The Fruits of Experience: Todd Bentley, Bill Johnson and William Branham’s mantle

By Cheryl Schatz

Can a false prophet have God’s anointing and a real impact on Christians? The website dedicated to keeping William Branham’s influence alive states this:

Although Branham's controversial revelation that claimed him to be the end-times "Elijah" prophet of the Laodicean church age was misguided and bizarre, and he became the center of a personality cult, the majority of his years of ministry were tremendous in their anointing and impact. (branham.org)

Was Branham’s ministry “tremendous” and did he have God’s “anointing”? The foundation of Branham’s ministry was not God’s word but his own “experience” manifested as “bizarre” and “misguided”. However, what is the real and lasting fruit that remains from his ministry? This article will examine two participants of Branham’s anointing and its influence on their lives. Todd Bentley is a former drug addict and sexual offender, now a tattooed revivalist who claims that he met the Holy Spirit in person, shortly after he came to Christ in a Catholic church. Bill Johnson is a former Assembly of God pastor who took his congregation out of the AOG and into signs and wonders.

1. Actively seeking of signs and manifestations

In his book The Journey into the Miraculous, Todd Bentley wrote that he asked for a sign from the Holy Spirit that his babbling was really speaking in tongues. Bentley saw Heaven opened, and a dove materialized and flew across the lake. What was Bentley’s response? Did he fall on his face and worship God because he just saw a materialization of the Holy Spirit, if indeed that is what he saw? Bentley just said, “OK, that works.” Bentley craved yet more manifestations, so he asked the Holy Spirit to come into his bedroom to make Himself known to him just like Benny Hinn and Kathryn Kuhlman experienced, so that he could feel the “electricity”. Bentley focused on those who went before him, including Branham. He writes that the Holy Spirit came into his room, and he started shaking so bad he could not get out of bed. His roommate saw him shaking and questioned why the Holy Spirit would do that. He warned Bentley, “This is a demon possessing you. You can’t even do what you want to do. That’s not the Lord.” Just like William Branham was warned that his odd experiences were of the enemy, Todd Bentley was also warned that the experiences he was having were not of God, but of the devil. Bentley refused to listen to his friend’s warning because he liked the “feeling” he got. He looked forward to coming home every day to experience the shaking and the emotional high.

The Bible tells us to test all things and to hold fast to what is good. God does not give uncontrollable shaking. Rather, the fruit of the Spirit includes self-control. Also we are not to put God to the test. Our Christian walk is by faith, not by sight. Jesus said it is an evil and adulterous generation that craves for a sign (Matt 12:39). Secondly, the Bible tells us that the manifestations of the Spirit (His gifts) are for the common good and not meant for one’s own use. The manifestation of the Spirit is for the edification of the church, not for the purpose of receiving a personal “buzz.” 1 Cor 14:3, 12, 26, 31 all speak about the common edification of the church. Nowhere does Scripture talk about a manifestation of the Spirit as a shaking, for a shaking man without self-control does not bring edification to the church.

2. Seeking the dead and Grave Sucking

Todd Bentley was hungry for even more spiritual manifestations, so he would go to the dead to get their anointing. People who are in the manifestation movement are taught to go to the grave of someone they believe was anointed and claim the dormant anointing from the grave. They will lie on the grave and “soak” up the spiritual “power”. This is called grave sucking or grave soaking. It is supposed to be a fast track to spiritual power, and Bentley was open to doing anything he could to get spiritual power. It is interesting to note that even while Bentley said he was experiencing the Holy Spirit manifesting to him in his bedroom, he admits that he was possessed by multiple demons. He had to go through an exorcism after the demons empowered him and manifested one evening.

Bill Johnson also promotes grave sucking in his church and to his ministry school. He teaches his students to claim an anointing from the dead. In The Physics of Heaven, he writes:

“There are anointings, mantles, revelations and mysteries that have lain unclaimed, literally where they were left because the generation that walked in them never passed them on. I believe it’s possible for us to recover realms of anointing, realms of insight, realms of God that have been untended for decades simply by choosing to reclaim them and perpetuate them for future generations.”

Johnson’s wife Beni, co-pastor of Bethel church, practices grave sucking. She released a photo of herself lying down on the grave of a dead Christian leader soaking up his anointing. But what does the Bible say about getting spiritual things from the dead?

