Thoughts on Craig Keener’s Review of MacArthur’s ‘Strange Fire’

While perusing Dr. David Alan Black’s blog a couple weeks ago (specifically, the entry on December 30), I saw that Black had pointed to Dr. Craig Keener’s review of Dr. John MacArthur’s book Strange Fire, a work exposing some of the faulty theology and practices within Pentecostalism/charismaticism.  Keener, who puts out multi-volume scholarly works every week (OK, it’s not quite that frequently, though it seems so), reviewed MacArthur’s work at length, providing a fair, even analysis, criticizing the author for unnecessarily condemning one whole segment of Christendom.  (I state this without having read the book, though I’ve read other critiques, and have no reason to disbelieve Keener and the others in this regard.)  The reader is encouraged to view Keener’s review it in its entirety (at hyperlink above). 

I’ve selected portions of the review from which to add comments of my own.  The reader here should feel free to cut and paste other parts of Keener’s critique to add to the comments section and provide further commentary.

Assuming Keener’s (and others’) charge that the author has painted with a very broad brush is correct, I’d fully agree with the following statement:

 …Reactionary teaching like MacArthur’s, however, is more likely to polarize than to invite.

While I’m certain that hyper-charismaticism is dangerous, I’m just as certain that hyper-dogmatism is the same.  A few years ago, the teacher of a study I was attending, using an analogy from bowling, offered the general advice of steering clear of either gutter (though he didn’t use either of my “hyper-” terms) as I was seeking his input on my concerns over doctrines and practices of another student who was attempting to influence me.  Without stating so explicitly, it was obvious he agreed with me that the other individual’s ball fell into the hyper-charismatic gutter.  I never forgot that analogy.  I eventually left the group over the teacher’s own promotion of others with unorthodox and heretical doctrines of the hyper-charismatic variety (after enjoying a few lunches – my treat – in which I expressed concerns).

Since then, I’ve tried to steer clear of the other extreme, the one of hyper-dogmatism.  I don’t know that I’ve been entirely successful in that endeavor; I’d say my bowling ball may have a slight tendency toward the hyper-dogmatic side rather than the other gutter – much as I’d like to remain in the middle.  I suppose I’m continuationist in theology (I cannot read 1 Corinthians 12-14 and conclude cessationism), but not so much in praxis – at least not as many charismatics practice it.  My view is that spiritual gifts are not “practiced” so much as individuals are given gifts “just as He (the Holy Spirit) determines” (1 Cor 12:11) as we submit to the Spirit, on an individual and circumstantial basis.  MacArthur, however, has a definite tendency towards hyper-dogmaticism.

I suppose in many ways he’s much like some other denominational teachers who tow the party line, i.e., teaching doctrines in view of particular denominational slants to the exclusion of other possible, valid interpretations in non-essential matters, even perhaps stretching a bit to do so.  The following should go toward illustrating my point.  In MacArthur’s book Truth Endures (Panorama City: Grace To You, 2009), a collection of sermons he’s preached over the years, is one on Revelation titled “A Jet Tour through Revelation”.  In it he states:

…People often ask, ‘Where does the Rapture come in?’  It’s in the white spaces between chapters 3 and 4.  You have the church on earth in chapters 2 and 3; all of a sudden we appear in heaven in chapter 4. [p 132]

The “white spaces”?  I understand that he’s not the only one who, in part, supports the pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine by this, but I can only imagine MacArthur’s critique of similar exegesis to promote continuationism!

Yet, it’s his hard cessationism that overshadows his views of anything remotely continuationist, as Keener observes:

MacArthur’s indiscriminate condemnation of anything charismatic is little different from some bigoted secular condemnations of all evangelicals because of the behavior of some. Someone prone to generalize could even use the offenses in the book to blacklist all evangelicals, or all Christians, using the same logic that MacArthur uses against the entire charismatic movement…

Good point. 

More from Keener:

…[S]ome extreme Word of Faith teachers do promulgate teachings that, at least at face value, cannot but be viewed as heretical, especially believers being gods (rightly noted on pp. 11-12). But have such beliefs in fact “become the rule” among charismatics (p. 12)?…

One heresy that I did on occasion run into, which probably took matters more literally than did those MacArthur mentioned, was the Manifested Sons doctrine (or at least its extreme version that I encountered). Its proponents taught that overcomers by faith would achieve physical immortality before Jesus’s return, becoming “the many-membered Christ” on earth

One thing I do know is that the charismatic Spirit I have experienced was not compatible with this teaching. On one occasion I recoiled inside when I heard a guest speaker at a noncharismatic congregation teach on a completely different subject. I felt that he carried the same spirit as the Manifested Sons teachers. Afterward I asked him if he had known a certain Manifested Sons teacher. “Yes,” he replied, astonished. “We were good friends.” He was himself a Manifested Sons teacher. The Spirit I experienced regularly in sounder charismatic circles clearly testified against this false teaching

I’m glad that Keener has actually witnessed firsthand the Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) doctrine. This “many-membered Christ” (manchild), the culmination of MSoG, is what Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA – an individual with worldwide influence – has been teaching in a veiled form for quite some time now, while others such as Bob Jones, Paul Cain, and Todd Bentley have been much more obvious (see here for one example each of Jones and Bentley).  Yet Johnson’s recent podcast “Thinking from the Throne” is much more explicit (see here for lengthy CrossWise article, especially transcriptions at 13:49-14:12 and 36:30-37:34 of the podcast, near end of article1).  This is not just heresy, but a doctrine paralleling the occult teachings of the New Age / New Spirituality for the past 100 years, a teaching that is specifically antichrist in nature as defined by the Apostle John (1 John 2:22, 4:1-3).

I wonder who it was teaching MSoG and the “many-membered Christ” doctrine that Keener mentions here?

…I suspect that when we cite the highest figures for the numbers of charismatics in the world, we recognize that not all of them are those we would feel comfortable embracing as spiritual or theological kin

Of course, many would agree.  But, this begs the question: why aren’t there more Biblical scholars writing about these specific individuals (in a more irenic manner than some of the laity), warning the church at large?  Why didn’t Keener reveal the name of the Manifested Sons teacher he mentioned earlier?

Partly, if not mostly, in response to MacArthur, in a recent Charisma article Dr. Michael Brown poses the question Are We Charismatics Doing Enough to Correct Abuses in Our Midst?  Certainly, Brown has exposed some of the faulty doctrines and practices within Pentecostalism/charismaticism, even mentioning some names.  For that he deserves credit.  Yet on Brown’s own Voice of Revolution site he allows others to post articles, sometimes promoting teachers with very questionable theology and praxis.  This can cause confusion.

As just one example, Bill Johnson was lauded in a piece titled HEAVEN ON EARTH by Bill Johnson (Everyone Must Hear This!). The author of the piece merely provided one quote – “Jesus is perfect theology” – and two audio clips, yet there were some very troubling things stated in those clips.  (Rather than go into detail here, the reader can go to the link, listen to the audio for themselves, and read some of the comments, which include a few of my own, though I came in a bit late.)

Charisma itself is one of the worst offenders, promoting leaders of the so-called “New Apostolic Reformation” (C. Peter Wagner’s own term) to include Bill Johnson, Mike Bickle (of International House of Prayer), etc.   Jack Hayford, who is mentioned favorably by Brown in his article referenced above, appears to be a part of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), as well.  Hayford had suggested using the Gamaliel approach (cf. Acts 5:38-39) to the so-called “Lakeland Revival” of 2008, refusing to provide a very much needed corrective to the proceedings, illustrating what I’d define as poor leadership at best.

For those unaware, the NAR even has its own “Apostles” (that’s a capital “A”), as evidenced by their own International Coalition of Apostolic Leadership organization (formerly “International Coalition of Apostles” – and there are other similar organizations).   While the membership list is now concealed to those of us outside this elite group (though with a recommendation by a current member and by paying the requisite dues you too can become a member!), here is a list of members from November 10, 2009, to include former “Presiding Apostle” C. Peter Wagner.  Following is some now-deleted verbiage from the old site (no longer available on Internet Archive):

The Second Apostolic Age began roughly in 2001, heralding the most radical change in the way of doing church at least since the Protestant Reformation. This New Apostolic Reformation [NAR] embraces the largest segment of non-Catholic Christianity worldwide, and the fastest growing…

These folks (NAR) who are “heralding the most radical change in the way of doing church at least since the Protestant Reformation” are purportedly “the largest segment of non-Catholic Christianity worldwide, and the fastest growing”, and these are all within the charismatic realm.  I’d be delighted if Dr. Keener would research this group and write a detailed analysis of his findings, given both their charismatic leanings and purported size.  In addition, I think it especially prudent for Keener to name the individual who was teaching MSoG, and to name those who were teaching the “many-membered Christ” doctrine as a warning to the Church at large.

 

1 Here are the respective transcriptions: [13:49]…So what is He looking for?  He is looking for a people that will cooperate with the FULLNESS of God’s presence, operating and manifesting THROUGH them so that this world actually gets a FULL and ACCURATE taste of who Jesus is.  It’s not us; it’s Him.  But He dwells IN us in FULLNESS in bodily form…[14:12]

[36:30]…until we all come to unity of faith and the KNOWLEDGE of the SON of God.  Too many people think they know that don’t know.  So the knowledge of the Son of God, to A perfect man.  Look at the description.  Millions and millions of body members come to A – singular – perfect mana full-on revelation of the Person of Jesus, what He is like, how He is.  To A perfect man, to the measure and stature – equal measure to the fullness of Christ…[37:34]

Charismatic Ramifications on the “Long Ending” of Mark’s Gospel

Most modern Bible translations include a note expressing serious doubt about the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.  Individuals who do accept these final verses as part of Mark’s Gospel, however, are committed to an extreme view of the signs listed in verses 17 and 18, to include the explicit ability to drink poison with no ill effects.  If the Greek text in this “long ending” is taken seriously, understood, and translated in proper context, then all five signs are for all those who believe – excepting those actively preaching the Gospel message – at the point of initial conversion and continuing on thereafter.  That is, upon hearing and believing in the Gospel message, newly regenerate believers, without exception, will exhibit all the signs listed in Mark 16:17-18, as accompaniment to the Gospel.  Moreover, these five should be evident among all believers, past, present and yet future, upon initial acceptance of the Gospel and thereafter – at the least, whenever the Gospel is being actively preached.

The Long and the Short of It

For quite some time, it has been the scholarly consensus that the “long ending” of the Gospel of Mark, i.e., the last 12 verses (16:9-20), is not original to the Gospel, even though there are many manuscripts that include this text.1  While there are those who assert that the long ending is indeed original, they are well within the minority among NT scholars and textual critics.  The vocabulary and style of the Greek in the long ending is substantially different than the remainder of Mark’s Gospel.2  In addition, the associated manuscript evidence points rather decisively to the inauthenticity of these verses.3

There is even a so-called “short ending” in one extant Old Latin manuscript.  This short ending consists of a small amount of text following verse 8, about the equivalent of one long Biblical verse or two shorter ones.  While this is found as the ending to Mark’s Gospel in only one manuscript, there is yet another variation in which the long ending is appended to the short ending.4  All three – the predominant long ending, the lone short ending, and the combination of short ending followed by long ending – are almost universally rejected, and identified as spurious.

Some are of the opinion that the Gospel of Mark simply concludes at verse 8.  However, in view of the fact that verse 8 ends rather abruptly with frightened women at the tomb, and, secondarily, that the very last word is a conjunction (the word γάρ, transliterated gar, meaning for, since, or because), others believe the original ending has been lost, or that the Gospel writer just did not finish the work for some unknown reason.5  These may well be factors that influenced the writer of the long ending (assumed to be one lone author by the internal consistency of the text).

Excluding the long ending from Scripture necessarily negates any need to discuss cessationism (the belief that the ‘sign gifts’ have ceased with the Apostolic era and the closing of the Biblical canon) or continuationism (the belief that all the spiritual gifts continue to this day) by appealing to these verses.  Dr. Rodney J. Decker, Th.D., has recently written a paper on this subject, titled Mark and Miracle (Mark 16:17-18), with an emphasis on what the longer ending means in its own context and how it relates to the rest of the New Testament, and posted it on his blog.  This particular work of Decker (see hyperlink at title above, pdf here) will be relied on for portions of the remainder of this article; general references and specific quotes from it will be followed by applicable page number in brackets, e.g.: {p 3}.

Interpreting the Text of the Long Ending

Decker notes that, in academic settings, those who argue for continuationism by and large do not do so by appealing to the Markan long ending.  On the other hand, it is used quite frequently as a basis for argumentation “in non-academic discussions and among poorly trained advocates.  That is perhaps not surprising since even in cessationist circles the authenticity of the Long Ending is commonly assumed since it is in the KJV without note or comment” {p 2, n 11}.  I’ll add that it seems many readers of modern Bible versions pay little mind to the notes, further contributing to ignorance about the legitimacy of the long ending.6  Philip Comfort provides a blanket caution against the lay or academic use of these verses:

…Christians need to be warned against using this text for Christian doctrine because it is not on the same par as verifiable New Testament Scripture.  Nothing in it should be used to establish Christian doctrine or practice.  Unfortunately, certain churches have used Mark 16:16 to affirm dogmatically that one must believe and be baptized to be saved, and other churches have used Mark 16:18 to promote the practice of snake-handling…The writer of the longer ending also emphasized what we would call charismatic experiences – speaking in tongues, performing healings, protection from snakes and poison.  Although the book of Acts affirms these experiences for certain believers, they are not necessarily the norm for all.7

Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, is just one example (and there are many others within the so-called New Apostolic Reformation, aka NAR) of a hyper-charismatic (my term for those who go well beyond more conservative Pentecostal/charismatic theology and practice) who frequently cites Mark 16:15 and Mark 16:20 as base texts for the Great Commission, while selectively using only portions of verses 17-18 (healing the sick, casting out demons, and speaking in new tongues, yet omitting snake handling and drinking poison) for his continuationist stance.8  As but one example, here’s a selection in which Johnson specifically cites Mark 16:20 in the footnote reference to this passage:

…While healing is seldom the subject we teach on, it is one of the most common results.  As we proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God, people get well.  The Father seems to say Amen! to His own message by confirming the word with power….9

In reading Johnson’s quote, observe that the claim is that “people get well” as a result of the proclamation of “the message of the Kingdom of God”.  This passive “people get well” stands in stark contrast to the long ending’s explicitly active “they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover”.  In other words, according to verse 18, those who believe will actively lay on hands, resulting in the sick recovering; the sick don’t just “get well”.  We could give Johnson the benefit of the doubt and just assume he was imprecise with his wording, but what of the other signs that should accompany the message according to the context of the long ending of Mark?:

15 And He said to them [the Eleven], “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow [accompany] those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them [the Eleven], He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs [by those who believe]. Amen. [Mark 16:15-20, NKJV (emphasis and explanatory notes in brackets added)]

The text is book-ended with the preaching of the Gospel (vv 15, 20) by the Eleven (vv 14, 15, 19), but note that signs (σημεῖα, sēmeia) will follow/accompany those who believe (vv 16, 17), to exclude those preaching (the Eleven) {pp 3-5}.  The context specifies that it is regenerate believers – those receiving the preaching of the Gospel (by the Eleven; v 15) and reaching a saving faith (v 16) – who will cast out demons, speak with new languages, pick up snakes, etc.  Following are the five signs that will be exhibited by these believers:

  • Performing exorcisms
  • Speaking in new languages
  • Picking up snakes (presumably without harm)
  • Drinking poison without harm
  • Healing the sick by the laying on of hands

Note that, by the context, the snakes are not specifically identified as venomous (or not), and it’s not specified if those picking up the snakes will remain unharmed; it merely states “they will take up serpents” (some manuscripts add “with their hands”).  Some may appeal to the next point – “if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them” – but these two are not connected grammatically {p 3}.  Also, since all five, as Decker observes, “are listed in parallel with no indication otherwise, it would be precarious to suggest that one (or more) is to be taken metaphorically if the others are not” {pp 3-4, 4 n 15}.  By the context, the statement attributed to Jesus (vv 15-18), as well as the narration in verse 20 (“…the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”) is clearly meant in a literal sense; therefore, all five should be taken literally.

