Counter-cult Research

Alert: New Video by Pastor Christopher Lawson on the Observations of Calvary Chapel

CALVARY CHAPEL ALERT – THE RISING STORM and A CLARION CALL for HUMILITY, TRUTH and REPENTANCE: Observations for Calvary Chapel Leaders to Consider

Please watch this very loving and truthful video on the Calvary Chapel movement.

“…Mark those who cause divisions contrary to the doctrine you have received.  Keep away from them.” Romans 16:17

The Misunderstood Gift of Discernment

The following was photographed from the Free Believers Network.  It is perhaps the best description of the spiritual gift of discernment I have seen so far.  I asked the author if I could use this and obtained his permission.

Beni Johnson posts another photo of herself on Instagram in cemetery!


I am so thankful that a reader of Bethel Sozo Research sent in a photo of Beni Johnson’s Instagram page from about a week ago.  Thank you!

I have seen a similar photo before on Beni’s Twitter page.  She is posting these photos of herself in cemeteries hugging or somehow embracing the gravestones of dead people.  I wrote about that previously and posted a photo of her hugging a gravestone.  They want to get some sort of power or insight from the dead corpse.  There is nothing biblical about this!  This is creepy!

What do you think of this?  Would God command someone to go hug a gravestone containing a dead body to get some sort of spiritual benefit?  The spirit of the person is gone (2 Cor. 5:8).  In the Bible they hide behind, there are Scriptures concerning necromancy (communication/consulting with the dead is forbidden in the Scriptures.  God didn’t like it then, and He doesn’t like it now because He is the same God today.  See Luke 24:5, Hebrews 13:8 and Deuteronomy 18:10).

Would the Holy Spirit really want someone to get some sort of “anointing” from a dead person?  Is it even possible to get an anointing from someone who is dead?  What benefit is there in hanging around dead people?  There is nothing good or holy to be gained from the cemetery!  This is a cult.

This is very sad that people are buying into this.  This practice was not done by Jesus nor the disciples.  None of the earlier Christians throughout the centuries did this.  Still, they erroneously claim to be Christian.

Protected: Protect our children and God’s people: Warning! False advertising about accreditation at Calvary Chapel Green Valley Christian School in Henderson, Nevada and a helpful article on spiritual abuse written by Dr. Darrell Puls…

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What on earth is a ‘fire tunnel’? Did the earlier Christians practice ‘fire tunnels’? Does the Bible teach us to run through ‘fire tunnels’?

Been meaning to post this for days!  This is an open question for your consideration and commenting:

What on earth is a “fire tunnel”?

Seeing as how the word “fire” has come up several times in last few days, and that it is scorching hot where I am right now (think…sauna; no… furnace), I wanted to post this question.

I was once told (by a seemingly sincere Christian) that I “must” go to a Bill Johnson conference, and if given the opportunity to run through a “fire tunnel”, I “must” do it.  My response was, “Sure, of course I will run through a fire tunnel”!  This answer was not based on knowledge but a lack of knowledge (ignorance of truth).

There are many references to “fire” in scripture.  However, there are zero references to “fire tunnels”.

What is your take on a “fire tunnel”?

Warning Signs by Rick Ross

Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader:

  • Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
  • No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
  • No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
  • Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
  • There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always are wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
  • Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
  • There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
  • Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
  • The group/leader is always right.
  • The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible/

Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader:

  • Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
  • Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower’s mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused–as that person’s involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
  • Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned, it is characterized as “persecution”.
  • Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
  • Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought.
  • A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
  • Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
  • A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
  • Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
  • Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.  Former followers are at best – considered negative, or worse – evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.

Signs of a safe group/leader:

  • A safe group/leader will answer your questions without becoming judgmental and punitive.
  • A safe group/leader will disclose information such as finances and often offer an independently audited financial statement regarding budget and expenses.
  • Safe groups and leaders will tell you more than you want to know.
  • A safe group/leader is often democratic, sharing decision making and encouraging accountability and oversight.
  • A safe group/leader may have disgruntled former followers, but will not vilify, excommunicate and forbid others from associating with them.
  • A safe group/leader will not have a paper trail of overwhelmingly negative records, books, articles and statements about them.
  • A safe group/leader will encourage family communication, community interaction and existing friendships and not feel threatened.
  • A safe group/leader will recognize reasonable boundaries and limitations when dealing with others.
  • A safe group/leader will encourage critical thinking, individual autonomy and feelings of self-esteem.
  • A safe group/leader will admit failings and mistakes and accept constructive criticism and advice.
  • A safe group/leader will not be the only source of knowledge and learning excluding everyone else, but value dialogue and the free exchange of ideas.

