Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Part II

Part I of this article discusses the various Kenosis theories and provides good background information, if rather technical, for part II which will focus on other Christological errors potentially influencing kenosis or derived from kenosis doctrines, the importance of adhering to the tenets of ecumenical creeds in upholding orthodox Christology, and how all these things relate to the doctrine of Bill Johnson.

Other Christological Errors Potentially Related to Kenosis

Gregg R. Allison, in his Historical Theology, cites both Friedrich Schleiermacher and Albert Schweitzer (Schweitzer was apparently one of Schleiermacher’s followers,71 along with Thomasius72) as revisionists with respect to the historical Jesus Christ of the Incarnation,73 humanizing Him at the expense of His deity.74  It seems possible that Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel and other progressive liberals from the 18th and 19th centuries75 may have paved the way for the proponents of the various kenosis theories and their adherents starting around the mid 19th century and continuing to today.76

New Ager/occultist Alice A. Bailey, who furthered the work begun by the 19th century Theosophy of Helena P. Blavatsky, cites Dr. Schweitzer approvingly in her 1937 treatise of esoteric Christology titled From Bethlehem to Calvary.77  Bailey’s explanation of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by Satan provides an example of her heretical Christology which, while not kenotic – the belief is that Jesus was a man (with latent divinity like all men) who had the Christ spirit descend upon Him at Baptism and subsequently leave Him prior to the Crucifixion,78 similar to the belief of first century proto-Gnostic Cerinthus79,80 – suffers, among other serious issues, from some of the same inherent problems as some forms of kenosis:

“…Was it possible that Christ in reality could be tempted, and if so, could He have fallen into sin? Did He meet these temptations as the omnipotent Son of God, or did He meet them as a man and therefore subject to temptation? …What really took place in the wilderness?  For what purpose are we permitted to share with Him in this experience?” 81

Bailey continues, disparaging the Athanasian Creed82 in the process.  In the original text, she refers to it in a footnote signified in the following with an asterisk (*):

“Many such questions arise in the mind of the intelligent man, and many have been the commentaries written to prove the particular point of each writer.  It is not the purpose of this book…to define the times when Christ was functioning as a man, and when He was functioning as the Son of God.  Some believe He was simultaneously both, and was ‘very God of very God,’* and yet essentially and utterly human at the same time.  People make these statements, but they are apt to forget the implications.  They affirm with decision their point of view, and omit to carry their attitude to a logical conclusion.  The inference is that we are allowed to know about the temptation in order to teach us, as human beings, a needed lesson; let us therefore study the story from the angle of Christ’s humanity, never forgetting that He had learned obedience to the divine spirit, the soul in man, and was in control of His body of manifestation.” 83

Bailey is cited here to illustrate both the importance of understanding proper Christology and as a potential example of historical error leading up to current Christological error.  Adherence to the ecumenical creeds which had established proper Christology in the early Church will help to minimize or alleviate these sorts of errors about the person of Christ in the Christian Church of today.

     71 Berkhof, p 316.  Berkhof hints that Schweitzer has followed in Schleiermacher’s footsteps, at least to a degree.
72 Hodge, Vol II, p 453.  Hodge specifically cites Thomasius as a “general disciple” of Schleiermacher.
73 Allison, pp 382-83.  By mentioning Schleiermacher and Schweitzer together in the same sentence, it may be assumed the author intends a strong connection.
74 Berkhof, p 316
75 Lutzer, Erwin W. The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians. 1998, Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI; p 35.  Lutzer specifically mentions Kant who “believed in a human Christ” and Schweitzer who “believed in a Christ who was essentially insane.”  He also mentions Rudolf Bultmann who denied the pre-existence of Christ [Craig A. Evans, The Historical Jesus: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Volume I. 2004, Rutledge, London, UK; p 328].
76 Hodge, Vol II, pp 453, 440-54.  Hodge cites others influenced by Schleiermacher while identifying Schleiermacher’s pantheistic doctrine and associated aberrant Christology and anthropology.  My working hypothesis is that 18th and 19th century liberalism in general including Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel and his dialectic process, Darwinism, et cetera, continued to barrage the Church and has resulted in the state of the church today.  Taken together, these liberals may have influenced society to the extent they helped enable various underground esoteric doctrines to flourish in the late 19th and into the 20th century (such as Rosicrucianism) and directly or indirectly lead to Theosophy (a confluence of esoteric doctrines throughout the centuries which may have influenced Latter Rain) and New Thought (which definitely influenced Word of Faith via Kenyon [cf. McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel. 1988, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA] ), which may have, in turn, led to various errors of today.
77 Bailey, Alice A.  From Bethlehem to Calvary. Copyright 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis, NY, 4th paperback edition, 1989; Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; pp 102-03, 111, 160-61, 168, 213, 228, 279
78 Bailey, pp 187-189, 194
79 Bercot, David W. A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs. 1998 (3rd printing Nov 2000), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 91
80 Hodge, Vol II, p 400
81 Bailey, pp 107-08.  Emphasis added.
82 Theopedia. Athanasian Creed. <http://www.theopedia.com/Athanasian_Creed> as accessed 06/15/11
83 Bailey, p 108.  Underlining from emphasis in original; bolding added.

Credence for Ecumenical Creeds as Basis for Christology

Historically, councils were called to establish creeds (statements of beliefs) in order to codify specific truths as borne out in Scripture while simultaneously refuting specific errors.  The ecumenical creeds – those accepted by the Church catholic, as in universal, and not merely the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) but to also include Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches – have largely been uncontested over the centuries as to their veracity, or accuracy, compared to Scripture until the 19th century84 with the various kenosis doctrines.  Oliver Crisp, in his book God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology, puts the historical Christian creeds in perspective:

“…Creeds are not merely a means to making dogmatic sense of, say, the Incarnation.  They are – just as fundamentally – a means of confessing faith in the Christ to whom the creeds bear witness, as they are attempts to make sense of the gospel accounts of who Christ is.  This underlines the fact that the creeds of the Church, and the ecumenical creeds in particular, have several functions that run together: they bear witness to the gospel in Scripture, they tease out aspects of the doctrine of the gospel, and because they do this, they serve as doxological and liturgical purpose in the life of the Church as a means by which Christians may affirm what it is they believe, and what it is that holds the church together.’ 85

A proper view of Christ is essential to the Christian faith.  For a given teacher to put forth a doctrine which is at odds with the ecumenical councils is to put said teacher at odds with historical orthodox Christianity and, as a potential consequence, in the realm or vicinity of heresy.

Crisp continues stating that the ecumenical creeds which asserted proper Christology are “theologically binding” because they are “dogmatic reflection upon Scripture by the undivided Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”86   While noting that the creeds are “not infallible guides,”87 Crisp strongly believes the ecumenical councils have “not…in fact canonized substantive errors”88 due to Holy Spirit influence.

In an interview discussing the book God Incarnate, Crisp reiterated the authority of Scripture over ‘tradition’ while defining what that tradition is:

“…I think Scripture is the norming norm, the bedrock of all Christian theology.  The ‘tradition’ consists in a cluster of different, subordinate norms, such as the catholic [universal] creeds, confessional creeds, confessional statements (e.g. Westminster Confession) and the works of particular theologians.  But these are all subordinate to the Word of God.” 89

Of the four ecumenical councils embraced by the Church catholic (universal) which include Christological discussions (Nicea in 325, Constantinople in 381, Ephesus in 431, and Chalcedon in 451), the Council of Chalcedon is the most recent and most definitive.  Here’s a modern English translation of the Chalcedonian Creed:

“Following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in divinity and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a rational soul and body; of one substance [homoousios] with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the virgin, the God-bearer [theotokos]; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence [hypostasis], not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ.” 90

In his Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology, Thomas Oden affirms the importance of ecumenical Christology in general91 and notes how adherence to the ecumenical creeds will aid in avoiding Christological error.92

“…The major tendencies to heretical distortion in the two-natures are these: it runs the risk of inordinately divinizing the human, humanizing the divine, or dualizing the one person.  Keeping these factors in due balance is the challenge of classic Christian teaching or Christology.” 93

Cognizant of the inherent mystery of the Incarnation and the fact that it’s not “fully comprehensible to objective analysis,” but rather it’s “a divine gift for joyful contemplation,”94 he states:

“…Modesty of expression remains a radical intellectual requirement in the presence of this incomparable Person…” 95

In other words, Oden’s point was that we should not try to go beyond Scripture in attempting to define the mystery of the Incarnation.  Even the Apostle Paul did not fully fathom the person of Jesus Christ:

16 Beyond all comprehension, the mystery of godliness is great:
                        He appeared in a body,
                            was vindicated by the Spirit,
                        was seen by angels,
                            was preached from the nations,
                        was believed on in the world,
                            was taken up in glory. [I Timothy 3:16, NIV 1984]

Recognizing the continuing assault on Christology, Martin Luther once commented, “I know nothing about the Lord Christ that the devil has failed to attack.”96

     84 Allison, pp 377, 381
85 Crisp, Oliver D. God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology. 2009, T&T Clark, London, UK; p 13
86 Crisp, God Incarnate. p 13
87 Crisp, God Incarnate. p 14
88 Crisp, God Incarnate. p 14.  See explanation in Crisp’s footnote 10
89 Davies, Guy. Exiled Preacher Blog. “An Interview with Oliver Crisp” March 24, 2010 <http://exiledpreacher.blogspot.com/2010/05/interview-with-oliver-crisp.html>; Answer to Davies’ 5th question.  As accessed 06/15/11
90 Allison, pp 376-77.  Footnote reads, “Creed of Chalcedon, in Schaff 2.62-63; Bettenson, 56.”  I assume Bettenson translated to modern English from Phillip Schaff’s 3-volume The Creeds of Christendom.
91 Oden, Thomas C. Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology. 1992 (2009), HarperCollins, New York, NY; p 306.  This printing is a single-volume condensed version of three separate volumes.
92 Oden, p 307
93 Oden, p 306
94 Oden, p 307
95 Oden, p 307
96 Oden, p 307.  Quotes from Martin Luther’s Table Talk. 1.269

Bill Johnson’s Kenotic Concept

All the preceding background brings us to the Christological doctrine of Bill Johnson which illustrates the peril of not using ecumenical creeds as a basis for proper Christology, as he clearly teaches kenosis.  However, the questions are: 1) which type; and, 2) can his teachings be harmonized into one consistent doctrine with respect to kenosis?  Here are two quotes from his book When Heaven Invades Earth:

“…He laid his [sic] divinity aside* as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin…The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless), and had to be spotless, (without sin).” 97

“Jesus Christ said of Himself, ‘The Son can do nothing.’…He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! …He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God.” 98

The asterisk (*) in the first quote denotes the place in which Johnson originally had a footnote in referring to Philippians 2:5-7 – the very Scripture kenotics use in justifying the theory.  Since God Himself is, by definition, supernatural, then by the wording in the quotes, Johnson appears to be teaching ontological kenosis as Jesus was “powerless” with “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever.”  This is as opposed to functionalist kenosis which maintains that Jesus had all His divine attributes, but rather chose not to exercise some of them.  Had Johnson stated something like, “He chose not to exercise any of His supernatural capabilities,” then he could be construed of intending functionalist kenosis instead. However, as pointed out in part I, claiming it was the Holy Spirit who performed Christ’s miracles rather than Jesus Himself is both “ not conventional”99 and not Biblical even though this claim is growing in charismatic circles.100

Here’s another quote, this time from his book The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind:

“…Jesus had no ability to heal the sick.  He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead.  He said of Himself in John 5:19, ‘the Son can do nothing of Himself.’  He had set aside His divinity.  He did miracles as man in right relationship with God because He was setting forth a model for us…Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…” 101

Once again, this suggests ontological kenosis as Jesus was both “incapable” of performing and “had no ability” to perform miracles.  If, according to Johnson, Jesus Christ had merely chosen not to exercise His divine attributes as in functionalist kenosis, then He would still have the ability to perform miracles if He so desired.

Johnson references a portion of John 5:19 in the quote above and the one immediately preceding this one [by footnote 98].  Putting this verse in its proper context, however, shows that Jesus Himself had both the authority and the power (omnipotence) to raise the dead and give life apart from the Father (v 21) contrary to Johnson’s proof-texting above.  Andreas Kostenberger states, “He claimed not merely to be God’s instrument in raising other people, but to give life himself to whom he is pleased to give it.”102 [See Luke 23:43; John 6:70; 10:28-29; 11:1-44; 13:18; 15:16, 19.]  Once again, this argues against a functionalist kenotic interpretation.  Furthermore, this provides one more example illustrating that functionalist kenosis, in general, as not a viable, Biblical doctrine as Jesus Christ certainly displayed His omnipotence.

18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.  19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” [John 5:19-27, NKJV]

In verse 18, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy since the claim that God was “His” Father was understood by the Jews that Jesus was equating Himself with the Father and hence claiming He was God also.103  In the rest of this passage of Scripture Jesus goes on to explain that He is, in fact, deity.104

Do we assume Jesus was only able to ‘give life’ post-Ascension?  The text clearly shows otherwise as Craig Keener explains in his well-regarded commentary on the Gospel of John.105  Going further to verse 25 and through to 27 is the indication that Jesus could grant life in the then present106 and that Jesus had life “in Himself” granted by the Father along with the authority to make judgment (vv 22-23 also).  Taking all this into account indicates, once again, that Jesus Christ not only could, but very likely did, perform other miracle workings apart from the Father or the Holy Spirit,107 contrary to Johnson.

     97 Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79.  Asterisk replaces original footnote which is referenced on page 85 of Johnson’s book.  Emphasis added.
     98 Johnson, Bill, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 29.  Underline for emphasis in original; last ellipsis as per original.  Bolding added for emphasis.  Johnson makes a specific footnote reference to John 5:19 in his book on p 35.
99 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 25 [Tyndale; p 134]
100 Musick, Dan, Kenosis: Christ “emptied Himself”. “Christ’s Miracles Performed Only by the Holy Spirit?” <http://kenosis.info/index.shtml#Miracles> copyright 1997-2005; as accessed 06/15/11
101 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50.  Emphasis added.
102 Kostenberger, Andreas J. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John. 2004 (4th printing July 2009), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 187.  He is quoting from NIV 1984.
103 Kostenberger, pp 185-86
104 Kostenberger, pp 186-89
105 Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One. 2003, 1st Softcover Ed, 2010, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; pp 650-52.  Keener, agreeing with Kostenberger, states, “Like the Father, Jesus could give life (5:21; cf. 17:2); this made him act in a divine manner.”  Moreover, in a section titled “Jesus as Life-Giver in the Present and the Future (5:24-30)” Keener shows agreement.  He continues, “Jesus returns to the claim that the Father has authorized him to give life (5:21) with the image of realized eschatology implied by ‘passed from death to life’ (5:24); one already abides in death until believing in the one who sent Jesus, hence in Jesus’ delegated mission…”
106 Keener, pp 650-52.
107 Kostenberger, pp 187-89.  Kostenberger also points out that Jesus Christ provided eternal life during his earthly ministry referring to John 5:24 as “…one of the strongest affirmations of realized (inaugurated) eschatology in John’s Gospel.” [p 188] And, also, “Jesus claims that God granted him life in himself, a divine attribute” [p 189] illustrating clearly that Jesus both possessed and utilized divine attributes, contrary to Johnson’s claims.

Johnson’s View of How Jesus Received His Title/Name of Christ

In Johnson’s zeal to humanize Jesus Christ at the expense of His divinity, he goes even further with his kenosis doctrine.  He makes Jesus into a man indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the Incarnation who subsequently receives the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’108 by the “Christ anointing”109 at His Baptism by John which provides Jesus the title/name of Christ.  In the following, brackets are inserted within the text for explanation:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means ‘Anointed One’ or ‘Messiah.’  It [Christ] is a title that points to an experience [Baptism].  It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title [Christ].  He had to receive the anointing [“Christ anointing” resulting in Christ title/name] in an experience [Baptism] to accomplish what the Father desired.

“The word anointing means to ‘smear.’  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared [anointed] all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared [anointed] with the Holy Spirit [at Baptism].” 110

After reading this in the full context Johnson provides [and setting aside his horrendous portrayal of Jesus being “smeared all over with the Holy Spirit”], without adding or subtracting anything, the reader will understand that he is teaching that the “title” of Christ was received in “an experience” – referring to Baptism.  Furthermore, according to Johnson, the ‘name’ of Christ did not actually belong to Jesus’ until He was anointed, “smeared all over,” by the Holy Spirit at Baptism.  Logically, this means Jesus did not have the Christ ‘name’ or ‘title’ until this point, and, hence, could not rightfully be called “Jesus Christ” until then.  This implies Jesus was simply ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and not “Jesus Christ” prior to Baptism which contradicts Luke 1:35/ 2:11 and other Scripture.   Yes, according to orthodoxy, Jesus Christ was anointed at Baptism which began His earthly ministry, but He already had the title of Christ prior to Baptism as He was proclaimed the Son of God before His birth [Luke 1:35] and referred to as “Christ the Lord” upon His birth [Luke 2:11].

The term Christ is used universally within orthodox Christianity indicating divinity111,112 [see Hebrews 13:8, 1:12/Psalm 102:27] as the Messiah must, by necessity, be deity in order to atone for our sins.  Jesus Christ, the Eternal Logos [John 1:1-18], was “from the beginning” [I John 1:1] and is the “Alpha and the Omega” [Rev 1:8, 1:17, 21:6, 22:13] and no one can rightly be called Christ except Jesus.  Berkhof states:

“There are especially five names [Jesus, Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, Lord] that…are partly descriptive of His natures, partly of His official position, and partly of the work for which He came into the world.”

“…Christ is the official…name of the Messiah…Christ was set up or appointed to His offices from eternity, but historically His anointing took place when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:35, and when He received the Holy Spirit, especially at the time of His baptism…It served to qualify Him for His great task…” 113 

Note that Berkhof explains that Christ was “eternally appointed” yet did not receive the anointing for His office until conception by the Holy Spirit [Luke 1:35; Matt 1:18-20].  This means that Jesus was the Christ at conception.  The angel Gabriel referred to Him as “Son of God” in Luke 1:35 and the angel in Luke 2:11 referred to Him as “Savior,” “Christ,” and “Lord.”  He was also understood to be the Messiah/Christ by Herod [Matt 2:3-4] and He was Immanuel, “God with us,” [Matt 1:22-23/Isaiah 7:14] from the moment of the virgin birth.  Moreover: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Heb 13:8 NIV 1984]  To claim, as Johnson does, that Jesus did not receive the name or title of Christ until Baptism is serious error.  Jesus Christ is the Eternal Logos made flesh [John 1:1-14].

Bill Johnson makes it clear that the “anointing” linked Jesus to the divine (hence, implying Jesus the person was not divine) and that this ‘linking’ provided the power necessary to perform the miraculous which corresponds with his two paragraphs above regarding when/how Jesus received His Christ title/name:

“…The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil.” 114

“To fulfill His mission, Jesus needed the Holy Spirit [anointing]….

“This anointing is what enabled Jesus to do only what He saw the Father do, and to say only what He heard the Father say.” 115

To state Jesus was ‘enabled’ by the Holy Spirit (at Baptism) implies, once again, that Jesus did not have omnipotent power of His own and is thus less than divine.  In Face to Face with God, Johnson goes into more detail emphasizing this “experience” as the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit,’ while specifically referring to Jesus being ‘indwelled’ by the Holy Spirit prior to Baptism and that Jesus is our model in this regard.116  This next quote is following a reference in Johnson’s book to John 1:32 in which the Holy Spirit descended as a dove upon Jesus at His Baptism:

 “…Certainly this is not talking about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was already in Jesus’s life.  This [Baptism] was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Him as a mantle of power and authority for that specific purpose.  But the fact that the Holy Spirit came to rest on Him is evidence of Jesus’s faithfulness to be perfectly trustworthy with the presence of God.  The same principle is true for us.

“The Holy Spirit lives in every believer, but He rests upon very few…” 117

The Holy Spirit ‘resting upon’ Jesus and others is Johnson’s vernacular for his version of the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ which is necessary to provide power for the miraculous.118  Stating that Jesus was “perfectly trustworthy with the presence of God” implies that Jesus was not God Himself but instead merely a “trustworthy” man faithful enough to ‘earn’ God’s continued “presence”.  Once again, this is indicative of ontological kenosis.  Also, Johnson is pointing out that we can receive the same “Christ anointing”,119 or “baptism in the Holy Spirit”120 as Jesus.121  He is more explicit below:

“…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…” 122

To reiterate: Jesus Christ is the Eternal Logos, the Word, the second person of the Trinity, made flesh [John 1:1-14]. Scripture does not indicate that the Word plus the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, were made flesh – the Incarnation was simply the Word made flesh.  As a contrast: Holy Spirit indwelled believers would not say “the Holy Spirit became flesh” in the new believer as that would be absurd.  Rather, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the already existing flesh of the newly saved individual.  On the other hand, the Logos acquired a human nature (not a human being) and dwelt among us [John 1:14].  At the Incarnation He did not subtract from His divine nature; He added to it.  As Berkhof affirms, “The pre-existent Son of God assumes human nature and takes to Himself human flesh and blood, a miracle that passes our limited understanding.”123

     108 Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007; Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; pp 21-2
     109 Johnson, Face to Face. p 77
110 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79.  Underline from emphasis in original; bolding added for emphasis; bracketed comments added for explanation.
111 Grudem, pp 233-38, 543-554, 624-33
112 Berkhof, pp 91-5, 312-13, 356-66
113 Berkhof, pp 312-13, 312-15.
114 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79.  Emphasis added.
115 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 80.  Underline from emphasis in original.
116 Johnson, Face to Face. pp 77-80
117 Johnson, Face to Face. pp 21-22.  Emphasis added.
118 Johnson, Face to Face. p 79
119 Johnson, Face to Face. p 77
120 Johnson, Face to Face. p 79
121 Johnson, Face to Face. pp 78-79
122 Johnson, Face to Face. p 77.  Emphasis added.
123 Berkhof, p 333

Johnson Contradicts His Kenosis by Affirming Jesus Christ’s Deity?

