…In the SAME measure that the Father put Jesus at His right hand, in the same measure He has put YOU at His right hand, because YOU are IN Christ….
– Bill Johnson, “Thinking from the Throne” podcast, June 9, 20131
It could not have been planned this way. In the previous CrossWise article, the attempt was made to synthesize Bill Johnson’s “eternally God” statements with his other teachings that indicate a temporally non-divine Jesus, conjecturing that Johnson may have in mind John 3:13, Ephesians 2:6 / Colossians 3:1-3 as a way to account for Jesus living in two realms simultaneously, with the idea that Christians can do the same, as in the manifest sons of God (MSoG) doctrine. Amazingly, the very day the finishing touches were put on the article and it was published (June 9, 2013), Bill Johnson preached a sermon using these very Scriptures towards that very end! With this podcast as evidence, it is apparent that Johnson DOES, in fact, share essentially the same MSoG view as Bill Britton, as illustrated in the quote used in the last article.
Throughout this current article this podcast/sermon titled “Thinking from the Throne” will be referenced, but instead of assigning footnotes next to each quote, time markers will be placed just before and after the quotes from the transcript. ALL CAPS indicates Johnson stressing particular words, all other emphasis added:
[0:24]…I want to pick up where we kind of left off here a few weeks ago…the series that I started about the Throne life, the ascended lifestyle…
Jesus stood before His disciples, before Nicodemus in John chapter 3, and He made this statement, He said, “No one has ASCENDED into heaven except He that descended” [John 3:13]. Now this is before His death, before His Resurrection; so He was describing here a lifestyle of intimacy with the Father where even though He was standing on earth He had ascended into heavenly realms in His relationship with God. The point being, that is an invitation for every believer…[1:52]
Did you catch that? Johnson is claiming that John 3:13 means that Jesus “ascended” while He was yet still on earth during the Incarnation, before His literal, physical ascension (Acts 1:9-11) – this “lifestyle of intimacy with the Father” providing the means by which He “had ascended into heavenly realms with God”. Moreover, this is also “an invitation for every believer” to do the same – that is, to attain the “ascended lifestyle”, or “Throne life” while yet here on earth.
While John 3:13 is a somewhat difficult Scripture to interpret, not one credible exegesis is such that Jesus had mystically “ascended” while still on the earth, before His literal Ascension. But Johnson’s view is not inconsistent with Gnostic redeemer myths of the 2nd century (and perhaps late 1st century), in which Jesus ascends and descends as a pattern for others to follow towards self-salvation (sometimes with Christ distinct from Jesus as the means by which to “ascend”).2 However, as I’ve stated elsewhere, my opinion is that the Gospel of John was actually written in part as a polemic against this sort of proto-Gnosticism of the late 1st century (see introduction here), though some 2nd century Gnostics interpreted John’s Gospel as a Gnostic text. Wayne Meeks interacts with the very liberal Rudolf Bultmann’s work in this regard [“Johannine” = writings attributed to the Apostle John]:
…To be sure, [Bultmann’s] observation that the closest extant analogies to the Johannine myth [ED: descending/ascending motif] are to be found in the literature of the gnostic movements stands firm and had been reinforced by more recent discoveries. The problem comes in assessing the very important differences between the typical gnostic myths and that of John, and therefore the direction of the relationship between the two patterns. Perhaps the most important difference, which Bultmann did not fail to notice, is the fact that in gnostic myths most comparable with the Johannine pattern the redeemer’s descent and ascent parallel the fate and hope of the human essence (soul, pneuma [ED: spirit], seed, or the like), while in the Fourth Gospel there is no such analogia entis [ED: analogy of being/imitation] between redeemer and redeemed…3
In other words, in these Gnostic writings the Redeemer Himself first needed redeeming, and the pattern He set for self-redemption was a model for all (or a select few). Is this what Bill Johnson means?
As per Johnson, it seems that the ultimate goal of ‘experiencing God’s presence’, “intimacy with the Father”, “Biblical meditation”, or ‘soaking in His presence’ is to “ascend”, thereby having a fully “renewed mind”, as in the sense of attaining full manifest sons of God (MSoG) status. MSoG doctrine is not inconsistent with the “Ascended Master” teaching in New Age / New Spirituality.
