Bethel Church Does Damage Control over ‘Grave Sucking’- Fails Miserably

As Bill Johnson and the apologists of Bethel Chruch continue to directly confront controversies in YouTube Web series titled “Rediscover Bethel,” courtesy of in-depth Q&A that addresses some of their beliefs and distinctive, they come to the question of “grave soaking” and whether or not this is a normative practice for the bombastic Bethelites.

In the linked clip the Dean of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, Dann Farrelly, explains that he’s been with Bethel and Johnson for 25 years, and that “we never taught uh this experience that I see described on the web that’s grave sucking. Never taught it, never done it.”

When pressed about the association that JOhnson himself has with grave sucking, he explains:

“I’ve gone to graves. I’ve prayed. But we don’t talk to the dead, we don’t try to get something from the dead…but I’ll kneel, I’ll humble myself before the Lord. I pray that Charles Finney…God we need that kind of an awakening in our nation again. And I will go there and…I suppose some of the rumor comes out of that.”

Farrelly suggests that the fodder for the criticism comes from one of Johnson’s book quotes, where he teaches:

“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 plays it down, explaining the aforementioned sentence and why the church has a museum of artifacts from long-dead charismatic saints: “I believe if we honored the saints of the past, not worshiped, not talked to for sure, but if we honored them, the Lord would give us access to their the grace that they lived in.”

Talk about spin and playing down what was actually said.

At this point the conversation shifts, because there really are videos out there of people from Bethel Church folk laying on graves and talking about receiving the impartation. They explain how they came to be associated with it.

“Sometimes.. the Lord “hits somebody” …but it’s 10% God and 90% the person. But that’s 10% percent more of God than they ever had before. So you’re on this journey of I’ve gotta, with the community, with our feedback with each other, kind of walk these journeys of risk.

So in the School of Ministry, one of our leaders had a profound encounter with the Lord at the grave of a former church leader. So he comes back and gives a testimony about this and because our students are so hungry, I mean it’s like meat to a wolf at some level, like ‘you’re kidding the Lord will meet you at a grave?’

So I remember in that as the Dean watching like ‘whoa what what?’ But I’ve had to learn over time if I try to kill something too early we totally miss the potentially the good things and again, the weird things that come, but when I kill everything too early, our people, our students stop taking risks.”

As a result, many of the students went out and did that very thing- taking theological ‘risks’ that are nowhere mentioned in the bible. They went and laid on graves to soak up the ‘mantle of anointing’. Even Johnson’s own wife on several occasions has been seen lying on graves or hugging them.

Farrelly goes on to explain that “grave sucking is an unfortunate result of a beautiful hunger” and then Johnson steps in and tries to say that even if one of the team members called it ‘grave sucking’, it would have been in jest. Farrelly is adamant that something real did happen to the one student who kicked it all off, explaining that he thought the term ‘grave sucking’ delightful and amusing initially, but then with more scrutiny and criticism, it lost its charm.

“This one team member had real experiences, had a real incredible experience that kind of helped light a fire. But again, once it got once it kind of got traction…the term grave sucking, because I’m a bit snark,y I was actually thought it was delightful early on. I went ‘oh gosh if you’re going to purposely misunderstand that much then ‘well-done sir’ but over time, in the age of the internet and as our footprint got bigger- you know when we’re smaller it’s not as painful you know?- like but but as our footprint gets bigger and then people are like ‘hey…’ and then they perpetuate lies, you’re like ‘oh that that does hurt.’

Said another way, Bethel absolutely practices grave sucking, so long as they can call it “recovering the mantle of anointing, revelations, mysteries and blessings by honoring the dead, through the process of touching their graves or coming into contact with their artifacts.”

Not quite as catchy, but also no less true.

Editor’s Note. This article was written by Pastor Ed Litton and published at


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2 thoughts on “Bethel Church Does Damage Control over ‘Grave Sucking’- Fails Miserably

  1. Nothing could be more obviously anti-biblical. These individuals may as well be performing seances, as they are essentially doing the same thing, and no doubt the Lord would consider it detestable.

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