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

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

1In the beginning was the Word [Logos.]
and the Word [Logos] was with God
and the Word [Logos] was God.
2He was in the beginning with God.
3All things came into being by Him,
and apart from Him
nothing came into being
that has come into being
14And the Word [Logos] became flesh,
and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
[John 1:1-3,14 NASB]

The prologue to the Gospel of John is among the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture.  It is also one of the most theologically brilliant.  Not only does John assert that the Logos was WITH God in the creation account of Genesis by paralleling the first few verses with those that begin the canon of Scripture, John states the Logos WAS God.  He is illustrating the plurality of the Godhead, i.e. that God is monotheistic yet more than one ‘Person’ (John would describe the Person of the Holy Spirit later in 14:15-16:15).  The Gospel writer makes it clear that God the Word/Logos became flesh, yet He was fully God in the flesh and not ‘merely’ human.

However, other groups claimed that John had different thoughts in mind for the Logos.  Some Gnostics in the 2nd century (and later) claimed John’s Gospel has a dualistic Gnostic backdrop with his contrasts of light and darkness (v 1:5) and other dichotomies, and they interpreted John’s Christology as congruent with Gnostic redeemer myths117 (redemption through autosoterism, or self-salvation).

Some have claimed Hellenistic (ancient Greek) influence.  According to NT scholar Craig Keener, Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher of the 6th century BC, “reportedly spoke of ‘Thought’ as guiding and ordering the universe” and his work refers to the Logos as being “eternal, omnipresent, the divine cause”.118  The Stoics took this further as Zeno “identified Socrates’ logos, or rational principle, with that of Heraclitus” calling this “the common law” or “natural law”.119  Apparently, these groups believed the Logos was present in all of creation, i.e. they had a panentheistic (God is in all) worldview.

Others asserted that it was Philo’s Logos that John had in mind.  Philo combined aspects of Stoicism (including the Logos as the divine mind, or nous120) with his own theology which was influenced by Platonism (from the philosophy of Plato):

In Philo’s scheme, the Logos is directly below God and directly above the powers through which God rules creation; the powers appear as angels when related to OT imagery, but Philo elsewhere identifies them with Platonic ideas.  The Logos, as God’s archangel and eldest offspring, functions as ambassador to humanity and separates the creature from the Creator; as such it is a mediator of God’s activity in the world and of revelation.  The Logos is God’s image, through whom the universe was formed.  In Platonic thought the sensory world is merely a copy of the real world of ideas, of eternal forms.  The Stoics, by contrast, saw the Logos as immanent in the world of matter.  Philo combines these strands of thought, following the syncretistic lead of middle Platonism in his day.121

Still others claim that John had in mind the Wisdom literature in Scripture [Proverbs 8, 9, etc] and extra-Biblical writings of the time including the Apocrypha (the Deuterocanonical books in the Catholic Bible including “Wisdom of Solomon”, “Wisdom of Ben Sira”, etc.) and the Pseudepigrapha (literary works circa 200 BC to 200AD).  This position asserts that John had envisioned Jesus as Wisdom personified given the many seeming parallels between his use of Logos and the way Sophia, the Greek word for Wisdom, is used in the Wisdom literature.  Yet the Gospel writer never actually uses Sophia in reference to Jesus. Therefore, some scholars claim reliance on this motif while others may affirm perhaps partial influence.122

Andreas Kostenberger sees John’s intent more in line with personifying the Word of God in the OT noting the strong parallel of John 1 with Genesis 1, the parallels of John 1:14-18 with Exodus 33-34, and the Logos concept in Isaiah 55:9-11 (and other passages in Isaiah).123  In addition, Kostenberger seems to suggest the Logos concept was used as an apologetic against prevailing Greek thought:

…Though John does not elaborate on the precise way in which Jesus was made flesh, his contention that deity assumed human nature in Jesus would have been anathema for Greeks who held to a spirit/matter dualism and could hardly have imagined immaterial Reason becoming a physical being.124

It seems quite plausible that the Gospel writer, being well aware of current philosophical and religious thought, wrote the prologue and parts of the rest of the Gospel with a dual purpose – as both a Gospel and an apologetic against these threats.  This is especially possible if one assumes a late date of authorship as do most scholars (between 90AD and 100AD).125  In fact, Irenaeus, in his Adversus Haereses (Against Heresies), circa 180AD, makes the claim that the Gospel of John is an apologetic against the burgeoning Gnostic (or proto-Gnostic) threat of John’s day.126  John’s Gospel (and, of course, his epistles, especially 1 John which contains elements of the Gospel’s prologue) can function as an apologetic against current Christological heresies as well since some of the concepts above are being perpetuated in slightly different forms today.

The Word Becoming Flesh

Christian orthodoxy affirms that Jesus Christ was/is the Word made flesh; i.e., the Word/Logos, the second Person of the eternal Triune God, added human flesh to Himself and became the unique God-man in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  This hypostatic union retains throughout eternity, for Jesus Christ is yet still both human (with a glorified body) and divine as He sits at the Father’s right hand.  However, Bill Johnson explicitly denies the uniqueness of the Word made flesh:

…It’s the Spirit of God that makes this thing [the Bible] come alive to where we actually have the privilege of the Word becoming flesh in us again, where we become the living illustration and manifestation of what God is saying.127

What does he mean by “the Word becoming flesh in us again”?  Are we to be just like Jesus, i.e. divine?  Or was Jesus not the second person the Trinity made flesh in the first place?  Is this what Johnson means by “Jesus emptied Himself of divinity and became man”?128  Perhaps this is speaking of the false parousia as mentioned in part II?  Or, is this a combination of some or all of these?

In yet another sermon, titled “Jesus is Our Model” – the same from which is the blasphemous ‘born again Jesus’ statement – we have Johnson speaking on the word Word yet again:

…Look at verse 3 [of Luke 4], “And, the devil said to Him, ‘IF you are the Son of God command this stone to become bread.’”  Jesus answered Him saying, “It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone but by every WORD of God.”  What was the first temptation?  It wasn’t to turn stone into bread, it was to question who He was129

Not many theologians would agree with Johnson that the first temptation was “to question who He was” by emphasizing if.  The majority of scholars assert it was a test to satisfy His hunger by miraculous power rather than relying on the Father for provision.130  But, more importantly, Johnson stresses Word having in mind the Word of Faith (WoF) “rhema” Word, i.e., ‘new revelation’ – NOT that Jesus is Himself the unique, second Person of the Trinity Word/Logos made flesh, although that is how it may appear at first.  This will be evident as we continue on with Johnson:

…Jesus explains this later to the disciples in Matthew 13; I’ll just read the one phrase to you that’ll help that concept to make sense.  He was talking about people who had no root in themselves; they hear the Word but there’s no depth in their personThey’ve not been prepared for what God is saying and doing131

In applying Matthew 13 to both Jesus and mankind rather than just mankind, Johnson has reduced Jesus to a man who Himself is indwelt by (NOT in hypostatic union with) the “rhema” Word.  Simultaneously, he’s reinterpreted this Scripture to pertain to those who either accept or reject the WoF “rhema” Word.  [The Greek words rhema and logos are used interchangeably in the Bible although the Apostle John specifically refers to Jesus as the Logos made flesh (John 1:1,14).]  Continuing on:

…It says, “for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the WORD [3 second pause for emphasis] immediately they stumble.  Persecution, difficulty, conflict arises because of the Word.  The WORD of the Lord attracts CONFLICT.  It’s not punishment.  It’s not to humiliate.  It’s for two basic reasons: it’s because the Lord wants to give reward and He wants to honor character.  Character is not formed in the absence of options.  There has to be two trees in the Garden where I am honored for a decision.  Do I honor what God has declared over my life or not?  Do I consider other options, other possibilities?132

Please note that the Scripture in Matthew 13 [13:21-22] refers to the Gospel message, not the “rhema” Word as Johnson would have us believe.  Scripturally, either one accepts the Gospel message and stays true to the Faith (the true convert) or one drifts away when trials and tribulations arise, when persecution comes, or the message is choked out by the concerns of life (the false convert).

At this point we’ll compare to more text from Levi Dowling’s New Age book which was referenced in part IIIa:

  The Christ is son, the only son begotten by Almighty God, the God of Force and God omniscient, the God of thought; and Christ is God, the God of Love.  

…Through Christ all life was manifest; and so through him all things were done, and naught was done in forming worlds or peopling worlds without the Christ.  

Christ is the Logos of Infinities and through the Word alone are Thought and Force made manifest.133

This is obviously a perversion of the prologue in John’s Gospel.  Both “Thought” and “Force” are capitalized in the original [“thought” is not capitalized the first time though].  This sure reads like WoF doctrine with “faith” as a ‘force’ and the “rhema” Word, ‘new, ongoing revelation’, coming into our thoughts.  “Christ” here is in reference to a member of this false Trinity who also “pervades all spaces of infinity”134, as in panentheism, meaning that all matter contains a “seed” of “Christ”, including man, and it takes the “Christ Spirit” to activate these “seeds”:

Into the soil…these seeds, which were the Thoughts of God, were cast…and they who sowed the seeds, through Christ, ordained that they should grow…and each to be a perfection of its kind.135

To reiterate, this “Christ” is the occult version of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” [Col 1:27] with “Christ” being the dormant, non-activated seed as well as a member of this false Trinity who permeates all matter.  This is evident in the following words of Levi’s “Jesus”:

Look to the Christ within who will be formed in every one of you, as he is formed in me.136

Now, let’s pick up where we left off in the sermon of Johnson:

…This story in Matthew 13, the parable of the seed and the sower actually gives this picture of soil; and the seed of God’s Word, the sperma of God, is released into the seed, through His Word, into the soil.  And, then it says, but other things grow and they choke out the life of that seed of God.  Think about it: the Word of God, the most powerful thing in the universe, is put into an environment that if we give attention to other IDEALS, other VOICES, other WORDS, we actually give them a place in our heart to take root and they choke out the Word of God, the most powerful thing in the universe.  For a season, the Lord has allowed our choices to affect the power, the effect of the most powerful thing in the universe.  It’s stunning…137

We’ll elaborate more on the “sperma of God” in the section below on “spiritual DNA”; but, it seems obvious that it’s analogous to Bob Jones’ “God sperm seed” from part II.  This “sperma of God” compares remarkably well with Levi’s “seeds” account above, does it not?  In addition, Levi’s statementthrough the Word alone are Thought and Force made manifest” seems akin to Johnson’s “rhema” Word made manifest in both Jesus and ‘believers’ as we consider Johnson’s words, “we actually have the privilege of the Word becoming flesh in us again, where we become the living illustration and manifestation of what God is saying.”

Also, note Johnson’s negative emphasis on ideals, voices, and words – is this a knock against Christian theological orthodoxy?  Perhaps so, since later Johnson speaks of ‘religion’ as, “mowing down the seeds so that they all look the same”.138  Bill Johnson continues to make more parallels to Levi’s doctrine:

The most powerful thing in the universe, the Word of God – that created the world, that spoke things into being, that Word has been planted in your heart.139

You’ve got to know the mind of the Lord if you’re gonna stand strong.140

Overall, Johnson appears to be making the point that to be strong, to grow in the faith, one must become more and more attuned to the ‘continuing revelation’ of the “rhema” word.  This is instead of the Christian orthodox view of sanctification by submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading rather than our own flesh, carnality.

Levi’s teachings are not unique to him as these are also common in Gnostic literature (as stated earlier, Gnosticism also informs New Age doctrine).  In Benjamin Walker’s Gnosticism: Its History and Influence, he uses this same “seed” concept referencing Matthew 13 like Johnson.  Walker notes how man may either “identify with the upper realm and be transformed by it, or with the lower and perish as a result.”141

This type of man hears the call, but whether he listens and responds, or not, lies entirely within himself.  He is capable of receiving the seed sown by the sower.  But he is fertile ground for both tares and wheat (Matt. 13:25).  He must take care that the thorns of intellectualism and disbelief do not grow and choke the seed.  He has free will and tends both to good and evil, and must make up his own mind in which direction he will move…142

Biblically, the parable of the wheat and the tares/weeds [Matt 13:24-30] is about true Christians and false Christians.  The false Christians (tares/weeds) will be intertwined with the true (wheat) until the eschaton, the consummation, the end of all things.

This same false teaching is also in the Unity Church doctrine.   The following is a portion of the Unity Church’s definition for “kingdom of God” in their Metaphysical Bible Dictionary which compares favorably with both the Gnostic account above and Johnson’s version of Matthew 13:

…Jesus likened the kingdom to a seed because a seed has unexpressed capacities, and needs to be planted in the soil best suited, and when planted in a receptive mind it brings forth the fruits of the Spirit.  The life of the word is the spiritual idea it contains.

The kingdom of heaven is attained, first, by one’s establishing in one’s mind the consciousness of the truth of Being; second, by one’s outer life to Truth.

Jesus used many commonplace things to illustrate the establishing of the kingdom of heaven in consciousness in order that we might the more easily adjust all our thoughts and acts in harmony with the ideas that make heaven.

Jesus likened heaven to a man that sowed good seed in his field, but when he slept an enemy sowed tares there (Matt. 13:24-30).  The explanation is this: The field is consciousness; the good seed are our true thoughts, which are sown when we express our mind positively.  The tares are the error thoughts that drift in when the consciousness is negative or ignorant143

For further comparison, here are two quotes from Constance Cumbey’s September, 1988 New Age Monitor in which are transcriptions of question and answer sessions with David Spangler and Michael Lindfield, both of Findhorn Foundation, an openly New Age organization (which has been around for 50 years and counting).  Both individuals were taped at Boulder Episcopalian Church in Boulder, CO on October 26, 1987144 the day following an important series of meetings with Evangelicals and New Agers over the weekend.  First is Spangler:

…Even today, you know, in meeting with people who are leaders of the evangelical and pentecostal community, it was quite evident they were saying, ‘you know, the Spirit of Christ is in the world.’  It is in all people.  That is in scripture and as a consequence, people who have never encountered Christianity can still encounter Christ.  And a number of these evangelicals came up with examples of this in their travels around the world, and pointed to scriptural passages to substantiate this…145

Spangler makes the claim that both Evangelical and Pentecostal leaders stated that ‘Christ’ is “in all people” such that even non-Christians can “encounter Christ.”   Lindfield makes a similar claim about himself having his “own essential Christhood” and then makes a further claim about the “word made flesh”:

…I claim my right to freely explore my relationship with God and with Christ.  And if that makes me a New Ager, I will proudly wear that label, if that makes me a fundamental Christian, I will proudly wear that label.  Whatever it is that allows me to freely explore my relationship with God – my own essential Christhood – I will gladly take that on…There are many books and many writings purporting to express ‘this is the New Age.’  But in essence what I feel we are searching for is the word made fleshnot just the word made paper146

Levi Dowling makes this concluding statement with respect to the “Word made flesh”:

…[A]fter thirty years of strenuous life the man [Jesus] made his body fit to be the temple of the holy breath [Holy Spirit] and Love [Christ] took full possession, and John well  said when he declared: ‘And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’147

Dowling’s point is that Jesus of Nazareth so demonstrated His worthiness to become ‘the Christ’, the World Teacher of the Piscean Age, that He was fully possessed by ‘the Christ’, the member of the false Trinity.  That is, Jesus, like all others, had the seed within Him (‘Christ within’, the “Thoughts of God” which pervade “all spaces of infinity”) which was then activated by ‘the Christ’, the Son of the false Trinitarian Father, who eventually  “took full possession” of Him.  Once ‘the Christ’, the Logos of Infinities, the false Trinitarian Christ, took full possession of Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus then became ‘the Word made flesh’.  The now ascended Master Jesus, the “World Teacher” for the Age of Pisces, is now our example to follow towards our own ascension to godhood.  To that end, we ourselves must also become “the Word made flesh”.

Given the earlier comparison (in part IIIa) of some Christological quotes of Bill Johnson to those of Levi and the comparisons in this particular section, it is entirely plausible that Johnson intends the same meaning as Levi with respect to “the Word made flesh”.

Interestingly, later in the “Jesus is our Model” sermon, Johnson comes close to correctly explaining Jesus’ first temptation as Him not succumbing to the Devil’s temptation to turn stone into bread: “He could have used the anointing that the Father had given Him through the Holy Spirit to turn the stone into bread.  But, He would not prostitute the favor, the anointing, the power, for personal gain…He faced it; He quoted Scripture; He brought the Word back into focus.”148   However, note that He refrained from using “the anointing that the Father had given Him” rather than His own inherent divinity.

Yet, Johnson follows this up conflating Scripture with the “rhema” Word, then he proceeds to use an example of a personal predictive prophecy which purportedly came to pass years later thereby emphasizing the “rhema” Word and, hence, coming full circle.  Subsequently, he closes his sermon and restates his original wrong exposition on Jesus’ first temptation.149

So, initially, Johnson goes to great lengths to show that Jesus’ first temptation was to question who He was as the “rhema” Word made flesh; yet, he later claims that Jesus first temptation was to get Him to use the power of ‘the anointing’ “for personal gain” thereby contradicting his first interpretation.  However, he asserts once again that Jesus’ first temptation was to “question His identity” near the very end of this sermon.150  This aptly illustrates Johnson’s duplicity.

The Word Becoming Spirit

In the following is another example of Johnson proclaiming Jesus as the “rhema” Word made flesh in yet another sermon.  However, Bill Johnson goes a bit further.  In this first bit, Johnson is making the point that most don’t have the full reality of what God ‘has already imparted into us’.  By this, he apparently means we’ve not yet fully actualized the seed implanted in us:

…We take such small risks because we live with such ignorance of what we possess.  I pray…that the ongoing revelation of God would come upon us as a people to discover what He has already been imparted to us; so that we can reasonably pursue the increase in what we’re lacking, what we’re missing…the real issue is that we live in ignorance of what has already been deposited into our lives.151

This “ongoing revelation”, this “rhema” Word, activated by “the sperma of God” will help us to literally release ‘the Word’ into the atmosphere – as it did for Jesus:

…Jesus said the Kingdom is within you.  Now that Kingdom is released in many different ways.  It is released through touch, it is released through the prophetic act, it is released through word.  In John chapter 6, Jesus said, “My words to you are spirit and they are life.”  Whenever Jesus spoke, He spoke what the Father was saying; so, nothing originated [from Him]…152

Johnson goes on with his usual kenotic motif of ‘Jesus did nothing of Himself being totally reliant on the Father in order to model a Spirit-filled life for the believer’.  Then he continues, claiming that when Jesus, “the Word made flesh”, spoke, His Words literally became Spirit by taking John 6:63 out of context.  He expounds on this proof-text by taking Romans 14:17 out of context as well which is followed by more Scripture twisting in order to make his esoteric point:

…So Jesus makes this declaration: “My words to you are spirit and they are lifeJesus is the Word of God made flesh; but, every time He spoke, the Word of God became SpiritWord made flesh; Word made Spirit…  Why is that important? 

…Paul said this in Romans, that the Kingdom of God is not meat or drink, but it is righteousness, peace and joy IN the Holy Spirit.  The Kingdom of God is not meat or drink, it’s righteousness, peace and joy IN the Holy Spirit.  The Kingdom of God is IN the Holy Spirit.  When words become Spirit, the realms of God’s dominion are released over humanityWhen we say what the Father is saying then we literally impart Presence through speech.  It is not the volume.  It is not the profundity.  It is the source: Was it from the heart of the Father?  If we tap the heart of the Father and we speak, then something is released and it is the person of the Holy Spirit who Himself contains the realm of the King-dom – King’s domain.  The realm of God is contained in the realm of the Spirit. When we say what the Father is saying, we change the options of every hearer…

When Jesus said, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” He was letting them know ‘when I talk to you, a reality is released over you that changed your options’.  And your answer is within reach.  It’s at HAND.153  

Is this Levi’s (God of) Force ‘made manifest’ “through the Word”?  The similarities are striking indeed.  Later in this same monologue, Johnson tells the audience the entire purpose of “all ministry” which is to literally “impart the Person of the Spirit of Christ”.  Which “Spirit of Christ” is being imparted?

…It’s my conviction that all ministry can be summed up…can be boiled down to one thing: All ministry is actually imparting the Person of the Spirit of Christ into the atmosphere, into a situation.  It’s actually imparting [ED: Johnson here points to his mouth] the person.  “Freely you have received, freely give.”  What have you received?  Him.154

This doctrine is not found anywhere in the pages of the Holy Bible; however, this concept is remarkably similar to an occult teaching regarding the etheric realm.  In Alice Bailey’s Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle, she describes the etheric realm as the panentheistic realm – that substance of ‘god’ which is within all matter.  She uses the term omnipresence to describe its nature:

…Omnipresence has its basis in the substance of the universe, and in what the scientists call the ether; this word “ether” is a generic term covering the ocean of energies which are all inter-related and which constitute that one synthetic energy body of our planet.155

In panentheism, God is both transcendent (outside the cosmos) while simultaneously immanent, within all matter.  This immanence is the ‘god within’ (or “Christ within”, seed, divine spark) which inter-connects with all others; i.e., the ‘god within’ one person or thing is of the same essence as the ‘god within’ another.  This ‘divine immanence’ is the etheric realm, and omnipresence characterizes the nature of the entire etheric body.  This then makes omniscience possible to all:

It is a fact that omnipresence, which is a law in nature and based on the fact that the etheric bodies of all forms constitute the world etheric body, makes omniscience possible.  The etheric body of the planetary Logos is swept into activity by His directed will; energy is the result of His thoughtform playing in and through His energy body.156

Bailey asserts that this inter-connectness of the panentheistic, etheric realm makes collective omniscience possible since “divine thought” permeates this realm.157 Through “concentration and meditation”, individuals become “inspired Thinkers” with the power to direct this energy thereby acquiring “the clue to ultimate world salvation”:158

The thought-directing energy has for its source a Thinker Who can enter into the divine Mind, owing to His having transcended human limitation; the thought-directed receiver is the man, in exoteric expression, who has aligned his brain, his mind, and his soul.159

…Advanced humanity, the mystics and the knowers, are becoming increasingly aware of the mind which directs the evolutionary process.  When this awareness is cultivated and the individual mind is brought consciously into contact with the mind of God as it expresses itself through the illumined mind of the Hierarchy of adepts, we shall have the steady growth of omniscience.  This is the whole story of telepathic interplay in the true sense; it portrays the growth of that oligarchy of elect souls who will eventually rule the world, who will be chosen so to rule…160

Going back to Johnson, “The realm of God is contained in the realm of the Spirit”.  And, “If we tap the heart of the Father and we speak, then something is released and it is the person of the Holy Spirit who Himself contains the realm of the King-dom – King’s domain”.  So, in speaking the “rhema” Word (or through touch or the “prophetic act”), we release the “person of the Holy Spirit”, or, in other words of Johnson, we impart “the person of the Spirit of Christ into the atmosphere, into a situation”.  This is the purpose of “all ministry” as per Johnson.  In comparing to the Bailey concept above, it seems plausible that Johnson is releasing the ‘etheric realm’ into the atmosphere through the spoken “Word of God” via the omnipresence inherent in the ether.  Let’s compare this to more words of Bailey from another book:

Instruction is being given at this time to a special group of people who have come into incarnation at this critical period of world’s history.  They have come in, all at the same time, throughout the world, to do the work of linking up the two planes, the physical and the astral, via the etheric.161

It would be instructive to point out that occult / New Age / New Spirituality teachings are also expecting a “kingdom of god” as illustrated in Alice Bailey’s From Bethlehem to Calvary: The Initiations of Jesus, her 1937 work explaining how Jesus is ‘our model’:

It is time that the Church woke up to its true mission, which is to materialise the kingdom of God on earth, today, here and now…162

…A new kingdom is coming into being: the fifth kingdom in nature [ED: kingdom of God] is materialising, and already has a nucleus functioning on earth in physical bodies.163

Bailey explains this concept of bringing in the “kingdom of god” in yet another book, The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, with the book’s title about the intent of ‘externalizing’ the “Spiritual Hierarchy” (of demons) onto the physical plane (the earth):

Hovering today within the aura of our planet are certain great spiritual Forces and Entities, awaiting the opportunity to participate actively in the work of world redemption, re-adjustment and reconstruction.  Their Presence is sensed at times by the spiritually-minded people of the world, and Their reality is recognised by the mystics and occultists working in every land.  Men and women express this recognition according to the trend of their religious and psychological training and the particular mental or emotional bias…164

The book goes on to note how the different religions await various messianic figures each according to its own particular religious views and how this can create a powerful “thoughtform”.   This collusion of thought can hasten an event:

…[W]hen a thoughtform has been constructed of sufficient potency and has been built over a long period of time by the people of the world, a further and final stage becomes ever possible.  The form can be rendered so magnetic that it can attract an Energy which will inform it and give it active potency; it can then become a vital link between the subjective world of energy and the objective world of forces and a thing of power, of impelling and guiding activity, and therefore the expression of a Life.  This thoughtform, duly informed, becomes a mediating factor, constructed by humanity but animated by the will-to-good of some great and spiritual Entity… 165

Is this the method Johnson has in mind “to impart Presence through speech”?  Is this what is meant by his conviction that the ultimate goal of ministry is “actually imparting the Person of the Spirit of Christ into the atmosphere, into a situation”?  While Johnson does not make any explicit or implicit claims of omniscience in believers with his words above, he implies it in the following section (while Bob Jones does so explicitly).