New Agers call this process leading up to ascension “expanding your (Christ) consciousness”, which is done by “experiencing God” through centering prayer, or contemplative prayer – the same term used by many within Christendom. This is not incongruent with the 2nd century Gnostic idea of receiving ‘special knowledge’ (gnosis), or mystical insight as a means of self-salvation; in fact, this is an updating of this Gnostic doctrine. Here’s one New Ager describing such an approach to this “higher consciousness”:
What would it feel like to be embraced by God? What would it feel like to become aware of how deeply you are loved by your Divine Source? It is possible to experience this! You can have a direct personal experience to feel the love your Creator has for you and to grow into the body experience of feeling the love you crave.
Spirit has the capacity to relate to us in any way we need and want. Relating to God as an energy force or love is certainly one approach to higher consciousness. Love, however, is best experienced in personal relationships–for example you cannot get love from a thing, only another person. We can know God through our hearts simply by wanting a personal relationship. This opens the portal for Spirit to fill us with the love and acceptance we need that we did not get as children or in our adult relationships.4
Once one reaches the full manifestation of a son of God, aka Master, through “higher consciousness” (by a “lifestyle of intimacy with the Father”?), one can, like the title of this podcast, ‘think from the Throne of God’. Or, as New Age / New Spirituality teacher Alice Bailey states, comparing the manifested son (Master) to the yet-to-ascend disciple, 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’….”5 Much like Johnson has stated on Facebook:
The most consistent way to display the kingdom of God is through the renewed mind [ascended lifestyle, aka resurrection life]. 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]
Or, as Bailey states elsewhere of the goal of the disciple:
…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…6
Am I jumping to conclusions? Please read on.
The Resurrected, Ascended, and Glorified Jesus as Model for Earthly ‘Believer’
Continuing where we left off above in the podcast:
[1:52]…The Apostle Paul coined a phrase, found language for this later, when he talked about every believer is seated in heavenly places, in Christ [ED: Ephesians 2:6]. So, picture this: Jesus was raised from the dead by the Spirit of Resurrection. When He was Resurrected, He Ascended to heaven, and He was seated at the right hand of the Father, and then was glorified. Alright? So, we have resurrected, ascended, and glorified….[2:22]
Here Johnson elaborates on his point about the believer’s goal of appropriating the very thing he claims Jesus did in John 3:13 – by faith, “ascending” via a “lifestyle of intimacy with the Father”, with Johnson using Ephesians 2:6 as his proof-text (see previous article for a proper interpretation of this verse). Does he mean that the ‘believer’ can be “resurrected, ascended, and glorified” and yet be here on the earth?
In another audio from 2010, Johnson stated the following. Note his claim of Jesus “re-inheriting everything” as a man, not God, yet Johnson also makes the usual “eternally God” assertion with it. One must wonder what it is Jesus “forfeited” in order to “re-inherit” it, in the selection below. But more important for now, notice the stammering in the middle, in which he makes the disclaimer that Jesus “is not an ascended being” as He “didn’t work His way up into divinity”:
The Father so honored Him for His perfect obedience that He now re-inherited everything; but, now not as God. Don’t misunderstand me, Jesus is not an ascended being; He’s not, uh, He didn’t work His way up into divinity. He is eternally God, eternally God. But, when He re-inherited everything, He inherited it as a man without sin. Why? Because He became our elder brother. He became the one who inherited everything. Why? So, that you and I could be positioned to inherit everything with Him. He forfeited all so that He could re-inherit in a way that would include us.7
Contrary to Johnson’s disclaimer (again, what was included in the “all” that was “forfeited” and subsequently “re-inherited”?),8 it appears he may be readapting Bailey’s Theosophic teaching that Jesus’ five major events – Birth, Baptism, Transfiguration, Crucifixion, and Resurrection / Ascension (the latter two grouped as one) – were both actually and symbolically achieved by Jesus in order to provide a symbolic pattern for others. In other words, according to this esoteric doctrine, Jesus provided an actual concrete pattern, both literal and symbolic, for the ‘believer’ to symbolically do the same. As further evidence to support that Johnson may be readapting Bailey’s model, he has elsewhere made the explicit claim that “[m]ost all of the experiences of Jesus recorded in Scripture were prophetic examples of the realms in God that are made available to the believer”, with the context specifically referring to the Mount of Transfiguration as one example.9
Bailey’s fivefold pattern is explained in her 1937 book From Bethlehem to Calvary: The Initiations of Jesus, and it would be instructive to quote a somewhat lengthy section to illustrate (note that “myth” is defined earlier here as “a fact which can be proven”):
…Through self-initiated experiment we can prove their validity; through experience we can establish them as governing forces in our lives; and through their expression we can demonstrate their truth to others. This is the theme of this book, dealing as it does with the facts of the Gospel story, that fivefold sequential myth which teaches us the revelation of divinity in the Person of Jesus Christ, and which remains eternally truth, in the cosmic sense, in the historical sense, and in its practical application to the individual. This myth divides itself into five great episodes:
- The Birth at Bethlehem.
