Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Part I

This article will focus on what is known as the Kenosis theory (Kenosis doctrine), its history (part I), other Christological errors potentially influencing kenosis or derived from kenosis, how adherence to ecumenical creeds may assist in maintaining orthodox Christology, and how all these things pertain to the doctrine of Bill Johnson (part II).

Kenosis Defined

Kenosis comes from the Greek verb κενόω, transliterated kenoō, rendered “to make empty” [Phil 2:7]; “destroy;” “render void, of no effect” [I Cor 1:17, 9:15; Romans 4:14]; “deprive of (its) justification” [2 Cor 9:3].1  This word is used only five times in the NT.  The Kenosis theory is largely derived from a peculiar exposition of Philippians 2:7.  Here it is in the NIV with verse 6 added in order to complete the sentence [The NIV 1984 sets verses 6-11 apart from the rest of the chapter as in poetic form]:

            6 Who, being in very nature God,
                   did not consider equality with
                        God something to be
            7 but made himself nothing,
                  taking the very nature of a
                 being made in human likeness.

Quite a few modern versions render this word in its immediate context as either “emptied Himself” or “made Himself nothing” which is the literal meaning of the Greek construction although, unfortunately, this may add to the problem in understanding this verse.  Referring specifically to the American Revised Version, Dr. B. B. Warfield called it a “mistranslation.”2 Bauer (BAGD), regarding its use in Philippians 2:7, states, “Of Christ, who gave up the appearance of his divinity and took on the form of a slave”3 which is similar, if not the same, as the orthodox definition of kenosis in which Jesus’ divine attributes were “veiled” under flesh.

The other times kenoo is used in the NT it is understood and used figuratively.4  The KJV and NKJV seem to follow this convention rendering Phil 2:7 “of no reputation.”  This makes sense in view of the larger context of the Apostle Paul’s words as he is admonishing us to put others ahead of ourselves by using Jesus Christ’s humiliation as an example (the period of the Incarnation from the miraculous conception to His death on the Cross and subsequent burial):

3Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

5Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God 7but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. [Phil 2:3-7, NKJV]

Louis Berkhof, in his Systematic Theology agrees by stating what he believes the proper understanding of the word should be in this context: “…it simply means that Christ made Himself ‘of no account,’ ‘of no reputation’…”5  Jesus Christ became a servant of both man and God in God’s plan of redemption.6  However, Christ maintained His complete, unaltered divinity during the Incarnation.  The New Bible Dictionary describes it as the “limitation” of His glory:

“…His taking of the servant’s form involved the necessary limitation of the glory which he laid aside that he might be born ‘in the likeness of men’.  That glory of his pre-existent oneness with the Father (see Jn. 17:5, 24) was his because from all eternity he existed ‘in the form of God’ (Phil 2:6).  It was concealed in the ‘form of a servant’ which he took when he assumed our nature and appeared in our likeness…who humbled himself at Calvary.  The ‘kenosis’…led eventually to the final obedience of the cross [sic] when he did…pour out his soul unto death…” 7

Dan Musick, quoting John Calvin, affirms Jesus’ glory was cloaked under a “veil of flesh” [Heb 10:19-20]: “In order to exhort us to submission by His example, he shows, that when as God He might have displayed to the world the brightness of His glory, he gave up His right, and voluntarily emptied Himself; that He assumed the form of a servant, and, contented with that humble condition, suffered His divinity to be concealed under a veil of flesh.”8

The Kenotic, however, understands this ‘self-emptying’ as the Logos, the Word, divesting Himself of some or all divine attributes.  This usually includes all the ‘omni’ traits (omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence) and may also include such traits as impeccability (sinlessness or inability to sin) among others.  The trouble with accepting the latter is that Jesus Christ was not born in original corruption as a result of the virginal conception [Luke 1:35] and the resulting (simultaneous) hypostatic union to the Logos made sin impossible.  Moreover, the problem with accepting that any of the divine traits were “laid aside” is that this would necessarily render Jesus less than God which would cause the Trinity to collapse among other serious Scriptural consequences [see Col 1:17; Heb 1:3].

           Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. [Heb 13:8 NIV 1984]

     1 Bauer, W., W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 1958 (2nd edition 1979); Chicago, Chicago, IL; p 428.  Also known as “BAGD.”
2 Berkhof, L. Systematic Theology. 1941, 4th revised and enlarged ed, 1991, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 328
3 Bauer, p 428
4 Berkhof, p 328
5 Berkhof, p 328
6 Martin, Ralph P., G. F. Hawthorne Word Biblical Commentary: Philippians (Revised). 2004, Nelson Reference & Electronic; pp 119-120
7 Marshall, I.H., A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, New Bible Dictionary. 1996 (3rd ed., reprinted 2001), InterVarsity, Downers Grove, IL; pp 643-44.  The convention of not capitalizing personal pronouns when referring to deity with the exception of “Father” seems to be consistent throughout the dictionary.
8 Musick, Dan, Kenosis: Christ ‘emptied Himself”. “Emptied of His Glory?”, <>; copyright 1997-2005 Dan Musick.  Calvin reference from: Institutes of the Christian Religion. Bk 2, Ch 13, pt 2

Brief History and Explanation of 19th Century Kenosis

The roots of the Kenosis theory began in the aftermath of the Reformation period among the Lutherans; 9,10,11 however, it formally took hold around the mid 19th century12 in various forms13 brought forth initially by Gottfried Thomasius and followed by Delitzsch, Crosby, Gess, Beecher, Godet, Newton Clarke and Ebrard14,15 and others.  Kenosis theories have evolved further and gained wider acceptance in the 20th and into the 21st century.16

Thomasius, Delitzsch, and Crosby, taught that the Logos maintained power, holiness, truth and love, while laying aside the ‘omni’ traits.  The Logos retained the divine self-consciousness in taking the human form.17  Thomasius’ explanation of the Incarnation was “the self-limitation of the Son of God.”18

Gess, Beecher, Godet, and Newton Clarke claimed that for God to be omnipotent He would necessarily have the power to cease to be God if He so desired.19  With His complete deity voided, His consciousness became as a human soul and He gradually regains divinity throughout the Incarnation.20  Berkhof quotes Everard Digges La Touche who refers to such a complete self-emptying of God as “incarnation by divine suicide.”21

Ebrard contends the Eternal Logos disguised His deity in such a way that “the divine properties, while retained, were possessed by the Theanthropos [ed: God-man] only in the time-form appropriate to a human mode of existence.  The Logos, in assuming flesh, exchanged the form of God, that is, the eternal manner of being, for the form of man, that is, the temporal manner of being.”22

Lewis Sperry Chafer notes one more theory of kenosis but does not mention the proponent(s) of the theory.  In it, the Logos still possesses His complete deity; however, He exercises it within the confines of human consciousness.  “True deity is never in existence outside of true humanity.”  His divine properties are no longer infinite but reduced into properties of human nature.23

Charles Hodge was a contemporary of some of the various proponents of 19th century kenosis.  Here’s a snippet from his Systematic Theology illustrating his candor on the matter:

“…Any theory…which assumes that God lays aside his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, and becomes as feeble, ignorant, and circumscribed as an infant, contradicts the first principle of all religion, and, if it be pardonable to say so, shocks the common sense of men.” 24

Augustus H. Strong’s analysis of Thomasius, Delitzch and Crosby:

“This theory fails to secure its end, that of making comprehensible the human development of Jesus – for even though divested of the relative attributes of the Godhead [ed: the omni- traits], the Logos still retains the divine self-consciousness, together with his immanent attributes of holiness, love and truth.  This is as difficult to reconcile with a purely natural human development as the possession of any divine attributes, or of any divine consciousness at all, on the part of Christ, and merges itself in the view of Gess and Beecher, that the Godhead of the Logos is actually transformed into a human soul.” 25

These forms of kenosis which reduce or eliminate divine attributes are known as ontological kenosis.26  “Ontological” comes from the word ontology which means the nature of existence, or being; so, the term means the Logos, the Word Himself was emptied of some or all divine attributes.  This belief is clearly heretical.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE)states:

“…Kenoticism failed to see that the immutability of the living God does not prevent Him from exercising all His attributes in the form of humanity, nor force Him into the violent mutation of a self-deprivation of His attributes which can leave only partial deity, and therefore no true deity at all, in the incarnate Son.” 27