We’ll close this section with additional words of Alice Bailey stating fairly concisely the intents and purposes of the “Spiritual Hierarchy” of which she communed indicating the needed cooperation of humanity:

Emphasis should be laid on the evolution of humanity with peculiar attention to its goal, perfection…man in incarnation, by the indwelling and over-shadowing soul…The relation of the individual soul to all souls should be taught, and with it the long-awaited kingdom of God is simply the appearance of soul-controlled men on earth in everyday life and at all stages of that control…The fact will appear that the Kingdom has always been present but has remained unrecognized, owing to the relatively few people who express, as yet, its quality….166

Getting Down to the DNA of Spiritual DNA

In his Shepherd’s Rod 2005, Bob Jones used this same concept of the ‘Word becoming flesh in us again’ with the ‘Word’ being the WoF “rhema” word, i.e. new, ongoing revelation, in referencing spiritual DNA:

The Living Word or Bread of life once again desires to be made flesh through a body of people joined with Him in a holy consummation.  As we live not by natural bread alone but by the living Word proceeding from the mouth of God, the bread of abundant life, even so the hidden truth of godliness will become part of our spiritual DNA.

…Mysteries reserved deep in the heart of the Father, locked away in the mind of Christ, and dispersed by the Spirit who searches the deep things, await the passionate embrace of a latter-day company of overcoming, holy, victorious ones…167

Since Jesus identified Himself as the “Bread of Life” [John 6:35, 48], it is clear Jones is claiming that some believers will, at some point, be just like Jesus as “the Word made flesh”, thus mirroring Johnson above.  Apparently, in living by the “living Word proceeding from the mouth of God” the spiritual DNA is expanded.

In part II it was shown how Bob Jones differentiated between the physical body which contains our DNA as compared to “His [God’s] genetics” / conscience / spirit within each person that has “authority over DNA”.  This is subsequently added to the human body (clay).  Jones’ teaching appears to be a ‘Christianized’ version of the esoteric/occult doctrine of reincarnation.

Apparently, “spiritual DNA” provides the means with which one can attain the literal mind of Christ (omniscience) as Jones also mentions in his teaching at the 2011 Piercing the Darkness prophetic conference:

…But there are Christians who are maturin’ now in their mind to where they’ll have the mind of Christ, and they’ll have the answers…168

This presumably occurs when one taps into “the Wisdom of the Ages” [see part II and below].  It is entirely possible, if not probable, that Jones has in mind ‘the Christ’ which is part of the false Trinity of Levi, i.e. the one which “took full possession” of Jesus of Nazareth (or a similar teaching).  This then would mean that when Jones speaks of ‘Christ’ “coming IN my people” [see part II] – referencing the false parousia – he’s referring to this same false Christ.

To reiterate, and perhaps make clearer, here’s additional context of Jones’ “God sperm seed” statement in which his claim is that this “spirit of God” comes into everyone at conception:

…Everyone of you, when you were conceived in your mother’s womb, a spirit of God came into you.  It’s your human spirit which is your conscience.  When this came into you, this spirit was as mature as it’ll ever be because this spirit came from God.  And, this is what’s been guiding your life – your conscience, your human spirit.  Man is six things.  He’s mind, will, and emotions.  He is human spirit, Holy Spirit and Wisdom of the AgesWhat happens if you begin to tap into the Wisdom of the Ages?  In that little bitty God sperm seed – 1st Peter 1:23 is all the Wisdom of the Ages.  That genetic thing – you have authority over DNA169

When Jones speaks of those Christians “who are maturing’ now in their mind” he’s speaking of those who are in tune with this ‘spirit’ which has “been guiding your life”, a “spiritual guide” which is providing these ‘new revelations’.  For those not familiar with New Age or esoteric/occult terminology, “spiritual guide” is the term used most commonly for a disincarnate spirit which guides the individual (which can seem like a ‘god within’).  Jones adds more to the above (quoted in part II):

But what He put in here [ED: the body] was not DNA.  It was His [God’s] genetics that has authority over DNA… For this conscience of yours is really your spiritual guide.  God gave this to you to guide your lives.  Don’t violate your conscience.  In certain places it’s called your spirit.  Especially in 2nd Corinthians 7:1 it’s called spirit and flesh.170

Jones is reiterating that it’s the spirit which is “as mature as it will ever be” which was “put in here [the body]” at conception.  It seems Jones’ “God sperm seed” is the agent which activates “His [God’s] genetics”, “your conscience”, which allows one to “tap into the Wisdom of the Ages”.  This “God sperm seed” is apparently what activates the “spiritual DNA” which “has authority over DNA”.  This appears to be very similar to, if not the same as, Johnson’s teaching on the “sperma of God”.

Johnson sets up his account of the “sperma of God” by explaining that ‘God’s Word’ brings conflict; however, again, Johnson is not speaking of Scripture.  He is referring to the “rhema” word as in the Word of Faith teachings as noted above:

…This story in Matthew 13, the parable of the seed and the sower actually gives this picture of soil; and the seed of God’s Word, the sperma of God, is released into the seed, through His Word, into the soil.  And, then it says, but other things grow and they choke out the life of that seed of God…171

Johnson’s point is essentially that other concerns “choke out” the ‘rhema Word’ preventing the “seed of God’s Word”, which is the “sperma of God”, from growing in the soil of the human.  With this teaching, he may well be promoting, in a more subtle way, the same doctrine of reincarnation that Jones has explained a bit more explicitly in part II.  The following quotes will help explain this a bit more.

In his book When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson speaks of “spiritual DNA” in two different passages.  Bracketed comments are inserted for explanation:

God is our Father, and we inherit His genetic code [at conception].   Every believer has written into his or her spiritual DNA [activated by the “sperma of God”] the desire for the supernatural….172

It is abnormal for a Christian not to have an appetite for the impossible. It has been written into our spiritual DNA [activated by the “sperma of God”] to hunger for the impossibilities around us to bow at the name of Jesus.173

God’s “genetic code” is the not yet activated “spiritual DNA” that all receive at conception.  This “spiritual DNA” is activated when one begins to listen to the ‘Word of God’, or “conscience” / ‘spirit’ as Jones would put it, thus beginning the ‘born again’ experience.  Here are some additional quotes:

…Exposure to the supernatural works of God changes the capacity of leaders to lead, thereby changing the bent of the people of God to pursue Him.

Such exposure is the equivalent of a spiritual change of DNA.  Something is altered in that person that enables him or her to lead in a way that the people of God inherit a heart for God through the leader’s influence.174

It is said that when a kernel of corn is planted, every kernel that grows has the exact same DNA as the original kernel in the ground. Jesus became the ultimate seed that was planted in death, and we were born again by the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead.  Every born-again believer has the DNA of Christ.  That is amazing!

This DNA of Christ in us is practical in that it enables the Godlike capacity to dream…He [Jesus] was planted to redeem people unto something.  And that unto something involves accurately and fully representing who Jesus is on earth as in Heaven.  We have His DNA and therefore manifest His face to the world…175

In this context, ‘born again’ refers to the point at which the ‘spiritual DNA’ is activated.  Once again, Johnson stresses how Jesus was raised by the Spirit rather than by the Father AND Christ Himself as per orthodoxy.  And this same ‘Spirit’ provides the ‘born again’ experience of every ‘believer’.  Johnson stresses this elsewhere in the same book: “The Holy Spirit in us is the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.  He is the Spirit of the resurrected Christ.”176  Johnson emphasizes ‘the Spirit’.  Could Johnson be referring to the same “Christ Spirit” that Benjamin Crème had in mind as indicated at the end of part IIIa?

Also, his assertion that we should be “accurately and fully representing who Jesus is on earth as in Heaven” in this context has overtones of the heretical Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) teaching.  And the ‘kernel of corn’ comparison reads much like the “seed of God’s Word”, “sperma of God” teaching above.  Johnson reiterates this teaching in a Charisma piece from last year’s special issue featuring Bethel Church:

When the Spirit of the resurrected Christ took up residence in our bodies, all of heaven positioned itself to see what we would conquer in His name. Resurrection power is in our nature, in our spiritual DNA.  When we were born again, we received the same spiritual DNA as Jesus.  His resurrection power now is to dwell in us through the Holy Spirit…177

This “resurrection power” described above was discussed in Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part II illustrating likely roots in MSoG teaching which has a parallel teaching in the occult / New Age / New Spirituality which itself is predicated on the false doctrine of reincarnation.

Let’s compare Johnson’s teachings with those of Eternal Vision Ministries which adheres to the following creed: “We believe that all of creation was designed and set forth to fulfill God’s Eternal Purpose”.178  Their teachings are reminiscent of other hyper-charismatic ministries with a decidedly New Age bent.  There’s no explicit mention of the Gospel while there’s a vague “Gospel of Eternity” promoted.  The following is from their teaching “The Function of the Bride”:

It is clear that growth cannot be accurately measured by the number of doctrines we learn or the amount of knowledge we achieve. Spiritual growth is measured by the spiritual life we have received from Him. This is the Zoe Life that IS Christ in us. This is the Life that comes into us as the sperma of God when we are born again. This “sperma” is the living and abiding word of God. It is also called the Spirit of Christ or the Spirit of His Son. The same “sperma” that was impregnated into Mary to develop into the Man Christ Jesus also comes into us. The growth of that “sperma” was the incarnation of God in a human body.

God’s goal for the church is the incarnation of Christ IN His body now on earth. For that reason God begins by infusing the “sperma” of God which is the living and abiding Word of God into each of us individually. Then individual “members” are assembled into a local body called the church. The corporate church is said to be the fullness of Him that fills all in all. In other words this church is the manifestation of Christ.

Jesus said if you have seen Me you have seen the Father because He was the manifestation of the Father on earth. Hopefully we will be able to say if you have seen me you have seen Christ, at least if we see His fulness we will see the “corporate Christ”. A “body with many members”.179

This looks a LOT like Bill Johnson’s teachings.  Not surprisingly, Eternal Vision asserts that Jesus was formed from the same “sperma” that ‘infuses’ “each of us individually”.   This correlates to Johnson’s teaching of Jesus as explained above regarding Jesus as the “rhema” Word made flesh by this “living and abiding word” indwelling Jesus rather than Jesus as the second Person of the Trinity made flesh via the hypostatic union.  Of course, this also correlates with the teaching of Levi above.

In an article titled Creating Heaven on Earth, is an interview of New Ager Jean Adrienne by Asa Wulfe in which they discuss bodily ascension as a way of creating Heaven on Earth in the here and now.  Note the similarity in title as compared with Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth.  In the Adrienne/Wulfe interview, Adrienne describes the process of ascension as being “started by activating additional strands of DNA – the spiritual DNA”:

…[I]f additional strands are activated, we awaken new abilities, gifts, and powers that have been dormant…Perhaps our DNA could be a ladder into the Fifth Dimension…180

This “Fifth Dimension” is analogous to Bailey’s “Fifth Kingdom,” also known as the “Kingdom of God”, which is only accessed by achieving the fourth (and higher) initiations with the fourth initiation resulting in the attainment of a manifested son of God.  [see “Christ” in the New Age article on this site]:

Certainly, everything that we are physically is encoded in the DNA.  We have physical DNA in our cells, and spiritual DNA that is in our energy field.  These two energies have to be connected, just as the left and right hemispheres of the brain must become integrated and balanced as we move into the Fifth Dimension.

All of our inner knowledge is stored in the DNA…When we become authentic, we no longer search outside ourselves for ‘true knowledge.’  It is within us.181

Bill Johnson’s friend Che Ahn of HRock Church has clearly defined spiritual DNA in an old Ministry Today article:

While no two of us are exactly alike physically, it would appear we have the same spiritual DNA, according to the Scriptures. Like Adam and all of humanity to follow him, the image of the Godhead has been passed down…

…[C]an we fathom the untold significance of having our Father’s DNA?

I no longer merely confess that I am the righteousness of Christ. I realize that with His DNA in me through His blood, I could be nothing else. I realize the attributes of His DNA reside in me—whether dormant or active.

No longer do I see the fruit of the Spirit as something we “will” by self-effort or following the law. Rather, I see that in my DNA, God has already placed genes of love, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. They are waiting to be activated by the Holy Spirit.182

This sounds much like what Bill Johnson is stating although it explains some aspects a bit more clearly.  From another New Age / New Spirituality site we see, once again, the same concepts:

In our current DNA structure, we have two visible strands, which are called backbone DNA, but all the other 10 other strands are present…According to Esoteric teachings, the first two strands are Physical DNA, the other ten strands are Spiritual DNA.

Activating your dormant DNA, which in time will also give you access to the secrets and mysteries of which you are and what your life-purpose is, will allow you to realize your full potential here on Earth.183

Divine Nature Activated

Bill Johnson’s friend Todd Bentley defined “DNA” as “Divine Nature Activated” under the Supernatural Training Center tab on his old Fresh Fire Canada site.  This seems an apt way to define the activation of the “spiritual DNA”:

Christ wants us to know Him intimately by the power of the Holy Spirit and to catch His vision for our lives.  His desire is to build godly character into our DNA – Divine Nature Activated….184

Also, his now-defunct Fresh Fire Canada site featured his “Joel’s Army Internship” in which was found the following quote from Jerame Nelson of Living at His Feet Ministries:

…I have experienced a true impartation of the Fire of God, as well as faith to see the divine nature of Jesus Christ manifest in the earth today185

Do we have a divine nature?  Scripture shows we have a fallen, sinful human nature but never does the Bible say or even allude to humans having a divine nature. Yes, the Holy Spirit is in the true believer which makes us “partakers of the divine nature” [2nd Peter 1:4 NKJV] but only through Him.  The word partake does not mean become.  Yes, we can say “Christ in us, the hope of glory” [Col 1:27]; but, this does not mean we become Christ or divine.  Only the Trinitarian Godhead is divine.

However, as explained earlier, esoteric/occult teaching is such that man has a dual nature – one human and one inherent but latent divine nature which must be actualized through self-effort.  Once an individual acknowledges their inherent divinity, then they can work towards actualizing it.  This seems like the best explanation for Bill Johnson’s concepts of the “sperma of God”, “Word made flesh”, “spiritual DNA” and the other material brought forth in this article.

The significance of “Divine Nature Activated” is explained quite well by New Ager John Lewis of Age to Age Ministries:

Citizens of planet Earth, you have been incarnated in your present physical form at this time to witness and participate in the Transformation of human kind.  This phase of human evolution is to bring him into full manifestation of his Divineness

You are not here by accident, chance, or coincident.  Your parents were only convenient for you arriving in the physical 3 dimensional existence you now experience.  You came through your mother, but you came from God.  Parents gave you the physical and biological stuff to house who you really are until the appointed time of the Divine Nature Activated.  You are being summoned and wooed to an experience that transcends what is known as the human experience.  Therefore, arise and shine because the Light within is coming to full expression and the glory of God will become more visible on your physical being.186

Once again, one can almost hear the refrain of the popular song by the soul/rock group The 5th Dimension “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”.  Clearly, this is very similar, if not the same as, Manifest Sons of God teaching.  Continuing with Lewis in his subsection titled, “DIVINE NATURE ACTIVATED”:

We are partakers of his divine nature.’  97% of our DNA is unused, not active; therefore, the science communities don’t understand it.  I believe that the discovery of DNA at the time it was discovered was carefully orchestrated by God in man….

 …The 97% of your DNA that’s not activated is GOD waiting to be activated in man.  You have the information and intelligence of the Adam the son of God encoded in your DNA.  Access and activation to this information will cause you to live as Adam the God-man in the Garden of your Be-ing….

One will only be able to fulfill the Divine purpose when he is walking in awareness of his own divinity.  It is our belief system that hinders us from being the Gods we are…187

John Lewis’ teachings sure do resemble those of Johnson, Jones, Ahn and Bentley, do they not?

Part IV will discuss how some other teachings of Johnson resemble those of occult / New Age / New Spirituality and will conclude this series.

117Rudolph, Kurt; trans. R McLachlan Wilson Gnosis: The Nature & History of Gnosticism. © 1977 Koehler & Amelang; translation (from German) of second, revised and expanded version © 1984 T&T Clark Ltd, Edinburgh; 1987 (1st paperback), HarperCollins, New York, NY; pp 159-160, 305-306.  Craig Keener, in his commentary on John [The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One.  2003, 1st Softcover Ed, 2010, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; pp 339-363], exhaustively covers the various possibilities for the Gospel writer’s reason for using the term Logos.  Keener contends that any Gnostic influence on the Gospel writer is “not probable” [p 340].
118Keener; p 341
119Keener; p 341
120Keener; p 344
121Keener; p 345
122Keener; pp 347-363.  While Keener is convinced of the parallel, Andreas Kostenberger [Kostenberger, Andreas J. Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective (Encountering Biblical Series). July 2009 (8th prtg (paperback), (1999)), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 52-57] is less so as he sees “Wisdom” as a divine attribute instead [p 53].  Kostenberger believes the parallel is not close enough and, “if no closer parallel can be found, it may be necessary to conclude that personified Wisdom constitutes at least a remote parallel to the characterization in John” [p 53].
123Kostenberger, Encountering John; pp 52-56
124Kostenberger, Andreas J. John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. July 2009 (4th prtg (2004)), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 41
125Keener; pp 140-142.  Keener notes that “John’s literary freedom” [p 140] makes it easier to date the Gospel.
126Bercot, David W., Ed. A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs.  © 1988 David Bercot, November 2000 (3rd prtg), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 91
127“whizzpopping” YouTube video, Bill Johnson – Friendship with God. Uploaded November 1, 2009 , taken from Bethel Church in Redding, CA, <http://www.ibethel.tv/watch/399/open-heavens-conference/2009/10/14?session=113> Open Heavens Conference October 15, 2009, morning session, Bill Johnson  <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4RZ_ctiwlE>; 1:24 – 1:37; as accessed 04/23/12.   Caps from emphasis in original; other emphasis added.
128Johnson, Clark, The Essential Guide to Healing; p 75. Emphasis added.
129“ewenhuffman” Jesus is our Model- Sermon of the week 20 Dec 09. Posted December 23, 2009, “Bill Johnson sermons for downloading”, mp3 audio, taken from <http://www.ibethel.org/> December 20, 2009, original sermon titled “Jesus is Our Model”  <http://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2009/12/23/jesus-is-our-model-sermon-of-the-week-20-dec-09/> 24:07 – 24:24 (Johnson continues reiterating this thought until 24:57 at which he point he explains this via Matthew 13); as accessed 04/21/12.  Emphasis added.
130Bock, Darrell L. Luke, Volume 1 – 1:1—9:50 (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). © 1994 Darrell L. Bock, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 372-374
131“ewenhuffman” 24:57 – 25:17.  Emphasis added.
132“ewenhuffman” 25:17 – 26:18.  Caps from emphasis in original; other emphasis added.
133Dowling; p 6
134Dowling; p 6
135Dowling; p 6
136Dowling; p 8
137“ewenhuffman” 26:19 – 27:11.  Caps from emphasis in original; other emphasis added.
138“ewenhuffman” 27:30 – 27:48.
139“ewenhuffman” 29:11 – 29:28.  Emphasis added.
140“ewenhuffman” 32:14 – 32:17.  Emphasis added
141Walker, Benjamin Gnosticism: Its History and Influence. © 1983 Benjamin Walker, 1989 (1st published 1983 Aquarian Press), Crucible/Thorsons Publishing Group, Northamptonshire, England; p 62
142Walker; p 62
143Unity School of Christianity Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. 1931 (1955, 8th pr.), Unity School of Christianity (no publisher specified), Lee’s Summit, MO; p 388.  Emphasis added.
144Cumbey, Constance E. “An Evening with David Spangler” New Age Monitor. September 1988, Vol. 3, No. 1, Pointe Publishers, Center Line, MI; p 8
145Cumbey, “Evening with Spangler”; p 10
146Cumbey, “Evening with Spangler”; p 12
147Dowling; p 8
148“ewenhuffman” 30:21 – 31:01.  Importantly, Johnson indicates Jesus refrains from using the power of “the anointing” as opposed to stating Jesus refrained from using His inherent divinity which would be the predominate historical orthodox view.
149“ewenhuffman” 31:01 – 33:00
150“ewenhuffman” 35:03 – 36:04
151“ChasingRiver” YouTube video Bill Johnson – The Resting Place – VERY POWERFUL MESSAGE. Uploaded October 1, 2011, taken from GodTV <http://www.god.tv/node/503> and <http://www.god.tv/node/504> , venue: International Church of Las Vegas (ICLV), <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsQmLuG-Exo&feature=related> 11:17 – 12:04.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 04/23/12
152“ChasingRiver”; 12:14 – 12:39.  Emphasis added.
153“ChasingRiver”; 13:09 – 15:08.  Emphasis added.
154“ChasingRiver”; 34:40 – 35:08.  Emphasis added.
155Bailey, Telepathy; p 2
156Bailey, Telepathy; p 7
157Bailey, Telepathy; p 7
158Bailey, Telepathy; p 6.  Emphasis added.
159Bailey, Telepathy; pp 6-7
160Bailey, Telepathy; p 7
161Bailey, Alice A. Initiation, Human and Solar. © 1951 Lucis, NY, 4th paperback ed, 1980 (First printing 1922), Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; p 67.  Emphasis in original.
162Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 210
163Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 254
164Bailey, Externalisation; p 222
165Bailey, Externalisation; pp 222-223
166Bailey, Externalisation; p 588
167Jones, Bob & Paul Keith Davis Shepherd’s Rod 2005. © 2002 Bob Jones and Paul Keith Davis, Bynum Printing, Waynesboro, MS; pp 15-16. These “Shepherd’s Rods” are purportedly ‘prophetic words’ Jones receives each year on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.  What is the significance of Yom Kippur as the Day of Atonement to the Christian when Jesus’ blood sacrifice IS the Day of Atonement and the fulfillment of this Jewish holy day?  The year of Jones’ “Shepherd’s Rods” is always the year following Yom Kippur, in this case the actual date was September 25, 2004 (from page 1 of the booklet).  Paul Keith Davis is of White Dove Ministries.
168Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 5:02 – 5:11.  Emphasis added.
169Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 10:53 – 11:59.  Emphasis added.
170Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 24:48 – 25:30.  Emphasis added.
171Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 26:19 – 26:38.  Emphasis added.
172Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 81. Emphasis added.
173Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 25. Emphasis added.
174Johnson, Release Power of Jesus; p 140.  Emphasis added.
175Johnson, Clark, Essential Guide to Healing; p 147.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
176Johnson, Clark, Essential Guide to Healing; p 135.  Emphasis in original.
177Johnson, Bill, “Super-Natural by Nature” Charisma. June 09, 2011, online version <http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/component/content/article/1571-features/31221-super-natural-by-nature> par 13.  As accessed 4/26/12.
178Eternal Vision Ministries, home page <http://www.eternalvisionministries.com>.  As accessed 4/27/12.
179Eternal Vision Ministries “The Function of the Bride”, <http://www.eternalvisionministries.com/_writings/writings/10022_bride_function.html> par 4-6.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 4/27/12.
180“The Spirit of Ma’at” website by Asa Wulfe “Creating Heaven on Earth with Jean Adrienne”, Vol 4, No 5, n.d.      <http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/dec4/adrienne.htm> par 13.  As accessed 4/27/12.
181Wulfe; par 14-17.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 4/27/12.
182Ahn, Che “Spiritual DNA” Column: First Priority, Ministry Today; June 30, 2007, online version  <http://ministrytodaymag.com/index.php/first-priority/15390-spiritual-dna>;  par 4-8.  Emphasis added.
183Humanity Healing Network website, ‘hhteam’, “Spiritual DNA”, <http://humanityhealing.net/2010/08/spiritual-dna/>; par 6-7, 15.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 4/27/12.
184Fresh Fire Canada website, Todd Bentley, “Supernatural Training Center” courtesy Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine),<http://web.archive.org/web/20070826155456/www.freshfire.ca/index.php?Id=4&pid=994>;  par 3.  Emphasis in original.  As accessed 4/27/12.
185Fresh Fire Canada website, Todd Bentley, “Joel’s Army Internship” ‘Testimonies’, courtesy Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine), <http://web.archive.org/web/20070825050149/www.freshfire.ca/?Id=943&pid=994>; emphasis added.  As accessed 4/27/12
186Age to Age Ministries, John Lewis, “DNA 2002: Divine Nature Activated”    <http://www.atam.org/DNA.html>; par 1-2.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 4/27/12.
187Age to Age Ministries, John Lewis; par 21, 24, 32.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.  As accessed 4/27/12