- The Baptism in Jordan.
- The Transfiguration on Mount Carmel.
- The Crucifixion on Mount Golgotha.
- The Resurrection and Ascension.
Their significance for us and their reinterpretation in modern terms is our task.10
The “Gospel” here is reinterpreted as self-salvation through self-deification by following the five steps above symbolically rather than actually. Understand that the “revelation of divinity in the Person of Jesus Christ” is referring to a gradual deification, not that the earthly Jesus was divine per se. In occult teachings such as Theosophy, and some of the Gnostic teachings of the 2nd century (and today), the man Jesus of Nazareth had a divine spark/seed of ‘Christ’ within Him, like all of mankind (occultists pervert Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory” to this end), which was awakened at “the Virgin Birth” and continued to grow until He fully ‘died to his lower, material self’ at the “Crucifixion”, ridding Himself of the outer material body, after which He ascended. It took the “Christ spirit” – which was separate and distinct from the man Jesus – at Baptism for Jesus to actualize the 2nd through 5th initiations (sound familiar?).
So, is this what Johnson has in mind with his teachings? Keep reading.
In a follow-up sermon to the June 9th podcast, titled “Waiting Patiently in Hope” (June 23, 2013),11 Bill Johnson expounds a bit on the basic themes in his “Thinking from the Throne”. More importantly, he states the following which fits well into the Alice Bailey model above:
…The death of Christ is also the death of your old nature. The resurrection of Christ is actually your resurrection. His ascension is actually your legal access to heavenly realms. And His glorification is the position of the New Testament believer coming into the glory of the Lord. We LIVE in this atmosphere of presence…[3:15 – 3:39]
As we well know, the sin nature never leaves us in this life [Romans 7:14-25], but we must live by the Spirit rather than the sinful nature [Romans 8:4] by submitting to the Spirit instead of our sin nature [Galatians 5:16-26]. It is not until the resurrection of the saints that the sin nature leaves the saint – a yet future, one-time event for all Christians collectively, including those who’ve perished in centuries past, at the “last trumpet”, at which point we receive our non-flesh-and-blood bodies [1 Corinthians 15:50-54].
However, in the Alice Bailey Theosophic teachings, and other occult/esoteric doctrines, mankind has two natures – one human (lower self, ego) and one inherent divine nature (divine spark/seed or “Christ within”, higher self). According to Bailey’s five steps above, “the Crucifixion” (aka “The Great Renunciation”) is the point at which the “lower self” (“old nature” in Johnson’s quote above?) in the disciple has been completely overcome, overtaken by the now fully actualized divine nature, the culmination of the process of “dying to self”. Following this death of the lower self (“old nature”?), which renders the disciple a spirit being, having shed the outer material body (known as the “not self”), is the resurrection/ascension. This is the final stage, and the disciple is now a fully manifested son of God, usually known as “Ascended Master”.
These steps do not have to be fulfilled in one lifetime, for at death the spirit re-ascends to the heavenlies to await reincarnation into another body, in order to continue the process. The spirit continues reincarnating ad infinitum until completion of the five steps, i.e. the attainment of Ascended Master, or fully manifested son of God. The individual is now on par with the occult/Theosophic “Master Jesus” who had provided the pattern for this “Age of Pisces”.
Those who know anything about the manifest sons of God (MSoG) teaching know that “coming into the glory of the Lord”, as Johnson uses it above, is overt MSoG language, referring to a fully glorified ‘believer’ on earth. And MSoG is not incongruent with Bailey’s teaching on becoming a “Master”, as laid out in the five steps above.
