Why I Began Blogging / It’s Been Ten Years!

Hard to believe, but I’ve been writing blog articles here for ten years now, as of today. My impetus was Bill Johnson’s somewhat off the cuff statement claiming Jesus was ‘born again’—and all that entailed.

However, I began researching things related to the movement associated with all this about six months prior. This movement is the so-called New Apostolic Reformation (aka Apostolic-Prophetic Movement), which is related to the Word of Faith (Word/Faith) movement. That was my real introduction to the blogosphere.

With the benefit of time and things I’ve learned in the interim, I can now relate the background.

In early 2010, I began attending another church’s weekly class. There I met a particular woman. She was slowly introducing me to some new things. Prior to this, I never gave a thought to spiritual gifts. But she was keen on them. Wanting to remain teachable, I listened to what she was presenting—as a Berean.

Some ideas seemed innocuous enough. Others I just wasn’t too sure about. The upside is that I subsequently studied the issue of spiritual gifts, determining that they most certainly are valid for today—including the so-called “sign” gifts (in 1Cor 12:7-11). Besides exegetical reasons supporting their continuance, to totally reject them would entail rejecting “distinguishing between spirits” (12:10). Is this not valid and necessary for today? More on this particular gift further below.

The downside is that I became increasingly certain she was being led down the wrong spiritual path. Later, I found there are many others treading this same hyper-charismatic trail.

My first eyebrow-raising incident came in a phone call before work one Friday morning in April. She just had to tell me about this vision she had about me the previous night! It couldn’t wait. In this vision God told her I had “a heart like David” and he “wanted me to ‘come up higher’ in my walk”. I later learned this verbiage is very common. It appeals to pride (God told her about me and my good heart!), while simultaneously playing upon a legitimate desire to please God (‘come up higher’ in my walk). But I remained skeptical. What did this ‘come up higher’ actually mean? Yet I didn’t want to totally discard it either. So I researched more.

Though I was growing increasingly concerned the more I researched, I didn’t let on. We maintained a friendly relationship. I wanted to develop our friendship so that I could show her that she may be in spiritual danger.

In early May she gave me a card referencing something I’d say occasionally: Christians are on an incredible journey. In this card she stated she was “grateful to the Lord for allowing our paths to cross” and that she had been “blessed tremendously” to meet “such an awesome man of God”. There was even more flowery language (I was “one of God’s beloved sons”, etc.), though nothing romantic—we didn’t have that kind of relationship.

But I knew and still know myself better than that. I’d lie like the Father of Lies if I were to speak or think of myself in this manner. I’m well aware of my shortcomings, my struggles. I thought it a bit over-the-top that she’d describe me like this. And I only bring all this up to contrast with what was to occur in the not too distant future.

Just a couple weeks later, she invited me to a home group. She mentioned the group before, and, after praying about the matter, I had asked her if I could attend at some point. I knew that it could, and likely would, be spiritually dangerous. After further prayer, I was led to go—against some other Christian friends’ counsel, who were concerned for my spiritual well-being.

All told, it was probably the single-most bizarre evening I ever had.

To further set the stage, she came to pick me up—in a rental car, for she was recently in an auto accident (no one was hurt). Though I cannot recall if I drove there (I think I did), I’m certain I drove back. In the pouring rain. I state this only to reiterate the state of our relationship. She trusted me and felt comfortable enough to let me drive.

The study group was held at a man’s house about a 30 minutes’ drive away. Nice house and nothing untoward when I walked in. The late 40s-ish man hosting it (about my age at the time) seemed reserved and a bit introverted—about what one would expect for the stereotypical accountant. Yet when he began to teach he spoke in the absolute LOUDEST voice I’d ever heard anyone speak! He did so without the slightest hint of strain in his voice as would be the case if he were shouting. But it was certainly loud enough to be akin to the level of shouting. It was very unnatural. And it was completely unnecessary, for there were only a relative handful in attendance and the room was hardly large enough to require such volume. Really strange. It was as if he were, uh, overtaken. He certainly spoke with authority, but I had to wonder by whose.

Even before he started, I was continually praying. Music had been playing in the background and I sensed an odd, unsettling atmosphere. It was not overpowering though, which I attribute to my continued praying.

His teaching was from Luke 4, beginning with Jesus’ temptation and continuing through to Jesus’ driving out the evil spirit (4:33, 36: akathartos pneuma), a demon (4:33: daimonion akathartos). His focus was on the words authority (exousia) and power (dynamis) and how we have this same authority and power Jesus displayed. Somewhat ironic that the text he had chosen spoke of driving out an evil/unclean spirit, when I discerned he himself may well have been the mouthpiece for one!

Afterward came the time for a local ‘prophet’ to provide ‘words’. I KNEW I’d be called upon. First up was another woman. As I expected, there was a ‘catcher’ behind her—I read about this sort of thing. I cannot recall what this man said to her, but remember her gently falling over backward after he was through. She was helped by the ‘catcher’.

Next I was called. Should I go? I felt led to do so—as I continued praying. But I KNEW I was NOT going to fall for the ‘falling over’ thing.

As I stood in front of him, I felt compelled to close my eyes. I continued praying. As he spoke, I felt this force pushing me backward. No matter how much I prayed, it kept on pushing. And I fought to stand completely erect. Like I said, I wasn’t going to fall for it! When he finished, I indeed fell over backwards, caught by the ‘catcher’. I cannot say that this latter part was either negative or positive. Was this a result of my prayer, or was this standard fare for this sort of thing? I don’t know. The initial pushing of the force was a bit disconcerting, though.

My friend dutifully recorded the entire ‘word’. It wasn’t very long. And it was so vague that it could have applied to most anyone. It didn’t appear to come from God, unsurprisingly. But upon reading it again this morning for the first time in years, one thing struck me: “The anointing will break the yoke of bondage.” Hmmmm. I’ll return to this.