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

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

Cosmic humanism forms the basis of the New Age Movement and related religious expressions, particularly Eastern mysticism.  It says that man is evolving toward a state of higher consciousness that will result in the attainment of godhood…

…Many have…adopted a form of cosmic humanism, believing that they are capable of achieving the same anointing of Christhood that Jesus had.  Their beliefs are predicated upon a new Gnosticism which appears so very Christian as to deceive even the elect if possible.  Through close examination, however, they are found in an error so serious that it threatens the stability of the churches in which these people fellowship and, in some cases hold positions of leadership. 

- Albert James Dager, Vengeance Is Ours85

Occultists / esotericists cannot deny that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth (and maintain any real credibility) as the evidence for His earthy life is insurmountable.  Instead, He is humanized at the expense of His deity and proclaimed a righteous teacher, a model to emulate.

As noted in part II, a belief in reincarnation is integral to New Age / New Spirituality teachings.  In New Age Christology, Jesus of Nazareth was merely human and His life as the son of a carpenter was one of a number of incarnations.   For example, one of his previous incarnations was as Joshua son of Nun.  In fact, He was incarnated once more following His crucifixion and resurrection.86

In the New Age / New Spirituality and some other occult teachings, there is a false Trinity made up of The Father, the Holy Spirit (Holy Breath, sometimes Wisdom Sophia), and The Son (the Christ, the Logos, the Word):

The Christ is son, the only son begotten by Almighty God, the God of Force and God omniscient, the God of thought; and Christ is God, the God of Love.87

In His incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth, the man Jesus overcame many tests and trials through much effort during the first 30 years of His life.  Because of this, He proved worthy to manifest ‘the Christ’.  Therefore, He was chosen to be the new world teacher (the Christ) of the Age of Pisces to succeed Gautama Buddha, the Christ of the Age of Aries, once Jesus would perfect Himself at Ascension.  Thus, Jesus was “christed” in a ceremony occurring just after His water baptism in the Jordan by John when the Holy Spirit (Holy Breath) descended upon Him as a dove.  It was at this point Jesus was deemed “the Christ”.88

This ‘christing’ resulted in Jesus becoming the temple of the Holy Breath (Holy Spirit) thus providing the power for His miracles, while “the Christ” completely overshadowed Him, taking full possession.89  This “Christ Spirit” stayed with Him until some time before the Crucifixion so that it was only the man Jesus who died.90  It was the “Christ Spirit” which raised Jesus’ dead body at the Resurrection while Jesus of Nazareth went on to be reincarnated as Apollonius of Tyana who subsequently ascended thereby becoming Master Jesus and world teacher as “the Christ” for the Piscean Age.91

Jesus’ life became a symbolic pattern for all to follow toward their own salvation – just as the man Jesus procured His own.

Before going further in explaining New Age Christology and comparing this to Bill Johnson’s, it’s important to keep in mind the intention as explained earlier by Alice Bailey.  As stated in part I, in order for Christianity to be “transcended” the goal is in preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages.  In other words, the doctrines must seem to be orthodox while actually teaching unorthodoxy.  By implication, a certain amount of duplicity and inherently contradictory statements would be part of the plan.

For example, in the kenosis theories claiming Jesus emptied Himself of some or all divine attributes to become a man, there is the implication of Jesus’ pre-existence as God rather than the New Age view that Jesus was previously incarnated as a man.  Certainly, no one can deny Jesus Christ’s pre-existence as God and remain in a Christian pulpit (at least not generally).  However, as noted in part II, claiming Jesus was/is eternally God yet He “emptied Himself of divinity” during the Incarnation is an inherent contradiction.  The point is, ‘Christianized’ New Age will not completely parallel New Age / occult theology.

Comparing Specific Christological Statements

Many prominent authors and conference speakers add fuel to the fire of fear assuming that because the new age movement promotes it, its origins must be from the devil92

Given Bill Johnson’s words above, obviously, he sees no trouble with at least some New Age concepts or practices.  And, of course, this illustrates that Johnson acknowledges there is a New Age movement.

As explained earlier, in New Age Christology, Jesus pre-existed as a human who had been reincarnated.  Once “christed”, He was en route to becoming “the new World Teacher”.93  Conversely, “Christ” is God’s son who pre-existed as “God”.  Here in the following is “Christ” as defined by a well-known New Age book by Levi Dowling first printed in 1907 (and presumably still in print) titled The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ:

We recognise 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.94

Central to most all (if not all) occult doctrine is the belief that all humans have two natures – one human nature and one latent divine nature.  This divine nature is known as the “divine spark”, “seed”95 and/or the “Christ within” which must be awakened to begin “the Path” to self-salvation.96  The point at which one realizes and begins to actualize this inherent divinity is known as the ‘virgin birth’.97

This inherent dual nature in all humans makes us potentially the same as Jesus.  Since the term “Christ” is used in many different ways in New Age / New Spirituality teaching, it is confusing and sometimes difficult to interpret meaning which is ultimately determined by context.  In the following, in a book by Alice Bailey most likely originally written in the mid to late 1940’s, she is referring specifically to the person of the Incarnate historic Jesus at first; she then uses the term more generally in the second.  That is, in the second case Bailey is indicating that anyone can expand their “Christ consciousness” by following Jesus’ example.  By “the keynote of the Gospel story” Bailey means the so-called ‘good news’ that everyone can save him/herself and relate to the Father by our inherent divinity (awakened by the “Christ anointing” or, being “Christed”) and to humanity by our human nature:

…the keynote of the Gospel story [is] the human-divine nature of the [person of Jesus] Christ, relating Him to the Father through His essential divinity and also to man through His essential humanity.  The Christian Church gave a wrong slant to the teaching by making Christ appear as unique, though the higher criticism (deemed so shocking fifty years ago) has done much to correct this false impression.98

It seems quite possible that this “higher criticism” to which Bailey refers includes the kenosis theories at the turn of the twentieth century.

Also from Dowling’s book, who is usually affectionately referred to as simply “Levi”, is the New Age / New Spirituality teaching on two different aspects of “Christ”: the first is general, meaning “anointed” (or “christed”), while the second refers to a member of the false “Trinity” as indicated earlier:

The word Christ is derived from the Greek word Kristos [ED: actually Christos] and means anointed.  It is identical with the Hebrew word Messiah.  The word Christ, in itself, does not refer to any particular person; every anointed person is christed.  When the definitive article ‘the’ is placed before the word Christ, a definite personality is indicated, and this personality is none other than a member of the Trinity, the Son…99

Notice in the first three sentences the similarities between them and Bill Johnson’s teaching in the following:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah.”  It [Christ] is a title that points to an experienceIt was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title [Christ].  He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.100

…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…101

Per Levi, “every anointed person is ‘christed’” or receives “the anointing” or, “Christ anointing”, as Johnson calls it.  As previously pointed out in the CrossWise article The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, Bill Johnson redefines Christ to “the anointing” and he subsequently redefines antichrist (spirit) to ‘anti-anointing’ in the same chapter of this particular book.

Confusingly, there is yet another aspect to the term ‘Christ’ in New Age Christology.  It is also an ‘office’ or ‘title’ for the “Christ” of the current age.  As noted above, there have been many “Christs” (or “World Teachers”) down the ages and, as previously stated, Jesus of Nazareth – more accurately, the now ascended “Master Jesus” – is the one for the Piscean Age, our current era/aeon102 having earned this ‘title’ and receiving His coronation at His “baptism in the Holy Breath (Holy Spirit)”.  This is explained in the Introduction to the book by Levi:

The word Christ means “the anointed one,” and then it is an official title.  It means, The Master of Love.  When we say ‘Jesus, the Christ’ we refer to the man and to his office; just as we do when we say…Lincoln, the President…Lincoln was not always President, and Jesus was not always ChristJesus won his Christship by a strenuous life…we have a record of the events of his christing, or receiving the degree Christ.  Here is where he was coronated…103

With the exception of the introduction, Levi’s book is written in chapter/verse format as if it were a Bible.  Here is how the (fictional) account is presented:

…and now you stand ready to take the last degree. 6  Upon your brow I place this diadem, and in the Great Lodge of the heavens and earth you are THE CHRIST. 7  This is your great Passover rite.  You are a neophyte no more; but now a master mind. 8  Now, man can do no more; but God himself will speak, and will confirm your title and degree. 9  Go on your way, for you must preach the gospel of good will to men and peace on earth; must open up the prison doors and set the captives free. 10  And while the hierophant yet spoke the temple bells rang out; a pure white dove descended from above and sat on Jesus’ head. 11  And then a voice that shook the very temple said, THIS IS THE CHRIST104

Now let’s look at one more Bill Johnson quote we’ve used previously in part I to compare with the immediately preceding:

The outpouring of the Spirit also needed to happen to Jesus for Him to be fully qualified.  This was His questReceiving this anointing qualified Him to be called the Christ, which means “anointed one.” Without the experience there could be no title.105

To reiterate, following is the latter part of the previous Johnson quote with additional context provided:

…It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title [Christ].  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.106

As pointed out in part I, as per Johnson, logically Jesus was not Christ prior to this experience as this title was given only at the point when the Spirit descended upon Him as a dove [Luke 3:16; John 1:32].  Hence, He was merely Jesus of Nazareth until this anointing.  This sure resembles the teaching of Levi above, does it not?

One other important thing to consider which is best illustrated by picking out a bit of one of Levi’s quotes above:

…When we say ‘Jesus, the Christ’ we refer to the man and to his office; just as we do when we say…Lincoln, the President…Lincoln was not always President, and Jesus was not always Christ107

If one has this in mind, one could use Luke 2:11, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” [NIV 1984], to mean that Jesus is the future Christ and NOT that Jesus was born as the Christ.  This would be similar to stating, “On February 12, 1809 President Lincoln was born.” – certainly, Lincoln wasn’t born President for he was elected to the office of the President later.  In the same way, occult / New Age / New Spirituality teachings assert Jesus wasn’t born the Christ for he wasn’t coronated until He was around thirty years of age.  Of course, Christian orthodoxy affirms that Jesus was the Christ, our Lord and Savior at birth.

In the Apocryphal/Gnostic The Gospel of Philip from the 2nd century is a similar idea.  In the following, there is a specific distinguishing between water baptism and ‘anointing’ [chrisma is the Greek transliterated word meaning anointing].  The “anointing” here is identified as the mark of a Christian rather than true Christian conversion upon which one receives the Holy Spirit indwelling:

The chrism is superior to baptism.  For from the chrism we were called ‘Christians’, not from baptism.  Christ also was (so) called because of the anointing.  For the Father anointed the Son.  But the Son anointed the apostles.  And the apostles anointed us.  He who is anointed possesses all things.  He has the resurrection, the light, the cross.108

This reads like an “ongoing incarnation”.  Alice Bailey, in her 1937 Theosophical / New Age book From Bethlehem to Calvary: the Initiations of Jesus, quotes Luke 3:16, then describes the two steps in baptism, the first by John the Baptist in water and the second by Jesus Christ “which is that of the Holy Ghost and of fire.”109  She further describes this second baptism:

…The baptism which Christ gives His followers concerns the purification of the mind by fire.  Fire, under the universal symbolism of religion, is ever symbolic of the mind nature. This baptism by fire is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.110

Those who are or were involved with the so called ‘Third Wave’ have undoubtedly heard the word “fire” used to describe those “under the anointing” (especially from Todd Bentley at Lakeland).  Bailey’s use here is referring to the transformation of the mind (continued transformation by Transcendental Meditation / contemplative prayer / centering prayer / soaking, etc.) to expand one’s “Christ consciousness”.111  [See "Christ consciousness" section of 'Christ' in the New Age article.]  This is a process that continues until one, hopefully, ascends to Master, becoming a god oneself.

In the following is Johnson as he explains the “baptism in the Holy Spirit”112 distinguishing between the Holy Spirit “that was already in Jesus’s life” and what transpired just after His baptism by John.  After quoting John 1:32, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him” [NKJV], a parallel passage to Luke 3:16 (as Bailey uses above), Johnson explains this baptism:

…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…113

Here’s one more quote from Face to Face with God, the same Johnson book cited above:

…The baptism in the Spirit, a profound encounter with the face of God, adds the power of heaven to bring transformation to planet Earth…114

Does this not resemble the same basic teaching as the New Age / New Spirituality with respect to the ‘baptism of/in the Holy Spirit’ / “the anointing” / the “Christ anointing”?  “Transformation to planet Earth” sure has a New Age-y ring to it.

As noted in part I, Johnson claims that Jesus did not raise Himself from the dead contrary to John 2:19/10:17-18.

…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…115

Of course, it was the entire Trinity who raised Jesus’ body from the dead as other Scripture attests [Holy Spirit – Romans 1:4/8:11; Father – Acts 5:29-31/Galatians 1:1/Ephesians 1:17-20; God - Acts 2:24/Romans 4:24].  However, Johnson’s phraseology is not that far from the words of well-known New Ager Benjamin Crème:

Jesus was raised from the dead by his teacher the Christ who entered his body 3 days after his death. Jesus was no longer in that body and it was the Christ whose personal name Lord Maitreya lived in that body for the 41 days after the resurrection.116

In essence, Crème is stating that it was the “Christ Spirit” which raised Jesus’ body and remained in Him at the instruction of the Father of the false Trinity. The difference in the Crème version is that Jesus’ immortal Spirit came back into the body of Apollonius of Tyana; and, upon his death, Jesus’ Spirit ascended and He became ‘Master Jesus’ and the “World Teacher” of the Age of Pisces.

One has to wonder why Johnson would emphatically violate Scripture in stating that Jesus DID NOT raise Himself from the dead especially when this is not much different than the occult / New Age / New Spirituality account.

Part IIIb will discuss “the Word made flesh” and “spiritual DNA” and part IV will specifically compare the Theosophical Jesus as pattern for mankind to quotes of Bill Johnson and concludes this series. [See also: part I, The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, and part II.]

85Dager, Albert James Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion. © 1990 Albert James Dager, Sword Publishers, Redmond, WA; pp 12-13.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
86Bailey, Alice A. Initiation, Human and Solar. © 1951 Lucis, NY, (4th paperback ed, 1980), Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; pp 56-57
87Dowling; p 6.  Emphasis added.
88Dowling; pp 6-8, 82-83, 94
89Dowling; p 8
90einterface website. “The Master Jesus” taken from Benjamin Crème’s works Maitreya Mission, Volumes 1, 2, and 3. <http://www.einterface.net/gamini/indexju.html> par 1-5; as accessed 04/17/12
91Bailey, Initiation, p 56-57
92Johnson, Dreaming with God; p 86.  Emphasis added.
93Dowling; p 8
94Dowling; p 8
95Dowling; p 6
96Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary, pp 24, 26; Bailey, Externalisation, p 592
97Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary, pp 9, 21-22, 24, 26
98Bailey, Alice A. Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle. © 1950 Lucis, NY, (2nd printing, 1957), George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA; pp 127-128.  Underscore added.
99Dowling; p 6.  Emphasis in original
100Johnson; Heaven Invades, p 79.  Emphasis added.
101Johnson, Face to Face, p 77. Underscore added.
102Dowling; pp 3, 8
103Dowling; p 8.  Underscore added.
104Dowling; pp 82-83.  Underscore added; caps in original.
105Johnson; Face to Face, p 109.  Underscore added; other emphasis in original.
106Johnson; Heaven Invades; p 79.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
107Dowling; p 8.  Emphasis added.
108Schneemelcher, Wilhelm; transl. R. McL. Wilson New Testament Apocrypha: Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings. © J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tubingen, 1990; English Translation © James Clarke & Co. Ltd, 1991 (Rev. ed.), Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY; p 200.  All emphasis added; parenthesis in original.
109Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 98
110Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 99.  Emphasis added.
111Here are a few statements taken from Alice A. Bailey’s A Treatise on Cosmic Fire [© 1951 Lucis Trust (1925, 4th ed 1951), Lucis Publishing Company, George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA; p xvii] which are themselves from H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine [n.d., “Third Revised Edition”; identified as “S.D.”] (all emphasis added): “Fire is the most perfect and unadulterated reflection, in Heaven as on earth, of the One Flame.  It is life and death, the origin and the end of every material thing.  It is divine substance” (S.D. I. 146).  “Fire and flame destroy the body of an Arhat [ED: 4th level initiate]; their essence makes him immortal” (I. 35).  “The fire of knowledge burns up all action on the plane of illusion, therefore those who have acquired it and are emancipated are called ‘Fires’” (I. 114).  Of what are Bentley and others referring when they use the term “fire” and “fire of God”?  I was once given a cd of Robert Stearns / Jason Upton / JoAnn McFatter / Julie Meyer titled Freedom’s Fire [see here: http://store.liveinhispresence.com/Freedom_s_Fire_Prophetic_Worship_Robert_Stearns_p/cd-ffpw.htm ] with tunes such as “Burn Away”, “Swirling in the Fire”, “Freedom’s Fire”, “Burning Desire”.  From the same individual I was also given a copy of JoAnn McFatter / Steve Mitchell / Steve Swanson Messengers of Fire [see here: http://www.joannmcfatter.com/messengers.html ] with selections titled “Contact”, “Seven Spirits Burning”, “Messengers of Fire”, and “Winds of Fire”.  One must wonder what is meant by ‘fire’ in hyper-charismatic circles in general.
112Johnson, Face to Face; p 79
113Johnson, Face to Face; pp 21-22
114Johnson, Face to Face; p 102
115“ewenhoffman” Maintaining the crosswalk- sermon of the week Feb 27th 2011. 16:45 – 17:00.  Emphasis in original; underscore added.   As accessed 03/11/12.
116einterface website.  “The Master Jesus”; par 3

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

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

[T]he church movement, like all else, is but a temporary expedient and serves but as a transient resting place for the evolving life.  Eventually, there will appear the Church Universal, and its definite outlines will appear towards the close of this [20th] century…This Church will be nurtured into activity by the Christ [ED: actually Satan/antichrist] and His disciples when the outpouring of the Christ principle, the true second Coming, has been accomplished.  No date for the advent do I set, but the time will not be long.

-Alice A. Bailey, 191939

As noted in part I, Bailey’s words were channeled through her by a demon known variously as “Djwhal Khul”, “the Tibetan”, or “Master D. K.”.  Bailey was essentially a disciple of H. P. Blavatsky, one of the founders of Theosophy.  Formed in 1875, Theosophy itself is an amalgamation (uniting) of occult doctrines with some roots in 1st/2nd century Gnosticism.  These Theosophical teachings form much of the basis of the New Age / New Spirituality.