So, in the immediately preceding quote is Johnson claiming that Jesus’ death was the death of His “old nature”, i.e., His lower, human nature? Did Jesus (re)actualize His divinity at this point because He had previously “emptied Himself of divinity and became man”12 at the Incarnation – perhaps itself a “reinterpretation in modern terms” of Alice Bailey’s five step process above? Was Jesus’ divinity a part of, or the entirety of what was “forfeited” and subsequently “re-inherited” in the quote from 2010 above? Note also that Bill Johnson has claimed that Jesus was ‘born again’, specifying that this occurred at His Resurrection, which, again, is not inconsistent with the Theosophic model above. This statement was made on Facebook in mid-February, 2011 in response to a question from Kevin Moore:
Jesus was sinless for sure. The spotless lamb. BUT He BECAME SIN. He needed to be raised from the dead. Acts 13 calls Him “the first born from the dead.” He did not raise Himself. The Father through the Spirit raised Him. He was born… of Mary. That’s one. He was raised from the dead. That’s two. “Again.” It’s not a statement creating a new doctrine. It’s to make people think, which gets scary for some. Primarily it’s to help us appreciate the fact that Jesus had become sin and was in need of the resurrection as much as we are in need of being born again.
No credible Christian pastor would even joke about such a thing as Jesus being ‘born again’. And Jesus did not literally ‘become sin’. He was our sin-offering, providing Atonement as the Redeemer of mankind (only to those who accept His atoning sacrifice, of course). However, I do agree on one thing: it’s “not…a new doctrine”, as the basic thrust of this teaching goes all the way back to 2nd century Gnostic redeemer myths, as noted earlier. But, again, is this part of a reinterpretation of Bailey’s five step process? (Note also that, contrary to Johnson, the entire Trinity raised Jesus from the dead: Jesus Himself – John 2:19-22/10:17-18; the Holy Spirit – Romans 1:4/8:11; the Father – Acts 5:29-31/Galatians 1:1/Ephesians 1:17-20; God – Acts 2:24/Romans 4:24.)
Going back to Johnson’s “Thinking from the Throne”, we observe him continuing in his claim that ‘believers’ need to understand that they are now resurrected/ascended – at least potentially – as per his distortion of the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:6, thereby placing the not yet into already (see previous article for explanation of already but not yet). ‘Believers’ just have to recognize this ‘fact’ and then apprehend it:
[2:23]…Jesus accomplished that on your behalf and mine, so much so that the Bible says WE were raised WITH Him. So, His Resurrection is actually our resurrection. To put it in a little more potential [sic] offensive way: WE – because of your faith in Christ – WE are as raised from the dead as is Jesus, because it is actually HIS resurrection. It’s not like HE was raised and then He shared some of that with us – that’s not it. The Bible says WE were raised together with Christ. His Resurrection IS my resurrection.
…[W]hat is possible is that through Biblical meditations, which is filling your mind with truth, through consideration of a truth that seems to be too big, too good to be true…The Lord actually invites us into encounter where we start thinking and seeing according to the Biblical reality.[3:51]
Note that “Biblical Meditations” refers to seeking “intimacy with the Father” and filling one’s mind with ‘new truths/revelations’, i.e., new ways of understanding Scripture (John 3:13; Eph 2:6) in this case.
Johnson proof-texts Colossians 3:1-3, using it in much the same manner as above, with the understanding that ‘believers’ are now resurrected/ascended (the 5th step?), because they have already died (the 4th step?):
[18:04]…If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God; set your MIND on things above not on things on earth. Why? Because you died. Your life is HIDDEN in Christ…Because you’re dead, set your mind on where your life is hidden, which is above, it’s in Christ. Everything about your life is hidden in this realm…Everywhere else is a field trip…That’s where you live. That’s where you dwell; that is home…[19:06]
Johnson reiterates his distorted interpretation of Colossians 3:1-3 later in the podcast:
[22:23]…It’s a lifestyle, it is a place from which to LIVE…FROM the abiding presence of the resurrected Christ. I’m not talking about the theology of the resurrected presence, I mean the encounter…with the almighty God – living from that place changes everything…The THRONE life, the ASCENDED life is the invitation for every believer…[22:58]
As Bill Fawcett, over on the Facebook page Bethel Church and Christianity (on June 21, 2013), so astutely observed of Johnson’s podcast, “the main doctrinal thrust of the message is that we live in a spiritual universe, and the present world is just an illusion.” This particular theme is an important point made in a previous CrossWise article (see Johnson’s Word of Faith Roots Showing section here). According to some occult doctrine, the physical world in which we live is all illusory (a “field trip”, to use Johnson’s words), while the spiritual world is reality.