With the following, a paragraph at the start of chapter 9 in Bill Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth, he appears to affirm Jesus Christ’s full deity:

“For hundreds of years the prophets spoke of the Messiah’s coming.  They gave over 300 specific details describing Him.  Jesus fulfilled them all!  The angels also gave witness to His divinity when they came with a message for the shepherds: ‘For there is born to you this day…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Nature itself testified to the arrival of the Messiah with the star that led the wise men…’ 124

Does the above quote show that Johnson affirms Jesus Christ’s full deity and thereby contradict his kenosis teachings above?  Or, alternatively, does this show that Bill Johnson is actually teaching a very poorly articulated functionalist kenosis rather than an ontological kenosis?  The key is the rest of this paragraph:

“…Yet with this one statement, ‘Unless I do the works of the Father, do not believe me,’* Jesus put the credibility of all these messengers on the line.  Their ministries would have been in vain without one more ingredient to confirm who He really was.  That ingredient was miracles.” 125

Was the archangel Gabriel pacing the heavens hoping that Jesus would perform miracles to prove He really was the Messiah, the Christ, and thus prove Gabriel to be true?  Certainly not.  The asterisk (*) above refers to John 10:37 in a footnote in the original quoted passage.  In this Scripture Jesus Christ was not making some sort of all-inclusive statement “putting the credibility of all these messengers on the line;” He was addressing the unbelieving Jews.  Johnson is mixing Biblical contexts here.  However, note that John 10:37 is pointing out that they should believe He is the Son of God by virtue of the works/miracles.  Jesus’ point is that, though they do not believe who He claims He is, they should believe by the miracles.  Johnson proof-texts this in his attempts to ‘show’ that Jesus was not the Christ/Messiah until His Baptism after which, of course, He performed the miraculous works having been “enabled” by the “anointing.”

So, it would seem the above paragraph can be perfectly harmonized with the rest of Johnson’s ontologically kenotic teachings.  He is unambiguously clear in his basic doctrine that Jesus was merely “a man in right relationship to God” who “had no ability to heal the sick,” “couldn’t cast out devils,” and “had no ability to raise the dead”126 except by virtue of the ‘enabling’ by the “Christ anointing,”127 occurring at Baptism.  With Johnson’s assertion that, “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit128  within its original context (see above), he makes it apparent that Baptism is the point in which Jesus receives the name of Christ/Messiah.  Consequently, according to this teaching, it follows that since Jesus did not have the name of Christ, and, hence was not yet Christ before Baptism, the angels’ and the other messengers’ words were contingent upon Jesus ‘proving Himself’ by performing the miraculous thereby showing Him to be the “Anointed One.”  Therefore, the first part of the quote from chapter 9 is merely affirming Jesus’ future “title” or name of Christ/Messiah at Baptism instead of a definitive statement that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, at the virgin birth.  Furthermore, Johnson’s quote is not necessarily proclaiming Christ’s deity since he asserted that it was “the anointing” which “linked Jesus, the man, to the divine.”129

To further explain by way of example I’ll make a statement: “Dr. F. F. Bruce was born on 12 October, 1910.”  This is 100% correct; however, Bruce did not have his doctorate bestowed upon him until later, of course, as he was obviously not born with his degree.130  Similarly, one could interpret (incorrectly, of course) that Luke 2:11, the verse referenced in the first part of the above quote, is merely affirming Jesus as the Christ at some point in the future rather than at the virgin birth.

     124 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 97
125 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 97. Emphasis in original.
126 Johnson, Supernatural Power. pp 29, 50
127 Johnson, Face to Face. pp 21-22, 77-79
128 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79
129 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79. Emphasis added.
130 Wikipedia. F.F. Bruce.  F.F. Bruce biography <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._F._Bruce>; par 1; as accessed 06/15/11

Eternal Implications of Johnson’s Kenosis

Bill Johnson claims Jesus did not raise Himself at the Resurrection, contrary to John 2:19/10:17-18 and other Scriptures.  From his sermon at Bethel on February 27, 2011:

“…Jesus gave Himself to be crucified.  He did not raise Himself from the dead…His job was to give His life to die.  The Father raised Him by the Spirit…” 131

He stated the same basic thing in answering a question on his Facebook page in February of this year just prior to the date of the sermon above.  This illustrates that Johnson carried ontological kenosis all the way to the Resurrection which would necessarily include the Cross.  It would appear Jesus could not raise Himself from the dead since He was a “powerless” lamb on the Cross [see above for full context]:

“…The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless)…” 132

Being “powerless” means Jesus lacked the divine power in Himself necessary to provide proper Atonement which is explicit heresy.  Insufficient Atonement means no salvation for the sinner.  No salvation means no eternal life!  As Erwin Lutzer asserts: “…The real question is whether Christ is capable of being the Savior of mankind;”133 and, “If Christ is not God, then God has not saved us…”134

“…Only an incarnate Christ who is fully God qualifies to be Savior.” 135

According to Scripture, Jesus Christ raised Himself [John 2:19], He was raised by the Father [Gal 1:1; Acts 5:29-31], He was raised by the Holy Spirit [Rom 8:11], and, He was raised by God [Acts 2:24; Rom 4:24; Col 2:12], beautifully illustrating the interrelationship of the Trinity.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) contrasts mankind’s eternity, which will commence at a definite point some time in the future, with that of God’s which is infinite with no beginning point.  Of course, according to orthodox Christianity, both man, upon resurrection in his new glorified body [I Corinthians 15:50-54], and God have no termination point in the eternal realm.

“Man eschatologically and God ontologically experience an endless duration of time; both experience a non-terminating sequence of events; both participate in eternity.

“…[A] person’s eternity is bounded on one side by its beginning at a point in time…” 136

With this in mind, here’s Bill Johnson in a statement on his Facebook page on 3/21/2011:

“Jesus was (and is) God.  Eternally God.  That never changed.  But he chose to live with self imposed restriction while living on earth in the flesh – as a man.  In doing so He defeated sin, temptation, the powers of darkness as a man.  We inherit His victory – it was for us.  He never sinned!”

So, with this statement, does Johnson once and for all prove that he believes Jesus was fully divine during the Incarnation, i.e., is his kenosis functionalist rather than ontological?   Taken as a discrete statement apart from the rest of Johnson’s doctrine, this could potentially be labeled as functionalist kenosis [although the “as a man” part is problematic].  However, when this statement is added to the entire corpus of Johnson’s written works, sermons, etc., it merely affirms Jesus Christ’s eternality as God; but, it does not prove the belief in Jesus’ earthly existence as God.  As shown above, Johnson explicitly disavows Jesus Christ’s full incarnational deity on many occasions.  It should be pointed out that to affirm Jesus Christ as eternally God yet claim He “set aside His divinity”137 during the Incarnation is self-contradictory.

However, can the above quote be harmonized as a complete, non-contradictory statement in and of itself and in relation to the rest of Johnson’s teachings on the subject of kenosis?  It really depends on how Johnson defines and interprets the word “eternally” and how he views eternity in relation to the temporal, created realm.  Do they intersect in any way or are they wholly separate from one another?

If Johnson understands eternity as that in which there is no past, present, or future as opposed to the temporal realm which, of course, does have a past, present and future, then he can make the statement above and not be contradicting his particular doctrine of kenosis.  In fact, it would be necessary to keep his ontological kenosis teaching from falling into self-contradiction.  To explain: By simple logic, Jesus must have been God pre-Incarnation in order to have possessed the divinity He had “set aside.”  Similarly, Jesus was God post-Incarnation as there’s no evidence Johnson has ever stated the contrary and has inferred, if not outright stated, Christ’s deity post-Ascension (or, perhaps post-Resurrection) in his teachings.138

To rephrase: By definition, ontological kenosis in general, with all divine attributes – or at least all the ‘omni’ traits – laid aside when the Logos became flesh, implies, or at least potentially implies, a break in the eternality of the Son of God.  That is, a logical conclusion of this doctrine is that Jesus Christ would leave the eternal realm at the Incarnation and return again upon Ascension (or, perhaps, at the Resurrection) since unbounded eternality is a divine attribute.  So, if Johnson believes the eternal realm is wholly separate and distinct from the temporal, then he could maintain that Jesus is and was eternally God but not temporally divine – and, hence, not God during the Incarnation – and, thus, keep his version of ontological kenosis consistent and non-contradictory.139

Going back a bit to the first set of quotes of Bill Johnson used above, and, adding more of the context, we can see more of this concept in evidence regarding the eternal realm as wholly separate from the temporal with no intersection:

“…He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever!  While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He [sic] was redeemed.  He made that point over and over again…He performed miracles, wonders and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God” 140

Yes, according to Johnson, Jesus is/was God eternally – just not during the Incarnation as He performed miracles as a man, not as God since He was not actually God during the Incarnation.

From an orthodox Christian perspective, God exists unrelated to time or anything material and is therefore not constrained by these.  God created both.  Did eternity pause or cease during the Incarnation?  Of course not.  Chafer states:

“…Whatever time may be and whatever its relation to eternity, it must be maintained that no cessation of eternity has occurred or will.  God’s mode of existence remains unchanged.  Time might be thought of as something superimposed upon eternity were it not that there is ground for question whether eternity consists of a succession of events, as is true of time.  The consciousness of God is best conceived as being an all-inclusive comprehension at once, covering all that has been or will be.  The attempt to bring time with its successions into a parallel with eternity is to misconceive the most essential characteristic of eternal things.” 141

There are apparently varying understandings of eternity and how the temporal realm relates to the eternal among theologians.  It is beyond the scope of this article to get into a full discussion on the subject of eternity; however, Matthew Henry’s words help put the subject in perspective:

“…Should we ask why God made the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words without knowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity?” 142

     131 “ewenhoffman” Maintaining the crosswalk- sermon of the week Feb 27th 2011. <htt6://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2011/03/01/maintaining-the-crosswalk-sermon-of-the-week-feb-27th-2011/> 16:45-17:00.  Bolding added.  As accessed 6/15/11
    132 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79. See full context at quote referenced by footnote 97.
133 Lutzer, Doctrines That Divide. p 33
134 Lutzer, Doctrines That Divide. p 34
135 Lutzer, Doctrines That Divide. p 36
136 Bromiley, G. W., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Volume Two. 1982 (1988 reprint), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 162.  First published 1915.
137 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50
138 I’ve not seen any quotes to the contrary; and, his Facebook quote affirms current deity.  Further, the quote referenced below in footnote 140 confirms present tense deity.
139 This view is not without precedent as A. B. Bruce refers to a variation in The Humiliation of Christ in quoting Ebrard (as in Chafer as quoted in part I at footnote 22), “The Logos, in assuming flesh, exchanged the form of God, that is, the eternal manner of being, for the form of man, that is, the temporal manner of being.”
140 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 29.  Underline from emphasis in original; bolding added for my own emphasis.  The “He” identified by “sic” is rather curious – probably a typographical error, however, as written it seems as though it was Christ who was redeemed.
141 Chafer, Vol. VII, pp 141-42
142 Henry, M. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 1. 1991 (8th printing 2006), Hendrickson, USA; p 2

Concluding Remarks

Like some others before him, Bill Johnson refuses to adhere to orthodox Christian teaching concerning the person of Jesus Christ as exemplified in the Chalcedonian Creed.  He denies that Christ possessed His divine attributes during the Incarnation because “Jesus did everything as a man, laying aside His divinity in order to become a model for us.”143  While Johnson affirms that Jesus Christ is eternally God, this does not negate his teachings that Jesus had “so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…”144 during the entirety of the Incarnation to the point of not being able to raise Himself at the Resurrection.  It is certainly self-contradictory to assert that Jesus is eternally God and yet had no divine attributes during the Incarnation.   But this is a part of Johnson’s overall doctrine.

On the other hand, when filtering Bill Johnson’s seemingly orthodox statements affirming Jesus Christ’s deity through the ontologically kenotic lens of the rest of his teachings, these statements can be harmonized into one mostly, if not totally, non-contradictory doctrine with respect to kenosis.  This is not to say that some of Bill Johnson’s teachings do not contradict Scripture as, of course, they clearly do.

In considering the entire corpus of Bill Johnson’s teachings we seem to have the Logos, the Word, divested of His ‘omni’ attributes, His impeccability (inability to sin – note the last sentence of his Facebook comment above), His immutability (changeless perfection), and perhaps other divine attributes, having ‘laid these aside’ in order to live His earthly existence as a man who was subsequently successful in living a sinless life and thereby providing an example to mankind.  This necessitated the second person of the Trinity leaving the eternal realm at the Incarnation; however, He re-attained His full deity upon Ascension (or, perhaps the Resurrection) as He reentered eternity.

In any case, whether one believes the entirety of Johnson’s teachings is hopelessly self-contradictory or whether one accepts that it can be harmonized as ontological kenosis throughout, the fact remains that certain aspects of his teachings are unambiguously ontologically kenotic.  This is explicit heresy.

If Johnson ‘merely’ intends functionalist kenosis instead (with its teaching that the Word made flesh retained all divine attributes but the Holy Spirit performed all Christ’s miracles and all ‘omni’ functions and possibly other divine functions), he has many very poorly worded passages in his books, sermons, etc. which need correction or clarification.  However, even a functionalist kenosis account such as this suffers from a debilitating problem (in addition to the fact that it denies immutability): it violates Scripture [John 5:24; John 2:19, 10:17-18, etc.] and it necessarily precludes the Word made flesh from upholding the cosmos [cf. Colossians 1:16-17; Heb 1:3] via the so-called extra calvinisticum [aka extra catholicum].

To amend these works to bring his Christology up to Christian orthodoxy would be a monumental task for sure; but, it all depends on how much he really loves the truth.  Everyone makes mistakes; however, the extent to which individuals are willing to correct those mistakes is the mark of a true teacher who reveres both God and Scripture and who cares about his flock.  A case in point regarding the correct way to respond to mistakes is illustrated in the following taken from a 2002 DVD by R. C. Sproul:

“…Just this week I got the second letter from somebody that read my book Renewing Your Mind which is now out in its third title, third edition.  The last edition of which was reworked, brought up to date by an editor at the publishing house.  And, after they did it they sent it to me – after they made their changes – and asked me to give the final corrections and proofs, which I did.  Hastily.  And I missed something that somebody who read it wrote to me and said, ‘Did you? – I can’t believe it.  You teach the Kenotic heresy.’ Because on one of the pages in that book it has me saying that in the Incarnation, Jesus laid aside His divine nature.  I saw that; I almost fainted.  I called the president of the publishing house, ‘This must be my fault.  I didn’t catch that.’ ‘But,’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t say that on the worst day of my life.’  And, I said, ‘What can we do?’  And, you know what he did?  He pulled every single copy that they had in inventory off the shelves and reprinted it to correct that error.” 145

To continually refer to Jesus Christ as merely “a man in right relationship with God,”146 as Johnson insists throughout his works, at the expense of deity, does our Lord and Savior much disservice.  Even the decidedly non-Christian first century Jewish historian Josephus paid Him more reverence:

“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.  He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.  He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” 147

Amen!

     143 Johnson, Bill, Strengthen Yourself in the Lord. 2007, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 26
144 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50
145 Sproul, R.C. The Mystery of the Trinity. DVD 2002, Ligonier Ministries, Sanford, FL
146 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50
147 Josephus, Flavius, W. Whitson, The Works of Josephus Complete and Unabridged: New Updated Edition. 1987 (22nd printing June 2009), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 480.  Emphasis added.

179 Responses to Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Part II

  1. Pingback: Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Part I « CrossWise

  2. peacebringer says:

    Again well examined.

    Reading over this here is a thought that came to mind that may be in Bill Johnson’s theology/teaching

    Incarnation: Jesus came and was born to divine purpose. He came as man, lived as man. There was nothing in particular special.

    Then came the phase of “Baptims” and the ministry. He then received the “special annointing” of the Holy spirit that empowered Him to show the “signs.”

    Now don’t know if there is reference to the “Transfiguration” but that would seemed to be another “level”

    then of course the death and resurection.

    It really leads to a level of progressive experiences, and in his mind accessible to all. Just have to have the “experiences” and therefore the Baptism experience is open to all. I do not know t hat he would go so far as to say transfiguration is open to all and would be interested to see/know if he has written anything in relation to that view….

  3. Craig says:

    peacebringer,

    I don’t recall reading anything about the Transfiguration as regards Johnson. However, I do agree that there’s always a push for “the anointing” as if one is just not enough — even though the Apostle John thinks so in his 1st Epistle (2nd chapter).

  4. cherylu says:

    Has this article by Bill Johnson been quoted here, “Healing-An Adventue Into the Impossible”?

    http://www.ibethel.org/articles/2005/01/01/healing-an-adventure-into-the-impossible

    I don’t remember it if it has. I didn’t read the personal story part, just the first part of the article. That part is short and should be read in context I think. (I won’t get into what I see as other problems in this ariticle, but it does touch on what we are talking about here). Here are the two most pertinent paragraphs:

    Yet Jesus was unable to heal the sick. This fact is taken from His own words, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself . . .” He was unable to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, or cleanse the lepers, unless God worked through Him. When He commanded His disciples to do these things, He was requiring them to do what was impossible without God’s help.

    Jesus Christ is both the eternal Son of God, and the Son of Man. As God, nothing is impossible for Him. But, He chose to live with self-imposed restrictions that He might be the model for all who would believe in His name. This is a very important part of our theology. If He did miracles as God, I am obviously impressed by His love and power, but I’m not able to duplicate it. However, if He did them as a man through a right relationship with the Father, then I am compelled to pursue to become like Him.

    This sound like functional, not ontological kenosis to me. It seems to me it would be a very unnatural reading to take it otherwise.

  5. Craig says:

    First, I do point out in the article if Johnson intends functionalist kenosis then he’s doing a very poor job of articulating it. Secondly, given the context you cite, it depends on when Jesus Christ “chose to live with self-imposed limitations.” Was this pre-Incarnation? A functionalist kenosis view does not comport with “He was unable to heal the sick…” as He would have the capability yet choose not to use this capability.

    As for his words “Jesus Christ is both the eternal Son of God, and the Son of Man.,” as pointed out in the article, it really depends on how Johnson views the relationship of the temporal realm to the eternal realm. Quoting Ebrard who believed the Word reduced all attributes to that of a man:

    “The Logos, in assuming flesh, exchanged the form of God, that is, the eternal manner of being, for the form of man, that is, the temporal manner of being.”

    Perhaps Johnson adheres to a variation of this in that he believes the Logos reinherits His divinity and thus His eternality at the Ascension (or Resurrection). I know you are aware of this audio in which Johnson speaks of Jesus’ “reinheritance”:

    http://pfchurch.org.au/?p=357

    “Did you know that Jesus gave up everything to become a man…He reinherited everything but not as God. Don’t misunderstand me, Jesus is not an ascended being; He didn’t work His way up into divinity. He is eternally God, eternally God. But, when He reinherited everything, He inherited it as a man without sin. Why? Because He became our elder brother. He became the one who inherited everything. Why? So, that you and I could be positioned to inherit everything with Him. He forfeited all so that He could reinherit in way that would include us.

    Logically, Jesus cannot be “eternally God” yet merely a man only during the Incarnation. Just what exactly did Jesus “reinherit?” And, He was merely a man when He did so? This seems to support my eternally God vs temporally man theory.

    BTW, “Elder brother” is a common term for Jesus in Mormonism. What do we “inherit” with Jesus? I’m not necessarily asking you to answer these questions, rather I’m posing them rhetorically.

    Most importantly, functionalist kenosis is not a viable Biblical doctrine. Johnson proof-texts John 5:19 as pointed out in the article. I show that Jesus was actually pointing out that He was not only God Himself and thus equal to the Father but He functioned in His omnipotence by “giving life.” The references quoted by Kostenberger and Keener are both highly regarded by and as orthodoxy.

    As noted in part I of this article, the only view that is orthodox is what Crisp terms divine krypsis which he concedes could be construed as functionalist kenosis depending on one’s interpretation; however, Crisp points out very specifically that to teach that Jesus’ miracles were performed by the Holy Spirit is “not conventional,” or unorthodox, and that Jesus still exercised all his divine traits via the extra calvinisticum. Further, I’ve shown that the functionalist view is unbiblical.

