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Read It! - January 2023


Turn on the radio or walk into almost any evangelical church. One of the first things you will hear are songs by Bethel Worship or Jesus Culture. Young people are especially attracted to these songs. The production quality and musicianship is top-notch. The Jesus Culture website says, “Jesus Culture is not a band, but a family with a collection of songs that reflect what God is doing in their church and their lives. The heart of Jesus Culture has always been to not just sing songs, but to encounter God and see lives changed through those encounters.”

Tragically, few people (and few churches) are examining the doctrinal foundations of these ever-popular and growing groups. Both Bethel Worship and Jesus Culture are product of Bethel Church, located in Redding, California. Two authors have researched the Bethel movement and present their findings in Counterfeit Kingdom: The Dangers of New Revelation, New Prophets, and New Age Practices in the Church.

The book narrows its focus on the practices of the so-called New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and the various ways that it influences music and ministry in churches around the world. The authors reveal that more than 3.5 million people in America alone attend churches that embraced NAR. These churches are governed by so-called “prophets” and “apostles.”

Pivec and Geivett alert readers to the theological infrastructure and polity the governs Bethel Church. They uncover the controversial practices of “angelic slumber,” “grave sucking,” “holy laughter,” “laughter in the Spirit,” “the fire tunnel,” “destiny cards,” “communication with the dead,” and the promotion of the so-called “glory cloud.” These occult activities are not only dangerous; they are expressly forbidden in Scripture (Deut. 18:9-12).

Counterfeit Kingdom includes a series of helpful warnings that Christians must heed when evaluating assertions that come out of churches like Bethel. Also included are the various “control tactics” that are being used to deceive unsuspecting people. The authors encourage Christians to read the Bible broadly and develop basic skills in hermeneutics.

The book discusses biblically revival and helps readers discern what is authentic and what is synthetic. “In short, revival is measured in terms of obedience and holiness. Anything short of that is a counterfeit,” argue Pivec and Geivett.

The Passion Translation of the Bible is discussed. The authors reveal that it is anything but a translation. “Simmons” (the author) has crafted a Bible that would gladden the heart of a narcissist, while slighting the sovereign exercises of God’s will through us.” Thus this erroneous “translation” should be marked and avoided.

One of the most helpful chapters included a discussion of the dangers of Bethel worship, which smuggles in NAR theology. Bethel worship should also be avoided.

Now is the time for followers of Christ to be discerning. We must pay close attention to our life and doctrine. We must carefully evaluate our music and the books we read. Holly Counterfeit Kingdom is a book for our times; one that should be studied and passed along to unsuspecting people.