9 Lawton Church of God, Lawton, OK. The Gospel Trumpet. “Historical Manifestation of the Redeemer: Historical Theories on the Two Estates” <>; par 11 (point II); as accessed 06/13/11.  Article from William Burt Pope’s “Compendium of Christian Theology”.  This section does an excellent job of explaining the Lutheran perspective in brief including the early version of kenosis and krypsis.  While the rest of the site seems orthodox on quick inspection (even though I don’t agree with all the views put forth), I’ve not completely vetted this source.
10 Hodge, C., Systematic Theology. 2008 (4th printing), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; Vol II, pp 415-16, 413, 407-18.  This was in the form of the communicatio idiomatum, and communio naturarum doctrines which initially allowed the interpenetration of attributes and essences respectively between the human and divine natures of Christ although this was modified to limit only the human from receiving some, not all, attributes from the divine.  Hodge notes this is tantamount to kenosis.  The communicatio idiomatum will be discussed in brief below.
11 Berkhof, pp 325-27.  Berkhof comments that some Lutherans claim “He practically emptied Himself, or laid aside the divine attributes.  Some spoke of a constant but secret [krypsis], and others of an intermittent use of them [kenosis].”
12 Grudem, W. Systematic Theology. 1994, Inter-Varsity, Grand Rapids, MI; p 550.  Confirmed in Berkhof p 327.
13 Berkhof, p 327
14 Berkhof, p 327
15 Chafer, L. S., Systematic Theology. 1948, 1976 Dallas Theological Seminary (1993), Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI; Vol I, p 380.  Chafer cites Godet and Newton Clarke which other references omit.
16 Crisp, Oliver D. Divinity and Humanity: The Incarnation Reconsidered. (Current Issues in Theology series) 2007, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK; pp 118-19.  Modern theories include Thomas V. Morris’ “two-minds view” [Morris, The Logic of God Incarnate. 1986, Cornell, Ithaca, NY; ch. 4] which Crisp repudiates on the grounds of its mutability [pp 146-47] and Peter Forrest’s 21st century version [Forrest, The Incarnation: a philosophical case for kenosis. Religious Studies 36 (2000), pp 127-40] which he himself deems as “quasi-kenotic” [pp 141, 143] which may be tantamount to Crisp’s divine krypsis [pp 147-53] which will be discussed below.
17 Berkhof, p 327
18 Allison, Gregg R. Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine. 2011, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 381
19 Hodge, Vol II, p 440
20 Chafer, Vol I, p 380
21 Berkhof p. 327
22 Chafer, Vol I, p 380.  Chafer quotes from A. B. Bruce’s The Humiliation of Christ. p 153.
23 Chafer, Vol I, p 380
24 Hodge, Vol II, p 439
25 Strong, A. H., Systematic Theology: Three Volumes in One. 1907 (1943 reprint), Judson, Philadelphia, PA; p 702
26 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 119-25
27 Bromiley, G. W., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Volume One. 1979 (1988 reprint), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 665.  First published 1915.

Background on More Recent Kenotic Theories

Before moving on to other views on kenosis it is prudent to provide a bit of background which may seem rather technical and tedious (if the preceding hasn’t already proven so); however, this has a direct bearing on the following kenotic theories.  It is necessary to briefly explain the communicatio idiomatum, or “communication of attributes” which is a large part of Lutheran doctrinal history.28,29  Lutherans are divided on interpretation.  The ‘strong’ view was that not only the attributes were communicated between the divine and human natures of the incarnate Logos, but also via the communio naturarum, or “communion of natures,” the interpenetration of essences (properties), were also communicated resulting in the inherent contradiction, for example, that the human was/is omnipresent and the divine was/is limited in physical location.30,31  [This doctrine is in the genus majestaticum as part of the Form of Concord.]