  6. Craig says:

    In re-reading my last paragraph above, I see it looks like it’s contradictory if the reader has not read part I. It’s not really; so, I’ll clarify:

    The divine krypsis as expressed in part I mandates the complete use of Jesus’ divine attributes via the extra calvinisticum. As per Crisp, the only way in which the krypsis view is potentially functionalist is by the inherent limitation of Jesus’ humanity as, obviously, Jesus’ body was not omnipresent, as one example. However, this view does not preclude Jesus miracle workings by the divine nature by and through the human. In fact, Crisp mandates this as he views the claim of Christ’s miracle workings by the Holy Spirit as “not conventional.”

    The true functionalist kenosis is therefore “not conventional” as per Crisp. (I believe Crisp was being charitable in his description.) And, as shown in the article above, it is not Scriptural.

  7. cherylu says:

    I am not saying that functional kenosis is correct either. But it is a whole lot less heretical, IMO, then ontological kenosis.

    Again, I am not a BJ fan and I think much about his teaching and about things at Bethel church are unsriptrual and indeed very dangersous. I am just not at all convinced that believing in and teaching ontological kenosis is one of them.

  8. cherylu says:

    Here is another quote I found by Johnson:

    “The Father wanted satan defeated by man…. One made in His image. Jesus, who would shed His blood to redeem mankind, emptied Himself of His rights as God and took upon Himself the limitations of man.” Bill Johnson

    http://www.identitynetwork.net/articles_view.asp?articleid=14968&columnid=2093

    Again, this doesn’t sound at all like ontological kenosis to me. Instead of saying “He laid His divinity aside,” Johnson here says that, “He emptied Himself of His rights as God.” But the results are identical: He “took upon Himself the limitiations of man.”

  9. cherylu says:

    Craig,

    Have you read this section of Oliver Crisp’s book that comes up in this link?

    http://books.google.com/books?id=sNUFIgrmmAYC&pg=PA152&lpg=PA152&dq=functional+kenosis&source=bl&ots=N_L8Pl5uJ_&sig=p9CilhUKiJWCKY7VA644B_5JBYI&hl=en&ei=EHD7TYThMabUiALNtM2KBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=functional%20kenosis&f=false

    If is quite technical and I just skimmed it. However, I note he says that for a functional, not ontological kenotic, Jesus seems to be requred to limit access to His attributes as the Word at the incarnation in such a way that it simulates His not having them even as He actually retains them.

    Sounds a whole lot like Johnson to me.

    (As an aside I really quite thoroughty dislike the changes WordPress made for commenting. It is now very difficult to use and drives me nuts. What a pain!)

  10. Craig says:

    cherylu,

    Man is also made in God’s image [Gen 1:26]. This statement says Jesus “emptied Himself of His rights as God” which could be potentially construed as orthodox; however, in claiming Jesus was merely man and not “truly man and truly God” fails the text of orthodoxy. Further, to make proper Atonement, both man and God is a requirement. In addition, Johnson claims Jesus was a “powerless” lamb who “didn’t raise Himself” at the Resurrection [contrary to John 2:19/10:17-18]. That sounds like ontological kenosis to me. When you add the statements “the anointing is what linked Jesus, the man the divine,” the rest of his “Christ anointing” teaching, the way in which he claims Jesus received His title/name at Baptism, and how Jesus had “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever” it paints ontological kenosis as well.

  11. Craig says:

    Yes, I’ve read the entire chapter a number of times , and, in fact, I reference these pages extensively throughout part I. This chapter includes ontological and functionalist kenosis, as well as divine krypsis. Bill Johnson crosses over to ontological kenosis with the info I’ve posted in part II and referenced in part in my last comment. Have you read thoroughly both parts of this article? I understand it is both lengthy and technical; but, I do believe it addresses some of your questions.

  12. Martin says:

    So in essence – if someone claims that Jesus did not act on his own divine attributes, but instead using his human attributes relying entirely on the divine attributes of the Father at work in him – they are technically heretical?

  13. Craig says:

    What you are describing is something that is at variance with Scripture as pointed out in the article specifically John 5:18-27. An illustration of Jesus actually “giving life,” not only eternal, but physically raising from the dead, as in Lazarus in John 11:1-44:

    25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” [John 11:25-26 NKJV]

    Raising Lazarus from the dead is a clear illustration that Jesus Himself performed this miracle when John 5:18-27 is considered. So, to state Jesus “had NO supernatural capabilities” runs contrary to plain Scripture.

    Here’s the definition of “heresy”:

    heresy

    –noun, plural -sies.
    1. opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.
    2. the maintaining of such an opinion or doctrine.
    3. Roman Catholic Church . the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_heresy

    Given the definitions above, how would you answer your question?

  14. mbaker says:

    So on the other hand, are the rest of us of us guilty of heresy even if we don’t agree with your conclusions? Seems to me that is what you are saying, even if I don’t think BJ’s theology is right.

  15. Craig says:

    I don’t understand where you get that notion. Can you explain?

  16. cherylu says:

    Craig,

    I have been thinking about bringing this up for some time now. I am just trying to get you to see things from a different perspective here.

    Personally, it seems to me that there is a problem with your line of reasoning with this issue. It seems that you take everything that Johnson says and run it through the grid of the worst possible statements that he has made and try to subordinate everything else to fit them. In the process of doing that, you can’t take anything he says about believing that Jesus was always God and accept it at face value.

    What if you take those statements about believing Jesus was always God as if they are true statements of His belief, and work from there instead? When I have looked at things from his perspective, while I don’t agree with what he says a very large proportion of the time, I can see how his theology, at least generally, all fits together.

  17. Craig says:

    cherylu,

    How do you know I’ve not looked at different perspectives? I have read 3 of Bill Johnson’s books more than once each, skimmed a few more, listened/seen a number of audios/videos and they’re quite problematic on a number of fronts. The common denominators are a de-divinized Jesus, a disdain for orthodoxy which Bob DeWaay terms “anti-scholastic bias,” in order to further his “greater works” thesis. DeWaay even reaches the conclusion of kenosis without differentiating between ontological and functionalist; however, by the context of DeWaay’s words clearly ontological is his understanding.

    Let’s start with your line of reasoning: If, as Johnson claims, Jesus was always God, how do you reconcile that premise with “He had NO supernatural capabilites whatsoever” since, by definition, God is supernatural? What is your understanding of Johnson’s “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit” given the context in which Jesus receives the name at “an experience” which is identified as Baptism, according to Johnson? How do you reconcile that Jesus was always God with Jesus being a “powerless” lamb on the Cross who did not even raise Himself at the Resurrection in contradistinction to John 2:19/10:17-18?

  18. Craig says:

    The following may help in explaining the difference between the divine krypsis, the functionalist kenosis, and the ontological kenosis views. Using a 4-speed auto as (an admittedly limited, not perfect) analogy, with regard to the Samaritan woman at the well and how Jesus knew she had 5 husbands:

    divine krypsis: Jesus was using His divine attribute of omniscience. He used all 4 gears while ‘driving the auto.’

    functionalist: Even though Jesus could have accessed His own inherent divine trait of omniscience at any time during the Incarnation, He had chosen not to exercise this trait during the entirety of the Incarnation; so, He relied on the Father (or the Holy Spirit) to convey this information to Him. He stayed in 1st gear, even though He could have used all 4.

    ontological: Since Jesus did not have any of the “omni” attributes during the entire period of the Incarnation having laid them aside at the miraculous conception, He did not have the ability to know anything about the Samaritan woman; consequently, He relied on the Father (or the Holy Spirit) instead to convey this information to Him. His vehicle was stuck in 1st gear with no possibility of using 2nd, 3rd or 4th.

    The ontological view is clearly wrong and heretical no matter the case.

    However, the above Scripture re: Samaritan woman at the well does not state specify just how Jesus knew about the 5 husbands; so, since the view that Jesus exercised His own omniscience cannot be either proven or refuted absolutely, the kryptic would fall back on the claim that with Jesus being God incarnate and with other passages specifically affirming Jesus as doing His own miracle workings (John 2:19 as one example) we should assume, unless stated otherwise, that He performed His own miracles.

    The functionalistic could go either way; however, to claim it was Jesus who performed this miracle would be tantamount to a divine krypsis account instead since by definition, the functionalist accounts restrict the use (not eliminate totally, of course) of some divine traits in the divine nature of Christ [Crisp p 152-153 – usually all the ‘omni’ traits]. The divine krypsis view, on the other hand, affirms Jesus’ full exercise of divine attributes (Christ’s divine nature is fully functioning) although the restriction is by virtue of the human nature [see nature-perichoresis in Part I] as, for example, Jesus’ body is not, obviously, omnipresent during the Incarnation. The divine krypsis view corresponds with Chalcedon and is not kenosis per se; whereas, the other views do not agree with Chalcedon as the functionalist, at minimum, denies immutability in its restriction of (some) divine attributes.

    Now, regarding John 5:18-27 as referenced in the article, the only possible Scriptural answer is krypsis since this passage indicates clearly that Jesus, in fact, had both the authority and capability to exercise His own omnipotence. However, a functionalist kenoticist could claim that in this particular case, Jesus decided to use His omnipotence even though He could have relied on the Father (or Holy Spirit) instead. But, then, once again, this view actually turns into a divine krypsis account rather than a true functionalist account. Note that for the functionalist to claim it was the Father (or Holy Spirit) who performed this particular miracle would be a violation of Scripture.

    As regards Johnson: note his words that Jesus “had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever.” This obviously indicates He has no choice in the matter precluding Jesus from the ability to act on any of his divine attributes since divine traits are, by definition, supernatural thereby implying that Johnson’s kenosis is ontological rather than functionalist kenosis. If Johnson is trying to convey functionalist kenosis instead, this is very poorly articulated. However, even in attempting to promote the possibility of a functionalist account, this would stretch the bounds of logic as Johnson proof-texted part of John 5:19 using only, “the Son could do nothing of Himself” just before the “NO supernatural” statement — in opposition to the full Biblical context. These statements would seem to support an ontological kenosis with no other option. Claiming Jesus was/is God runs contrary to this.

    If we turn this around and work from the claim that Jesus was/is God filtering Johnson’s statements above through this lens and try to fit it into a functionalist kenotic perspective, we still have a contradiction [“NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever”] and we still have variance with Scripture.

  19. cherylu says:

    Craig,

    Are we even sure that Johnson’s beliefs fit into any of the categories of kenosis we have been talking about? Has he ever even used that term?

    What if he really believes that Jesus could “lay aside” His divinity–all of those omni attributes and/or whatever all he includes in that while on this earth–and still be 100% God? To me it seems that is what he is saying. He has made a lot of statements that I am aware of that Jesus was God. What if he actually believes that–just as he has stated?

    His belief would make no sense to me, I don’t know how he could lay aside all of those things to the point of not having them at all during the incarnation. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense to Bill Johnson. And I have no idea what he does wih the immutability issue. It would seem he hasn’t factored it in at all no matter what he really believes here.

    I don’t believe this is Scriptural. But neither do I think that everything else that is believed in the charismatic/ WoF/NAR circles is Scriptural That doesn’t mean that they have any problem with it though.

    I’m not sure we will ever agree on this. And I don’t think it can be proved 100% one way or the other with the information that we have at this time anyway.

    And I guess that is my bottom line here: with all of the affirmations BJ has made that Jesus is God, I just don’t think we can sweep those all under the rug and say he doesn’t really believe He was during the incarnation. I just don’t see that as being the right way to look at this

  20. Craig says:

    OK, then, you would have to concede that his theology is hoplessly inherently self-contradictory rather than it “at least generally, all fits together.” At least I’ve made an attempt to harmonize it.

    How about the following? You can ignore my own text if you like (although it does help to explain bits that I could not quote as they are far too lengthy); but, what do make of the portrayal as Jesus being indwelled with the Holy Spirit and subsequently “Baptized in the Holy Sprit” at the Baptism in the river Jordan?:

    To state Jesus was ‘enabled’ by the Holy Spirit (at Baptism) implies, once again, that Jesus did not have omnipotent power of His own and is thus less than divine. In Face to Face with God, Johnson goes into more detail emphasizing this “experience” as the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit,’ while specifically referring to Jesus being ‘indwelled’ by the Holy Spirit prior to Baptism and that Jesus is our model in this regard[116]. This next quote is following a reference in Johnson’s book to John 1:32 in which the Holy Spirit descended as a dove upon Jesus at His Baptism:

    “…Certainly this is not talking about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was already in Jesus’s life. This [Baptism] was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Him as a mantle of power and authority for that specific purpose. But the fact that the Holy Spirit came to rest on Him is evidence of Jesus’s faithfulness to be perfectly trustworthy with the presence of God. The same principle is true for us.

    “The Holy Spirit lives in every believer, but He rests upon very few…”[117] [emphasis added]

    The Holy Spirit ‘resting upon’ Jesus and others is Johnson’s vernacular for his version of the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ which is necessary to provide power for the miraculous[118]. By stating that Jesus was “perfectly trustworthy with the presence of God” implies that Jesus was not God Himself but instead merely a “trustworthy” man faithful enough to ‘earn’ God’s continued “presence.” Once again, this is indicative of ontological kenosis. Also, Johnson is pointing out that we can receive the same “Christ anointing[119],” or “baptism in the Holy Spirit[120]” as Jesus[121]. He is more explicit below:

    “…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…” [122] [emphasis added]

  21. Craig says:

    To answer your question if Johnson has ever used the term kenosis: the answer is no, not exactly; however, he does reference Philippians 2:5-7 in the quote referenced by footnote 97 as pointed in the body of this article which is the specific Biblical text kenoticists use to justify their doctrine.

  22. cherylu says:

    Just a quick comment right now. I said when I looked at it from his perspective it fits together. I can see that he might believe all of those things I talked about. Not that they make sense to me. But it would seem that they may very well from his perspective.

    I don’t know what he does with the issue of immutablity. But I don’t think that is helped any by believing He can become not God while on this earth either! I don’t think he has dealt with that one at all. It seems to me he has ignored that one all the way around.

    Have to go for now. Probably more after a while. My day is getting away from me way too fast.

  23. Craig says:

    I’ve not “swept under the rug” Johnson’s claim that Jesus is/was God. Rather, I’ve attempted to harmonize it with his other claims in order to avoid contradictions within his theology.

  24. Craig says:

    OK, so then should we merely allow everyone within Christendom to accept their own doctrine even if we don’t understand it? I’m sure this is not what you mean; but, this seems to be the outcome. I think it only fair to 1) compare to orthodoxy and show how it differs; and, 2) try to harmonize it just as we would any sort of statement or large body of work.

    Even if you disagree that it’s ontological rather than functionalist kenosis, what do you think of Johnson’s claim that Jesus was a “powerless” lamb who had did not raise Himself at the Cross? The “powerless” claim is the one I used in Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part I in identifying kenosis and an insufficient Atonement. The added statement that Jesus didn’t raise Himself gives it even more credence. A faulty Atonement means no salvation. And, a faulty Atonement is the necessary consequence of ontological kenosis.

    I’ve got a few errands to get back to myself.

  25. cherylu says:

    Craig,

    I have been going here thinking about your next to last comment with the BJ quote.

    Before I lose what I am thinking, I am going to try to get it down here. May modify these thoughts later or change them altogether, I don’t know.

    I will admit, the quote you gave here is one that gives me much pause. It is at this point any way, the most problematic BJ quote for me.

    First though, we need to remember that BJ has said several times that Jesus was living under self imposed limitations so that His life as a man would be like ours. That being the case, would not a perfect and sinless man be filled with the Holy Spirit? And if you believe in the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” that brings power, wouldn’t that man undergo that type of baptism?

    Yeah, I don’t know how BJ’s theology on this issue works–if Jesus was truly God why would He have to be trusted with the presense of God? That doesn’t work in my mind. But then, the whole concept of the hypostatic union as stated in Chalcedon is not really comprehensible either, is it? Our own doctrines are beyond comprehesion it seems to me, so I don’t think we can complain too much if someone else’s is too!

    And just another thought, Jesus was God. Can “self imposed limititations” as BJ says, be construed to mean that He “limited” Himself out of existense as God while He was on earth? If that is what BJ meant, he certainly just added another layer of incomprehensible doctrine to the whole issue! Did God just turn into a man in BJ’s theology and then turn back into God again later?

  26. cherylu says:

    Nope, shouldn’t allow every one to just accept their own doctrine. I am just trying to say that BJ may very well being accused of more or worse false doctrine then he is actually guilty of. If so, is that fair?

    Will try to get to the “powerless lamb” and another thought in my mind later.

  27. Craig says:

    That is a major problem in reconciling Johnson’s doctrine as anything approaching orthodoxy. According to the Apostle John, the Word, the second person of the Trinity, was made flesh [John 1:1-14]. Nowhere in Scripture is there any indication that Jesus was indwelt with the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity. To go further and claim Jesus received the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ goes further into illustrating Jesus as a mere man.

    You wrote:

    And just another thought, Jesus was God. Can “self imposed limititations” as BJ says, be construed to mean that He “limited” Himself out of existense as God while He was on earth? If that is what BJ meant, he certainly just added another layer of incomprehensible doctrine to the whole issue! Did God just turn into a man in BJ’s theology and then turn back into God again later?

    Actually, while this would be, of course, contrary to Scripture, it is not very difficult to conceive. Given that the eternal realm is, well, eternal and thus with no beginning and no ending, one could easily construe it as continuing separate and apart from the temporal. With that view, Jesus could be “in the eternal realm” as God even though he is simultaneously here on earth temporally as ‘not God.’ Make sense? So, potentially, one could view an ever eternally divine Jesus who was also temporally man during the Incarnation and not be in contradiction by stating “Jesus is (and was) God. Eternally God.”

    Or, alternatively, one believe, as I note in the article, that Jesus left the eternal realm out of necessity since He was divested of all divine attributes which would include eternality during the Incarnation. Once glorified, Jesus reentered the eternal realm. Given that eternity does not have a beginning or end, then “Jesus is (and was) God. Eternally God.” This is sort of like when you and I reach eternity — we will be considered eternal, even though, of course, we have a “beginning point.”

    Each and every time Jesus is actually in the eternal realm (pre and post Incarnation), He is God, hence “eternally God.”

  28. Craig says:

    Nope, shouldn’t allow every one to just accept their own doctrine. I am just trying to say that BJ may very well being accused of more or worse false doctrine then he is actually guilty of. If so, is that fair?

    Fair enough.

  29. cherylu says:

    Ha, I’m not at all accusing BJ of being orhtodox. And if you have spent time in charismatica at all, you know they love to “go further”. They have no problem with it at all, what with the “new thing” etc. So while we see this statement as very problematic, it may not mean that BJ would even while affirming that Jesus was God at the same time. It is a different “paradigm’ altogether for sure.

  30. cherylu says:

    I said, ” Nope, shouldn’t allow every one to just accept their own doctrine. I am just trying to say that BJ may very well being accused of more or worse false doctrine then he is actually guilty of. If so, is that fair?”

    And you answered, “Fair enough.”

    I’m assuming you meant what I was trying to do was “fair enough”? Otherwise you are saying that it is “fair enough” that BJ may be accused unfairly! Don’t think that was likely your intention! Sorry, but I couldn’t resisst. Your word choice there just struck me as extremely ironic.

  31. Craig says:

    No doubt it’s a “new paradigm!” But, now do you see how that could fit into an ontological kenotic view to stay consistent and non-contradictory?

  32. Craig says:

    No, I am agreeing with you. We can agree to disagree on certain points.

  33. Craig says:

    I’ve already quoted the following in the comments section here, but, it bears repeating given our current discussion. In part I is this quote from Ebrard and his brand of kenosis:

    …The Logos, in assuming flesh, exchanged the form of God, that is, the eternal manner of being, for the form of man, that is, the temporal manner of being.”[22]

    This could be what Johnson is referring to.

  34. cherylu says:

    I think I have to go back again to BJ’s statements that Jesus was/is God. In the article you gave this quote from one of his books: “For hundreds of years the prophets spoke of the Messiah’s coming. They gave over 300 specific details describing Him. Jesus fulfilled them all! The angels also gave witness to His divinity when they came with a message for the shepherds: ‘For there is born to you this day…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Nature itself testified to the arrival of the Messiah with the star that led the wise men. Yet with this one statement, ‘Unless I do the works of the Father, do not believe me,’* Jesus put the credibility of all these messengers on the line. Their ministries would have been in vain without one more ingredient to confirm who He really was. That ingredient was miracles.”

    That certainly sounds like present tense, in the incarnation, divinity to me. It just doesn’t seem like he is referring to sometime in the past and again in the future, but not in present time divinity.

    And did He only become the Savior upon His death, or was He the Saivor from the time He was born? Johnson links the prounouncement of who He is with His divinity. Scripturally, He is “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so He was the Savior from the very beginning although the work of that hadn’t been carried out in time yet. Is this what Johnson is referring to when He links who he is with His divinity? If so, isn’t he prounouncing Him divine at the time of His birth?