My friend offered her ‘spiritual mentor’—who had also attended this meeting—a ride home. She later told me her ‘spiritual mentor’ was like an Elijah to her as Elisha. And she wanted that double portion anointing! Later, I found this sort of thing commonplace in this movement. Like addicts looking for their next fix, those in this movement must have their next, even greater, spiritual experience.

On the way home, they remarked how subdued “the Holy Spirit” was at the meeting, which they attributed to my presence there. They surmised that I wasn’t quite ready for ‘the deeper things’ just yet. I thought it was due to my praying.

One thing my friend said struck me. She claimed, “If you have the Holy Spirit indwelling, He will not allow you to be deceived.” I knew that wasn’t right. This way of thinking, of course, provides no Biblical basis upon which to judge spiritual experiences. And the Bible speaks volumes about false teachings and their dangers.

But I kept my thoughts to myself. I desired to help her out of this dangerous movement. I needed to pray to discern the best approach. In the meantime, I continued feverishly researching online.

Either that following weekend or the next, she went on a women’s retreat. After this she called me, excited to tell me all about it. I read about these retreats online, but I had never heard a personal account.

The teaching purported to be from Revelation 2—5. Given her words—which sound like they came from Mike Bickle’s “Bridal Paradigm” teaching—she was, at the least, familiar with this framework sourced from the Song of Songs/Solomon.

She described her “soaking” time—lying on the carpet having visions, etc. I scribbled some notes:

His kisses are better than wine.

Now I know how the Shulamite woman felt.

Lovesick.

The Lord romancing me.

I grew alarmed. What did she mean by “romancing”? Wanting to determine exactly what she meant, I mentioned how I’d read one woman’s claim of having a spiritual experience that was “better than sex”. In reply, without missing a beat, she stated something to the effect that it was ‘like pent-up sexual frustration released’. I was dumbfounded.

She went on to claim most were “drunk in the spirit” and “everyone was on the floor.” Then she stated, “I thought, ‘What is it like for a man’?” Well, I certainly didn’t want to know! Then she claimed a man told her, “I was sucked through a vortex, sensed fear of the Lord; waves of love; as if the Lord was a lion roaring.” Not sure what to make of this, given it was a women’s retreat.

After retrieving my lower jaw from the floor—good thing this was a phone conversation rather than in person—I somehow mustered a reply of some sort. Once she hung up, I remained flabbergasted for a bit.

Just prior to this, I had been sending her occasional emails with Scripture about false teachers, etc. in order to provide some sort of gentle caution. After this last conversation, I sent more. Though I’m not 100% sure, I don’t think she replied to any of them.

Shortly thereafter I received from her an email with nothing in the subject line. She began by acknowledging that I’d sent her some emails warning about possible danger. She specifically stated that she thought my intentions were good. Then she abruptly closed it by instructing me to never contact her again.

I was dumbstruck. It was very troubling in myriad ways. After regaining a bit of composure, then calling a friend, I deleted her email contact info and removed her phone number from my phone.

For a solid month after this I daily prayed fervently for her. Then I received a clear feeling that I was finished, I was no longer to continue my prayers.

I never heard from her again. I hope she is doing well. More importantly, I hope she has extracted herself from this dangerous movement.

New Revelations from Whom?

I subsequently learned these ‘new revelations’ from modern day ‘prophets’ (or ‘Prophets’) were to be regarded as even greater than Scripture to the individual it’s intended for. This is called the rhēma word. Years later I discovered an occult parallel. Might this ‘rhēma’ doctrine have similar roots? I think it does.1

In a book by Alice A. Bailey titled, Telepathy and the Etheric Body, I found teachings about new revelations given by supposed benevolent higher beings.2 In the very beginning of the book is a preface, titled, “EXTRACT FROM A STATEMENT BY THE TIBETAN”.3 “The Tibetan” is another name for Djwhal Khul, aka “Master D. K.” Bailey freely admitted she was the voluntary medium through which Djwhal Khul dictated the works that were later published for Lucis Publishing Company. In this preface, Bailey records The Tibetan stating:

I am a brother of yours…who has wrestled and fought his way into a greater measure of light than has the aspirant who will read this article, and I must therefore act as a transmitter of the light, no matter what the cost…My work is to teach and spread the knowledge of the Ageless Wisdom…4

Reading through the book one finds at the top of this spiritual hierarchy dispensing this “Ageless Wisdom” a certain “planetary Logos”, among others. The “etheric body” in the book’s title is the supposed interconnecting invisible conduit carrying all “divine” thought running through the universe, which is passed to the seeking aspirant (via “telepathy”):

The thought-directing energy has for its source a Thinker Who can enter into the divine Mind, owing to His having transcended human limitation; the thought-directed receiver is the man…who has aligned his brain, his mind and his soul.5

The explanation of the basis on which the mechanism for transmission is the supposed

fact that omnipresence, which is a law in nature…that the etheric bodies of all forms constitute the [one] world etheric body, makes omniscience possible. The etheric body of the planetary Logos is swept into activity by His directed will; energy is the result of His thoughtform playing in and through His energy body.6

Putting aside the rather fanciful explanation for the means and method of receiving from the “planetary Logos”, notice the use of terms associated with Christianity: Wisdom, omniscience, omnipresence, Logos. There are others in the book, as well. But they are all redefined, including “Lord of the World”, which is turned on its head. In other words, it’s all a perversion of Christianity.

Always About the Anointing

I noted above that, having read afresh the false ‘word’ I’d been given, I saw something more in this statement: “The anointing will break the yoke of bondage.” I’ve written about ‘the anointing’ before (see The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit), and I’ll encapsulate it here. Essentially, it’s redefined:

Christ = the anointing

antichrist = against the anointing

In the New Testament, however, “Christ” is always associated with the person of Jesus. The term is not to be reduced to simply “the anointing”. Jesus is the Anointed (One), the Christ, the Messiah. But in hyper-charismatic circles it has to do with some sort of spiritual empowering. Thus, anyone against the false teachings of these movements—anyone against ‘the anointing’—is considered antichrist.

When I realized this, I understood why my now-former-friend wanted to cut all ties. I was considered spiritually dangerous to her. According to this ideology, I was antichrist.

