The Apparent Deception of the Roberts Liardon Library Acquisition

Two previous CrossWise articles were on Bill Johnson’s “Library Mandate” with the second, a follow-up to the first, indicating a contradiction regarding the “prophetic word” by James Goll with respect to the timing of the Roberts Liardon library acquisition.  This discrepancy was discovered after finding a previous blog post by Bill Johnson on this matter subsequent to the posting of the first article.  The following is an attempt to explain this contradiction in a more detailed yet clearer way by using a chronology.

On Bill Johnson’s blog is a post titled “Anointings Come from Honor” [ED 08/09/13: link removed but recovered on Internet Archive - http://web.archive.org/web/20121224150939/http://www.bjm.org/blog/9/anointings-come-from-honor.html ] dated February 2, 2009 in which he explains that he purchased the Roberts Liardon library in the past year, which logically dates the purchase as some time in 2008:

In the past year we have purchased Roberts Liardon’s library/museum. He authored the wonderful series of books, God’s Generals (required reading in BSSM). While I have been collecting books and artifacts for years, his is the most complete I’ve ever seen or heard of. With over 11,000 volumes of books, and amazing items for viewing, the House of Generals will be a wonderful place to visit or study. Things like Smith Wigglesworth’s piano, and Kathryn Kuhlman’s wedding dress, are just a couple of the items for the museum. Priceless photo’s, letters, and memorabilia fill the collection.

On September 17, 2009 James Goll purportedly was with Bill Johnson at Oral Roberts’ home.  In a purported dream Goll received a “prophetic word” about a future “inheritance” (not ‘purchase’) by someone with the name Roberts “and the name ‘Roberts’ would be important”:

Hi, this is James Goll.  I’m with Bill Johnson at Oral Roberts’ home.  And this morning I went into a dream and in this dream I went into a large library and a museum of signs and wonders.  It was the largest library I have ever gone in.   I went from room to room and it was books from the floor to the ceiling…And then, when I went into this library and museum of crutches and wheelchairs and signs and wonders, The Holy Spirit spoke to me in the dream and He said, “It is my desire to give the stewardship to Bill Johnson of the world’s largest library and artifacts of signs and wonders that church history has ever known.”

I heard that in a dream this morning on 9/17/09; and I bless you, that you’ll begin the stewardship in church history of the largest archives.  And I heard the name ‘Roberts’ and the name ‘Roberts’ would be important; and, it wasn’t just being Oral Roberts today, but there’s a double meaning because you would receive something of a library inheritance by somebody with the name ‘Roberts.’

Going back to Johnson’s blog post we see that not only had Johnson already stated he was working on building the “House of Generals” library/museum, a project he states God had previously given to him, he had already purchased the Roberts Liardon library/museum.  Also of note is the fact that Roberts Liardon was named after Oral Roberts.  Maybe Goll was referring to a different “Roberts” with an even larger library than Roberts Liardon’s?  It would seem not.

In the following video posted on December 9th or 10th of 2010 Bill Johnson plays Goll’s ‘word’ to an audience at Bethel Church (presumably BSSM students).  He prefaces this with, “You are about to receive a prophetic word about your destiny”:

Immediately following the audio of Goll’s ‘word’ Johnson asserts:

That’s what we’re doing.  We’re building a library; it’s called “The House of Generals”.  And, uh, I’ve already made a purchase of a library/museum already in existence – Roberts Liardon’s library.  It’s a fabulous collection of materials, of books.  And we’re adding to it, I can’t say daily, but almost daily.  And trying to build what will be to our knowledge the greatest library of revivalist materials in the world…

It would seem that at least one of the points in Johnson presenting Goll’s ‘word’ was to show its partial ‘fulfillment’ in the acquisition of the Roberts Liardon library which, as already noted, had been purchased prior to Goll’s “prophetic word”.  Moreover, Johnson had already stated that God had told him to build the “House of Generals” in the February, 2009 blog post.  So, what was the significance of Goll’s ‘word’ exactly with respect to the importance of a ‘Roberts’?  Is there now or will there be in the future someone else with the name “Roberts” with a larger library than that of Roberts Liardon which Bill Johnson will subsequently inherit?

The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit

[See also: Bill Johnson's Christology: A New Age Christ?, Part II, Part IIIa, Part IIIb and Part IV (Conclusion)]

In Bill Johnson’s popular book When Heaven Invades Earth is a chapter titled “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit”.1  In Johnson’s theology “the anointing” is variously termed “the Christ anointing”,2 “the baptism in the Holy Spirit”,3 “the Holy Spirit’s presence upon” an individual (including Jesus),4 and “the presence of God”.5 The “antichrist spirit” is defined as essentially ‘anti-anointing’ in this chapter and is thus a redefining of this term as compared to the Apostle John’s definition.