A ‘weaker’ view was posited in which only the human nature would receive some (not all) attributes from the divine such as omnipresence.  Yet this is still unsatisfactory since, obviously, Jesus’ physical body was not and is not everywhere at once.32  Hodge asserts that it’s a “physical impossibility that attributes are separable from the substances of which they are the manifestation.”33  Hodge further explains by way of analogy:

“If the personal union between the soul and body in man does not imply that the attributes of the soul are communicated to the body, then the personal union of the two natures in Christ does not imply that the divine attributes are communicated to his humanity.” 34

Hodge proclaims that to go beyond the Biblical teaching that the Son of God took to Himself a human nature and a reasonable soul resulting in two entirely distinct natures in one person forever (as the ecumenical creeds pronounce) is “mere speculation” and“an attempt to explain the inscrutable.35

From an orthodox perspective we can say there is a “communication” of attributes; however, it’s a somewhat different interpretation than the view of some Lutherans.  This “communication” of attributes is a way of explaining how the contradictory attributes of the two different natures (e.g. omnipresence vs. limitation of physical presence) in the incarnate Christ are expressed as the one person of Christ.  Wayne Grudem affirms that “anything either nature does, the person of Christ does.”36   In this way, we can state that Jesus Christ is omnipresent since this is inherent in His divine nature and hence His person, even though omnipresence is not a trait of humanity.  Similarly, we can state that Jesus had the ability to suffer pain and even death since, in His human nature He did feel pain and experience death, even though, of course, as God He could not have done either of these.37  The divine and human natures, though, remain separate and distinct from one another.

However, at least one Lutheran view, according to Hodge, has been expressed such that “the human is made the organ of the divine,”38 and later he states:

“…If there be no such transfer or communication [via the Lutheran communicatio idiomatum], then the human nature of Christ is no more omniscient or almighty than the worker of a miracle is omnipotent.  If the divine nature only exercises its omnipotence in connection with the activity of the humanity, then the humanity is the mere organ or instrument of the divine nature.  This idea, however, the Lutherans repudiate.  They admit that for God to exercise his power, when Peter said to the lame man, ‘Rise up and walk,’ was something entirely different from rendering Peter omnipotent…” 39

Oliver Crisp, in his book Divinity and Humanity, supports a theological concept, different than the orthodox “communication” of attributes yet is somewhat related and incorporates it, which attempts to explain the interrelationship between the two natures of Christ.  This is termed nature-perichoresis, similar to person-perichoresis which attempts to describe the interrelationship between the persons of the Trinity.40  In nature-perichoresis41 the divine nature ‘penetrates’ the human in the incarnate Christ in an asymmetrical manner (one way only) without transferring properties or confusing natures thereby upholding and sustaining the human nature similar in fashion to the divine nature of God interpenetrating all of creation.   According to Crisp, per the theory, the divine attribute of omnipresence in the divine nature of Christ makes nature-perichoresis possible in the person of Christ.42  [This is explained further in the following section “Kenotic Theories of More Recent Vintage.”]

Crisp then applies the “communication” of attributes as per orthodoxy the way Grudem states above.  He proceeds to describe the relationship of the divine to the human as “Christ’s human nature is ‘indwelt’ by the divine nature in a way analogous to the indwelling of a human body by its soul…”43  It seems Hodge may have taken exception to the nature-perichoretic theory as put forth by Crisp based on some of his comments above.44  Anticipating a potential question, Crisp poses this:

“…In what sense is the perichoresis in the human nature of Christ by the divine nature of Christ anything more than the penetration of my human nature by the divine nature of God at each moment of my continued existence?” 45

Crisp’s answer: It’s a question of degree.  By virtue of both the hypostatic union and that Christ is more aware because of His relationship to the Father, the human nature is perichoretically ‘penetrated’ by the divine nature of Christ in a much stronger manner, compared to another human’s perichoretic relationship to God.46  Crisp goes on to cite John 10:30 as an example of the theory at work.  Note that this verse is speaking of personal-perichoresis (the interrelationship of the Trinity specifically the Father and Son), as well as, nature-perichoresis.47  Recognizing this theory counters a possible argument or false theory, Crisp states in a parenthetical comment:

“It could be argued that it is the Holy Spirit that enables the human nature of Christ to perform miracles, rather than Christ’s divine nature, if, say, the divine nature of Christ is not thought to act in and through the human nature of Christ in this way [via nature-perichoresis] during the Incarnation.  But this is not a conventional view of the means by which Christ was able to perform miracles.  A conventional view would claim that Christ was able to perform miracles in virtue of the action of his divine nature in and through his human nature in the hypostatic union.” 48

