Assessing Bill Johnson’s “Eternally God” Declarations Amidst His Other Christological Statements

[UPDATE: In a new post it is shown that Johnson actually affirmed some of the speculations in this particular article in a sermon at Bethel on the very same day this article was posted, using some of the very same Scriptures cited as possible proof-texts for such an approach!]

A hallmark of any true Christian is charity (this is not to say non-Christians cannot be charitable, of course).  Christians will give their money and time with no expectation of return.  Rightly, this generosity should extend to giving another the benefit of the doubt if a given statement or statements are not exactly clear.  Everyone makes a ‘slip of the tongue’ or a ‘slip of the pen’, right? 

But, on the other hand, when a teacher consistently makes statements that run counter to Christian orthodoxy, there is a need to address this issue forthrightly.  When these statements are in the public realm via books, online sermons, video/audio, et cetera, these should be addressed publicly. 

There are those who – while understanding that Bill Johnson’s Christological teachings are problematic, if not at least seemingly self-contradictory at times – do not fully agree with the views put forth on CrossWise regarding Johnson’s Christology.  Specifically, there are those who are of the opinion that Bill Johnson teaches that the Word retained all His divine attributes when He became flesh, yet chose not to exercise those attributes for the entirety of His earthly ministry, instead relying on the Holy Spirit for all miracle workings.  Whether they do this out of charity or out of a firm belief that this is Johnson’s teaching given the evidence of Johnson’s own words (as they read them), or both, I cannot be certain.  The following tweet from April 7, 2013 by Bill Johnson in answer to a direct question, seems to have strengthened this view:

Bill Johnson tweet April 7, 2013

Bill Johnson tweet April 7, 2013

Does this statement render false the CrossWise articles asserting Johnson teaches that Jesus Christ did not possess any divine attributes during the Incarnation?  Some may think so.  But, on the other hand, what are we to make of the above tweet in conjunction with the following selection from the recent book co-written by Randy Clark and Bill Johnson titled The Essential Guide to Healing? 

…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 to follow.1

 By the clear words in the first sentence, Johnson is claiming that the Word (Jesus) divested Himself of divinity in becoming incarnate.  But, then again, in the second sentence we have the “eternally God” declaration like the tweet above.  Is this a contradiction?  Or should we be charitable and assume Johnson meant to state that Jesus ‘emptied Himself’ of all divine prerogatives, i.e., that Jesus voluntarily did not use the divine attributes He yet retained?  (Though this view is not Biblical.)  But please note, to assume the latter requires reading into this statement beyond what is clearly written in the first sentence. 

To be certain we are not misunderstanding Bill Johnson, here is another passage from this same book:

…While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man (see Philippians 2:7).  It is vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God.  If He did them as God, I would still be impressed.  But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us.  Jesus is the only model for us to follow.2

Once again, we have the same “eternally God” statement in conjunction with a claim of divested deity while incarnate.  Yet, we also have the assertion that Jesus did all His miracles “as a man yielded to God”.  Does this indicate we should, as noted above, assume Johnson really means that Jesus retained His divine attributes yet purposefully chose not to exercise them, instead relying upon the Holy Spirit for all miracle workings, despite the claim that “He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man”?

I submit that there’s a different solution to this seeming conundrum, this apparent contradiction, without the need to read into any of the above.  But, it will require a bit of explanation first.

The Christ Anointing

One cannot effectively analyze Bill Johnson’s Christological statements apart from his teaching on “the anointing”, which is central to his theology.   In Johnson’s Christology, like some other teachers in hyper-charismaticism, both Christ, and then logically, antichrist are redefined.

Christ = the anointing
antichrist = against the anointing 

It is of utmost importance to keep this in mind.  “The anointing” is also called the “Christ anointing”,3 “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”,4 “Holy Spirit’s presence/rest upon” an individual,5 “the presence of God”,6 and “the outpouring of the Spirit”7 in Bill Johnson’s theology.  This is not speaking of the Holy Spirit indwelling; this is in addition to the indwelling:

…Certainly this is not talking about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was already in Jesus’s life.  This was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Him as a mantle of power and authority for that specific purpose8

Bill Johnson’s duplicity is plainly evident in the way he first correctly defines Christ, and then redefines the term in the same paragraph in his book When Heaven Invades Earth:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah…”9

So far, so good.  This is absolutely correct.  Yet, observe how he redefines “Christ” to “the anointing”:

…It [Christ] is a title that points to an experience.  It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title.  He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.10

 Contrary to Johnson, Scripture states that it was sufficient for Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah at His birth (Luke 2:11).  And, importantly, the term “Christ” is understood in Christian orthodoxy as indicating deity/divinity.11  Continuing on to the very next paragraph in Johnson’s book: 

The word anointing means “to smear.”  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit.12

 This completes Johnson’s redefinition.  If Jesus is “the One smeared with the Holy Spirit” at His baptism, and this ‘smearing’ is the anointing, and this is the “experience” that brings forth the title of “Christ”, then it logically follows that Jesus was NOT the Christ prior to baptism.

To be sure the above is correct – that Jesus did not attain the “title” of Christ until He received the anointing in the river Jordan following John’s baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon Him as a dove (aka Baptism in the Holy Spirit, etc.) – the following quote from another work makes it clear: 

The outpouring of the Spirit also needed to happen to Jesus for Him to be fully qualified.  This was His quest.  Receiving this anointing qualified Him to be called the Christ, which means “anointed one.” Without the experience [the anointing] there could be no title.13

 Had Jesus not received the anointing, He could not have received the “title” of Christ, for this was the “experience” that “qualified Him to be called the Christ”.  But note how Johnson claims this “anointing” means “anointed one”.  Is Jesus then the unique “Anointed One”, although He did not receive the title of Christ until the anointing?  Does Johnson ‘merely’ have the timing wrong on when Jesus becomes the Christ?  Note that in the first quote in this section he neglects to use the definite article (the) in front of “Anointed One”, and he does the same in the immediately preceding quote for “anointed one” (lower case).  This is because, in another example of duplicity, ALL can receive this same “Christ anointing”:

…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him14

Be aware that this is consistent with Gnostic and New Age teaching as exemplified by Levi Dowling’s book The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ:

The word Christ is derived from the Greek word Kristos [ED: actually Christos] and means anointed.  It is identical with the Hebrew word Messiah.  The word Christ, in itself, does not refer to any particular person; every anointed person is christed15

 In Johnson’s theology, when ‘believers’ receive this “Christ anointing” do they become divine?  Not exactly.  Note below that it’s the anointing itself that’s divine, not Jesus.  The anointing links the man Jesus to the divine, thus providing the supernatural power that the non-divine Jesus lacked:

The anointing Jesus received was the equipment necessary, given by the Father to make it possible for Him to live beyond human limitations…That would include doing supernatural things.  The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine, enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil…16

It follows logically then that those who receive the Christ anointing will be linked to the divine in the same way.  To reiterate, just like mankind is non-divine and subsequently linked to the divine via the anointing, Jesus was merely a non-divine man who was linked to the divine via the anointing.  Also, given that Jesus receives the “title” of Christ only by virtue of the Christ anointing, then  it follows that anyone else who receives this same Christ anointing should receive this same “title” of Christ.  This puts us back to the teaching of Levi Dowling above: “every anointed person is christed”.