And since I rejected ‘the anointing’, I wasn’t able to “break the yoke of bondage” in the ‘word’ I had been given. Could it be that she (or her spiritual “Elijah”) realized that I’d rejected ‘the anointing’ in the ‘word’ I was given by questioning the movement, via my emails? That is, was this a further reason to cut ties with me?

In any case, seeing how both “Christ” and “antichrist” are redefined, might there by other terms and concepts redefined or refashioned in the so-called New Apostolic Reformation? Like the occult work I referenced just above?

_____________________________________________________

1 Though it is beyond the scope of this article to argue at any length here for this, see, e.g., D. R. McConnell, A Different Gospel (“A bold and revealing look at the biblical and historical basis of the Word of Faith movement.”). Copying from a footnote in the previous article on this subject: For those unaware, many Word/Faith teachers assert (among other things) the false dichotomy that rhēma denotes the ‘higher’ word from God for believers only, while logos indicates the written Scriptures as a whole for everyone, including non-believers. Not only is this reductionistic, it fails to account for the fact that the verbal form (legō) of logos is used quite often preceding speech (so-and-so said [legō], “…”). A good example to refute this dichotomy presents itself in Matthew 12:36: But I say (legō) to you that every idle word (rhēma) that men speak (legō) they will give account/reckoning (logos) for in the day of judgment. Moreover, rhēma is found in only 65 verses in the New Testament as compared to over 300 for logos, while the verbal form legō occurs over 2000 times.

2 Alice A. Bailey, Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle (NY: Lucis Publishing Company / Printed in the US, Philadelphia, PA: George S. Ferguson Company, 1950).

3 Ibid. p v.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid. pp 6-7.

6 Ibid. p 7.

Todd Bentley Needs Your Seed Money to Raise $20,000

Recently the Australian government denied Todd Bentley access resulting in the cancellation of the Fresh Fire scheduled tour of Australia.  Now Fresh Fire USA Ministries is in financial straits and looking for you to $ow a $eed for a$$istance. 

Our last minute delay in our planned tour to Australia was a huge disappointment of course. It was also a huge financial set back for our ministry. Our immediate expenses just in Airfare and travel was over 10,000…The need is still $20,000.

Would you pray with us and consider sowing a seed into our ministry today!  If each of you that have been blessed by our ministry over the years would consider a gift at this time we can more than enough recover our shortfall and move forward in 2012.  We know that this is a great year of the nations for us.

It’s rather curious that not one prophetic minister friend could foresee that Bentley would be refused entry into Australia thereby averting his financial woes in the first place.  Were these prophets all sleeping, in deep thought, busy, or travelling [cf. 1 Kings 18:27]?

It’s also curious that Bentley would need financial assistance given that, according to his friend Bill Johnson (as but one example), the teaching is such that salvation is a full restoration of “His original purpose” meaning no more sin, sickness, or poverty:

“…Jesus destroyed the power of sin, sickness, and poverty through His redemptive work on the cross.  In Adam and Eve’s commission to subdue the earth, they were without sickness, poverty, and sin.  Now that we are restored to His original purpose, should we expect anything less?  After all, this is the better covenant!” [When Heaven Invades Earth, 2003, Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 33]

Perhaps Bentley just does not yet have the requisite amount of faith. 

But I have an idea.  In reverse TBN fashion why not just email Todd and ask him to send $200 to you dear reader?  Given the purported principle of a 100-fold return, Bentley would subsequently receive his $20,000 with just this one donation!  Any takers?

Does Becoming a New Creature in Christ Mean New DNA?

[UPDATE 12/13/14: Since more than a few readers did not understand that I was being facetious, let me make this crystal clear: WE DO NOT RECEIVE ANY SORT OF DNA CHANGE UPON CONVERSION TO CHRISTIANITY.  Damon Thompson’s words here are absolute rubbish.]

 “…Not only did her DNA not match the crime scene, her DNA didn’t match her DNA.”

– Damon Thompson of The Ramp

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and switch on the TV.  Last night while having yet another bit of insomnia I flipped through the channels landing at Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) finding Damon Thompson of The Ramp.  I’ve heard him before and found him to be a bit ‘off’, but this time he said something that really woke me up.  Not having pen and paper nearby, I wasn’t sure if I could write down exactly what he said; however, thankfully, someone has posted this very thing on YouTube so that I can post it here:

…not only did her DNA not match the crime scene, her DNA didn’t match her DNA.  Six months earlier they had checked her DNA.  Six months later they check her DNA and her DNA is not the same DNA because if any man be in Christ he is a new creature…

This raises all sorts of questions:

Should all believers expect impunity from crimes committed prior to conversion?

Does this mean that all ‘born again’ (born from above) believers have new DNA?

Should we check DNA of all inmates post-conversion and compare to DNA pre-conversion in order to set free all those whose DNA has changed?  (This would sure make the Gospel very good news indeed and certainly lead to many more jailhouse conversions. :))

Would a DNA change then be the sure marker of a true convert?

Should we believe Damon Thompson and his story?

By Whose Power Does Bill Johnson Perform Healings?

“What have I done? This guy thinks he hobbled in here…wait until he tries to walk out!”1

 

– Bill Johnson, 2009

Let me state from the outset that I’m not a cessationist.  God still does perform the miraculous in this day and age.  Frankly, I don’t see how anyone can take an honest look at 1st Corinthians 12-14 and deduce that somehow these gifts of the Spirit are not for today.  However, having stated this, I must admit in having difficulty with continuationism given all the excesses I’ve seen/read about.  I am in a sort of mediated position believing it’s the Spirit who gives to each one “just as He determines” [12:11; NIV 1984] on an individual and case by case basis.

God can heal through elders of a local church praying over and anointing with oil the afflicted individual [James 5:14-15].  He can heal through the fervent prayers of the saints.  He can heal through praise.  He can heal through the hand of the skilled (and, even the not-so-skilled) physician or surgeon.