This idea comes originally from the Dualism of second century Gnosticism (derived in part from Platonism), though this is also prevalent in the Eastern religions – a false dichotomy in which all matter is evil, while all spirit is good. New Age / New Spirituality doctrine is largely taken from Theosophy and other metaphysical cults (all of which adopt doctrines from Eastern religions). The following quotes are from Madame H. P. Blavatsky, the founder of Theosophy (1875), in which she borrows the term maya from Buddhism, meaning “illusion”, in her description of this same teaching:
…The reader must bear in mind that, according to our teaching which regards this phenomenal Universe as a great Illusion, the nearer a body is to the UNKNOWN SUBSTANCE, the more it approaches reality, as being removed the farther from this world of Maya…13 [All capitalization and italics in original; bold added for emphasis.]
…When the spiritual entity breaks loose for ever from every particle of matter, then only it enters upon the eternal and unchangeable Nirvana. He exists in spirit, in nothing; as a form, a shape, a semblance, he is completely annihilated, and thus will die no more, for spirit alone is no Maya, but the only REALITY in an illusionary universe of ever-passing forms.14 [All spelling, capitalization, and italics in original; bold added for emphasis.]
But if the goal for the “spiritual entity” is to rid itself of matter (as a means of self-salvation towards self-deification) and die no more, then how would this apply to what Johnson is teaching above? Bailey provides the answer:
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.15
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’.16
A Master, or manifest son of God, can choose to come back to earth, without or with an ‘earth body’, thereby living in “two realms at once”.17 This is not inconsistent with Johnson who claims that this “ascended lifestyle” provides the ability to live “at the right hand of the Father”, while simultaneously living on earth:
[32:48]…In the SAME measure that the Father put Jesus at His right hand, in the same measure He has put YOU at His right hand, because YOU are IN Christ…The renewed mind considers reality from what the Lamb has accomplished…This is the normal life for the believer. [33:59]
While we will one day be raised with Christ, it’s blasphemy to claim we’ll actually be on the Throne, thinking and living “FROM the abiding presence of the resurrected Christ”, at the Father’s right hand, the place where Jesus Christ now sits.
In Johnson’s message here, and his other works, much is made of the “renewed mind”, but this is effected by “intimacy with the Father”, ‘soaking in God’s presence’, “Biblical meditation”, etc. These ‘encounters with God’ allow the ‘believer’ to advance in his/her spiritual walk – just like the gnosis of the 2nd century:
[34:00]…And I feel like the Lord, even right now, is inviting us…is drawing us into encounters that adjust our perspective…the person who has encountered God sees from His perspective, sees through His eyes – the invitation every believer has to come up higher…[34:43]
Bill Johnson claims that each ‘believer’ can come up so high as to obtain the FULLNESS of God. He does this by first quoting Colossians 2:9 noting that “In Him [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of God bodily” [07:28 – 09:13]. Then Johnson makes the illogical leap that in the ‘believer’, as part of the Church body, dwells the fullness of God (since Jesus is the “Head” and we are the “body”):
[09:15]…I want you to take note that it says that the FULLNESS dwells in Him BODILY – not just in His head…[09:32]
[10:45]…the FULLNESS of God that dwelleth in JESUS in bodily form, now dwells in the CHURCH in bodily form…[10:55]
Johnson asserts that the Lord’s Prayer is an apostolic prayer in the sense that since the ‘believer’s’ home is in heaven, then earth is “another territory” as compared to heaven. That is, heaven is “home base”. This illustrates that the ‘believer’ needs to understand, if they don’t already, that s/he really IS living in heaven, with the goal to bring him/herself here to “‘reason’ from heaven to earth”, or to think “FROM the abiding presence of the resurrected Christ” as a fully manifested son of God “at His right hand”, with the ability to function in both the heavenly (spiritual, eternal) realm and the earthly realm:
[23:16]…because the basic definition of the word “apostle” is to go to another territory and recreate the culture there that you lived in at your home base…so it’s a prayer to recreate on earth a culture that exists in heaven…[23:34]
Prior to this, Johnson was explaining how the ‘believer’ should work towards living in and from heaven, not being deterred by naysayers:
