverence. If you are claiming to hear directly from the Lord then your opening position better be one of fear. There is no grander claim that one can make and it ought to terrify you to get it wrong. Yet the Johnsons have flipped the Bible on its ear here. It is bolder to guess wrongly than to fear misrepresenting God! That is at the core of the heresy that is prophetic worship. It encourages people to dabble in mysticism and rewards wrong prophecy with an attaboy.
Brian at this point admits to an absolutely horrific story about one time when he "got it wrong." He tells this story about when he was an 18 year old intern in a youth group at a Lou Engle event when Engle instructed all of the leaders to go and lay hands on the youth and pray. Brian tells the story about how he went up to a 12 year old boy and "the way I laid my hands on him was the thing." He recounts how he placed his hands across his chest and the other on his back and started "prophesying over him" furiously for 15 minutes until he realized there were a lot of people standing around him looking at him very curiously. Guess the punch line? It was a girl. So basically, Brian Johnson molested a 12 year old girl, unknowingly, for 15 minutes in the name of God, while claiming to be speaking for Him! You would think God would have first pointed out that he was a she. This is not a funny anecdote beloved. This is what happens when you make things up as you go along. When you pretend to speak for God when you are only actually listening to your own deceitful heart. Jenn even laughs that there are a lot more stories like that and they could write a book, while laughing away at what should be taken as a profound rebuke from the Lord. That is what happens when everything positive is considered the Father's heart but everything negative must be an abuse of the prophetic. Sad indeed.