Having adequately determined how Bill Johnson defines Christ, we’ll briefly illustrate how he defines antichrist.  As he does with the term Christ, Johnson initially correctly defines antichrist (mostly, since anti can also mean “instead of”) as “anti, ‘against’; Christ, ‘Anointed One’.”17  Observe that he dispenses with the definite article (the) in front of “Anointed One” yet again.  And once again, he subtly redefines the term: “The spirits of hell are at war against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion.18

In the following, he makes a clear distinction between believers – who would, by Christian orthodoxy, necessarily have the Holy Spirit indwelling upon conversion – and “the anointing”, though here he calls it “the Holy Spirit’s anointing” instead of the “Christ anointing”, or “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, et cetera:

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….19

 There you have it.  By Johnson’s redefinition of antichrist, I myself have the “spirit of antichrist” since I am “attempting to influence ‘believers’ to reject” the anointing.

This teaching on the anointing corresponds with Johnson’s statements such as “He [Jesus] had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever!”20 and “Jesus had no ability to heal the sick.  He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead.”21  Given His total lack of inherent supernatural capabilities, this clearly indicates a temporally non-divine Jesus.

Eternally God Yet Temporally Man?

In Bill Johnson’s Christology, like all men, Jesus lacks divinity while in the temporal realm – except by virtue of the anointing.  But how does that theology mesh with Jesus as “eternally God”?  To answer this, first we’ll look at eternity in Scripture.

According to Ephesians 2:6 all Christians are currently seated in the heavenly realms; that is, though we are currently in our earthly bodies, we are in heaven (cf. Col 3:1-3).  Believers have a sort of “dual citizenship”.  Eternal life is a future that we already possess.  This means, in a sense, we are already in the eternal realm, while we are yet still on this earth in the temporal realm.   However, the tension between these two realities must be kept in check, as we are not bi-located; we are not simultaneously living in heaven as we walk on earth.

This is usually referred to as the already but not yet.   True believers have eternal security already, but we are not yet seated in the heavenlies.  The last days have already begun at Jesus’ first coming, but the final consummation is not yet.  This understanding that we have been in the last days since Christ’s earthly ministry is also known as inaugurated eschatology (sometimes realized eschatology, but not in the absolute sense by some liberal theologians that there is no future eschatology), with the understanding that Jesus Christ’s Second Coming brings in the eschaton (end of all things).

To explain further, Revelation 13:8 indicates one of two things (the syntax of the Greek allows one of two interpretations): 1) Jesus was slain from the creation of the world, or 2) the writing of the names into the Book of Life occurred from the foundations of the world.  To accept number 2 would seem to necessitate number 1, as it appears difficult to have a Book of Life unless there first had been a Life Giver.  In any case, the point is that some events from our temporal perspective are depicted in Scripture as already past and/or already present in the eternal realm.  Therefore, we cannot conceive of the temporal realm, with its chronological developments, as if it were a subset of the eternal.  In other words, time as we know it does not run parallel with eternity, as though eternity has a past, present, and future.  Lewis Sperry Chafer aptly describes the relationship between the temporal and the eternal:

…Whatever time may be and whatever its relation to eternity, it must be maintained that no cessation of eternity has occurred or will.  God’s mode of existence remains unchanged.  Time might be thought of as something superimposed upon eternity were it not that there is ground for question whether eternity consists of a succession of events, as is true of time.  The consciousness of God is best conceived as being an all-inclusive comprehension at once, covering all that has been or will be.  The attempt to bring time with its successions into a parallel with eternity is to misconceive the most essential characteristic of eternal things.22

With the foregoing in mind, we can return to Bill Johnson.

It appears possible Johnson may be condensing the concept of already but not yet, with some of the not yet into the already.  This would not be surprising as some hyper-charismatics are known as having an over-realized eschatology; i.e., some of the things reserved for the eschaton (the end of all things; when Christ returns) are claimed to be for now.  The Manifest Sons of God (MSoG) doctrine is one example of over-realized eschatology.

It is conceivable then that, in the Johnson Christology, Jesus is “eternally God” because Jesus is God only in eternity, but not divine in the temporal, earthly realm.  Stated another way, we can read Johnson’s tweet in conjunction with the question posed such that Jesus Christ is “eternally God”, i.e., Jesus is God in the eternal realm – and, of course eternity never ceases, as it has no beginning and no end – while He was simultaneously non-divine temporally in His earthly mission, as He had “emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man”.

Note that this adequately answers the question posed in the above tweet: Johnson affirms Jesus’ full deity while on earth, but only in virtue of the assertion that “Jesus Christ is eternally God” (again, eternity never ceases).  This is somewhat similar to the believer claiming to already have eternal life.  In other words, in its context, Johnson is not necessarily affirming temporal divinity in the earthly Jesus in and of itself in the above tweet; but, in asserting eternal deity it can be comprehended as somewhat analogous to the believer’s dual status in Ephesians 2:6 and Colossians 3:1-3.  Understood this way, Johnson’s tweet and the two quotations from the book referenced at the very beginning are adequately synthesized.

To be clear, what I’m proposing above with regard to Johnson’s teaching is not orthodox; it’s merely an attempt at explaining the seeming contradictions in Johnson’s theology.  This same idea can be applied to the following Facebook quote:

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]

Setting aside the fact that Johnson totally distorts the meaning of John 5:19 (“the Son of man can do nothing of Himself…”) by taking only a portion of this verse, wresting it from its proper context, we can understand this such that Jesus is an earthly non-divine man concurrent with an eternally divine Jesus.  Some of the bolded portion will be discussed further below.

In another context altogether, there is evidence of Bill Johnson’s conflation of the not yet with the already:

When I first heard this phrase, the Kingdom now but not yet, over 20 years ago, it was used as a statement of promise.  It was helpful for me to realize that we have access to things right now that I had always thought inaccessibleThe phrase helped to bring into focus the reality that some things will be enjoyed in time, and some things only in eternity.  But that same phrase has also been used to define limitations and restrictions, and not instill hope.  It is used to ease people’s dissatisfaction with unrealized promises now…

It is true that a full manifestation of the Kingdom of God is more than our physical bodies can endure.  But it is also true that when we are in Heaven we will still be able to say, now, but not yet, about the Kingdom, because there is no end to the increase of His governmentThroughout eternity the Kingdom will be expanding, and we will always be advancing.  I teach our people that if now, but not yet is used to define promise and potential, accept it.  If it is spoken to build awareness of our limitations and restrictions, reject it.  We don’t need more people without authentic Kingdom experiences telling us what we can and cannot have in our lifetime.  Those who walk out their faith with an experiential paradigm understand that we will always live in the tension of what we have seen and what we have yet to see, and that we are always moving on to more in God.  This is an understanding by experience issue.23

I’m not exactly sure how to understand Johnson’s statement, “Throughout eternity the Kingdom will be expanding…”, but the phrases “we have access to things right now that I had always thought inaccessible” and “we are always moving on to more in God” indicate, in context, that some of the not yet is for now.

