As someone who grew up charismatic and has tons of friends and family who still are, I was really excited to listen to this season. While some of the details were a bit eye-opening, nothing really surprise me. I tend to land where the show ended; I’m not convinced that Bill Johnson is evil, but I do think he is wildly misguided. I have personally experienced severe spiritual abuse at the hands of charismatic Christians. It is quite simply, a Petri dish ripe for abuse. While Johnson may not be directly beating the emotional stuffing out of people underneath him, his teachings (and especially those of Danny Silk on “honor culture”) foster a belief system that supports a hierarchy in which abuse can and does take place. I already knew all that going into the podcast; the excellent journalism just verified what I already knew in my observation of friends and in my gut takes on what I’ve heard from both Johnson and his followers or co-leaders. I’m with a few other reviewers; this could be an entire podcast, season after season. But if that can’t happen, there are no shortage of other groups, even if they aren’t as globally influential. Morningstar Ministries (Rock Joyner) comes to mind. In my view, they actually influence Bethel, not the other way around. Or heck, tackle something like #ACNAtoo. Now there’s a rabbit hole. Either way, I loved this season and would encourage anyone who has been involved with Bethel or any other charismatic church or organization to give this a listen. And check out Julie Roys, too, who also investigates and reports on spiritual abusive systems and people. This podcast is but a drop in the bucket, but I’m so glad it exists. Please, keep it up.
PS- I love how positive Tara Jean Stevens is. Even though she’s a critic in the end, I never caught a hateful vibe from her, which is so common when people offer critiques of churches or Christianity. She insisted on seeing positive intent, and I applaud her for that.