Orthodox Definition of the Antichrist Spirit

Here are the Apostle John’s words in his first epistle defining the antichrist spirit:

22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.  23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.  [1 John 2:22-23, NASB]

One must confess that Jesus is the Christ and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  John makes it clear that there is only one Christ and He is Jesus, and if one denies the Son by denying that Jesus is the Christ, then consequently the Father is also denied.  It’s a flat out rejection of God.  However, the one who confesses that Jesus is the Christ and,  hence, is also the Son, has the Father.

The Apostle John also commands us to test the spirits providing one more identifying mark of the antichrist spirit:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;  3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of antichrist of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. [1 John 4:1-3, NASB]

One must confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.  This means one must confess that Jesus was the Christ at conception or at least the Virgin Birth [Luke 1:35/2:11; Matt 1:18] thereby precluding any adoptionist or separationist Christology.6  A confession to the contrary is evidence of the antichrist spirit.  Colin G. Kruse expounds:

…[I]t is not only those who…remain faithful to the message heard from the beginning and who love fellow believers who claim an experience of the Spirit.  There are many others who claim to be indwelt by God, to have received the Spirit, and to speak in his name…[John] warns his readers to exercise discernment when they encounter people claiming to speak in the name of God…Not everyone claiming to speak in the name of God actually does so….7

Kruse continues warning about “false prophets operating within the Christian community” [Matt 7:15; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; 2 Pet 2:1, etc].8  He then describes the test:

…The spirit of God is recognized as the one teaching human beings (‘every spirit’) when they acknowledge that Jesus Christ ‘has come in the flesh’…The expression ‘to acknowledge Jesus’ is but a shortened version of the expression ‘to acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh’ [ED: from verse 2].  It is important to note that… here…the Spirit’s role is that of witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

When in 4:2 the author refers to the confession ‘that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh’, he uses a perfect form of the verb ‘to come’, indicating that it is Christ’s status as one come in the flesh, rather than simply the historic act of his coming that he had in mind….9

Judith Lieu notes also the Greek perfect tense and explains the phraseology “in the flesh”.  It is not merely making reference to the Virgin Birth/miraculous conception (not to be confused with the false view of the RCC known as the “immaculate conception” of Mary) but the entire manner with which His being is made known to us during the Incarnation:

Yet to acknowledge Jesus Christ as having come in flesh is not merely another way of saying that he has come into the world.  “In flesh” signals not destination but mode and location: the means by which and wherein his presence is known….10

Bill Johnson Redefines the Antichrist Spirit

Bill Johnson initially defines antichrist spirit correctly (though not completely as anti can also mean “instead of”11):

The nature of the antichrist spirit is found in its name: anti, “against”; Christ, “Anointed One.”12

Yet, on the very next page he deceptively redefines the term:

It would seem that with all the significance attached to the name “Jesus,” anyone desiring to undermine His work of redemption might be referred to as “Anti-Jesus,” not “Anti-Christ.”  Even religious cults recognize and value Jesus, the man.  At the very least, cults consider Him to be a teacher or a prophet and possibly “a” son of God.  This horrendous error provides us with an understanding of why antichrist was the name given to this spirit of opposition.  The spirits of hell are at war against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion.13

Notice the sleight of hand in the last sentence.  While the preceding sentences seem to build the case as to why cults and false religions value Jesus as a man yet not as the Son of God, Johnson’s conclusion totally redefines his own definition of antichrist spirit on the previous page from “against Christ” or “against the Anointed One” to ‘against the anointing’ or ‘anti-anointing’.  This revised definition is used throughout the remainder of the chapter such that anyone who is against “the anointing” (as defined in the beginning of this article) has an antichrist spirit per Johnson.

As noted in an earlier CrossWise article in which this same methodology was employed, this is the mark of cultic teaching and bears repeating here:

This is not unlike the way in which cultists work; i.e., making a series of orthodox statements and then concluding with an unorthodox sentence.  The mind is prepared for a logical, orthodox conclusion so that when what seems to be an illogical or unorthodox conclusion is reached instead, the hearer/reader may reject it assuming he just did not hear or read it correctly or some other such reason.  This is known as cognitive dissonance, the uncomfortable feeling in holding two conflicting views at once, which results in some sort of action to alleviate this feeling in this case which may be either by 1) rejecting the negative thought that the conclusion is unorthodox or illogical while mentally inserting one’s own orthodox or logical conclusion instead; or, 2) just dismissing the conclusion as a misunderstanding on the reader/hearer’s part; or, 3) assuming the speaker simply misspoke.