But, I concede, this does not unequivocally prove that Johnson intends to teach an eternally divine Jesus with a temporally non-divine Jesus simultaneously.  However, such a teaching is not without precedent within hyper-charismaticism.  

The Two Realms of the Manifested Son of God

The late Bill Britton, a Manifest Sons of God (MSoG) teacher, has implicitly taught this in his booklet Tent to Temple (and other works) in a subsection titled “A Man Living In Two Worlds”.  In the following, please note that Britton is referencing the KJV/NKJV of John 3:13 that includes a clause at the end not found in most modern Bible versions – No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven (NKJV):24

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

One side of the Veil faced the sanctuary with its candlestick and the priests who ministered daily.  This was his earthly existence, living under a skin covering.  But the other side of the same veil faced the Holy of Holies and the Skekinah Presence of His Father.  So he could say “I do only those things I see my Father do – I say only those things that please Him”.  He lived on the earth where men could see him, in an earth body.  But in that body He also walked continually in a heavenly place on the other side of the veil.  And I see a people who live in “tent” bodies which have been redeemed from the sense realm, a people who walk victoriously because they walk in the spirit.  Jesus showed us the way.25

Ignoring the fact that Britton has taken Hebrews 10:20 way out of context and John 3:13 beyond proper exegesis, the above quote indicates the very thing I’m illustrating that Johnson may intend.  That is, Johnson’s quotes above are not incongruent with manifest sons of God (MSoG) doctrine.  I’m not stating definitively that Bill Johnson actually teaches or believes Britton’s exact statement; I’m just providing it as a possible explanation.

Yet, the Facebook quote above from August 11, 2012 fits the basic thrust of Britton’s statement quite nicely – as exemplified by the title of this subsection as “A Man Living In Two Worlds”.  Specifically, the Johnson statement “His limitations were in His humanity” [He was non-divine temporally on ‘this side of the veil’], “not His divinity” [He had full divinity in the eternal realm, on ‘the other side of the veil’] can align with Britton, especially when we add Johnson’s claims that Jesus is “eternally God” and “[b]ut He was also man”.

Johnson also alludes to something akin to Britton’s teaching above in his book The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind in a chapter titled “Becoming the Dwelling Place of God”:

…We are again becoming the dwelling place of God that was promised in the Bible.  [ED: Holy Spirit indwelt Christians throughout the years weren’t?]  We have hungered for more, prayed for more, and now we are receiving unprecedented insight into our privileges and responsibilities in the Kingdom of God.  These insights aren’t just being pondered; people are acting on them, and more and more, God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.26

This chapter is describing the Christian in “tent” bodies (not that this idea by itself is unscriptural), with an allusion to the not yet in the already.  Johnson claims that Genesis 28:10-19, Jacob’s dream, with the ladder of angels ascending and descending, is the OT precursor to the above (Johnson takes this out of context to ‘prove’ his point, not surprisingly).  He continues in this vein for a while, then discusses Jesus, after first quoting John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth:27

Dwelt in this verse means “to tabernacle.”  Jesus tabernacled among us – He was the House of God made flesh – the place where God lived.  He was the initial fulfillment of the prophetic picture in Genesis 28…28

There is a New Testament reference to Genesis 28:12 as Jesus being the one whom angels had ascended and descended upon in John 1:51, thus identifying Jesus as the one, unique Redeemer.

The fulfillment of the House of God began with Jesus.  He was the House of God on earth.  But this concept did not stop with Him – far from it…your conversion was not God’s ultimate intent for you.  It was His initial intent that set you up for the ultimate fulfillment, which is that you be filled with His fullness, living the normal Christian lifestyle as defined by what takes place in heaven29

For Johnson, “living the normal Christian life” means doing supernatural works in virtue of the anointing.  And, of course, this is what he means by Jesus being the “House of God made flesh”.30  Overlooking the fact that, from an orthodox Christian perspective, we cannot equate Christians as a “House of God” (via the indwelt Holy Spirit) to Jesus as the “House of God” (as He is the unique Word made flesh, with His divine nature in hypostatic union with His human), is this a veiled version of manifest sons of God (MSoG) doctrine?  I think so.

To assist in fully comprehending the unorthodox doctrine of MSoG, here’s occultist and New Ager Alice A. Bailey, as MSoG has a direct parallel with occult doctrine (the occult uses this very name).  The second quote provides the key to understanding Bill Johnson’s “eternally God” statements in conjunction with his temporally non-divine Jesus.  “Master” in the third selection is another name for a fully manifested son of God:

He [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.31 

…We are also preparing for expansions of consciousness which will enable us to live in two realms at once – the life which must be lived on earth and the life which we can live in the kingdom of God [ED: kingdom of God = eternal realm]…32 

If he chooses to take a physical vehicle [ED: body]… 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’…33

The first Bailey quote is similar to the Britton passage (“redeemed from the sense realm”), while portions of this first quote align with the “eternally God” yet temporally non-divine Jesus in some of the above Johnson quotes (Bailey’s “being in the world and yet not of the world…while walking on earth”).  However, it’s the second one that quite adequately explains Bill Johnson’s “eternally God” with a non-divine earthly Jesus, while also being congruent with the Britton quote.  And here’s a Facebook comment of Bill Johnson from May 12, 2012, which sounds similar to the third Bailey quote, and two more quotes from other Johnson works, which read like a bit of all three:

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. [Bill Johnson, Facebook, May 12, 2012; emphasis added]               

…He wants you to see reality from God’s perspective, to learn to live from His world toward the visible world34 

…That which is unseen can be realized only through repentance [ED: contemplative prayer, aka “experiencing His presence”].  It was as though He said, ‘If you don’t change the way you perceive things, you’ll live your whole life thinking what you see in the natural is the superior reality35

However, for more explicit MSoG teaching we have the following, in which Johnson claims that the glorified Jesus Christ of Revelation 1:14-15 is the model for which the believer is to aim while here on earth.36  Note how he takes 1 John 4:17 out of context (as He is, so are we in the world) – just as Alice Bailey does in her works to promote MSoG:37

…[W]hy didn’t the Father send Him [Holy Spirit] 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.38

To summarize this section: Keeping in mind Johnson’s teaching on the anointing, which indicates a temporally, earthly non-divine Jesus, who is only ‘linked’ to the divine via the anointing, we can systematize this doctrine with Johnson’s other statements that Jesus Christ is “eternally God” by understanding Jesus living in two different realms, the temporal and the eternal, simultaneously.  That is, there is a temporally non-divine Jesus concurrent with an eternally divine Jesus.  This is not unlike Manifest Sons of God doctrine, and Johnson looks to be explicating a somewhat veiled MSoG at some times, while teaching it more explicitly at others.