Don’t be naïve, develop a good BS Detector.

You can protect yourself from unsafe groups and leaders by developing a good BS detector. Check things out, know the facts and examine the evidence. A safe group will be patient with your decision making process. If a group or leader grows angry and anxious just because you want to make an informed and careful decision before joining; beware.

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Cor. 11:13-15)
Source: Rick Ross, Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist.  Warning Signs.  Cult Education Institute.  Copyright 1999-2014.  Trenton, NJ.  Used with written permission.  Originally accessed October 15, 2012.  This list was originally retrieved from and can now be viewed at

Public Facebook page owner Mark Brown and Christi Armstrong teachings on divorce and marriage (Jesus Christ, The Bible, Global Scope Ministries): False or true? ‘Emotional Abuse’ grounds for divorce?

In my opinion, fellow Christians need to be very alert with certain public teachers’ teachings and how they claim their teachings are “Biblical” and from Jesus Himself.  This ministry has no ill-will toward these teachers, but encourages caution (and extreme discernment and careful analysis) in accepting all their teachings as Biblical.  
“Therefore what God has joined together, let man NOT separate.” Mark 10:9

Be very discerning with any pages run by “Global Scope Ministries” or by “Rev. Mark Brown“.  Mark Brown is married to writer Christi Brown (previously “Christi Armstrong” before her and Mark’s divorce).  He has several teachings that are allegedly for God, Jesus, prayers and so on. We must test everything to the Word of God alone.  Sometimes, according to the Bible, teachings can be “fine-sounding speeches”, that is, persuasive, or enticing words (Colossians 2:4) that would preach to “itching ears” unsound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3), as well as “secretly introduced destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1). Anything that is contrary to Christ’s teaching is a false teaching.

He has also taught on YouTube, visible to the public, as well.  According to some research, this ministry believes these are a few of his pages.​obalScopeMinistries​​ayingPeople​achingsofJesus​nofFaith.Page​bleJourney​urneyDeeperIn2GodsWord​re.of.God

Calvary Chapel Green Valley Henderson, Nevada…a safe church or a spiritually abusive group?

Calvary Chapel a cult, Pastor John Knapp, Calvary Chapel Las Vegas, Henderson

The following is from someone who suffered from severe emotional, verbal and spiritual abuse from this church’s leadership (permission to share):

“In my twenties, I was severely emotionally and verbally abused by a pastor at the church (I will keep his name private), in two meetings he called me to, which resulted in very severe PTSD which lasted a long time.  My trauma included severe trauma which included nightmares, flashbacks, intrusive memories, an exaggerated startle response, etc.  The things he said to me were the most untrue, wicked and ugly things I have ever heard anyone speak in my life, and I never expected this from him since he seemed so nice when preaching.  I thought for sure God hated me, I felt so condemned.  I started to view God as punitive and angry.  I felt hopeless because of the leaders’ treatment.  I could not reconcile the concept of the loving God with the behavior of these leaders.  It was a severe emotional beating, which Jesus warned about in Luke 12:45,46.  He used a lot of gaslighting in the meeting, which is also a psychological tactic for abuse.  He told me sternly as he leaned over his desk and stared into my eyes as I was weeping that God says discipline is painful.  I know what healthy ‘church discipline’ is and is not.  I know the difference between loving, godly discipline/correction and abuse.  My only ‘sin’ was that I had visited another Christian church down the street for Bible study and read a book by a Christian author which was not on their “approved list” (they called me ‘divisive’ for doing this).  I had also questioned another leader about a harmful practice/teaching I saw (also, I noticed a few lies at the church).  After this stern shaming, I was warned in writing to never step foot on property again.  I have heard the same happen to others in Calvary Chapels; it’s the same pattern of abuse.  These leaders also use the psychological tactic of the silent treatment, which is a documented form of abuse and shunning.  This church is hyper-authoritarian, the teachers twist scriptures and misuse their ‘power’.  This is spiritual abuse.  They believe they are ‘above’ being confronted for their own sins and abuse.  They look down on others who are ‘vertically below’ them (yes, this is the exact wording they use repetitively when speaking of members).  They set themselves on pedestals.  Sure, all looks fine on Sundays and to the public view.  This is neither a false accusation nor slander…it happened to me and bad things happened to many.  This is the unpleasant truth, but it needs to be said.  Please don’t take these church leaders at face value.  I have left the church and have prayed for them.  This is not a loving church that reflects Christ…especially, behind the curtain. Research narcissism and spiritual abuse in the pulpit.  There are some great books on the topic, including one by Dr. Darrell Puls.  Today, I am a survivor of church abuse and I am still strong with my faith in God.  I have found that God has absolutely nothing to do with spiritual abuse or prideful, abusive leaders.” – Anonymous