Yet, just as important if not more so, we see that Johnson has subtly split ‘Christ’ from ‘Jesus’ in his redefining above.  By stating “anyone desiring to undermine His work of redemption might be referred to as ‘Anti-Jesus’ rather than ‘Anti-Christ’” and his subsequent explanation and redefinition of the antichrist spirit, Johnson seems to illustrate the very thing the Apostle John warned against – that the antichrist spirit separates “Christ” from the person of Jesus Christ.  This redefinition itself could be construed as antichrist in nature.  This may be confusing, but please read on.

Johnson Redefines “Christ”

This same methodology above is in evidence in the first two paragraphs which begin this chapter in Johnson’s book – he starts with the correct definition of Christ then redefines it to anointing:

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

The word anointing means “to smear.”  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit.14

In this case, Johnson is absolutely correct with his first two sentences; however, with the third through fifth he is claiming that the “title” of Christ was received in a later “experience” which he identifies as “the anointing”.  This “anointing” is consistently defined throughout Johnson’s various works as noted above in the beginning of this article.

The second paragraph continues this line of thought with his concluding sentence making his redefinition clear: “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit”.  By further logical implication Jesus became “Christ” only after He was “anointed” or “smeared with the Holy Spirit” and, consequently, He was merely Jesus of Nazareth prior to this “anointing”.  That this explanation/analysis is itself correct is borne out in Johnson’s own redefinition of antichrist as essentially ‘anti-anointing’.  Hence, Christ = the anointing and antichrist =anti-anointing’ in Bill Johnson’s theology.

As noted in the previous article, separating Christ from the person of Jesus is known as separationist Christology and is, by the Apostle John’s very definition above, antichrist Christology.

Further Explications and Implications of Johnson’s “Anointing”

With this sort of linguistic gymnastics one is left wondering what is truth and what is falsehood and what the real definition of other terms are in Johnson’s theological corpus.  Which parts of Johnson’s theology can be trusted to be true and accurate?

Johnson carries this same redefinition of Christ as anointing into other works.  Here in another book he states that this “Christ anointing” (aka “baptism in the Holy Spirit”) was not only for Jesus but for all in the Church:

…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…15

He makes a clear distinction between believers who would by necessity have the Holy Spirit indwelling upon conversion and “the anointing”:

The spirit of antichrist is at work today, attempting to influence believers to reject everything that has to do with the Holy Spirit’s anointing….16

Just to be clear, every truly converted Christian believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thereby has the Holy Spirit anointing as per Scripture [Eph 1:14; 2 Cor 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20].  Johnson’s “anointing” is separate and distinct.

With his redefined antichrist spirit, Bill Johnson also claims that it leads to “religious spirits” which are described as

…demonic presence that works to get us to substitute being led of our intellect instead of the Spirit of God…Anything that will take the place of dependence upon the Holy Spirit [ED actually, again, Johnson’s “anointing”] and His empowering work can be traced to the spirit of opposition.17

Here we have one of the many times Johnson promotes false dichotomies – as if the intellect and the “Spirit of God” are mutually exclusive.  We worship in Spirit and Truth [John 4:24].  Yes, a person can be led of the flesh and hence his/her own mind; but, as noted by Bob DeWaay, there’s a consistent “anti-intellectual bias” permeating this book (and other works of Johnson).  Also, notice how he has, in effect, drawn a line in the sand between his unorthodox doctrine of “the anointing” and orthodoxy by claiming those who allow the Spirit to lead the intellect have the “spirit of opposition” and a “demonic presence”.

He also promotes “Toronto Blessing” style manifestations while speaking negatively on anyone who opposes these.18  Near the end of the chapter in his book he attempts to flip the table on orthodoxy stating more clearly that those who “embrace Jesus apart from the anointing”, once again, have the antichrist spirit:

The antichrist spirit has a goal for the Church – embrace Jesus apart from the anointing.  Without the anointing, He becomes a safe religious figure who is sure not to offend us…How can people who love God be offended by the anointing of the Holy Spirit?19

If the reader does not understand that “the anointing” is separate from the true Holy Spirit indwelling, s/he would be left wondering why anyone would reject the Holy Spirit and therefore agree with Johnson.