As both the Bailey quote from part I and the one above illustrate, the goal was to infiltrate the Christian Church in order to transform it into part of one large universal esoteric Aquarian Age / New Age ‘church’.  The Apostle Paul warned in 2nd Thessalonians 2:9 about this fake ‘second coming’ of which Bailey refers, which is an attempt at mimicking Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.  Paul even applies the same Greek word (parousia) to both Jesus’ Second Coming [2nd Thes 2:1, 8] and the coming of the antichrist in his warning:

7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who restrains him will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming [parousia].  9The coming [parousia] of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie [pseudos (counterfeit)]  12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.[2 Thess 2:7-12, NIV 1984]

Parousia is defined: “arrival as the first stage in presence, coming, advent.40  By the complete context it’s clear that once the ‘lawless one’ is revealed there will be “all kinds of [false, counterfeit (pseudos)] miracles, signs and wonders”.  These will be absolutely real, but they will be false in the sense that they are coming from Satan.  Ultimately, the power comes from God as He allows Satan the use of this power for His own purposes (v 11).

However, note that “the secret power of lawlessness is already at work” during the time Paul wrote this epistle which is obviously well before the ‘lawless one’s’ revealing (v 8).  These counterfeit/false signs and wonders will be in evidence before the arrival of the antichrist.   He may not yet be ‘revealed’ but his works are already made manifest.  It seems to make sense that these counterfeit signs and wonders would be increasing in both quantity and intensity in the time immediately preceding this false parousia.

Promoter of New Age / New Spirituality teachings Matthew Fox expressed the need for global mysticism in his 1988 book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ in order to bring forth this “Church Universal” of which Bailey speaks above:

Without mysticism there will be no “deep ecumenism,” no unleashing of the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions…The promise of ecumenism, the coming together of religions has been thwarted because world religions have not been relating at the level of mysticism.  The Western tradition appears to have nothing to offer on a mystical level because its religious traditions are unaware of their mystical heritage…41

Perhaps Fox wasn’t aware of the mysticism already growing in the Western church primarily in the hyper-charismatic wing of Christianity.  No doubt hyper-charismaticism has grown since the time his book was written.

At last year’s Piercing the Darkness “prophetic conference” held at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, CA, “prophet” Bob Jones told the audience they were “called to be a mystic generation”.42

…Man is six things.  He’s mind, will, and emotions.  He is human spirit, Holy Spirit and Wisdom of the Ages.  What happens if you begin to tap into the Wisdom of the Ages?  In that little bitty God sperm seed – 1st Peter 1:23 is all the Wisdom of the Ages.  That genetic thing – you have authority over DNA43

For the record, 1st Peter 1:23 is referring to the Holy Spirit indwelling upon conversion, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” [NIV 1984].  All of mankind does not have the Holy Spirit; only true Christians will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Of course, what Jones is teaching here is not Biblical; but, what does he mean?  More on this in a bit.  “Wisdom of the Ages” is analogous to the ‘Ancient Wisdom’, or occult teachings,44 or “the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions” as Fox states above.  Jones continues later in his ‘sermon’ with even more alarming words:

…Man was created all at oncet [sic: “once”]. Bang.  And God finished it and He made man out of the clay. The DNA.  What He put in here [ED: the body] was not DNA.  It was His genetics that has authority over DNA.  And, you’re gonna have to begin to get a-hold of this.  For this conscience of yours is really your spiritual guide.  God gave this to you to guide your lives.  Don’t violate your conscience.  In certain places it’s called your spirit.  Especially in 2nd Corinthians 7:1 it’s called spirit and flesh….45

Clearly, Jones is making a distinction between the creation of the spirit / conscience / “His (God’s) genetics” which was “made all at oncet”, and the physical human body (clay) containing DNA which was made subsequent to this, indicating a two-step process.  Yet, Scripture describes the creation of man a bit differently, “the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” [Genesis 2:7, NIV 1984].  However, Jones words work well as a ‘Christianized’ explanation of the esoteric/occult/New Age doctrine of reincarnation.  To explain this doctrine, we’ll elicit help from some enthusiasts of the esoteric/occult.

In Annie Besant’s Theosophical/occult book The Ancient Wisdom from 1897 (Theosophy forms much of the basis of the New Age / New Spirituality teachings, as note above) she describes how the individual souls (spirits) await “the opportunity of incarnation” in human bodies:

…As the [human] race evolved, the human tabernacles improved, and myriads of souls [spirits] that were awaiting the opportunity of incarnation, that they might continue their evolution, took birth among its children….46

One time leader of the Theosophical Society Pasadena, Gottfried de Purucker, in his book Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, a “Commentary and Elucidation of H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine”, explains that the spirit is immortal:

…The spirit is the immortal element in us, the deathless flame within us which dies never, which never was born, and which retains throughout…its own quality, essence, and life, sending down into our own being and into our various planes, certain of its rays or garments or souls which we are; and furthermore, that these rays, in descending, constituted the life-essences of a hierarchy, whether we treat of our own selves as individual human beings, or whether we think of the atom, or the solar system, or of the universal cosmos. 47

De Purucker may seem a bit confusing here (and his run-on sentences do not help in clarifying); but, what he’s stating is that in the doctrine of reincarnation all spirits are part of the one “god” who is within all things – a doctrine known as panentheism.  These spirits are immortal, eternal.  De Purucker differentiates between spirit and “soul” with the latter referring to any vehicle containing the spirit.  Each entity has its own “soul”.  That is, the descending spirit has its own “soul”, its vehicle, which enables it to descend and it, in turn, inhabits the soul/vehicle of the human body.48  Besant above is speaking of the soul as vehicle containing this immortal spirit which is “awaiting  the opportunity of incarnation”.  According to this occult doctrine, the human being can function without acknowledging this descended spirit; however, once one acknowledges the ‘god spirit’ inside, one can begin the path to “godhood”.

After explaining how the immortal spirits emanate from the transcendent “God”, and that each spirit remains fully “God”, yet the transcendent “God” is in no way diminished, de Purucker provides a helpful analogy:

A perfect analogy is found in the intrauterine development of man and his descent into incarnation.  His [immortal] spiritual nature does not come down and become his actual body; it remains always his spiritual nature…[T]he physical man, the body, is in very truth the ‘temple of the living God,’ which is itself the glory thereof, hence a part of the temple; the temple, verily, is the lowest manifestation of the living God within.49

In the doctrine of reincarnation, the immortal, disembodied spirit must inhabit a new body at conception as de Purucker and Besant illustrate.   Going back to the first Jones quote: his teaching about “God sperm” works well when put into the context of reincarnation in which the immortal spirits ‘take birth’ in the ‘temple of the living God’.  Combining this with Jones’ second quote, he is claiming that the “God sperm seed” [immortal spirit] provides the “authority” over your DNA (your body) since this “God sperm seed” is, as he calls it, the spirit / conscience or, ‘God’s genetics’, which is placed into the “clay” (body) containing your DNA.  So, once you “tap into the Wisdom of the Ages”, according to Jones, you will gain authority over your DNA.  Apparently this is the basis for the “spiritual DNA” teachings which are becoming more prevalent both in the hyper-charismatic and “Emergent” streams of Christendom.  More on this “spiritual DNA” in part III.

Jones continues with more esoteric teaching, this time sounding decidedly New Age:

But, you’re getting ready to wake up for the night is far spent and the dawn is at hand.  And we’re getting ready for one of the greatest awakenings of all time – no revival but a’ awakening that never ends50

One can almost hear the refrain of the 1969 hit by The 5th Dimension “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” at this point: “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”  According to the New Age / New Spirituality, we are currently in the latter stages of the Age of Pisces and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius is imminent.

But, Jones is far from through [the remainder will be the subject of a future post].  He even speaks of Christ coming in His people, a reference to the anti-biblical doctrine known as the “birth of the man-child” which is part of the heretical manifested sons of God (MSoG) teaching (MSoG is also an occult / New Age teaching):

…Recently, the Lord spoke to me and said, “I’m coming IN my people.  Christ in you, the hope of glory.  I’m comin’ IN my people.”51

This is not dissimilar to his August 08, 2008 monologue at a conference hosted by Heritage International Ministries and distributed by Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries:

As you begin to grow into the likeness of Christ you’re gonna begin to partake of the divine nature.  And, once you begin to grow up in that-away you’ll continue to mature until you look like Christ all over the world.  Jesus was one person.  Now get ready for Jesuses [sic; plural of “Jesus”] all over the world.52

Esoteric/occult/New Age literature has long proof-texted Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” to indicate the god within which needs to be first realized then actualized.  As but one example of Alice Bailey, “There is a growing and developing belief that Christ is in us, as He was in the Master Jesus…”53 Here Jones seemingly has yet another application in mind.  Is he speaking of the fake parousia, the false second coming of which both the Apostle Paul and Alice Bailey spoke?

Actually, Bob Jones has been speaking these sorts of things for about 25 years now.  To help further explain the preceding Jones material, here’s a more direct, concise quote from the late Earl Paulk which should help shed some light (actually dark):

…‘Christ in us’ is God’s continuing incarnation…The Church is Christ’s body, the incarnation of Christ today.  The mystery which has been hidden but is now revealed to His saints is ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’  The mystery of this generation is Christ in us.  We never understood that mystery fully.  We pray to a ‘God beyond the clouds in heavenly places’ when Christ is in us.  The hope of glory is not in the heavenlies – the ‘hope of the heavenlies’ is on earthEvery departed saint is gathered, waiting to see how many of us are going to receive understanding and bring Christ from the heavenliesThey are waiting for total redemption as we are.

If God’s love is going to be manifested on planet earth, who is going to demonstrate it?  Christ in us, the hope of glory.  God has no other place to show His love except through His body.54

Satan and his demons need our cooperation to do their bidding (“the hope of the heavenlies is on earth”).  Following is the New Age / New Spirituality teaching on the false parousia as Bailey calls it, “the outpouring of the Christ principle, the true second Coming”.  According to New Age / New Spirituality, when “the Christ” (antichrist, the new ‘World Teacher’) “reappears”, he will also have the ability to manifest through many people at one time:

The Christ, when He comes into incarnation, will most likely project himself into many parts and be where he wants to be. This is called the Law of Divisibility, a term used in Agni Yoga that means a highly developed spirit—one who is able to contact, simultaneously, various people in various locations.55

Does this not seem uncomfortably close to the Jones/Paulk version above?  Continuing:

For example, a Master can be seen in various groups at the same time. He can even be in different planes serving and teaching on different levels to meet various needs of the people. He can do different jobs in different places at one time. He impresses the space with his images, and so forth.56

Certainly, Bill Johnson bears some responsibility for Bob Jones’ teaching since this “prophetic conference” was hosted at his Bethel Church.  Presumably, he’ll likely revert back to his words here:

…As a pastor I sometimes invite speakers who come in a rough package but carry a great anointing.  I do this to train my congregation to recognize the anointing and to celebrate who people are, not who they aren’t.  People want to be doctrinally safe, not relationally safe.  Often people expect me to publicly rebuke a previous speaker for teaching against what we believe.  I will do that only if it’s actual heresy.57

One has to wonder what Johnson’s definition of heresy is.  Certainly, refusing to rebuke a specific unbiblical or anti-biblical teaching by an individual who has spoken at his church amounts to tacit approval despite his statement above.  However, given that the Bob Jones material cited in this section (excepting the MorningStar monologue) is sold in both audio and video format at Bethel, this connotes not just tacit but explicit endorsement.  And for this, Johnson should be held responsible.  With this endorsement from Bethel, one may be led to believe Jones’ teachings (at the least his words on this DVD/cd) are part of the Johnson / Bethel belief system.  Are they?

Bob Jones “The Coming Kingdom”
Piercing the Darkness, 2011

Bob Jones lurks in the background of much of hyper-charismaticism.  He is lauded as a true ‘prophet of God’.  Do his esoteric teachings form the backdrop for the movement as a whole?  “Apostles” in the New Apostolic Reformation, the very ones who claim authority, do nothing to correct any of Jones’ strange teachings.  Since Bill Johnson himself is a recognized ‘Apostle’ within his own sphere of influence, he certainly has the authority.  Will he correct any of Jones’ teachings?  Has he yet?

Bill Johnson: Deceived Deceiver or Deceiving Deceiver?

While we cannot know for certain an individual’s true heart or motives, we are to ‘know them by their fruit’ [Matthew 7:15-23], i.e. their doctrines and practices.  Following is a list of things showing redefinition of key Christian terms and concepts, apparent deceit, questionable associations and endorsements, a dubious ‘healing’, and other concerns:

– It has been demonstrated that Bill Johnson has redefined repentance and, even worse, Christ and antichrist spirit, some of this in mid-paragraph.  It is very difficult to view this as other than deliberate.  Given that Johnson has changed Christ to “anointing” and antichrist spirit to ‘anti-anointing’, and that he’s termed our present era the “post-denominational era”,58 is it any wonder that Johnson would want the anointing of William Branham, the one who called all Protestant denominations antichrist?59

…That antichrist spirit that we’re studying, in denominationalism, and proven that denominationalism is antichrist….60

– The circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the Roberts Liardon library indicate apparent deceit.  Of note also: Liardon’s book God’s Generals is highly endorsed by Johnson.61  This book contains historical snapshots of a number of “past revival leaders” including Branham.  While Liardon doesn’t shy away from some of the problems with Branham in the latter part of his days including that denominationalism was “the mark of the beast”,62 he attributes these doctrinal aberrations to be caused by Branham moving away from his ‘gift of healing’63 which he claims God “couldn’t take back”.64  Liardon mentions the fact that Branham could only heal if his ‘angel’ was “standing at his right side”.65  Apparently, according to Kurt Koch, in his book Occult A-B-C, Branham’s ‘angel’ would not appear when Christians were in the audience praying thus rendering Branham powerless:

There are disturbing powers here.  I can do nothing.66

Since when is God constrained by “disturbing powers”?

– He clearly borrows from Word of Faith (WoF) theology.  As stated in a previous article, some of his doctrines follow Kenneth E. Hagin, Sr. in the way he moves from one Biblical proof-text to the next to make his theological points.  One such example is the ‘born again Jesus’ teaching in which he moves from Hebrews 1:4-5 to Acts 13:33 although Johnson stops short of Hagin’s claim that Jesus went to hell, took on Satan’s nature and was subsequently ‘born again’.

Here’s one Johnson quote illustrating the WoF ‘prosperity gospel’:

…Jesus destroyed the power of sin, sickness, and poverty through His redemptive work on the cross. In Adam and Eve’s commission to subdue the earth, they were without sickness, poverty, and sin. Now that we are restored to His original purpose, should we expect anything less? After all, this is the better covenant! 67

Moreover, it has been demonstrated that there’s a strong possibility Johnson has even adopted the same (re)definition as E.W. Kenyon for the word reality (the spiritual realm as opposed to the physical).  Kenyon, from whom Hagin borrowed heavily, was the originator of Word of Faith doctrine.  Kenyon very likely borrowed this redefinition from Theosophy (H. P. Blavatsky) who apparently had in mind the Dualism of 1st/2nd century Gnosticism.

– Johnson has friends who have propounded and continue to promote unorthodox and heretical doctrines including Bob Jones (as noted in the previous section), Todd Bentley and others.   Conferences of which Johnson both hosts and speaks feature individuals with unbiblical and anti-biblical doctrines and some with questionable practices.  He specifically backed Todd Bentley both at the Lakeland “Revival” and in its aftermath, and he even wrote a letter last year in support of him recommending him for ‘ministry’.

– There is at least one recorded dubious (or worse) healing.  The following probably says it all: “What have I done?  This guy thinks he hobbled in here…wait until he tries to walk out!68 The Biblical witness does not once show God making an individual worse en route to divine healing.  In essence, Johnson states that God subsequently ‘covered him’ for his initial mistake in this ‘healing’.69

– Johnson promotes contradicting concepts.  Johnson states one thing one time then contradicts this very thing the next.  One example is his definitive statement, “sin and its nature have been yanked out by its roots”.70  This, of course, is not Biblical as we never get rid of our sin nature until we receive our imperishable bodies [1 Cor 15] at the resurrection of the saints.  Johnson will make statements seemingly affirming our ability to remain sinless71 (a view in common with New Age / New Spirituality) yet, at other times Johnson will make statements about our sin.72  In addition, Johnson’s followers sometimes understand his teachings in an unorthodox manner while Johnson rarely makes any attempts to correct these ‘misunderstandings’.

With all the preceding in mind, let’s look at a few statements which seem to contain orthodox statements at least in part:

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!” [Facebook 3/21/2011]

The first three sentences in and of themselves are entirely orthodox.  Adding the fourth, some have understood Johnson to be teaching what is known as functional(ist) kenosis (see here for a full discussion on kenosis, or self-emptying), i.e. that Jesus retained all His divine attributes yet chose not to use his omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience (and possibly other traits) during His earthly ministry relying instead on the Holy Spirit. [This view violates some key Scripture in any case: Heb 1:3/Col 1:17; John 5:21, 24-25.]  However, this narrow view fails to look at the rest of Johnson’s explicit statements as shown in part I and this article which prove the contrary.

Moreover, “self imposed restriction” can also be understood such that the Word voluntarily divested Himself of some or all divine attributes at the moment of the virginal conception/birth resulting in this restriction.  This would indicate a stronger form of kenosis (or worse) known as ontological kenosis.  In fact, this seems more likely given Johnson’s next sentence that Jesus defeated “the powers of darkness as a man”.  In addition, the emphatic last sentence seems to drive home that it was His sinlessness as a man which provided “His victory”.  According to orthodox Christianity, to provide effective Atonement Jesus had to be both fully God and fully man on the Cross.

In addition, it’s important to note that all modern (mid 19th century to today) kenosis theorists proclaim Jesus Christ’s eternal deity yet many effectively deny this in their theory by asserting He lacked some or all divine attributes while incarnate creating an inherent contradiction.

Here’s another quote which backs up the assertion that it’s both the stronger kenosis (or worse) and Jesus Christ’s lack of sin that is Johnson’s focus.  The following even suggests that if one were to follow Jesus’ example one could be sinless (again, this is not unlike New Age / New Spirituality teaching):

Jesus modeled what life could be like for any person that had no sin and was filled with the Spirit of God.  He’s eternally God; He’s not a created being – He’s eternally God, but He set aside divinity and chose to live with the same set of restrictions that a human being would have.  Why? To set an example for us.  Now if He did what He did as God, I’m still impressed; but, I’m not inclined to follow.  But when I find out He did it as a man with the same limitations I have, suddenly I’m no longer content to stay where I’m at.73

In the following, a statement in an article in the March 2012 Charisma, Johnson states quite explicitly that Jesus no longer had any deity/divinity during the Incarnation:

While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man (see Phil. 2:7). It’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God.

If He did them as God I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us. Jesus is the only model for us to follow.74

The Charisma article states that this quote was adapted from his book (co-authored with Randy Clark) The Essential Guide to Healing.  Here’s the quote from the book which is much the same as above:

Jesus emptied Himself of divinity and became man (see Philippians 2:7).  While He is eternally God, He chose to live within the restrictions of a man who had no sin and was empowered by the Holy Spirit.  In doing this, He provided a compelling model for us to follow.75

Each of these suggests not ‘merely’ kenosis but metamorphosis instead, i.e. the Word literally became a man transforming Himself into a human devoid of any deity/divinity.76  Perhaps Johnson was not very careful with his words (and Charisma as well as Chosen Books, the publisher of his book, were equally careless in editing); however, when taken together with the other two statements above and the rest of his Christological statements, something is definitely amiss.  This reconfirms the analysis of Johnson’s Christology in part I.  Moreover, in looking over all the other evidence noted in this section one may wonder if he is not deliberately making these seemingly confusing and contradictory statements.

However, Johnson does proclaim Christ’s eternal deity in most of these statements, doesn’t he?  As regards this ‘affirmation’ issue, this proclamation of Christ, we must look at some Scripture such as 1st Corinthians 12:3, “…and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit”.  Gordon Fee, in his commentary on 1st Corinthians, does not see this as a “means of ‘testing the spirits’…” because “…it would seem possible for anyone to say these words at will“.77

The presence of the Spirit in power and gifts makes it easy for God’s people to think of the power and gifts as the real evidence of the Spirit’s presence.  Not so for Paul.  The ultimate criterion of the Spirit’s activity is the exaltation of Jesus as Lord.  Whatever takes away from that, even if they be legitimate expressions of the Spirit, begins to move away from Christ to a more pagan fascination with spiritual activity as an end in itself.78

Following is Craig Blomberg expounding on Matthew 7:15-23:

Jesus now explicitly addresses the situation in which greater numbers profess Christ than actually follow him.  He describes some of the pretenders as “false prophets,” those who claim to be God’s spokespersons but are not.  Yet, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, they give all external appearances of promoting authentic Christianity in both word and work.  “Prophets” as in the Old Testament, refer to those who either foretell or “forthtell” God’s word.

Verses 21-22 enumerate some of the ways in which individuals can masquerade as Christians.  They may verbally affirm that Jesus is their Master, perhaps with great joy and enthusiasm…some [may] work various kinds of miracles…We are reminded that signs and wonders can come from other sources other than God…It is worth emphasizing, however, that one can never know with absolute certainty the spiritual state of any other individual.79 

Blomberg’s last statement works both ways: one cannot affirm with absolute certainty whether another is a Christian and one cannot affirm with absolute certainty that s/he is not.  We must look at their ‘fruit’.  Johnson’s ‘fruit’, as outlined above, should give us cause for concern.

Keeping in mind the goal as specified by Alice Bailey in part I of this article in “ preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages”,80 the kenosis/metamorphosis teachings may be a way to ‘Christianize’ the concept of reincarnation, i.e. by superimposing this on the subject of the person of Christ in a way that seemingly remains ‘Christian’.

From a Christian perspective one cannot state, “Jesus is eternally God” yet claim, “He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man”, as this is a logical contradiction.  However, in the esoteric doctrine of reincarnation all spirits are immortal.  “Immortal” can be synonymous with “eternal”.  And according to the Theosophical doctrine of reincarnation all of these immortal spirits are a part of the one transcendent “God”, so one could say these are “gods” as well.   Therefore, one could claim that not only is Jesus “eternally God”, we are also gods, for we all, including Jesus, have these immortal spirits within us!81

Essentially, Bill Johnson, like much, if not all, of the rest of hyper-charismaticism, humanizes Jesus at the expense of His deity.  This makes Jesus just like we are, and makes us just like Jesus.  Once the playing field is leveled in this way, the door is opened to deify ourselves, to make ourselves into gods.  Consider the following Johnson statement with this in mind:

…And the whole issue of Jesus going to the Father was that He would be going as the Resurrected, Ascended, glorified Son of God, and, in that condition would set the stage for what you and I would become.  It’s an amazing part of the Gospel.  Did you know that Jesus gave up everything to become a man?   He owned everything.  He and His Father owned everything…But when He became a manHe forfeited everything to become a man.