Overcoming Some Objections

Before concluding, there other statements of Bill Johnson that are less strongly asserting divested divinity (notwithstanding Johnson’s prevalent teaching on the anointing), while seemingly more strongly implying that the Word retained His divine attributes, yet chose not to exercise them.  Following are two.  We will focus on the bolded portions:

Jesus was (and is) God.  Eternally God.  That never changed.  But he chose to live with self imposed restriction while living on earth in the flesh – as a man.  In doing so He defeated sin, temptation, the powers of darkness as a man.  We inherit His victory – it was for us.  He never sinned!” [Facebook 3/21/2011] 

…Everything He did in His life and ministry He did as man who, though He was fully God, had set aside the privileges of His divinity in order to show us a model of the kind of life He would make available to each of us through His death, resurrection, and ascension…39

The first of these is not too dissimilar from the quotes in the very first part of this article; however, the “self imposed restriction” part can be read such that Jesus had continually restricted Himself from utilizing the divine attributes He retained, throughout His earthly ministry.   But, on the other hand, this can also be read that the Word’s limitation came just before the Incarnation in the form of a divestment, or partial divestment, of His divine attributes – or at least those divine attributes providing supernatural power – resulting in this “restriction”.

One unanswered question (at least explicitly unanswered) is just what the term divinity means.  From the above, it’s clear that possessing divinity entails an ability to perform the supernatural, since when it is “emptied” or “laid aside” the result is a complete inability to act supernaturally.  This implies no longer possessing the means by which to perform supernatural acts, rather than a continual, conscious self-limitation.  For, if Johnson means that the Word continued to possess supernatural powers, yet consciously chose not to use these powers, instead relying on the Holy Spirit, then words such as “no ability,” “couldn’t,” and “NO supernatural capabilities” would not be used.  Moreover, when “Jesus, the man” is ‘linked’ “to the divine40, i.e. the anointing, Jesus has supernatural capabilities via this linking “to the divine”.  Therefore, divine, is another form of divinity, both entailing the ability to perform the supernatural.

Also, we can construe that divinity and deity are interchangeable, as the term deity was part of the question posed to Johnson in the above tweet, and the term divinity is used in Johnson’s other quotes in a similar manner.  So, in Johnson’s dictionary, to empty of divinity does not result in ceasing to exist.  So, to recap, to empty or lay aside divinity/deity entails a continued existence but at the expense of any and all supernatural capabilities, in Johnson’s theology.

In the second quote above, if we take the bolded section just as it is (and the quote in isolation from all other Johnson material), we could understand this to be stating that the Word retained all divine attributes when He became flesh, yet refrained from using His divine “privileges”, i.e., supernatural powers.  But, on the other hand, this can be understood such that He was formerly God, that is, prior to becoming man, He was fully God; however, upon becoming a man He was no longer God having – to use one of the earlier quotes – “emptied Himself of divinity” when He entered the temporal realm.  Alternatively, we can interpret this statement such that “He was fully God” means He was “eternally God” (fully God) concurrent with the time He was temporally non-divine “as a man”.  The latter understanding is congruent with our analysis of the rest of Bill Johnson’s statements.

In each of the above quotes, it must be conceded that to apply the understanding that the Word retained possession of His divine attributes during the Incarnation is directly opposed to Johnson’s teaching on the anointing, which clearly reveals a non-divine earthly Jesus.  Therefore, to accept the interpretation that Johnson is stating that the Word retained all His divine attributes yet chose not to exercise them during His earthly ministry (while ignoring the “emptied Himself of divinity” statements) renders Johnson’s Christology totally incoherent, self-contradictory.

One other objection noted is based on a passage in When Heaven Invades Earth, which appears to affirm that Jesus was indeed Christ/Messiah at the virgin birth:

For hundreds of years the prophets spoke of the Messiah’s coming.  They gave over 300 specific details describing Him.  Jesus fulfilled them all!  The angels also gave witness to His divinity when they came with a message for the shepherds: ‘For there is born to you this day…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Nature itself testified to the arrival of the Messiah with the star that led the wise men…’41

Besides the fact that Johnson above, in His Christ = the anointing teaching, illustrates that anyone who receives the anointing is an “Anointed One” or “Messiah”, the above passage does not necessarily affirm that Jesus is the Messiah/Christ at the virgin birth.  The interpretive key is the remainder of the paragraph:

…Yet with this one statement, ‘Unless I do the works of the Father, do not believe me,’* Jesus put the credibility of all these messengers on the line.  Their ministries would have been in vain without one more ingredient to confirm who He really was.  That ingredient was miracles.42

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

So, it would seem the above paragraph can be perfectly harmonized with the rest of Johnson’s teachings.  To state another way: With Johnson’s assertion that “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit”,43  in its original context (see above), he makes it apparent that baptism is the point at which Jesus receives the title/name of Christ (Messiah).  Consequently, according to this teaching, it follows that since Jesus did not have the name of Christ, and, hence was not yet Christ before baptism, the angels’ and the other messengers’ words were contingent upon Jesus ‘proving Himself’ by performing the miraculous, thereby showing Him to be an “Anointed One” – for anyone receiving the Christ anointing is an anointed one.  Moreover, Johnson’s quote is not necessarily proclaiming Jesus’ divinity (“the angels gave witness to His divinity”) since he asserted that it was the anointing that linked “Jesus, the man, to the divine.”44  Jesus’ divinity was only by virtue of the yet future anointing.

But what about the specific language in the first part of the paragraph above, especially the use of Luke 2:11, that states, in effect, that the Messiah had come at that time, at the virgin birth?  To answer this, I’ll quote New Ager/occultist Levi Dowling:

…When we say ‘Jesus, the Christ’ we refer to the man and to his office; just as we do when we say…Lincoln, the President…Lincoln was not always President, and Jesus was not always Christ45

If one has this in mind, one could use Luke 2:11 – “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” [NIV 1984] – to mean that Jesus is the future Christ and NOT that Jesus was born as the Christ.  This would be similar to stating, “President Lincoln was born On February 12, 1809.” Certainly, Lincoln wasn’t born President, for he was elected to the office of the President later.

Once again, if one does not accept the above explanation, then one is left with self-contradictory teaching.  However, I submit that Johnson’s penchant for redefining terms and concepts, as well as his overt duplicity in doing so at times (whether he borrowed any of this from someone else or not matters little), indicates he could be deceptive in other areas (as he has been in the account of the Roberts Liardon library acquisition); that is, Johnson could throw in the odd orthodox statement now and again in order to purposefully confuse those who see his main teachings as unorthodox.

Concluding Remarks

As this article illustrates, by using Bill Johnson’s own words, he does in fact deny the full deity/divinity of Jesus Christ while He was on earth in his teaching on the anointing.  This is not a “hurtful rumor”, as he states in his tweet; it’s an established fact as evidenced by Bill Johnson’s own clear (and sometimes unclear) teachings.  Is this being uncharitable towards Bill Johnson?  Scripture does not indicate we should be charitable toward false teachers:

17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18, NKJV)

It is Bill Johnson who is causing division with his teachings that run contrary to orthodox Christianity.  Having identified this, we are to avoid him.  The Apostle Paul states quite clearly, “such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ”.  Anyone who consistently denies the divinity of Jesus Christ in any form or fashion, as Johnson clearly does in his Christology, is an enemy of the Cross of Christ and an enemy of the Christian faith.