The text explicitly states that all five signs above will accompany the collective of those who believe {p 8}, as a sign of the Gospel, “whenever they believe” {p 4}.  Moreover, according to Decker, as indicated by the Greek grammar, each believer should perform all five {pp 4, 4 n 19-20}.  Further, this implies that each time the Eleven preached the Gospel there would always be demon-possessed individuals, snakes, poisonous drink, and persons afflicted with ailments in their midst.

Yet, by the context, this is not limited to the Apostolic era, the time period when the Eleven were still living {p 5}.  Since the function of these signs is in conjunction with the preaching of the Gospel – and, of course, the Great Commission is an ongoing command to all Christians (cf. Matthew 28:18-20) – these signs must continue as well {pp 4-5}.  Therefore, those who accept the long ending as part of the canonical Gospel of Mark are committed to the belief that all five signs above are applicable to every single believer, at the point of their conversion and forward.  The only limitation is imposed on those believers who are actively preaching the Gospel.  In other words, by the context provided by the author of the long ending, those who believe will perform the five signs above, which necessarily include all the regenerate – past, present, and yet future – except when they themselves are in the act of preaching the Gospel message {pp 4-5}.

It could be construed that one of the implicit points made by the author of the long ending regarding “confirming the word through the accompanying signs” is that others in the audience who may have been unpersuaded by the Gospel message itself may become convinced by the attendant display of signs.  In fact, there are three pieces of extra-Biblical, apocryphal literature depicting the Apostle John drinking poison for the express purpose of converting others.  These are: Virtutes Iohannis (Miracles of John, circa 5th or 6th century AD), Passio Iohannis (Passion of John, ca. late 6th c.) {p 10},10 and Acts of John in Rome (ca. 4th to 6th c.11), with the latter finding its writer portraying John as explicitly quoting the words of Mark 16:18b (“and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them”) {p. 10}.   With this in mind, would Bill Johnson, or any of the other self-appointed “Apostles” of the New Apostolic Reformation (or any follower of the NAR) who affirm Mark 16:9-20, like to drink from the poisoned cup, toward this same goal?

It seems one could understand this passage a bit more narrowly, interpreting “confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (v 20) as a limitation on those who believe.  That is, these signs will only accompany those who believe during the proclamation of the Gospel, thereby limiting the ‘shelf-life’ of these signs.  In other words, these five signs would be manifested each time the Gospel message is preached until Jesus Christ returns, but only for the duration of the preaching at each particular place and time.12

But note that even this more narrow view would only limit the time at which these signs are made manifest and not their actual expression.  With this limitation in mind, we’ll pose the question above a bit differently: With another actively preaching “the message of the Kingdom of God”, would Bill Johnson, or any of the other self-appointed “Apostles” of the New Apostolic Reformation (or any disciple of the NAR) who affirm Mark 16:9-20, like to drink from the poisoned chalice in order to win others to Christ?

Given his interpretation of Jesus’ promise in John 14:12, Johnson may even desire to identify such acts of ‘poison-bibbing’ {p 10} as manifest evidence of “greater works”, since it is not recorded in Scripture that Jesus Himself drank poison without harm:

Jesus’ prophecy of us doing greater works than He did has stirred the Church to look for some abstract meaning to this very simple statement…And, the works He referred to are signs and wonders.  It will not be a disservice to Him to have a generation obey Him, and go beyond His own high-water mark.  He showed us what one person could do who has the Spirit without measure.  What could millions do?  That was His point, and it became His prophecy.

This verse is often explained away by saying it refers to quantity of works, not quality…But that waters down the intent of His statement.  The word greater is mizon [sic] in the Greek…It is always used to describe “quality,” not quantity.13

But, I’m unpersuaded that even such a charismatic display of imbibing venomous drink without harm would be greater than Jesus’ dying on the Cross for the sins of the world and subsequently raising Himself from the dead (John 2:19-22, 10:17-18).

Nonetheless, as per the context provided by the author of the long ending, poison-bibbing is a requirement of all believers – at least those who accept Mark 16:9-20 as part of sacred Scripture.

Conclusion

Those who consider the long ending of Mark must understand that it’s an all or nothing proposition.  If one is inclined to accept it as authentic, then, in all intellectual honesty, one is forced to conform to a radical form of continuationism – one that must accept that all five signs enumerated in verses 17 and 18, without exception, will be exhibited by those who believe.  To explicitly or implicitly reject any of these five will not do.  On the other hand, to agree with the scholarly consensus that the long ending is not original to the Gospel of Mark means that no portion of it can be referenced for doctrine or practice.

 

Some facts and thoughts about the author of the above referenced article (see especially last paragraph):

Dr. Rodney J. Decker is on faculty at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.  He is the author of Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect (New York: Peter Lang, 2001) and Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), as well as other publications, with more material under contract, including his contribution to the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament series (The Gospel of Mark).

I enjoy reading and being challenged by his works, most of which are a bit beyond my current level, some quite so.  However, it’s obvious he cares about his students’ learning, as he has even taken the time to place additional data, list errata, and translate the German and French text from the Peter Lang book mentioned above (this particular book series requires that all non-English language remain untranslated), onto his own website.  Here’s a portion of his remarks:

…Since, however, I have some hopes that students may find the work helpful, and even that some may be curious as to the content of those [untranslated] quotations (an idealistic notion, I suspect, but one which I hope to nurture for a bit longer!), I have thought it appropriate to provide a translation of many of those quotations here.

In addition, Decker has taken one of Dr. Stanley Porter’s difficult works and made it more comprehendible, providing a tremendous service to those wishing to become more conversant with Porter’s position on verbal aspect.  This is available as an online pdf (the title itself references Porter’s work): “The Poor Man’s Porter”: A condensation and summarization of Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood by Stanley E. Porter (New York: Peter Lang, 1993).

While he’s very serious about his work, he occasionally injects a bit of lightheartedness in his material and on his blog (and presumably in the classroom).  Decker is currently battling stage 4 cancer.  He has recently begun chemotherapy.  He and his wife could use our prayers.

 

Endnotes:

     1 This merely illustrates that subsequent copyists faithfully reproduced (more or less) this long ending once it was introduced into the Gospel of Mark, though many manuscripts have markings suggesting its inauthenticity.
     2 Here I’m referring to what is known as the internal evidence of NT textual criticism: assessing authorial and scribal peculiarities such as style (vocabulary, grammar) and doctrine.
     3 This sentence refers primarily to what is termed external evidence in NT textual criticism: assessing all known variants of a given section of Scripture by focusing on such factors as age, similar readings among manuscripts, and geographic distribution, and then comparing with each other to determine which verbiage is likely original.
     4 The following English translation of the “short ending” is taken from Roger L. Omanson, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger’s Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society), 2006), p 104.  Note that the first sentence is a continuation of 16:8, for the obvious purpose of not leaving the verse ending with the women fearful: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told.  And after these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.  Amen.  Manuscripts which append the “long ending” to the “short ending” omit the final “Amen” of the “short ending” (Omanson, p 104).
     5 For more on the textual evidence consult Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1994); Roger L. Omanson’s adaptation of Metzger noted above; Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2008); Craig A. Evans, Word Biblical Commentary: Mark 8:27 – 16:20 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001); Joel Marcus, The Anchor Yale Bible: Mark 8 – 16 (New Haven: Yale, 2009), etc.
     6 This is based on my own admittedly very limited experience.
     7 Comfort, p 161.
     8 This is evident throughout his books, sermons and other materials.  Of the many works I’ve studied/surveyed, none promote snake handling or the drinking of poison.
     9 Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 2003 (first edition)), p 89; emphasis in original.   I’m giving Johnson the benefit of the doubt that he’s speaking of the true Gospel, and not the differentiated “Gospel of the Kingdom” of some New Order of the Latter Rain and/or New Apostolic Reformation teachers and adherents, though the context strongly implies the latter, and he specifically uses the latter term in many places throughout the book.  Probably the best place to find the delineation of the two terms is found in the glossary of Earl Paulk’s Ultimate Kingdom (Atlanta: K Dimension, 1984, p 335), in which “Gospel” is defined as [t]he good news of God’s redemption to man. [Luke 4:18, 9:6; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:15]; whereas, “Gospel of the Kingdom” is defined [t]he good news principles of daily life taught by Jesus that the Church must demonstrate as a witness to the world in order to return the rule of the earth to God.  [Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14] – in other words: Dominionism.  Also, one must keep in mind that Johnson equates such signs as part of the “greater works” in John 14:12.  See below.
     10 Here Decker quotes from (as he cites quite a bit in his paper) James Kelhoffer (Miracle and Mission: The Authentication of Missionaries and Their Message in the Longer Ending of Mark, WUNT 2.112, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000, p 450); Decker notes (p  10 n 42) that dates of 3rd to 6th century have been proposed for these two works.  Claudio Moreschini and Enrico Norelli, (Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature, A Literary History, Volume Two: From the Council of Nicea to the Beginning of the Medieval Period, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2005; English transl. Matthew J. O’Connell), claim “perhaps” 5th or 6th c. for Passion of John (“by Pseudo-Melito”) and “end of 6th c.” for Miracles of John (“included in the collection of Pseudo-Abdias”) [pp 221-222].  Both of these works apparently draw from the 3rd c. apocryphal work Acts of John, as Knut Schäferdiek (“The Acts of John”) in Wilhelm Schneemelcher (transl. R. McL. Wilson New Testament Apocrypha: Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1990, English transl. James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1991) notes, specifying that the Passio Iohannis “has taken up several narratives from the Acts of John in a considerably revised form” [p 154, cf. p 155].  Schäferdiek also largely agrees with Moreschini/Norelli regarding dates for Passion “which scarcely came into being before the middle of the 5th century” [p 154] and Miracles “which probably came into being in the late 6th century” [p 155].
     11 Schäferdiek in Schneemelcher, p 172.  The Acts of John in Rome is a recension of Acts of John.  The first 17 chapters of Acts of John are lost; the Acts of John in Rome has a total 14 chapters, in two recensions, written “not before the 4th century” [p 172].
     12 This further nuanced interpretation seems to be implied by Decker, but is not explicit – at least as I read him.  Therefore, I take full responsibility; any errors in understanding Decker or in my exegesis are fully my own!  But, note that the three apocryphal works referenced earlier do not seem to have another preaching the Gospel while John drank the poison.
     13 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth, p 185; all emphasis in original (for those with later editions with different pagination, this is found in the chapter titled “This Present Revival” under the bolded heading GREATER WORKS).   The Greek word is actually (transliterated) meizon, not mizon.  Johnson prefaces this statement with a direct citation of John 14:12. Decker notes that some are of the opinion that the long ending can be paralleled with John 14:12, but he opines differently {pp 10-11}.  For an in-depth look at Jesus’ words in this passage of Scripture, see CrossWise article Greater Works Shall You Do.

Five Years On: Todd Bentley and Bob Jones Teaching Manifest Sons of God in 2008 (Birth of the Man-Child)

2008 was a banner year for the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR – what I term hyper-charismaticism) – at least until it was revealed that Todd Bentley was having an affair with his nanny and divorcing his wife, the mother of their two children (he and the nanny married later).  From April 2nd until about August 11th of that year the so-called Lakeland Revival was headed by Todd Bentley.  Bentley was, shall we say, “christened” by a number of NAR “Apostles” including C. Peter Wagner, Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, Che Ahn, and others on June 23rd.  It’s too bad for these “Apostles” that there wasn’t an NAR “Prophet” who could have foreseen the disaster that was Bentley’s adultery/divorce and subsequent remarriage.  Perhaps all the NAR “Prophets” were deep in thought, otherwise busy, traveling, sleeping, etc. at the time (cf. 1 Kings 18:27-28)?  But I digress.

The purpose of this article is to revisit some Manifest Sons of God (MSoG) teaching in order to educate those not quite understanding this particular doctrine, its ramifications, and how it fits into the larger scheme of things.  Following are two examples from 2008.

On May 28, in a somewhat lengthy monologue, Bentley explicitly spoke of and promoted the MSoG doctrine.  Here’s a portion:

Tonight is a crossing over and we have a moment,’ says the Lord, ‘where we can labor and travail until Christ is formed in you

…I feel if we gave it a big push that we can literally form Christ – Christ in you.  I’m talking about a maturing of what God has placed on the inside of your spirit.  It’s gonna come out of the birth canal – it’s gonna come out of the womb – because there is a labor and there is a travailing that is going on in the spirit…

…And, we are saying LET THERE BE LIFE.  And, there was life—speaking things into existence.  I am talking about a creative realm… …Under the anointing you make a declaration and it forms tonight…

…We’re going to go back into travail right now until Christ is formed.  God promised a day where heaven and earth must retain Him until the restoration of all things.  Heaven will hold back the coming of Jesus Christ until sons and daughters come into maturity.  It’s called the Manifestation of the sons of God.

Heaven will hold back the Second Coming… A mature church manifests the glory of God.  A mature church manifests the Word of God in truth and power.  A mature church walks in holiness and character.  A mature church walks in miracle, signs, and wonders.

