Finally—it happened. Internet pastor Mike Winger called Bill Johnson a heretic for the crime of having Kenneth Copeland speak at Bethel Church. His eyes were opened that Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton would proudly associate with this blatant heretic whose promise of faith healing could not sustain his own heart from requiring a pacemaker. This endorsement undermines the complete, in tact gospel he once thought they held.
This is the article we should be writing and hope to eventually write one day. It should not be surprising that hyper-charismatic Bethel Church, which monetizes healing and prophecy with new age practices through carnality and a school of ministry, would partner with Kenneth Copeland, who also peddles miracle healings with his own “bible school” while he flies around on a private jet. According to Johnson, “the lord” told him to partner with one of the largest prosperity preachers as a means of monetizing his audience—I mean, fostering a deeper connection. Let’s be honest, it is not about the gospel, but about the money from audience crossover. Bethel is notorious for new age scams, false prophecies, and fake miracles, all while Bill Johnson articulates his false NAR theology. For Winger, he will actually label Copeland as a heretic, so maybe this will open his eyes regarding Bill Johnson.
While we do not contend that association automatically equates to heresy, there are glaring red flags that cannot be ignored and, for the laity, name-association is a simplistic means of understanding which teachers to avoid versus those permissible to follow. Certain heretics are low hanging fruit, where even the Babylon Bee will lampoon them as false teachers. The average believer in a genuine church likely knows the name Joel Osteen and associates him with the prosperity gospel. They might also know TD Jakes, the aptly named Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, and even Kenneth Copeland. The false teachers with private jets represent a motif for low hanging fruit.
However, it cannot be assumed that those in the pews know everything wrong with Tim Keller, William Lane Craig, or Bill Johnson. Sadly, many churches currently perform songs by the Hillsong, Bethel, and Elevation despite the flagrant theological issues surrounding each church. Under the Horseshoe Theory of Practical Intelligence, those of little knowledge can come to the same conclusion as “Discernment Ministries” without all the in-depth research simply through identification of association between a teacher and a low hanging heretic. Ideally, it is the end goal of “Discernment Ministries” that those more subtle heretics eventually become low hanging fruit.
It should be treated as a red flag that Priscilla Shirer “preached” a prosperity sermon at Lakewood Church, the home of Joel Osteen, in addition to all her other teachings. For many, David Jeremiah’s presence on TBN to sell his materials is enough to avoid even if the fake doctor does not himself promote the TBN doctrines. Others do not need an intricate history of Sean Feucht to know that his Bethel affiliations unilaterally make him untrustworthy. Dallas Jenkin’s statements on Mormonism and his servile relationship with Angel Studios should be enough to mark and avoid The Chosen—if only.
We should hope the largest “Christian” YouTubers like Mike Winger, Allen Parr, and Ruslan KD come around to the light in realizing their blindness to the most obvious of heretics. Unfortunately, they did not grow their platforms by speaking harsh truths, but by being nice—just as the carnal ears of this world prefer the tickling of prosperity teachers over sound biblical hermeneutics.