For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2 Tim 4:3)
Sixty thousand people are expected at The Send stadium event, scheduled for February 23, 2019. According to the organization’s website, it is “A NEW ERA.” We may indeed be entering a new era, but not necessarily one of increased evangelism or missions, which is the purported goal of The Send.
Something is very different in the visible church these days. According to a recent PEW survey, many Christians now accept concepts associated with the new age, such as “belief in reincarnation, astrology, psychics and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like mountains or trees.”
One of the speakers scheduled for The Send is Ben Fitzgerald, now a Bethel Redding pastor. Bethel Redding leader Bill Johnson will be speaking as well. Readers may recall that Fitzgerald was one of the Bethel Redding people who tried to absorb or soak up the “anointing” from the bones of the controversial evangelist, Smith Wigglesworth.
Most grave soakings involve touching or lying on the grave of a deceased saint. Whether Fitzgerald and his group did this is unclear. The video shows Fitzgerald and others at Smith Wiggleworth’s grave where Fitzgerald, in the role of spiritual middleman, tries to transfer the “impartation” into those viewing the video. He states:
And God can release this same impartation to you. (1:23 in video)
We release the anointing of God that’s in this place … we release right now the anointing. (2:15)
Thank you Father that what was on Smith Wigglesworth’s life, let it come on us. (2:52)
Later in the video, there is a similar effort at Moriah Chapel in Wales, where evangelist Evan Roberts is buried. (3:08)
Fitzgerald has recently “responded to commentary about ‘grave sucking’, suggesting that he had acted unwisely but that he was not attempting to draw out the spiritual powers of dead saints. Instead, he visited the tombs for inspiration and prayer (to God, not to these dead saints).” 
That is not entirely accurate. The video makes it clear he was attempting to summon and transfer the “spiritual powers of dead saints,” as writer Murray Campbell puts it.  Why? Why would Fitzgerald believe he could do this?
Bethel Redding’s Bill Johnson has belatedly stated his church does not teach or accept grave soaking. Here, however, is Johnson’s statement about anointing and mantles in the book, The Physics of Heaven:
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.  (emphasis added)
And here is a screenshot of Beni Johnson, Bill Johnson’s wife, lying on the grave of C.S. Lewis. Note that one comment states, “Grab some for me.” This would seem to indicate that grave soaking is familiar to Bethel Redding people.
In an interview with Michael Brown, Bill Johnson rejected the idea of seeking impartation of anointing from the dead. Then, a little later, he said this:
We’re actually building a library museum with various artifacts from past revivals. Not to go backwards but to just try to give honor. I really felt that the Lord put it on my heart several years ago that if we honor the moves of God in the past, he would release those same anointings again. [5 ]
What is this supposed to mean? When the museum library is built, are we going to hear about people who pray over artifacts for impartation of a dead saint’s alleged anointing?
According to Bill Johnson’s own website:
The Lord has made it very clear to us that a practical way we can do this is through what we have called The House of Generals. It is both a library and museum containing a collection of historical literature and artifacts from past revivals and revivalists. I have no desire to move backwards. But God has let us know that if we will honor those who walked faithfully before us then He will give us access to their anointings.  (emphasis added)
This is not the first time Bethel Redding people have misinterpreted the Word of God to justify an unbiblical practice. (2 Kings 13:21, 2 Kings 2:14) There is much more to this grave soaking saga, so for those interested there are links to well researched articles at the end of this post.
As the PEW survey showed, New Age concepts are already in the church. The Send, where Bill Johnson and Ben Fitzgerald are slated to speak, represents a false spiritual movement, one that is rapidly coalescing.
With Bethel Redding leading the way, biblical terms such as “anointing” and “mantle” have been hijacked, and seem to have taken on a meaning that is more akin to the spiritual energy of the New Age. Bethel Redding undeniably has a real propensity for aspects of the New Age. (Read)
In Dreaming with God, Bill Johnson writes:
Many prominent pastors and conference speakers add fuel to the fire of fear by assuming that because the New Age promotes it, its origins must be from the devil. I find that form of reasoning weak at best. If we follow that line of thought we will continue to give the devil the tools that God has given us for success in life and ministry. (emphasis added)
So…there are New Age tools given to us by God? That can only be called delusional.
As previously noted in Part 1 of this series, The Send speaker/artist list is dominated by: New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) advocates; contemplative prayer practitioners; and those who push for Protestant/Catholic spiritual unity.
In Part 3 we will examine Mike Bickle and the Catholic contemplative conundrum.
End Part 2
- Pew Research Center Survey
- Update on questions relating to Bethel and Bill Johnson
- The Physics of Heaven by Ellyn Davis and Judy Franklin, Bill Johnson’s Chapter: Recovering Our Spiritual Inheritance
- Interview with Bill Johnson (18:01)
- Bill Johnson, Dreaming With God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World Through God’s Creative Flow (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2006), p. 86.
More on grave soaking: