When I first heard that Bethel Church in Redding was holding resurrection services for a child who had been dead for several days, I immediately suspected I would find a particular type of Theology attached to it…
But I went ahead and read hundreds and hundreds of comments anyway:
“He will raise this little girl back to life…”
“Her time here is not done, and it is our time to believe boldly and with confidence…”
“I’m currently visualizing Little Olive walking with her sister again. It will happen!”
“You will have TWO children again, [Mother’s Name]! Come alive, Olive! I’m looking forward to seeing the updated picture of your whole family of FOUR!”
Many (many, many) of the comments have been deleted now, since the mother of the deceased child has removed them and closed commenting on all her Instagram photos. But anyone who followed along with the story from the beginning can testify there were hundreds more prophecies exactly like that:
(To clarify with better punctuation, she says: “[I’m] not praying–[I’m] DECLARING–God’s truth over little Olive right now…The grave must give her up because…[Jesus] is in me.”)
Guys, I’m telling you, there were hundreds of comments like this.
Now, if any of you, Readers, are unfamiliar with Christians proclaiming that a dead person is “just sleeping” and the grave “must give her up” and they’re positive “it will happen” IN JESUS’ NAME, then you probably haven’t heard of the Word-of-Faith movement and New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).
For a quick overview about the roots and common teachings, you can watch this 5-minute video:
Of course, not everyone who borrows from the Word-of-Faith or NAR movement swallows all of the tenets wholesale. But many common themes emerged during the Resurrection Services and social media posts meant to bring Olive back to life:
#1. Having faith means not “doubting,” but unflinchingly declaring as-yet-unseen miracles to be true.
#2. Spoken words aren’t just possible, but they will manifest in physical reality. (As long as we do not doubt, beause any type of doubt weakens the “Force of Faith.”)
#3. Faithful Christians must speak boldly and with authority, to claim God’s promises.
#4. God promises physical health, wealth, and wholeness on earth through Jesus’ work on the cross.
The only place I disagree with the above video is when the presenter says, “Countering the Word-Faith Movement is a simple matter of reading the Bible.”
Theoretically, it should be simple. We ought to be able to look at the many false prophecies which have not been manifest this week and apply 1 John 4:1 and Jeremiah 23:16 and Ezekiel 13:9.
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD.”
“My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord God.”
It should be simple to weed out the false diviners.
However, in practice, it’s not simple to penetrate the walls of lies which have been constructed around the teaching of the Word-of-Faith movement and NAR.
Remember, the faithful have been convinced that God requires radical belief–without doubting–regardless of what happens.
Therefore, the more wrong their predictions are shown to be in reality, the more staunchly they cling to them as a “strengthening of faith.” It’s incredible!
Even before Bethel Church officially accepted baby Olive’s death, I was anticipating the way members would double down in defense of the false prophecies rather than repenting for speaking presumptiously and without Authority (Deut. 18:22).
As the days tick by and the dead child stays in her physical grave, I do NOT want sneaky Faith Healers to start changing the subject or using language manipulation and smoke and mirrors to divert attention away… I don’t want to see anyone saying, “Yeah, but look how nice and loving and united the church has been this week!” Or… “Prayer is never a bad thing” or… “there has been an awakening of sorts, so it’s fine.”
No, it’s not fine.
The only thing worse than uttering void, godless words is the practice of continuing to defend those words even after they’ve been proven fruitless.
Unfortunately, I was right to worry about Word-of-Faith proponents doubling down on their wrong-thinking, even after the child wasn’t raised.
Today (and for who knows how long?) the damage continues being done by The Faithful who find ways to justify the whole spectacle, as if it’s not a big deal to repeatedly use Jesus’ Name in vain.
Go ahead and see if you can find one person, anywhere, who is willing to admit they spoke out of turn…
See if you don’t just find comment after comment of doubling-down or sneaky subject-changing.
Count how many times you see dogmatic insistance that there’s some kind of bright side, because “at least” there’s unity and faith and strong belief…regardless of the fact many had been united in strong belief OF A LIE.
I’m not even talking about the usual, “Oh, now isn’t the time to talk about Theology” and “The family needs love and support rather than judgment,” etc. etc.
I’m talking about the people who unflinchingly declared that a toddler would rise from the dead. Yet, even though she remains in her grave, they’re STILL insisting it was God who inspired that message.
These people have declared public allegiance to a god who misleads.
Theirs is a god who values “agreement” and “positive thoughts” even more than He cares about truth.