I’m talking about a maturity tonight – and it’s being formed in you.  Let Christ be formed in maturity.  Let the full man, let the fullness of God come forth, and let the womb open tonight…and let there be a great birthing…

The birthing, laboring, and travailing language is all part of the “birth of the man-child” doctrine, an important aspect of MSoG, as it’s the culmination of the teaching.  According to this teaching, there will be ‘one new, perfect man’ (a perversion of Ephesians 4:13).  This is the climax of Bentley’s monologue: “Let Christ be formed in maturity.  Let the full man, let the fullness of God come forth, and let the womb open tonight…and let there be a great birthing…” The New Age / New Spirituality calls this the forthcoming “Corporate Christ”.  MSoG doctrine is such that this “birth of the man-child” IS the Second Coming.  This is paralleled in New Age / New Spirituality teachings (see below).

With the proceedings of Lakeland in full swing, Bob Jones spoke at a conference held at Heritage International Ministries Retreat Center, featuring Todd Bentley, Bob Jones, and Rick Joyner, on August 08th (DVD of this event sold through Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries Media Store, item # TS50, “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08”).  Here’s an excerpt of his monologue:

The New Breed is just simply the body of Christ is gonna grow up…What He’s [God’s] doing now is bringing you to a level of maturity where you grow up…So, what he’s talking about is; the New Breed is this: it’s Romans 1:4 – the spirit of holiness.  So, for years I tried to get understanding of what the spirit of holiness is for it’s different than the Holy Spirit [ED: YIKES!].

So, last Saturday, He spoke to me about a New Breed of people.  And, He said, ‘I don’t want to get in front of them, I want you to get behind them.  They’ll be close to the ages of 25 and 40… this is who the New Breed is.’

The New Breed will be those that are partaker of the divine nature.  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-a-way 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.  Then, he began to tell me that those who have [sic] partaker of his divine nature shall be a friend with God – John  15:15…

So, that divine nature is a friend.  It’s really Paul’s prayer.  I believe God is answering Paul’s prayer in Galatians 4:19 ‘I travail for you, I pray for you until Christ be formed in you.’  There are Christians on the earth now that are growing in maturity to where Christ is being formed in youIf Christ is being formed in you then when you speak you’ll speak as Christ did.  And, you’ll have also authority in this.  Then, in this He was saying ‘this then will be a generation that will do nothing apart from the Father.’  So, I think the main thing you’re getting ready for is a generation for the fathers to come back in.  And, I think the first one that’s gonna come back is Papa.  For Jesus came back over…2000 years ago, The Holy Spirit came over 100 years ago [ED: apparently a reference to Azuza Street], this last revelation is who your Daddy is.  And, I think this is what’s getting ready – is Papa’s getting ready to reveal his family.  And, His family, what He lacks in you is what was in His Son.  So, there are those who’s gonna begin to shine like the Son.  And, that divine nature will have authority over all the works of the enemy

I’ve been back here 33 years today [ED: Jones is speaking about his own purported death and resuscitation experience].  33 years ago I stood before the Lord.   I looked into His eyes.  To be honest with ya, I didn’t want to come back because it had been so hard.  But, He asked… He told me,” if you’ll go back you’ll see the greatest wave of all time in evangelism.  I’m gonna bring over a billion youth into myself.”  Now, these that’s between 25 and 40 are youth leaders.  Getting ready for a birthing of youth beyond anything you’ve ever seen before…And, what he’s after now is the 25 to 40’s which are harvesters…So, get ready.  Things have changed.  The New Breed – let’s get behind them.  For they’re gonna bring the youth behind them.  It’s a change of times.  The torch is being transferred from the old generation to this 25 to 40.  This is the New Breed.

We won’t go into all the issues in Jones’ awful use of Scripture (that was done here).  The main reason in putting both Bentley’s and Jones’ MSoG teachings on the same page is to show the reader what to look for in the teachings of others.  With this in mind, re-read (or read for the first time) the two previous CrossWise articles (here and here) and look for similarities.  Let’s discuss. 

But, before doing so, ponder on the words of Alice A. Bailey – occultist, New Ager, the willing vehicle of the channeled writings of “Djwhal Khul”:

…We can produce, and as a [human] race, give birth to, the next kingdom in nature, which Christ called the kingdom of God; this is the kingdom of souls, the kingdom of spiritual lives, and herein, uniquely, Christ emerges… [From Bethlehem to Calvary: The Initiations of Jesus © 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey, Lucis Trust, 4th paperback ed., 1989, Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY, p 259.  Emphasis added.]

More explicitly, here’s Barbara Marx Hubbard in her work The Book of Co-Creation: The Revelation, Our Crisis is a Birth [Foundation for Conscious Evolution, Sonoma, CA, 1993 (first edition)] with even more alarming tie-ins to Bentley’s and Jones’ messages above (and others who’ve taught MSoG in hyper-charismaticism).  In a section titled The Marriage of Christ and Eve, she begins by referencing the Virgin Birth and the fact that Christ raised Himself from the dead – at least she affirms Jesus Christ’s role in His own resurrection, contrary to Bill Johnson and others who claim it was “the Father by the Spirit” – wondering: “Are we moving beyond sexual reproduction and preprogrammed death?” [p 55].

In order for “Eve” to marry Christ, one’s body must be prepared to transform, to regenerate itself…

If we are approaching a new “normalcy,” normalizing in ourselves what Christ could do, as the next stage in our evolution, then do we have the innate ability, as a proto-universal species, to “become mothers to ourselves,” giving birth to ourselves as fully evolved humans?… [p 56.  Emphasis added.]

Marx Hubbard ponders this and other questions until she receives a “revelation” about her own previous “birth experience”, which she records in a journal:

The benign presence I sensed in my planetary birth experience was the Christ.  The light that surrounded the Earth and awakened us was the Christ-light.  The light that arose within us was the Christ-light that dwells in every one of us! [p 56.  Bold in original]”

She then explains:

The Christ “act” – to do the work that he did – is a new kind of resurrection and transformation at the dawn of the next stage of evolution.

The marriage of Christ and Eve happens at the Second Coming.  It is in real time, like his birth.  It is an event in history [p 56.   Emphasis added.]

Recall the words of many in hyper-charismaticism, such as this one example by Bill Johnson: Jesus is returning for a bride whose body is in equal proportion to her head [as referenced here].  Also, consider Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO, with his emphasis on the so-called “Bridal Paradigm”, in which Jesus is “love-sick for His Bride”.

Later in this same book Marx Hubbard goes through the Book of Revelation [skipping 6:3-8, though this is covered in an unpublished manuscript of this work, as quoted from here], claiming new revelation from “Higher Voices”.  In the following these “Voices” ‘expound’ on Revelation 9:15-16, 18-21, bringing “new revelation”:

The alternative to Armageddon is the Planetary Pentecost.  When a critical mass are in the upper room of consciousness on a planetary scale, each will hear from within, in their own language, the mighty words of God.  All who are attuned will be radically empowered to be and do as Jesus did.  If those people who are not self-centered align their thoughts in perfect faith, that they are whole, created in the image of God, the world can be saved.  [p 147.  Emphasis in original.]

Obviously, we know that God will not change His Word and save the whole world.  But, note the similarities of this to various teachers within hyper-charismaticism.  Note the hyper-charismatic call to unity at the expense of sound doctrine.  Recall Jones’ (and others) teaching that there will be a “billion souls saved”.  Are these actually a billion souls lost to the New Age / New Spirituality “Jesus”?

Reader, I implore you, please read the words of Bentley and Jones then compare to the words of Marx Hubbard and Bailey.

NOTE: The Barbara Marx Hubbard material was reprised in a later book titled The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium [Nataraj Publishing, Novato, CA, 1995], with the pagination a bit different from above.

Kris Vallotton on Becoming an Incarnation through Holy Communion

Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA (Bill Johnson is Senior Pastor), recently stated the following on his website:

When Jesus said we must eat His flesh and drink his blood, he wasn’t talking about cannibalism, but he was referring to ingestion that leads to incarnation. Christ is the Word that became flesh. It is important that we ingest the Word of God in a way that causes us to digest His life until Christ is literally formed in us. Ingestion without digestion will lead to feeling full but not being transformed. Digestion is more than just a taste test, it is the full meal of His presence that conforms us to His image. There is an old saying that is true in this case, “You are what you eat!

Many people ingest the Bible but they don’t digest the living, active Word of God. Religion fills their souls but never satisfies their longing for real life. Digestion requires assimilation, not just consumption. Truth was never meant to just be recounted, it was intended to be experienced. When we exchange the communion meal for a dinner commentary or a cookbook, we deprive ourselves of the privilege of abundant life, and relegate ourselves to a meager existence in the Kingdom. [Tuesday, July 16, 2013; emphasis added]

How do we interpret Kris Vallotton’s message?  The key is in the word incarnation.  Of course, the Incarnation of Jesus Christ occurred when the Word, the second ‘Person’ of the Trinity “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).  This took place at the moment of the Virginal Conception (Luke 1:35).  But, do Christians become an incarnation?

While there are a few different meanings for the term incarnation, as it applies to Jesus Christ it implies preexistence, as in the preexistent, eternal Word, the second ‘Person’ of the Trinity took on a new mode of existence as the one, unique God in the flesh.  The fully God and yet fully man Jesus Christ IS the Incarnation.  And since, according to orthodox Christianity, humans are not preexistent, then humans cannot become an incarnation in that sense of the term.  (However, those who believe in the preexistence of souls affirm reincarnation – not a Christian doctrine, specifically deemed anathema at the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, or Constantinople II of 553 AD.)

So what does Kris Vallotton mean?  Certainly, he’s adhering to the typical Word of Faith (WoF) doctrine of ‘new revelation’ (what Vallotton terms “living, active Word of God” above), or as Kenneth E. Hagin termed it, the “rhema” word.  According to WoF, these ‘new revelations’ are superior to Scripture, the written Word (Hagin called this the “logos” word).  But what does that have to do with becoming an incarnation?

The other modern day definitions for the term incarnation are used in a figurative sense, yet it’s clear Vallotton is speaking literally, as he states, “until Christ is literally formed in us”.  Taking the context of Vallotton’s message above, this seems similar to an old and oft-repeated quote by Hagin:

Every man who has been ‘born again’ is an Incarnation, and Christianity is a miracle.  The believer is as much an Incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.1

Hagin equates the Incarnate Word of God to the ‘born again’ believer.  Others have stated something similar, and here are two examples from Earl Paulk – one who taught explicit Latter Rain doctrine as well as WoF:

It was the quickening and bringing alive of the Word which was incarnate in Jesus ChristThat Word became incarnate in the Church. 

Jesus was the firstfruit of God’s incarnation, a man living out God’s perfect will.  Now He says, “…My people will bring forth life as they become the ‘incarnate Word’ on planet Earth”…the Church is the ‘ongoing expression’ of God.2

All things have been given to us, even to the point of allowing us to share the divine nature of Jesus.  Sharing His nature is a definition of the ongoing incarnation of God on the earth.  ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory.’  His inheritance is already ours3

While Vallotton has not gone so far as to declare the Church body “the ongoing incarnation of God on the earth”, he’s not very far off.  More important though is that if one reads the Vallotton quote carefully, one sees that the ‘believer’ becomes the ‘new revelation’ word made flesh.  Does this mean that, in the Vallotton quote, Jesus Christ was also the ‘new revelation’ word made flesh rather than the Word, the second ‘Person’ of the Trinity made flesh at the Virginal Conception as the unique fully God and fully man, as the Hagin and Paulk selections above seem to imply? 

To see that this interpretation of ‘believer’ as ‘new revelation’ word made flesh is indeed the correct understanding, we’ll go through the above Vallotton quote sentence by sentence.

When Jesus said we must eat His flesh and drink his blood, he wasn’t talking about cannibalism, but he was referring to ingestion that leads to incarnation

This means simply that partaking of Communion leads to “incarnation”.

Christ is the Word that became flesh. It is important that we ingest the Word of God in a way that causes us to digest His life until Christ is literally formed in us 

These two sentences are the most crucial as far as interpretation.   Here, we’ll have to make an initial hypothesis which will prove itself as we continue.  First, note the two uses of “the Word” above.  From a strictly orthodox perspective, the first sentence would be speaking of Jesus Christ as the eternal Word made flesh at the Virginal Conception.  But is this what Vallotton means?  We’ll return to this later.

Regarding the second, this could refer to either Scripture, or the ‘new revelation’ word.  However, in the second paragraph of the complete quote, Vallotton is clear that he’s referring to the ‘new revelation’ word, since he’s made a direct comparison between this and Scripture, with the ‘new revelation’ word the one to be “experienced”.  Therefore, for now we’ll tentatively conclude that this is the intended meaning here, as this Word “causes us to digest His life until Christ is literally formed in us”.

Ingestion without digestion will lead to feeling full but not being transformed. Digestion is more than just a taste test, it is the full meal of His presence that conforms us to His image. There is an old saying that is true in this case, You are what you eat!”  

Here “the Word” is personified as “His presence”.  Also, this implies that Holy Communion consists of the real presence, just as it does in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Lutheranism, and only a few others within Protestantism.  The majority of Protestant churches deny the real presence in Holy Communion, seeing it as symbolic instead.  For Vallotton, “His presence”, that is, the ‘real presence’ in Communion, literally makes the ‘believer’ become that which was ingested: “the Word”.

Many people ingest the Bible but they don’t digest the living, active Word of God. Religion fills their souls but never satisfies their longing for real life.

The message in these two sentences is that reading (“ingesting”) the Bible results in “religion”, the term used pejoratively; whereas,  the “living, active Word of God” (“His life” and “His presence” in the first paragraph), i.e., the ‘new revelation’ word brings “real life”.  By positing this false dichotomy between the Bible and ‘new revelation’, this confirms the earlier working hypothesis that the ‘new revelation’ word was the intended meaning in the first paragraph.

Digestion requires assimilation, not just consumption. Truth was never meant to just be recounted, it was intended to be experienced.

Studying and memorizing Scripture is not the real goal.  The “truth” of these ‘new revelations’ is to be digested, experienced, assimilated.  This is the goal.

When we exchange the communion meal for a dinner commentary or a cookbook, we deprive ourselves of the privilege of abundant life, and relegate ourselves to a meager existence in the Kingdom.

If Holy Communion is viewed as symbolic, rather than the ‘real presence’ of “the Word”, i.e. ‘new revelation’, then we become a spiritual ‘have-not’ instead of a spiritual ‘have’.  Why?  Because it’s “important that we ingest the Word of God in a way that causes us to digest His life until Christ is literally formed in us.”  If we don’t “ingest the Word of God” in this way, then “Christ” will not be formed in us, literally. 