[19:22]…This is another way of saying “seek first the Kingdom of God and these things will be added to you.” It’s amazing – we celebrate the person who seeks first the Kingdom, but often criticize the one to whom all things have been added…it becomes offensive…“Submit yourself under the mighty hand of God that He might exalt you at the proper time.” So we celebrate the person who humbles himself under the mighty hand of God, but criticize the one He exalts. What it does is it hurts our own future promotion, because if I cannot celebrate the breakthrough of another, I cannot be trusted with my own…[20:31]
The message here is that the ‘believer’ must not “criticize”, but instead recognize as special those who’ve already reached their “breakthrough” (a common occult term for spiritual advancement), their “ascension”, so that the ‘believer’ can be positioned to attain his/her own “ascension” (“the one He exalts”, “the one to whom all things have been added”). The subtle implication is that Johnson himself is in this esteemed category as one so exalted, i.e. “ascended”, an “apostle” who is ‘bringing heaven to earth’. This point is made clearer near the very end of this sermon, as he reiterates this point using Ephesians 4:11 about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers [35:27], until he gets to this climax, using false humility:
[38:09]…I’ll not do this one for me, I will do this to protect others and to empower so that a CLEAR manifestation of this resurrected Christ is seen worldwide…[38:19]
Obviously, this means that there will be individuals who are exhibiting all the traits of the glorified Christ on a worldwide scale (such as Bill Johnson currently?). In fact, in his popular book When Heaven Invades Earth Johnson makes the explicit claim that the glorified Jesus Christ of Revelation 1:14-15 IS the model for the earthly ‘believer’!18 In addition, as Alice Bailey has done (and other occultists), Johnson proof-texts “As He is, so are we in the world” from 1 John 4:17 to back up his assertion.19
[28:16]…The Lord is longing to live on earth again THROUGH yielded people…[28:29]
[13:49]… So what is He looking for? He is looking for a people that will cooperate with the FULLNESS of God’s presence, operating and manifesting THROUGH them so that this world actually gets a FULL and ACCURATE taste of who Jesus is. It’s not us; it’s Him. But He dwells IN us in FULLNESS in bodily form…[14:12]
Let’s be clear, Jesus Christ is not coming to “live on earth again THROUGH yielded people”. Jesus will be returning bodily in the same manner in which He left (Acts 1:9-11). But Johnson goes even further than this, expounding on the above. In typical Latter Rain fashion, he is looking for full unity, by proof-texting Ephesians 4:13:
[36:30]…until we all come to unity of faith and the KNOWLEDGE of the SON of God. Too many people think they know that don’t know. So the knowledge of the Son of God, to A perfect man. Look at the description. Millions and millions of body members come to A – singular – perfect man…a full-on revelation of the Person of Jesus, what He is like, how He is. To A perfect man, to the measure and stature – equal measure to the fullness of Christ…[37:34]
Equivalent to Christ Himself, these fully manifested sons of God, as collectively ONE perfect man, in which Christ is “on earth again THROUGH [these] yielded people”. This sounds eerily close to the New Age / New Spirituality doctrine that “the Christ” – in actuality the antichrist (or antichrist spirit) – will manifest himself through many different people at one time:
Eventually, there will appear the Church Universal, and its definite outlines will appear towards the close of this [20th] century…This Church will be nurtured into activity by the Christ [ED: Satan/antichrist] and His disciples when the outpouring of the Christ principle, the true second Coming, has been accomplished.20
The Christ, when He comes into incarnation, will most likely project himself into many parts and be where he wants to be. This is called the Law of Divisibility, a term used in Agni Yoga that means a highly developed spirit—one who is able to contact, simultaneously, various people in various locations. For example, a Master can be seen in various groups at the same time. He can even be in different planes serving and teaching on different levels to meet various needs of the people. He can do different jobs in different places at one time.21
Hyper-charismatic Bob Jones was recently at a conference hosted by Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, CA, and stated something not unlike the above: “Recently, the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘I’m coming IN my people. Christ in you, the hope of glory. I’m comin’ IN my people.’”22 As already noted earlier, occultists pervert the “Christ in you, the hope of glory” of Colossians 1:27, and MSoG adherents pervert it in a very similar manner.