1 Bill Johnson “Healing and the Kingdom” in 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.  Each chapter is authored by either Bill Johnson or Randy Clark.
2 Bill Johnson “Healing and the Authority of the Believer” in Johnson, Clark Essential Guide to Healing, pp 132-133.  Emphasis added.
3 Bill Johnson Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007; Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL, p 77.  Underscore added.
4 Johnson Face to Face, pp 21-22, 58, 77-82, 100-102
5 Bill Johnson When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA, p 80; Johnson Face to Face, p 22
6 Johnson, Face to Face, pp 21-22
7 Johnson, Face to Face, pp 79, 109
8 Johnson, Face to Face, pp 21-22. Bold added.
9 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79
10 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79.  Emphasis added.
11 Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology, 1994, Inter-Varsity, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 233-38, 543-554, 624-33; Louis Berkhof Systematic Theology, 1941, 4th revised and enlarged ed, 1991, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 91-5, 312-13, 356-66
12 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79.  Emphasis added.
13 Johnson, Face to Face, p 109. Italics in original; bold added.
14 Johnson, Face to Face, p 77.  Bold added.
15 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. Italics in original; bold added.
16 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79.  Emphasis added.
17 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79.  Italics in original.
18 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 80.  Bold added.
19 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 81
20 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 29
21 Bill Johnson The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles, 2005, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA, p 50. Bold added.
22 Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology, 1948, 1976 Dallas Theological Seminary (1993), Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI, Vol. VII, pp 141-42.  Emphasis added.
23 Bill Johnson Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World through God’s Creative Flow, 2006, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA, pp 64-65.  Italics in original; bold added for emphasis.
24 This clause will be the subject of a future article here on CrossWise.
25 Bill Britton From Tent to Temple, nd, Bill Britton (no publisher listed), Springfield, MO, pp 15-16.  All as per original except bold, which is added for emphasis.
26 Johnson Supernatural Power, pp 53-54.  Bold added.
27 Johnson Supernatural Power, pp 54-57
28 Johnson Supernatural Power, p 57. Italics in original.
29 Johnson Supernatural Power, p 57.  Bold added.
30 I’ve argued elsewhere that Bill Johnson is teaching that Jesus is really the Word of Faith (WoF) “rhema” word ‘made flesh’, aka the “present truth” word made flesh, in the following: < >.  This is also is consistent with the Gnostic/New Age doctrine of divine spark or divine seed within each person waiting to be awakened.
31 Alice A. Bailey 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 187.  Emphasis added.
32 Bailey Bethlehem to Calvary, p 51.   Emphasis added.
33 Alice A. Bailey The Rays and the Initiations. 1960 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1976, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 699. Emphasis added.
34 Johnson Supernatural Power, p 45.  Italics in original; bold added.
35 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 38.  Italics in original; bold added.
36 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 145
37  Alice A. Bailey The Reappearance of the Christ, 1948, Lucis Trust, 9th printing 1979 (4th Paperback ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY, p 145; Bailey Bethlehem to Calvary, p 110.
38 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 145.  Italics in original; bold added.
39 Johnson, Face to Face, p 23
40 Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 79
41 Johnson, Heaven Invades p 97
42 Johnson, Heaven Invades p 97.  Italics in original.
43 Johnson, Heaven Invades p 79
44 Johnson, Heaven Invades p 79
45 Dowling, Aquarian Gospel, p 8.  Emphasis added.

541 Responses to Assessing Bill Johnson’s “Eternally God” Declarations Amidst His Other Christological Statements

  1. Craig says:

    My question was really more or less rhetorical – more to get readers to think – because I don’t think we can put a sort of quota as to what’s appropriate. Some of the more technical material I read has more interpretation and other potential interpretations than Scripture. Some other material I’ve read is based primarily on philosophical concepts about Christian Theology, with very little Scripture, some of which is fine while others end up in part/s refutable by Scripture. But, yes one can distort a very small percentage of Scripture and yet be WAY off. And the point about merely 1% of Scripture being able to refute the other 99% of material is well said.


  2. Carolyn says:

    Craig said “This site is primarily an apologetics site. Sometimes explaining a particular non-Christian concept will help to explain how one who purports to be Christian actually looks more like the non-Christian/occult instead. I’ve already explained this as well. And, why is this done? Well, as I’ve already explained, there are folks who DO NOT KNOW the Truth, and if they recognize that the beliefs to which they adhere are definitely false, then they may be led to the Truth.”

    You did make that clear and thank you. And I said I agree with you. I was expressing how that video made ME feel and perhaps why. I’m sorry if I went on and on. I was afraid it would come across as a criticism of you personally. Not at all.


  3. MaryM says:

    I doubt you would get through to them by using Scripture…Even though they read it (through BJs’ lens – The Message bible is used a lot), Scripture to them is basically non-essential…it is a moldy old book and ‘everyone knows what it says’…God is doing a new thing – we are in a new time – a time of revelation and visions and dreams, etc.

    They will use Scripture, but twist/change it to fit their ‘story’. To them, everything spiritual is of God. It’s all about love and relationship and blessings. So if you can show them the occult, witchcraft, New Age, etc., has the same thing going on as they do, hopefully it will make them stop and think. (Although, one lady told me that they didn’t care if it was new age or whatever – they are taking back what the devil stole from Adam at the fall – all of this is what God had intended from the beginning).

    If you say anything about sin or correction or things like that – then you are not walking in the spirit and in love and probably have a religious/pharisee spirit. They even do things that are frowned upon just to prove they are liberated and aren’t tied down by religion. They pity those who rely on the written word – they have evolved (ascended :)) to something much higher and more important.

    The bottom line is – put all the evidence out there and pray that God opens their eyes. 🙂


  4. YesNaSpanishTown says:

    I AM A WORDIE! Happy to wear the honor!


  5. just1ofhis says:

    MaryM said, “They even do things that are frowned upon just to prove they are liberated and aren’t tied down by religion.”

    That’s called rebellion.

    It is the very fact that they don’t care, much like the ELCA pastor didn’t care what the Bible actually said or not, shows this. It is open and active rebellion against the Word of God. I know a woman in the ELCA who stated it such that she didn’t care if every page in the Bible had scripture speaking out against homosexuality, she wouldn’t believe it, much like the woman you spoke of.

    God can bring anyone to repentance, and I keep hoping for that. Some of these folks are very persistent in their thinking, however.

    Jesus Christ is the Word of God made flesh. If they are rebelling against what is written in that Word, they are rebelling against Him.


  6. Arwen4CJ says:


    I don’t think the amount of Scripture quoting either gives validity to something or takes it away. Anyone can quote Scripture, but that doesn’t mean that it is being used correctly.