     28 Martin Luther’s Christology was apparently partially predicated upon his literal understanding of Jesus’ words “This is my body” which informed Luther’s doctrine on the Eucharist.  In view of this, Luther proclaimed Jesus was/is ubiquitous, everywhere at once, omnipresent, via the communicatio idiomatum [Hodge, Vol II, pp 414-15].
     29 Lawton Church of God, “Historical Manifestation of the Redeemer: Historical Theories on the Two Estates” <>; par 11 (point II); as accessed 06/13/11.  This section does an excellent job of explaining the Lutheran perspective in brief.
30 Hodge, Vol II, pp 407-08; with a more complete discussion on pp 407-18
31 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 11, 12-15
32 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 14-17
33 Hodge, Vol II, p 417
34 Hodge, Vol II, p 416
35 Hodge, Vol II, pp 413-14
36 Grudem, p 562
37 Grudem, p 563
38 Hodge, Vol II, p 411.  Hodge also references in a footnote J. A. Dorner [History of the Development of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ. 1862, T&T Clark, Edinburgh; Div II, Vol II, p 203 note] “In his highest Christological utterances, the Son of man is nothing more than a God-moved organ…”
39 Hodge, Vol II, p 417
40 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 1-3.  This view as regards the two natures of Christ was historically put forth by Gregory Nazianzen, Maximus the Confessor [pp 3-4] and John of Damascus [pp 5, 20-21], but has not been pursued very much since.  This entire chapter was originally published in a Tyndale Bulletin (see next footnote below).
41 Crisp, Oliver D. Problems with Perichoresis. 2005, Tyndale Bulletin 56.1 <> pp 119-140; as accessed 06/13/11.  Since this document is available online, hereafter page references will be noted after the page citations for Divinity and Humanity.
42 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 19-21, 23-24.  Crisp prefers “asymmetrical” to “unidirectional” as he believes “unidirectional” could lead to symmetry as a marriage proposal leading to becoming a spouse. [Tyndale; pp 130-32, 133-34].
43 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 22. [Tyndale; pp 130-31]
44 Specifically the reference at footnote 34, and, perhaps, 33.  Assuming Hodge would disagree with Crisp on this point, I may tentatively agree with Hodge.
45 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 24. [Tyndale; p 133]
46 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 24-25. [Tyndale; pp 133-34] I submit the possibility that the relationship between the two natures in the hypostatic union is different in kind rather than merely degree in view of the miraculous conception as compared to the Holy Spirit indwelling of the believer.

       47 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 25. [Tyndale; p 134]
48 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 25.  Bracketed statement and emphasis added. [Tyndale; p 134. Note: this statement is not in parentheses in the Tyndale Bulletin.]  The underlined/bolded section hereby shows that to claim the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit only, performed Jesus’ miracles is unorthodox.

Kenotic Theories of More Recent Vintage

This brings us to a subtler form of kenosis known as functional or functionalist kenosis.49  Adherents claim the Logos retained all divine attributes; however, the ‘omni’ traits (omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence) were not utilized during the Incarnation as these were voluntarily ‘put aside.’  [Other views may claim even more attributes were voluntarily unutilized yet still present.]  Jesus Christ still had the ability to use all His divine traits yet consciously chose not to exercise these attributes while incarnate.50

There are other variations of functionalist kenosis;51 however, they all suffer from the same inherent problem as Oliver Crisp remarks in Divinity and Humanity:

“…The functionalist account…still requires too much of the traditional understanding of God and the Incarnation to be given up.  Withholding the exercise of certain divine attributes for the duration of the Incarnation implies a real change in the Word from his preincarnate to his incarnate state that is monumental…” 52

Crisp goes on to assert that the complete non-exercise of any divine trait amounts to a denial of immutability, traditionally an essential aspect of divinity,53 which would, of course, contradict Hebrews 13:8 [and Heb 1:12; Psa 102:27].  Also, for the second person of the Trinity to cease using His omnipotence would mean the cosmos would no longer be sustained [Col 1:17; Heb 1:3].54