But, what does all this really mean?  The mystery and confusion evaporate when this is viewed from a Gnostic, or, more specifically, a Neo-Gnostic (New Age / New Spirituality) perspective.  First, we’ll need to provide a brief sketch of a basic Neo-Gnostic conception, keeping in mind that this is a perversion of Christianity.

In the Neo-Gnostic (New Age / New Spirituality) conception of deity, there is an eternal trinity consisting of the Father, the Holy Breath (sometimes Mother), and Christ (the logos, usually the offspring of the first two).  Christ is “the Word of God”, the “word” of Thought, Force and Love.  This “word” formed the entire cosmos, leaving a part of himself in all of creation, alternatively known as a seed, spark, Christ.  Therefore, the eternal word (third person of this false trinity, as opposed to second in orthodox Christianity) is the ‘Christ without’, while the internal seed/spark in everything is the “Christ within”.This is the doctrine of panentheism, that is, God is within all, yet simultaneously transcendent.

In the Gnostic understanding, mankind has two natures, one human and one divine spark/seed, or ‘Christ within’.  In order for humans to progress spiritually, the goal is to awaken the ‘Christ within’ (Christ in you, the hope of glory – a perversion of Colossians 1:27) via the “Christ without”, i.e., the “word” which provides “Thought and Force”,5 or ‘new revelation’.  As one increases in ‘new revelation’ knowledge, one progresses spiritually.6  This progression occurs over multiple lifetimes, as the spark/seed is then reincarnated into a succession of human forms.

Though “Christ” (divine seed/spark) was yet still latent in humanity, due to ‘selfishness’, most of the human race did not recognize this and, thus, was not progressing as it should.  This necessitated that the eternal Christ (of this false trinity), the “Word of God”, be made manifest in human form “by taking his abode in some pure person”.7  That “pure person” was Jesus of Nazareth.  This “Word of God”, ‘new revelation’ of “Thought and Force”, became flesh in the man Jesus at baptism, specifically when the dove (Holy Breath) landed upon him.  This is when the incarnation of the “Word of God” began.8

Once ‘the Word’ was “made flesh” in Jesus of Nazareth at baptism, Jesus became the model for all towards their own spiritual progression, for their own self-redemption.  The goal then for mankind is for each one to become his own ‘word made flesh’, to become his own incarnation, by recognizing the divine seed/spark within, and then begin its path towards actualization.9  This false Jesus instructs others: “Look to the Christ within who shall be formed in every one of you, as he is formed in me.”10  What was it that Vallotton wrote above?  “It is important that we ingest the Word of God in a way that causes us to digest His life until Christ is literally formed in us.”

Viewing Vallotton’s complete statement from a New-Gnostic perspective works well indeed.  Using Neo-Gnosticism as our lens with which to view this statement, we can see how to interpret “Christ is the Word that became flesh”, and this adds clarity to the entire Vallotton quote.

As regards Vallotton’s references to Holy Communion, we’ll compare to material on a Gnostic website.  Please note that there are many different flavors of Gnosticism, with each one borrowing from other religions and occult traditions.  This particular one incorporates Hinduism, Jewish mysticism to include the Kabbalah, Tantric Yoga, and others into its own mix of Gnosticism.  Also, as a side note, the reader may have recognized that Hagin referred to the ‘new revelation’ word as the “rhema”, while above (and below) it was used as the “logos” instead.  This is not unusual, as terms are not necessarily consistent, though concepts usually are.

Jesus says that man cannot live upon this bread alone, this bread of Moses.  In other words, the teaching that Moses gives is vital, it is important, but it is not enough; there is something else.  And that something else is the Word of God, as Jesus says.  But here we have to look deeper than the literal meaningSome interpret this passage as meaning that we need the scripture or the Bible in order to have life, but this is only a literal, superficial meaning of the phrase. The document from which the quote is taken was written in Greek, and in Greek, ‘word’ is ‘logos’…11

Just like Vallotton, we have to look beyond the literal meaning of Jesus’ words in John 6, we must “look deeper” for the mystical meaning, as per the Gnostic quote above, for if we don’t, then this will result in “not being transformed”, per Vallotton.  The Bible is not enough.

…In other words, man cannot live by bread alone…but by the Word of God, by the Logos, by the Christ.  So he is pointing out a very important mystery that we need to comprehend…. 

receive the blessed elements so they can take those atoms [of the Christ] into their bodies as assistance for their work.

…these elements which will house the forces of Christ (the Logos) so that the congregation can receive those forces.12

As Vallotton concluded his first paragraph, “You are what you eat!”  This is what he means by “His life” and “His presence” in the first paragraph.  But, whose life and presence is this really?  All this reminds me once again of the following Alice Bailey quote, only this time I’ll place other emphasis:

…[T]he church movement, like all else, is but a temporary expedient and serves but as a transient resting place for the evolving lifeEventually, 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: the false Christ above, actually Satan/antichrist] and His disciples when the outpouring of the Christ principle [ED: spirit of the ‘new revelation’ word], the true second Coming, has been accomplished…

The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplishedThe church must show a wide tolerance…The church as a teaching factor should take the great basic doctrines and (shattering the old forms in which they are expressed and held) show their true and inner spiritual significance [ED: occult/esoteric meaning]The prime work of the church is to teach, and teach ceaselessly, preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages.  Teachers must be trained; Bible knowledge must be spread; the sacraments must be mystically interpreted, and the power of the church to heal must be demonstrated.13

  

   1 Kenneth E. Hagin “The Incarnation” in The Word of Faith, (1980, December; #13) Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK, p 14, as quoted in Russell Sharrock Covenant Theology: A Critical Analysis of Current Pentecostal Covenant Theology, 2006, Lulu Enterprises, Morrisville, NC, p 109.  Emphasis added.
   2 Paulk, Earl. Held in the Heavens Until…God’s Strategy for Planet Earth, 1985; K Dimension, Atlanta, GA, p 163.  Emphasis added.
   3 Paulk, Held in the Heavens, p 197.  Emphasis added.
   4 Levi Dowling The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ: The Philosophic and Practical Basis of the Religion of the Aquarian Age of the World, © 1907 Eva S. Dowling and Leo W. Dowling, © 1935 and © 1964 Leo W. Dowling, (11th printing, 1987), DeVorss, Marina del Rey, CA, p 6.  Dowling is cited as merely one Neo-Gnostic text, but there are many others, with subtle differences in basic doctrine.  However, Dowling’s very closely matches the Vallotton quote, and hence, serves our purposes here.
   5 Dowling Aquarian Gospel, p 6
   6 Dowling Aquarian Gospel, pp 6-7
   7 Dowling Aquarian Gospel, p 7
   8 Dowling Aquarian Gospel, p 8.  The point at which this false incarnation begins is detailed: …Jesus was man; Christ was Divine Love – the Love of God; and after thirty years of strenuous life the man had made his body fit to be the temple of the holy breath and Love 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.”
   9 Dowling Aquarian Gospel, p 8
   10 Dowling Aquarian Gospel, p 8
   11 “Gnostic Instructor” “Sacrament of Communion” gnosticteachings.org website <http://gnosticteachings.org/courses/sacraments-of-the-gnostic-church/666-sacrament-of-communion.html>, as accessed 07/20/13, © Glorian Publishing, Brooklyn, NY; emphasis added.
   12 “Gnostic Instructor” “Sacrament of Communion”
   13 Alice A. Bailey The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, © 1957 Lucis, NY, 6th printing 1981; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY, pp 510-511.  Underscore from italics in original; other emphasis added.  While the book was not published until 1957, most sections within the book have corresponding dates of initial writing, or, more accurately, transmission.  The portion quoted here is from 1919, some of the earliest writings of Bailey/The Tibetan.

The Sandy Foundation of the International House of Prayer (IHOP)

[The following, except for the opening 6 paragraphs, was initially the final section (excepting the brief conclusion) of a very lengthy two-part article.  I deem it important enough to be its own stand-alone piece.  It was necessary to make some very minor alterations.]

To this day, the Mike Bickle led International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri proudly claims as part of its heritage Kansas City Fellowship (KCF) aka Grace Ministries.1  Bob Jones, along with Paul Cain – who were both important “prophets” associated with KCF – continue to be lauded as Bickle’s “spiritual fathers”2.  It was Bob Jones’ purported “drought prophecy” which was said to have legitimized the Kansas City Fellowship – and now International House of Prayer (IHOP) – “movement”.

Back in late 19823 a young pastor named Mike Bickle moved to Kansas City, MO to found Kansas City Fellowship.  On May 7 of ‘83, Bickle and his growing congregation began a 21-day fast which he claims was brought about by prophetic revelation.4  On the eve of May 28 “prophet” Bob Jones gave a “word from the Lord”5 which, if it were to come to pass, would 1) be a further sign that Bob Jones was a true prophet of God; and, 2) serve as confirmation that God was beginning a new movement in Christianity6 which would “change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the earth in one generation”.7  This new ‘expression’ would be a “great outpouring of the Spirit that will cross all kinds of national, social, ethnic and cultural barriers”.8  This “change” in “the understanding and expression of Christianity” Bickle believes to be referring to our current generation.9

Bob Jones’ “word from the Lord” concerned a forthcoming three month drought.10  What were the circumstances surrounding this “drought”?  A bit, uh, cloudy, it seems.

A number of tapes offered for sale by KCF/Grace Ministries in the mid to late ‘80s until 1990 included talks by Mike Bickle detailing his church’s “prophetic history” including, of course, the Bob Jones ‘drought prophecy’.  Interestingly, the account changed with the passage of time.  Initially, it was recorded that the drought was one of no rain beginning in June of ’83.  Subsequently, it was changed to one allowing for ‘sprinkles’ of rain.  Subsequent to this, it was further altered to include a shifting in the actual start of this “drought”.

These changes were precipitated in large part by a report authored by Ernie Gruen (and some of his staff and elders), the pastor of another church in the same locale as KCF.  In response to Gruen’s May 1990 Documentation of Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries), in which it was shown that Kansas City actually had higher than normal rainfall in June of ‘83, John Wimber/Vineyard (KCF came under the Vineyard umbrella in May of that year in apparent response to the controversy) shifted the timing of the ‘drought prophecy’ from a start date of June 1 to July 1.11 The KCF/Grace Ministries tape titled The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries, listed as “by far our best seller” in a then-current catalog, was among a number of tapes deleted in June of that year at the height of the controversy surrounding the Gruen Document and KCF.12

Various attempts have been made to discredit the Gruen document and some have tried to use Gruen’s reporting of the Jones/Bickle ‘drought prophecy’ toward that end.  Let’s look at the particulars.

A Drought Evolves

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 28, 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.13

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, 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.14

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 both untrue. Thankfully, we also have David Pytches’ Some Said it Thundered (original, unrevised first edition)15 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…”16 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.”17

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!”18

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.19 Furthermore, July and August, while having much less than normal rainfall, did indeed have some rain.20 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”.21

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 months22

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. 23

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.”24

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.’”25 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.26

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;”27 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 instead merely that the drought ended “in early October.”28 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.29 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 23.30

…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 drought which he predicted was about to begin.31

…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.32

Pytches continues with the same paragraph ending with “It had to be 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 2333

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 new “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 other dates and not the beginning and end of the “drought?”

The circumstances surrounding the “drought prophecy” are rather troubling.  To quote James Beverley: “…many of Bob Jones predictions were announced ex post facto34 – after the fact. Given the evolving nature of the “drought prophecy,” was it a ‘reverse engineered’ “prophecy” (at least in part) despite the claim to the contrary?

Given that the “drought prophecy” was to provide legitimacy to the KCF (now IHOP) “movement,” why wasn’t this “prophecy” recorded in such a manner as to prove its veracity, i.e., by tape, or, absent that, a transcript from memory shortly after it was “prophesied”? Given that there is no proof, it would be prudent to remain skeptical – especially given the circumstances as outlined above.

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” [Matt 7:24-27, TNIV]

1 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>. As accessed 11/13/12.
2 See disc 1 of above <http://ihopcontent.ihop.org/ihopcntnt/endis/FreeMP3s/Encountering_Jesus_D1.mp3> 18:45 – 19:35.  As accessed 11/13/12.
3 Bickle, Michael, M. Sullivant, Growing in the Prophetic. 1996 (5th printing Feb ’98), Creation House, Oakland, FL; p 24.
4 Bickle, Sullivant, Growing pp 38-39
5 Bickle, Sullivant, Growing p 43
6 Bickle, Sullivant, Growing p 45
7 Bickle, Sullivant, Growing p 30
8 Bickle, Sullivant, Growing p 30
9 Bickle, Sullivant, Growing pp 30-31. Bickle equates this with “the last-days outpouring of the Spirit” which he believes “relates to this generation” [p 31]. In addition, Bickle has stated in various ways that he believes we are living in the very last of days, in which the Lord’s return is very close. For example, recently, in another book, Bickle states: “In my opinion, we are in the early days of the generation in which Jesus will return. I believe that there are people alive today who will see the return of Jesus…” [Mike Bickle with Brian Kim 7 Commitments of a Forerunner: A Sacred Charge to Press into God. 2009, Forerunner Publishing, Kansas City, MO; p 13].
10 Bickle, Sullivant, Growing pp 43-45
11 Yet the Bickle/Sullivant Growing states “end of June” [pp 43-44].
12 See this CrossWise post Your Assistance Requested: Seeking Original Audio/Video of Kansas City Fellowship/Grace Ministries as well as the two-part article referenced in the introduction to this current article.
13 Gruen, Ernie & John J. Arnold, et. al. Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace  Ministries). May 1990, self-published; p 10. / pdf prepared for online posting by Tricia Tillin (Booth) <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/kcp/Aberrant%20Practises.pdf>; pp 11-12.  Hereafter listed as pdf first followed by original booklet; e.g.: pp 10 / 11-12. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
14 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41-2 / 55. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
15 Pytches, David Some Said it Thundered. 1990 (first edition, second impression) [unrevised version], Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK
16 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) unnumbered page just before Introduction
17 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) p 89
18 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) p 90
19 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
20 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.
21 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
22 Gruen, Documentation. p 41 / 53. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
23 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41 / 53-54. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
24 Gruen, Documentation. p 41 / 54. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
25 Wimber, John “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; p 28
26 Gruen, Documentation. p 42 / 56. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
27 Gruen, Documentation. p 42 / 55. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
28 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.
29 Pytches, David Some Said it Thundered. 1991 (revised, “new edition”), Oliver Nelson, Nashville, TN; 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.
30 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90. The original account [p 89] is listed first.
31 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90. The original account [p 90] is listed first.
32 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90. The original account [p 90] is listed first.
33 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90. The original account [p 90] is listed first.
34 Beverley, James A. Holy Laughter & the Toronto Blessing: An Investigative Report. 1995, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI; p 128

Chuck Pierce Hosts Conference Referencing ‘One New Man’

[Updated! 09/16/12.  New "word" from Bob Jones on Joel's Army both on the Elijah List and Jones' own site.  See below.]