    I also think it depends on the purpose of the article or book or talk. If someone is trying to give instructions to Christians or write a sermon, then the piece would need a lot of Scripture to back up what is being said, especially if it is supposed to be based on Scripture.

    This particular article about Bill Johnson isn’t set out to expound upon Scripture. Rather, the intent is to show where Bill Johnson’s Christology falls short, and is heretical. In order to give this kind of a presentation, you need to tell people what Christology is, what is wrong with Bill Johnson’s, etc, which is what you have done here.

    Of course Scripture quoting is good — but God also gave us brains. We can discuss topics, well reasoned arguments, etc., without quoting Scripture in every other sentence. It all depends on where the Spirit leads the discussion.


  7. Ballerina says:

    I find it odd that after I had commented on BC&C page on Facebook and continued commenting here regarding Bill Johnson’s erroneous teachings…they have blocked me from commenting their page, even to “like” their page I am blocked as well. I have not commented on here in a while (since this entry was first posted), but I see some older comments (after I commented here) where you say your comments on Beyond Grace were not posted by Bill. :-/ I find it odd and even a little unchristlike. Oh well, just thought I’d share that you aren’t the only one that they seem to dismiss.


  8. Ballerina says:

    @jeffreydaniel I am probably a bit late in this point I am to make, but I will give it shot in exposing it. You mention soaking prayer and alluding to it not being so bad. Well I strongly disagree, besides living this movement myself, John and Carol Arnott who are one of the biggest movers and shakers of this movement, admit here in this clip that soaking prayer IS contemplative prayer via their “soaking kits” that they sell. They basically admit too that it’s looking for an experience, hence “looking for the voice of God rather than struggling in regular prayer”.

    Ray Yungen has some excellent information and is an extensive researcher on contemplative prayer and it’s dangers. Here is a part one: and part two: To fully understand how detrimental soaking is, you HAVE to understand what contemplative prayer is. While some of the contemplatives don’t use music like the charismatics do with “soaking”, it’s still the same thing.


  9. Craig says:

    The disconnect on BC&C is rather strange. On the one hand there are outright claims about this or that being new age, especially with respect to Beni Johnson. On the other hand, if one makes a claim that Bill Johnson’s teaching emanates from new age, using specifics, then your comments will be deleted. On the other hand (yeah, there appear to be more than two hands at play), if you are Bill Johnson supporter you can comment, within the parameters set forth for commenting. Perhaps they should add to their standards on commenting that a commenter shouldn’t bring up anything specifically New Age about Bill Johnson. The idea is to use ‘man’s wisdom’ to draw Bill Johnson supporters away from Bethel. But, of course, God can use Christians and non-Christians alike, and many different methods, to both reprove Christians and draw/save non-Christians.


  10. Craig, this is a bit random but here is an article I found that I thought might be of interest to you. It is a review by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, looking at the New Age movement and its influences in the Catholic Church. Clearly we aren’t the only ones noticing strange winds of doctrines. It is very interesting to see things from the Vatican’s perspective (a little ironic too, perhaps), and it is a very well documented article (includes a glossary of terms and 107 footnotes!). I am reading through it at the moment.


  11. just1ofhis says:

    Yesterday I had a phone conversation with a woman who had recently been prayed for by a SOZO leader. This woman had been going through a lonely spot in her life, and the SOZO leader prayed for her to bind “the spirit of rejection”. They did not have a full session, as far as I know.

    I quoted her the scriptures: that all who desire to lead a godly life in Christ will be persecuted and that we live our lives on this earth as aliens. The true Christian is always going to be at odds with the world and left out.

    Rejection? It is our birthright as children of the Most High God.

    The “new age ‘christ’ ” is the one who is interested in self-actualization and popularity.

    So what is this woman going to do the next time she is feeling down? Bind the “spirit of bad moods”? Pray for a “spirit of popularity”? Break the “stronghold of isolation”?

    They will never have the real peace or joy that comes from knowing that God’s wrath against us has been satisfied in Christ Jesus, until they repent of these things and start trusting in His Word.


  12. Craig says:


    I think I’ve seen that article once before. I note this under Theosophy, which is in error, at least in respect to Blavatsky:

    …Theosophical mysticism tends to be monistic, stressing the essential unity of the spiritual and material components of the universe. It also looks for the hidden forces that cause matter and spirit to interact, in such a way that human and divine minds eventually meet. Here is where theosophy offers mystical redemption or enlightenment.

    Theosophy is dualistic with matter as evil and spirit as good. All matter is to be destroyed.

    I saw a good expose on the NAM by Cardinal Ratzinger, before he was Pope Benedict.


  13. just1ofhis says:

    I have read a lot of end-time stuff claiming that the Pope is going to head the beast system at the end; but the book of Revelation (17-18) shows the harlot being destroyed by the beast that she once had been riding.

    “The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire. For God has put it into their hearts to accomplish His purpose by agreeing to give the beast their power to rule, until God’s words are fulfilled.” (Rev 17:16-17)

    it is just my take, but I believe: The RCC will continue it’s stand against homosexuality and abortion as well as the NAM (in spite of the desert fathers); then, the NAM and new world order will bring about the end of the RCC and all who refuse to come out of her.

    I believe it is one of the reasons that the NAR, purpose-driven, and emergent folks are so anxious to have their followers ignore Bible-prophecy. Many of these people are already a part of the NWO. They (or their next generations maybe) are being groomed to ultimately fulfill these prophesies. If they studied these words in the Bible, maybe they would repent and be set free.


  14. just1ofhis – I always get so much out of your contributions, thank you. It’s wonderful to know there are people such as yourself reaching out to those caught up in these deceptions.

    (If I have told you this story already, forgive my repetition!)

    In the weeks leading up to leaving my last church, (a reformed Anglican church embracing Bethel teacings and music, as well as ‘Cleansing Streams’, a deliverance program), I had a similar prayer session. It was bizarre and very emotional. I was told I had a ‘spirit of self-sufficiency’ and needed to renounce it. Now as a separated mum with a chronic illness and two kids with special needs, I am both dependent on others and yet necessarily self sufficient, depending on the situation. If the point was that I was not depending on the Lord enough, it would have a been a fair point and could have been dealt with in a normal loving conversation and prayer. Instead I was anointed with oil and prayed over, with what I now realise were some ‘words of knowledge’. Never in all my years growing up in a Christian family, as a missionary kid, or even in my deepest rebellion has anyone ever even suggested this kind of thing!

    Here’s the most disturbing thing..when I went home, I had a completely blank mind. I love reading theology books but my mind couldn’t process anything I was reading. I couldn’t even pray. I went to sleep, and had one of only about four dreams in my life that I believe was direct spiritual attack. When I went to church on Sunday I told my pastor and the lady who had prayed over me with him what had happened and they seemed pleased. It didn’t add up…emptying the mind is something that I learned as being dangerous as a child. So I have never gotten into meditation etc. Yet they thought it was fine that this happened. Very unsettling. Interestingly, at the time they were also planning to come to my house to pray away any evil presence that may have been lingering. It was bizarre. Having grown up in a very superstitious Catholic country (the Philippines) it seemed like something the local shaman or priest there would do. Shortly afterwards I felt led to cancel my baptism and left the church.

