Bill Johnson is the foremost promoter of the fourth wave of Pentecostalism, known as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Strangely, in an interview with Christianity Today, Johnson denied being part of the movement but, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck… When Heaven Invades Earth, although written almost two decades ago, still reflects well the main emphasis of NAR and how it differs from biblical Christianity. That is not to say that the author avoids Scripture – quite the contrary, he infuses scores of biblical references and a few quotes scattered between its covers. But Johnson consistently misuses the majority of these texts through eisegesis, out-of-context interpretation, or by simply ignoring their clear meaning and imposing his own. But of even greater importance is Johnson’s view that he and NAR are receiving revelation outside of, and, superior to the, inspired Scriptures. To Johnson, “the Bible is a closed book.” He writes, “When I treat the Bible as a road map I live as though I can find my way through my own understanding of His book. I believe this perspective of scriptures actually describes living under the law, not living under grace” (p. 93). Johnson’s spin is that the Bible is closed so that we “remain” dependent on the Holy Spirit. “Under Grace I don’t get a road map…I get a tour guide – the Holy Spirit. He directs, reveals and empowers me to be and do what the word says” (v. 93). It is for this reason that we need signs and wonders for “our present understanding of Scripture can only take us so far” (p. 142). What Johnson has done is subtly detach the Word of God from its author. The Bible can lead us up to the Holy Spirit’s front door, but the Spirit takes it from there and leads us further – into real life and power, which can never be found in the Holy Spirit’s ministry limited to Scripture. Of course, such a view of the Bible allows for any activity that Johnson believes is from the Holy Spirit. There exist no biblical guardrails – anything goes. Listed are some examples:
- Cessationism is dealt a death blow (pp. 20-21, 186).
- The “authentic gospel” includes signs and wonders (p. 27).
- Christology is warped because Christ did miracles as a man, not as God (p. 29) and Satan was not defeated by the God/man but by a man (p. 32).
- Most of the world was under the dominion for Satan before the fall of man (p. 30).
- Dominion theology and the Christian have power over hell (pp. 32-33, 72).
- Sickness has no purpose; therefore, followers of Christ should be healthy (p. 45).
- We have power over Satan; he has power only when we allow it by agreeing with him (p. 46).
- We can release heaven’s power (pp. 58-60). As a matter of fact, God will not act unless we pray (p. 54).
- The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for the purpose of giving miraculous power, (pp. 72, 128-129), including raising the dead (pp. 75, 136),
- Anointing, which is apparently a synonym for Holy Spirit baptism, releases the supernatural (pp.79-80, 108, 133).
- God’s supernatural power can be lost if not believed or used (p. 81).
- The office of apostle has been restored (p. 90).
- Christians can take over whole neighborhoods for Christ (p. 107); cities will repent – as promised by God (p. 123); Christians are to usher in the Kingdom (p. 139); and Johnson prophesies that through the present revival one billion souls will be saved (p. 182).
- Christians must preach the gospel to the whole world before Christ can return (p. 185).
- Much of his theology is based on past and present Pentecostal revivals and their “generals” (pp. 58, 72, 101, 103, 119) and his own supernatural experiences (pp. 88, 103, 112-114, 141-142, 161).
- Angels are bored if we don’t practice the supernatural (p. 139). We are given the task of assigning angels (p. 140).
Combining several things on this list, Johnson believes anointed Christians have power over heaven, hell, Satan, angels, sickness, death, and even God. This is surely the primary danger in Johnson’s theology; so eager is he to experience the supernatural, he even dismisses his critics without engaging in their arguments (p. 116). As an example of Johnson’s outlandish claims, I will quote at length from pages 141 and 142.
“On many occasions laughter has filled a room, bringing healing to broken hearts. Gold dust sometimes covers people’s faces, hands, or clothing during worship or ministry time. Oil sometimes appears on the hands of His people; and it especially happens among children. A wind has come into a room with no open windows, doors, vents, etc. At some locations, believers have seen an actual cloud of His presence appearing over the heads of worshiping people. We’ve also had the fragrance of heaven fill a room. In my own experience the fragrance of heaven filled our car while Beni and I were worshiping on a short trip. It lasted for about 30 minutes, and was a smell that I could actually taste, similar to granules of sugar sprinkled on my tongue. I have seen the small gems that suddenly appeared in people’s hands as they worshiped God. Since early in 1998 we have had feathers fall in our meetings. At first I thought birds were getting into our air conditioning ducts. But then they started falling in other rooms of the church not connected with the same ductwork. They now fall most anywhere we go – airports, homes, restaurants, offices, and the like.”
Johnson and his NAR theology is a wrecking ball smashing through much of Christianity. The book exposes, via his own words, the danger of the NAR.
When Heaven Invades Earth, A Practical Guide to A Life of Miracles by Bill Johnson (Shippensburg, PA: Treasure House, 2003), 190 pp, paper $5.99
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/Teacher at Southern View Chapel