This weekend Chuck D. Pierce, President of Global Spheres, Inc., is hosting the “Head of the Year Celebration” at his Global Spheres Center in Corinth, Texas.  The full title of the conference, to commence September 20 and conclude on the 23rd, is From Recovery to Wholeness: A Year to Bridge the Past and Enter the Future.  Since this upcoming year will be 5773 on the Jewish calendar, Pierce is claiming this is the ‘year of the camel’ as the number 3 in Hebrew was originally pictured as a camel.  Speakers to include Pierce, C. Peter Wagner, Dutch Sheets, Jay Swallow, Trevor Baker, “Bishop” Bill Hamon, Paul Keith Davis, Venner Alston, Mark Chironna, Avner & Rachel Boskey, Rania Sayegh, Jeff Jansen and Robert Heidler.

The event is billed with the usual superlatives: “This is a time to keep your feet moving and go beyond where you have been in the past, until you drink and eat of the produce of your promise! The Kingdom of God will become the greatest influence in the earth realm.”

The subjects to be discussed at the Conference are the following:

  1. See the Camels Coming to Bring the Rewards and Reimbursements for Our Sorrows!
  2. Find Our Way of Escape from the Past!
  3. Cross the Bridge of the Past and Enter the Glory of the Future!
  4. Neutralize the Enemy’s Power, Recover Lost Strength, and Nourish Us into WHOLENESS!
  5. See the Priesthood for this Hour Blossom!
  6. Grow Up and Mature into One New Man!
  7. Bring the Impoverished into a New Dimension of Prosperity!

I wish to focus on numbers 3 and 6.

To “Cross the Bridge of the Past and Enter the Glory of the Future” is very likely referring to fully accessing the power of the first century Apostles and ‘bridging’ this to our future ‘glory’.  “Glory” in the hyper-charismatic / New Order of the Latter Rain sense means the erroneous and heretical notion of the attainment to the fullness of manifested sons of God/Joel’s Army such that these ‘elites’ will have received their glorified, resurrection bodies on the earth – contrary to 1st Corinthians 15:20-28, 50-54.  These ‘glorified elites’ will possess powers exceeding those of the REAL 1st century Apostles with an even greater authority.  These manifested sons of God (MSoG) will have the ‘divine’ authority to execute judgment and exact punishment upon those in opposition as explained by “Bishop” Bill Hamon (the “R-T” in the following means Resurrection-Translation):

…The positive purpose of the R-T is to enable the army of the Lord [Joel’s Army, or MSoG militant] to finalize the war against all evil. The army of the Lord will progress on in the war until they have accomplished all they can in their limited mortal bodies. The R-T is for the purpose of immortalizing their bodies. This will remove all the earthly limitations, thereby enabling the saints unlimited abilities. They will be able to travel in all space realms of the heavenlies the same as Jesus and the angels do now. They can move in and out of all dimensions of the natural and spiritual realms as Jesus did in His resurrected flesh-and-bone body.1 

God’s great end-time army is being prepared to execute God’s written Judgments with Christ’s victory and divine judgment decrees that have already been established in heaven. The time is set when they will be administered and executed on earth through God’s saintly army. All that is destined and needed will be activated during God’s restorational Army of the Lord Movement2

The “One New Man” is a reference to the hyper-charismatic / New Order of the Latter Rain doctrine of Christ’s “second coming” – the full-on heretical doctrine that Christ will only return IN a perfected body of believers culminating in this “One New Man” (also known as the “birth of the man-child”).  This is what Hamon is referring to in the above.  Two recent examples incorporating both of these false teachings (numbers 3 and 6 above) are: 1) Bill Johnson’s tweet from August 20, 2011 in which he states, “Jesus is returning for a bride whose body is in equal proportion to his head”, and, 2) Bob Jones statement at the 2011 “Piercing the Darkness Conference” held at Johnson’s Bethel Church, “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.’3

Bill Johnson spoke on a “corporate anointing” – otherwise known as the “Corporate Christ” concept, which is the same as this “One New Man” – at Bethel about 2 years ago:

…Here’s what I’m believing for – I know it’s never happened; but, I know that it must before the end. There must be, not just individuals – I’m thankful we have individuals that are rising up with such anointing, such strength, we have people scattered all over the planet right now that are just making a mess of things in all the right ways. We are so encouraged. But, what I’m believing for is a generation – a generation that’ll rise up with a corporate faith, a corporate anointing to press into realms because it’s my conviction that as much as God put on a William Branham, or a Kathryn Kuhlman, or a Wigglesworth, He’ll put far greater anointing on a company of people than He ever would on an individual. To do that, there must be that corporate sense of, ‘we have to deal with the issue of obeying the rules of this kingdom to tap into the resources of this kingdom’…we cannot use the principles of this world and expect to tap into unlimited resource of the kingdom of God4

A new “word” on ‘Joel’s Army’ was just posted on Bob Jones’ site and the Elijah List using Joel 2:1-11 as the proof-text.  Paul Cain used these verses for Joel’s Army back in the late ’80s, though this is now denied.  The following purportedly came out of an August 18, 2012 trance Bob Jones went in to while napping:

Shortly there will be a war that I will declare and it will be a great victory! For I am going to hire mercy-naries you see and I shall pay well when they work for Me. Health and peace of mind will be their pay and joy they never knew. Money will be the least of things for I will prosper them in all ways. Mercy-naries are professional soldiers that have fought in many lands and fought in many battles. They are well trained in the sword you see. The word of God I will put in them and that will be their victory. They shall know defeat no longer but they shall be victorious. They shall know honor in Me. There will be no defeat for them. They are warriors and I will give them the victory. My pay to them shall be love, joy and peace that they will have within themselves. This shall be the tip of the sword of which they touch many. They have been warriors in many religious churches. Now I call them unto “the church” and they will have a victory in Me. Amen. [Bold in original; underscore added.]

It is claimed that those chosen to be in this army “have fought in many battles and [have been] scarred by the religious spirit. This religious spirit will no longer be able to touch them because they have been healed and delivered from it.” Jones goes on to quote from Joel 2:1, then he declares:

These are the days Joel prophesied! The Father will blow the trumpet in Zion and call His army into formation. (Amos 1:1) These are not battle weary soldiers but warriors well-armed in the power of the word and the fear of the Lord. They march forward in the might of the Holy Spirit never breaking rank. They never strive against one another but move in unity forming God’s most powerful army.

Bob Jones continues to quote the Book of Joel moving to 2:7-10 (the following is in the NASB):

7 They run like mighty men,
They climb the wall like soldiers;
And they each march in line,
Nor do they deviate from their paths.
8 They do not crowd each other,
They march everyone in his path;
When they burst through the defenses,
They do not break ranks.
9 They rush on the city,
They run on the wall;
They climb into the houses,
They enter through the windows like a thief.
10 Before them the earth quakes,
The heavens tremble,
The sun and the moon grow dark
And the stars lose their brightness.

This is followed by a section boldly titled God is Declaring War!:

The Father declares war but the mercenaries fight it at His command. We are the soldiers of fortune on this land. Our fortune is to do His Will. There will be great prosperity in His peace of mind, joy and love. The voice of the Father is the only one they will hear as they march forward into battle. Their life is spent on doing the Father’s will. Not one will cower to the fear of man or be led astray by the enemy.

This “word” is completed by finishing the section in Joel:

11 The Lord utters His voice before His army;
Surely His camp is very great,
For strong is he who carries out His word.
The day of the Lord is indeed great and very awesome,
And who can endure it? [NASB]

These ideas have parallels in New Age / New Spirituality teachings.  Here’s a quote from Alice Bailey from a century ago referencing the “Corporate Christ” concept corresponding to a false second Coming:

…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 accomplished5

Here’s another New Age / New Spirituality site proclaiming a similar thing specifying that when this ‘Christ’ “reappears” (the belief is he never left), he will appear in 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.6

Barbara Marx Hubbard, former US Vice Presidential candidate (in 1984, although Geraldine Ferraro ultimately made it on the Democratic ticket) and staunch New Ager, explicated a radical version of “Joel’s Army” in an unpublished manuscript from 1980 referencing Revelation 6:7-8 with the ‘pale horse’ of verse 8 representing those “elected to transcend with all their heart, mind and spirit”.7  This pale horse will “kill with sword” (Rev 6:8) the one-fourth of the population which refuses to “evolve” with the rest, deemed the “self-centered”8 – those who will fail to join the others into making the next evolutionary leap from homo sapiens sapiens to homo universalis (Universal Humanity).  Compare this to Hamon’s and Jones’ words above:

Before this stage of power can be inherited by the God-centered members of the social-body, the self-centered members must be destroyed.  There is no alternative.  Only the God-centered can evolve…

Fortunately, you, dearly beloveds, are not responsible for this act.  We are.  We are in charge of God’s selection process for planet Earth.  He selects, we destroy.  We are the riders of the pale horse, Death.

We come to bring death to those who are unable to know God.  We do this for the sake of the world…

The riders of the pale horse are about to pass among you.  Grim reapers, they will separate the wheat from the chaff.  This is the most painful period in the history of humanity.

Those of you who know what is happening – the one-fourth who are now listening to the higher self – are to be guides for the rest who will be panicked and confused.9

Is this the sort of thing Bill Hamon, Bob Jones and the other hyper-charismatic leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation have in mind for those Christians who refuse to unify with their false belief system?  Must the earth be purged of those “self-centered” Christians – the ones who will not unify with these false ecumenical, pluralistic efforts – to pave the way for the “One New Man”?  Placing Hamon’s and Jones’ quotes above alongside Marx Hubbard’s, one must really wonder which side Hamon, Jones and their cohorts are really on.

It seems that, just like Marx Hubbard’s theology, there must be a battle to get rid of those “self-centered” Christians with a “religious spirit” before the “One New Man” can emerge.  That is, this war must be fought before “Christ” can ‘return’ “IN his people” after which they become collectively “One New Man” a/k/a homo universalis (Universal Humanity).

LORD have mercy upon us all.

1Bill Hamon Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God. 1997 (2nd printing), Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA, pp 264-265.  Emphasis added.
2Hamon, p 252.  Emphasis added.
3Jones, 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, 38:53 – 39:05. Emphasis in original. 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 09/15/12.
4“ChasingRiver” The Real Jesus – Part 4 – by Bill Johnson. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHcRI60j0HI&feature=related>, 0:35 – 1:45; as accessed 09/15/12.
5Alice A. Bailey The Externalisation of the Hierarchy. © 1957 Lucis, NY, 6th printing 1981; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY, p 510. Underscore from emphasis in original; bold added for my own emphasis. Most sections within the book have corresponding dates of initial writing, or, more accurately, transmission. The portion quoted here is from 1919.
6World Service Intergroup website. J.D. Dubois, “The Christ, His Reappearance, and the Avatar of Synthesis” <http://www.worldserviceintergroup.net/?#/christ-reappearance/4543145171> World Service Intergroup; Dubois; par 5; as accessed 09/15/12.
7Barbara Marx Hubbard The Book of Co-Creation: An Evolutionary Interpretation of the New Testament – Part III, The Revelation: Alternative to Armageddon. 1980, unpublished manuscript, p 59.  From the title page: “The Book of Co-Creation is a three part unpublished manuscript written by Barbara Marx Hubbard in 1980.  Part III follows in its pre-publication form.”  Interestingly, the first edition of a book by Marx Hubbard titled The Book of Co-Creation: The Revelation, Our Crisis is a Birth [1993, The Foundation for Conscious Evolution, Sonoma, CA], which goes through the entire book of Revelation, entirely omits 6:7-8 proceeding from a reference to 6:1-2 (p 134) to 7:1-4 (p 138).
8Marx Hubbard, p 59
9Marx Hubbard, pp 60-61

Book Review: Bill Johnson’s ‘When Heaven Invades Earth’

In his book, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles [Treasure House/Destiny Image, 2003, Shippensburg, PA], Bill Johnson teaches New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) doctrine, a teaching denounced as heresy by the Assemblies of God (A/G) in 1948.  This teaching includes Dominionism – that Adam lost dominion of the world to Satan, Jesus won it back, and it’s up to the church to wrestle it from Satan [pp 31-33 (all page #s from 1st edition)].  Integral to NOLR doctrine is the Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) teaching which includes diminishing Jesus Christ to a mere man having surrendered His divinity when the Word became flesh (at the Incarnation) and subsequently re-attaining His deity at the Resurrection.  This is by virtue of the heretical kenosis doctrine (self-emptying) using Philippians 2:5-7 as a proof-text [pp 79, 85 fn. 3].

In “His self-imposed restriction to live as a man” [p 29], Johnson claims that Jesus “had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever” [p 29] clearly reducing Jesus to a man given that God is in very essence supernatural.  Even though Johnson makes the statement, “[w]hile He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He [sic?] was redeemed” [p 29] Johnson negates this with “He had No supernatural capabilities whatsoever” and “He laid his [sic] divinity aside as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father…” [p 79].  One could construe Johnson’s “while He is 100 percent God” statement as present tense as opposed to past tense (i.e., during the Incarnation) especially in light of his numerous statements pronouncing Christ’s humanity at the expense of His deity including “the anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil” [p 79].

This diminution of Jesus Christ’s deity is crucial to MSoG doctrine as Jesus “became the model” [p 29] for all to follow “to do as He did and become as He was” [p 138] in order to attain our own divinity as fully manifested sons (and daughters) of God.  This glorification of mankind is spoken of by distorting I John 4:17, “As a sculptor looks at a model and fashions the clay into its likeness, so the Holy Spirit looks to the glorified Son and shapes us into His image.  As He is, so are we in this world” [p 145].  According to NOLR doctrine, Jesus can only return once the ‘church’ body receives this perfection as his tweet on August 20, 2011 illustrates: “Jesus is returning for a bride whose body is in equal proportion to her head.”

Bill Johnson also claims that Jesus did not receive the title of Christ until His baptism by John in the Jordan [p 79] which is at odds with Luke 1:35/2:11.  And, while at the very beginning of chapter 7 he states correctly that “Christ” means “Anointed One” or “Messiah” [p 79], he subsequently changes “Christ” to mean simply “the anointing” – an anointing that all can receive [pp 80, 133-35] even describing it as tangible and transferable [p 135].  He is more explicit in his book Face to Face with God describing Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan as the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’ [pp 21-22, 58, 77-80]: “The baptism 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” [p 77, Face to Face].  To be clear, Johnson is referring to this as a second ‘baptism.’