An unanswered question in functionalist kenosis is how Jesus Christ’s miracles would be performed if He withheld the exercise of the ‘omni’ attributes.  As noted above in the previous section, to claim the Holy Spirit (or perhaps the Father) performed these instead is unorthodox.55  Dan Musick asserts:

“The belief that Christ performed His miracles only by the power of the Holy Spirit is growing in popularity, particularly among charismatics in the power evangelism movement…This narrow view stands in opposition to…the Biblical record.” 56

Musick continues stating that there were times when Jesus Christ did rely on the Holy Spirit; however, there’s no Scripture suggesting He solely relied on the Spirit.57  The OT is replete with references to the Messiah as full deity58 [Gen 3:15 (cf. Rom 16:20); Psa 2:7 (cf. Heb 1:5); Psa 45:6-7 (cf. Heb 1:9); Isa 7:14 (cf. Lu 1:32, 1:35, 2:11); Dan 7:13-14 (cf. Rev 1:7, 7:15, 11:15)]; and, with that, miracle-working would rightly be expected.  Musick notes that Mark 4:35-41 [Matt 18:23-27/Luke 8:22-25] (Jesus calming the storm) provides just such an example.

37A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet!  Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

40He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”

41They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” [NIV 1984]

Jesus’ actions here seem to illustrate that He Himself calmed the storm.  If He didn’t actually perform this miracle in and of Himself, certainly we’d think He’d correct the disciples’ rhetorical question/exclamation in verse 41.59  Otherwise, we may think Jesus Christ to be somewhat deceptive.  Robert Guelich notes it was “reverential awe” (v 41a) which prompted their final question/exclamation.  Guelich comments further, “in Jesus they have one in whom God was and is at work, one whom the ‘wind and the waves’ do obey”60 and “He accomplishes God’s work of stilling the storm and calming the sea”61 which indicated it was, in fact, Jesus Christ as God incarnate who performed this miracle.

John 2:19 is, perhaps, a more clear example of Jesus using His own miracle-working power as He claimed He would raise Himself from the dead.  There are other Biblical examples of Jesus acting in His own omnipotence which will be discussed in part II of this article.

Crisp proposes the divine krypsis theory, or “divine self-concealment,”62 which he claims adheres to the Chalcedonian Creed.63  He begins, quoting Richard Swinburne, from this premise: “Chalcedon…affirms that the humility involves a taking on.  The king humbles himself by becoming a servant as well as being a king.”64  Thus, when the Word became flesh [John 1:14] in the miraculous conception [Luke 1:35; 2:11], He was not thereby limited in the possession or use of His divine attributes per se; however, Jesus Christ was somewhat constrained in the exercise of some of these attributes as a consequence of the inherent limitations of the human nature.65

In virtue of nature-perichoresis, as discussed briefly in the previous section, the divine nature of the Theanthropos (God-man) ‘penetrated’ the human nature; however, this ‘penetration’ was not reciprocated from the human to the divine.  Thus, during the Incarnation, the divine nature retained all divine attributes, while the human retained all its applicable attributes though it was ‘penetrated’ via the omnipresence of the divine.  This ‘penetration’ did not result in any divine properties or attributes actually transferred to the human; this merely provided the means for which the two natures subsist in a hypostatic union, thereby allowing the Person of Christ to perform divine functions, such as rising from the dead, without compromising His humanity.66

As per Crisp’s theory, the divine attributes, including all the ‘omni’ traits, are exercised via the so-called extra calvinisticum [aka extra catholicum]thereby sustaining the cosmos67 [Col 1:17; Heb 1:3].  Extra calvinisticum literally means “Calvinistic outside,” a doctrine springing from Calvin’s Heidelberg Catechism such that the Logos could and did continue exercising all divine traits extra carnem, or, outside the flesh, of the Theanthropos.  This is explained in the following from the Catechism (in question/answer format):

Question 47:    Then, is not Christ with us unto the end of the world, as he has promised us?

Christ is true man and true God.  As a man he is no longer on earth, but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit, he is never absent from us.

Question 48:    But are not the two natures in Christ separated from each other in this way, if the humanity is not wherever the divinity is?

