The Theological Errors of Bethel Church and Jesus Culture

By Tony Wood

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Bethel Students Engaged in Grave Soaking

I am approached often regarding the ministry of Bethel Church in Redding, California (and subsequently, music that outflows through their musicians “Jesus Culture”). For weeks, I’ve prayed about how best to respond, not desiring to present a statement out of context, gossip, assault the true body of Christ, nor give any further attention to a ministry that is frighteningly far from biblical truth. An opportunity presented itself recently when a friend provided me with a Bethel website post “God, Bad, & the Ugly” from Kris Vallotton who is considered, along with Bill Johnson, the chief leader/prophet for the church. Thus, instead of providing thoughts out of context, I will simply provide biblical response to his publicly made statements regarding Bethel’s ministry philosophy.

After reading over his comments, I do not laugh nor mock, but shed tears. It appears that Bethel desperately desires to “mainstream” their church but cannot synthesize Scripture with their ministry. Their words display a desire to be spiritual but it is quite apparent they have no systematic interpretation process for the Scriptures they attempt to use. Thus, not only are the positions false, they are theologically immature. This is sad for the leaders and their families, but much more so, for those that follow such behavior blindly. We cannot call what these men say or do “church”. In it’s best form, it may be considered immature confusion, a youth ministry gone mad. In it’s worse form, it is demonic. And, I pray God enlighten them to truth and call them to repentance. I also recommend that people avoid the church and any platform of media, music or otherwise, that comes from it’s dark center.

Mr Vallotton’s reflections will be found in bold. I’ve noted vital biblical references in blue, and my brief thoughts following. For sake of time, I’ve only highlighted the most evident errors while leaving dozens on the sideline.


“…a small, yet influential coalition of people has shared negative reports about us. These reports often include words such as “controversial,” “unbalanced,” or even the word “cult” to describe us. To be frank, I can understand why certain religious leaders or unbelievers might view us through these perspectives. We certainly have made our share of mistakes, both as a leadership team and those who follow us. And we have such a high value for freedom and risk that it has created a kind-of research and development culture where people are encouraged to take risks. I think this stems from the fact that we view ourselves much more as pioneers than settlers. Therefore, we celebrate creativity, revelation, invention and innovation above comfort, safety and security.” – Vallotton

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