Beni Johnson grave sucking on mmoutreach.org


Isaiah 8:19 When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Should Christians be going to the dead to get an anointing that was left over at their death? God said that we receive spiritual things from Him. For those who refuse to accept what God has spoken on this matter, God has declared there is no light in them. 

Isaiah 8:20 (NKJV) To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Bill Johnson and his Senior Associate Pastor at Bethel, Kris Vallotton, are seeking the mantle of William Branham, not just for themselves, but for transferring the mantle and the anointing of Branham to the corporate body of Christ.

3. Reliance on angels

Todd Bentley has his own personal angel who gives him spiritual power, just like William Branham had. Bentley recounts how he became aware that his angel was the same one that used to belong to Branham.

In December of 2000, Bentley attended a prophetic conference, where he and other “prophets” spiritually re-dug the ancient well of the healing ministry of William Branham. At that same meeting, Bentley met the angel that had been with Branham. Branham’s healing angel was brought to the conference from the Healing Rooms Ministries in Portland. Bentley said that the presence of the angel knocked him out of his body, and he received the same “discernment” gift that Branham had. He was able to know what sicknesses people had. 

Bentley states in his book The Journey into the Miraculous that Jesus told him that the angel that was given to Bentley was the angel from John 5 that stirred the water at the pool of Bethesda, and that the angel will follow him wherever he goes. Then this “Jesus” instructed him to go to the grave of John Knox because Knox was the first one to whom the angel was assigned. The second person the angel became attached to was William Branham. Bentley says God now told him that he must get the people to believe in the angel. It was just like Branham's direction from God to instruct the people to believe in Branham as God’s prophet. Healing depended on the belief in someone other than God. Bentley comments, “Before you get into unbelief about my angel and say, “There’s too much emphasis on this angel stuff,” you need to understand that the angels are the ones who do the work of the ministry.”

Really? Where does the Bible ever say that angels are the ones who do the work of ministry? It doesn’t say that because that isn't their place. Instead, the Bible teaches that God equips people to do the work of ministry.

Ephesians 4:11-12 (Lexham English Bible)
11 And he himself gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ,


Why is it so important for people to believe in Bentley’s angel? He explains:

“You know I told the Lord, “Why can’t I just move in healing and forget talking about all that other stuff?” He said, “because you got to get the people to believe in the angel.” I said “Why do I want people to believe in the angel? Isn’t it about getting the people to believe in Jesus?” He said, “The people already believe in Jesus, but the church doesn’t believe in the supernatural.” 

Bentley not only instructs people to believe in his angel, but he also leads Christians in his meetings to call down the angels from heaven. He believes angel spirits are transferable and that Christians have authority to command angels to do their bidding. But Scripture warns us about being cheated by false visions and the worship of angels.Colossians 2:18 (ISV) Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels cheat you out of the prize by rejoicing about what he has seen. Such a person is puffed up for no reason by his carnal mind.

We are given a command not to allow anyone to cheat us out of our reward. It is our responsibility to test all things and not to allow anyone to distort the truth of the gospel.

How would someone cheat us according to Col 2:18? The deception is through a false humility, the worship of angels, false visions and false spiritual experiences that are intended to convince us that a false teacher has spiritual knowledge. But his spiritual claims are not from God but from his carnal (unregenerated) mind. In other words, he made it all up. It is interesting to note that both Bill Johnson and William Branham are said to be “humble” people. However, their heretical doctrines prove that what looks like humility, is not genuine.

The next things we are warned about is the worship of angels. Todd Bentley tells people to speak to the angels and call them down from heaven. This is prayer, and it gives the “spirits” attributes as gods. Prayer is never to go to angels. Prayer is an act of worship that does not belong to angels, evil spirits, or men. In the very next verse, Paul reveals that these false teachers are not holding to the head which is Christ.

Colossians 2:19 (ISV) He does not hold on to the head, from whom the whole body, which is nourished and held together by its joints and ligaments, grows as God enables it.