While the Greek word Christos is translated primarily as anointed in the Old Testament, in the New Testament Christos is translated each and every time as “Christ” referring exclusively to the person of Jesus Christ our Savior.  To change the definition of “Christ”, as in the person of Jesus Christ, to “anointing” is to pave the way for all to be “Christed” as the “Christ anointing” quote above in Face to Face with God makes clear.

Johnson goes on to claim that all those against ‘the anointing’ – i.e., ‘the anointing’ as he defines it – are antichrist.  This is illustrated in the following two statements: “The spirits of hell are against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion” [p 80] and, “The spirit of antichrist is at work today, attempting to influence believers to reject everything that has to do with the Holy Spirit’s anointing” [p 81] (see here for more details).

Bill Johnson is leading many into apostasy and my heart grieves for these.  May the Lord have mercy upon us all.

Round the Mulberry Bush with Bill Johnson

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
the mulberry bush,
the mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
so early in the morning.

Yesterday evening a storm came through knocking out electrical power in the immediate area from just after 5pm until about 1:15 this morning.  No air conditioning.  No computer.  With the growing stuffiness, I had opened some windows to get some air flowing and therefore was rudely awakened by the sound of the condensing unit kicking on which is just outside my bedroom.  But, hey, at least I had air conditioning!  So, I closed all the windows and decided to check emails.  There was one showing a new Facebook quote of Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  Just a bit later, another individual sent the same quote plus one other.

“Here we go again,” I said to myself.  “Maybe I’m still half asleep and this is merely a dream,” I hoped.  But, alas, these emails were still in my inbox when I got up just after dawn.  Here are the two statements:

If Jesus Christ performed His earthly miracles as God, I stand amazed. But if He did them as a man dependent on God, I am compelled to follow His lead. [Bill Johnson, Facebook, August 11, 2012]

Jesus is God, eternally God, and never stopped being God. But He was also man, completely man. In His earthly life He lived from His humanity to illustrate dependence on the Father in a way that could be emulated. Jesus said, “the Son of man can do nothing of Himself . . .” illustrating His dependence. His limitations were in His humanity, not His divinity. Understanding the difference can help us to successfully live the life He gave for us to live. [Bill Johnson, Facebook, August 11, 2012]

The first one is merely a reiteration of other similar statements Johnson has made to promote what I call his “Annie Get Your Gun” doctrine – ‘anything Jesus can do I can do better’ – based upon a faulty interpretation of the “greater things” in John 14:12.  This fallacy of Johnson (and other hyper-charismatics) has been covered in a previous article.

The second quote is a bit thornier.  It looks almost orthodox.  One could construe this as functional(ist) kenosis, i.e. that the divine Logos retained all divine attributes when He took on flesh at the virginal conception [this term is more accurate than “virgin birth”] yet He elected not to use any of His divine attributes during His earthly ministry, instead relying solely upon the Holy Spirit for all supernatural workings.  This view does not hold up under Biblical scrutiny, however (cf. John 2:11; John 5:21-22, 24-27; Mark 4:35-41, etc.).  [This will be covered in-depth in an article currently in the works.]

Note that Johnson uses “Son of man” in his partial quote of John 5:19, yet in this passage Jesus uses “Son” only.  It seems Johnson makes the common mistake of ascribing “ the Son of man” to Jesus to denote His humanity at the expense of His divinity.  He does this same thing in the following passage from one of his books:

Most all of the experiences of Jesus recorded in Scripture were prophetic examples of the realms in God that are made available to the believer. The Mount of Transfiguration raised the bar significantly on potential human experience…The overwhelming lesson in this story is that Jesus Christ, the Son of man, had the glory of God upon Him. Jesus’s face shone with God’s glory, similar to Moses’s after he came down from the mountain… [Face to Face with God 2007, Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; p 200.  Emphasis in original.]

Notice how Johnson states that the “Son of man had the glory of God upon Him.”  Let’s be clear: Jesus Christ was/is God.  When the Word/Logos took on flesh at the virginal conception, He remained a divine ‘person’; He remained a part of the Trinity.  Jesus Christ is one divine person consisting in two natures – one divine and one human.   “Son of man” was Jesus’ favorite self-designation; but, He also called Himself “Son of God”.  Both titles refer to the one divine person of Jesus Christ.  “Son of man” was used in the Book of Daniel as a Messianic, prophetic passage – to refer to the coming Messiah (Daniel 7:11-14).  By the context, clearly this “Son of man” would be divine.

I’ve already pointed out the problems in Johnson’s assertion that Jesus had the glory of God upon Him at the Transfiguration [see “Transfiguration” section here]; however, they bear repeating.  During His earthly ministry Jesus was, as already noted, a fully divine person; therefore, it was His inherent glory which the Apostles glimpsed at the Transfiguration.  This was nothing like Moses’ experience on Mount Sinai, and we believers will not experience our own Transfiguration like Jesus.  This illustrates just how far Johnson wishes to go with his “greater works” theology.  To make this doctrine work, he must reduce Jesus to the level of a Spirit-filled man and simultaneously exalt man to the status of Jesus as exemplified in the NT.

But, what does John 5:19 actually say?  As with any text, one must place it within its proper context.  Here are the verses preceding:

16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

Jesus’ Equality with God

18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. [NASB]

“These things” in verse 16 refers to verses 1-15 including Jesus’: healing of the paralytic (v 8) and instructing the now healed man to “pick up his mat and walk” (vv 8, 11-15) – all on the Sabbath.  With Jesus’ statement that He is working as His Father is working (v 17), the Jews understood that Jesus was equating Himself with the Father.  This confounded their strict monotheistic viewpoint; therefore, they deemed this blasphemy wanting to kill Jesus as a result.

So, what does Jesus do in verse 19?  According to Johnson in the Facebook quote above, Jesus, in effect, backs down and states that He can do nothing at all without the Father’s help as He was “illustrating His dependence”, as if He was wholly incapable of doing anything apart from divine intervention from the Father or the Spirit, or choosing not to use His own divine capabilities.  Yet, of course, this does not fit the context.  Note how the NASB begins a new subsection title with verse 18 – “Jesus’ Equality with God”.

In proper context, Jesus, in verse 19 and following, is affirming the Jews’ assertion that He is “equal with God” since Jesus, the Son, is part of the Trinitarian Godhead with the Father.  Jesus claims He can actually “see” the Father (vv 19-20); therefore, His dependence here is as opposed to acting independently from the Father.  Jesus does not just ‘do His own thing’, as it were; He acts of His own divine power as He emulates His Father, following what He “sees”, in obedience. Contrary to Johnson, He is not reliant on the Father or Spirit – as in not having the ability in and of Himself or choosing not to use this ability– as the rest of the context makes clear:

19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

25 Truly, truly, I say to you, an 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 just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. [NASB; emphasis added]

So, in continuing with this pericope, we see Jesus “gives life to whom He wishes” just like the Father (v 21); and, moreover, all judgment is left to the Son (v 22, 24-27).  This clearly illustrates Jesus used His inherent divine power as He was granting eternal life in the then present (v 24-25) indicating inaugurated eschatology, i.e. the Kingdom of God had already begun [cf. Craig S. Keener. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One 2003, 1st Softcover Ed, 2010, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; pp 650-652].

Marianne Meye Thompson does an excellent job describing the way in which Jesus receives “life” from the Father comparing this to Jesus’ “giving life” to believers and the way in which believers receive “life”:

…Unless Jesus’ life were granted to him from the Father, he would have no life; unless he came from the “living Father,” he would be unable to confer life.  The two assertions of this verse [v 21] offer analogous, although not parallel, affirmations about the way in which Jesus and the believer receive life.  Just as the Father has life and gives life to the Son, so the Son has life and gives life to those who have faith.  Jesus lives because of the Father’s determination that he should have life in himself (cf. 5:21, 24-27), even as believers live because of Jesus’ determination that they should have life.  There is a difference, however, for believers always have a mediated life, never “life in themselves.”  They cannot pass on their ‘life’ to others; they have no offspring or heirs.  If others live, it is because they receive the Father’s life through the Son.  Furthermore, although those who believe are said to become “children of God” who are “born of God” (John 1:12-13) or born “from above” by the power of the Spirit of God, the terminological distinction between them as children who are born of God and Jesus as the Son who comes from God remains. [Marianne Meye Thompson The God of the Gospel of John  2001, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI / Cambridge, UK; pp 79-80.  Emphasis in original.]

Jesus did not “give life” by the Holy Spirit and neither can we.  To paraphrase Thompson, Jesus “gives life to whom He wishes” by the divine authority conferred upon Him by the Father; yet, it is of His own inherent divine power that Jesus confers eternal life to those individuals who have faith.

Craig Blomberg notes that there are two things Jews recognize that God continues to do on the Sabbath, namely, giving life (birth) and passing judgment (death) [The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary 2001, InterVarsity, Downers Grove, IL; pp 112-114].  Jesus illustrates that He Himself does these very things so that the Jews may understand He is further equating Himself with God (vv 21-22 & 24-25; cf. John 9:39-41).  This indicates quite clearly that Jesus did not live his earthly life merely and solely “from His humanity” as Bill Johnson states above implying this is to the exclusion of utilizing His inherent divine attributes.

Note also that Jesus uses both Son of God (v 25) and Son of Man (v 27) for Himself (speaking in the third person) in this particular pericope.1  This illustrates that Jesus used these self-designations almost, if not wholly, interchangeably.2  Both refer to God in the flesh, i.e. the Person of Christ, including both His divine and human natures.

Here’s the bottom line.  Even if Bill Johnson comes out with an unambiguously orthodox Christological statement, this would not undo the unclear, contradictory, and flat-out false statements he’s made with respect to Christology.   There are many unclear statements such as the following which could be construed as either functional(ist) kenosis or ontological kenosis (the Logos divested Himself of certain or all divine attributes during His earthly ministry), in and of itself:

…Jesus set aside His divinity, choosing instead to live as a man completely dependent on God. [Face to Face; p 108]

This one below reads like ontological kenosis and perhaps even metamorphosis (the Word literally transformed Himself fully into a man devoid of all divine attributes during His earthly ministry).  While some have tried to read functional(ist) kenosis into this, such a reading is forced.  Johnson’s claim of Jesus being eternally God either contradicts the first part of the quote; or, Johnson construes eternity as wholly separate from temporal time and thus envisions an eternally divine Jesus apart from an earthly non-divine Jesus:

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. [Bill Johnson & 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.]

And here’s one that is flat-out false.  An essential aspect of a divine Being is the possession of supernatural capabilities:

…He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! [When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles 2002, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 29]

Unless and until Bill Johnson both comes out with an unambiguous, orthodox statement and corrects all his other unorthodox statements I remain unconvinced that he actually intends on promoting orthodox Christology.  This would be a monumental task, for sure; however, “with God all things are possible” [Matthew 19:26].

[See also The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit and the series Bill Johnson's Christology: A New Age Christ?.]

1 I note that my NIV 1984 omits “of man” in v 27 (NASB capitalizes the “M”); however updated NIV translations (that I checked) contain it.  I’m assuming it was an error as it is in the original Greek.
2 Yet, there may be a very nuanced difference; see Herman Ridderbos The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary 1997, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 200-201, 92-93.

Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ?, part IV (Conclusion)

[See also: Part I, The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, Part II, Part IIIa, and Part IIIb.]

One of the most persistent themes in early Christian accounts of heresy is that it smuggles rival accounts of reality into the household of faith.  It is a Trojan horse, a means of establishing (whether by accident or design) an alternative belief system within its host.  Heresy appears to be Christian, yet it is actually an enemy of the faith that sows the seed of faith’s destruction.*  It could be compared to a virus, which establishes its presence within the host, ultimately using its host’s replication system to achieve dominance.  Yet whatever the ultimate origins of heresy might be, the threat comes from within the community of faith.

- Alister McGrath188

 As McGrath points out, there is a long tradition of heresy distorting Truth, whether wittingly or unwittingly, to the destruction of the faith.  The asterisk above denotes a footnote reference in the original text of a Thomas Aquinas quote from Summa Theologiae: “[H]eresy is a species of unbelief, belonging to those who profess the Christian faith, but corrupt its dogmas.”189  The Trojan horse/virus analogy is an apt description of the way in which heresy is spread.  As the dark intentions of Djwhal Khul, Alice Bailey’s demon, makes clear, “The Christian church in its many branches can serve…as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished.”190  This is effected by “preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages”.191

Jesus is Our Model

Jesus Christ died for our sins.  He is also a model for us.  His sacrificial life provides an example of how we are to live:

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. [Philippians 2:3-7, TNIV]

We are to serve others in humility not thinking ourselves more important keeping in mind Christ’s example as He, though fully God, condescended to take the form of man (without diminishing His deity) with all its inherent limitations, except for the sin nature, in order to redeem man.

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. [1 Peter 2:18-25, NASB]

We are to submit to authority even to the point of enduring unfair treatment, as Jesus had.  We must “die to sin” by yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit rather than our inherent sinful nature [Romans 8:1-17] which never takes leave this side of glory.  Those who remain in Christ will bear much fruit [John 15:1-17] evidenced by good works [James 2:14-26].

In contrast, the Theosophical/New Age/New Spirituality writings of Alice Bailey also cite Jesus as an example to follow, but, of course, not in the same way as orthodox Christianity.  As noted in Part IIIa, in occult literature man has two natures: one human and one latent divine nature (divine spark/seed), the latter needing to be awakened.  Once activated, the divine nature (the “ego”, or “higher self”) is to be actualized while the human nature (the “lower self”) is simultaneously diminished.  This process is also known as “dying to self”.  One ‘dies to self’ through much self-effort such that the divine spark/seed grows eventually overtaking the lower human nature (aka the “not self”) so as to fully actualize inherent divinity, to become ‘gods’.  This is a works-based system accomplished in part by asceticism and service.192  This is the polar opposite of Christianity.