  35. Craig says:

    On its own, yes, it certainly could be construed as the way you’ve mentioned. However, again, shouldn’t we take Johnson’s words in toto out of fairness to him? This is exactly what we do with Scripture, otherwise we are proof-texting. This is why I note in the article:

    Does the above quote show that Johnson affirms Jesus Christ’s full deity and thereby contradict his kenosis teachings above? Or, alternatively, does this show that Bill Johnson is actually teaching a very poorly articulated functionalist kenosis rather than an ontological kenosis? The key is the latter part of this paragraph:

    “…Yet with this one statement, ‘Unless I do the works of the Father, do not believe me,’* Jesus put the credibility of all these messengers on the line. Their ministries would have been in vain without one more ingredient to confirm who He really was. That ingredient was miracles.” [125]

    Was the archangel Gabriel pacing the heavens hoping that Jesus would perform miracles to prove He really was the Messiah, the Christ, and thus prove Gabriel to be true? Certainly not. The asterisk (*) above refers to John 10:37 in a footnote in the original quoted passage. In this Scripture Jesus Christ was not making some sort of all-inclusive statement “putting the credibility of all these messengers on the line;” He was addressing the unbelieving Jews. Johnson is mixing Biblical contexts here. However, note that John 10:37 is pointing out that they should believe He is the Son of God by virtue of the works/miracles. This is consistent with Johnson’s teaching that Jesus was not the Christ/Messiah until His Baptism after which, of course, He performed the miraculous works having been “enabled” by the “anointing.”

  36. Craig says:

    cherylu, you wrote:

    And did He only become the Savior upon His death, or was He the Saivor from the time He was born? Johnson links the prounouncement of who He is with His divinity. Scripturally, He is “the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so He was the Savior from the very beginning although the work of that hadn’t been carried out in time yet. Is this what Johnson is referring to when He links who he is with His divinity? If so, isn’t he prounouncing Him divine at the time of His birth?

    If you’ll read carefully what I wrote in that section and compare with Johnson’s other words in the article itself such as the claim that Jesus had the Holy Spirit indwelling, was subsequently “baptized in the Holy Spirit” in the Jordan river at which point He received His title/name of Christ, then this shows that Jesus was not Christ at the virgin birth. Thus, the statement you quoted could well be construed from that lens without difficulty. This, the thought that Jesus was not Christ until baptism, is the sort of thing one of the first commentators wrote on the BJ I thread here starting at September 20 6:36am in how she perceived Johnson’s Christology.

  37. Craig says:

    Here’s the main quote I’m referring to:

    Craig, I’m not sure what you do for a living, but for the moment I’m going to designate you a “software engineer”.

    If, when you were born, a prophet had come to your house and said to your parents, “He is a software engineer” – would that have been the truth?

    By this illustration, the commentator was pointing that Jesus was born as the future Messiah, not that he was actually the Messiah at the virgin birth. Part of the line of reasoning is that Jesus “grew in wisdom and stature” [Luke 2:52] — something Johnson quotes in WHIE which I point out in BJ I. It’s akin to my example of F.F. Bruce in this article.

  38. cherylu says:

    But Craig, when you ask if we shoudn’t take the sum of Johnson’s words, I will say “of course”. The thing is, it has seemed to me that you are leaning much heavier on the trouble some words and not on the ones that seem to be orthodox.

    And frankly, I don’t understand your argument you restated in your last comment about that quote. If Jesus did become Christ at His baptism in Johnson’s thinking, and divinity is associated with being Christ as the first part of that statement seems to say, then would not Jesus become divine at least at His baptism? If BJ truly believes He can’t be God on earth, that would be defeating His purpose altogether as far as BJ goes.

  39. Craig says:

    If you wish to use that one paragraph as the controlling claim for Johnson’s complete doctrine then you must reconcile it with all his other doctrine. Since it cannot be reconciled, of course, it necessarily falls into hopeless self-contradiction. This is why I stress to try to harmonize it all somehow.

  40. Craig says:

    But Craig, when you ask if we shoudn’t take the sum of Johnson’s words, I will say “of course”. The thing is, it has seemed to me that you are leaning much heavier on the trouble some words and not on the ones that seem to be orthodox.

    There are many troublesome words/passages! Trying to reconcile them all is no easy task! And, these, frankly, cannot be reconciled into one coherent theology unless you begin with the “troublesome” passages which are a consistent theme in the Johnson corpus and not just a few isolated statements.

    And frankly, I don’t understand your argument you restated in your last comment about that quote. If Jesus did become Christ at His baptism in Johnson’s thinking, and divinity is associated with being Christ as the first part of that statement seems to say, then would not Jesus become divine at least at His baptism? If BJ truly believes He can’t be God on earth, that would be defeating His purpose altogether as far as BJ goes.

    It’s very simple: “…The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil.” Jesus was only divine by virtue of the “anointing” that “rested upon” Him and hence not divine Himself!

  41. cherylu says:

    I’ve got to go and get something else done. I’m thinking we could discuss this until the proverbial cows come home and not necessarily ever come to agreement on it!

  42. Craig says:

    I’ll be out for a good bit of the rest of this evening as well.

    We may not agree on some points; but, that’s OK. However, I do feel that if someone were able to see my point of view — which is clearly in the minority — it would be you!

    My position comes from having read and re-read his works. Many of the passages I had read probably 25 times or more just to “wrap my head around them” — and it gave me headaches!

  43. cherylu says:

    Almost gone! Saw your last comment before I left my computer.

    Speaking of Jesus divinity–as the angels attesting to it, and saying He was linked to the divine by the anointing are not the same thing at least not as I see it.

  44. Craig says:

    But, Johnson makes it clear that “Jesus put the credibility of all these messengers on the line. Their ministries would have been in vain without one more ingredient to confirm who He really was.” Did the archangel Gabriel not know for sure? Was his ministry potentially in vain? This points to Johnson’s statement that it’s the miracles that confirm that He was the Christ; and, of course, Jesus was the Christ by virtue of the “Christ anointing” which gave Him the power (the Baptism in the Holy Spirit) in order to perform the miracles since Jesus was at that point “a man in right relationship to God,” again, by virtue of the “Christ anointing.”

  45. Craig says:

    Not to stifle the current excellent discussion, I want to interject something else as it pertains to the post.

    In Crisp’s Divinity and Humanity, he references the quite liberal John Hick and his book The Metaphor of God Incarnate [A second, revised edition; SCM Press, 2005] which I picked up this morning and started to read. Hick does not believe Jesus was God Incarnate. I’m not very far into the book; but, it’s clear thus far he is setting out to “prove” that Jesus was merely a man and not divinity Incarnate. On page 6 of his book is the following:

    “This collection of ideas [proper Christology and other orthodox Christian beliefs], constituting the picture in terms of which Christians long understood the universe and their place in it, only began to come under serious strain in the seventeenth century as the modern scientific world-view began to form. This produced a cognitive dissonance which by the end of the nineteenth century had created a rift between those who had gradually come to accept the new knowledge — biological evolution and the historical study of the scriptures being the most contentious issues — and those who, on the contrary, reacted in intensified adherence to their threatened world-view.”

    And, I came across this earlier this morning from Alice Bailey:

    It is interesting to note (though it is of no immediate moment) that the work of destruction initiated by the Hierarchy during the past one hundred and seventy-five years (therefore since the year 1775) has in its seeds — as yet a very long way from germination — of the final act of destruction which will take place when the Hierarchy will be so completely fused and blended with Humanity that the hierarchical form will no longer be required. [Externalisation of the Hierarchy, Lucis, 1946; p 566]

    I’m not sure what Bailey means by “since the year 1775,” although this is around the time the US became its own nation, of course. I’ve no idead if she’s connecting the two. However, the essence of the these two quotes above potentially helps to support one of my hypotheses as mentioned in footnote 76:

    My working hypothesis is that 18th and 19th century liberalism in general including Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel and his dialectic process, Darwinism, et cetera, continued to barrage the Church and has resulted in the state of the church today. Taken together, these liberals may have influenced society to the extent they helped enable various underground esoteric doctrines to flourish in the late 19th and into the 20th century (such as Rosicrucianism) and directly or indirectly led to Theosophy (a confluence of esoteric doctrines throughout the centuries which may have influenced Latter Rain) and New Thought (which definitely influenced Word of Faith via Kenyon), which may have, in turn, led to various errors of today.

  46. Martin says:

    Legalistic theology.

  47. Craig says:

    To which or whose theology are you referring? Kenosis, in general?

  48. Craig says:

    Martin,

    On another thread on this site you affirmed Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. So that must mean all of the fullness of the diety lives in bodily form then.” This is, of course, 100% correct and indicates immutability and asserts that Jesus Christ had all His divine attributes during the Incarnation. Given this one Scripture, how do you reconcile that with such Johnson statements as:

    “He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever!”

    “…Jesus had no ability to heal the sick. He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead.”

    The following indicates that not only was Jesus unable “to destroy the works of the devil” without the “anointing” but that He was a mere man:

    ““…The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil.”

    And, in this last one, Johnson claims we receive the same “Christ anointing” as Jesus received. Do you believe that? Or is there a different way to interpret this one?:

    “…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…”

    Is there a way to reconcile all these quotes with Colossians 2:9?

  49. Martin says:

    John 5:19 – Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

    John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

    It was Jesus himself who said – The son can do nothing by himself. This is an ASTOUNDING statement. The son can do nothing by himself. This is not the entire statement – only part of it. He goes on to say that it is his total reliance on God the father, which enables him to be able to do all these things.

    But i believe we need to hear and understand what is being said here. IF Jesus was acting alone, he would be unable to do the works of the Father. Thats what he said. Thats what he meant.

    Some of the quotes you say are taken totally out of context of the book. Chapter 9 explains this. That Jesus is working in perdect tandem with the Father – in perfect unity with.

    Thus if you only focus on one part of Bill’s statement it will sound dubious. Bill believes that Jesus is fully divine.As he states on Page 93

    The angels also gave witness to His divinity when they came with a message for the shepherds: “For there is born to you this day … a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
    He always states that Jesus is God’s son – and this means that he is equal with God.

    So the question is – why did Jesus say by myself i can do nothing? That is what i would like you to explain. How do you read this?

    If we took God the Father out of the equation – would it really mean that Jesus was alone and could do nothing? Thats what he said and IF we follow your If A then B principle, we are left to conclude without the Father, Jesus could do nothing.

  50. Martin says:

    Also – you need to really listen to the fact that Bill also says –

    P28 – “While He is 100 percent God”
    P28 – 1.He had no sin to separate Him from the Father.
    Do these statements contradict scripture or have you missed them out on purpose?

    In John 15:5 – Jesus says

    5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

    To me this the same kind of thing – You cannot possibly do anything without Jesus. We are totally dependent on Jesus to give us the grace to enable us to do the works of the father.

    If you can offer me an alternative explanation of what Jesus meant when he said “the Son can do nothing by himself” – it would be helpful.

  51. Craig says:

    Not exactly Martin. If you take the full context of John 5:18-27 you’ll see, as noted in this article, that Jesus had full capability to both raise the dead and give life apart from the Father. Jesus acted in obedience to the Father, not total reliance. That’s a BIG difference. So, when Johnson proof-texts by using only “The Son can do nothing of Himself” he’s misstating the intent. Jesus was setting out to prove to the unbelieving Jews that He was both God’s Son and equal to God and thus God Himself. This is not what Johnson conveys here as he is teaching subordinationism at best.

    The portion you note on page 93 of the online pdf of WHIE (97 in the book) could be seen as affirming Christ’s deity were it not for what follows in that paragraph and the other claims Johnson makes (as noted in the article) regarding how Jesus received the title/name of Christ via the “Christ anointing” which “linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil.”

    You’ve not answered the latter two quotes at 6:13am today. These point to Jesus being just a man who was “Christed” and this “Christing” is available to all mankind. If that’s not how you see them, then please explain.

  52. Craig says:

    As to your quote of Johson “He is 100% God…”, as pointed out in the article I put it in its larger context and explain:

    Going back a bit to the first set of quotes of Bill Johnson used above, and, adding more of the context, we can see more of this concept in evidence regarding the eternal realm as opposed to the temporal:

    “…He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He [sic] was redeemed. He made that point over and over again…He performed miracles, wonders and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God”[140]

    Yes, according to Johnson, Jesus is/was God eternally – just not during the Incarnation as He performed miracles as a man, not as God since He was not actually God during the Incarnation.

    As to the “He had no sin to separate Him from the Father.” That does not prove deity in the Johnson conception because all of us have the potential to live sinlessly as the following page indicates:

    …Nothing now separates us from the Father. There remains only one unsettled issue —

    …How dependent on the Holy Spirit are we willing to live?”

    The so-called “noetic-effect” of sin is what separates us from God. Theoretically, if one were to be able to live sinlessly, even for a short duration, there would be no separation between that individual and God. However, I’m quite confident no one has actually lived sinlessly which is the whole purpose of the Atonement.

  53. Craig says:

    Also, note Johnson’s definitive statement following your point 1 above in the book:

    “2. He was completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him.”

    That is not Scriptural as John 5:18-27 indicates.

  54. Martin says:

    Answer the question. What did Jesus mean The son can do nothing by himself?

  55. Craig says:

    Martin,

    I did answer the question both in the article itself and in my response to you at 8:06am.

  56. Martin says:

    No, that does not address the question. You avoid answering the question by talking about Jesus giving life and raising the dead(even though he does not mention raising the dead) and nowhere does it mention “apart from” – it says “just as”

    Your trying to sidestep answering the question. Please answer the question.

  57. Craig says:

    Martin,

    Here’s the Scripture in larger context:

    18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. 19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.

    The “even so the Son gives life to whom He will” would totally contradict “The Son can do nothing Himself” were it not for this larger context which shows Jesus is both equal to God and thus God Himself who can certainly do things “of Himself.”

    In the article I quote Andreas Kostenberger, a well-known orthdox Christian scholar:

    Andreas Kostenberger states, “He claimed not merely to be God’s instrument in raising other people, but to give life himself to whom he is pleased to give it.”[102] [See Luke 23:43; John 6:70; 10:28-29; 11:1-44; 13:18; 15:16, 19.] In a footnote, I quote him again: [107] Kostenberger, pp 187-89. Kostenberger also points out that Jesus Christ provided eternal life during his earthly ministry referring to John 5:24 as “…one of the strongest affirmations of realized (inaugurated) eschatology in John’s Gospel.” [p 188] And, also, “Jesus claims that God granted him life in himself, a divine attribute” [p 189] illustrating clearly that Jesus had divine attributes, contrary to Johnson’s claims.

    Also, quoted in the article is Craig Keener in footnote 105: Keener, agreeing with Kostenberger, states, “Like the Father, Jesus could give life (5:21; cf. 17:2); this made him act in a divine manner.” Moreover, in a section titled “Jesus as Life-Giver in the Present and the Future (5:24-30)” Keener shows agreement. He continues, “Jesus returns to the claim that the Father has authorized him to give life (5:21) with the image of realized eschatology implied by “passed from death to life” (5:24); one already abides in death until believing in the one who sent Jesus, hence in Jesus’ delegated mission…”

    This clearly shows obedience rather than total inability. The power and authority were granted by the Father, yes, but, Jesus was using His omnipotence in carrying it out. This affirms Jesus worked these miracles Himself apart from the Father or the Holy Spirit. That’s my point. Johnson claims it was the Holy Spirit who performed all Jesus’ miracles as that’s a primary part of his thesis.

    If you don’t agree, then how would you interpret this Scripture?

  58. Craig says:

    And, here’s verse 25 which illustrates Jesus would, could (and did in John 11:1-44) raise the dead:

    25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. [John 5:25 NKJV]

  59. Martin says:

    Your still not answering the question. You talk about obedience. You talk about Jesus having authority to raise the dead. You talk about Jesus giving life.But you do not specifically answer what Jesus meant by that statement. You answer it only with

    The following all feature in those statements…

    the Father has authorized him
    God granted him to
    For as the Father has

    So, he talks about himself in relation to the father. Listen to this passage –

    John 10:18 – No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

    He ‘recieved this command’. Does that mean he wasn’t in possession of it to begin with? How could God recieve something he already had?

    So back to the actual question – Why does Jesus say “the Son can do nothing of Himself”.

  60. Craig says:

    Martin,

    You wrote: “He ‘recieved this command’. Does that mean he wasn’t in possession of it to begin with? How could God recieve something he already had?

    Are you saying Jesus wasn’t God during the Incarnation?

    17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” [John 10:17-18 NKJV}

    As the second person of the Trinity, Jesus had the power to lay down His life. He received the command to come die as a substitutionary Atonement for our sins. It was a willing sacrifice in obedience to the Father for the redemption of mankind. However, He did have the power to raise Himself as illustrated in John 2:19. Do you believe Jesus was not omnipotent during the Incarnation?

    I’ve already answered your question a number of times; so, I’m going to ask you to cease from asking the same question I already answered as it seems you are arguing a matter of semantics.

    Let’s ‘cut to the chase,’ so to speak: how do you view “The Son can do nothing of Himself?” Do you believe He has no ability to perform miracles? Is He totally reliant on the Father and/or the Holy Spirit to perform miracles? The real question as regards this article is how Johnson interprets this point; and, he states plainly that Jesus “was completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him.” Is this how you view it; i.e., do you agree with Johnson on this point?

    Do you believe Jesus is and was (including the time of the Incarnation) co-equal and co-eternal with the Father as part of the Holy Trinity?

  61. Martin says:

    You have not answered my question, but okay as you insist. I’ll move on.

    “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I,’

    12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

    And in relation to the disciples sitting on his left and right. Thats not for me to grant.

    Here, in terms of equality in reference to your statement of co-equality – Jesus seems to indicate that God the Father is greater than God the Son. His words not mine!

    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone” – Again Jesus seems to play himself downs somewhat. Why does he do that? Not sure!

    To be honest i feel that – in trying to explain how God the Father worked through God the Son. Jesus seemed to have self imposed limitations. We have to look to verses such as Hebrew 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. I find that difficult to comprehend in light of his sinless nature. How did he learn obedience, if in fact he was never disobedient.

    I certainly feel that it is incomprehensible as to how the eternal God would be able to squeeze himself into the form of a man, and more profoundly a newborn baby. How did that all work with all of the attributes of God….i honestly cannot answer that. It’s like trying to know the totality of who God is. We are told some of the attributes, we are told about his nature, but we understand even those things from a temporal position.

    Jesus would never make a statement like before the world began – “I am” – He certainly existed before the creation of the world. He was God. He is God. That cannot at any point have changed, even as a man. Jesus didn’t become God, he was God.

    Now in relation to his ability to perform miracles – Let me have some time to study that a little more, in light of what Bill Johnson says. But essentially – i believe that he did these things because – He was in the father and the father was in him.

  62. Martin says:

    Also – just a thought – in the garden of gethsemane – where Jesus agonises – he submits his own will to God the fathers will – i think here i seem to see more clearly – God the father and God the son. The sons will seems to be i wish with all that i am that there is another way – and then acknowledges the superior will of the father. At least thats how i read it atm.

  63. Craig says:

    Martin,

    You wrote: Jesus would never make a statement like before the world began – “I am” – He certainly existed before the creation of the world. He was God. He is God. That cannot at any point have changed, even as a man. Jesus didn’t become God, he was God.

    Jesus did say, “Before Abraham was born, I am!” [John 8:58] which thereby proved to the unbelieving Jews that He was indeed God. This wasn’t, obviously, referring to the time before the world was created; however, it does show that He claimed to be existing well before His earthly existence during the Incarnation.

    When Jesus said, “No one is good — except God alone,” [Luke 18:19] the point was lost on the rich young ruler as Jesus was actually proclaiming His own deity. The rich young ruler recognized Jesus was “good” but he did not recognize He was God! If you notice, Jesus recites a few of the commandments, but he leaves out, at first, the very thing He knew the rich young ruler still clung to — his riches. Not being able to give these up, the rich young ruler walks away “very sad.”

    I agree that the Incarnation is a divine mystery; however, it does not have to entail Jesus laying aside His divine attributes. I know it’s very technical; however, Oliver Crisp’s divine krypsis in Part I of this article attempts to define the Incarnation without Jesus having to give up divine attributes [see “.Kenotic Theories of More Recent Vintage” section]. Yes, Jesus was somewhat limited due to His humanity — He, obviously, could not be omnipresent while in human form — however, this doesn’t mean He did not actually have the divine trait of omnipresence. Please read how Crisp describes this in Part I.

    Look through this explanation of the subordinate role of Jesus to the Father here: http://www.theopedia.com/Subordination_of_Jesus:

    “Christ is only functionally subordinate to the Father, not ontologically subordinate … Evangelicals strongly affirm the ontological equality of Son with Father. Yet it is difficult to find doctrinal statements—either in churches or in seminaries—in which the Son is said to be functionally subordinate to the Father. Yet John 14:28; Phil 2:6-11; 1 Cor 11:3; 15:28 all plainly teach the eternal subordination of the Son (John 14 and 1 Cor 11 speak of his present subordination; Phil 2 speaks of his subordination in eternity past; and 1 Cor 15 speaks of his subordination in eternity future). Since these same books strongly affirm the ontological equality of Son with Father, the subordination in view must be functional.” [1]

    In other words, to say that the Father and the Son are “ontologically equal” means that their being is not to be distinguished, thus preserving the doctrine of monotheism which is essential to the larger doctrine of the Trinity. Furthermore, to say that the Son (or Jesus) is “functionally subordinate” means that Jesus is subordinate according to his functions in the Godhead.