This illustrates quite clearly that Johnson’s Jesus is not only NOT the Jesus Christ of the Bible, Johnson’s whole Christology emanates from an antichrist spirit.  His Jesus could be termed ‘Jesus, the one among many anointed by “the anointing”’ (aka “Christ anointing”, “baptism in the Holy Spirit”, “presence of God”).  The following words by the Apostle Paul could well define Johnson’s theology and his followers:

4For if someone comes to you and preaches another Jesus other than the Jesus we preached , or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough…13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  Their end will be what their actions deserve. [2 Cor. 11:4, 13-15, NIV 1984]

But, it’s not yet too late for Bill Johnson and his followers to repent.

1Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003; Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; pp 79-86
2Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007; Charisma House ,Lake Mary, FL; p 77.  Underscore added.
3Johnson, Face to Face; pp 21-22, 58, 77-82, 100-102
4Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 80
5Johnson, Face to Face; pp 21-22.
6Judith M. Lieu [I, II & III John: A Commentary. 2008, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY] does an excellent job describing vv 2:22-23 in 1 John by putting it in its original context: “It appears that what sounds like the traditional formula of belief in Jesus as Messiah has taken on a new dimension of sonship…This confirms that the force of the correct confession is ‘that Jesus is the Christ,’ and not, as is grammatically possible, ‘that the Christ [about whom we know] is Jesus [rather than someone else or as not yet appeared]’…The author’s logic is simple and can be understood within its immediate context.  His strategy is to start from what matters: the real charge is not about ‘the Christ,’…Rather, it is that the antichrist denies the Father and the Son: this is no longer denial of belief about (‘that’) but a refusal to acknowledge…it is ultimately a question of acknowledging, or denying the Son…the Son is Son only in relation to the Father, and the Father is Father only in relation to the Son; to reject the Son is to reject both, even if this was not the intention” [p 106].  While Lieu refers to “sonship” this explanation works just as well with the respect to separationist or adoptionist Christology.  The term separationist as regards Christology is defined in Heikki Raisanen’s The Rise of Christian Beliefs [2010, Fortress, Minneapolis, MN; p 208] and is specifically referring to 1st century proto-gnostic Cerinthus.
7Kruse, Colin G. The Letters of John: The Pillar New Testament Commentary. 2000, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 144.  Emphasis added.
8Kruse; p 145
9Kruse; p 145-147
10Lieu; p 167
11Vine, W.E., Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (With Topical Index).  © 1996 W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN; p 30 of New Testament section.
12Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 79.  Emphasis in original.
13Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 80.  Emphasis in original.
14Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 79.  Emphasis in original except underscore added.
15Johnson, Face to Face, p 77.  Underscore added.
16Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 81
17Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 81
18Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 81-85
19Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 84-85

Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ?, part I

[See also: The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, Part II, Part IIIa, Part IIIb and Part IV (Conclusion)]

Heresy has become the term used to describe anyone who disagrees with a particular leader, but that is not so.  We need to give more grace to those who differ from us.  The essential doctrines of the church – the Virgin Birth, the divinity and humanity of Jesus, the Atonement, and the like – qualify as issues we should fight for.

- Bill Johnson1

There are certainly those who are hasty in labeling doctrines as heresy when they are not really so.  This is both irresponsible and hurtful to the body of Christ.  Let’s call teachings heresy and teachers heretics only when this is indisputably evident.

By inference, it would be fair to assume that with Bill Johnson’s statement above he would define heresy as any doctrine which departs from the orthodox Christian teachings on the essentials of the faith.  These are “issues we should fight for” and Johnson should consider the following a fight, a defense of the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ and the Atonement over against Johnson’s own doctrine with respect to these essentials.

This article will restate and clarify Bill Johnson’s teaching on Christology – the study of the person and work of Jesus Christ – which has been the subject of many different articles here on CrossWise.  Johnson’s Christology will then be compared to that of New Age / New Spirituality teaching which is really not very ‘new’ as it goes all the way back to the early Church.

Preliminary Background

In Constance Cumbey’s pioneering work, the 1983 book The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, is the assertion that New Age Christology meets the test of antichrist as per the Apostle John in his first epistle [1 John 2:22].2  Cumbey notes that “New Agers generally do not openly repudiate Christianity”.  Instead “they often clothe New Age concepts in Christian language and…undermine Christianity while pretending to be its friend”.3  This was the specific goal outlined by Alice Bailey in her numerous writings (most of which were channeled through her by “Master Djwhal Khul”) and it’s these writings which form much of the basis for the current New Age / New Spirituality:4