    We really are returning to our pagan default setting of ancient times, aren’t we?


  15. Perhaps I should clarify…that last statement was a general ‘we’. Clearly those of us having this conversation are by the grace of God, doing no such thing. 🙂


  16. just1ofhis says:


    Thank you for the encouraging words and for sharing that testimony. I gain hope from every testimony that shows God protecting someone from all that falsehood…by His grace, absolutely!

    “Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned satan’s so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): Only hold on to what you have until I come.” (Rev 2:24-25)

    In the church in Thyatira there was a false prophetess, Jezebel, who was leading those who were saved into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. To those who stood firm in the true gospel and refused to follow the crowd, Jesus promised not to impose any other burden on them.

    There is a burden in standing firm against lies when brothers and sisters in the LORD are being swept away by them. The LORD saw this as such a great burden, that He wasn’t willing to impose anything else on them and just told them to keep standing firm.

    Hold on to what you have until I come….


  17. IWTT says:

    “…as well as ‘Cleansing Streams’, a deliverance program…”

    Ah, did that for 7 years as a leader… been there,done that, and will never do it again!


  18. YesNaSpanishTown says:

    Elijah House as well. Based on Agnes Sanford via Carl Jung’s psychology. We have several people who are highly trained in EH ministry. I cannot have a normal conversation with them without one of them telling me what kind of spirit I have going on in me. Usually I am a “burden bearer” (perjorative). It seems like they bait me by asking how someone in my family is doing. Now I just tell them fine, then move on to another topic. I guess they want me to run to them for help so they can practice on me. LOL!

    It’s sad though, because it makes me avoid even normal pleasant conversation with people. They are not engaging with me, they are psychoanalyzing me. Hmmm…..whatever happened to “judge not…” How convenient that phrase is when they want to apply it to their critics only.


  19. IWTT, have you ever written about the content of the CS course, or do you know someone who has? I tried to talk to my former pastor about CS, as he was actually preaching it from the pulpit (imagine my surprise when I read part of a manual and realise that was covered in an entire sermon series). He denied it was unbiblical and said the Australian manual must be different than the US one, and to ignore the bad reports on Youtube as they were not credible (I hadn’t even watched anything on Youtube about it!!). I have a close friend who is still at my old church, deeply mired in this spiritual bondage, with her marriage falling apart. I would be interested in your feedback or testimony (my aologies if you have already shared it and I missed it). If you feel inclined at any point, you could email me (I think my profile has my email address).

    YesNa, goodness me that sounds rather tedious. Sorry if I missed your story previously, but are you referring to your current church? One of the reasons I thought that CS was not very biblical was because having just finished a psychology degree (and discovered it was mostly rubbish!) I recognised the psychology component of the CS course, with the odd bit of superstitious paganism thrown in (generational curses, clearing houses of ‘spirits’ etc.). It seemed really destructive to me, even before the 7 months of research that followed me leaving my church!

    By the way, IWTT and YesNa…I have gotten a great deal of helpful information and encouragement from your posts too. Thanks!


  20. YesNaSpanishTown says:

    Hi, Narrowing Path! I can answer your question more fully privately. I sent you a private message a week or so ago to the account connected with Naomi’s table. I recognized you there. Check it out and we can exchange there. Blessings!


  21. IWTT says:

    36) The Cleansing Stream – Warning! Contaminated Water! by Tom Launder, 2000
    “From the outset I want to make it clear that I have no personal vendetta to settle with anyone in the Cleansing Stream program or at The Church On The Way. My reasons for opposing this program are purely theological and pastoral. My heart is grieved when I consider what this program teaches and what it does to Christians and professing Christians.” Eleven chapter booklet refuting the new Cleansing Stream materials from The Church On The Way. Isn’t the following ringing endorsement from Brownsville AoG on the Cleansing Stream web site enough to put any true believer off this program? “In eighteen months approximately 2,400 people have gone through the CLEANSING STREAM MINISTRIES’ materials and attended a retreat. Anyone who serves in any capacity in the church goes through Cleansing Stream. The impact on our congregation is a drastic reduction in our counseling load. Our people have been given tools with which to deal with life-controlling behavior patterns that have adversely affected their lives and ability to serve God effectively.” – Brownsville Assembly of God, Assistant Pastor Carey Robertson


  22. This might interest y’all. A personal testimony in several posts (see the right-hand side for all related posts). I don’t know this guy, so if you do let me know! 🙂

    BTW, Arwen4CJ, you too. 🙂


  23. IWTT says:

    @The Narrowing Path

    I have not written on it much. My experience with the ministry was as a worship leader for a specific area (geography) at both national and regional levels and after looking into how the ministry uses the scripture to support their claims\teaching, I could not reconcile them since the scriptures were and are taken out of context. Also, I don’t know if he is still on the list but the President Chris Hayward was on the NAR list of apostles at one time.

    I will considder writing a testamony on the experience and why I am no longer a part of that ministry.


  24. Craig says:


    Kevin Kleint has posted a link to his testimony in the comments section of one these CrossWise articles (can’t recall which one). It’s a testament to the grace of God that he was able to break free of the Elijah List!


  25. Thanks IWTT. The article you linked to was the very first one I read. I recommend sharing it around! It was such an eye opener. Some of it sounded so familiar that I went back to our church’s sermon archives and listened to a couple of the sermons series I had originally heard in church, only to discover they were full of CS content. After that I could hear it all the time in each sermon, hammering away at people’s sense of peace and freedom in Christ. In the end, I had to take a lot of responsbilibity for my situation and repent, as I had just blindly believed what my pastor was preaching. I can see how others can be easily decieved, especially at difficult times in our lives when others things such as illnesss or marriage breakdown have crowded in. What a relief to be free of it…the moment I realised I was freed is quite memorable!


  26. YesNa, I can’t find a private message. Maybe I am not looking in the right place? Do I have the two gorgeous kids (black and white photo) on the post when I joined the Table? If so, that’s me! (Sorry to use this site momentarily as a social networking site Craig. I promise it is for good and not evil!).


  27. Craig says:


    No problem. If you like, I can send the email address you’re using here to YesNa.


  28. Please do, thanks Craig!


  29. YesNaSpanishTown says:

    Thanks, Craig!


  30. Craig says:

    Follow-up article incorporating Johnson’s podcast “Thinking from the Throne” now posted:


  31. Craig says:

    The following was written by Sri Chimnoy, in his book The Garland of Nation-Souls: Complete Talks at the United Nations [Health Communications, Inc, Deerfield Beach, FL, p 210]:

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

    Consider the above when considering Bill Johnson’s “eternally God” statements in reference to Jesus. How is it that man is eternally “God Himself”? By the doctrine of reincarnation. The entire basis for belief in reincarnation is the belief in the preexistence of souls (or divine seed/spark concept). That is, in ‘eternity past’, all souls were taken from ‘God’, as a part of ‘God’ Himself, and reserved for future implantation into humans. These souls existed from ‘eternity past’ as disincarnate spirit beings. These souls then became incarnate as man, or more accurately mankind’s body was created with the souls indwelling the ‘outer shell’ of man.