But, does the enemy heal?  There are purported accounts of healing in the Eastern religions.  There are also claimed healings in Santeria and other religious traditions.  There have long been accounts of healing in Christian Science, New Thought and Unity.2

Bill Johnson on Healing: The Long and the Short of It

Bill Johnson, of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, in his 2009 book Release the Power of Jesus recounts a few instances of healing legs that were purportedly either too long or too short compared to the other.  The first account involves a contractor who had broken his left leg 25 years prior resulting in the injured leg ‘healing’ and somehow remaining 1.5 inches longer than the other.  The gentleman asked Johnson if he’d ever seen a leg shrink.3

Recalling a purported prior healing of a pastor who was injured in a snowmobile accident in which the clergyman had a similar problem, Johnson responded to the contractor in the affirmative (it’s not specified whether it was the formerly broken or the presumably uninjured leg of the pastor that was shrunk).4

Johnson explains his resultant thought process at the time just prior to the attempted healing of the contractor:

…Then I paused for a moment and a thought occurred to me, “Should I shrink the long leg or lengthen the shorter leg?  Most people wouldn’t mind being a little bit taller.”  I caught him (and myself) completely off guard when I said, “Right leg, grow in Jesus’ name.”

The right leg began to grow out slowly.  Then all of a sudden it shot out past the other leg three or four inches and the guy screamed in pain!  It was as though years of growing pains were hitting him all at once.  On the outside I’m sure I looked very calm, but on the inside I was wondering, “What have I done!  This guy thinks he hobbled in here…wait until he tries to walk out!” 5

Recall that the ‘now-healed’, but formerly injured leg was already 1.5” too long (not sure how this could be understood as “healed”).  This means that Johnson’s initial attempt at healing resulted in a normal-sized leg increased to 4.5” to 5.5” beyond its normal length.

Notice all the “I” phrases: “Should I shrink the long leg,” “when I said,” “What have I done!”  Is Bill Johnson claiming this botched healing for himself?  Perhaps Johnson really meant it was he himself being used as a vehicle through which God worked?  Of course, Johnson did say “in Jesus’ name” – if that’s any indication.

There are a number of options I can think of regarding this ‘healing’:

1)      It truly was the Holy Spirit working through Johnson
2)      It was Johnson himself
3)      It was the enemy working through Johnson
4)      It was Johnson’s imagination
5)      Johnson was stretching the truth, as it were

Personally, I have a hard time with #1 as I find it very difficult to believe that God would inflict pain, especially to the point an individual would scream out as such, in the process of divine healing.  As to numbers 2 through 5, I’ll let the reader decide.

Continuing this account:

I began to search my heart to figure how to pray when I remembered studying the word shalom.  It means “peace.”…soundness of mind, health, prosperity…I thought, “This situation has to be covered in that word.”  So I prayed, “And now Lord, just let the shalom of Heaven, your peace, rest upon this man.”  His right leg then shrank back to perfectly match the other one…6

So, after the contractor screams in pain because of the previously non-broken right leg’s sudden burst in length in response to Johnson’s initial attempt at healing, the leg subsequently responds to Johnson’s “shalom” prayer and shrinks back to match the man’s left leg.  This would indicate that the normal-sized leg was now 1.5″ longer, resulting in the man now 1.5″ taller.  Was this second healing a true divine healing while the first attempt was not?  But, note this ‘healing’ didn’t involve doing anything to the ‘now-healed’ but formerly injured 1.5″ too long leg.  Also, the man purportedly specifically asked if Johnson had ever shrunk a leg.  But that’s not the end of this story.

After Bill Johnson’s account of the contractor’s ‘healing’, he recounts another leg length disparity healing which purportedly occurred six months after the contractor’s.  In this case, a 27 year old woman with back problems told of how she had a metal rod put in the place of a cancerous bone which was removed when she was 15.  The account does not specify whether it was the femur or the tibia/fibula.  The rod was made such that the leg would be one inch longer than the other one on the assumption that the unaffected leg would grow to the size of the one with the metal rod.  Unfortunately, the woman did not grow any taller.7  Johnson relates his methodology on this particular healing:

Because of my recent experience, for which God covered me, I took her leg and commanded the one with the metal rod to shrink.  It yielded to the command…8

Note his words, “for which God covered me.”  He is referring to the second ‘successful healing’ after his first attempt with the contractor.  Is Johnson admitting that the initial botched healing of the contractor was done by himself rather than God?  It would appear that way.  Given that it apparently was not God involved in the initial attempt at healing the contractor, which of the remaining options – numbers 2 through 5 above – do you think applies?  Or, is there yet another option I’ve just not considered?

[Note: some verbiage has been added for clarity on 07/13/13.]

1 Johnson, Bill. Release the Power of Jesus. 2009, Destiny Image “Speaking the Purposes of God for this Generation and the Generations to Come,” Shippensburg, PA; p 107.  Ellipse in original, emphasis added.
2 McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel. 1988 (4th printing, 1991), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; pp 30, 44-48
3 Johnson, pp 106-07
4 Johnson, pp 106-07
5 Johnson, p 107.  Ellipse in original; bolding added.
6 Johnson, p 107.  Bolding from italicized original.
7 Johnson, p 108
8 Johnson, p 108.  Bolding from italicized original. 