    You wrote: “Now in relation to his ability to perform miracles – Let me have some time to study that a little more, in light of what Bill Johnson says. But essentially – i believe that he did these things because – He was in the father and the father was in him.

    Please do, and take your time. Note the quote I used already of Johnson’s [WHIE p 29; which I believe is on page 27 or 28 of the online pdf] ““2. He was completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him.” I do believe you’ll find this is a consistent theme of Bill Johnson’s.

  64. Craig says:

    There are various interpretations of this such as; 1) Jesus did not want to go through with the agony of the Cross; 2) He did not want to be separated from the Father as all the world’s sins were to be cast upon him [see II Cor 5:21]; 3) both. There are undoubtedly others.

    However, yes, this was done in obedience. Jesus still, theoretically, could have chosen not to go through with the Cross, yet He did as Philippians 2:8-11 attests. And, all praise be to Jesus for doing so! as He became our bridge to the Father by His redemptive work on the Cross! Hallelujah!! Jesus IS Lord!

  65. Craig says:

    Going back, for just a moment, to John 5:18-27, in order to, hopefully, add clarity to the “Son can do nothing of Himself” question: Jesus was illustrating to the Jews who were ready to stone Him for blasphemy in equating Himself with the Father since He had stated “His” Father, by stating, in addition, “the Son can do nothing of Himself” in order to show further equality with God the Father. (see again, the weblink above re: Jesus functional subordination) I’m somewhat sure (although I don’t have any references handy at the moment to verify) Jesus also had in mind the Jewish custom (law?) of the requirement of two or three witnesses to confirm a matter. If I’m correct on this, Jesus was using the Father as the “second witness,” as it were.

  66. rockstarkp says:

    Craig.
    Thanks so much for all your work here. I think you’ve been clear.

    On another note, there is something that has always bothered me about BJ’s use of “I can only do what I see the Father doing”.
    I know I won’t state this clearly, but here it goes: In BJ’s theology, it get’s confusing who to pray to for healing. Some times it’s Jesus, but other times it’s the Holy Spirit, and other times it’s the Father. BJ says that Jesus needed the Holy Spirit’s power to heal, and yet the John 5:19 is only about “seeing what the Father is doing.”

    i don’t know. Seems shaddy to me the way BJ jumps around with the scriptures he uses.

    I had a close friend who follow’s BJ once tell me, “who cares if his theology might be wrong. at least he’s healing people.”
    sigh…..

  67. Craig says:

    rockstarp,

    Thanks for the kind words. Some may think I overexplained by fully defining the various kenotic theories; however, this, I felt, was important as some wish to ‘downgrade’ Johnson’s kenosis in view of his sporadic affirmations of Christ’s deity while the large body of his work implicitly denies it. While I can understand possibly giving the benefit of the doubt in some such cases, I’m reminded of this article (which I reference in the Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, part II post):

    http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2010/10/15/atonement-where-1-mdbello/

    …in which Kenneth Copeland, who taught the heretical Jesus Died Spiritually doctrine (of which Johnson comes right to the edge of teaching yet backs off enough so as not to be accused of it) comes out with an orthodox statement merely to appease the many who had called him to task for teaching this heresy.

    I understand what you mean about the confusion regarding who to pray to regarding BJ’s theology; however, Scripture never instructs us to pray to the Holy Spirit as His role is spelled out by Jesus Himself in John 14:15 — 16:15. And, Johnson’s jumping around from one Scripture to the next is proof-texting, plain and simple usually to support an unbiblical doctrine.

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to be healed by Sai Baba; and, I wouldn’t want to be healed by Johnson either. And, God can heal with or without another human vehicle. I, myself, have been healed from chronic knee pain without the laying on of hands or even prayer but rather by praise to God that I was able to run/jog (I used to compete in road races and track) pain free 4 years ago as I tried a running regimen after many aborted attempts in past years prior due to pain. Now, I can kneel down without the ‘creaking’ of my knees as I used to experience. It was only by His mercy that I was healed — not by the command of some other human.

    PS: And, I’m not trying to deny prayer or even the laying on of hands for healing; however, I do think it prudent to be careful just who lays hands on you…

  68. IWTT says:

    What did Jesus mean The son can do nothing by himself?

    Simplistic answer without reading all of what has been commented on. This is my take…

    Jesus will not do anything outside of the will of the Father. He will not be disobedient to the Father and make His own decisions on matters but will ask the Father what His will is and then do it.

    IMHO, it doesn’t mean that He is limited when He was here on earth as a man, He is divine and fully God and fully man, and could have done what ever He wanted but He would be obedient even unto death because He choose to do so. The Son WILL/can do nothing by himself!!!

  69. Craig says:

    Yep, that’s pretty much it. And, since the Father gave Jesus life in Himself [John 5:26] and the authority and power to give life to others “in whom he is please to give it” [John 5:21; NIV 1984], then Jesus did “give life” while He was incarnate even raising the dead as in Lazarus [John 11:1-44].

    Now, of course, Bill Johnson disagrees as he states, “He was completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him.” As evidenced by the John verses cited above, this violates Scripture.

  70. Craig says:

    In reviewing the Misplaced Trust, Part II blog post here on CrossWise, I read anew this interesting quote of Sri Chinmoy who led “The Peace Meditation at the United Nations” beginning in 1970. Many had recognized the late Chinmoy as their own personal spiritual guru including guitarists Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin (Mahavishnu Orchestra):

    “…Man has to realize what he eternally is: God Himself. Man is now God veiled; with patience-light man will unveil his inner divinity. Man is God yet to be consciously and constantly realized, and God is man yet to be manifested totally, completely and unmistakably here on earth.”

    From this perspective, if “man is now God veiled” then it’s not much of a leap to interpret Jesus as “God veiled” during the Incarnation who subsequently (re)gained His deity upon Resurrection or Ascension.

    “Jesus was (and is) God. Eternally God. That never changed. But he chose to live with self imposed restriction while living on earth in the flesh – as a man…” [Bill Johnson, Facebook 3/23/2011]

    I have learned not to just accept commonly understood definitions of terms unless the individual implies it in more that one context or states it explicitly. With that in mind, I think it important to pose specific questions to Johnson such as:

    – Was Jesus eternally divine pre-Incarnation?

    – If so, when did Jesus ‘lay aside His divinity’ – was it pre-Incarnation, e.g. just before or at the virginal conception, or was it some time during the Incarnation?

    – Could Jesus have used His divine attributes if He so desired during the Incarnation or was He, as you state, with “NO supernatural capabilites whatsoever” during His earthly ministry?

    – Given that Jesus was a “lamb (powerless)” on the Cross and He “did not raise Himself from the dead” do we assume Jesus had “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever” in order to take Himself off of the Cross if He wanted? Would this mean He was merely “a man in right relationship to God” and not God on the Cross?

    – Did Jesus die spiritually?

  71. Martin says:

    As i’ve said before – i will not embrace any theology that claims Jesus was not always fully God at all times. Pre-incarnation, incarnation and resurrection.

    What i am trying to work out is this – Why Jesus had to be born under the law as a man and live with some of the limitations of the flesh. Surely as God in the flesh he was already perfect. I’m struggling to equate the two ideas. Already perfect Holy God needing to perfect holiness in any way shape or form.

    Learned and grow in wisdom and favour with God and man. (How can you grow in wisdom if you are already perfect in every way – not like Mary Poppins :-) )

    Learned obedience through suffering. (How could he learn obedience to God, he was already God and therefore already obedient?)

    Be baptised – was baptised into Johns baptism of repentance (It wasn’t because of repentance – he was already sinless) – I’m not entirely convinced by the explanation that Jesus was just showing us a model – he said about fullfilling all righteousness and also John the baptist mentioned that it was about him being ‘revealed’.

    Why didn’t Jesus just turn up as the perfect fully formed Adam/Fully God – and then do his 3 years of ministry and just follow the original pattern? Why go through the birth – childhood, teenage years earthly experience. what did this fulfil? Did this serve a functional purpose?

    Oh i have so many more questions about Jesus and his earthly life :-)

  72. Martin says:

    Okay next thing regarding miracles.

    I’ve had a few thoughts about the miracles of Jesus – The miracles of Jesus were a demonstration and principle of his kingdom – a superior kingdom(righteousness, peace, joy, love etc.) to the kingdom of this world(hopelessness, oppression, bondage etc). The product of the miracles were the works of the father – they are what Jesus did the majority of the time throughout the Gospels.

    Now, what is being called into question here is – how did Jesus do his miracles. Did he do them from his position as God or from his humanity through complete dependence on the Holy Spirit?

    That answer is not a particularly clear one to me.

    Because we find in the Gospels that Simon Peter walked on water. A miracle. A human – performing a miracle. Unless Jesus used some kind of Star Wars Force on Peter – Peter walked on water. Until he doubted something. Either himself or Jesus.

    Then you have the guy casting out demons in Jesus name –

    “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us.”

    And of course – the disciples went into the towns with the authority of Jesus and did miracles.

    So the question is – How did Simon Peter perform a miracle? If he did it by faith as just a man, why couldn’t Jesus do all of his miracles from his human position(whilst still being in very nature God) – why would Jesus have to do the miracles from his position as God?

  73. Martin says:

    Sorry – i forgot to add something to the second to last post.

    The temptation of Jesus – This was completely pointless, Jesus would never have given in to satan because it is impossible for him to be tempted. Therefore, the temptation of Jesus was a farce because he wasn’t actually tempted. Unless of course Jesus was not tempted from his position as God but was being tempted in his humanity.

    Of course these are difficult concepts to try and understand, but these are genuine questions that i would like to understand in a more complete way.

  74. Craig says:

    Martin,

    I am glad you insist on orthodoxy!

    What you are trying to work out is the divine mystery of the Incarnation! We’ll never figure it out. However, it was imperative that Jesus be a man in order to make Atonement for Adam’s Fall AND that Jesus be God as a sinless “perfect man” in order to make Atonement. He had to be both God and man. I don’t currently have references handy; but, it was Anselm who beautifully explained it.

    I’ll have to get the reference for “fulfilling all righteousness” later on as well. Jesus had to be 30 (or more) years as this was the OT standard for the priesthood. Jesus fulfilled the roles of Priest, King and Prophet.

  75. Craig says:

    Now, what is being called into question here is – how did Jesus do his miracles. Did he do them from his position as God or from his humanity through complete dependence on the Holy Spirit?

    That answer is not a particularly clear one to me.

    I can understand that; but, go back to the explanations by Keener and Kostenberger (refer to footnotes in that section) in the article regarding John 5:18-27. This illustrates that Jesus did have both power and authority and did actually carry it out (John 11:1-44 as one example).

    Yes, the disciples (and the seventy-two) had temporary Holy Spirit indwelling to carry out the miracles as commissioned by Jesus Christ. This is no different than, for example, David and his killing of Goliath, etc. The permanent indwelling came at Pentecost (Acts 2).

  76. Craig says:

    To be honest, I am not sure I can fully explain this at the moment (if ever). For now, we must think of the mystery of the Incarnation. Certainly, Jesus as God would have had no trouble “fasting” as God does not have to eat in the first place; so, yes, it was in His humanity that He was tempted.

    I’ll see if I can provide a more adequate explanation later.

  77. Craig says:

    13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”
    15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
    [Matthew 3:13-15 NKJV]

    According to Rudolf Schnackenburg [The Gospel of Matthew, Eerdmans 2002; p 34] and Donald Hagner [Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1-13, Word/Thomas Nelson, 1993; pp 55-56], the phrase used by Matthew “to fulfill all righteousness” has to do with “the fulfillment of the justice required by God” in “the process of salvation-history” respectively. Schnackenburg:

    “…Righteousness” which must be “fulfilled,” is Matthew’s way of expressing the realization of the divine salvific decree and the will of God. Jesus receives the baptism, but, Matthew is careful to declare, only as the one who is totally committed to the divine will and bound in solidarity with the people. For the Christian community, however, he also becomes the model [“it is proper”] for the fulfillment of the justice of God [“all righteousness”].

    The way I understand this, Baptism, which marked the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, was the point at which salvation for mankind was commenced; i.e, it was the first step towards the Cross. To me, it seems to be symbolically representing Jesus’ (as God in the flesh) aligning Himself with man [via the Baptism by John] and the public display of His submission but yet His equality with the Father [the Holy Spirit descending upon Him and the Father’s subsequent proclamation as “Son” in vv 16-17].

  78. Stephen says:

    Hi
    I am not sure if this question has already been covered as I haven’t carefully read all the comments.
    You stated in your conclusion that according to Johnson Jesus divested himself of his divinity “in order to live His earthly existence as a man who was subsequently successful in living a sinless life and thereby providing an example to mankind”.
    From what I have heard from Johnson and his advocates another reason is so that Jesus might provide an example of what Christians are able to do in the supernatural power of God. They can actually live a supernatural human life including the miracles just like Jesus the Christ. I think his theories are all about leading to this aspect of his teaching.
    I don’t agree but what answer would you give to this?

  79. Craig says:

    Stephen,

    Yes, this is another of the conclusions which is based on an erroneous interpretation of John 14:12, the “greater works/things.” In proper context, this has to do with quantity rather than quality. I will try to provide a more complete answer, if possible, by consulting reputable commentary later (I’m at work right now) such as F.F. Bruce, Craig Keener or Andreas Kostenberger.

  80. Craig says:

    Stephen,

    I wanted to answer your question a bit more fully. To reiterate, yes, this is one of the explicit teachings coming from Bethel (and other hyper-charismatic churches) that we can do not just what Jesus did but even “greater works” than Jesus. Andreas Kostenberger, from the “Encountering Biblical Series” (EBS) Encountering John [Baker, 2002 {2009 8th printing}, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 155-54], explains that Jesus is telling the disciples it will actually be better for them when He is exalted as this will culminate in the Holy Spirit indwelling (Acts 2) as they will then be able to do “greater things” with Jesus’ assistance through prayer:

    …This, then, is the reason believers will be able to do greater works than even Jesus: “because I am going to the Father” (v. 12c). For once Jesus is exalted in His Father’s presence, believers will be able to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, and Jesus himself will answer these prayers (vv. 13-14).

    This does not refer primarily (or even secondarily) to believers’ ability to work miracles like Jesus did. (In any case, it is hard to imagine greater miracles than Jesus’ raising of Lazarus.) After all, only Jesus’ works are termed “signs” in John’s Gospel. Rather, what is envisioned here are works of a more general nature, works performed at a stage in salvation history where Jesus’ cross-work has been completed and the Spirit energizes believers’ ministry in a way unprecedented in previous times…

    The claim that we can do “greater miracles” than Jesus is patently false.

    Now, can we do the same miracles as Jesus performed? Claims of raising the dead have never been substantiated; and, I don’t believe they ever will be. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong one day; but, I doubt it as Scripture states we are appointed once to die, then judgment [Hebrews 9:27]. However, God can and certainly does heal and He may do this through anointing with oil by elders of a church and their subsequent prayers [James 5:14-15], by a saint (or saints) praying [John 14:13-14] or, in His mercy, He may heal without any human “assistance.”

  81. Martin says:

    “The claim that we can do “greater miracles” than Jesus is patently false.”

    So, let me get this straight – When Jesus said “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” you are saying he was refering to something other than doing miracles? I am very interested to hear you expand on this.

    My view is that – The Lord will not fail to fulfil his own word. When he said –

    “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.”

    What your saying is that this statement is not true? That christian people cannot do the works of the father? Or raise people from the dead? or do anything impossible?

    Smith Wigglesworth – was a man of awesome faith. He, according to many eye witnessess raised people from the dead. There was an account of him shouting angrily at a corpse and trying to stand the dead person on his feet. The dead person kept sliding down until finally the corpse’s spirit returned to his body.

    Sometimes skepticism and downright unbelief, prevents us from seeing the superiority of the Kingdom of God.

  82. Craig says:

    Martin,

    Using Kostenberger’s words, an exegete and expositor with far more schooling than me, I already explained it. He is not excluding miracles in toto. The key to understanding this verse are the two verses which follow — vv 13-14:

    13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. [NKJV]

    “In my name” means in Jesus’ character. Given that we are appointed once to die (as I’ve already quoted), why would God go against His word? I ask you to explain that one to me.

    Have you ever prayed earnestly for weeks/months on end using Mark 11:24-25 for something to happen which would seem, according to Scripture, to fall within God’s will yet it fail to happen? I know I have. Could it be because God allows us, including the other individual who was involved in my prayer, the free will to obey Him or not that all prayers in faith are not answered?

    [I’ve edited this following paragraph removing it from the former as I had previously since the way I posted it initially may look like Eric’s free will came into play on this which was not my intention. I’ve added the parenthetical remark below. Sorry for my initial sloppy writing.]

    A case in point (regarding unanswered prayer in general): what about Johnson’s/Bethel’s prayer for Bill’s son Eric’s deafness, for example? I only point this out since this has been publicized on BJ’s own blog:

    http://www.bjm.org/content/13/the-value-of-mystery.html

    Bill Johnson’s claim that he’s believing it “as a ‘right now’ word” cannot escape the fact that (as of yet) Eric is not healed. God certainly could, but apparently it is, as of yet, an unrealized miracle. It is not what we do, it’s what He does.

    The greatest miracle is when a sinner comes to faith in Jesus Christ.

  83. cheryl u says:

    Just reading the continued conversation here. But I have to ask a quick question, Craig. Acccording to what you are saying, Christians will never see people raised from the dead because it is “appointed once to die and then comes the judgment”. Sorry, but I can’t see the logic in that. If that prevents Christians from ever seeing the resurrection of a dead body, why was Jesus able to raise the dead? Was it not appointed to those folks once to die too? And presumably they did all die again. There is no record or mention of them being made immortal at that point.

  84. Craig says:

    Lazarus was raised before Jesus Christ’s sacrificial work on the Cross. The Scripture “appointed once to die” is NT not OT.

  85. Stephen says:

    Hi Craig,
    getting back to the beginning of this conversation I started. The practical outworking of this kenosis theory is that since Jesus ‘emptied’ himself and operated like a man empowered by the Holy Spirit the implication is that we too can also do what Jesus did today. That is, Jesus didn’t operate as God or divine but as an Holy Spirit empowered man. I have a problem with that. I came across this theology recently in ‘Healing Rooms’ training. They taught that we could do the works that Jesus did in healing because we can access the same power of the Holy Spirit as Jesus did. This was coupled with ‘declaring healing’ rather than praying for healing as Jesus commanded us to heal the sick not pray for the sick which smacked of ‘Word of faith’ theology.

  86. Craig says:

    Stephen,

    You are quite correct in having a problem with this particular kenosis theory!

    Bill Johnson definitely has some Word of Faith doctrine in his overall theology.

  87. cheryl u says:

    Craig,

    Well, check out Acts 20:9-10, post resurrection and ascension of Christ, definitely New Testament:

    “And a young man named Eutychus, sitting at the window, sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer. And being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and taking him in his arms, said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.”

    It says he was dead and evidently resurrected.

    And in Acts 9:36 and following Dorcas was raised from the dead under Peter’s ministry.

    I think you need to rethink this one.

  88. Craig says:

    Yes, mea culpa. The NT Apostles DID in fact raise from the dead. The purpose was always fo point to Christ for conversion, of course.

    So, then, why in your view is Hebrews 9:27 in Scripture? Doesn’t this contradict Acts 9 36-41 and 20:9-10?

  89. cheryl u says:

    I don’t know how to answer that question. My thought would be that Hebrews 9:27 is maybe the general rule. Are the occasional resurections that happen God’s exceptions to the rule? I’m honestly not sure.

    And I wonder if the Hebrews verse is maybe meant to convey more of the fact that once you are dead and the final judment has been passed, there is no second chance in eternity? There is no “universal reconciliation” that can happen on the other side of the grave?

    I really don’t know. I have never taken the time to really work through this one. I just know that both are taught.

  90. Craig says:

    Before I offer any conjecture, I will consult some commentary. My attention is diverted at the moment. Perhaps in an hour or two.

  91. Craig says:

    Here’s F.F. Bruce in the New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT): The Epistle to the Hebrews on 9:27-28:

    ”Men die once by divine appointment, and in their case death is followed by judgment. Christ died once, by divine appointment, and His death is followed by salvation for all His people…” [Eerdmans, copyright 1964 F.F. Bruce, 1985 reprint; pp 222-23]

    It’s to compare/contrast. The rest of the commentary focuses on v 28 and Atonement; so, nothing in this text to provide any answers to our particular question.