This is a serious warning. Those who are looking for manifestations and signs and wonders, or looking to angels to give spiritual power, have moved away from Jesus Christ. They are following leaders whose message is tainted with earthly wisdom rather than the knowledge of our Savior. These false teachers focus on new revelations not found in the Bible, and they teach that one’s best life is just ahead, within your grasp, here on this earth. They do not communicate about Jesus Christ, the gospel, or submission to the whole counsel of God. Instead, they teach a feel good message. False teachers like Todd Bentley focus on receiving all kinds of anointings, decreeing things into existence, and practicing silence to experience the “Presence” of God. These are elementary principles of the world, and they are not according to God.

4. Heretical teachings

This article will only expose Bill Johnson's false teaching on Jesus. I will post another more in-depth article on the heretical teachings of Bill Johnson. Just as William Branham produced heretical teachings on Jesus after having put faith in his “healing angel”, so too Bill Johnson and Todd Bentley have produced heretical teachings on Jesus and on the gospel through following the ways of Branham and others. Bill Johnson teaches that Jesus was only a man on the earth without any power to do miracles. He also denies that Jesus raised Himself from the dead. He teaches that Jesus “became” sin on the cross and needed to be born again after his death. Johnson also teaches that Jesus did not become the Christ until he was baptized. For those who follow a man or angel who deny the full deity of Jesus in the flesh and in His death, the words of Gal 1:8 are very strong—”But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”

Jesus never stopped being God even when he took on humanity. And when He died as a man, He never stopping being God. He raised His human body from the dead (John 2:19-21) and was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:4). Paul gives a warning in Col 2:8: See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

Again, Paul warns us not to be deceived. We are to test everything by the Word of God. 

5. Elementary Principles of the world

Bentley boasts that he uses speaking in tongues to “empty himself” to receive “revelation” and “get into the mind of Christ.” This kind of meditation, also called spiritual soaking, is Eastern meditation, an elementary principle found in the world.

Bentley professes to know that angels can create portals for transferring humans from earth to heaven. He received a “revelatory experience” that the two angels transferred to him from the “prophet” Bob Jones were the two angels who appeared to Mary at the tomb of Jesus after the resurrection. Bentley asserts that when the angels were given to him to remain with him for his entire ministry, he shook and fell to the floor. (Bob Jones is the disgraced “prophet” who was removed from ministry because he used his “prophetic authority” to touch and fondle women.) Apparently, the angels didn’t care about Jones’ immorality or Bentley’s adulterous affair with his children’s nanny. Bentley’s claim of possessing the very angels assigned to announce the resurrection is meant to impress people. People are to recognize him as an end time prophet, chosen by Jesus Christ Himself! Just as Branham had fortune tellers recognize the spirit that was with him, so Bentley states that even warlocks recognize the spirit with him. This is not God’s spirit but an unholy spirit.

Bentley professes to know that angels can create portals for transferring humans from earth to heaven. He received a “revelatory experience” that the two angels transferred to him from the “prophet” Bob Jones were the two angels who appeared to Mary at the tomb of Jesus after the resurrection. Bentley asserts that when the angels were given to him to remain with him for his entire ministry, he shook and fell to the floor. (Bob Jones is the disgraced “prophet” who was removed from ministry because he used his “prophetic authority” to touch and fondle women.) Apparently, the angels didn’t care about Jones’ immorality or Bentley’s adulterous affair with his children’s nanny. Bentley’s claim of possessing the very angels assigned to announce the resurrection is meant to impress people. People are to recognize him as an end time prophet, chosen by Jesus Christ Himself! Just as Branham had fortune tellers recognize the spirit that was with him, so Bentley states that even warlocks recognize the spirit with him. This is not God’s spirit but an unholy spirit.

Bill Johnson’s new age leanings show up with the help of Judy Franklin, his administrative assistant. Her co-authored book The Physics of Heaven has shocked pastors who have supported Johnson until now. The Physics of Heaven is sold in Bethel church’s web store. The book shows the mystical direction of Bethel church. The book’s blurb says it is about, “Exploring the mysteries of God in sound, light, vibrations, frequencies, energy, and quantum physics.” Chapter titles include Vibrating in Harmony With God (a chapter written by Bob Jones), Good Vibrations, Quantum Mysticism and The God Vibration. Some of the subheadings include Dolphins and Healing Energy, The Power of Color, Human Body Frequencies, and Sensing Magnetic Fields. Beni Johnson contributed a chapter, and she uses a 528 HZ tuning fork as a prophetic act!

Do not let yourself be misled by those who follow William Branham.

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