The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished…The church must show a wide tolerance…The church as a teaching factor should take the great basic doctrines and (shattering the old forms in which they are expressed and held) show their true and inner spiritual significance [ED: occult/esoteric meaning].  The prime work of the church is to teach, and teach ceaselessly, preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages.  Teachers must be trained; Bible knowledge must be spread; the sacraments must be mystically interpreted, and the power of the church to heal must be demonstrated.5

In a 1982 letter to Cumbey, Marilyn Ferguson, author of the New Age book The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980’s, defends her professed stance as a ‘Christian’ yet she promotes liberal, non-Christian methods to expand Christianity while simultaneously denigrating orthodox teaching:

My definition of Christianity has expanded over the years.  After I became involved in meditation, for example, I experienced the vision of Christ more vividly than I ever had through sermons and dogma.  You would be surprised, I think, to know how much of the New Age Movement centers on Christ Consciousness.  Many Christian churches are seeing that direct spiritual experience offers a revitalization for modern Christianity.6

“Christ consciousness” is another term for the “expansion of consciousness” or “transformation of consciousness” akin to contemplative prayer aka centering prayer which are all in reality much like transcendental meditation (TM) in methodology. [See “Christ Consciousness” section of the “Christ” in the New Age article.]   Note how Ferguson stresses spiritual experience, i.e. mysticism, over “sermons or dogma”.  She appears to be following the agenda as set forth by Alice Bailey in the above quote.  As Bailey states elsewhere, “Christianity will not be superseded.  It will be transcended…”7

Bill Johnson’s Christology Explained

In essence, Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, a recognized “apostle” by some, teaches that at conception, or at least prior to the Virgin Birth, Jesus divested Himself of all His divine attributes thereby living a sinless earthly existence by being totally reliant upon the Holy Spirit while receiving the power to do miracles at His baptism.  This divine self-emptying is known as the kenosis doctrine as discussed here.  The quotes used in this section are taken from six different books by Bill Johnson (and one sermon) to illustrate that this teaching undergirds his entire theology.

Jesus did everything as a man, laying aside His divinity in order to become a model for us.8

…Jesus did everything in His earthly ministry as a man who had set aside all His divine privileges and power in order to model the Christian life for us.9

..Jesus set aside His divinity, choosing instead to live as a man completely dependent on God.10

…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…11 

The above quotes can be construed such that Jesus retained all His divine attributes yet chose not to exercise them; however, the following illustrates that He no longer had inherent deity:12

Jesus Christ said of Himself, ‘The Son can do nothing.’  In the Greek language that word nothing has a unique meaning—it means NOTHING, just like it does in English!   He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever!…He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God.13 

…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, something for us to follow….Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…14

Given that deity is by very definition supernatural, Johnson has, in effect, reduced Jesus to less than God.  With Johnson’s claim that Jesus had no inherent ability to perform miracles in and of Himself, it is clear that Johnson means Jesus no longer had his divine attributes to utilize even if He so desired.  He “had NO supernatural capabilities”; He was totally and completely a man but “in right relationship to God” by the Holy Spirit:

 The Father, by the Holy Spirit, directed all that Jesus said and did.15

Analytic theologian Oliver Crisp describes this view that Jesus Christ performed all His miracles by the Holy Spirit rather than His inherent divinity/deity as “not conventional”.16  Furthermore, this doctrine is simply not Biblically accurate.  Jesus certainly exercised His deity in providing life to whom He “is pleased to give it” [John 5:21, NIV 1984] during His earthly ministry pre-Cross [John 5:24-25; cf. Luke 23:43].17  This life-giving to the believer was performed by Jesus not as an agent through whom the Spirit worked but because Jesus had “life in himself” [John 5:26].18   In other words, the life Jesus Christ as God the Son gives to those who believe comes from God the Father since both are part of the Triune Godhead.  Jesus was not an intermediary per se in this regard.19

Johnson makes the explicit claim that Jesus became the Christ after coming up out of the water at His baptism in the Jordan by John when the Spirit came upon Him as a dove at which point He received the “Christ anointing” (see quote further below) contradicting Luke 1:35/2:11 [cf. Matt 1:22-23/Isaiah 7:14, etc.].  Brackets are inserted to provide 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 [Spirit resting upon Him after baptism in the Jordan]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] in an experience [Spirit resting upon Him] to accomplish what the Father desired.