The written content of this post is now password protected as well as the previous article entitled, “Protect our children and God’s people: Warning! False advertising about accreditation at Calvary Chapel Green Valley Christian School in Henderson, Nevada and a helpful article on spiritual abuse written by Dr. Darrell Puls”.

Please make contact if you would like to read about the peculiar teachings of this unsafe group in the password protected post.  We have quite a bit of information on file, eye-witnesses, etc.  Please also consider leaving an anonymous comment on this post so that others can be warned.  Here are some of the personal testimonies of those who left, written by a group of several individuals (more than a dozen, if I recall correctly).  These were public photos of a public debate, and this is a public concern.

I strongly encourage you to research spiritual abuse and the helpful articles on this site pertaining to Calvary Chapel and spiritual abuse (please see the drop down menu on the right side of the page).  There have also been many negative Yelp reviews removed.  Please see the helpful comments at the end of this post, and please look up Rick Ross’s “Warning Signs” list for unsafe groups.

Please note that none of the following testimonies were written by this ministry, and please also note that there are many more testimonies not shown here.

Author Bio’s

Jordan L., Founder, Contributor

I am a researcher, writer and Christian theologian with a graduate certificate in Christian Apologetics from the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University (California).  I am board certified with IBCC (International Board of Christian Care).  I am a member in good standing with the American Association of Christian Counselors and a charter member of the International Christian Coaching Association.

Brief Writing History:

  • A book on healing from spiritual abuse (in process)
  • A book exposing a religious psychotherapy cult
  • Blogger for The Christian Post (2012-2019)
  • “Sozo Research” (2011-2018; Pen name; A website that exposed the Sozo cult, which was imported into this website)
  • An apologetics website (2012-2018; Pen name)
  • “Joyful Victory” online publication (2012-2018; Pen name)
  • Co-Author and Sponsor of There’s Only One Sure Thing; A booklet edition for The Pocket Testament League (2010; One edition; Sold out)
  • Independent Journalist for “The Examiner” News; Christian Living Section (Denver, Colorado; 2009 – 2016)

Pastor Jason, Contributor

Jason is a Christian pastor who is passionate about reminding others of the grace, mercy and truth of Jesus.  Jason leads several ministries in his community in Arizona.  He is the co-author of a small, published book on Christian discernment.  In his free time, he enjoys biking, spending time outdoors, and writing.

Cameron C., Contributor

Cameron is a Christian writer and counter-cult activist.  Passionate about journalism and in-depth theological research, Cameron’s aim is to share Christ’s message. Cam also exposes the errors and dangers of the Sozo cult from Bethel Church in Redding, California, the Calvary Chapel deception and more.  Cam is a dog-mom and enjoys spending time outdoors, skiing and of course, doing theological research of peculiar, modern religious movements.

Thanks for reading!  Please note that each individual author’s views do not necessarily reflect the other authors’ views.  Each writer keeps the rights to his or her work.  Thanks so much for visiting this site.  If anything blesses you here, it’s from God’s good hand.   ~ Jordan 
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