Kris Vallotton and the “Mantle of Jesus Christ” / Bill Johnson on Corporate Anointing

“…Not just the mantle of William Branham, how about the mantle of Jesus Christ?  That’s even a bigger one there…”

– Kris Vallotton, August 15, 2010

Kris Vallotton is Senior Associate Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California under Senior Pastor Bill Johnson.  The above quote of Vallotton follows an August 15, 2010 sermon of Bill Johnson titled, “The Real Jesus” (with complete context below).  Johnson had just spoken of his desire for a “corporate anointing” and Vallotton was making a few comments after this sermon.  The following YouTube video1 captures both Johnson and Vallotton (my understanding is this video is available at www.ibethel.tv if one registers at the site):

Here’s a portion of Johnson’s “word”:

“…Here’s what I’m believing for – I know it’s never happened; but, I know that it must before the end.  There must be, not just individuals – I’m thankful we have individuals that are rising up with such anointing, such strength, we have people scattered all over the planet right now that are just making a mess of things in all the right ways.  We are so encouraged.  But, what I’m believing for is a generation – a generation that’ll rise up with a corporate faith, a corporate anointing to press into realms because it’s my conviction that as much as God put on a William Branham, or a Kathryn Kuhlman, or a Wigglesworth, He’ll put far greater anointing on a company of people than He ever would on an individual.  To do that, there must be that corporate sense of, ‘we have to deal with the issue of obeying the rules of this kingdom to tap into the resources of this kingdom’…we cannot use the principles of this world and expect to tap into unlimited resource of the kingdom of God…” 2

After finishing his sermon and following up with some prayer, Johnson relinquishes the podium to Vallotton who goes on to reveal a purported conversation he had with God:

…so, I was in a prayer chapel and laying on the floor and I said, “God would you give me the mantle of William Branham?”  And, He said, “Well, how could I do that? If I did that it would destroy you.”  Then, I was layin’ there and it was like, the Lord asked ‘how could I do that’ so then I said – I waited about a few minutes – I was thinking about and I said, “Well, you could put the same mantle on a whole generation then we wouldn’t stand out from one another.” He said, “Alright, I’ll do that.”

Isn’t that awesome?  That’s what the Lord wants to do.  He wants to put the, He wants – not just the mantle of William Branham, but how about the mantle of Jesus Christ?  That’s even a bigger one there, and, uh, He wants to put it on every single person

So, wasn’t that just a great word that Bill brought us right there…” 3

I agree “that’s even a bigger one there” but not in the same way as Vallotton, I’m sure.  First, note that by the usage of the word “mantle” Vallotton is equating it with Johnson’s “anointing.”  Bill Hamon states these terms are similar in meaning if not synonymous.  He defines “anointing”:

“An in-depth study of the word anoint reveals that it was used to consecrate people to a particular position or ministry…In present-day application, this means the manifest presence of God upon a person to meet specific needs.

“…Mantle has a similar meaning.  If someone has prophesied that you have a prophetic mantle, it implies that you can minister in prophetic ministry…” 4

It follows then that the desire to “put the same mantle on a whole generation” would be the same as what Johnson calls a “corporate anointing.”  Further, this “mantle of Jesus Christ” would be akin to a “corporate Christ anointing.”  This is the heretical manifest sons of God (MSoG) teaching.  [For more on Bill Johnson and MSoG, see Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part II.]  The most extreme view of MSoG culminates in the “Birth of the Man-Child” teaching in which the “birth” of the corporate Christ is through the corporate Church body.  More on this in a bit.

William Marrion Branham’s Doctrine and Practices

Both Johnson and Vallotton promote William Branham.  Who was William Marrion Branham?  There’s already quite a bit of info available regarding Branham, so, briefly: he declared a number of foretelling prophecies which failed to come to pass, he denied the Trinity, and his doctrine included a belief in pyramidology and astrology in conjunction with the Bible.  He also taught the Serpent Seed doctrine in which the claim is that the serpent in the Garden of Eden mated with Eve resulting in a tainted lineage beginning with Cain and continuing to this day.5  Apparently emanating from this perversion of the The Fall is the following from Branham:

“Who does the world belong to?  The Devil.  Who controls it now?  The Devil.  Exactly right. The Devil controls the world…” 6

Yet Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” [NIV 1984]  In the book of Job, Satan must receive God’s permission in order to test Job [Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-6].  And, in Job 38:33 is the following: “Do you know the laws of the heavens?  Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?” [NIV 1984]  God is sovereign over all.

 Branham’s son, Billy Paul Branham, reiterates his dad’s claim that he was the end-time spirit of Elijah:

 “The Word of the Lord has promised that He would send to the earth once again the spirit of Elijah in the form of that end-time messenger who is the angel to the Seventh Church Age in the these final closing days of time.  We firmly believe that this promise was fulfilled in the vindicated ministry of our precious brother, William Marrion Branham.” 7

Branham also taught that all Christian denominations lacked full revelation (Branham’s, that is), that denominations were the mark of the beast [Rev 13:16], and, thus, all those attending denominational churches were not really saved and are, in fact, antichrist.8  All congregants of denominations are actually the pale horse, death, of the fourth seal of Revelation [Rev 6:7-8] and will be killed off by the collective white horses made up of Jesus and the ‘church’ [Rev 19:14].9

In addition, Branham denied everlasting torment claiming the lake of fire was created and hence could not be eternal:

“…Anything that was created is not Eternal…That’s the reason there cannot be an Eternal hell.  If anybody ever tells you that you’re going to burn in an Eternal Hell, I want the Scripture for that…” 10

Well, here’s the Scripture: “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.  They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” [Rev 20:10, NIV 1984; see also Matthew 25:41-46, etc.]  It should be noted that Branham affirmed eternal life for the believer11 even though mankind is, of course, created thereby illustrating one of many contradictions in his teachings.  Some claim that Branham was orthodox in the beginning yet went astray toward the end of his life and ministry.

19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning.  If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that He has promised us – eternal life.  26 These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. [I John 2:19, 24-26 NKJV]

Clearly, Branham was a false teacher propounding heresy.  Branham claimed – and others claimed as well – that he was a prophet and a healer; but, with such aberrant theology, why would we believe he was truly of God?  Is the sole criterion of a Christian the miraculous [see Matt 7:21-23]?  Aren’t we to worship in both spirit and truth [John 4:23]?  Given this, why would Bill Johnson promote Branham’s “anointing” and why would Kris Vallotton want his “mantle” as a “corporate mantle” / “corporate anointing?”  Would God really want to give anyone, let alone the entire church corporate, the “mantle” of one like William Branham?  Does God really talk to Kris Vallotton in this manner?