One of the most amazing truths in the Bible…in John 16 is that Jesus re-inherited everything…He’s talking to His disciples…‘The Father’s given me everything.’  Now think about this.  He gave it all up; He forfeited His right to everything to take on a human body and be murdered to take upon Himself what you and I deserve so that we could take upon ourselves what only He deserves.  Stunning. 

The Father so honored Him for His perfect obedience that He now re-inherited everything; but, now not as GodDon’t misunderstand me, Jesus is not an ascended being; He’s not, uh, He didn’t work His way up into divinity.  He is eternally God, eternally God.  But, when He re-inherited 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 re-inherit in a way that would include us.82

Note the disclaimer in the last paragraph, “Jesus is not an ascended being…He didn’t work his way up into divinity” and his stammering in the middle.  It appears Johnson is well aware of the Christological contradiction inherent in his teaching: Christ cannot be eternally God yet temporally (in our time-space continuum) merely a man during His earthly ministry.    But more importantly, he’s obviously aware of New Age teaching which he seems to be trying hard to convince the audience he is not teaching.83

Most importantly, this quote begs the question: what did Jesus relinquish when He “forfeited everything to become a man”, and what did he subsequently “re-inherit in a way that includes us”?  Did He become wholly a man complete with the human sin nature yet successfully remain sinless, thereby (re)attaining His salvation and becoming the model for the rest of mankind to follow in order to attain their own salvation in the same fashion?  Or, did He forfeit His divinity and subsequently regain it thereby paving the way for mankind to attain deity?  Considering all the Christological quotes above, one or both of these seem to be quite logical conclusions to Johnson’s teaching, for it seems Jesus gave up His divinity at the beginning of the Incarnation and reacquired it some time before or at Ascension.  This is not inconsistent with WoF doctrine.84

No matter how all this is meant, any interpretation seems not to approach Christian orthodoxy.

Part IIIa will take specific quotes of Bill Johnson and compare these to various quotes from New Age material.  In addition, Part IIIb we’ll take a closer look at the “spiritual DNA” teaching and will discuss “the Word made flesh”.  All this should prove quite ‘illuminating’.

39Bailey, Externalisation; p 510.  Emphasis added.
40Bauer, Walter, F. W. Danker, W. F.  Arndt, F. W. Gingrich A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 2000 (3rd ed.),University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL; pp 780-781.  Also known as “BDAG”.
41Fox, Matthew The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance. © 1988 by Matthew Fox, HarperCollins, New York, NY; p 65.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
42Jones, Bob “The Coming Kingdom” Piercing the Darkness Prophetic Conference, February 2011. Hosted by Bethel Church, Redding, CA, Feb 23-25, 2011, Session 4, Feb 24, 2011, 7:00pm; 16:02 – 16:05.  Available for sale at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church website: <http://store.ibethel.org/p4810/piercing-the-darkness-february-2011-complete-set-bethel-campus> As accessed 04/01/12.
43Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 11:30 – 11:59.  Emphasis added.
44de Purucker, G. Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy. © 1979 Theosophical University Press, 2nd rev ed (1932), Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, CA; p 147.  The front cover describes the book as a “Commentary and Elucidation of H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine.  From the text on page 147 referencing volume I of Blavatsky’s work (page 272): “The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages…”
45Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 24:36 – 25:30.  Emphasis added.
46Besant, Annie The Ancient Wisdom: An Outline of the Theosophical Teachings. © 1939 The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, (1897; 8th Adyar ed 1969), Adyar, Madras, India; p 214.  Book is “dedicated with gratitude, reverence, and love to H. P. Blavatsky who showed me the light”.  While there are a few minor discrepancies in the teachings of Blavatsky, Besant and Bailey, they mostly agree.
47de Purucker; p 157.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
48de Purucker; p 154.  “…What do we mean by soul as contrasted with spirit?  We speak of the human soul and the spiritual soul, and we speak of the astral soul, and we speak of the animal soul.  But we do not use those terms in connection with the word spirit.  Does it not teach us that the meaning of soul is that of a vehicle, an uphadhi in general; that vehicle, or any vehicle, in which the monad [ED: spirit, i.e. part of the transcendent “God”], in any sphere of manifestation, is working out its destiny?” [Emphasis in original.]  In this doctrine of reincarnation, everything has a “soul” – minerals, plants, animals and humans – and each have an inhabiting “spirit” which is using the “soul” as a vehicle to ascend to godhood.  The mineral must first ascend its way to the plant, then the animal, then the human, and ultimately to godhood.
49de Purucker; p 150
50Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 21:26 – 21:40.  Emphasis added.
51Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 38:53 – 39:05.  Emphasis in original.
52Jones, Bob.  Excerpt of his monologue from an August 08, 2008 conference held at Heritage International Ministries Retreat Center featuring Todd Bentley, Bob Jones and Rick Joyner.  DVD sold through Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries, Media Store, VS19-000D. “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08”
<http://www.morningstarministries.org/store/teaching-sets/todd-bentley/todd-bentley-healing-and-impartation-service-08-08-08>.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 04/01/12.  Here’s an advertisement announcing the conference: <http://www.morningstarministries.org/events/morningstar-conferences/todd-bentley-healing-impartation-service-2008> As accessed 04/01/12
53Bailey, Externalisation; p 592.  Emphasis in original.
54Paulk, Earl Held in the Heavens Until…: God’s Strategy for Planet Earth. 1985, K Dimension Publishers, Atlanta, GA; p 229.  All emphasis added.
55World Service Intergroup website. Dubois, J.D. “The Christ, His Reappearance, and the Avatar of Synthesis” < http://www.worldserviceintergroup.net/#/christ-reappearance/4543145171 >   World Service Intergroup; Dubois; par 5; as accessed 03/27/12
56Dubois; par 5.  Continuing from above.
57Johnson, Face to Face; p 71, cf. 66-67
58Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 90
59Branham, William M. The Revelation of the Seven Seals. © 1993 VGR (2009 reprint), Voice of God Recordings, Jeffersonville, IA; pp 259, 283-285, cf. 259-295.  Transcribed from original tapes recorded March 17-24, 1963.
60Branham, p 259
61Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 103
62Liardon, Roberts God’s Generals: Why They Succeeded and Why Some Failed. © 1996 by Roberts Liardon (2nd prtng), Albury Publishing, Tulsa, OK; p 340.  The book is endorsed by C. Peter Wagner, Hee Kong, Jack Coe, Jr., Gerald Coates and others.
63Liardon; pp 335, 343
64Liardon; p 343
65Liardon; p 332
66Koch, Kurt Occult A-B-C. 1986 (2nd ed), Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI; p 235
67Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 33
68Johnson, Release Power of Jesus; p 107.  Emphasis added.
69Johnson, Release Power of Jesus; p 108
70Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 110
71Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 29-30
72Johnson, Supernatural Power; p 110
73Johnson, Bill. “Authority and Power for Healing, Special Impartation and Activation Service”, NW Healing Explosion – Seattle Region, held at Sonrise Christian Center, Everett, WA, Thursday, December 1, 2011 (most likely date, as it seems there’s discrepancy between schedule on bulletin and date listed on url with Johnson’s monologue), 7pm; 42:30 – 43:10. <http://www.livestream.com/nwhealingexplosionseattle11/video?clipId=pla_49e5829f-8bef-4441-a0a1-3d91097b27a2&utm_source=lslibrary&utm_medium=ui-thumb> As accessed 04/01/12.  Emphasis added.  Many thanks to the CrossWise reader who sent this to me recently.
74Johnson, Bill. “You’ve Got the Power!” Charisma. March, 2012, Vol 37, No. 8; p 26.  Emphasis added.  Also currently available online: <http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/new-man/1622-features/32505-youve-got-the-power> Feb 23, 2012; par 7-8.  As accessed 04/01/12.  Many thanks to CrossWise reader/commenter Tim Bain for providing the source.
75Johnson, Bill, Randy Clark. The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick. © 2011 by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark, Chosen Books (a division of Baker Publishing Group), Bloomington, MN; p 125.  Emphasis added.  Each chapter is authored by either Bill Johnson or Randy Clark.  The chapter from which this quote is taken was authored by Johnson.
76This is consistent with Word of Faith doctrine.
77Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: The New International Commentary on the New Testament. 1987, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MN; p 581.  Emphasis added.
78Fee, Corinthians; p 582.  Emphasis added.
79Blomberg, Craig L. The New American Commentary: Vol. 22; Matthew. 1992, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN; pp 132-133.  Emphasis added.
80Bailey, Externalisation. p 511
81See de Purucker; pp 150-151
82Johnson, Bill. Audio clip taken from 2010 Australian “When Heaven Invades Earth” Tour as accessed from Plantagenet Family Church, Mount Barker, Western Australia, 03/21/11 from the following url: <http://pfchurch.org.au/?p=357> which now is redirected to a different page altogether.  Link recovered on Internet Archive / The Wayback Machine; however, audio clip is unavailable: <http://web.archive.org/web/20101106155256/http://pfchurch.org.au/?p=357>.  Originally transcribed by CrossWise on 3/21/11 or just after; last access date to original web link unknown but likely Fall, 2011.  All emphasis added.  Many thanks to the CrossWise reader who sent this to me on 3/21/2011.
83A similar quote is available on YouTube by “whizzpopping” Bill Johnson – Bringing Heaven to Earth (Part 2 of 2). Aug 20, 2010 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxVdxzJ0vN4> 3:10 – 4:30: “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 was defeated, the power of sin. And, He stands before humanity and He says, ‘I got the keys back.  That which was lost in the Garden, I’ve got it back. Now, let’s get back to plan A.’  And, he makes this profound statement; he says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.”  Jesus did not make that declaration as GodNow, na – He’s eternally God; he’s not a created being, He didn’t ascend, ya know, to some position. He’s eternally God; but, He did not make that statement as God.  How do we know? Because He said, ‘All authority’s been given to me.’  There’s no one higher than God to give God authority.    When Jesus made that statement, He made the statement as our elder brother.”  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.  As accessed 04/01/12.  Once again, note the stammering in his disclaimer.
84McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement. 1988 (4th prtng, March 1991), Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA; pp 116-133

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?

In Exonerating Paul Cain, Is the ‘Aberrant Practices’ Document Invalidated?

…[C]ertain accusations about Paul Cain proved to be entirely false, having been based on untruths that were later acknowledged as such.  Paul Cain met with the critic, as did John Wimber and others.  Though the critic was reluctant to concede the wrong of the report as a whole, he later wrote a letter conceding the godliness of Paul Cain and the reality of his exceptional gifting.

 – Dr. John White, foreword to David Pytches’ (revised) Some Said it Thundered1

The “critic” White refers to is obviously Ernie Gruen.  These are very strong words although White would later agree that his overall statement was “intemperate.”2   This will be addressed in more detail a bit later.  As stated in the first part of this article, the exoneration of Paul Cain by Gruen will be examined in full since this has been used by some to negate the entire Document.  Toward this end, we will explore Cain in some detail as well as some of his closest allies of this period including Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer – more commonly “IHOP”), John Wimber and Jack Deere.  And since there have been attempts at discrediting the Gruen analysis of the “drought prophecy,” this will be specifically discussed in detail in closing.

Here is the first page of the two page letter3 (three including the ‘15 points/errors’ enclosure):

In effect, point 2 and its sub-points appear to completely contradict nearly the whole of section VI.H in the Gruen Document.4 Let’s examine these points.

Point 2d indicates that Gruen and his staff relied on reports of William Branham’s sons regarding whether or not Cain ministered with the elder Branham.5  Branham’s sons claimed he did not.  It will be assumed that Cain and/or Wimber and his staff provided absolute proof to the contrary.6  However, this brings up an associated issue to be discussed later in this article.

In his August 1990 Special Report, Albert James Dager rightly questions Cain’s exoneration given that Cain has openly endorsed KCF/GM:

…[H]ow can Cain be exonerated of GM/KCF’s excessive errors when he has openly endorsed that ministry and appears on their platform?  One who endorses a work bears responsibility for that work and is identified with its fruit.7

Part of Cain’s endorsement of GM/KCF included his explicit affirmations of Bob Jones as both a foretelling and forth-telling prophet during this time as the Gruen Document and other sources illustrate.8  So, why were limitations placed on Jones’ ministry as a result of the Vineyard assumption due to his aberrant teachings and practices while Cain continued to be embraced as a prophet?  In addition, wasn’t Cain guilty of point/error 9 in the ‘15 points’ referenced in the first part of this article (and enclosed with the July 1 letter) – “[p]ublic predictions of natural disasters, economic events, and divine visitations without the approval of government” – in his purported “earthquake prophecy” of December 1988?9

1 White, John. “Foreword” in Pytches, David. Some Said it Thundered. 1991 (revised, “new edition”), Oliver Nelson, Nashville, TN; pp xxii-xxiii
2 Beverley, James A. Holy Laughter & the Toronto Blessing: An Investigative Report. 1995, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI; p 126
3 Letter on file including attachment.
4 Gruen, Ernest J. & John J. Arnold, et. al. Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries). May 1990, self-published; pp 217-21. / pdf prepared for online posting by Tricia Tillin (Booth) <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/kcp/Aberrant%20Practises.pdf>; pp 123-25.  Hereafter listed as pdf first followed by original booklet; e.g.: pp 123-25 / 217-21
5 Gruen, Documentation. pp 124 / 218-19
6 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131 and Jackson, Bill The Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard. 1999, Vineyard International Publishers, Ladysmith, Cape Town, South Africa; p 182.  Confusingly, at least one subsequent “Re-published” issue has different page numberings.  The 2nd issue was Re-published in 2000 as VIP, Cape Town with the same page numbering as the first edition; whereas, the 2010 “Re-published for Amazon” issue (VIP, Cape Town also) has different page numberings.  Herein and hereafter, all page numbers will reference the earlier edition followed by the later one, e.g.: p 182 / 175.  Neither Beverley nor Jackson provides any specific proof.  Is there perhaps an exchange between Cain and Branham recorded or an extant photo which would prove unequivocally?
7 Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets and the Kansas City-Vineyard Connection” Media Spotlight. Special Report, August 1990, Media Spotlight, Redmond, WA; pp 6.  Report undated, however verified by Dager.
8 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131.  Notes Beverley, “Cain’s explicit blessing of Bob Jones was a major error…After Jones was disciplined for…sexual misconduct…I was told that Cain never trusted Jones in the first place.”  If he didn’t trust him from the beginning, why would he endorse him so enthusiastically in the first place?  Beverley, however, was apparently ill-informed of some of Cain’s doctrines namely Joel’s Army and Manifested Sons of God [see below in this article “Paul Cain Did Not Teach Manifested Sons Doctrine?”] proclaiming he had “no problem affirming that Cain is orthodox in his basic theology” while acknowledging Cain (and Bob Jones) did teach Joel’s Army [p 123].  The Joel’s Army doctrine as taught by Cain (and Jones) is contrary to basic Christian orthodoxy.
9 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179-80 / 172-73.  “Earthquake prophecy” discussed in some detail including discrepancies in its reporting.

Paul Cain Prophesies Earthquakes?

It’s imperative to understand the significance accorded Paul Cain.  To this day, Mike Bickle refers to Cain as one of his “spiritual fathers.”10  Jack Deere was so taken with Cain that he insisted John Wimber meet with him.  As James A. Beverley states, “From 1988 to 1991, there was no doubt Paul Cain had ‘superstar’ status in the Vineyard.”11 Cain had been established as the primary prophetic voice at Shiloh Ministries which, as noted in the first part of this article, was largely funded by Vineyard Ministries International [see second paragraph under May 12 in the timeline]:

Grace Ministries team leaders have recognized Paul [Cain] as having the senior prophetic authority over Shiloh and those in prophetic ministry who are based there.12

Wimber even claimed at one point that he was “bonded to Paul Cain for life.”13  One of the reasons for his high stature as a “prophet” was the “earthquake prophecy” which was said to have validated Paul Cain’s message to Wimber and Vineyard: “God has a strategic purpose in this for Paul and the Vineyard Movement.”14

The “earthquake prophecy” came in two parts: there was to be an earthquake in southern California on the day Cain would arrive – December 3, 1990 – and there was to be a big one in another part of the world on the day after Cain was to leave.  Paul Cain left Anaheim Vineyard on December 7; so, this would place the second predicted earthquake on December 8.  Mike Bickle, in his book Growing in the Prophetic, recounts:

…A week or two before Paul’s scheduled arrival, Dr. Jack Deere, who was at that time an associate pastor with John Wimber in Anaheim, asked Paul if God would grant a prophetic sign to confirm His message for John Wimber and the several hundred Vineyard churches under John’s leadership.

Paul answered, “The day I arrive, there will be an earthquake in your area.”  That, however, is not an astounding prediction for southern California.

Jack asked, “Will this be the big one we’ve all been hearing about?”

“No,” Paul answered, “but there will be a big earthquake elsewhere in the world on the day after I leave.” 15

This “prophecy” was also recounted in Wimber’s Equipping the Saints (ETS) magazine specifying Cain’s face-to-face visit with Wimber occurred on the 5th of December.16  There was indeed an earthquake on December 3rd in Pasadena.17  However, John Wimber had later questioned himself as to whether this “prophecy” was actually predicted. Bill Jackson, in The Quest for the Radical Middle, relates:

While Wimber wrote the account as coming before the fact, he later doubted his memory when he re-examined the prophetic.  He would later wonder privately if it hadn’t really come after the fact.  This is a very important distinction to make because the fact was used to validate Paul Cain’s message to the Vineyard.  In a phone conversation, Deere recounted to me in vivid detail the facts surrounding the prophecy, verifying that it did come before the earthquake.18

As stated above, part of this “prophecy” was Cain’s purported prediction that there would be a second “big” earthquake in another part of the world “on the day after he left” Anaheim Vineyard.19  Yet Wimber, in recounting the Deere/Cain conversation in the ETS Fall 1990 article, records the earthquake was to be, quoting Cain, “after I leave” which is less explicit on the timing.20

On the evening of Cain’s departure, December 7, 1988 – which, of course, is not the day after – there was a catastrophic earthquake in Soviet-Armenia. Deere would later apologize for being unclear in how he stated this “prophecy” initially:

…When Jack Deere realized the error he said he remembered that Paul had not said “the day after I leave” but “after I leave,” thus leaving the timing ambiguous.  He apologized for the misquote.  It was these kinds of disclaimers that raised the ire of many toward the prophetic because it seemed like backpedaling.21

10 Bickle, Mike, International House of Prayer Encountering Jesus.  “IHOP MP3 stores: Free MP3s”  <http://www.ihopmp3store.com/Groups/1000021591/IHOP_MP3_Downloads/Free_MP3s/Free_MP3s.aspx> Disc 1 <http://ihopcontent.ihop.org/ihopcntnt/endis/FreeMP3s/Encountering_Jesus_D1.mp3> 18:45 – 19:35.  Bickle also refers to Bob Jones as his other ‘spiritual father.’  As accessed 10/09/11
11 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 130
12 Lambert, Steve “Shiloh: A Prophetic Sanctuary” Grace City Report. Special Edition, Fall 1989; p 11 as cited in Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection” Media Spotlight. Special Report, April 23, 1990, Media Spotlight, Redmond, WA; p 4.  Also in Dager Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion. July 1990, Sword Publishers, Redmond, WA; p 129 and Dager “Latter Day Prophets: The Restoration”; p 5.
13 Hill, Clifford “Kansas City Prophets” Prophecy Today. July/August 1990, Vol 6 No 4; p 6
14 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 179 / 172
15 Bickle, Michael, M. Sullivant, Growing in the Prophetic. 1996 (5th printing Feb ’98), Creation House, Oakland, FL; p 39.  Emphasis added.
16 Wimber “Introducing Prophetic Ministry” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; pp 4-5
17 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179-80 / 172-73.  Jackson erroneously records the date of the Pasadena earthquake as December 5 as it was instead on the 3rd.   December 5 was the day Cain purportedly met with Wimber which is likely the source of the error.
18 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179, 189 / 172, 181.  Wimber “wondered privately” in a conversation with Todd Hunter.  Emphasis added.
19 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 179 / 172.  Emphasis added.
20 Wimber, “Introducing Prophetic”; p 5.  Emphasis added.
21 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 189 / 181-82.  Recounted to Jackson in phone conversation on April 2, 1999.  Emphasis added.

Open Vision of Jack Deere’s Mother and Related Prophecy

Point 2b is problematic.  Here’s the account as recorded in the Gruen Document:

Paul Cain claims a person’s dead mother appeared to him and talked with him.

Three people testified that during a conference in Kansas City in April of 1989, Paul Cain called a man out of the congregation and said, “Your brother is okay – your dead mother appeared to me and said he is in heaven with her.” 22

The concession states that it wasn’t necromancy since the woman who appeared to Cain in this open vision was a living person.  This account is detailed in the following from an audio tape of that evening:

The portion below pertaining to the account in the Gruen Document is bolded; the rest is shown to provide the broader context.  With the benefit of time and a later restatement of this particular account by Jack Deere, this can be analyzed in detail:

Last time the Lord gave me anything like this – and this is the burden of the Lord, Mike, I tell ya.  It’s a burden of the Lord because I don’t wanna do it, I don’t wanna do this… I never will forget the reproach that came upon me…and because of the ignorance of… the people, they thought I was talking to the dead.  Listen, talking to the dead is nothing new; I talk to the dead every time I get up in a place like this.  It’s people walking over dead people that are far more dead than the dead people in the ground.

We misunderstood a lot of things.  We take one little isolated Scripture out here that ‘the dead know nothing at all’ and think we’ve got the interpretation of that – if anybody sees someone face to face with the Lord that they’re talkin’ to the dead.  That’s the craziest thing I ever heard of.  Somebody saw Moses; somebody saw Elijah.  Uh, I know Moses died.  And, uh, somebody saw him, didn’t they?

…If one of your loved ones was with the Lord; and, you hadn’t had any peace about this, and the Lord just sent a little love note to you tonight, wanting you to have inner peace and happiness, wanting you to be strengthened to serve Him, He might just tell you He was face to face with him, do you believe that?  He just might do that.

