For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. - Luke 2:11 (ESV)
Most people who discern correctly know full well that Bethel in Redding California is a virtual cesspool of false theology. There are very few heresies they do not openly traffic in. They teach prosperity, healing on demand, word faith, false signs and lying wonders, gold dust, angel feathers, glory clouds, gemstones, dead raising teams and grave sucking to name a few. Another main heresy of theirs is experiential Christianity. This is where our own personal experience rises to the level of or surpasses scripture. In order to get there, Bethel is constantly disparaging the bible and its role in the life of Christians. If someone focuses too much on scripture, they are deemed to have a "religious spirit." Religion, which is ordained by God, is now the enemy.
When we review Bethel it is usually Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton or Shawn "smart-phone prophet" Bolz. This morning however, YouTube recommended I watch a three-minute clip from Bethel, linked above. This is from someone named Steve Backlund, the Senior Associate Director of Bethel Leaders Network. Now, I know what you are thinking. I didn't know Bethel had a leaders network either and that concept is frightening. Apparently, Bill Johnson wrote Mr. Backlund's biography:
"He (Steve) has a unique anointing to release hope and joy coupled with a revelatory teaching gift that creates new wineskins for greater dimensions of God (both personally and corporately)." - Bethel Church
Yep, those are all words in the English language but stringing them together doesn't seem to make any sense. New wineskins for greater dimensions of God? Anyway, let us reason together through this brief clip.
"We also like to have people laugh at things. Now I used to be joy-impaired and laughter-impaired. I got delivered. How many of you know that you can't be joyful under a religious mindset. It is impossible to be joyful under that. Because if you are joyful it reveals that you don't get it. Because if you got it, you wouldn't be so happy. Cause if you prayed for an hour, you should have prayed two. You fasted for three days but you ate a marshmallow on day two." - Steve Backlund
Mind you, Backlund is laughing like a lunatic while speaking. Very similar to the old clips from the holy laughter movement. We must realize the insidious nature of this teaching, which Bethel always traffics in. What Backlund is saying here is that it is literally not possible to be happy and follow the bible. That the adherence to scripture must lead to a joy-less life. I do not know of any brothers or sisters who castigate themselves for praying one hour instead of two or who violated a fast with a marshmallow. The examples are stupid and insulting and I say that with the utmost joy. Really, I am smiling while writing this because Steve Backlund is portraying himself here as a buffoon. What he is teaching undermines the entire bible. He says pay no mind to the constant references to religion throughout scripture. Ignore all of the books Paul wrote about the organizational structure of church and church service - that's for joy-less suckers. Don't bother praying. Don't bother fasting. The only thing that matters theologically is that you can laugh like a moron.
"How many of you know that when Jesus came he broke the back of religion?" - Steve Backlund
Really Steve. I must have missed that when He was establishing Christianity. I must have missed that when He spoke through James and Paul about His religion. Just think how offensive this statement is. That Jesus Christ broke the back of religion. No Steve - he broke the back of false religion, including all of yours. The religious powers of His day do not represent religion. They were FALSE. According to the twisted mind of Bethel, all of the churches Paul established must have been against the plan of God! No Ephesus. No Corinth. No Steve, just no.
"I mean we should have had a hint in Luke 2:10 when the angels are announcing about Jesus they said, behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be for all people. So, it was a liberating moment, the bringing of Jesus into the world was the liberation of joy. - Steve Backlund
Why would joy need to be liberated! It sounds like you have been drinking too much from your multi-dimensional wineskin. Maybe if you spent more time reading the bible instead of laughing at it, you might gain revelation from somewhere other than your wickedly deceitful heart - and yes, still smiling here. You see Luke 2:10 does indeed state the declaration of the angels regarding Christ but Steve stopped reading before the theology got too messy for him and his giggling spirit. You see, the next verse is the key verse today. For unto us this day a Savior is born. You know why the angels referred to Him as a Savior? Because we needed saving. Do you know why we needed saving? Because we are sinners. This is basic Christian orthodoxy that Steve Backlund has traded in for absurd laughter. Jesus did not come into the world to liberate joy. He came to liberate the captors to sin. This is why no one gets saved at Bethel. Because the gospel has been replaced with this false sense of joy that can only be expressed through demonic laughter. To prove their point, they carve our verse fragments that vaguely support their view and when someone comes along and suggests they read the next verse they are accused of having a religious mindset. Now that is truly funny.
"You can't be joyful working for God. But if you are working with God it creates radical joy." - Steve Backlund
Yeah Steve, that aint God you are working with. When you're raised under Bethel's teaching it is no wonder you end up so clueless about basic theology. We do not "work" for or with God. We do not "partner" with Him. He is not our buddy. He is not our business associate. He is not our co-pilot. He is not our wingman. He is our Lord and Savior. The savior portion we already reviewed but by knowing He is our Lord it reminds us that our position is one of servitude to Him. We are His creation. We are His servants. Before you start thinking this sounds joy-less you must understand that we cannot be God. We are horrible at that "job." There is overwhelming joy simply in knowing that He died on the cross for me! There is inescapable joy just for knowing that He has gone to prepare a place for me! That no matter what happens on this earthly coil, God Almighty, Creator of the Entire Universe, has promised me eternal life and to not give me what I so richly deserve. That is more than enough to smile and make me laugh but not when some heretic is leading people to hell by telling them to laugh at the word of God.
"So, the Lord said, Stephen, if you're going to be strong, my joy has to be your strength - Nehemiah 8:10. I believe our spiritual load bearing capacity, the level of it, is in direct proportion to the level of joy in our lives. And God has called us to actively increase what we can carry and part of that is to walk in joy." - Steve Backlund
Since we started with dimensional wineskins it is only appropriate that we conclude with spiritual load bearing because neither actually mean anything. They are made up concepts by the corrupt hearts of Bethel. They are designed to sound super-spiritual but offer no power because they are the cravings of man, not God. Beloved, I agree whole-heartedly that we should walk in the joy of the Lord. That joy however needs to be firmly rooted in correct doctrine. We do not need to laugh like a loon either. Outward emotional expressions are not necessarily spiritual in nature. Still smiling over here because of who God is and what He has done for me. Bethel however is a dangerous place that is creating generations of people who think they are Christians who will be laughing all the way to hell.
Reverend Anthony Wade - November 18, 2022