The “Mantle of Jesus Christ”

Setting aside for the moment the obvious blasphemy of even suggesting such a thing, what would it mean to receive the “mantle of Jesus Christ?”  The context of the message in the video/audio seems to be, in general, the “greater works” teaching prevalent at Bethel.  This may point to the Jesus Christ during the Incarnation as the model for this “mantle.”  If this is the case then, given that Jesus’ primary purpose was to lay down his life in propitiation for the collective sins of mankind, would this be a part of this “mantle” as well?

Or, does this “mantle” refer to the current glorified Christ and/or Jesus at the Second Coming, when He returns to complete all of God’s purposes including the final judgment and the consummation of the Kingdom of God?  This is certainly a possibility as will be made evident below.  Either way, however, or if this “mantle” includes Jesus both at the Incarnation and in His glorified state, this is blasphemy of the highest order as it equates mere men to God.  While Christians will receive a new glorified body in eternity, we will never become equal to Jesus Christ who was, is, and always will be God.

This phrase “the mantle of Jesus Christ” is not without precedence, however, as “The Mantle of Jesus” is the title of a ten year old article in which it is claimed the entire Church body will “operate in all the anointing that He [Jesus] did” as we “transition into the manifestations of the sons of God”:12

“…As we come into the unity of the faith the mantle of Christ will arise upon us, in ONE HEART and ONE MIND.  It is the will of Father for us to be in unity of heart and mind as this occurs the scripture will be fulfilled.

“…We will not come into the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, the perfect man until we stop causing separation of the mantle of Christ.  There still is a season where these callings and anointings will operate separate but soon as we grow in Christ and become ONE MIND and ONE HEART we will beat together as the BODY of CHRIST.” 13

Bill Johnson’s friends Bob Jones and/or Todd Bentley could not have been much more straight-forward than that in their respective manifest sons of God teachings.

In addition, “the mantle of Jesus Christ” is mentioned by The Order of Christ~Sophia [Sophia means “wisdom”] as it’s included in their “Purposes” statement which is based on the “ancient Wisdom Teachings,” or, in other words, New Age / New Spirituality teachings.  Among other things, the site desires “that all may know the love of their Creator and the reality of their Divine Birth” and to demonstrate to all “the Christ Consciousness and the Way of Return to the Creator.”14   Part of “ancient Wisdom Teachings” is the belief that we can attain sonship as fully manifested sons of God here on earth.

The Manifestation of the Sons of God

As noted at the beginning of this article and evidenced by the immediately preceding section, this “corporate anointing” and “corporate mantle”  which Johnson and Vallotton refer to respectively in the context of the video/audio is tantamount to manifested sons of God (MSoG) doctrine.  To illustrate further, I’ll quote from a few other proponents of this teaching.  Bill Hamon explains this teaching in his 1997 book Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God [with foreword by C. Peter Wagner and endorsements by Oral Roberts, Cindy Jacobs among others] which come to the enlightened via so-called “present truths”15 purportedly by the Holy Spirit.  These manifested sons of God will emerge “in one generation”16 displaying all kinds of “signs, wonders and miracles”:17

“…God has predestined a certain quantity of members with Christlike qualities for the full functioning of His eternal Church…” 18

“The [New] Apostolic Reformation will cause believers to manifest the supernatural grace, gifts, and power of God.  The one-man show will be over…” 19

“God has released the Holy Spirit to bring His revelations and activation to the end-time Church.  This will bring forth the last generation of mortal people, unlimited power…dedicated to fulfilling God’s present-truth purposes.” 20

This will culminate in what Hamon terms the “Resurrection-Translation” (R-T) of the saints – his terminology and version of the Rapture:

“…We must realize that the Resurrection-Translation (R-T) of the saints does not take place because of a negative situation on earth.  It is a positive event that takes place to fulfill God’s timely purpose.

“…The positive purpose of the R-T is to enable the army of the Lord [Joel’s Army, or MSoG militant] to finalize the war against all evil. The army of the Lord will progress on in the war until they have accomplished all they can in their limited mortal bodies.  The R-T is for the purpose of immortalizing their bodies.  This will remove all the earthly limitations, thereby enabling the saints unlimited abilities.  They will be able to travel in all space realms of the heavenlies the same as Jesus and the angels do now.  They can move in and out of all dimensions of the natural and spiritual realms as Jesus did in His resurrected flesh-and-bone body.” 21

These fully manifested sons of God, or, Joel’s Army, will execute judgment on those who will not go along with their plans.  Hamon claims Joel 2:1-11 is a prophecy for this near future ‘army of God.’22

God’s great end-time army is being prepared to execute God’s written Judgments with Christ’s victory and divine judgment decrees that have already been established in heaven.  The time is set when they will be administered and executed on earth through God’s saintly armyAll that is destined and needed will be activated during God’s restorational Army of the Lord  Movement…” 23

Bob Jones and Todd Bentley are other proponents of the manifest sons of God teaching.  Here, in the following, Jones calls them the “New Breed.”  From August 08, 2008 [for full transcription, see “New Breed of Elected Seeds” section of Bethel to Feature Bob Jones at Upcoming Prophetic Conference]:

“…The New Breed will be those that  are partaker of the divine nature.  As you begin to grow into the likeness of Christ you’re gonna begin to partake of the divine nature.  And, once you begin to grow up in that-a-way you’ll continue to mature until you look like Christ all over the world.  Jesus was one person.  Now get ready for Jesuses [sic; plural of “Jesus”] all over the world. 24 

Johnson, himself has referred to a “new breed of believer” resulting in “a reformation [that] will impact society on all fronts”25 in his book Face to Face With God.  Recall Johnson’s words from the above transcription, “I know it’s never happened; but, I know that it must before the end.” Here’s Bentley from May 28, 2008 at Lakeland making explicit references to what is called “birthing the man-child” – the ‘birthing’ of the “corporate Christ” which he states is a prerequisite for Jesus Christ’s return:

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

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

“…Under the anointing you make a declaration and it forms tonight…

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

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

“I’m talking about a maturity tonight – and it’s being formed in you.   Let Christ be formed in maturity.  Let the full man, let the fullness of God come forth, and let the womb open tonight… and let there be a great birthing…” 26

Obviously, MSoG is not Biblical.  One of the proof-texts used is Romans 8:15-24.  And, as the Apostle Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 15:23-28, it is clear that Jesus is the one who puts “all His enemies under His feet” – not the Church.  Heaven will not “hold back the Second Coming” due to the failure of the Church to somehow prepare the way for Christ’s return.  If Jesus is waiting for a “perfected Church” as some erroneously teach (based on a faulty interpretation/proof-texting of Ephesians 5:27), He’ll be waiting for all eternity as we are inherently imperfect and will never be perfected this side of glory!