And, Jack…I want you to stand up; It’s gonna hit you with brute force tonight.  Your mother came to me in an open vision this afternoon.  Her name is Wanda; second name initial J. – Right?  W. J., Wanda, and then she looks like somebody I know named Jean, so, that must be her middle name.  And she’s talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost.  And she feels a lot of guilt, and a lot of responsibility there. And you don’t know it, but the Lord said, “Cliff is in heaven.” And Cliff, uh – JEWEL – it’s Jewel Clifford, he is in heaven tonight because God saw something in the insanity that came upon him that was demonic.   And God, who is a God of perfect justice and perfect equality, said that He took one item from your dad as He did from Abraham and accounted it for righteousness sake.  And he did call on Him, and your father, Jewel, as, uh, Joel and Malachi in that day when the Lord makes up his Jewels [ed: Joels?].23

It’s not difficult to understand those in the audience being a bit confused about the details as Cain spoke this rather fast and it IS difficult to figure out the exact relationship each has with the others (except Jack with respect to his mother, of course) confounded even more by the fact that “Jewel” sounds a lot like “Joel.”  Furthermore, it’s not difficult to understand confusion as to who was alive or dead with Cain’s long introduction about “talking to the dead.”  However, yes, the woman here, Jack Deere’s mother, apparently was alive at this time.

To try to put this in perspective by restating: In an open vision that afternoon Cain saw Deere’s mother who was “talking about a jewel.”  Subsequent to this or within this same vision, Cain is claiming he received a “prophetic word” about Deere’s deceased father, Jewel Clifford, with the Lord saying, “Cliff is in heaven.”

Jack Deere recalls this himself in his book Surprised by the Voice of God.24  Tragically, his father had committed suicide when he was just twelve years old and Deere went back and forth in his mind varying between believing his father was in heaven and believing his father was in hell after weighing positive and negative evidence respectively.25

…Then he looked directly at me and said, “Jack, would you stand up please.”

As I rose to my feet, Paul said, “I had a vision of your mother this afternoon.  Her name is Wanda Jean.  I saw her standing on a cliff looking for her missing jewel.  That must mean your father’s name is Jewel Clifford.  Then I saw your father.   When I saw him, he was in heaven, face-to-face with the Lord Jesus.  The Lord showed me that sometime before your father had died, like Abraham, he believed in the Lord, and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness.”

I was absolutely stunned.  No one knew my mother’s real name.  She hated the name Wanda.  She would only use the name Jean.  It was one of our best kept family secrets.  Likewise, my dad never went by the name Jewel Clifford.  Everyone called him Jack.  I had never told Paul that my parents’ names were Jean and Jack, let alone that their birth names were Wanda Jean and Jewel Clifford.  I knew the only way he could have gotten those names was by supernatural revelation from the Lord.26

Obviously, Deere was paraphrasing Cain’s words and with the passage of time slight variances may be understandable.  However, note that Cain never said anything about Deere’s mother “standing on a cliff looking for her missing  jewel” (although that is a great metaphor) but instead Cain records Wanda Jean as saying “she’s talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost.” Cain never does equate “Clifford” with a “cliff” as in ‘a hill with a steep face’ although he does refer to Deere’s father as “Cliff.”

Contrary to Deere’s definitive statement above, it is plausible that Paul Cain obtained his parents’ names by other means, even other supernatural means.  This would not be the only time a Paul Cain “prophecy” was declared to be obtainable only from the Lord when that was not necessarily the case.27

In his book, Deere relates that the very next day after Cain delivers this “word” to him, Deere takes Cain to the pastor’s luncheon and he asks Paul why the Lord would choose to reveal this to him now as he had “put the whole subject out of his mind”:

As far as I knew, it didn’t trouble me any longer.  I wanted to know if the Lord had shown Paul why he had given me this revelation.28

Deere goes on state that the Lord had revealed to Paul Cain that there was a root of bitterness “over the possibility that he [Deere’s father] might spend eternity in hell.”  Deere claims that in retrospect the “word” had helped significantly in softening his heart.29  However, that evening, the very next night after Cain’s initial “prophecy,” Paul Cain expounds on the “prophetic word” he had provided the night before which conflicts with Deere’s account:

There was a revelation that changed a man’s life last night.  Did you know this former Dallas Theological Seminary professor that was ministered to last night? What you didn’t know was the demons of hell came and they said, “We have your father.  And, we’re gonna take you, we will take you to your father.” And then the Heavenly Father last night through His omniscience began to reveal, “No, your father, your father Jewel Clifford he is with the Lord – face to face with the Lord.”  That was a transforming act of God; that was the mercy of God.  I got to deliver it with the jealousy of God and that changed Jack Deere’s life30

Deere’s book mentions nothing about being approached by demons claiming his father was in hell; in fact, Deere claims he felt the whole matter was no longer forefront on his mind during that time.  According to Deere, Cain’s words to him on the way to lunch were, “Paul told me that after I had become a Christian, the question of my father’s eternal destiny troubled me more than I realized.”31  That’s a far cry from, “the demons of hell came and they said ‘we have your father…and…we will take you to your father’” which would obviously be very troubling and it would be doubtful that this would have been put out of Deere’s mind.

As a contrast, it’s interesting to note that after initially ‘misquoting’ the timing of Cain’s “earthquake prophecy,” Deere later would recall “in vivid detail” the facts concerning that particular “prophecy” yet in a very personal “prophecy” – one that “changed a man’s life” – he adds the detail about his mother “standing on a cliff looking for her missing jewel” and either doesn’t remember or chooses for some reason not to disclose the fact that demons appeared to him telling him his father was in hell.  In fact, the latter appears to conflict with his statement that he would go back and forth in believing his father was either in heaven or in hell.

Wouldn’t it seem more likely that a personal prophecy would be more ingrained in an individual’s memory than another one which is not so distinctly personal?  This is even more curious in view of the fact that the ‘earthquake prophecy’ was purportedly spoken circa late November 1988 with Deere recollecting this in an April 1999 conversation with Bill Jackson32 – a full 10 years later – as compared to the fact that the ‘prophecy’ concerning Deere’s father was spoken in April of 1989 with Deere recounting this in his book published in 1996.33

22 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 220.  Emphasis in original.
23 Cain, Paul “Who Will Ascend the Lord’s Hill?” cassette tape [PC05-002] The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 2, side 2.  While there’s no date listed, internal evidence points to it being at Kansas City Fellowship in April of 1989 since: 1) the venue is made obvious in various places in the recordings contained in this set; 2) Cain mentions things to occur in the ‘90s and some things to occur before the end of ’89; 3) Cain mentions “demonic killings in Mexico” he had just read about in the newspaper which is very likely the Matamoros ritual killings which made headlines in April of 1989; 4) an eyewitness recalls being there during this timeframe; and, 5) the details of this open vision seem to match up with the account spoken of in the Gruen Document [item VI.H.5] as corrected in the July 1, 1990 letter which is dated April 1989.  Taking all this into consideration, this tape set is most likely from April 1989, and unless anyone can produce proof to the contrary, this will be assumed to be the account referenced in the Gruen Document.  In a 1995 MorningStar Ministries catalog this set is listed as a 4-tape set including “Consumed by His Jealousy” as the fourth tape [PC05-004].
24 Deere, Jack Surprised by the Voice of God. 1996, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; 176.  Deere mistakenly mentions this as occurring at Metro Vineyard Christian Fellowship instead of KCF – that is, unless this “prophecy” was later recycled.
25 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177
26 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 176
27 Beverley, Holy Laughter; pp 132-33
28 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177
29 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177
30 Cain, Paul “Recapturing the Jealousy of God” cassette tape [PC05-003], The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 3, side 1.  Undated but as noted above from 1989 and very likely April 1989.
31 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177
32 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 189 / 181.  The “circa late November 1988” timing of Cain’s purported stating of the “earthquake prophecy” was gleaned from Bickle’s statement that this was “a week or two before” Cain’s arrival at Anaheim Vineyard in Growing in the Prophetic. p 39
33 Deere, Surprised by Voice. pp 176-177

Paul Cain a True Prophet?

Paul Cain was said to provide remarkable words of knowledge.  Jack Deere’s book Surprised by the Voice of God is dedicated to Cain describing him as a “true prophet.”34   In a chapter detailing how to properly facilitate prophecy, Deere mentions that prophetic words should always be given with humility.  He states, “The most skillful prophetic people I know avoid phrases like ‘Thus says the Lord…’” as this implies “a very high level of clarity and authority…that God is not giving to very many people today.”35  Yet, in another audio from 1989 at Kansas City Fellowship, Cain quips that he trades “words” with Bob Jones and John Paul Jackson each one prefaced with “thus saith the Lord”:

…I tell ya, I had a vision – I can’t get around John Paul without havin’ a vision – you know prophets when they get around each other they, if they don’t have anyone else to work on, they just work on each other.  I mean they just say, “thus saith the Lord” and then they’ll turn around and say, “thus saith the Lord to YOU![audience laughter]  and, then I’ll turn around and say, “thus saith the Lord to YOU buddy!– and so on.  Ya know it’s a really exciting thing.  But every time I get around Bob he has a word from the Lord for me; and, I’m very humble – I don’t usually come back right awayBut I go home and the Lord gives me some stuff that almost makes me explode, and I’m just BUSTIN’ to give you this.  But John, I know this is irreverent36

This is indeed irreverent, very much so, and obviously this lacks humility as well.  We have to ask ourselves if a Holy God would take part in this sort of irreverent silliness.  Perhaps Cain, Jones and Jackson feel they had “a very high level of clarity and authority” and thus could “prophecy” using the words “thus saith the Lord” at will.  Maybe Cain was just joking around, but this is no laughing matter.

Take note that both Jones and Jackson would be limited in their ministries once Wimber/Vineyard took the reins of KCF in May of 1990.  John Wimber was in the audience that day as this transcript makes clear; so, why did Wimber continue to promote and laud Cain as a prophet afterward while Jones and Jackson were restrained?  This is especially important as Wimber claimed that Mike Bickle had asked him about KCF becoming a Vineyard as early as May of 1989 as he “was looking for pastoral accountability and a larger movement for KCF’s covering.”  Wimber also states, “Mike regularly communicated with me during this time, and looked to me for pastoral care and direction.”37

In his book What Happened to the Fire?, J. Lee Grady makes observations about Cain after attending a conference in San Antonio in December of 1989.38  In a chapter titled “Fabricating the Anointing,” Grady records Cain as calling out ‘words’ to attendees such as “first names, cities, street numbers.”  However, Grady notes that those called were mostly staff of the ministries who put on the conference (he knew some of these people personally) and that the information used to call these individuals out was accessible to Cain beforehand.  Grady remarks that it was likely most attendees were astonished by what appeared to be “the remarkable demonstration of the word of knowledge”:39

…It seemed Cain had literally “read these people’s mail” by recounting personal information he could not have known about total strangers.  But I found myself struggling with what happened that night…

…[I]t disturbed me that almost everyone who received these prophetic directives was part of the full-time staff of ministry sponsoring the conference.  It also seemed puzzling that all the information Cain ostensibly received from God was printed in a staff address directory that I knew was easily accessible to conference speakersSurely Paul Cain would not have studied that list prior to the meeting, then “recalled” the names and numbers to make us think he had revelatory powers!40

Later on, Grady would interview Cain who stressed “no one has ever proved that he obtains information from any source other than God.”  Grady also followed up on some “prophecies” given and discovered that, of the ones he checked, most of these predictions not only did not come to pass, some had actually proved to be quite the contrary.  When asked for an explanation as to why these prophecies had not been fulfilled, Cain dodged the questions, but “through a friend, denied any wrongdoing.”41

34 Deere, Surprised by Voice.  Dedication on unnumbered page preceding table of contents.  David Pytches describes Cain as one who “would certainly fall into the category of a present-day prophet.” [Some Said it Thundered. 1990 (first edition, second impression), Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK; p 16; also in Pytches’ 1991 “new edition”; p 17].
35 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 193
36 Cain, Paul Joel’s Army. digitized audio from cassette tape, 1989, GraceMinistries, Grandview, MO; near beginning of side 2 at 39:08 – 39:45.  Cain would go on claiming he had a “word from the Lord” for John Wimber.
37 Wimber “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; p 3.  Also, it should be noted that Wimber referred to Cain as a prophet given his words regarding Cain and the New Breed teaching, “…it’s been prophesied by Paul Cain, and I think it’s a very important concept” in an undated tape circa 1989 or early 1990 [“Unpacking Your Bags” tape, undated, as sourced in Dager’s April 23, 1990 Special Report; p 12].
38 Grady, J. Lee What Happened to the Fire?. 1994, Chosen Books – a division of Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 113
39 Grady, What Happened, p 115
40 Grady, What Happened, p 115.  Emphasis added.
41 Grady, What Happened, p 116

Cain Absolved of Occultism?

One could argue that seeing a dead person – Jewel Clifford, Deere’s father – purportedly face-to-face with Jesus in heaven could be considered of the occult. Furthermore, it could be construed that the vision of Deere’s mother in which she was “talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost” is occultic since it involved verbal communication.  Note that the July 1 letter states that it was discovered “on careful review” that this account was not necromancy which is presumably in the narrow sense of ‘communication with the dead’ rather than the broader meaning of ‘black magic’ in general.  However, also note that Gruen specifically stated that the concessions were made on “points that could be disputed and argued about.”

Cain’s admitted association with and promotion of William Branham as “the greatest prophet that ever lived” raises an associated question as there are those who believe Branham was an agent of the occult.  Kurt Koch relates that Branham was limited in his healing: “if my angel does not give the sign, I cannot heal.”42  The following, in his book Occult A-B-C, provides more indication of occultism:

Another evidence [of spiritistic (occult) healing] is the fact that…Branham [was unable] to perform cures when faced with born-again Christians who had committed themselves to the protection of [Jesus] Christ…When he [Branham] spoke in Karlsruhe and Lausanne, there were several believers in the audience – including myself – who prayed along these lines: “Lord, if this man’s powers are from You, then bless and use him, but if the healing gifts are not from You, then hinder him.”  The result?  On both occasions Branham said from the platform, “There are disturbing powers here, I can do nothing.” 43

This is not unlike an account as related by Constance Cumbey regarding New Ager Benjamin Crème in an incident after he spoke at a gathering.  Following Cumbey’s praying aloud of the “Lord’s Prayer” while the other attendees were praying The Great Invocation – essentially a prayer to the New Age Christ, or antichrist – the expected “overshadowing” by ‘Maitreya the Christ’ did not manifest itself in Crème and he dismissed the crowd with, “That will be all.”44

While the following may or may not be related to the above, it is certainly of interest.  Recall in the first part of this article that in March of 1990 Wimber, Deere and Cain were met with open opposition during a conference in Sydney, Australia.  Jack Deere recounts a portion of this in his book The Gift of Prophecy.45 On the second night of the conference, Cain was apparently distracted and had a difficult time teaching.  Nevertheless, both the audience and Deere were anticipating a Paul Cain prophecy session after the teaching was over.  However, Cain “simply walked off the stage” instead.46

The next day when Deere inquired about this, Cain replied, “The price I pay for my gift is living with the disappointment of people and enduring the embarrassment of being deserted by the anointing.”47  [see “The ‘Christ Anointing’” section of “Christ" in the New Age article for more on “the anointing.”]  Is it possible that the Vineyard/Wimber/Deere/Cain opponents in Sydney did something similar to what Koch and his associates or Cumbey had done thereby causing this particular episode of “embarrassment?”

In the following, from the same evening as the “prophecy” for Deere, Paul Cain reminisces about his first meeting in which he spoke at an A/G church near Dallas and recalls how he understood the background of someone in the audience:

I looked over and I saw a lady – and I’m not going to tell you how I see these things because right away you would say “oh, that’s the occult” – I just wanna make one thing very clear: the New Agers and the occult, I’d like for you to know that they got all this stuff from God in the first place.  And the devil’s had it so long we think it belongs to him; I think it’s time we take it all back.  Because God is the God of Light, He’s the God of the amber light and the glory…

Anyway, I saw this light over her and the vision came to pass. I said, “Lady sitting back here in the green and white polka dot dress, you’re from San Antone [sic], Texas and you’re cripple [sic].  Get up and run to that aisle immediately…” 48

Cain goes on claiming this lady, who “came in a wheelchair” although he “didn’t realize this at first,” ran “up and down the aisles” being completely healed.  Continuing, Cain follows with another account in which he claims “the angel of the Lord” told him she had colitis.49  Is this angel similar to Branham’s healing angel, like the one Todd Bentley claimed in Lakeland in 2008?  If so, is it possible that in the Sydney “embarrassment” the angel “did not give the sign” as would happen to Branham?

The transcript in VI.H.3 of the Gruen Document, “Smelling demons”,50 certainly displays the hallmarks of occultism:

When I was a young man and first received the anointing, I could smell a cancer; I could smell a demon; I could smell different types of sin.  They all had a stench; they all had a different smell; they were identifying themselves.  You could smell infidelity and adultery…51

This is transcribed from the “7 Spirits of God” tape which was one of those deleted in June 1990 [see previous post].  As of yet, this audio has not been recovered; so, this transcript cannot be either affirmed or denounced.

Perhaps a more clear case of occultism is found in the following.  From the same evening Cain relates that Jack Deere was approached by demons who were trying to take Deere to visit his father in hell, Cain recounts how “the Lord” hit him on the chest:

…I told you the story when the Lord came to me one night I went to bed meditating on something that Augustine [ed: likely Augustine Acolla (also spelled Alcala)] said.  He said, “Man was made to find his home in God and man can’t rest until he finds his home in God.” – or something like that.  And I went to sleep meditating on that one night and I woke – well, I’m not even gonna tell you this ‘cause you wouldn’t believe it anyway, just leave me asleep if you want to.  Call it a dream.  Call it anything; but, I tell ya I call it ‘scary.’ The Lord took his two fingers and began to punch me in the chest…” 52

Now THAT must’ve left a bruise!  Dager notes “other phenomena akin to occult spiritual activity” have been observed while Cain ministered.53  It has been reported that one night in 1988 at Olathe Worship Center, a part of KCF, Cain caused a surge of electricity short-circuiting circuits resulting in the fire alarm system activating.  Purportedly, unbeknownst to the KCF congregation, the local fire station was dispatched and the firemen were surprised there wasn’t a fire.54 A similar thing was claimed to have happened when Cain was speaking at the Spiritual Warfare Conference at Anaheim Vineyard in February of 1989:55

On the first occasion in Anaheim, an expensive video camera was short circuited.  This was particularly unusual because the camera was battery powered.  It was not plugged into any outlet.

The following night, the telephone system was blown-out [sic].  This was notable because no one was on the phone at the time.56

Apparently, on a subsequent night at the same conference, Cain himself speaks of these occasions.  From audio of this conference, one of “Stadium Visions” available on his own site, Cain relates

…But, He’s gonna DO that and when He does you’re gonna have more than just a little omnipotent surgeYou’re gonna have something MORE than something that’ll knock out the cameras and knock out the phone lines and knock out all the power lines and set off the fire alarms like it did in Kansas City or Olathe, Kansas and a little bit of that happened here [in Anaheim, CA].  You’re gonna have something MORE than that…57

Dager comments, “One must wonder if the Holy Spirit is a clumsy, out of control source of electrical energy.  Such happenings are not dissimilar to those that occur during UFO sightings or poltergeist activity…”58

42 Koch, Kurt Occult A-B-C. 1986 (second edition), Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI; p 235
43 Koch, Occult A-B-C. p 235
44 Cumbey, Constance. video Discovering the New Age Movement. 2006, Radio Liberty Conference hosted by Stanley Monteith <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8937919448007045479> starting at around 46:10.  Cumbey described this ‘non-event’ as the “spookiest thing of the evening.”  As accessed 10/15/11
45 Deere, Jack The Gift of Prophecy. 2001, Servant Publishers, Ann Arbor, MI; pp 72-74
46 Deere, Gift of Prophecy. pp 72-73
47 Deere, Gift of Prophecy. pp 73-74
48 Cain, Paul “Trembling at His Word” cassette tape [PC05-001] The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 1, side 2.  Undated but as noted above from 1989 and very likely April 1989.
49 Cain, Paul “Trembling at His Word” side 2
50 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 219
51 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 219
52 Cain “Recapturing the Jealousy of God” side 2
53 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7
54 Sullivant, Terri “Paul Cain’s Ministry: Recent Manifestations of the Holy Spirit” Grace City Report. Special Edition, Fall 1989; p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7
55 Sullivant, Terry “Paul Cain: Recent Manifestations” p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7.  Dager records this conference as 1988 rather than 1989 (presumably receiving this from Sullivant) which seems to conflict with the overall chronology as Cain was not introduced to Wimber until December 5, 1988.  According to Jackson [Radical Middle. pp 179 / 171-172], Bob Jones purportedly told Bickle that Wimber would call him “in early 1988” opening the door “for future ministry” with Wimber and Vineyard.  Purportedly, the call came “five days later” resulting in Wimber and Bickle ministering together in the UK in the fall of 1988.  With this in mind, it would seem unlikely that Cain was at an early 1988 conference at Anaheim Vineyard.  If this supposition is incorrect, the reader is asked to provide substantiation in order to correct this.
56 Sullivant, T. “Paul Cain: Recent Manifestations” p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7
57 Cain, Paul “Stadium Vision: Anaheim Vineyard” taken from February 1989 Spiritual Warfare Conference <http://www.paulcain.org/sandbox/newsite/pages/Stadium%20vision/stadiumvision.html> as accessed 10/15/11
58 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 133 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7

Paul Cain Did Not Teach Manifested Sons Doctrine?

The most confounding concession is point 2a which is the claim, “He does not hold to the doctrine of Manifested Sons, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching.” The transcripts clearly indicate Cain was teaching the Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) heretical doctrine.  The MSoG heresy is such that certain individuals will receive their imperishable, resurrection bodies [see I Corinthians 15:50-54] while remaining here on earth in an invincible state attaining immortality with the ability to go through walls, etc.

Dager, in his August 1990 article, states flatly

…[Gruen] is in error in saying that Cain does not hold to Manifest Sons of God doctrine; Cain’s teachings on Joel’s Army and on immortalization are purely Manifest Sons of God doctrine.”59

In Dager’s April 23rd article (and also in a chapter in his full-length book Vengeance is Ours as well as the follow up article in August), he provided his own proof that Cain taught MSoG by quoting from the KCF tape “A New Breed” – another one of the tapes on the June 1990 discontinued list [though, notably, not referenced at all in the Gruen Document] – which follows:

Now I know which is perfect is come [sic], that which is imperfect must be done away.  But anyone knows that which is perfect has come.  And we don’t have the full revelation – we haven’t grown up in the stature of Christ as we shouldAnd there is no manifestation on a wholesale basis of the sons of GodAnd I’m not afraid to mention that even though I get shot down everywhere I go every time I mention the manifestation of the sons of God.  I’m not afraid to mention any biblical, scriptural terminology…60

So my point is that there will be a manifestation of the sons and daughters of God.  And it won’t be this baloney that we’ve heard of in the past; I mean, there’s been a few people who tried to walk through a wall like this over there and knocked their brains loose, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about a true manifested son of God: if anyone walks through this wall over here, they’re not going to tell you about it – I mean, they’re just going to do it.  And sons of God don’t tell you they’re sons of God, they’ll just show you!  Amen!61

Dager clearly illustrates that Cain taught MSoG; however, are the Gruen Document transcripts in error or fabricated?  We can safely say “No.”  Existing digitized audio of the “Joel’s Army” tape – yet another one of the tapes on the discontinued list [identified in the Gruen Document as “JAPC”] – prove that the transcripts faithfully represent Cain’s words although a small portion is apparently edited.62   However, this missing section does not affect proving unequivocally that the Gruen Document does in fact show that Paul Cain was teaching MSoG which, as noted, is heresy.