Bill Johnson is clearly teaching the manifest sons of God doctrine (MSoG). Individuals attain this MSoG status of “ascended lifestyle” (aka “Throne life”) through “intimacy with the Father”, using methods akin to the centering prayer and contemplative prayer of Eastern religions and the New Age / New Spirituality (as well as 2nd century Gnosticism). This will ultimately result in the ability to both live and think from the Throne of God, while yet remaining on earth (with a “renewed mind”). Such a ‘believer’ can ‘think from the Throne’ as they are literally – in a statement of utmost blasphemy – at the right hand of God, as per Johnson. This version of MSoG has a parallel with occult doctrine, with the fully manifested son / Ascended Master possessing the ability to live in both the heavenly and earthly realms simultaneously.
It seems quite possible that the Neo-Gnosticism of Bill Johnson (and others of his ilk) is a slight variation of the five-fold Bailey model illustrated above. In this revised model Jesus is portrayed as God pre-incarnate (instead of a reincarnated man), yet “He emptied Himself of divinity and became man” so that He could gradually re-actualize His divinity and thus become the pattern for others towards their own self-deification – similar to the Gnostic redeemer myths of the 2nd century.
1 Bill Johnson “Thinking from the Throne” podcast, June 9, 2013. <http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/thinking-from-the-throne>
2 See Kurt Rudolph, trans. R McLachlan Wilson Gnosis: The Nature & History of Gnosticism, © 1977 Koehler & Amelang; translation (from German) of second, revised and expanded version © 1984 T&T Clark Ltd, Edinburgh; 1987 (1st paperback), HarperCollins, New York, NY, pp 121-134, 338-340. Also “The Gospel of Philip” in Wilhelm Schneemelcher, transl. R. McL. Wilson New Testament Apocrypha: Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings. © J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tubingen, 1990; English Translation © James Clarke & Co. Ltd, 1991 (Rev. ed.), Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY: The chrism [anointing] is superior to baptism. For from the chrism we were called ‘Christians’, not from the baptism. Christ also was (so) called because of the anointing… [p 200]. Cf. G. L. Borchert “Gnosticism” in Walter A. Elwel, ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 1984 (10th pr. 1994), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, p 446.
3 Wayne A. Meeks “The Man from Heaven in Johannine Sectarianism” Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 91, No. 1 (Mar, 1972), p 44. Italics in original; emphasis added.
4 Donna D’Ingillo, “Experiencing God” Center for Christ Consciousness: Open your Heart, Expand your Mind, Unite with God website, par 1, 2 <http://www.ctrforchristcon.org/experiencinggod.asp>, as accessed 07/08/13
5 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.
6 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 51. Emphasis added.
7 Bill Johnson. Audio clip taken from 2010 Australian “When Heaven Invades Earth” Tour as accessed from Plantagenet Family Church, Mount Barker, Western Australia, 03/21/11 from the following url: <http://pfchurch.org.au/?p=357>, which now is redirected to a different page altogether. Link recovered on Internet Archive / The Wayback Machine; however, audio clip is unavailable: <http://web.archive.org/web/20101106155256/http://pfchurch.org.au/?p=357>. Originally transcribed by CrossWise on 3/21/11 or shortly thereafter; last access date to original web link unknown but likely Fall, 2011. All emphasis added.
A similar quote is available on YouTube by “whizzpopping” Bill Johnson – Bringing Heaven to Earth (Part 2 of 2). Aug 20, 2010 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxVdxzJ0vN4> 3:10 – 4:30: “He forfeited everything because He owned everything; literally all that exists was His. And, He gave it all up to become a man; and, then He re-inherited everything as a man so that you and I would have an inheritance – the absolute mercy of God. So, now He stands after His triumphant Resurrection. The defeat of the power of death, hell and the grave – all that stuff was defeated, the power of sin. And, He stands before humanity and He says, ‘I got the keys back. That which was lost in the Garden, I’ve got it back. Now, let’s get back to plan A.’ And, he makes this profound statement; he says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” Jesus did not make that declaration as God. Now, na – He’s eternally God; he’s not a created being, He didn’t ascend, ya know, to some position. He’s eternally God; but, He did not make that statement as God. How do we know? Because He said, ‘All authority’s been GIVEN to me.’ There’s no one higher than God to give God authority. When Jesus made that statement, He made the statement as OUR elder brother.” CAPS from emphasis in original; bold added. As accessed 07/12/13. Once again, note the stammering in his disclaimer.
