There has been some recent concern about the ministry of Christalignment and their supposed use of “Christian tarot cards” in ministering to people at New Age festivals. While the leaders of this ministry (Ken and Jenny Hodge) are connected with several members of our community (including being the parents to our much-loved brother, evangelist Ben Fitzgerald), Christalignment is not formally affiliated with Bethel. We do, however, have a value for what they are seeking to accomplish.
When all of this came to our attention, we reached out to the Hodges to make sure we understood what they were doing and how they were trying to accomplish it. We’ve included a letter from them about their way of inviting people to encounter God in the context of festivals (see below). Of course, as we rightly assumed, they are not using “Christian tarot cards,” nor telling the future with cards. They stand in agreement with the Scriptures that all occult practices (like tarot cards) have no place in the kingdom and should not be used.
We understand that the cards have the look of something that Christians don’t value and find dangerous, namely tarot cards. There are times when the way a message is presented is so off-putting that it actually drowns out the intended message. At those times, it is appropriate to speak up and ask questions, and perhaps that is what people are attempting to do. It is our hope that people would direct these questions to the Hodges themselves.
Reaching people where they are with the truth and love of God is our job as believers. Many people will not come to our churches, yet they are in great need of a personal encounter with Jesus. The Hodges feel called to share the Gospel with a people group that most of us would feel unsure of how to approach. We value their efforts to minister to unbelievers in the ways they can more easily receive it and in the places they are going, like New Age festivals.
The Hodges are attempting to contextualize the Gospel and bring people to the realization that God is looking for them and loves them no matter where they are – just like the apostle Paul often did. In Acts 17:22-34, Paul spoke to a group of religious people who didn’t yet know God and lived in a city full of altars, idols, and various religions. In that moment, Paul referred to a single altar in their city that had an inscription to the “unknown god,” and he used this familiar object (something they understood and valued) as a starting point to connect them with the God of all creation. He wasn’t worried that they would get a wrong idea (like that God is merely one of many gods or that idols are appropriate) because he would soon be introducing them to the true God.
The Hodge’s ministry is a form of outreach meant to share Jesus with those who have never met Him, or think they hate Him, or worse, that God hates them. This practice is not what the Hodges do in church, in their devotional lives and Bible study, when making major life decisions, or when discipling people. It is not taught as the next great way of maturity, a secret new thing for young Christians, or an easy syncretism. This ministry is a way of getting people to stop and engage with fellow humans so that they might encounter the love of the Father and the truth of His Son Jesus Christ. If one of our sons or daughters was away from the Lord and looking for truth at a festival, we would be praying for them to meet believers like the Hodges who know the love and truth of God.
All denominations, particular churches, and individual believers have different levels of comfort with a variety of practices – especially in the ways that we evangelize. Attacking and alternately defending each individual practice is exhausting and tedious. One only has to look at church history to realize that very little fruit comes from constantly being suspicious of each other and reactively dividing from one another, devoid of all the nuance of context, life with God, trust, and love for one another.
At times, some of the efforts of a particular ministry may not be wise risks or best practices, and may need to be addressed. If someone is doing something a fellow believer is concerned about, that believer should go to them directly and privately share their concerns, seeing if they can build mutual trust and value for one another. Perhaps, an explanation will bring understanding, or they can adjust to protect their connection in Christ. But even if they must ultimately disagree about the validity of the belief or practice, they have built a bridge for ongoing dialogue and possible change. One might end up saying, “I don’t appreciate the way they are doing such and such and think there are dangers, but I value their priorities and look with generous eyes to see what they are trying to accomplish.”
In general, it is not our desire to respond to every story where someone claims something about our ministry and links us to something we are unaware of. Paul said it well in 2 Corinthians 4:5, ”For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord: and ourselves your servant for Jesus’ sake.” It is not our desire to have people who are followers of Bethel, but rather to be followers of Christ and be servants of one another for the honor of Jesus. The Hodges are serving those at new age festivals; all of us should focus on the assignment the Lord has for us to preach and live the Gospel, make disciples of nations, and build the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Founded in 1954 and previously a part of the Assemblies of God, Bethel Church is a non-denominational church in Redding, California with a congregation of almost 10,000 people (including members, regular attendees, students, and children) in a city of approximately 91,000. To learn more about Bethel, we invite you to read our statement of faith and core values, discover our weekend service times, and listen to recent messages.
July 15, 2022
On Wednesday, July 13, 2022, Beni Johnson, beloved wife and Co-Senior Leader to Bill Johnson, passed away surrounded by family and friends after a prolonged battle with cancer.
October 31, 2021
On Sunday, October 31, 2021, Bethel Church, Redding announced some exciting updates to its leadership structure.
October 20, 2021
Bethel Church officially broke ground on its future campus on Collyer Drive in Redding, California.