“Joel’s Army” is another term for MSoG taken from a misapplication of Joel 2:1-11.  The fact that this “Joel’s Army” is the same as Manifested Sons of God in the Paul Cain vernacular is evidenced by Cain’s words as quoted in item VI.H.6: “…this army is also in the New Testament…”

Using the digitized audio of the “Joel’s Army” tape, we can put Cain’s words in the Gruen Document in chronological order (excluding the portion not on the audio in possession obviously).  Additional transcription from the audio providing more of the original context will be in plain text while portions from the transcripts of the Gruen Document will be italicized.  The Gruen Document transcriptions are underscored as per the original, bolding is added for emphasis, and CAPS are used when Cain is emphatic.  Repeats and stammers are mostly edited out.

Cain begins by talking about a vision of Bob Jones’ in which “the wind and the fire” are present and the pages of a Bible are turning.  Notice that the portion from the Gruen Document (in italics, as stated) is claimed to be a direct quote from the Lord for Cain.  There’s a second one for John Paul Jackson:

…And then…it stopped at St. John 15…He said that He’s the true vine and you’re the branches.  It seemed as though the Lord reiterated that to my heart again…He had already shown me that a dozen times before.  He said, “If you can get into this vine, if you’re really in the vine and you’re in the branch, then the life sap from the Son of the living God keeps you from cancer, keeps you from dying, keeps you from death, keeps ya from so many things.”  And I said, “Yes Lord.” …And then it blew on over to St. John 16…it came alive…The Lord said, “That’s for John Paul.  And just tell him that my Word is coming alive…”63

This illustrates that Cain is espousing the idea that the Lord is giving “new revelation” to certain “prophets” for the Church.  So, how does one “really” get “into this vine?”  The answer is revealed by the next section in which the ellipse […] in the Gruen Document is filled in providing the full context of Cain’s words.  It all has to do with “intimacy”:

So this is a billion soul crusade, Bob.  Your billion, your billion, my billion, and I want you to know that just fills me and thrills me and chills me, and Lord, please don’t let it kill me.  It’s just so good.  I’m going to live to see this, friends, I really believe it.  If I can get through this message.  So, they shut the Apostles…up in prison, they killed James, they stoned Stephen, and finally martyred all the Apostles with the possible exception of John, Saint John the Divine. I don’t think they killed him ‘cause he leaned on Jesus’ bosom and he had the heartbeat of God.  God loved him so much.  If you have intimacy with God, they can’t kill you.  They just can’t.  There’s something about [ya]; you’re connected to that vine; you’re just so close to him.  Oh, my friends, they can’t kill [ya].  God takes care of them.  He said, “I love them that love Me.”  Isn’t that wonderful?  So, I don’t think we have any record where they kill John…He may be the Enoch…as far as the martyrs are concerned.  I don’t believe that he was martyred…64

That’s an interesting thesis: on the basis of the fact that the Apostle John had leaned on Jesus’ bosom and because neither Scripture nor, presumably, any extant historical evidence records John’s death, Cain conjectures that John was taken up like Enoch never experiencing a physical death.  Consequently, if we were to have this same sort of intimacy with God we could not be killed.  This sort of “intimacy” then provides the means to attaining manifested sons of God status – truly perfected saints, the invincible Joel’s Army:

…I saw that when they shut the Apostles up in prison; they killed all of them, and except maybe John.  Many spiritual saints were slain also because of their testimony throughout the past centuries.  But this is what God showed me: But this army is invincible.  They are never put into prison; they are never delivered into the hands of their enemies…They go behind iron bars and iron gates and Iron Curtain and they enter into windows like a THIEF.  Even those behind bars and in cells and in dungeons must hear the message that we preach and if it’s accepted they bring them out to freedom and to safety.  And nothing shall escape it.  WE have the authority then!65

So, this “intimacy” not only provides invincibility to the members of this army; it provides full earthly authority!   However, this perfection may not come immediately:

But we may not reach that kind of perfection right away…But we can repent right clear down to the bottom; we’re gonna get to that kind of repentance.  And if we fail after repentance, we’re gonna repent again…66

According to Cain, God wants you to join Joel’s Army and enlistment will put both you and God “back on the map.”  Has God ever really been ‘off’ the map?

…But nevertheless God’s gonna have a people that’s gonna put Him back on the map again.  Amen.  And He’s gonna put us on the map again, isn’t He.  Let’s make up our minds to this fact.  God’s going to – He’s not gonna make ya do it – but, I want you to know this army is going to be available to ya; if you want to enlist tonight…67

In the following, Cain makes it very clear that this perfected army is specified in the New Testament, not just the Old Testament.  Not only that – it’s for the final, special end time generation only.  And he identifies the generation he was speaking with at the time as that privileged generation of the end time.  Cain identifies this Joel’s Army as the man-child, the overcomers, the 144,000 of Revelation 7, the bride of the Lamb, the manifested sons of God, and others:

This army is also in the New Testament.  It’s referred to as the man child. I know some of you’s gonna disagree with this; don’t you even stop to disagree. Revelation 12:25 [sic], if you disagree, just file it in Miscellaneous and don’t bother with it. When we get to heaven we’ll check it out, and you’ll find out I’m right. Here it is–this great army in the New Testament is a man child, Revelation 12:5; the overcomers, Revelation 2 and 3; the 144,000 servants, Revelation 7:3; the bride of the Lamb’s wife [sic]– see why they call me in on the carpet? – the revelation of the Lamb’s wife, Revelation 19:7 and 21:9; and the white horse. Revelation 6:2; the first fruit. Revelation 14:4; the precious fruit. James 5:7; the wise virgins. Matthew 21:1 – 13 [sic]; the manifested sons of God. Romans 8:19 – 23, and it’s certainly a remarkable fact that none of these names are expressions applied to the saints of God at any other time in history, but all of them are in their context and promises showing undeniably that they belong to the time of the end. The end time, let’s say the end time. They belong to the end time to this present generation, Matthew 24:34…the Lord says, “today, today, today.”  And today harden not your hearts, but it applies to the end time, this is the end time and God wants us to realize once and again, in closing, that there’s gonna be a great company of overcomers prepared for this mighty ministry which I call the prize of all ages.  And again, God’s offering to the believers of this generation a greater privilege than was ever been offered to any people of any generation at any time from Adam clear down through the end of the millennium68

Note that Cain states “Revelation 12:25” which is an obvious error as the 12th chapter of Revelation ends with verse 17.  In his zeal, Cain misspoke as he meant “Revelation 12:2-5” instead since these are the verses used to denote the “man-child” doctrine.  Also, he mistakenly says “bride of the Lamb’s wife” instead of “bride of the Lamb” and he quotes the wrong Scripture for “the wise virgins” which should be Matthew 25:1-13 instead of 21:1-13 in all his excitement.

59 Dager “The Restoration” p 16
60 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 9 / Dager Vengeance. p 144 / Dager “The Restoration” p 12
61 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 9 / Dager Vengeance. p 145 / Dager “The Restoration” p 12
62 Cain, Joel’s Army. digitized audio from cassette tape; however, the tape is apparently edited.  Frustratingly, the extant audio is missing the latter portion of item VI.H.1(the portion after the first ellipse of the last paragraph) and all of item VI.H.4 in Gruen Documentation; p 123-24, 124 / 218, 217.  However, the remaining audio is quite enough to illustrate that the Gruen Document transcripts faithfully represent the audio/tape.  It appears that the tape used for the Gruen transcription either had the sides reversed or the transcriber reversed the sides during transcription.  The transcripts from the Gruen Document are put into their original chronological order as this may provide a better understanding of Cain’s overall message.
63 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 1 at 41:05 – 42:15.  The digitized audio records the tape abruptly ending with “this concludes side one; please turn the tape over” and then after a short duration, the audio resumes at the same place at which side one ended.  However, at 43:18 there is an obvious edit with Cain coming back in speaking on a totally different subject.  This is apparently the section which had been edited.  The quoted portion transcribed is from VI.H.1, third paragraph excepting the edited verbiage after the ellipse.  This picks up soon after the transcription at footnote 35 ends.
64 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 53:21 – 54:39.  Includes VI.H.1, first paragraph.
65 Cain, Joel’s Army. side 2 at 55:01 – 55:48.  Includes VI.H.1, second paragraph.
66 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:03:19 – 1:03:37
67 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:04:12 – 1:04:30
68 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:05:37 – 1:07:26.  Includes all of VI.H.6

Assessing Gruen’s Concessions

Let’s recap Gruen’s concessions specifically related to Paul Cain.  As stated, “Paul Cain did minister with William Branham” [point 2d].  Assuming this is indeed true, it appears to be an honest mistake on Gruen’s part and a mistake which needed to be corrected.

While it is apparently true that the woman (Jack Deere’s mother) who appeared to Paul Cain in the open vision recorded in the Gruen Document was a living person [point 2b], it has been shown that this vision and the associated vision of Cain seeing Deere’s deceased father in heaven could be construed as of the occult.  In addition, Cain’s association with and promotion of William Branham, who apparently used occult powers being rendered powerless when Christians were praying, adds more credibility to the possibility of occultism [point 2c].  Moreover, as mentioned above, there are other accounts which suggest the possibility of occultic activity.

Gruen’s only specific mention of anything related to occultism was the claim of necromancy, i.e. communing with the dead, associated with the open vision in which, as noted, the woman was actually still living.  The “Smelling Demons” section may be considered a claim of occultism also which, as stated earlier, cannot be either affirmed or denounced since there’s no extant audio.  Yet witness Gruen’s words in the concession, “We know of no occultism connected with him or his ministry.”  Gruen may have still suspected it yet felt like he could not make a strong enough case.  Let’s not overlook the words before the list of the three points, “it is obvious there are points that could be disputed and argued about.”

Using existing audio from the tape identified in the Gruen Document as “JAPC” (known as “Joel’s Army” and numbered among the tapes which were discontinued), it has been shown that the document faithfully represents these portions of the tape (to the extent of the audio recovered so far) thus proving that Cain did in fact teach the Manifested Sons of God heresy [point 2a].  Obviously if one teaches such a heresy this could call into question a proclamation of the individual being “a godly man and a man of integrity” as MSoG is not faithful to orthodox interpretations of Scripture and is blasphemous since it, in essence, equates man with God.  So, why did Gruen concede these points?

The way point 2a is worded may provide a clue: “He does not hold to the doctrine of Manifested Sons, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching.”  This sentence is phrased rather peculiarly.  This appears to state that Cain does not currently hold to MSoG, formerly adhered to this teaching as the Gruen Document illustrates, yet nevertheless denies ever having believed in this doctrine perhaps keeping in mind the tapes which had recently (at the time) been discontinued.  Gruen’s statement would not necessarily contradict his preface, “In my limited dealings with Paul Cain, I have found him to be a godly man and a man of integrity.”  With this, Gruen could merely be admitting he’s had “limited dealings” with Cain and each time Cain was found to display integrity and godliness.  This discreet statement would not be inconsistent with the testimony of others.69

Furthermore, note that the phrase “We completely exonerate Paul Cain of any negative charges” is specifically in conjunction with “We know of no occultism connected with him or his ministry” in sub-point ‘c’ rather than the preface which would have necessarily encompassed all the sub-points: ‘a’ through ‘e’.  Does this mean Gruen only intended the “we completely exonerate…” phrase to be specifically in connection with occultism such that the “negative charges” only pertain to occultism?  As it’s written, it seems possible this phrase of exoneration does not apply to sub-points ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘d’ & ‘e’.  It appears that each sub-point addresses one specific item namely: sub-point ‘a’ – Manifested Sons doctrine; ‘b’ – the alleged necromancy; ‘c’ – occultism; ‘d’ – Cain’s association with Branham; and, ‘e’ – a blanket apology.

However, we must concede the possibility that the list is placed in order with each sub-point necessarily following the other.  In this case sub-point ‘a’ addresses MSoG as per the explanation two paragraphs above; ‘b’ addresses the alleged necromancy; ‘c’ exonerates Cain of MSoG, necromancy, and occultism while specifying that occultism is not known to be associated with him; ‘d’ speaks of Cain’s connection to Branham; and ‘e’ is a blanket apology.

James A. Beverley scrutinized the Gruen Document after having read a “scathing review” of Gruen in Wimber’s own Equipping the Saints magazine titled “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” from fall of 1990.70  This review was written and published after Gruen’s concessions above and included those concessions in the body of the report.  Based on its contents, Beverley expected a poorly documented, biased work with texts being taken out of their context.  However, upon reading the Gruen Document and comparing with KCF material Beverley commented, “…Gruen had every right to warn the charismatic world.”71

Beverley criticized Wimber’s article as “unbalanced and faulty.”  He recognized a number of specific points that the Gruen Document brought forth including “the ridiculous wholesale verdict that Pastor Gruen’s accusations are untrue;” that “it failed to give sufficient acknowledgement of the…elitist spirit evident in the material documented by Gruen;” and, that it failed to recognize “an eschatology far removed from exegesis and [that was] rooted instead in the subjective, mystical experiences of Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, and Paul Cain.72

In addition, Beverley states the ETS article was essentially Jack Deere’s report73 although this, if indeed true, in no way absolves Wimber of full responsibility since it bears his name.  According to Beverley, John Wimber would later contact Gruen privately “to express his regret that their response to him was so careless and unbalanced.”74 Vineyard, however, never did publicly apologize.75  Jackson states Deere “was openly sympathetic toward Bickle” and “a source close to Wimber later came to believe that the facts had been somewhat biased toward KCF…”76  As for Gruen, he “decided the Lord did not want him to reply” to this report.77

While noting the biased nature of David Pytches’ book Some Said it Thundered describing it as  an “overly optimistic interpretation of KCF,”78 Beverley relates White’s later agreement with Beverley’s charge of ‘intemperance’ regarding his foreword to Pytches’ book:

…Dr. White, in a spirit of graciousness, wrote me later and agreed that my verdict was correct.  My view was based on his harsh statements about Ernie Gruen and his uncritical acceptance of Vineyard’s written reply about Gruen.79

It’s a shame there isn’t a further revision to Pytches’ book including a more balanced Dr. White foreword.  Also note that contrary to a portion of White’s claim in the quote which begins this article, Gruen does not concede “the reality of [Cain’s] exceptional gifting” as Gruen makes no mention at all about Cain’s “gifting.”

Attempts have been made to discredit both the Gruen Document and Gruen himself over the years.  Wimber’s Equipping The Saints article, Pytches’ book, and Jackson’s work have been used in this endeavor.  Jackson mentions that it was “public knowledge” that Gruen “was in an immoral relationship at the time” but does not provide an adequate source for this statement.80  While it is true Gruen did begin divorce proceedings in May of 1993,81 nearly three years after his promise to stop sending out the Gruen Document (his marriage was subsequently restored about 2 years later82), these rumors of immorality have not been substantiated.

In any event, whether Gruen was involved in immorality at the time or not, the Gruen Document stands or falls with respect to its veracity.  To the extent it can be proven true, it is true; to the extent it can be proven false, it is false.  Notwithstanding the concessions in the July 1, 1990 letter and taking into account the findings here regarding the charge of MSoG, there is no evidence we have found suggesting that any aspect of the Gruen Document is false.  (However, see below in “A Drought Evolves” section.)  In fairness, any claim that a part or parts of the Gruen document is/are false should be accompanied by specific proof of same.

In assessing all the above, the following information must be kept in mind:

1) The July 1 letter was “a summary letter of the result” of the June 28 meeting consisting of Gruen and his staff with Wimber, Cain and Deere in which the Gruen Document was reportedly reviewed “page by page” by all parties involved.  Presumably, these concessions were a joint decision by all since these were affirmed, or at least not denied either in part or in full, in Wimber’s Equipping The Saints article “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship.”83

2) Paul Cain was celebrated by Wimber and favored by him to the point that he claimed the two were “bonded for life.”  That’s a very strong connection between the two.  Likewise, Jack Deere continued to promote Cain as a “true prophet.”  Moreover, Vineyard Ministries International had a financial stake in Paul Cain in providing the majority of the funding for Grace Ministries Shiloh project by fall 1989 with Cain as its senior prophetic voice.

3) Given that we can prove the veracity of the large majority of the Paul Cain transcripts – over half of the portion specifically pertaining to Cain – thereby proving the “Joel’s Army” tape did indeed teach the Manifested Sons of God doctrine, why did Gruen state specifically that Cain “does not hold to the Manifested Sons doctrine, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching” and why did Wimber and company agree with this?  Is the analysis above correct regarding the interpretation of this statement; and, if so, does this mean Paul Cain, John Wimber, Jack Deere and Mike Bickle no longer adhere to and/or claim to have never adhered to MSoG?  This will be the subject of two future articles – one specifically with regard to John Wimber, the other Mike Bickle.

4) Why was the Paul Cain “Joel’s Army” tape discontinued?   If the claim is that Cain did not teach MSoG, wouldn’t this tape be kept in circulation by KCF turned Metro Vineyard Fellowship to illustrate that the Gruen Document was in error in order to ‘vindicate’ Paul Cain especially since the transcripts from this tape make up over half the information on Cain in the Gruen Document?  Why were the other Paul Cain tapes discontinued some of which were not even referenced in the Gruen Document?

5) Gruen stands by the Document stating, “We still believe our documentation of the aberrant practices and teachings of Kansas City Fellowship are essentially accurate” in prefacing the three conceded points.

69 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131. Beverley states that most who meet Cain find him to be “a gentle man” and himself describes Cain as “delightful and warm” while Kenn Gulliksen extolled Cain’s “love and care.”  Grady [What Happened p 116] states, “…several prominent leaders in the charismatic renewal endorse his ministry and vouch for his character.”
70 Wimber, John “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; pp 3, 27-30
71 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125
72 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125
73 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125
74 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126
75 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126
76 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 219 / 209
77 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125
78 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126
79 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126
80 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 219 / 209. Jackson has a duplicate footnote reference placing 6 in the text twice.  The first one references the immorality charge while the second refers to the fact that Deere was openly sensitive toward Bickle which Jackson sources from Beverley. After checking the Beverley thoroughly, there is no mention of immorality whatsoever with respect to Gruen.  Going back to footnote 5 in Jackson is Wimber’s “A Response to Gruen” article in ETS which similarly has no mention of immorality.  This is not to make a counterclaim that there was no immorality; this is to illustrate, in fairness, that there’s no substantiation to the claim by Jackson.
81 Grady, J. Lee “Kansas City Churches Reconciled: Gruen Resigns After Announcement” Charisma. July 1993, Vol. 18 No. 12; p 54.  Gruen made his statement on May 24, 1993 claiming, “My sin causing this resignation is not committing adultery, but committing divorce.”
82 Grady, J. Lee “Kansas City Churches Mend Rift” Charisma & Christian Life. September 1995, Vol. 21 No. 2; p 34
83 Wimber “Response to Gruen” pp 3, 27-30

A Drought Evolves

One of the most common attempts at discrediting the Gruen Document involves the “drought prophecy.”  Like Paul Cain’s “earthquake prophecy” was used to validate Cain’s message to Wimber and the Vineyard, Bob Jones’ “drought prophecy” was claimed to legitimize Mike Bickle’s KCF “movement.”

From the opening in the Gruen Document:

For example, Mike regularly retells the story of how the so-called “prophet” Bob Jones predicted [on May 27, 1983] a 3-month drought which would finally end with a “drought-breaker” on August 23.

In telling this tale, Mike makes such statements as, “We watched it day by day…June, no rain…then on August 23, three to four inches of rain!” This is portrayed as God’s confirmation of their “Movement.” It sounded like a pretty impressive miracle until we checked with the National Weather Bureau and the daily newspaper accounts for that timeframe. We found the following:

a.         Actual readings from the former Richards Gebaur Air Force base, which is only a few minutes from Kansas City Fellowship, show over seven inches of rain in June, which is well above normal!

b.         The “drought-breaker” on August 23 actually produced less than one-third of an inch.

c.         Of the 12 days it rained in June, [six] of them produced records of rains heavier than the “drought-breaker.” One day alone had over seven times the rainfall on August 23 – 2.35 inches. (See Section I)

From the beginning this could have never been considered a true prophecy.84

Gruen lays out the specific parameters as set forth in the Bob Jones “prophecy” as gleaned from the earliest recording of this event [1986].  This ‘drought’ was to be one of no rain from the time of Jones’ purported proclamation at the end of May until August 23rd at which point there was to be a drought-breaking rain.  This is both very well defined and very straightforward.

Even though there was in fact a drought defined as ‘a prolonged period of less than normal rainfall’ in the late summer of 1983 beginning in July, Gruen’s point was to merely disprove the specific parameters of Jones “prophecy” which proclaimed a ‘no rain whatsoever’ drought to encompass all of June, July and August up through to the August 23rd ‘drought-breaker.’  To do so, all he had to show was that there was rainfall in June thereby negating the drought’s beginning and then show that even though there was rain on August 23rd, the amount was very small, much less than the reported 3 to 4 inches of ‘drought-breaking’ rain as reported by Bickle.

The Gruen Document transcribed two different tapes of this “drought prophecy.”  The earliest, from Spring 1986 titled The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries, Volume 2 (a tape series among those on the June 1990 discontinued list), follows.  This starts out with Bickle quoting Bob Jones:

‘This is the sign in the heavens, again…For three months there will be a drought in this city.’…The sign is (that) there will be a pattern in the heavens – a weather pattern, and you can’t manipulate weather patterns, so we said, ‘Okay, if it comes to pass, we know the word is true.’…But he says, ‘On August 23, God will send a sign from heaven…’  I said, ‘Bob, I hope this is right.’  Cause it was terrible.  June – no rain…August 23, 6:00 at night, it rains, what, 3 to 4 inches of rain…It was a sign in the heavens that no man could have manipulated; it was spoken publicly for all to hear.85

Gruen left out a bit from the audio here (illustrated by the ellipses […]) as, again, his point was to show that the Bickle claim of no rain for the month of June and a pouring rain of 3 to 4 inches on August 23rd were untrue.  Thankfully, we also have David Pytches’ Some Said it Thundered (original, unrevised first edition)86 rendition of this “drought prophecy” which corresponds to the Gruen account above while filling in some of the information missing in the ellipses.