    William L. Lane from Word Biblical Commentary (WBC): Hebrews 9-13:

    ”The uniqueness of Christ’s sacrifice as an unrepeatable action that occurred hapax [Greek transliterated] “once,” at the climax of history suggests a further line of argument [that Christ’s offering was complete and sufficient]. The common human experience that death occurs hapax provides an analogy for understanding the saving significance of Christ’s priestly action…

    ”The observation that death is an unrepeatable experience has been made from the time of Homer…The fact that death will be followed by divine judgment was commonly stressed in the preaching of the old synagogue…The truth that the human family stands under a divine appointment to die and to experience eternal judgment was part of the foundational teaching to which the community had been exposed when they first accepted the gospel…The comparison [in this passage] extends to both terms, the once dying and the judgment. [Thomas Nelson, 2000; pp 249-50]

    This lends a bit toward your comment above but offers nothing definitive re: our particular question.

  92. Martin says:

    I really don’t understand what the issue is here? If God wants to raise someone from the dead in this day and age – what is the problem? That person will still eventually die and be judged?

    If i go to God, and say “i believe you can do x y and z – and i have faith that you can and will do it” Why would God refuse such a request? Doesn’t that show that you are acknowledging exactly who he is? You are testifying i believe you will do this.

    Why would God refuse such a request? Even if it is raising someone from the dead? Faith moves mountains, if we have faith to do something entirely possible by human hands, then is it really faith?

    I’m really interested in your viewpoint.

  93. Craig says:

    I’ve already voiced my viewpoint:

    The claim that we can do “greater miracles” than Jesus is patently false.

    Now, can we do the same miracles as Jesus performed? Claims of raising the dead have never been substantiated; and, I don’t believe they ever will be. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong one day; but, I doubt it…

    Simple logic says there’s nothing that could beat a raising of the dead. Therefore, to think we can do “greater miracles/works” in kind just doesn’t make sense. The only logical conclusion is a difference in quantity rather than quality.

    Perhaps one day I’ll be proven wrong regarding raising of the dead. However, to date, all the dubious claims of dead raising have not been substantiated after numerous requests from various sources. Now, of course, there are “resuscitations” such as reviving a non-breathing drowning victim and I’m not speaking of those. Would this this count as a “dead raising?” I wouldn’t think so. What about the individual who is ‘flat-lined’ and paramedics revive him/her with a defibrilator? I don’t believe that counts either.

    Why don’t those who are particularly impressed with the likes of Branham, Wigglesworth, etc. pray in faith for them to be raised from the dead? There have been a number of prominent hyper-charismatic individuals who’ve recently passed on. Why haven’t the likes of Bentley, etc. been called to raise them from the dead?

    In any case, this goes far afield of the original post. My thoughts on this matter are not germane to the post. Let’s get back to discussing the particulars of this article.

  94. Martin says:

    I never mentioned being a supporter of Branham or Bentley. I said Wigglesworth. Read his sermons. I don’t like Bentley, don’t feel entirely comfortable with the whole angel thing and something about him makes me uncomfortable.

    All I want to say is I’m totally fed up with powerless Christianity of the hours pouring my heart out to a God who lacks the compassion to heal me. As far as I’m concerned the bible urges me to die to myself that God can live in me. To move into a place where I strengthen my feeble legs so that the cripple may walk, I think that’s in James btw.

    I am convinced we should be demonstrating the power of God not just the theory of it. Some of the things that Johnson has said really struck a chord with me. Whether he his a heretic or not, I will use what he has said to help me in my relationship with God. In the very same way I can use pop music and secular music to praise God.

  95. Craig says:

    Martin,

    I’m very sorry to hear about your legs. I will pray for you. I am convinced God can and does heal conditions as you describe. I know someone whose wife has been asymptomatic of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for going on 20 years. I’ve met her; but, I knew her husband better (we’ve lost touch). God is definitely still healing. I’ve mentioned my own supernatural healing from chronic knee pain. (I still have occasional lower back pain from a previous injury, however.)

    However, I know that not all are healed. I don’t know why. I wish I had the answers on this. I think about Joni Erickson Tada and others like her. I would like to see everyone healed. Years ago, I actually prayed for God to give me the gift of healing as my stepfather was very ill.

    I did not mean to suggest you supported Bentley or Branham. I was merely making a general point; and, since Bentley has been the most visible “healer” and “dead raiser” of late, I used him as an example.

    I’ve been reading D. R. McConnell’s book A Different Gospel on E.W. Kenyon and Word of Faith (Kenneth E. Hagin, etc). In the book, McConnell states that Kenyon saw the miraculous in the metaphysical cults and noticed the members of the Christian church were leaving to go over to these cults. As a consequence, he sought to mimic the same thing. In his desire to see the miraculous in the Church, he adopted some of the techniques of the metaphysical cults.

  96. cheryl u says:

    I see that David’s Guzik’s commentary here speaks to the question of the “appointed to man once to die” isssue that we were discussing earlier.

  97. Craig says:

    Thanks cheryl u. Here’s the relevant portiion:

    …This means that there are no second chances beyond the grave. Now is the time to choose for Jesus Christ, because when we die, it is simply after this the judgment.

    It is important to note that the principle of it is appointed for men to die once is not an absolute principle. There are some unique, remarkable exceptions. Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) never died once. Several people in the Bible were raised from the dead (1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 13:20-21; Matthew 9:25; John 11:43-44; Acts 20:9-11); and therefore died twice. Those taken in the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:17) will never die once. Yet these remarkable, unique exceptions do not deny the principle of it is appointed for men to die once; they are exceptions that prove the rule.

    Now, I suppose I’ll state my own conjecture:

    Given that those who did the raisings of the dead were either Jesus Christ Himself, one of the twelve, or the Apostle Paul, and not others besides Jesus or the 1st century Apostles (I’m speaking NT, or post-OT), I don’t believe we will see the (physical) raising of the dead in our time. Note that the seventy-two of Luke 10 did not raise the dead (though they did perform exorcisms and healed the sick). Even the disputed Mark 16:9-20 does not mention raising the dead.

    Lazarus’ death and subsequent raising by Jesus prefigured His own death and resurrection. Note that Jesus states in v. 4 “This sickness will not end in death” [NIV 1984], which I believe is key here, although in v. 14 He states Lazarus IS dead but the point was “so that you may believe.” His death was for God’s glory (11:4, 40). And, in vv. 25-26 Jesus stresses faith in Him for salvation. Lazarus’ death was illustrative of the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. This point is reiterated in vv 40-42.

    The dead raisings in Acts were miracles done to show the glory of God leading to salvation of individual witnesses and those who believed these accounts as they were told. Craig S. Keener notes in his well-regarded commentary The Gospel of John that Lazarus was dead longer (4 days) than the other dead raisings (Keener uses resuscitation as opposed to our future and Jesus’ resurrection [p 848]) — I believe this is very important to consider. In John’s Gospel, Lazarus’ death and raising/resuscitation provided the catalyst for Jesus ultimate death and resurrection [11:45-57; 12:9-11].

    Please note, of course, that Lazarus would live again, subsequently died again, and will have a future resurrection [11:24].

    Again, my opinion is that we now have the accounts of dead raisings in the Bible to illustrate that God can and did physically raise the dead which, as with the rest of Scripture, provides part of the basis for our faith [see John 20:29]. Those who believe will be eschatologically spiritually raised from the dead, and, in the future, the dead in Christ will be resurrected. And, of course, those alive at that time will be translated into their glorified bodies [I Cor 15:50-52].

    Now, let’s get back to discussing the myriad of subjects within the post itself.

  98. Craig says:

    cheryl u,

    I know we don’t agree with everything regarding this post; however, I would like your view of the info in the article encompassing the area referenced by footnotes 114-122 in which Johnson claims Jesus was indwelled by the Holy Spirit and subsequently received the ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ and that He is a model for us in this regard. I’m not specifically asking you to go into the Pentecostal/charismatic belief in the individual receiving the biHS; but, the fact that Johnson believes Jesus was indwelled by the HS and received the biHS. Does this point to ontological kenosis in your view?

  99. cheryl u says:

    Craig,

    There are certainly things that Johnson says that paints a picture of ontological kenosis. And this is certainly one of those places. But I am not at all convinced that he understands it that way. And then he turns right around and says that Jesus is and always was eternally God and other such related statements. His statements and his theology still seem hopelessly confused to me. I don’t think that it is possible with any certainty to state that he truly believes in ontological kenosis since he has also certainly made statements to the contrary.

    Just like I don’t think John Piper likely believes in ontological kenosis even if he made the statements he did. At least not unless his theology changed drastically somewhere along the way. He has affirmed that Jesus was God many times I believe.

    How can smart men be so confused? I’m sure I don’t know. But it seems, IMO, that they can.

    I truly do not have the time or the energy at this time to continue this particular conversation. But since you asked here specifically, I decided to write this quick comment.

  100. Craig says:

    Thanks for your comment.

  101. Craig says:

    For the general readership:

    Can Bill Johnson’s theology be fully reconciled as coherent or does it remain hopelessly contradictory? If hopelessly contradictory, is this better than actually being defined as ontologically kenotic? As part I illustrates, there are those today (and beginning in the mid-nineteenth century) who defend ontological kenosis as a viable explanation for the Incarnation since, admittedly, the hypostatic union is beyond the limitations of human comprehension.

    Bottom line: is it better to identify one’s theology as hopelessly incoherent; or, is it better to identify one’s theology as ontologically kenotic?

  102. Craig says:

    I found another possible explanation for Johnson’s affirmation that Jesus “was (and is) God. Eternally God.” and yet He “had no supernatural capabilities whatsoever” as He had “laid his divinity aside” during the Incarnation. It comes from a proponent of Latter Rain (LR) doctrines in toto, namely Bill Britton. I’m not suggesting Johnson is necessarily adhering to the following view explicitly or some of the other views of Britton; however, do note that Johnson himself expressed a belief in “Latter Rain” as explained in Bill Johnson’s Born Again Jesus, Part II in “The Resurrection of the Latter Rain” section in which he promotes at least some LR doctrine. I am suggesting, however, that the following could be a way of seeing Jesus as both “eternally God” and yet temporally man with no divine attributes.

    The following is taken from Britton’s Tent to Temple in a subsection titled “A Man Living in Two Worlds.” Note that both John 3:13 and Hebrews 10:20 are taken far out of context and, in fact, do not support Britton’s claims as stated:

    Jesus told Nicodemus a very strange thing in John 3:13. He said that He was living in heaven at the same time he was living on earth. It was too much for Nicodemus to comprehend, as for many of God’s people today. But it was true. Hebrews 10:20 tells us that the Veil that separated heaven and earth was His flesh.

    One side of the Veil faced the sanctuary with its candlestick and the priest who ministered daily. This was his earthly existence, living under a skin covering. But the other side of the same veil faced the Holy of Holies and Shekinah Presence of His Father. So He could say “I do only those things I see my Father do – I say always those things that please Him.” He lived on the earth where men could see him, in an earth body. But in that body He also walked continually in a heavenly place on the other side of the veil.

    Looking at Jesus’ life through the lens of this Bill Britton passage (or, perhaps, a slight variation), one could make a statement such as Bill Johnson made on his Facebook page on 3/21/11 as shown above in the article keeping an ontologically kenotic view intact.

  103. cheryl u says:

    I don’t follow your reasoning here Craig. If it was the same body on earth as it was in heaven (“in that body He also walked continually in a heavenly place….”) I don’t see how this could be considered ontologically kenotic.

  104. Craig says:

    I apparently did not [edited – I forgot “not”!] make myself clear, sorry.

    If one views, that Jesus lived “in two worlds” — which I’m not saying is without merit in and of itself — then one could say Jesus was eternally God (never changing); i.e., He was living in the eternal realm as God with all divine attributes while, simultaneously, Jesus was temporally a man with “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever” having “laid his divinity aside.” With this line of thinking then, in a sense, there were two separate, distinct aspects – one as the eternally wholly divine Jesus Christ, the other the temporally restricted man devoid of the “omni” divine attributes.

    Does that explain it any better?

  105. cheryl u says:

    I suppose that is a possiblity. But the “same body language” to me certainly makes it questionable to me he had this idea in mind.

    And of course, that doesn’t mean that BJ has had this statement in mind, or if he would of taken what Bill Britton said here and interpreted it in the way you do.

  106. Craig says:

    cheryl u,

    I only offer this as a potential plausible explanation, i.e., that BJ could look at things similar (not the same necessarily) to Britton as in the above quote. That is, assuming his entire corpus can be harmonized somehow. If his teachings cannot be harmonized then I see only one of two options: 1) his teachings are hopelessly incoherent; or 2) he’s being duplicitous — something that cannot be dismissed outright especially in view of the By Whose Power Does Bill Johnson Perform Healings and the Library Mandate posts. Both of these posts point to a potential credibility issue.

    Of course, no matter the case, I do believe we agree that Bill Johnson’s teachings are dangerous.

  107. Lee Anne says:

    Craig,
    You scared me there for a moment. I thought they had gotten to you too!!! But thanks for the clarification. I will continue to pray for you to remain steadfast in the faith, lest you also be tempted. Remember, their job is to plant tiny seeds of destruction. Stay aware and be encouraged. I too, constantly try to give the benefit of the doubt. At times they even seem to give me reason to hope for change. But I realize that even if they don’t accept the truth, at least I have kept the faith and ran the race with endurance, borrowing God’s strength for the day.
    Thanks for the Bible verses to remind me to make a distinction with those who will listen. However, what do you do when you realize they are just “listening” and engaging in dialogue to try to convert you? They will seemingly “agree” at times, adapting to the context of the conversation and even resort to flattery and appeasement. How do you usually make the distinction?

  108. Craig says:

    Lee Anne,

    You wrote They will seemingly “agree” at times, adapting to the context of the conversation and even resort to flattery and appeasement. How do you usually make the distinction?

    It’s not easy but you can see that I’ve had to halt some conversions on the “Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, part I” and “Open Challenge to Bill Johnson Supporters” threads. And, I’ve deleted a few comments as well.

    I certainly wouldn’t want to get cocky or prideful, but, since I’ve read quite a bit of occult literature which cleverly readapts Christian terminology and concepts I’m at least aware of the enemy’s schemes. But, yes, one must always be aware as the devil prowls looking for whom he may devour.

    Just keep in mind also that it may take an individual years to come out of one of these movements. And, in the mean time they may experience cognitive dissonance (trying to keep two opposing thoughts as truth simultaneously) which causes inner turmoil. The solution is to accept one viewpoint at the expense of the other which may prompt the individual to waffle back and forth for a time. But, it’s the seeds of doubt that can be planted which may eventually lead to freedom/Truth.

  109. Martin says:

    I don’t believe in cognitive disonance, it’s an idea that was made up by some random person. Like most psychology concepts and ideas, it’s a subjective notion, that has no scientific basis other than agreement by others, and that ain’t enough.

  110. Craig says:

    Martin,

    As regards cognitive dissonance, this is the way I think about it. Consider someone who you’ve put a LOT of trust in and you are subsequently told and given proof this individual has betrayed you in a big way. On the one hand you think “this cannot be” as there is no way you would expect this given your past associations. Your thoughts go back and forth and you may not believe the betrayal and hold on to the memory of the one in whom you trusted. You cannot simultaneously hold a high view of the one you trusted in while believing this individual has betrayed you. Once you believe the person has, in fact, betrayed you, your thoughts can go back to thinking the individual must not have been trustworthy all along. That’s cognitive dissonance.

  111. Martin says:

    Another way to think of cognitive disonance is saying this cream cake is really bad for me and then eating it. But it is an oversimplification of thought. It’s too reductionistic.

  112. Martin says:

    and unless i believe it is true then for me it’s just not true!

  113. IWTT says:

    I am in cognitive dissonance!

    Late 1970’s I had an experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit w/ the evidence of tongues!
    Late 90’s I am taught that tongues and other vocal gifts ended!
    New millinium, I find that those whom I trusted in the teachings of these gifts were/are possibly wrong and false teachers, can’t be trusted, is the experience real for today or not?!

    There is a dissonance, it’s cognitive and I am not sure which way to believe!

  114. Lee Anne says:

    Craig,
    I’m reminded of the Bible verses on doubt and being tossed to and fro—–with every wind of doctrine—-being double minded and unstable in all ways. Doesn’t that sound a lot like the term “cognitive dissonance?”—yet biblically simplified. I have to admit, I’ve been experiencing that on some issues. Just like “IWTT” I can relate to the confusion concerning such things as speaking in tongues. I too experienced the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with tongues, which I still experience sometimes when I pray. I’ve prayed many times that God would remove this ability if it is not of Him. I want Him more than the gift, but it’s still happening. I know “God is not the author of confusion.” I pray God will show us all we need to know and help us to be patient in the meantime.

  115. Martin says:

    Perhaps, we are guilty of sometimes depending too much on the theology of others. TBH the reason i am not up in arms everytime someone says something i am skeptical about, or feel is dubious in some way, is because when all is said and done – it’s only me that can make a decision about the information i recieve – it all comes down to your own discernment of what you see or hear.

    We probably all have used scripture innappropriately, and misunderstood the actual original meaning of what the writer of scripture was referring to. Sometimes we understand scripture to mean one thing and other days we emphasise another thing.

    I would be cautious about wanting such levels of accuracy in understanding scripture, that to not understand theology in a perfect way becomes a legalistic noose. Yes we want to understand what scriptures says, and we do not want to distort what scripture says, but equally we need to avoid legalism at all costs.

    What matters personally to me is my own personal relationship to God – I dont need anyone else to speak to me and tell me what God is saying to me. I can ask him myself. It’s probably why i now keep myself to myself in church, because i want to avoid people’s forcefulness in trying to tell me what to believe! I have a mind of my own and God is able to tell me where i am going wrong.

    It’s all very straightforward to me – Love the Lord your God with all that you are. Think of your neighbours equally, as you would think of yourself.

  116. Craig says:

    Martin,

    There are many parts to the body. As the section in the article titled “Credence for Ecumenical Creeds as Basis for Christology” shows, Scriptural understanding has been progressive. The early church Councils were convened primarily to combat heresies – mostly of the Gnostic variety. The results of these Councils were the various Creeds some of which are universally recognized in the Church. My point is that this revelation does not come in a vacuum to each person individually. Aberrant Christology was the largest problem in the early Church just as it is today. The benefit today is that we have these Creeds/Councils to look to for guidance. Please re-read that section. Here’s the first part:

    Historically, councils were called to establish creeds (statements of beliefs) in order to codify specific truths as borne out in Scripture while simultaneously refuting specific errors. The ecumenical creeds – those accepted by the Church catholic, as in universal, and not merely the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) but to also include Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches – have largely been uncontested over the centuries as to their veracity, or accuracy, compared to Scripture until the 19th century with the various kenosis doctrines…

    There are certain knowable, objective truths in Christianity that are non-negotiable. Upon those truths we unify, apart from those we do not unify. On the other hand, on the non-negotiables we shouldn’t dogmatically declare our view is correct while everyone else is wrong. However, we do have to keep in mind that Satan is a master counterfeiter. This is why proper Christology and a proper understanding of the Trinity is crucial. Everything should be anchored to the Word.

    Yes, the Greatest Commandment should be our goal.

  117. IWTT says:

    “…What matters personally to me is my own personal relationship to God –” AMEN

    It’s all very straightforward to me – Love the Lord your God with all that you are. Think of your neighbours equally, as you would think of yourself. I agree whole-heartedly

    Though I do understand where Craig is coming from.

    @Lee Ann

    First I was being a little “smarty” about Cognitive Dissonance”, but secondly, I do understand your question. I did have that question a while back.

    I actually have come to a place in my life in this. I believe my initial experience of tongues was real, but what I was doing afterwards was flesh. It was totally different from my 1st experience and frankly was not edifying to me, not encouraging to me as the initial experience, and as far as I am concerned, what we see happen in the church today, especially where a pastor might say, “let’s all pray in our prayer language…” is breaking the rules, and acording to Paul, disorderly.

    I have chosen to stop the gibberish I was doing, and instead, come to a place in my personal walk, to expect, if I am in a situation that requires the Holy Spirit to manifest tongues (true foriegn language), He will do so and I am open to it. But I will not seek it or go after it nor will I make up syllables that I can turn on and off at will and call it tongues. AND when I did supposedly interpret a tongue, as I have done in the past, the truth is, it was a guess at best what was being “said”.

    I go back to what Martin said above….

  118. Lee Anne says:

    I believe the sole test of whether we are interpreting Scripture rightly, is whether we see Scripture as the sole principle of authority. The Bible in itself contains the means of how to interpret it and we have to allow it to define for us the scope and limits of its teaching. All the parts unite as a whole—-in the proper context. I’ve noticed that whenever there seems to be confusion as to the true meaning, something has been taken out of context.
    When I read Kris Vallottens book “The Supernatural Ways of Royalty”—-all thru the text he was saying “I believe God is really saying this”—for example, he says he “personally” doesn’t believe God is really angry with the wicked—only grieved. First of all, by saying “personally,” he’s basically admitting that although God says in Psalms that “He’s angry with the wicked everyday” Kris “personally” believes angry means grieved.
    Where in the Bible does it define this as a means to interpretation??—nowhere. It may seem to be a small discrepancy, but it’s actually subtle deception that slowly leads to worse deception. For instance, later in the book he defends women who have had an abortion, putting down Christians who would warn her of God’s wrath—-saying that is unloving. When in truth it would be the most unloving thing in the world not to warn of God’s wrath and the need for repentance. See where Kris goes with his subtle word changes based on his “personal beliefs?” Dangerous philosophy indeed.