The New Age of the Manifested Sons of God

Constance Cumbey, in her 1985 book A Planned Deception illustrates how an adamant New Ager from a Unity Church in Kansas City recognized the Manifest Sons of God doctrine as taught in hyper-charismatic churches, or “Neo-Pentecostalism” as being New Age in nature [see also Ascended Master under “Glossary of New Age/Occult Terms and Concepts” and “Jesus of Nazareth / Master Jesus” in the “Christ” in the New Age article on this site]:

“Rev. Ernest Ramsey, an associate pastor at Unity’s Kansas City Founder’s Church, Unity on the Plaza, is an enthusiastic follower of the Alice Bailey and Benjamin Crème teachings.  In his Research Report #2, he tells of something he was led to by a spirit guide – what he terms ‘Neo-Pentecostalism.’  An aberrant branch of Pentecostalism, this is more commonly known as ‘Manifest Sons of God.’  That movement is also referred to as ‘Sonship’ or ‘Overcomers.’  Ramsey concludes based on even less evidence than I have personally collected that this is part of the New Age Movement.

“…The most interesting section of Ramsey’s report dealing with ‘Neopentecostalism.’  Ramsey spent a semester at one of the Neo-Pentecostal or Manifest Sons of God seminaries – in upstate New York ‘at a location surrounded by tall pine trees.’  Already familiar with the Alice Bailey writings, he was amazed to see that there was a branch of Pentecostalism that embraced the same teachings – albeit using different terminology.

“Like those seeking the ‘Age of Aquarius’ these people too were seeking a ‘New Age.’  Like the other New Agers, these people taught that ‘The Christ’ was an anointing – not necessarily one man.  They taught that Jesus was a pattern son who was to be a sign of something even greater to come – the ‘Manifestation of the Sons of God.’ They too believed the earth was to be cleansed of evil.  And chillingly like the other New Agers, they believed they were to be ‘God’s’ instruments to do such cleansing.  The New Agers believed they were gods.  The Manifest Sons of God likewise taught that if one accepted their ‘new revelation’ that they themselves would actually become Christ at the time of the unveiling or manifestation of the Sons of God….” 27

Theosophist/New Ager Alice A. Bailey (mentioned above by Cumbey), in her 1937 book From Bethlehem to Calvary, an occult rendering of the life and work of Jesus Christ, teaches the MSoG doctrine: 

“Let me state here briefly and succinctly, what it would appear really transpired when Christ died on the Cross.  He rendered up the form aspect and identified Himself as Man with the life aspect of Deity.  He thereby liberated us from the form side of life, of religion and of 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…” 28

The asterisk above denotes a reference in the original text to John 17:16 illustrating one of many instances of proof-texting.  Note that, according to Bailey, Christ did not die for our sins so much as He died for our own deification – becoming a model, a pattern to follow in attaining our own godhood.  The last part of the last sentence above is describing manifested sons of God with the claim that Jesus Christ had released us “from the trammels and limitations of the flesh, while yet walking on earth.” Bailey is also describing the dualistic Gnostic concept which recognizes the spiritual realm as the ‘real’ with the material realm as illusion and/or intrinsically evil.  This is also alluded to in Bill Hamon’s book Eternal Church in which he states: 

“…When the Church realizes its full sonship, its bodily redemption will cause a redemptive chain reaction throughout all of creation…” 29

This sounds not unlike the Kabbalistic doctrine of divine sparks which are within all matter requiring mankind to liberate and redeem them to perfection. 

In the following, Bailey is a bit more explicit in her manifested sons of God teaching:

“…Its form [orthodox religion] must be sacrificed upon the Cross of Christ in order that it may be resurrected into true and vital life for the meeting of people’s need.  Let a living Christ be its theme, and not a dying Saviour…Mankind can descend from the cross as Christ did, and enter into the kingdom of God, a living spirit.  The sons of God are ready to be manifested…” 30

The book goes on to quote Romans 8:16-24, just as those in hyper-charismatic churches do in promoting MSoG teaching.  Continuing with Bailey:

“Towards this glorification of God we are all moving.   Some of the sons of men have already achieved, through the realisation of their divinity.” 31

In addition to the ability to travel between the physical and spiritual realms at will, other characteristics of the fully manifested son of God are an impossibility to sin,32 being group conscious33 (the recognition of the imperative of unity), and a cessation of ongoing reincarnations.34 In the following, Bailey equates the attainment of sonship with entrance into the Kingdom of God and describes how Christ’s Incarnation furthered this possibility:

“…Christ’s incarnation, apart from its historical value, and apart from the keynote which He sounded, marked the closing of a great cosmic cycle, but it marked also the opening of that door into the kingdom which had opened only occasionally theretofore, in order to permit the entrance of those sons of God who had triumphed over matter.  After the advent of Christ, the door stood wide open for all time, and the kingdom of God began to form on Earth…” 35

This “door into the kingdom” is also known as a “portal” or “veil.”  The initiate “triumphs over matter” through meditation i.e., seeking the ‘presence of God,’ which brings increasingly deeper levels of “Christ consciousness,” or, in reality, increasing soul-control/possession. [See “Christ Consciousness” section of “Christ” in the New Age.]  Bailey makes it clear that the ultimate purpose is to build the kingdom now and this purpose can only be accomplished by both the individual and the entire human race attaining divinity.

