[This post was originated after hearing about a sermon by Eric Johnson, “The Joy of Consecration” and other teachings from the teachers of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, including Jesus Culture and the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry.]
In this sermon, Eric Johnson (son of Bethel founder Bill Johnson and co-pastor with his wife Candace) tells the people to open to Daniel 1, then shares a bunch of thoughts without ever referring to the text (which he finally reads at 19:15—that’s 20 minutes without the text). He talks about ideas and then says he has convictions about something he wants to share (14:45). The problem is that these convictions find no grounding in the truths of Scripture. He is not preaching; he is sharing his own thoughts. His thoughts are false and stand in direct opposition to God’s true words. He is asking people to believe in the Pelagian heresy—that man is inherently good and has no stain of original sin. Sadly, the crowd agrees with him when he makes these false claims.
“You are not born evil. It is amazing how many teachings and theologies start with that thought. And each time you start with that, you will create a controlling manipulating environment. . . . Every government, every structure every system—fundamentally and theologically—must start with the concept and the idea that people are good and they mean to do good, even if they’re not saved. [Hoots from the crowd.] You have to start from that premise. When God created the heavens and the earth, in Proverbs 8 [:31] He said, ‘And my delight was in the sons of men.’ This was before the Cross. He created everything and said, ‘Oh, My delight is in people. My delight is in people. I just love people.’ He didn’t love them after they turned to Him, He just loved people. It has to start with that. That is how God sees humanity. He hates sin. There is a big difference between hating sin and hating people—big difference. Massive. And however you stand, wherever your starting point, the way you think and live your life . . . if your standing in He hates sin, then you realize He loves people. He just loves people.” [My transcription of the sermon section where he teaches the Pelagian heresy]
He is absolutely right—what he is teaching is a “massive” difference. The only scriptural support for his thoughts demonstrates what a poor exegete He is. Proverbs 8 is a personification of wisdom, not God speaking about creation. He is attempting to pull the wool over your eyes by pulling an isolated phrase out of its context. The cheers from the crowd demonstrate their affirmation of his deception. This is in accord with Paul’s warning that people will gather together for themselves false teachers to tell them what they want to hear (2 Timothy 4:2–4) rather than looking to God’s Word as truth. No one wants to hear people are bad—especially ourselves. But what does Scripture teach about the nature of all people?
Compare Eric Johnson’s statements to God’s Word (please read them in their context to evaluate my claims):
Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.
Psalm 7:11 God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Romans 5:6–8 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the
ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 8:5–8 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Ephesians 2:1–3 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Colossians 1:21–22 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.
Good people don’t need the Savior. This false teaching is founded in the premise of the Pelagian heresy and stands in contradiction to God’s Word. Look to Christ and flee Bethel Church and all its associated organizations, including the Jesus Culture band which is a ministry of Bethel Church and sits under this teaching and its authority.