The word anointing means “to smear.”  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit [after water baptism in the Jordan].20

Admittedly, this is a bit confusing; but, with his concluding sentence above logic follows that if “the name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit” immediately following John’s baptism, then, by further implication, before baptism He must have been simply Jesus of Nazareth [again, contrary to Luke 1:35 / Luke 2:11].  Bill Johnson is more direct in the following:

The outpouring of the Spirit also needed to happen to Jesus for Him to be fully qualified.  This was His quest.  Receiving this anointing qualified Him to be called the Christ, which means “anointed one.” Without the experience [“Christ anointing” by the Spirit after water baptism] there could be no title.21

In Christian orthodoxy the term “Christ” denotes deity/divinity22  which would mean that in Johnson’s Christology Jesus was not divine before the Holy Spirit came upon Him after His baptism by John in the Jordan and, consequently, Jesus would be made divine by virtue of this “Christ anointing” after which He is “qualified” to be called Christ.  This is exactly Johnson’s intended meaning:

The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil.23

This statement flows logically from all the previous statements.  This “anointing” ‘enabled Him’ for He had “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever” having laid His divine attributes aside.  To reiterate, if, as in the Johnson Christology, the ‘anointing’ “linked Jesus, the man, to the divine” then, as implied earlier, Jesus is merely a human made divine at baptism by virtue of the “Christ anointing” by the Holy Spirit coming upon Him.  Further, this would infer that as others receive this same “Christ anointing” they too would be “linked to the divine” in the same manner.  The following adds weight to this inference:

…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…24

Moreover, given that Jesus was called “Christ” when He was, as Johnson puts it, “smeared by the Holy Spirit”, believers should logically be called “Christ” at this “Christ anointing”, too.

Johnson calls Jesus’ second baptism in the Jordan (the first is water, the second follows and is by the Holy Spirit coming upon Him) the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and this is available to all who believe.25  This is consistent with the over-arching theme permeating all Johnson’s work that “Jesus is our model”.  After quoting John 1:32, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him” [NKJV] Johnson continues

…Certainly this is not talking about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was already in Jesus’s life.  This was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Him [baptism in the Holy Spirit / “Christ anointing”] 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 GodThe same principle is true for us.

The Holy Spirit lives in every believer, but He rests upon very few…26

Johnson continues to drive home his assertion that Jesus was not inherently God but merely divine by virtue of the Holy Spirit as He was “perfectly trustworthy with the presence of God” (“the presence of God” being the “Christ anointing” or “baptism in the Holy Spirit”) so that the Spirit of God did “rest upon Him”.  And we can enjoy this same privilege if we are just as ‘faithful’ proving that we are “trustworthy”.

This anointing [“Christ anointing” / “baptism in the Holy Spirit”] is what enabled Jesus to do only what He saw the Father do, and to say only what He heard the Father say. It was the Holy Spirit that revealed the Father to Jesus.27 

It was the Holy Spirit upon Jesus [“baptism in the Holy Spirit” / “Christ anointing”]  that enabled Him to know what the Father was doing and saying.  That same gift of the Spirit has been given to us for that same purpose.28 

If the Son of God was that reliant upon the anointing, His behavior should clarify our need for the Holy Spirit’s presence upon us [“baptism in the Holy Spirit”] to do what the Father has assigned….This anointing [“Christ anointing”] is actually the person of the Holy Spirit upon someone to equip them for supernatural endeavors.29 

The second baptism deals with…getting us filled with God so we can walk with Him and more effectively represent Him as His agents of power on the earth.30

Without this “Christ anointing” there seems to be no possibility that God could perform supernatural works through an individual (including Jesus Christ) in Johnson’s theology.  The individual is simply powerless until this second “baptism in the Holy Spirit”.  In addition, one receives the ability to “walk with God” only after receiving this “Christ anointing” / “baptism in the Holy Spirit”.

Jesus’ inherent powerlessness is carried all the way beyond the Cross to the Resurrection thereby negating the efficacy of Jesus Christ’s Atonement for our sins.31  He cannot even raise Himself from the dead contrary to John 2:19/10:17-18:

…The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless), and had to be spotless, (without sin).

The anointing Jesus received was the equipment necessary, given by the Father to make it possible for Him to live beyond human limitation…32

…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…33

Of course He did not raise Himself from the dead; He could not as He was “powerless” except by virtue of the “Christ anointing” according to Johnson.  Faulty Christology always has negative implications on the Atonement.

Bill Johnson’s Christology can certainly be described as heresy.  It is known as separationist Christology34 for it separates Christ from Jesus and vice versa.  By definition, as Cumbey states above, it meets the test of antichrist as it denies Jesus is the Christ [1 John 2:22] since He is only human (having “laid His divinity aside”) and becomes Christ only by virtue of the “Christ anointing” which also, in effect, denies Jesus is the Son of the Father (as opposed to merely a son) which in turn denies the Father [1 John 2:22-23];35 moreover, Johnson’s Christology denies that the person of Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [1 John 4:1-3] since it was merely Jesus of Nazareth who came in the flesh.