    Reincarnation is the basis of the Manifest Sons of God /Ascended Master teachings. It is precisely because individuals have this god-like part of them (the soul, divine seed/spark), that their essence continues on, even at the death of the physical body. However, once one reaches fully manifested son of God / Ascended Master the body is no longer necessary, though a new glorified body can be obtained in order to come back to earth.

    This is a point I made, though probably not well, in part II of the ‘Johnson, New Age Christ?’ series. It’s also implied in this article and it’s follow-up. And, it’s also implied in the most recent one about Kris Vallotton. ADDED: Actually, I skimmed over the Vallotton post again, and it’s explicit rather than implicit.


  32. mywordlikefire says:

    Reblogged this on My Word Like Fire and commented:
    Craig from CrossWise with a painstakingly thorough analysis.


  33. Pingback: Varning för Bill Johnson (I Sverige företrädd av New Wine) | HaFos funderingar

  34. Jim says:

    As you state, Craig, the ‘gospel’ of Johnson and his ilk is clearly that we can enjoy the fullness of heaven on earth now, yet ignore Paul’s detailed treatise that flesh and blood cannot inherit/manifest/experience the kingdom (1 Cor 15:50) in all its glory. We can ‘taste’ (glimpse?) of the powers of the coming age (Hebrews 6:5 in the writer’s warning not to be led astray), but Johnson conveniently forgets that Christ in us is the hope of glory, not the fulfilment of glory. And as Heb 11 says, what we hope for is what the ancients did also, namely, a ‘better resurrection’ (11:35). A resurrection unto eternal life, not simply the miraculous, then leading on to an elite group attaining some sort of Christ-conciousness.

    Your piece had a section on tents, and I think (although I haven’t read the chapter you cite) that Johnson misses the point of references by Jesus, Paul, John and others to rooms, tents, houses, mansions and cities. These are all ways of describing our current physical state and our future glorified, resurrected state – our inheritance as Peter describes in 1 Peter 1 that is kept in heaven awaiting Christ’s return when the dead in Christ will rise to receive their solid ‘house’ as Paul says in 2 Cor 5, instead of our current flimsy tent. This is what what the prophets of old were seeing dimly, and angels longed to look into.

    This resurrection event is future-focused still, but Johnson wants to bring it into the here and now and there lies his key misunderstanding of the scriptures and subsequent misalignment of his ministry direction. If what has been reserved for when Jesus returns is, or appears to be, manifested today, it is either the flesh convincing other gullible flesh, satan as an angel of light deceiving and lying, or God sending a powerful delusion to those who hate the truth, or a mix. Whichever, it’s not pretty.


  35. linkh says:

    It looks to me like the author here is twisting Bill Johnson’s words. Bill Johnson said that Jesus is ‘eternally God.’ If we are to be charitable in the sense the article advises at the opening, we should consider that the comment about ’emptying Himself of His divinity’ was not meant to mean that Jesus was no longer ‘eternally God.’

    Bill Johnson wrote, as quoted in this article,
    “The anointing Jesus received was the equipment necessary, given by the Father to make it possible for Him to live beyond human limitations…That would include doing supernatural things. The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine, enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil…”16

    But then the blogger writes
    “It follows logically then that those who receive the Christ anointing will be linked to the divine in the same way. To reiterate, just like mankind is non-divine and subsequently linked to the divine via the anointing, Jesus was merely a non-divine man who was linked to the divine via the anointing. ”

    No, that does not follow, at all, from the paragraph you are quoting. He was saying the anointing linked Jesus ____the man_____ to the divine. That does not imply that Jesus was merely a non-divine man. He also wrote that Jesus was eternally God.

    As far as the title ‘Christ’ is concerned, the Bible says ‘”Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” The anointing of the Christ would seem to have been an event (or at least one event.) Bill Johnson puts this at the baptism of Christ, which seems a workable theory. I suppose there could have been a pre-incarnate anointing that we do not specifically read about. References to the Messiah as Messiah before His anointing would point toward that time of anointing as references after it point backward to it.


  36. Craig says:

    linkh, you wrote (snippet):

    No, that does not follow, at all, from the paragraph you are quoting. He was saying the anointing linked Jesus ____the man_____ to the divine. That does not imply that Jesus was merely a non-divine man. He also wrote that Jesus was eternally God.

    I think you may need to re-read the entire article regarding Johnson’s “eternally God” statements. Also, you must keep in mind the quotes @ footnotes 13, 14, and 15 to fully understand what I wrote following the quote @ footnote 16 (that is, my comments following @ 16 should be understand in conjunction with 13, 14, & 15, not to mention 9, 10, and 12). Essentially, Johnson states that Jesus required “the anointing”, aka “Christ anointing”, in order to perform anything supernatural (implying he was incapable otherwise, thus inherently less-than-Deity), and he claimed that believers must receive this same “Christ anointing” in order to perform the miraculous. Calling it “Christ anointing” implies–and confirms his words @ quote 10–that it’s this “anointing” that provides the Christ title for Jesus, and it would follow that others who receive this same “Christ anointing” should also be called “Christs”. This is straight out of New Age/New Spirituality teachings.

    For the record, I am the author of this piece (the articles used to have my name under each title, but WordPress made some changes to their platform).


  37. Pingback: Bill Johnson, Jesus Culture and Bethel Church - Redeeming Moments

  38. Jim says:

    To receive something that makes us like Jesus sounds a lot like the ancient lie whispered into Eve’s ear.

    What all the kenoticists want to do is create an incarnate Jesus who is simply a human reliant on God, so that they can peddle the Eden lie again to entice a following. The passage in Phil 2:5-7 is entirely about attitude, not Jesus’s ontology or earthly constitution.

    The line that Paul writes stating that Jesus was obedient unto death is clear that he is cognisant of a divine Jesus/Logos is fleshly form. A man cannot be obedient unto death – it happens regardless and we are obedient to its finality. It wasn’t that he chose to go to the cross obediently (although he did), it was that he was prepared to let his divinity be subordinated to the fate of all humanity.


  39. Craig says:

    Philippians 2:5-7 is about attitude and Jesus’ ontology.


  40. Jim says:

    I used to think so too Craig. Now I find it more likely that the deity of Jesus was the assumed baseline of all NT writers and ECF, and the direct message in Phil 2:5-7 is exactly what we read: be humble and submit to one another as Jesus did in his incarnation.


  41. Craig says:

    I have it in mind to do an article exegeting Philippians 2:5-8, engaging with various positions. I’d started it a LONG time ago…

    In any case I’m convinced that it is a direct reference to Jesus’ divinity/deity.

    Have I pointed you to this article?:


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