  119. Craig says:

    Vallotton also believes God told him that He would put William Branham’s ‘mantle’ on “a whole generation”:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/kris-vallotton-and-the-%e2%80%9cmantle-of-jesus-christ%e2%80%9d-bill-johnson-on-corporate-anointing/

    And, it gets even worse from there.

    I don’t believe Vallotton heard this from God. He’s either 1) totally deceived; or, 2) not being truthful.

  120. Martin says:

    I say you contact these people personally – so they can at least respond in person. I would be horrified to think that people were disecting every single thing i said, without the opportunity to respond.

  121. Craig says:

    Martin,

    I presume you are referring to Vallotton and Johnson, if not please clarify. How would you know if I’ve not contacted these persons? In any case, over the years ministries of this sort HAVE been contacted with no reply whatsoever, or very limited replies. I know personally two individuals who have contacted Bethel and have received no response save for an automated one. This is a public blog and anyone, including Vallotton or Johnson, are welcome to post comments.

    Having said all this, perhaps, Martin, you could try contacting Bethel. Maybe you’ll receive a response. And, maybe they’ll respond on here. I quite doubt it; but, I could be surprised.

  122. Martin says:

    Well – i think it would be the honourable thing if you made the approach. It is your blog after all is said and done. Don’t be shy. He doesn’t bite, well as far as i know. :D

  123. Craig says:

    Martin,

    The first article on here, “Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, part I” as well as the ‘Open Challenge’ thread have been posted to Johnson’s Facebook, so I’m told. There may have been more for all I know. Given that, he is aware of at least some of the material here and has chosen not to comment.

    But again, certainly, you could try to contact Bethel and see if someone would like to respond. And, once again, I welcome it.

  124. Martin says:

    I think your response speaks for itself.

  125. Craig says:

    In what way?

    Let’s get back to discussing particulars of the blog posts here.

  126. Craig says:

    Martin,

    I’m not releasing your comment as it violates the standards in my Before You Comment tab. Your last sentence (a question) may be more pertinent to part I of this article (since it pertains to kenosis in general) if you wish to post it over there although it looks more like a straw man.

  127. cheryl u says:

    Martin,

    I know Craig is aware of this, so I may be one of the people he is talking about. I e-mailed Bethel with a question a good six months ago at least. Unless their response got lost in cyber space, there has been none forthcoming.

    Still waiting, and waiting, and waiting………. But I am not holding my breath.

  128. Craig says:

    Yes, cherylu, you are one of the individuals I was referring to. I think it was much longer than 6 months ago as I thought you mentioned this in BJ I thread which was written almost a year ago (my, how time flies!).

  129. cheryl u says:

    If that has been a year already, time is flying faster then I thought it was! And it does seem to fly.

    Got to thinking it is possible that a reply could of gotten lost in our spam filter and not recognized when things were deleted there. Specially if a long time period had gone by between asking and getting an answer.

  130. Craig says:

    Anything is possible, I suppose. There’s still the other individual who has not received a response to a very specific inquiry over a concern of how another individual interpreted Johnson heretically and agreed with this heresy (regarding Christology).

  131. cheryl u says:

    Kinda have a hunch that there are others out there in the same boat too. Just didn’t want to overstate things here. Other things have gotten lost in our spam filter in that way. But I woulnd’t think it would be likely that this would. Unless it came in under some weird and unrecognizable address anyway.

  132. IWTT says:

    @Martin

    Brother, you know very little of this blog owner and those he has interacted with. There have been many attempts to get Mr. Johnson to answer the questions and frankly, he is not the only blog owner who has tried. Many others have as well.

    The history of Craig’s actions and those whom he has been in contact with who have inputted on his articles are above board, full of integrity and he does not hide behind some cloak acting in secret. He has indeed tried to get Mr. Johnson to answer his questions.

    Instead some from Bethel have answered for Bill Johnson instead and frankly I considered it somewhat cowardly that Mr. Johnson does not answer and explain himself and his beliefs on his poor theological teachings. I wonder why that is?

    IWTT

  133. Martin says:

    Maybe he’s not a fan of conflict and what seems like a lot of negativity. Maybe he want to keep walking with God or even the Devil if you guys are right. Myself, i have considered what you have said. I think the safest place to be is to just simply follow Jesus personally, and not get caught up in hysteria, lethargy, misdirected theology, apathy and suspicious christianity.

    At the end of the day i am accountable for myself. I alone will give The Lord an account of my life. God terrifies me because he is just so huge and also so right, it’s frightening! At the end of the day i don’t want to get it wrong – and listening to other peoples take on the bible, only makes me feel differing levels of uncertainty.
    The reason for this is probably because i am always weary of other peoples motives, however well intended they may seem to others.

    So i think, for me, no more podcasts, or bible teachings. i’ll stick to the safety of my own biblical revelation, however limited. If i am Christ’s and he is mine, then i’m in good hands. I definately know something of Jesus, there is no doubt about that. It often feels like i have to strain really really hard for even a glimmer, but when he reveals himself to me, by his spirit, there isnt anything that can compare, but at the same time it makes me angry because i can only have a taster now, and if the truth be told, my heart aches for the fullness of it.

    If you’ve ever met with Jesus and not just the theory of it – you’ll know what i’m talking about.

  134. Craig says:

    Martin,

    Maybe Johnson teaches heresy full knowing and uncaring. Maybe Johnson gives ‘honor’ to others who propound heresy for the same reason:

    http://beyondgrace.blogspot.com/2011/07/bill-johnson-and-john-crowders-leaven.html

    Maybe Johnson should honor Jesus more by not covering for his friends. Maybe Johnson should start teaching in a Biblically orthodox manner. Just maybe.

    I am glad you are considering what is being said on here. I certainly do not profess to infallibility with respect to Scriptural interpretation and far less in my own personal walk with the Lord.

    You wrote, If you’ve ever met with Jesus and not just the theory of it – you’ll know what i’m talking about.

    I nearly deleted this portion but decided to leave it to show how you like to profess a holier than thou attitude while accusing me and others of same. You’ve just exposed yourself for who you really are.

  135. IWTT says:

    @Martin,

    Low blow!

    I have known Jesus for over 40+ years. I have been active in the church (Pentecostal) for 40+ years. I love Jesus and I love His Word. I have seen miracles in my life and family. I have EXPERIENCED His love and mighty awesome hand. I don’t want to be standing before him on that Day and have to be smacked for bad teaching (which I am guilty of and have repented for). THAT SCARES ME! The word does say that those who teach will be judged harsher (something like that). I want to be sure that what I teach IS in line with Him.

    I pray that the Holy Spirit does indeed teach you truth that you are seeking and have a relationship that grows everyday with the Lord.

    I challenge you in your reading to throw the verse numbers out, they aren’t in the original, and read the letters as they were given (a letter!). I think you’ll find that as you read the word in the way it was written, you’ll have a better understanding of what the author (the Holy Spirit) wrote and meant. When I began to read in that manner, all of this single verse proof texting that is done by the men we speak of, you will see that they are indeed making their own interpretation.

    Just my two cents worth!

  136. Martin says:

    Actually you’re reading that totally wrong. I wasn’t suggesting for a second that you only have the theory of who Jesus is! That is not the correct tone of what i was saying at all. I wasn’t making accusations, I was merely being reflective and saying if you really know the Lord, then you’ll know what i’m talking about. Not that you don’t know him, that isn’t my judgement to make.

    The verse numbers were a later addition and not in the original? :P

  137. Craig says:

    Martin,

    Given that, I stand corrected and owe you an apology. So, I’m sorry and I ask your forgiveness. The written word is sometimes difficult to convey tone and, hence, full meaning.

    It was your first paragraph in that comment that led me to deduce your tone the way I did.

  138. Martin says:

    Thats okay it is easily done with the written word. No harm done.

  139. cheryl u says:

    I don’t know the date of this Johnson comment. I found it on the Bethel Church and Chrisitianity web site.

    Note what BJ says here again.

  140. cheryl u says:

    While BJ asserts here again that he believes that Jesus was always God, even while on this earth, he certainly make another theological whopper of a statement with his comment on the forgiveness of sins!

  141. Craig says:

    As regards the sin statement, this is just like the Facebook one quoted in the article, i.e, the main point is that Jesus actually was successful living a sinless life. Yep, that’s a problem in and of itself. Could Jesus have sinned? If He did, was there a back up plan for salvation? Would there have to be another Incarnation?

    Then, the WHOPPER that He was forgiven of sins correlates with this statement I’ve always found problematic:

    “…He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He [sic] was redeemed. [at footnote 140]

    I wasn’t sure if the “He” was meant to refer to mankind and hence be a typo. Apparently, it was NOT a typo!

  142. cheryl u says:

    Yeah it is a whopper and it creates a huge set of problems. Nobody here ever said that BJ’s theology was great I don’t think!

    However, I don’t see how any one can read this and still insist that BJ doesn’t believe Jesus was really God even during the incarnation.

  143. Craig says:

    Here’s the statement referenced at cheryl u’s link:

    Jesus was fully God and fully man. I emphasize what He said during His ministry – “the son of man can do nothing of Himself!” He couldn’t raise the dead, multiply food, or heal anyone. While He was fully God He chose to live with self imposed restrictions to discover what life could be like for one forgiven of sin and empowered by the Holy Spirit. But NEVER would I even think He wasn’t fully God. That’s what cults do with jesus — they consider Him to have achieved divine status. Not so. He always has been, and always will be God!!

    The “self imposed” part can be construed as either ontological or functionalist kenosis. However, as pointed out in the article, functionalist kenosis does not work in the very passage Johnson prooftexts [John 5:19] when put in context as Craig Keener and Kostenberger, two well-known scholars, illustrate. Even so, stating Jesus “couldn’t raise the dead, multiply food, or heal anyone” directly indicates ontological kenosis for if Johnson were trying to articulate functionalist kenosis he’d have to state it differently such as “while Jesus could have raised the dead, etc., he chose to perform all His miracles by virtue of the Holy Spirit instead” or some such. Either He had His divine traits to use at will (functionalist) or He did not (ontological).

    And, further, his theology as pointed out in the latter part (and, of course, in the first) of the “Johnson’s View of How Jesus Received His Title/Name of Christ” section which states essentially that Jesus was indwelt with the Holy Spirit and received the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit” in the river Jordan — which comports well with this statement here — puts additional weight to my claim of ontological kenosis. This is regardless of his claim here about the deity of Jesus as it totally contradicts his theology with respect to the humanity of Jesus.

  144. Craig says:

    cheryl u,

    I was typing as you were responding. See the last sentence although the preceding builds towards it.

  145. cheryl u says:

    So his theology is contradictory. I have claimed the possibility or probability of that for a long time. But I do not think one can say that Johnson does not believe that Jesus was fully God while He walked on this earth. In his mind it seems, the “self imposed restrictions” mean that He lived as BJ believes He did but that He was fully God. Makes no sense I agree and effectively denies His deity. But it would certainly appear that Johnson does not see this. And I have certainly learned that just because something appears to be plain as day to me doesn’t mean that someone else will see it at all. Sometimes even though it is explained repeatedly in great detail.

    But I think we all have to stop saying that Johnson denies the deity of Christ while on this earth or that he didn’t believe Jesus was God at the incarnation. For He says just the opposite and if we continue to say that he does will be to call him an out and out liar.

  146. Craig says:

    …if we continue to say that he does will be to call him an out and out liar.

    I’ve no idea if he’s lying; but, I will say this: he’s seemingly much too smart to allow for this sort of obviously self-contradictory theology. This is like stating “that red ball is purple.” Yet, he states this over and over ad infinitum. You just cannot have it both ways. Jesus cannot be “fully God” yet, in effect, not be fully God at the same time.

    Could his affirmations of Christ’s deity be merely lip service? I’m not going to dismiss that possibility.

    Johnson clearly teaches ontological kenosis — intended or not. This strikes right at the core of Jesus Christ’s deity. An affirmation of deity set alongside the rest of his theology to the contrary does not render his ontological kenosis moot, as I’m sure you’ll agree. For this reason, I cannot accept his claim of Jesus Christ’s deity when put in the larger context of the rest of his ontologically kenotic teachings. A neophyte can be given the benefit of the doubt and showed the error of his/her ways. Said neophyte, if s/he were truly Spirit led, would undoubtedly change his/her theology at this point. Johnson, who’s been pastoring longer than I’ve been a Christian, with his stubborn refusal to change his theology raises all sorts of questions.

    If Johnson embraces this sort of self-contradiction, how do we know what he means by the rest of his statements which affirm Christ’s Incarnational deity?

  147. IWTT says:

    …. that Jesus was indwelt with the Holy Spirit and received the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit” in the river Jordan — which comports well with this statement here — puts additional weight to my claim of ontological kenosis.

    And as I have said before in other posts (not necessarily here), where does it actually say that Jesus was Baptized in the Holy Spirit? I believe it states that it (the greek meaning to:) “rested/lited” in the form of a dove as a sign of who he was, Gods Son in whom He was well pleased, not Baptised. He was born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit so He was already full of the Spirit. If it were a Baptism then why was it not as tongues as flames as in Acts?

    IMHO, the whole idea that Jesus was Baptised in the Holy Spirit is wrong. It doesn’t say that and it doesn’t fit the context of the scriptures. I have looked in all kinds of translations and the word still infers “rested upon or lited upon”.

  148. Craig says:

    To claim that Jesus was “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” is to infer that Jesus was merely a man who was indwelt by the Holy Spirit who then received the subsequent BitHS. Johnson explicitly claims that the Spirit “resting upon” Jesus IS the BitHS. It’s very bad theology.

  149. IWTT says:

    He’s wrong! The scripture doesn’t say that, but then that is what we have been taught, us once charismatic/pentecostals.

    You are right; :To claim that Jesus was “Baptized in the Holy Spirit” is to infer that Jesus was merely a man who was indwelt by the Holy Spirit who then received the subsequent BitHS. and that is wrong theology on his part.

    Jesus was/is FULL of the Holy Spirit, he was concieved by the Holy Spirit therefore He was already full of the Holy Spirit and didn’t need a BintHS, but God was claiming to those around who Jesus was by giving a physical sign, the dove. And then God vocally confirmed who He was at the same time.

    I really believe that if Jesus needed to be BitHS it more than likely would have been like the Acts 2 experience with flames because he would have need to be purified, sanctified, made clean due to sin as we need, BUT NO, He is God and sinless and already in that state and was not in need of a Baptism in the Holy Spirit.

  150. Craig says:

    IWTT,

    You wrote, “Jesus was/is FULL of the Holy Spirit, he was concieved by the Holy Spirit therefore He was already full of the Holy Spirit and didn’t need a BintHS…

    I’m not sure we can make the latter part of your statement as definitive. Yes, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit; but, given that Jesus Christ is the 2nd member of the Trinity, would the 3rd member of the Trinity necessarily be in Him? Stated another way, given that Jesus was fully God (and fully man of course), then why would He be “full of the Holy Spirit” which sounds like He would have the Holy Spirit indwelling? This appears to go beyond Scripture.

    The Word (2nd member of the Trinity) became flesh. Scripture does not state something like “the Word plus the Holy Spirit became flesh.”

    The Incarnation is a magnificent mystery!

  151. Craig says:

    I wanted to make a further comment regarding:

    “…and if we continue to say that he does will be to call him an out and out liar.”

    Johnson’s truthfulness is in question as brought forth in this post here:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/?s=library+mandate

    If someone can show me how to understand this sequence of events in a way that doesn’t appear as though Johnson is not telling the truth I’m “all ears.”

  152. IWTT says:

    I see what you mean, and I did a really poor job at communicating my thought. I have a thought process that I think is logical and I will need to use scripture to prove my thought, provided there is some and in context of course. If not then I will stand corrected…

    More to come…

  153. Craig says:

    I just posted the following to part I and thought it appropriate to also post here:

    After reading a comment on Puritan Bob’s blog a while back I decided to pick up a book referenced there – namely Exploring Kenotic Christology edited by C. Stephen Evans. In it are 13 individual essays on kenoticism with most seemingly in the pro camp (I’ve not read them all). Specifically cited was Stephen T. Davis’ “Is Kenosis Orthodox” in which he explicates his own theory of “omniscient-unless-incarnate.” While I believe this amounts to a denial of immutability and hence reject his theory (as I recall Crisp rejects on same which is perhaps why I quickly deduced this), he raises an interesting point with respect to functional(ist) kenosis:

    “Other’s who resist kenoticism argue that the ‘emptying’ spoken of in Philippians had nothing to do with the Incarnate Logos temporarily no longer possessing certain attributes (like, say, omnipotence or omniscience). It had to do instead with the Incarnate Logos voluntarily not exercising those attributes [functional(ist) kenosis] for the duration of Jesus’ earthly life. Again, maybe so. Here the crucial issue is not exegetical but philosophical: is a person who at any time has the ability to be omnipotent but voluntarily and temporarily decides not to call on that ability ‘truly human’ (as the creed insists)? [emphasis in original]

    I disagree with his assertion that the exegetical is not the crucial issue as I see functional(ist) kenosis as implicitly denying immutability, as per Crisp and noted in the article, and thus at odds with Hebrews 13:8; however, I do see this philosophical issue as pertinent secondarily.

  154. Craig says:

    cherylu,

    I hope you’re still reading here. I’ve just thought of something which should have been obvious to me. What if Johnson’s definition of “God” is not equivalent with our definition? Bear with me on this. Given Stephen T. Davis’ theory above that Jesus, while incarnate, was by definition God but redefined as “omniscient-unless-incarnate” and “omnipotent-unless-incarnate,” etc., then this would be consisent with Johnson’s statement that Jesus was/is always God; eternally God.

    I would think then that an appropriate question for Johnson is something like:

    How do you reconcile Jesus as having “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever” while incarnate, yet fully God? This appears to be a contradiction. Do you believe that one of God’s attributes is “omnipotent-unless-incarnate”?

  155. Craig says:

    In the site stats here, I can view the search parameters used to arrive at the CrossWise site. One of them was the following:

    does bill johnson teach that jesus didnt raise himself from the dead

    Yes, he does. More than once he’s made this statement as this article illustrates at the beginning of the “Eternal Implications of Johnson’s Kenosis” section. As pointed out, this violates John 2:19/10:17-18 and it is what is known as ontological kenosis — meaning that Johnson is teaching that Jesus emptied Himself (kenosis) of part of His essential being (ontology). This makes Jesus less than God. This is heresy.

  156. Craig says:

    On reading a bit of commentary on Philippians 2:6-11, the beautiful section in hymn-like or poetic form describing Jesus Christ’s humiliation [vv 6-8] and exaltation [vv 9-11], I came across the following analogy by David Garland in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary [Longman, Garland, Eds., “Ephesians – Philemon”, 2006 revised edition, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 221]:

    Paul does not attempt to explain the mystery of the incarnation, that Jesus was fully divine and fully human. Danish physicist Niels Bohr puzzled over how something like an electron could simultaneously occupy several different states, assuming multiple positions or momentums or enery levels, and still be sensibly considered a thing. How could it be both a particle and a wave? His answer: “We must be clear that, when it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry” (cited in W. Heisenberg, Physics and Beyond [New York: Harper & Row, 1971], 41). The same sentiment is even truer in trying to understand the incarnation, and Paul resorts to poetic language to express this reality about Christ.

    It’s like Thomas Oden’s “a divine gift for joyful contemplation,” as cited at footnote 94 in the article.

  157. Craig says:

    Upon further study and reflection I’ve revised a paragraph in the Concluding Remarks thereby refuting functionalist kenosis absolutely. Following is this revision:

    If Johnson ‘merely’ intends functionalist kenosis instead (with its teaching that the Holy Spirit performed all Christ’s miracles and all ‘omni’ functions), he has many very poorly worded passages in his books, sermons, etc. which need correction or clarification. However, even a functionalist kenosis account such as this suffers from a debilitating problem (in addition to the fact that it denies immutability): it violates Scripture [John 5:24; John 2:19, 10:17-18, etc.] and it necessarily precludes the Word made flesh from upholding the cosmos [cf. Colossians 1:16-17; Heb 1:3] via the so-called extra calvinisticum [aka extra catholicum].

  158. Craig says:

    One further comment. Not a single one of the kenosis proponents I’ve read about explicitly deny Jesus Christ’s divinity/deity. Instead, they change the definition of God in some way whether it’s by claiming Jesus laid aside (some of) His divine attributes or, as in some of the newer versions, deity can be omniscient-unless-freely-choosing-otherwise, or omniscient-unless-incarnate (substitute the other ‘omni’ attributes) which in effect deny His deity/divinity from the perspective of orthodoxy. Given that, I’m not at all persuaded by Bill Johnson’s pronouncements that Jesus Christ is/was eternally God.