Not at all; for since divinity is incomprehensible and everywhere present, it must follow that the divinity is indeed beyond the bounds of the humanity which it has assumed, and is none the less ever in that humanity as well, and remains personally united to it.68

Crisp’s divine krypsis theory upholds divine immutability since it’s only the human nature of Jesus Christ that was restricted.  This is in contradistinction to the functionalist kenosis theories in which some divine attributes were actually not in use at all during Christ’s incarnate state.   Crisp identifies divine krypsis as non-kenotic since it does not limit the exercise of the Logos’ divine attributes; however, he concedes that some may consider his theory a “weak” or “minimalist” functionalist kenosis.69  He defends his position regarding divine krypsis as non-kenotic by virtue of the fact that true functionalist kenotic Christologists will, at minimum, restrict the exercise of some divine attributes during the Incarnation whereas the kryptic retains full use of all divine attributes merely restricting the exercise of them from the human nature of Christ.70

The advantage of Crisp’s divine krypsis theory over all the other theories discussed above is that it does not preclude the person of Jesus Christ from working His own miracles via nature perichoresis.

To affirm the divine krypsis view necessarily entails pronouncing Jesus Christ’s full and unqualified deity during the Incarnation.  Phraseology such as “He laid His divinity aside,” “He set aside His divine nature,” or “He did not exercise His omnipotence” is in opposition to this doctrine.

With the exception of Crisp’s divine krypsis, all theories/doctrines of kenosis discussed in this article are at variance with the Chalcedonian Creed on at least one point and, consequently, at odds with historical orthodox Christianity.  The importance of adhering to ecumenical creeds such as Chalcedon to avoid Christological error will be discussed further in part II.

Part I here provides the foundation as we move forward in part II to see how all this applies to Bill Johnson’s doctrine.

     49 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 119-20.   Crisp uses the term functionalist rather than functional; so, I continue with his convention.
50 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 139-47
51 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 144-47
52 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 120-21
53 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 121(footnote), 146
54 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 142-43.  Crisp points out specifically that the functionalist kenotic denies the use of the so-called extra calvinisticum which (at least one version of) classic Christology affirms and requires for the Word to be able to exercise His divine attributes as incarnate.
55 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 25 [Tyndale p 134].  See quoted text referenced in footnote 48.
56 Musick, Dan, Kenosis: Christ “emptied Himself”. “Christ’s Miracles Performed Only by the Holy Spirit?” <> copyright 1997-2005; as accessed 06/13/11
57 Musick, “Christ’s Miracles Performed Only by the Holy Spirit”, par 5.  Luke 4:18 does not necessarily point to Jesus relying solely on the Holy Spirit as we have to look at the entire canon of Scripture.
58 Zasper, Fred G. Biblical Studies: Word of Life Baptist Church“The Person of Jesus Christ” <> copyright 1996 by Fred Zasper; Part One: His Deity, IV “Evidence from the Old Testament Writers.”  As accessed 06/13/11.  Excellent Scriptural outline on the deity of Christ.
59 Musick, “Christ’s Miracles Performed by the Holy Spirit Only?” , point 3, par 3
60 Guelich, Robert A. Word Biblical Commentary: Mark 1-8:26. 1989, Word Books, Dallas, TX; p 271
61 Guelich, p 269.  Guelich also references Psa 107:28-29 in which God had stilled the storms.
62 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 148.  Not to be confused with the Lutheran doctrine of krypsis though divine krypsis bears a resemblance.
63 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 153
64 Swinburne, Richard, The Christian God. 1994, Oxford University Press, Oxford; p 233 as quoted in Crisp Divinity and Humanity. p 148
65 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 148-50
66 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 149-53, 19-27.  Chapter 1 goes into the details of the perichoretic relationship between the divine and human natures in hypostatic union, including the thesis that it’s this unique relationship which enabled Christ to raise Himself from the dead [p 25].
67 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 150
68 “The Heidelberg Catechism,” as quoted in Noll, Mark A., ed., Confessions and Catechisms of the Reformation. 1991, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI; p 145, as quoted in Peters, David G. The “Extra Calvinisticum” and Calvin’s Eucharistic Theology. n. d. <>; p 7.  As accessed 06/13/11
69 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 121, 151-52
70 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 152