8 In his book A Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement [1988 (4th pr. 1991), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA] D.R. McConnell notes how E.W. Kenyon, the ‘grandfather’ of the Word of Faith movement, of which Johnson is a part, had made specific disclaimers yet proceeded to teach the very doctrine disclaimed! McConnell states: The typical pattern in such instances is to disclaim any similarities with cultic teaching on a particular topic and then proceed to teach exactly that [p 45]. It appears Bill Johnson may be doing something similar.
9 Bill Johnson Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence, 2007, Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL, p 200. Emphasis added. Here’s a bit more of the context: Most all of the experiences of Jesus recorded in Scripture were prophetic examples of the realms in God that are made available to the believer. The Mount of Transfiguration raised the bar significantly on potential human experience. While Johnson is not clear on just what constitutes the “new birth”, he does have a teaching which appears to promote the divine spark/seed concept, which is subsequently enlivened and grows by an external ‘word’. This is detailed in the following CrossWise post: https://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/open-challenge-to-fans-and-critics-of-bill-johnsonbethel-church/. In addition, his teaching on “the anointing”, aka the “Christ anointing” (see previous article) matches quite closely Bailey’s “Baptism in Jordan”. Taken together, this accounts for steps 1 through 5 of the Bailey model, when we consider the totality of Johnson’s words in “Thinking from the Throne” and the remaining material referenced in this article, which include the Crucifixion, Resurrection, Ascension, and even glorification.
10 Bailey Bethlehem to Calvary, p 9. Emphasis added
11 Bill Johnson “Waiting Patiently in Hope” podcast, June 23, 2013 <http://podcasts.ibethel.org/en/podcasts/waiting-patiently-in-hope>
12 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.
13 Helena P. Blavatsky The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy, Vol. 1 – Cosmogenesis, 1999 (facsimile edition of 1888 original), Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, CA, pp 145-146
14 Helena P. Blavatsky Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology: Vol 1 – Science. 1988 (unabridged from original 1877 first edition), Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, CA, p 290. Noteworthy is the fact that Reality was the name of a newsletter written by E.W. Kenyon, and a term used in a similar manner as compared to Blavatsky above. From a footnote in D.R. McConnell’s A Different Gospel is the following (although the author did not trace the doctrine to Theosophy, he does compare to both New Thought and Christian Science, which were contemporaneous with the roots of Theosophy): …It should be pointed out that ‘Reality’ as Kenyon uses it is a term used in New Thought and Christian Science to refer to the spiritual realm and truths that were hidden by the sensations of the physical realm, which were not reality at all, but was considered ‘error,’ the opposite of metaphysical reality. Reality was also the name of Kenyon’s first newsletter [p 55, n 53]. As noted above, Bill Johnson is considered a Word of Faith teacher, having inherited some doctrine from Kenyon. Johnson uses reality in a similar way, as indicated in this very article and in the Johnson’s Word of Faith Roots Showing section here: < https://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/learning-etymology-with-bill-johnson-a-new-age-repentance/ >.
15 Bailey Bethlehem to Calvary, p 187. Emphasis added.
16 Bailey, Rays and Initiations, p 699. Emphasis added.
17 Bailey Bethlehem to Calvary, p 51. Emphasis added.
18 Bill Johnson When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA, p 145
19 Bill Johnson Heaven Invades, p 145; 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.
20 Alice Bailey The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, © 1957 Lucis, NY, 6th printing 1981; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY, p 510. Emphasis added.
21 World Service Intergroup website. J.D. Dubois “The Christ, His Reappearance, and the Avatar of Synthesis” <http://www.worldserviceintergroup.net/?#/christ-reappearance/4543145171> World Service Intergroup; Dubois; par 5; as accessed 07/12/13
22 Bob Jones “The Coming Kingdom” Piercing the Darkness Prophetic Conference, February 2011. Hosted by Bethel Church, Redding, CA, Feb 23-25, 2011, Session 4, Feb 24, 2011, 7:00pm, 38:53 – 39:05. Emphasis in original. Available for sale at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church website: <http://store.ibethel.org/p4810/piercing-the-darkness-february-2011-complete-set-bethel-campus>; as accessed 07/12/13.