    Of course, I’m only including those who overtly claim to be Christian orthodox.

  159. Craig says:

    I’ve just found something else that adds weight to this article’s footnote reference 139. In Louis Berkhof’s The History of Christian Doctrines [Banner of Truth, 1991 (1937), Carlisle, PA; p 121] is the following

    Ebrard…assumed a double life of the Logos. On the one hand the Logos reduced Himself to the dimensions of man and possessed a purely human consciousness, but on the other hand He also retained and exercised His divine perfections in the trinitarian life without interruption. The same ego exists at once in the infinite and finite…

    The bolded portion sounds not unlike the ontologically kenotic version Bill Johnson is espousing. Ebrard presents a schizophrenic Logos with no temporal/earthly divine attributes while somehow retaining eternal divine attributes simultaneously. This view could potentially explain Johnson’s claim that Jesus was/is eternally God; however, it’s just as incoherent theologically and philosophically. This view logically entails bifurcating the Logos into one Who maintains Trinitarian deity while, simultaneously, becomes earthly humanity devoid of divinity while walking the earth. Did this split Logos come back together at Ascension or did He remain split for all eternity?

  160. matt says:

    I would assume if Bill Johnson holds to this particular veiw of Kenosis He believes that at the Ascension His flesh received all His Spirit held. I gather this from His recent sermon http://www.ibethel.org/podcast/2011/11/15/created-to-hear. He states that what Christ gave up He received back. He also states that in our spirit we are not equal with God. God is eternal and we are created beings.

    I assume He is talking about in the flesh, He gave up having all His divine glory. Yet still the fullness dwelling internally(Spirit) God is Spirit according to Scripture. Earlier in a post someone commented to me that Jesus must have had, in the flesh, all knowing ability. They quote I believe the Nathan under the fig tree and Jesus knowing the thoughts of the religious leaders as proof text. I point to the fact Jesus stated He didn’t know when the Father was coming back. I also point to the fact He prayed if the cup could be taken from Him. Jesus had limitations physically(sleeping, eating,dying etc.) What would make anyone think it was differently mentally, which by the way is part of our body as well. Maybe because we associate knowledge with power. Is their a brain big enough to hold all the information God contains. God is omnipresent as well. Yet Jesus for a period was confined in flesh to one place. His Spirit however knew all things.

    This does not make a seperation in persons. My foot cannot understand or answer a question. My foot however is a tool of my mind to take me places. In the same way our spirits dictate the direction of our thoughts. We are all triune beings in my opinion. Mean spirited people think up mean thoughts that lead to mean acts. Without a body or a mind I have no way to interact with the realm of the flesh. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Why would demons rather go into pigs? Because without a host they inherit nothing but darkness. Their spirit has no realm of expression. What then is most real of who we are spirit, soul, or body? When our mind and body dies we still live. So I would say our spirit. One day we will put on a glorified body that doesn’t corrupt or experience temptation and we will live as God always intended.

    Think about a parapalegic who can not talk. They have a sound mind but now they have no way to express themselves in this world. They cannot express their love or creative ability. One tool of who they are is gone. That does not make them less of a person only limited. Now imagine they pass away. They are now only spirit. They are still who they always were but they have no expression in the flesh (mind or body). Jesus always was God. He simply limited Himself in the flesh, He was no less God. Just not fully expressed. So to say was the Logos seperated? No. The whole of His divinity simply was not communicated to His flesh till the Ascension. Always 100% God 100%man.

    1.) God comes. Because only He could do it. 2.) Born to a woman. Because only someone from our own line of the human species could be a substitute. 3.) Born under law. Because we are under law. Do good get blessed. Do bad get cursed. Jesus then does all good and gets all blessings fulfilling all righteousness. 4.)Instead of reaping, which He should all good for doing good, He reaps curses. Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. He dies taking all our bad. 5.)Now because of substitution we receive all the good He should have received because He received all the bad we should have got. Fulfilling the law’s demands.
    Galatian 4:3-5
    3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

  161. Craig says:

    matt,

    Johnson talks in double-speak. Remember that a central part of the Johnson Christology is that Jesus “had NO supernatural capabilities.” He was no longer supernatural. That means He literally became a natural man. Here’s a blog I recently commented on:

    http://www.voiceofrevolution.com/2011/05/17/heaven-on-earth-by-bill-johnson-everyone-must-hear-this/#comment-75117

    With the original YouTube video here (2nd one in blog):

    Here’s my comment (#27):

    By “re-present Christ” Johnson means we’ve had it wrong for 2000 years. Why? His theology is based on New Order of Latter Rain as his book “When Heaven Invades Earth” (WHIE) makes clear.

    Johnson, in 2nd clip at 3:23: “He forfeited everything because He owned everything; literally all that exists was His. And, He gave it all up to become a man; and, then He re-inherited everything as a man so that you and I would have an inheritance. The absolute mercy of God – So, now He stands after His triumphant Resurrection. The defeat of the power of death, hell and the grave – all that stuff is to defeat the power of sin. And, He stands before humanity and He says, ‘I got the keys back.’ When Jesus made that statement, He made the statement as our elder brother [Mormonism?].”

    1) “I got the keys back” is a reference to Dominionism: Adam ‘lost the keys’ of dominion to Satan, Jesus won it back, and it’s up to the Church – which has been clueless to this ‘fact’ for 2000 years – to take it back from Satan [cf. WHIE pp 30-33].

    2) By “forfeiting everything…to become a man” and then “re-inheriting everything as a man” Johnson states quite clearly that the Word divested Himself of His deity/divinity (kenosis) at the Incarnation [cf. WHIE p 79 (most specifically at ftnt 3) and p 29] and Jesus, “our elder brother,” subsequently re-attained it at the Ascension [cf WHIE pp 145-52] . This is part of the Manifested Sons of God heresy making Jesus into a pattern/model to be followed in the attainment of mankind’s own divinity, “so that you and I would have an inheritance.”

    Jesus is NOT our elder brother. He is GOD; God the Son.

    matt, you wrote: Jesus always was God. He simply limited Himself in the flesh, He was no less God. Just not fully expressed. So to say was the Logos seperated? No. The whole of His divinity simply was not communicated to His flesh till the Ascension. Always 100% God 100%man.

    That is partially true. Jesus was necessarily limited in His humanity; and, as you note, no less God. However, Jesus never ceased being fully divine and retained and utilized ALL His divine attributes. Please read part I regarding the extra calvinisticum as this is the way, from a theologically orthodox position, Jesus sustained the cosmos. He was both limited in physical presence yet omnipresent:

    3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. [Heb 1:3, NIV 1984]

    17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, [Col 1:17-19, NIV 1984]

    The Word was enfleshed in the person of Jesus Christ, yet the Word simultaneously was sustaining the cosmos via omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience. He was not limited to residing solely in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. The above two verses show that Jesus did, in fact, use all His divine attributes extra carnem – outside the body.

    However, did Jesus have and use the ‘omni’ traits in His earthly body? To reiterate from a comment earlier: Here’s but one example which shows that a functionalist kenosis cannot be true. In John 5:21 Jesus stated that like the Father, He could give life to whom He chooses. Put in the larger context by reading to verse 24 (and beyond), it is clear that this was by Jesus’ inherent divinity. If someone would disagree and claim it was the Holy Spirit instead, then, it must also be true that we as Holy Spirit-indwelled individuals should be able to give life to whom WE choose which would make us all messiahs. Obviously, that is not true. Functional kenosis is a false doctrine when applied to its logical conclusion. Jesus was truly God in the flesh utilizing divine attributes even though there were, obviously, some limitations in virtue of His fleshly body.

    In any case, Johnson is propounding ontological kenosis instead as he (like Ebrard) claims of Jesus, “He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever” because He “so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father”. This is necessary for his manifested sons of God doctrine in order to make Jesus a model/pattern for us to follow.

  162. Craig says:

    I gave a listen to Johnson’s sermon of 11/13/11 and here a few notes I jotted:

    13:44-49 – “Jesus gave up everything to become a man and re-inherited everything as man” WRONG: Jesus was/is God. He became a servant of God and man in the plan of redemption in taking human form and thus His glory was ‘veiled under flesh'; however, He was GOD IN THE FLESH – the God-man. He Resurrected and subsequently Ascended as the God-man and He is still the God-man.

    18:00 – “…because the word creates” Typical Word of Faith nonsense. The Word, i.e., the Logos, the 2nd member of the Trinity creates; but, our words do not.

    19:34 – Jesus is our “elder brother”. WRONG: Jesus is God the Son, the 2nd member of the Trinity. He never was, or will be our brother in any sense. He is our Master, Lord, God; we are His servants.

    I’ll forgo further comment.

  163. matt says:

    Craig,
    You stated,”He never was, or will be our brother in any sense.”

    Mark 3:35
    For whoever does the will of God is My BROTHER and My sister and mother.”–JESUS
    Luke 8:21
    “My mother and My BROTHERS are these who hear the word of God and do it.”–JESUS

    I do believe He retatined all His Divinity in His Spirit. He however limited Himself in the flesh. He stated I do nothing on my own, I can do nothing on my own. Denying Jesus’s own Words regarding what He could and couldn’t do is error. He was regarding His flesh which He chose to live as we do in that aspect of His life. The statements of Him giving life to who He willed must be taken in context of the whole. Out of context statements can seem heretical. You saying we can’t be brothers denies what Jesus stated. You stating He could outside the Father do anything in the flesh denies what Jesus stated.

    John 17:2
    as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.

    It is just as much gross error to deny one verse of Scripture to justify another and to prove a particular point. No matter how godly and reverant it seems. He is our Master, God, we are His servants. We also are His brothers, mothers, and friends. Jesus is our everything. He wants to be like a mother hen and take us under His wings. He is a father to the fatherless and He is our husband. He is the great I am and whatever we need in life. Provider, healer, etc. We can’t focus on one verse and deny another. The sum of Scripture is truth.

  164. Craig says:

    matt,

    The sum of Scripture is truth.

    I agree. However, citing Mark 3:35/Luke 8:21 does not make your point. Look at the full context. Would you call yourself Jesus’ father in a literal sense? I don’t think so. Mormon’s specifically call Jesus our ‘elder brother’. He’s not. Let’s move on from this as it seems you just want to argue.

    I do believe He retained all His Divinity in His Spirit. He however limited Himself in the flesh. He stated I do nothing on my own, I can do nothing on my own. Denying Jesus’s own Words regarding what He could and couldn’t do is error. He was regarding His flesh which He chose to live as we do in that aspect of His life. The statements of Him giving life to who He willed must be taken in context of the whole. Out of context statements can seem heretical.

    I’ve stated on here numerous times the meaning of the “I can do nothing” phrase which Johnson likes to proof-text in turning Jesus into a mere man. It’s actually regarding a subordinate relationship to the Father, not a statement of total incapacity without the Father’s assistance.

    You stating He could outside the Father do anything in the flesh denies what Jesus stated.

    Regarding John 5:21 (to 24): I’ve already cited within the article itself two well-known exegetes within orthodox Christianity with PhDs. However, here’s another one for good measure. From the commentary The Gospel & Epistles of John by F.F. Bruce [Eerdmans] regarding John 5:21 which confirms the two above and in fact specifically refutes that it was the Holy Spirit more strongly than either:

    He does not claim simply to be an instrument in God’s hand for restoring the dead to life, as Elijah and Elisha were; he asserts that authority has been given him to raise the dead not merely to a resumption of this mortal life but to the life of the age to come. It is not only that eternal life is granted to those who believe in him (cf. Johns 3:15, 16, 36); it is that he exercises the divine prerogative of imparting this life [p 129]

    If you continue reading through to verses 22-24 it’s even more evident that Christ is given both authority and the power to carry it out of Himself. Yes, this is speaking about the future judgment [through to v 27]; but, this should be looked at in its full context that Jesus provided life “to whom He wills” in the then present with ultimate judgment reserved for the future. This is consistent with all 3 exegetes. Jesus used His own divine authority/power as given Him by the Father. To claim this was by the Holy Spirit instead is to blatantly contradict Scripture.

    Let’s move on from this part of the discussion as well.

  165. iwanthetruth says:

    Trinity and Incarnation belong together. The doctrine of the Trinity declares that the man Jesus is truly divine; that of the Incarnation declares that the divine Jesus is truly human. Together they proclaim the full reality of the Savior whom the New Testament sets forth, the Son who came from the Father’s side at the Father’s will to become the sinner’s substitute on the cross (Matt. 20:28; 26:36-46; John 1:29; 3:13-17; Rom. 5:8; 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; 8:9; Phil. 2:5-8).

  166. Craig says:

    Absolutely! This is why any doctrine that waters down Jesus’ deity has the same negative implications on the Trinity.

  167. Craig says:

    Watering down Jesus’s deity also has negative implications on the Atonement. An efficacious Atonement requires a perfect, sinless sacrifice – something a mere man is incapable of. However, a God-man has this capacity. Jesus had to be a man to make the perfect once-for-all Atonement; but, He had to be God in order to be sinless and perfect.

  168. Craig says:

    I’m reading through Marianne Meye Thompson’s most excellent God in the Gospel of John and in it she helps to reiterate a point made in this article regarding “the Son can do nothing of Himself…”:

    The problem of God’s unity (within the Godhead) is addressed in the Gospel of John in several ways. The issue is taken up with respect to Jesus’ exercise of God’s prerogatives and distinctive functions. God is known primarily as the one who creates, saves, gives life, and judges. When Jesus’ adversaries accuse him of “making himself equal to God” (5:18), they charge him with usurping the divine prerogatives of working on the Sabbath. Jesus not only admits to the offense but heightens it by claiming to exercise the distinctive divine functions of judgment and giving life, activities that God does on the Sabbath. In defense of his action, Jesus responds that “the son can do nothing on his own” and repeatedly asserts that he does only what the Father tells him to do and shows him to do. In other words, he argues for his dependence on God. Because the Son depends upon the Father for all he does, he does not engage in an independent or separate work but carries out the work of the one God. Hence, arguments for the Son’s dependence on the Father are ultimately arguments for the unity of the Son with the Father…Because the Father is the one, true, living God, the argument for Jesus’ unity with God is tantamount to an argument for the unity of God. Indeed…the unity of the Father and Son “is emphasized in every possible way”. [Eerdmans, 2001; p 53. Bold added for emphasis.]

  169. Martin says:

    Unfortunately theologians are fallible. As was the church council, as are creeds. To declare them factual would be niave.

  170. Craig says:

    I agree that theologians, councils and creeds are not infallible. All are subject to Scripture and are only true to the extent they agree with the full counsel of Scripture. However, I’m unsure of your point. Are you intimating that Thompson in her quote is in error? If so, please show how she’s in error.

  171. Craig says:

    Thompson references Herman Ridderbos’ The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary [Eerdmans, 1997; p 198 (translated from the Dutch)]:

    Just as the Father as Creator and Consummator possesses life, he has given that possession also to the Son, not merely as the executor of incidental assignments but in the absolute sense of sharing in the Father’s power.” [emphasis added]

    Thompson:

    [regarding John 5:25-26]…there is but one God, one source of life. Jesus is not a second deity, not a second source of life, standing alongside the Father. Rather, the Son confers the Father’s life, which he has in himself. Hence the formulation assumes the unity of the life-giving work of Father and Son, but it also predicates a remarkable status of the Son, one which is not made of any other mediator figure…The Son “has life in himself.” Yet the statement does not stand on its own. Precisely in holding together the affirmations that the Son has “life in himself” with the affirmation that he has “been given” such life by the Father, we find the uniquely Johannine [ed: John’s writings] characterization of the relationship of the Father and the Son. The assertion that the Father has given this prerogative to the Son shows that the Gospel has in view neither an ultimate dualism of power tantamount to di-theism [ed: two gods] nor an arbitrary attribution of life-giving power to the Son as one possible agent through whom the Father might choose to confer life. The Father gives life to and through the Son. [pp 78-79. Emphasis in original.]

  172. Craig says:

    Someone arrived at CrossWise with the following search criterion, “does bill johnson believe jesus came in the flesh”. I would answer “yes” to this; however, substituting “Christ” in place of “Jesus” or adding “Christ” just after “Jesus”, I’d say “no”.

    According to Johnson, Jesus received the title of Christ at the Baptism in the Jordan (see quote at footnote 110) upon which He received the “Christ anointing” (see quote at footnote 122). Therefore, while Jesus came in the flesh Jesus Christ did not as Jesus did not become Jesus Christ until Baptism in Johnson’s theology.

  173. Craig says:

    I’ve found another source for J. H. A. Ebrard’s (1818-1888) kenosis in which the Word/Logos, while remaining God, was transformed into the time-space limitations of our temporal existence.

    “The Son’s transition from eternal existence-form to human existence-form is possible because temporality and spatiality are capable of being united with the divine essence. Indeed, it is the divine purpose that the whole of humanity should be permeated by the divine essence. Christ is simply the initiator of this process. Furthermore, an affinity exists between God and the human being, which stems from the fact that the human being is a ‘spiritual being which is eternal in itself,’ and ‘an eternal ego which is infinite itself.’ Because of the affinity between God and humanity, it is not a violation of the divine essence for the Son of God to become a human being… [David R. Law “Kenotic Christology” in David A. Fergusson, Ed. The Blackwell Companion to Nineteenth-Century Theology, 2010, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA, p 261; Emphasis added.]

    The way I read this, it is Ebrard’s position that the Logos remained ‘eternal’ while in the temporal realm although in a sort of ‘reduced’ form of eternality; and, even though joined to a human nature/body He remained so since the human is a “spiritual being which is eternal in itself.” The author states so explicitly earlier:

    ”…In the incarnation the eternal essence remains intact but now subsists in the temporal-form of human existence.” [ibid; p 262. Emphasis added.]

    Jesus is eternally God.

    This sounds like it could work with Johnson’s Christological phrases; however, Ebrard’s view was different with respect to the ‘omni’ traits. In the Ebrard version the ‘omni’ attributes are retained but in reduced potentialities. Omnipotence is Christ’s abilities to perform miracles while omniscience is Jesus’ “infallibility” and omnipresence enables Him to walk on water while remaining within the time-space constraints limitations of being in only one place at one time. [ibid; p 262]

    With a little modification, the Ebrard concept could work with Johnson’s. If we accept, like Thomasius (the first and most well-known of the 19th century kenoticists), that the ‘omni’ attibributes are ‘relative’, i.e. non-essential to the Incarnation, then this would necessitate that all Jesus’ supernatural workings would be effected via the Holy Spirit. That brings us back to Johnson’s.

    So, basically, if we take the Ebrardian concept of eternity with respect to the incarnate Christ and couple this with Thomasius’ assertion that the ‘omni’ attributes are non-essential for incarnational divinity/deity, we nearly have the Johnson kenotic model. To complete the model, we just borrow the Ebrardian understanding that Christ is the initiator of and vehicle for the ‘permeating of the divine essence’. As Johnson states

    ”…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…”

    I note also that Ebrard’s phraseology of how mankind is to be “permeated by the divine essence” with Christ as ‘initiator’ is much like that of Gnosticism as well as the occult/New Age Christology.

  174. Pingback: Letter to Bill Johnson From “A Child”* « Now…Through A Glass Darkly

  175. mark says:

    I had a thought too that pre-incarnate Christ dwelt in the tent of the tabernacle and appeared in physical form to Samson’s dad when he said “why do you ask my name seeing it is wonderful” verse. So, was Jesus incarnate less god in these episodes of appearance? Could he not therefore appear in a fleshly body and still be the same God of the old covenant and in the garden? Also, since the Father is the Invisible God and no one has seen Him or heard His voice, possibly explains that Jesus is the full and only expression to humans in this time, space continuum. Plus, Bill Johnson’s departure from other scriptural truths and his infatuation with signs and wonders gives added weight to the fact that he is in error about most scriptural truth.

  176. Craig says:

    Mark,

    What you are describing, with Jesus’ appearing before He was incarnated, are known as theophanies or Christophanies. I agree that these appearances are likely the pre-incarnate Jesus – to include the 4th man in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, among other times.

  177. Reg says:

    How about looking at what the Bible actually says? Jesus took flesh … How does Bible define what He took (as opposed to focussing on what He dropped)? My theory is that Jesus had to learn obedience (Hebrews) suggesting that part of taking on flesh was the capability to disobey God, as Adam did. Jesus did have a will that differed from the Father’s in the Garden, but chose to obey … Unlike Adam and me
    Reg

  178. Craig says:

    Reg,

    I’m not sure what your point is, so I’ll have to assume. If you mean that we should go to the Bible rather than an ecumenical council, it seems you’ve missed the point of the Councils. For clarity, read the first paragraph of the Credence for Ecumenical Creeds as Basis for Christology section.

    At the Third Council of Constantinople the doctrine of Jesus Christ having two wills (and two energies) was formally adopted. The RCC and most Protestant denominations affirm that Christ had two wills. The Council of Chalcedon strongly implies that Jesus had two wills, but Constantinople III made the point clear to those who were propounding monothelitism (and monenergism).

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