The New Age / New Spirituality Jesus’ life both symbolically and actually represents “The Path” of the aspirant signified by five markers, or initiations, as identified in Alice Bailey’s From Bethlehem to Calvary: the Initiations of Jesus.193  Recall also that these five initiations do not have to be achieved in one lifetime as they are cumulative carrying over from past incarnations, just as they had for the Theosophical Jesus of Nazareth.  Following are the signposts:

1)     Birth at Bethlehem – a/k/a virgin birth, or new birth.  “The birth of Christ in the cave of the human heart.194 Recognizing the “Christ in you, the hope of glory” – your inherent but latent divinity (duality).195  The divine spark/seed is activated.  “Freedom from the control of the physical body and its appetites.”196

2)     Baptism in Jordan – Water baptism “purifies the emotional nature” which precedes the “purification of the mind by fire,”197 or the “baptism of spirit and fire” / “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” thus providing the ability to consciously reject all evil.198What therefore lies ahead for the initiate who has entered the purificatory water, or rather fire?”199  This is the point at which Jesus of Nazareth became “the Christ”200 having received this title and name at Baptism.201

3)     Transfiguration on Mount Carmel – “transfiguration of the [human] nature” into “full-grown man in Christ” – learning to “die to self;” i.e., working towards overcoming the ‘lower, human nature.’  “Develops fourth dimensional vision.”202 Full-grown man working towards manifested son of God.203 Receives “terrific voltage” of Kundalini.204  “[T]he mind…begins its true task as an interpreter of divine truth…205 (i.e., new revelations, reinterpretations {usually allegorical} of Scripture).  “Third eye” is opened.206

4)     Crucifixion on Mount Golgotha – “The Great Renunciation.”207 The “sacrifice of humanity” by totally “dying to (lower, human) self” in order to achieve divinity and to arise as fully manifested son of God.208  Sin becomes impossible.209  Moving towards attainment of full ‘group consciousness.’210  At the final stage of this initiation, post-‘Great Renunciation’, one dispenses with the fleshly body and attains resurrection body thereby becoming free from death:211 “and the causal body, the soul body is relinquished and disappears.”212 “[Christ] thereby liberated us from the form side of life, of religion and matter, and demonstrated to us the possibility of being in the world and yet not of the world, living as souls, released from the trammels and limitations of the flesh, while yet walking on earth.”213

5)     Resurrection and Ascension – “The cave of the tomb into the fullness of the resurrection life.”214 Attainment to full status of ascended Master in which the individual can move between and live in the physical and/or the astral realms.215If he chooses to take a physical vehicle (as many will when the Christ reappears and the Hierarchy is externalised on Earth), the Master will ‘function from the above to the below’ and not (as is the case today with all disciples, though naturally not with the Masters) on ‘the below towards the above.’…They will therefore need no centres on the etheric levels of our planetary physical plane.”216

This is “The Path” open to all regardless of religious affiliation.217  Bailey summarizes the five steps above:

The babe in Christ, the little child, the full-grown man, the perfected man!  Through the Bethlehem experience the babe is born.  The little child grows to maturity and manifests his purity and power at the Baptism.  He demonstrates at the Transfiguration as the full-grown man, and, on the Cross, he stands forth the perfected Son of God.  An initiation is that moment in which a man feels and knows through every part of his being that life is reality and reality is life.  For a brief moment his consciousness becomes all-enfolding; he not only sees the vision and hears the word of recognition, but knows that the vision is of himself, and that the word is himself made flesh.218

Recall Bill Johnson’s statement about ‘the word becoming flesh in us again’ in part IIIb:

…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.219

As Johnson states quite often, Jesus is our model – even to the point that we become the ‘Word made flesh’.  Is Johnson using the New Age / New Spirituality Jesus as his model?  Let’s compare some of his doctrine to the five initiations above.

New Birth

Bill Johnson says little about initial conversion, yet each time he does, there always seems to be more attached to it.  For example, he’s made it clear that “an authentic gospel” is “the gospel of the Kingdom220 which means one in which it is accompanied by signs and wonders in order to supposedly take dominion back from Satan (Dominionism) – in distinction from merely preaching the plain ol’ Gospel.  However, he rarely, if ever, actually explicitly states the Gospel message.  Johnson’s ‘gospel’ always includes miracles221 as if any gospel preached which doesn’t include a manifestation of miracles is not authentic:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of power and must become manifest through supernatural demonstration.  Miracles aren’t optional.222

Does this mean those individuals whose conversion experiences were without signs, wonders and miracles in evidence are not true Christians?

As noted in part IIIb, Johnson refers to the “seed of God’s Word, the sperma of God,” which is “released into the seed,” within the individual, “through His Word,” which is deposited “into the soil” of the individual (the ‘soil’ containing the individual’s ‘seed’).  He claims this is the proper exposition of Matthew 13:18-23.  However, this seems more in line with Bailey’s ‘new birth’ in which the divine spark/seed is activated thereby marking this ‘new birth’.

In addition, the “spiritual DNA” concept, which resembles the “sperma of God” schema, is correlated to the ‘new birth’ or being born again as evidenced by the following Bill Johnson statements:

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…223

Every born-again believer has the DNA of Christ.224

Progressive Repentance

In Johnson’s book When Heaven Invades Earth is a chapter titled “Repent to See” with the ‘seeing’ referring to the Kingdom: “Most Christians repent enough to get forgiven, but not enough to see the Kingdom.225  Progressive repentance?  Is this a form of Gnosticism (recall that Gnosticism is inherent in Theosophy / New Age) – the quest for secret knowledge, new revelation, via mysticism in order to advance one’s spiritual walk?

This subject has been covered in-depth in a previous CrossWise article illustrating the strong possibility that Johnson’s use of the term repentance is of the likes of Unity, Christian Science and New Thought which were all influenced by Theosophy.  This alternative definition is used by New Ager / Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault who goes back to the Greek metanoia claiming, “[t]he word literally breaks down into meta and noia, which…means ‘go beyond the mind’ or ‘go into the larger mind.’”226  One goes ‘beyond the mind’ and ‘into the larger mind’ through meditation a/k/a contemplative prayer a/k/a ‘soaking’.

Johnson has distorted Jesus’ words to Nicodemus (John 3:3) to mean that in becoming ‘born again’ one will, with the benefit of additional training, attain the ability to literally see the Kingdom in the here and now:

Through Christ, God has made it possible for every person to see the kingdom. Our conversion experience gives us access to that realm, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ (John 3:3, NKJV). However, it is our responsibility to develop this capacity, to train our senses to perceive God through renewing our minds and feeding the affections of our hearts on the truth227

In the John 3 passage, Jesus is making the statement that no one will see the eschatological Kingdom unless one is ‘born again’.  Jesus is not saying we will literally ‘see’ the Kingdom upon conversion (not initially, but after enough ‘repentance’).  Yet, this is a persistent theme of Bill Johnson:

If the Kingdom is here and now, then we must acknowledge it’s in the invisible realm.  Yet being at hand reminds us that it’s also within reach…That which is unseen can be realized only through repentance.  It was as though He said, “If you don’t change the way you perceive things, you’ll live your whole life thinking that what you see in the natural is the superior reality.  Without changing the way you think you’ll never see the world that is right in front of you.  It’s my world, and it fulfills every dream you’ve ever had.  And I brought it with me.” All that He did in life and ministry, He did by drawing from that superior reality.228

The Kingdom does not gradually unfold before our eyes as we ‘renew our minds’ or through repentance (as defined by Johnson) as Johnson asserts by essentially putting words in Jesus’ mouth.  The Kingdom will only come at the eschaton, the end of all things, when Jesus Christ returns.  However, this concept of progression in general and of the ‘hidden’ Kingdom on earth in particular is part of Theosophy:

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 controlThe 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….229

Here’s Alice Bailey describing the purpose of initiations indicating a progressive ‘seeing’:

…[E]ach initiation enables the initiate to “see ahead” a little further, for revelation is always a constant factor in human experience.  The whole of life is revelation; the evolutionary process is, in relation to consciousness, a process of leading the blind out of darkened areas of consciousness into greater light, and therefore into vaster vision.230 

…It is a spiritual fact that those who have passed from the cave of the tomb into the fullness of the resurrection life can be seen, and at the same time evade the vision of the believer; seeing and recognition are two very different things…231

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

In addition, Bailey says at the second initiation, the baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, the tri-part aspect of human personality (physical body, emotional nature, and the mind) is perfected bringing man “en rapport with the existing universe, and therefore with God, immanent in nature.”232

The physical body enables us to touch the tangible, visible world.  The emotional, feeling nature enables us to say, “I lift up my heart unto the Lord.”  Most people live in their heart nature and in the feeling body, and it is through the heart that we find our way to the Heart of God.  Only through love can Love be revealed.  When through right use and understanding the mind is definitely and properly oriented, it is brought en rapport with the Mind of God, the Universal Mind, the Purpose, the Plan and the Will of God.  Through the illumined mind of man, the Mind of Deity stands revealed.  Thus man is seen as “made in the image of God.”233

Is this what Johnson means by ‘repenting enough to see the Kingdom’?  Is the above what Johnson is referring to in the following?

…‘Re’ means to go back.  ‘Pent’ is like the penthouse, the top floor of the building.  Repent, then, means to go back to God’s perspective on reality. And in that perspective there is a renewal, a reformation that affects our emotions, and every part of our lives234

Bill Johnson claims that it’s only at the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Christ anointing), that Jesus obtained the ability to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ the Father and this same ‘anointing’ is available to every believer providing these same abilities:

This anointing [“Christ anointing” / “baptism in the Holy Spirit”] is what enabled Jesus to do only what He saw the Father do, and to say only what He heard the Father say. It was the Holy Spirit that revealed the Father to Jesus.235

It was the Holy Spirit upon Jesus [“baptism in the Holy Spirit” / “Christ anointing”]  that enabled Him to know what the Father was doing and saying.  That same gift of the Spirit has been given to us for that same purpose.236

This means, according to Johnson (and other hyper-charismatics) that those Christians who have not experienced the ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ lack the ability to commune with the Father.  Yet the writer of Hebrews tell us that believers have the right to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-24) with no mention of a ‘second blessing’ being necessary for this privilege.

(See Part IIIa and Part I for more details on Johnson’s baptism in the Holy Spirit / Christ anointing.)

Transfiguration

So far we have Johnson claiming we are ‘the Word made flesh’ with the baptism in the Holy Spirit enabling Christians to both ‘see’ and ‘hear’ the Father.  In addition, we can ‘see’ the kingdom increasingly unfold in front of our eyes through ‘progressive repentance’.  Thus far, this appears to parallel the Theosophic model as put forth by Bailey above.  But Johnson goes further in the Theosophic ‘Jesus is our model’ theme:

Most all of the experiences of Jesus recorded in Scripture were prophetic examples of the realms in God that are made available to the believer.  The Mount of Transfiguration raised the bar significantly on potential human experience…The overwhelming lesson in this story is that Jesus Christ, the Son of man, had the glory of God upon Him.  Jesus’s face shone with God’s glory, similar to Moses’s after he came down from the mountain.  But Jesus’s clothing also radiated the glory of God, as if to say this was a new era as compared to Moses’s day. In this era the boundaries had changed – a veil could not be used to cover Jesus’s face as it shone with glory, as the veil itself would also soon radiate the same glory.  We influence and impart what God has given us to change the nature of whatever we touch…In the kingdom, things are different.   

…Through the Spirit of the resurrected Christ living in us we are designed to carry the same glory.  But we still must go up the mountain – to the place where we meet with God face to face.237

First, let’s get this straight.  At the Transfiguration it was Jesus’ inherent divine Glory that was radiated; it wasn’t God’s glory coming down upon Him like Moses on Mount Sinai.  As Grant Osborne explains, “Moses reflected the glory of God in his ‘radiance’ when he descended the mountain (Exod 34:29, 33-35), but here Jesus’ true preincarnate glory shines through his humanity.”238

Note how Johnson not only humanizes Jesus, but he raises man up to the Incarnate Christ’s (lowered) level in the last two sentences of the quote.  This is just like New Age / New Spirituality teachings.  Johnson is saying we can match the glory of Jesus, that our garments will radiate God’s glory as we ‘go up the mountain’, as we progress in the “kingdom”.

At Todd Bentley’s ‘commissioning’ ceremony at the “Lakeland Revival” on June 23, 2008, Bill Johnson spoke the following words over Bentley:

…We shape the course of history by partnering with you giving honor where it’s due.  You welcome the glory as well as anybody I’ve ever seen in my life – I long to learn from you in that and I bless you.  And, I pray with the rest of these that the measure of glory would increase, that Moses would no longer be considered the high water mark with the glory shown from his face but instead the revelation of the goodness of God would change the face of the Church.  And that he would use your voice, he would use your grace, your anointing, to alter the face of the Church before this world239

Wait, wasn’t Jesus’ example at the Transfiguration a progression from Moses and thereby the new high water mark?  Well, so much for theological consistency from Johnson.  (Please note the publishing of Johnson’s Face to Face with God, from which the above quote on the Transfiguration is found, predates the Bentley commissioning by at least 1.5 years.)

Crucifixion, the Great Renunciation

The Theosophical / New Age / New Spirituality “dying to self” culminates in the “Great Renunciation,” the cross.  In the Theosophical model, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection are very closely related with the latter usually immediately following the former.

Christ’s major task was the establishing of God’s kingdom upon earth.  He showed us the way in which humanity could enter that kingdom – by subjecting the lower nature to the death of the cross, and rising by the power of the indwelling Christ.240

Let’s compare the above words of Alice Bailey to those of Bill Johnson in a sermon from February 2011:

…How did you get into the Kingdom in the first place? The Cross. What does the Christian life look like? It is only as strong as our connection to how we got in. It is the Cross.  It never deviates from that.  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…My emphasis is on – the Christian life is not the Cross, the Christian life is the Resurrection; but, you can’t get there without the Cross…But the problem is, is the focus of the people of God – it can create an appetite for success.  Meaning, more books sold.  Or, ya know, you put it in your world; I have to try to filter this through the things that I face – that success has some sort of external measurement instead of that internal sense: ‘I have laid my life down for His honor, for His glory’. It’s the Cross; it’s the Cross.  My job is to die; HIS is to raise me. My job is to prefer others; HIS job is to exalt ME…241

Taking the first sentences in and of themselves, this can be understood as orthodox.  Yes, the Cross is the only way into the Christian life.   However, one may call this quibbling, but we are either ‘connected’ to the Cross by salvation through faith in Jesus Christ or we aren’t.  There aren’t degrees of ‘connectedness’.

As already pointed out in part I, Jesus did, in fact, raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19-22, 10:17-18) as it was the entire Trinity who raised Jesus: Father, Son and Spirit.  And, as pointed out in part IIIa, Johnson’s phraseology on this reads like New Ager Benjamin Crème’s.

Yet, it’s the portion in the middle and following which is of interest here: “the Christian life is not the Cross, the Christian life is the Resurrection; but, you can’t get there without the Cross.”  From an orthodox perspective, we cannot reach the future resurrection of the saints (1 Corinthians 15:50-54) unless we’ve accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross by grace through faith and nothing else – no works.  But Johnson states that ‘the Christian life IS the Resurrection’ as if that is for the here and now.  By Johnson’s full context, it makes more sense when viewed with a Theosophical / New Age lens.  He seems to be comparing Jesus being raised ‘by the Father through the Spirit’ with himself, “My job is to die; HIS is to raise me.”  So, presumably, like Jesus, Johnson is to be raised ‘by the Father through the Spirit’ by ‘dying to self’ as per Theosophy – in virtue of works through self-effort.