However, Johnson at times makes statements which appear entirely orthodox in and of themselves:

Jesus Christ was entirely God.  He was not a created being. Yet He became a man and lived entirely by man’s limitations…36

The first two sentences are completely orthodox while the third is not, yet this third sentence is consistent with Johnson’s Christology as put forth in the foregoing.  Confoundingly, these first two seem to contradict the rest of Johnson’s Christological doctrine – but, do they really?  Keeping in mind the Alice Bailey goal of “transcending” Christianity by “preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages” let’s compare the above with these two quotes from the well known New Age book The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ:

Before creation was, the Christ walked with the Father God…The Christ is son, the only son begotten by the Almighty God…37 

We recognize the facts that Jesus was man and that Christ was God, so that in very truth Jesus the Christ was the God-man of the ages.38

Notice how, in the New Age version, Christ is distinct from Jesus for Christ was God as God’s son while Jesus was merely a man.  This is not inconsistent with the Christological views of Johnson as shown in this article.  This will be explored in much more detail in Part II, Part IIIa, Part IIIb, and Part IV (Conclusion) of this article.

[For more on Johnson's Christology, including more indications of a separationist Christology, see "The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit".]

1Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007, Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; p 71.  Emphasis in original.
2Cumbey, Constance. The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow: The New Age Movement and Our Coming Age of Barbarism. 1983, rev. ed., Huntington House, Shreveport, LA; p 146.  This resource is also available as a free download at <https://public.me.com/cumbey> “HIDDEN DANG…ND COVER.pdf”
3Cumbey, Hidden Dangers, p 146.  Emphasis added.
4Cumbey, Hidden Dangers, p 39
5Bailey, Alice A. The Externalisation of the Hierarchy. © 1957 Lucis, NY, 6th printing 1981; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; pp 510-511; [underscore from emphasis in original; bold added for my own emphasis.] While the book was not published until 1957, most sections within the book have corresponding dates of initial writing, or, more accurately, transmission.  The portion quoted here is from 1919, some of the earliest writings of Bailey/The Tibetan.
6Cumbey, Hidden Dangers, pp 146-147
7Bailey, Alice A. From Bethlehem to Calvary:The Initiations of Jesus. © 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis Trust, 4th paperback ed., 1989; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; p 20.  Emphasis added.
8Johnson, Bill Strengthen Yourself in the Lord. 2007, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 26
9Johnson, Bill. Release the Power of Jesus. 2009, Destiny Image “Speaking to the Purposes of God for this Generation and the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
10Johnson, Bill Face to Face, p 108
11Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
12The terms “deity” and “divinity” are used throughout this article interchangeably (as always on CrossWise unless specifically identified otherwise) both defined as “God” or “godlikeness”.  Bill Johnson seems to prefer “divinity” over “deity” as the latter is not readily found in his material.  He uses “divinity” as in “godlikeness” e.g. divine attributes.
13Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 29.  Emphasis and last ellipsis as per original; underscore added for my emphasis.
14Johnson, Bill, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA; p 50.  Emphasis and last ellipsis as per original except underscore added for my emphasis.
15Johnson, Face to Face, p 108
16Crisp, Oliver D. Divinity and Humanity: The Incarnation Reconsidered. (Current Issues in Theology series) 2007, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK; p 25.  Crisp continues, “A conventional view would claim that Christ was able to perform miracles in virtue of the action of his divine nature in and through his human nature in the hypostatic union.”  Crisp is being polite in not calling this view heterodox or heresy given that Crisp’s point was that such a view violates the Chalcedonian Creed which itself was codified in order to combat the heresies of its day and to provide a means by which to judge future doctrine.  To be at odds with Chalcedon is to be in the realm of heterodoxy.
17To make the claim that it was by the Holy Spirit that Jesus “gave life” logically infers that any Holy Spirit indwelt individual can give life to whom s/he chooses – obviously an incorrect assertion.
18Marianne Meye Thompson explains [The God of the Gospel of John. 2001, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI]: “[T]he Son partakes of the very life of the Father: the Son has life in himself.  Therefore, when Jesus confers life on those who believe, they also participate in and have to do with the life of the Father because the Father has given the Son to have life in himself, even as he has it.  Such predications assume and are dependent upon the conviction that 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” [p 78; italics in original, underscore added].  “[T]he Son exercises certain divine prerogatives and…exercises them even as God does….Jesus exercises these powers as no other figure – save God – can or does” [p 175].