Pytches transcribed KCF tapes as he states this in the “Acknowledgements”: “I want to express my appreciation to Kansas City Fellowship for their ready permission for me to quote from their unedited tapes…”87 Unfortunately, Pytches’ work does not provide footnotes and does not include any tape titles or numbers in the list of references in the back of his book.  However, it appears as though he paraphrases a bit rather than quoting directly since some of the words don’t exactly match up to Gruen’s even though the basic details do:

“…[T]here will be the total withholding of everything for three months,  although God will allow a little bit of liberty.

In this city everything will be withheld.  For three months there will be a drought.  That’s the sign!  God has spoken!…for three months there will be no rain – not until 23 August.”88

Once again, to restate, according to this “prophecy” there was to be no rain at all, not a sprinkle, until August 23.  Picking up where we left off:

Bob had given a specific date for the end of a drought which he predicted was about to begin.

This level of prophecy could certainly be nervy!  Mike found himself becoming an expert weather watcher…To quote Mike:

“…For the whole month of June there was no rain!  It was terrible!  For the whole month of July there was no rain!  It was terrible!

No rain still during the first week of August or the second or the third.  It was terrible!  Bob Jones said the Lord had told him it would come on 23 August.  We had all been poised since early dawn that day but by 1 p.m. there was still no rain.  By six o’clock we were just resigned to wait for another day when suddenly it began.  And did it rain?  It poured!  No man could have manipulated that.  It just had to be God!”89

As Pytches’ clearly describes, the claim is that as “an expert weather watcher” Bickle saw not a drop of rain for the entire period of June, July and August until August 23rd at which time “It poured!”  Yet when this is compared to actual rainfall as the Gruen Document states, June had above average rainfall for the area with six of those days well exceeding the .32” of rainfall on August 23rd.90 Furthermore, July and August, while having much less than normal rainfall, did indeed have some rain.91  According to National Weather Service archives, actual monthly rainfall in Kansas City in 1983 for the summer and early fall was as follows: June: 6.46”; July: 1.17”; August: 0.97”; September: 1.91”; and, October: 4.15”.92

Apparently, Bickle found out there really was some rainfall during the period of June 1 through August 22 since he revised this “prophecy” a bit as evidenced by the transcription of a recording from May of 1989 titled Overview of Our Prophetic History in the Gruen Document.  Bickle backpedals a bit:

Then Bob stands up at the end and he says, ‘I got bad news.’  He says, ‘The Lord told me that there isn’t gonna be a revival being poured out at the end of this 21 days.’  He said, ‘Worse than that, we’re goin’ to the three months of total barrenness.  And there’s gonna be a drought upon the city.’  He didn’t say that there would be, you know, not a, not a sprinkle of rain.  He said there’d be a drought.  He said through the city.  And ah, I checked the newspaper once and found out that it rained an inch in the north over the summer.  But ah, you know, I’m not sure exactly how much, or somebody did – I can’t remember all the those details, but we watched it day by day and there was a drought through those three months93

In the earlier account there was the emphatic declaration of no rain yet the later account claims that Bob didn’t say there would be “not a sprinkle of rain.”  The first account was three years after this all important prophecy was spoken in 1983, yet in 1989 it seemed they didn’t recall it quite right in the earlier account of 1986.  Given that this was purportedly a “word from the Lord,” wouldn’t this have been meticulously recorded?  This should have been especially important to write down as this “prophecy” was to confirm the “movement” at KCF.

Bickle “can’t remember all those details” yet he “watched it day by day”?  Are we really to believe the “details” of something this important would not be remembered in view of the fact there was so much at stake?  And he maintains there was a “drought those three months” including June in which, as stated, there was almost 6.5” of rain with more than a few of those days much more than “a sprinkle.”   Continuing:

He (Bob) said, ‘The Lord will break the drought in the natural over Kansas City, and it’s a sign that He will, on an appointed time, break the drought in the Spirit, but not until He appoints the time.’  

…And, ah, we’ve had several different theories when that drought was gonna break, but it hadn’t broke yet.  And, ah, so, so much for all our theories.  But there is an appointed time when the drought breaks in the natural as well as the Spirit.  And he said, ‘And here’s the proof that there will, it will break on an appointed day in the natural.’  He said, ‘On August 23, the drought will end and the rains will come to the city. 94

Once again, Bickle makes the claim that August 23rd would be the drought-breaker at which time “the drought will end and the rains will come to the city.”  Bickle goes on reiterating how no one could humanly predict that it was to rain on a particular day three months later “to break a 3-month drought.”  He proclaimed, “It was a supernatural sign to us.”95

Once Wimber/Vineyard took over the reins of Kansas City Fellowship, the “drought prophecy” was analyzed and explained in a much different way.  Their claim was that Gruen was wrong in his dogmatic statement: “There was no drought…This prophecy did not happen.  It was a total fabrication to promote ‘The Movement.’”96 Unfairly, they left out a very important part of Gruen’s complete statement which follows:

There was no drought.  Anyone who went outside or read the newspaper could not have considered June a month of drought.  The sprinkle of rain on August 23 was not considered a drought-breaker.  This prophecy did not happen; it was a total fabrication to promote “The Movement.”  From the start, this prophecy could never have been considered true.97

To reiterate, Gruen’s point was that the drought as “prophesied” was stated to have begun right away with the specific claim that June had no rain when in fact the rainfall that month was above normal.  Gruen does not deny there was a drought as defined by ‘a prolonged period of less than normal rainfall’ as he earlier stated, “July and August were below normal in rainfall;”98 however, it would have been better if he had qualified his initial statement with something like “There was no drought as ‘prophesied’ by the specific parameters set by Jones.”  Gruen’s conclusion “From the start, this prophecy could never have been considered true” is absolutely correct given the heavy rains in June.

The Wimber/Vineyard defense consisted of shifting the “prophecy” to one of very limited rainfall instead of no rain simultaneously moving the start date from June 1 to July 1.  In addition, the August 23rd date was changed to merely a date of “prophesied” rain (admitting Bickle’s “mistake” in proclaiming a 3 to 4 inch downpour) instead of the drought-breaker yet no new drought-breaking date was specified claiming merely that the drought ended “in early October.”99  What was the date of the definitive drought-breaking rain?

Among other reasons, Pytches would publish a “new edition” of his book as he “corrected details in the case of one prophecy” which lined up with Wimber’s revised version.100  Using some of the portions already quoted above, we’ll compare the original Pytches rendition with his revised account by listing the ‘uncorrected’ followed by the “corrected” version:

for three months there will be no rainnot until 23 August.

 …there will be rain on August 23.101

…Bob had given a specific date for the end of a drought which he predicted was about to begin.

…Bob had given a specific date for rain during the droughtwhich he predicted was about to begin.102

…For the whole month of June there was no rain!  It was terrible!  For the whole month of July there was no rain!  It was terrible!

The drought did not begin immediately.  In fact there was heavy rain in June, but for the whole of July it was dry.  It was terrible.103

Pytches continues with the same paragraph ending with “It had to God” as in the original account.  Then he continues:

That was still not the end of the drought, however.  Although it was not a total withholding of rain, the exceedingly dry period covered a full three months, except for the predicted break on August 23104

Recall that in the very beginning of the original account – which matches the revised version – are the words, “In this city everything will be withheld.”  So, why was this initial verbiage retained?  It obviously contradicts with the words above “it was not a total withholding of rain…”  And the “predicted break” consisted of a relatively scanty .32 inch which was hardly a break from the “exceedingly dry period” which admittedly contained sprinkles of rain during this time anyway.  Pytches, like Wimber, does not specify a “drought-breaker” date.

So, initially in the 1986 version “total barrenness” meant “no rain” (matching Pytches’ original account), in 1989 it was changed to not mean “not a sprinkle of rain” in view of the fact that there was in fact rain in June, which was changed again in 1990 to the drought actually beginning in July since it was further discovered that June had higher rains than normal (matching Pytches’ revised account).  Are we to believe that Bickle’s memory is that poor with respect to the “drought prophecy” yet he was certain that May 7, 1983 was the starting point of a 21-day fast which had just ended at which point Jones had purportedly proclaimed this “drought prophecy” and Bickle was certain of other specific dates in KCF’s history as well?  Why would he have meticulously recorded these dates and not the beginning and end of the “drought?”

84 Gruen, Documentation. pp 10 / 11-12.  Underscore in original; emphasis added.
85 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41-2 / 55. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
86 Pytches, David Some Said it Thundered. 1990 (first edition, second impression) [unrevised version], Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK
87 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) unnumbered page just before Introduction
88 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) p 89
89 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) p 90
90 Interestingly, data recorded at Kansas City International Airport (MCI), which admittedly is 30 miles north of Grandview, shows that the 22nd was mostly cloudy or overcast beginning at 7am with a trace of rain [.07”] recorded at 1pm with the mostly cloudy/overcast conditions continuing into the 23rd.  The next day, on the 23rd, data shows rain beginning around 7am with accumulation of .18” by 8am, another .04” by 9am followed by .04” at 10am.  The mostly cloudy/overcast conditions continued into the night. This does not preclude the Bickle account of the 23rd from being true including no rain until 6pm, of course, noting the distance from KCF to the airport.  This info was gleaned from Weather Underground <http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KMDT/1983/6/1/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA> by inputting the airport code (MCI) and the applicable dates.  As accessed 10/15/11
91 Weather Watcher (see link above) indicates rain at the airport in both July and August.  Since the prophecy was for the entire city of Kansas City, rainfall at the airport must be included in any analysis.  In Pytches’ account, which appears to be the same as Bickle’s, it’s explicitly stated there was no rain whatsoever until August 23rd.  In August prior to the 23rd, the airport recorded .12” on the 7th with traces [less than .1] on the 9th, 15th, 20th and 22nd.
92 These totals are from the Weather Warehouse which takes its data from the National Weather Service <http://weather-warehouse.com/WeatherHistory/PastWeatherData_KansasCityDowntownArpt_KansasCity_MO_June.html> As accessed 10/15/11
93 Gruen, Documentation. p 41 / 53. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
94 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41 / 53-54. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
95 Gruen, Documentation. p 41 / 54. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
96 Wimber “Response to Gruen” p 28
97 Gruen, Documentation. p 42 / 56. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
98 Gruen, Documentation. p 42 / 55. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
99 Wimber “Response to Gruen” p 28.  Actual rainfall for October as recorded at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) shows none until the 4th with a mere .21 inch of rain and no further rain until nearly an inch [.93”] fell on the 11th; however, this was followed by no significant rain (there was a trace [.02”] on the 16th) until the 19th with about ¾ inch [.79”] which was followed the next day with ½ inch [.57”] and the next with a bit under ½ inch [.40”].  However, as stated earlier, it’s possible there was more (or less) rain in other parts of KC.
100 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p xxvii.  The revised version also omits some verbiage from Cain’s account of the Lord purportedly appearing with him in his car [Pytches (first, unrevised) p 38].  Specifically, the words deleted were describing items Jesus purportedly wore during the incident: “…dressed in a monk’s black habit and wearing a skull cap.”  In an August 1990 letter to Prophecy Today subscribers, Clifford Hill states the original Thundered was “at present out of print” although the publishers “intend on reissuing it” in a revised version.  Hill also states, “John Wimber told me that he had identified ‘a number of factual errors’ in the book, and Mike Bickle has sent David Pytches a 60 minute tape of corrections.”  Keep in mind that Pytches was given access to KCF/GM tapes for the original issue.
101 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90.  The original account [p 89] is listed first.
102 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90.  The original account [p 90] is listed first.
103 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90.  The original account [p 90] is listed first.
104 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90.  The original account [p 90] is listed first.

Comparing ‘Words’

Let’s compare this “drought prophecy” to the circumstances surrounding the 1988 “earthquake prophecy.”  Jack Deere initially ‘misquoted’ the timing of the second earthquake, however later he recalled “in vivid detail” the ‘facts’ of this “prophecy.”  As shown above, Deere had difficulty with details of a “prophecy” of a much more personal nature with both conflicting and added details coming later, so his memory would seem to be questionable.   Mike Bickle would also incorrectly record the timing of the second earthquake in his 1996 book Growing in the Prophetic.  John Wimber later was unsure whether it was actually predicted or not.

The circumstances surrounding the “drought prophecy” are similarly troubling.  Given that the “drought prophecy” was initially one of no rain with very specific parameters including a drought-breaking rain on a specified date, it’s odd that the final Wimber (and/or Deere) version is one of limited rainfall, a different starting date, and no specified drought-breaking end date but instead a rather nebulous “early October” ending.  To quote Beverley: “…many of Bob Jones predictions were announced ex post facto105 – after the fact.  Given the evolving nature of the “drought prophecy,” was it among those announced after the fact despite the claim to the contrary?

In each case there is no recorded proof either in written form or in audio to confirm these “prophecies” were given in advance.  Given that the “earthquake prophecy” was to validate Cain’s message to the Vineyard and the “drought prophecy” was to provide legitimacy to the KCF “movement,” why weren’t these “prophecies” recorded in such a manner to prove their veracity?  Absent any sort of proof, it would be prudent to remain skeptical – especially given the circumstances as outlined above in each of these.

If Cain were to have remained discredited in the Gruen Document, this could cast further doubt on the legitimacy of Cain’s “earthquake prophecy” which would in turn cast a long shadow on the Vineyard in general as it was Cain’s message which validated the Vineyard involvement in the “prophetic movement” in the first place.  With stakes this high, the pressure to discredit the Gruen Document and to exonerate Cain must have been enormous.

105 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 128

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.

Testimony of a Former IHOP-KC Attendee: Stephanie

[Part of this testimony first appeared here and is titled "I Was at IHOP and FSM for about 3+ Years..."  In a subsequent comment on that blog article, "Stephanie" added some more to her testimony.  She graciously revised her testimony to include both the original and her additional comments for publishing here at CrossWise.  Bill over at Beyond Grace has recently published two other testimonies.  Please take the time to read both The Mother of all IHOP Casualties and Red Flags over IHOP - Devotion or Deception?.  I had previously made a passing reference to another one of the second author's articles (Red Flags... author "Ariel") in a previous CrossWise post -- The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part II (at footnote 5).]

I grew up as the only Christian in my household. My parents came to know Jesus when I was about 10. My Father began to backslide after his grandmother died which took a pretty big toll on his relationship with my brothers, my mother, and I. Off and on since I was in about 7th grade, I had severe night terrors and nightmares. I attended a Bible High School as well as a Bible College after I graduated. I often tried to find a reason and a way to stop my night terrors, with little to no answers.

Meanwhile, my family was extremely rocky to say the least. My dad was an absentee, my youngest brother was abusive, and my mom was enabling them both. I always wanted to help them, but neglected myself in the process. Wanting to get closer to the Lord, I decided to go to an extension campus in Hawaii (without praying about it and for pretty selfish reasons). I knew I probably wasn’t supposed to go but went anyway to escape from everything else going on in my life.

The Pastor who ran the campus quit 3 days before our arrival and a local apprentice to the pastor was put in charge and (very) reluctantly took the position. It was a pretty messed up situation, to which I and everyone else on campus (about 20 people) ended up leaving as a result. At this point, my walk was very dry and I felt so out of place no matter where I was. I just needed a place I felt I could fit in and, at the same time, draw closer to the Lord and get some answers for weird things that would happen (like the night terrors).

Then a friend told me about the International House of Prayer (IHOP). I heard that my favorite band was going to play at their “One Thing Conference” in December. I decided to go, for three reasons:

1. To meet the friend who told me about IHOP

2. To see my favorite band

3. Hopefully get closer to the Lord and find some answers to my questions

At this time, I had absolutely no experience in anything the Charismatic church teaches and was clueless about manifestations, deliverance ministry, baptism of the Holy Spirit, etc. At the same time, I was very desperate to be loved and accepted by God and by people, and I was desperate to feel anything. I felt so dry and empty. I just needed someone to be there for me and understand… I needed Jesus.

SO I went to the conference and had some very different experiences. I heard people speak in tongues for the first time. People talked about Angels and Demons like it was a normal every day experience, and I heard doctrines that I’d never heard before. I was also told that all the other churches in America were dead, dry, and boring and were, therefore, without Jesus. Because my walk was dead, dry, and boring, it seemed right to me. And the experiences I had that weekend, although strange to me, felt good and exciting. Because of the conference, I decided that I wanted to go to FSM [ed: Forerunner School of Ministry], in hopes of finding Jesus and acceptance there.

I attended IHOP/FSM and was heavily involved for about 3+ years.

My first semester there, I had nothing but good things to say about IHOP because I was still learning all these new things that I found to be fascinating, and I felt I was accepted by everyone else who was “just like me.” I also thought I found answers to my night terrors, when they explained it was because I “had demons” that needed to be delivered. After going through several of their deliverance ministries, however, the terrors only got worse and more frequent.

It wasn’t until my second semester (after going home for Christmas break) that I realized I had completely disconnected from my family, friends, and reality. All of my closest friends and family members sat me down (individually) for an intervention, of sorts. They would tell me things like that I’ve changed and I seemed happy and “on-fire” for God, but that something was off and something was wrong. And when I would tell them some of the things I was learning or experiencing, they only became more worried and they confronted me with scriptures, which got me thinking. So going back into my second semester, I was a lot more confused and had a lot more questions.

Slowly but surely, the Lord chipped away at my heart and showed me very clear scriptures to cause me to question the things that would go on there. After realizing this, I started feeling really weird about some things that were being done and said there, so I took it to the Lord, as any “Berean” should. I started looking up the scriptures my teachers would give us in handouts to explain some of their doctrines, and I realized that not one of those scriptures had anything to do with those doctrines. They were either taken completely out of context or just had nothing at all to do with what the doctrine was (ie: deliverance, manifestations, etc). So, I became even more confused and concerned. I started asking very genuine questions about where certain things were in scripture (like deliverance ministry, false prophesies, manifestations, etc.) because I wanted to be sure that I was doing the right thing in God’s eyes. I just wanted it to be explained to me because I didn’t understand the doctrines and I didn’t understand why the scriptures weren’t lining up with my experiences. When everyone would “feel the presence of God” or everyone would “break out into manifestations of God,” I wouldn’t feel anything and I would almost never experience what everyone else did. So, most days, I felt like an outsider because everyone but me was “getting it.” I started feeling confused and rejected by God, which is why (again), I turned to scripture.

I noticed that, when I started asking questions, that I had been “red flagged.”  What I mean is that I had particular people in leadership following me around and keeping tabs on me.  I was moved out of my core “Omega” group and into one with Sabrina Walsh who was a former, practicing witch and was also a leader at FSM. She and her husband were in charge of the “Signs and Wonders” classes where they teach kids how to prophesy and perform miracles. I was put in the group because I was to be “monitored.” After changing groups, I began having strange dreams and getting attacked on almost a daily basis.

As I read more scripture, I also began to realize that much of what they were teaching and practicing was extremely unbiblical and even dangerous. We were constantly fasting and in the prayer room. After starting to eat more and going to the prayer room a little less, I felt my head start to clear up and I didn’t like what I was seeing and how I felt. I often went back and forth, in my mind, between wanting to feel what everyone else felt, and realizing that it wasn’t from God, trying to figure it out. Half-way through my third year of school, I was brought into a room with several staff members (including Walsh) who accused me of many things that I hadn’t even come close to doing and they said something to the effect of:

“We know that you have father issues that need to be resolved (I didn’t) and we can tell that you are heavily oppressed by many demons.  However, we are incapable of this level of deliverance on someone. We just don’t have the time or the resources. So we are going to send you to this wonderful place in Toronto, Canada.  This rehabilitation facility is capable of handling your type of situation. We’ve sent many students there who have come back completely delivered.  We are going to send you there.  You cannot come back to IHOP or FSM until we have a written letter from them stating that you have been delivered.  In the current state you are in, you’re a danger to the other student’s growth and spiritual being.”

…To which I told them I would certainly go, but had no intention of actually going. I said I would go because I was very much afraid of what would happen if I told them I wouldn’t go, and was afraid until I moved back home. After the meeting with them, I immediately called my Dad, who I’d been told not to talk to anymore because he said IHOP was a cult. At one point, they also told me that I needed to stay away from my mom (who is my best friend in the world) because she had demons and was pulling me away from God (which was anything but true). My Dad booked the first flight to Kansas City.  At that time, my mom and I owned a home in KC and we had been helping students that went to FSM by providing rooms with low rent. I had an excellent relationship with each person in the house. Within two weeks of being pulled into the office ALL of my roommates – my friends - moved out. When asked directly, they either had no response or told me that the school had told them it was an “unsafe environment” because I and my mother “had a demon”.

I was absolutely crushed.  All I ever wanted was to know God and at the time I felt completely rejected by Him. When I finally left IHOP, I was not all the way better. I was actually worse than when I started because I was more confused, felt rejected, and still needed help. My head felt like it was covered in a fog. I would constantly go back and forth between “I know what happened was wrong” and “God was the one taking me out of there to save me” all the way to “IHOP was right” and “there is something wrong with me.” Like I said, I was a complete mess and it took a whole lot of love and prayer to get me out of that state of mind. I even flew to Illinois to go to my friend’s church (the same one who told me about IHOP in the first place) to try to get “Delivered” of this demon that IHOP told me about because I was so messed up. After that trip, I walked away from the Lord completely for about 6 months and was absolutely miserable both in and out of the church.

It wasn’t until I came back to my Calvary Chapel church that life started to become normal again. Even then, it took a really long time. I was able to let go of needing to feel something that wasn’t there and just focus on the truth of the Word of God and loving and understanding who God is. He is never-changing, always loving, arms-wide open, ever wise, ever beautiful, ever strong, amazing, orderly, and truthful God. He is my best friend, my Father, my peace, and my joy. And it didn’t take barking like a dog, falling over, being “drunk,” or being “delivered” from a “demon,” to do it. It was straight-up surrendering to His will and letting go of mine. It was repentance and it was loving God, even if it seems “Boring.” It was just worshipping at his feet, reading His word, fellowship with believers, accountability, etc… going back to the basics. The gospel is truly simple and God is very straight-forward. He is not the author of confusion.

I thank God for my Calvary Chapel pastor back home (and the amazing women at my church) who spent every minute praying for me, speaking life over me, and bringing me back to the truth of the Word of God. I almost lost faith and hope many times. But God is so amazing…He spared my life and got me out of there.

I grieve for the people I love who are still stuck within the lies of IHOP and for the many who are recruited to IHOP daily. I pray for their souls and I pray for the truth to be made known to them. If ever there was an “antichrist spirit,” this is it.

I’ve kept all of my journals, notes, books, and materials from when I was there. When looking back on the things I wrote and the things I would say…it’s like I was a mindless drone who repeated everything I heard. It scares me to think that so many people are being deceived, so many families ripped apart…so many lives destroyed….and all in the name of “Jesus”.  God help us and God forgive those who tarnish and blaspheme Your name!

[see also Hyper-Charismatica versus True Christianity]

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