According to Bailey, it is after this initiation that “the initiate now works from above downwards”.242  Compare this to Johnson’s words in the following: “He wants you to see reality from God’s perspective, to learn to live from His world toward the visible world.”243  On his Facebook page, Johnson recently stated something similar:

The most consistent way to display the kingdom of God is through the renewed mind. It is much more than thinking right thoughts. It is how we think – from what perspective. Done correctly, we “reason” from heaven toward earth.244

One other goal the New Age / New Spirituality aspirant seeks relative to this particular initiation is the attainment of full ‘group consciousness’.  This is gradually developed as one progresses on “The Path”; however, it’s full manifestation comes at the “Great Renunciation”.  In the following, Johnson speaks about a “corporate anointing” which seems akin to the Theosophical / New Age “corporate Christ” concept [This was covered more completely in a previous article.]:

…Here’s what I’m believing for – I know it’s never happened; but, I know that it must before the end.  There must be, not just individuals – I’m thankful we have individuals that are rising up with such anointing, such strength, we have people scattered all over the planet right now that are just making a mess of things in all the right ways.  We are so encouraged.  But, what I’m believing for is a generation – a generation that’ll rise up with a corporate faith, a corporate anointing to press into realms because it’s my conviction that as much as God put on a William Branham, or a Kathryn Kuhlman, or a Wigglesworth, He’ll put far greater anointing on a company of people than He ever would on an individual.  To do that, there must be that corporate sense of, ‘we have to deal with the issue of obeying the rules of this kingdom to tap into the resources of this kingdom’…we cannot use the principles of this world and expect to tap into unlimited resource of the kingdom of God245

Resurrection Life

The final stage in the Theosophical schema is the Resurrection at which point the aspirant is now a Master and no longer an earthly disciple.  The physical body is shed as it’s no longer necessary.  However, there will be some who will stay behind to help further the cause:

If He chooses to take a physical vehicle (as many will when the Christ [ED: actually antichrist] reappears and the Hierarchy is on Earth), the Master “will function from the above to the below” and not (as is the case today with disciples, though naturally not with the Masters) “on the below towards the above”… 246

The individual who stays “to help humanity on this globe” will be “in charge, also, of large work, teaching many pupils, aiding in the many schemes, and is gathering under him those who are to assist him in future times.”247  This ‘physical vehicle’ will, of course, be a ‘resurrection body’.

Bill Johnson claims that our current model is the glorified, resurrected Jesus of Revelation 1:13-16.248  He proof-texts a portion of 1 John 4:17 to make this point, yet in its context, the Apostle John is speaking of how we are to be like Christ in love, not like Christ’s current glorified state:

The “as He is, so are we” [1 John 4:17] declaration is far beyond what any of us could have imagined; especially in light of the glorified description of Jesus in Revelation, chapter 1.  Yet, the Holy Spirit was sent specifically for this purpose that we might attain…“to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” 

The Holy Spirit came with the ultimate assignment at the perfect time.  During Jesus’ ministry, it was said, “The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”…[W]hy didn’t the Father send Him until Jesus was glorified?  Because without Jesus in His glorified state there was no heavenly model of what we were to become! As a sculptor looks at a model and fashions the clay into its likeness, so the Holy Spirit looks to the glorified Son and shapes us into His image. As He is, so are we in the world 

“The Christian life is not found on the Cross.  It is found because of the Cross.  It is His resurrection power that energizes the believer…249

Clearly, Johnson is promoting that we attain our glorified, resurrection bodies in the here and now.  This is known as the heretical Manifested Sons of God doctrine.  As can be seen, this mirrors New Age teaching.  The “resurrection power that energizes the believer” could be construed as the Theosophical “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, the divine spark/seed.  Johnson expounds further claiming emphatically that we follow Christ “all the way – to a lifestyle empowered by the resurrection!”:

At some point the reality of the resurrection must come into play in our lives – we must discover the power of the resurrection  for all who believe…we must follow Him all the way – to a lifestyle empowered by the resurrection!”250

…Religion is unable to mimic the life of resurrection with its victory over sin and hell.251

For comparison, here’s an Alice Bailey quote illustrating a few Scriptures being pulled out of their contexts in order to create pretexts, including 1 John 4:17:

…Inherent in the human consciousness…is a sense of divinity.  “We are all children of God” (Gal. III.26); “One is our Father, even God,” [John 8:41?] says the Christ and so say all the world Teachers and Avatars down the ages.  “As He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John IV:17) is another Biblical statement. …“Christ in us, the hope of glory” [Col 1:27] is the triumphant affirmation of St. Paul.252

The common theme in all of these is ‘inherent divinity’ and universalism, as in all are potential gods.  The Galatians verse should read, “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus“; and, in the Colossians verse, the original “you” is replaced by “us” to make it more inclusive.  The verse from John’s epistle is used much like Johnson does above.  Interestingly, Johnson hints at universalism in a snippet from an advertisement for the “Open Heavens 2010 Conference“: “What does it mean to you when it says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on A-L-L flesh?’”[Acts 2:17/Joel 2:28]

Going back to the so-called Lakeland Revival, Georgian Banov delivered two anointings ‘from the Lord’ to Todd Bentley at his ‘commissioning’ ceremony.  Prior to this, Banov, speaking for ‘the Lord’, deemed Bentley a “well pleasing son” – the very words used by the Father at both Jesus’ baptism and the Transfiguration:

…And The Lord says that because you’ve loved his personal presence there are two anointings that are released on His presence and I just want to release those two anointings on you from the LORD.  By the way, the Lord says ‘you are well pleasing son.’The Father, Abba, says that to you personally.  The first anointing is the anointing of the pleasure of the LORD.253

For this first anointing, Banov quotes Isaiah 53:4-6, a Messianic passage, i.e. Scripture pertaining to Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  Interestingly, this Scripture speaks primarily about the Cross:

‘Surely He has borne our grief, sickness and weakness and carried our sorrow and the pain and the punishment of us all. He was considered stricken, smitten and afflicted by God; but, He was bruised for our transgression. He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities and chastisement that brought our peace came upon him and by His stripes we were healed and made whole.’  And, yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him and in His presence there is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore.   And, God’s releasing his pleasure of what He did to Jesus upon you Todd.254

It seems this can well be construed as a ‘crucifixion anointing’, or the fourth initiation of Theosophy.  The second anointing is based on Psalm 45:6-7 – another Messianic passage.  Derek Kidner, in his commentary on the Psalms, explains:

…[V]erse 7 distinguishes between God, your God, and the king of verse 6.  This paradox is consistent with the incarnation, but mystifying in any other context. It is an example of Old Testament language bursting its banks, to demand more than a human fulfillment…255

These verses, as Banov notes below, are referenced in Hebrews 1:9.  The writer of Hebrews puts it in the context that Christ is above the angels in status and is worshiped by them.  Of this verse, William L. Lane states: “…The implication that the Son shares the quality of deity only intensifies the reference to his eternal rule and sharpens the contrast between the unchangeable Son and the mutable angels…”256   With this in mind, it seems Banov is ascribing deity to Bentley which, from a Theosophical standpoint would represent the fifth initiation, resurrection, in which one becomes a Master:

And, the second anointing that he wants to release upon you is in Psalm 45 but it’s also in Hebrews chapter one verse nine.  It says, ‘Because you have loved righteousness and you have delighted in integrity and virtue and uprightness in heart and thought and action and you have hated injustice and inequity; therefore God, your God has anointed you with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond your companions.’  We bless you.257

Hebrews 1:9 is also a parallel passage to Philippians 2:9 – a part of the ‘Philippians hymn’ [vv 2:6-11]: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” [NIV 1984].  Again, this represents Jesus Christ’s Resurrection (and Ascension).  Interestingly, Todd Bentley himself, a little over one month later, would speak of “resurrection life” describing a progression in its attainment:

…And, I just believe there’s an impartation to call forth ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ – the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. And, I want to take one moment church, and I want to press in, I want you to press in with me, to go from one floor, to two floors, to three levels, to four.  And, let’s progress and let’s say, ‘God, beyond raising the dead, beyond notable miracles, beyond healing, let there be a release in the Church of the realm of glory and power and dominion and authority that affects everything that’s death and decay around us.’  And, it’s true victory, it’s true resurrection life, true resurrection power, and true resurrection gloryPeople will be made alive – born again.258

When was it that Johnson claimed Jesus was ‘born again’?  It was at the Resurrection:

…Did you know that Jesus was born again?… I will show it. It’s in the Bible. He had to be. He became sin. 

In Hebrews 1 it says this, “For to which of the angels did he ever say, ‘You are my son. Today I have begotten you’?” And Acts 13 explains that: “God has fulfilled this for us, their children, in that he has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.”  He was born through Mary the first time and through the Resurrection the second time. He was ‘born again.’259

Just like the name of the sermon from which the above was taken echoing words of Bill Johnson in other contexts: Jesus is our model.

Conclusion

This rather lengthy series attempts to illustrate that not only is the Bill Johnson Christology (and by extension, others within hyper-charismaticism with similar teachings), his Jesus, not like the one revealed in Scripture, his theology could fit into the New Age / New Spirituality model.  Whether one agrees or not, the hope is that the reader at least has been given food for thought and the desire for further investigation.

[See part I, The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, part II, part IIIa, and part IIIb.]

Endnotes:

188McGrath, Alister. Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth. © 2009, HarperOne, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY; p 34
189McGrath; p 239 n3
190Bailey, Externalisation; p 510
191Bailey, Externalisation; p 511
192Bailey, Initiaton; pp 92-93: “Students must get rid of the idea that if they are ‘very good and altruistic’ suddenly some day they will stand before the Great Lord.  They are putting effect before cause.  Goodness and altruism grow out of realization and service, and holiness of character is the outcome of those expansions of consciousness which a man brings about within himself through strenuous effort and endeavor.”
193Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary.  From back cover: “…These experiences are both symbolic and actual, setting guideposts along the way of the disciple.  They exemplify the experience of the human soul through the five stages of its spiritual journey and can be invaluable to individual man facing the vast span of the same five-fold experience.”
194einterface, “The Master Jesus” par 2; as accessed 06/18/12
195Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 26, 47.  Bailey, Initiation; pp 114-15
196Bailey,  Alice A. The Rays and the Initiations. 1960 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1976, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; pp 685, cf. 664-673
197Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 99
198Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 27, 47-48
199Bailey, Rays; pp 677, cf. 673-687
200Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 100.  Dowling;  pp 83
201einterface, “The Master Jesus” par 2; as accessed 06/18/12
202Bailey, Initiation; p 89
203Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 26, 48
204Bailey, Rays; pp 687, cf. 688-89, 367
205Bailey, Rays; pp 688
206Bailey, Rays; pp 689-91, 368
207Bailey, Initiation; pp 56-57
208Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 28, 48-49, 184-194, 206-207
209Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 202
210Bailey, Rays; pp 694
211Bailey, Rays; pp 695-699.  Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 178, 184, 186
212Bailey, Rays; p 695
213Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 187
214Bailey, Externalisation; p 597
215Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 28, 49-51.  Bailey, Externalisation; p 468-71.  Bailey, Rays; pp 699-703
216Bailey, Rays; p 699
217Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 9
218Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 105.  Emphasis added.
219“whizzpopping” YouTube video, Bill Johnson – Friendship with God. 1:24 – 1:37; as accessed 04/23/12.   Caps from emphasis in original; other emphasis added.
220Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 27
221Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 33-34, 25-28
222Johnson, Bill “Mandate for Miracles” Ministry Today. September/October 2008, Vol. 26, no. 5; p 70
223Johnson, Bill, “Super-Natural by Nature” Charisma, par 13; as accessed 4/26/12
224Johnson, Clark, Essential Guide to Healing; p 147. Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
225Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 37
226Bourgeault, Cynthia The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message. 2008, Shambhala, Boston, MA; p 37
227Johnson, Face to Face; pp 89-90.  Emphasis added.
228Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 38
229Bailey, Externalisation; p 588.  Emphasis added.  This portion originally written in 1946.
230Bailey, Rays; p 703
231Bailey, Externalisation; p 597.  Emphasis added.
232Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 88
233Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 88
234Johnson, Supernatural Power; p 44.  Emphasis added.
235Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 80.  Emphasis added.
236Johnson, Dreaming; p 136.  Emphasis in original
237Johnson, Face to Face; p 200.  Emphasis in original.  Cf. Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 149-150
238Osborne, Grant,  Arnold, Clinton E. (Gen. Ed.) Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. © 2010 by Grant R. Osborne, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 646
239“nowbelieve” YouTube video “Todd Bentley’s Apostolic and Prophetic Commissioning 2/4” Todd Bentley ‘Commissioning’ of June 23, 2008. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A05WQYi7aQ> Bill Johnson; 1:30 – 2:10
240Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 206
241“ewenhoffman” Maintaining the Cross-Walk; 16:31 – 17:55.  Caps from emphasis in original.
242Bailey, Rays; p 701
243Johnson, Supernatural Power; p 45.  Emphasis in original.
244Johnson, Bill Facebook, May 12, 2012
245“ChasingRiver” The Real Jesus – Part 4 – by Bill Johnson.  <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHcRI60j0HI&feature=related>; 0:36 – 1:30.  As accessed 07/03/11
246Bailey, Rays; p 699
247Bailey, Initiation; p 90
248Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 145
249Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 145
250Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 146
251Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 147
252Bailey, Alice A. The Reappearance of the Christ. 1948, Lucis Trust, 9th printing 1979 (4th Paperback ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY; p 145
253“nowbelieve” YouTube video “Todd Bentley’s Apostolic and Prophetic Commissioning 3/4” Todd Bentley ‘Commissioning’ of June 23, 2008.  <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjl5wKso9eU&feature=player_embedded#t=0shttp://>; Georgian Banov, 6:23 – 6:49; as accessed 06/24/12
254“nowbelieve” Banov; 6:49 – 7:34; as accessed 06/24/12
255Kidner, Derek Tyndale Old Testament Commentary: Psalms 1 – 72; © Inter-Varsity Press, London, 1973 (2008 reprint), Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham, England/Downers Grove, IL; p 189
256Lane, William L. Word Biblical Commentary: Hebrews 1-8; 1991, Thomas Nelson, Nashville/Dallas/Mexico City/Rio de Janiero; p 29
257“nowbelieve” Banov; 7:34 – 8:11; as accessed 06/24/12
258Bentley, Todd.  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>; 1956:46 – 1957:53.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 04/01/12.
259“ewenhoffman” Jesus is our Model  sermon by Bill Johnson. 33:48 – 34:57; as accessed 06/23/12.

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

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