19Herman Ridderbos expounds [The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary. 1997, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; translated from the Dutch by John Vriend], “Just as the Father as Creator and Consummator possesses life, he has given that possession to the Son, not merely as the executor of incidental assignments but in the absolute sense of sharing in the Father’s power.  And it is on account of that power and authority that the great decisive ‘hour’ of God is not only coming but here” (during the Incarnation).  [p 178; emphasis in original]
20Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 79.  Underscore added; other emphasis in original.
21Johnson, Face to Face, p 109.  Underscore added; other emphasis in original.
22Grudem, Wayne Systematic Theology. 1994, Inter-Varsity, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 233-38, 543-554, 624-33.  Also, Berkhof, Louis Systematic Theology. 1941, 4th revised and enlarged ed, 1991, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 91-5, 312-13, 356-66.
23Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 79.  Underscore added.
24Johnson, Face to Face, p 77.  Underscore added.
25Johnson, Face to Face, pp 79, cf. 21-22, 58, 77-82, 100-102
26Johnson, Face to Face, pp 21-22.  Underscore added.  “The first baptism deals with getting us out of the red…The second baptism deals with getting us into the black – getting us filled with God so we can walk with Him and more effectively represent Him as His agents of power on the earth” [p 58].
27Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 80.  Underscore added.  This creates a logical fallacy within the Johnson theology: if Jesus could only see/hear the Father by virtue of the “Christ anointing” He received at John’s baptism, how could He know to ‘be about His Father’s business’ [Luke 2:49] as a 12 year old?
28Johnson, Bill Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World Through God’s Creative Flow. 2006, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA; p 136
29Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 80
30Johnson, Face to Face, p 58
31Insufficient Atonement means no salvation for the sinner.  No salvation means no eternal life!  As Erwin Lutzer contends [The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians. 1998, Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI]: “…The real question is whether [Jesus] Christ is capable of being the Savior of mankind” [p 33]. “If [Jesus] Christ is not God, then God has not saved us” [p 34].  “Only an incarnate Christ who is fully God qualifies to be Savior” [p 36].
32Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 79.  Underscore added.
33“ewenhoffman” Maintaining the crosswalk- sermon of the week Feb 27th 2011. <http://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2011/03/01/maintaining-the-crosswalk-sermon-of-the-week-feb-27th-2011/> 16:45-17:00.  Emphasis in original; underscore added.  As accessed 03/11/12.  Johnson stated the same basic thing on Facebook in mid-February of 2011 in an exchange with Kevin Moore: “…He needed to be raised from the dead. Acts 13 calls Him ‘the first born from the dead.’ He did not raise Himself. The Father through the Spirit raised Him…”
34This term is defined in Heikki Raisanen’s The Rise of Christian Beliefs [2010, Fortress, Minneapolis, MN; p 208].
35Judith M. Lieu [I, II & III John: A Commentary. 2008, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY] makes an excellent point on this verse by putting it in proper context: “It appears that what sounds like the traditional formula of belief in Jesus as Messiah has taken on a new dimension of sonship…This confirms that the force of the correct confession is ‘that Jesus is the Christ,’ and not, as is grammatically possible, ‘that the Christ [about whom we know] is Jesus [rather than someone else or as not yet appeared]’…The author’s logic is simple and can be understood within its immediate context.  His strategy is to start from what matters: the real charge is not about ‘the Christ,’…Rather, it is that the antichrist denies the Father and the Son: this is no longer denial of belief about (‘that’) but a refusal to acknowledge…it is ultimately a question of acknowledging, or denying the Son…the Son is Son only in relation to the Father, and the Father is Father only in relation to the Son; to reject the Son is to reject both, even if this was not the intention” [p 106].  While Lieu refers to “sonship” this explanation works just as well with the respect to separationist Christology.
36Johnson, Face to Face, p 199.  Johnson’s phraseology here sounds not like ontological kenosis but rather metamorphosis instead: God the Son literally transforms Himself into a fully human being devoid of any deity/divinity.
37Dowling, Levi. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ: The Philosophic and Practical Basis of the Religion of the Aquarian Age of the World. © 1907 Eva S. Dowling and Leo W. Dowling, © 1935 and © 1964 Leo W. Dowling, (11th printing, 1987), DeVorss, Marina del Rey, CA; p 6.  On page 3 is the following from the “Introduction” by Eva S. Dowling: “The full title of this book is ‘The Aquarian Age Gospel of Jesus, the Christ of the Piscean Age’…”
38Dowling, Aquarian Gospel, p 8

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