“It is time that the Church woke up to its true mission, which is to materialise the kingdom of God on earth, today, here and now…” 36

“This divinity in man must be brought to the birth, both in the individual and in the [human] race, and thus can the kingdom of God on earth be brought into being.” 37

Obviously, this is not the true Biblical Kingdom of God which should make the reader wonder just which kingdom Dominionists/Restorationists/Kingdom Now adherents are seeking to build.  [See Fifth Kingdom in Nature and Kingdom of God under “Glossary of New Age/Occult Terms and Concepts” section of “Christ” in the New Age.]

Which Kingdom?

The late Earl Paulk made a distinction between the “Gospel” and the “Gospel of the Kingdom” in a glossary near the end of his 1984 book Ultimate KingdomHere are the two definitions respectively:

Gospel: The good news of God’s redemption to man. [Luke 4:18, 9:6; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:15]

Gospel of the Kingdom: The good news principles of daily life taught by Jesus that the Church must demonstrate as a witness to the world in order to return the rule of the earth to God.  [Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14] 38

Notice again how it’s the Church which must “return the rule of the earth to God” which is, as already noted above, unbiblical.  Bill Johnson, in his book When Heaven Invades Earth also differentiates between the “Gospel” and the “Gospel of the Kingdom”:

“…the company of people who have joined this quest for an authentic gospel –  the gospel of the kingdom – is increasing.” 39

There is also a teaching in the New Age in which when “Christ” – actually the antichrist – ‘reappears’ (the belief is He never left the earth), He will have the ability to manifest Himself in many bodies at one time not unlike the “Birth of the Man-Child”40 teaching of MSoG.

“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. He impresses the space with his images, and so forth.” 41

Paulk also defines “Man Child” in his glossary as “Jesus Christ” (while referencing Revelation 12:5, 13).42  Francis Frangipane, in his book In the Presence of God, espouses this “Birth of the Man-Child” doctrine implicitly in a chapter titled “The Virgin Shall Be with Child”:

“Secure this thought in your mind: when the Spirit of Christ comes into the physical world, He must enter through a physical body…When Christ first entered our world as a child, it was Mary whom God chose to give Christ birth.  Mary’s life symbolized the qualities the Church must possess to walk in the fullness of Christ…[God is preparing us] as He did Mary to give birth to the ministry of His Son.  Even now, in the spiritual womb of the virgin Church, the holy purpose of Christ is growing, awaiting maturity; ready to be born in power in the timing of God…the virgin church is ‘in labour and in pain to give birth (Rev 12:1-2)…even now, hell trembles and the heavens watch in awe, for I say to you, once again, the virgin is with child.  Before Jesus Himself returns, the last virgin Church shall become pregnant with the promise of God.  Out of her travail, the Body of Christ shall come forth, raised to the full stature of its Head, the Lord Jesus.  Corporately manifested in holiness, power and love, the Bride of Christ shall rise.” 43

As evidenced by the title of his 1985 book Held in the Heavens Until… Paulk believes we either hinder or hasten Christ’s return.  Paulk made no bones about his belief in MSoG as he writes:

“…When I say, ‘Act like a god,’ I can hear people saying, ‘There he goes with the theory of the manifest sons of God.’  Forget about theories!  Forget about doctrine!  Just go back to the simple Word of God!  We are ‘little gods,’ whether we admit it or not…” 44

Paulk goes further by explaining that we are an “ongoing incarnation of Christ”:

“…Jesus was the firstfruit of God’s incarnation, a man living out God’s perfect will.  Now He says, “…My people will bring forth life as they become the ‘incarnate Word’ on planet Earth.”  …the Church is the ‘ongoing expression’ of God.” 45

“All things have been given to us, even to the point of allowing us to share the divine nature of Jesus.  Sharing His nature is a definition of the ongoing incarnation of God on the earth.  ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory.’  His inheritance is already ours.” 46

“…The Seed, Jesus Christ, multiplied Himself by sending the Holy Spirit to indwell His followers

“…the Holy Spirit within us makes us become the incarnation of God.  The seed begins to grow within individuals, and grows corporately into a tremendous church…” 47

Bill Hamon wrote regarding Paulk on the Rapture that his view “to most Evangelicals and Pentecostals [is] a denial of the rapture bordering on heresy”:

“He [Paulk] taught that the departed saints would be resurrected and the living saints would be translated in the twinkling of an eye, but this was not for the purpose of leaving the earth.  Rather, it was for establishing God’s divine order for the human race and Christ’s rulership over all the earth.” 48 

Please note this is essentially what Hamon teaches (see above).  Even though Hamon does not specifically mention the already departed saints, it can be inferred from the “Resurrection” part of his “Resurrection-Translation” doctrine for “resurrection” can only refer to the deceased.  While I may not  have found what Hamon refers to explicitly regarding Paulk (if I do find something more definitive, I’ll update this portion), here’s Paulk, once again, from Held in the Heavens Until… implying this as he continues in his line of thought from above [this may well be the quote Hamon had in mind]:

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

“If God’s love is going to be manifested on planet earth, who is going to demonstrate it?  Christ in us, the hope of glory.  God has no other place to show His love except through His body.” 49

I do believe God is quite capable of displaying His love apart from the Church body.

Concluding Remarks

This article has shown that a “corporate Christ mantle” or “corporate Christ anointing” is akin to Manifest Sons of God teaching.  Further, the logical conclusion to this teaching in most quarters is an establishment of the “Kingdom of God” through these manifested sons.  These doctrines have a direct parallel to New Age teachings.  Given that MSoG along with its associated doctrines are not Biblical, we must ask ourselves: Which Kingdom is Johnson, Vallotton, Hamon, Jones, Bentley, Frangipane, (and the late Paulk), et al actually attempting to establish?

Endnotes:

1“ChasingRiver” The Real Jesus – Part 4 – by Bill Johnson.  <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHcRI60j0HI&feature=related>; as accessed 07/03/11
2 “ChasingRiver” 0:36 – 1:30, emphasis added; as accessed 07/03/11
3 “ChasingRiver” 7:28 – 8:10, emphasis added; as accessed 07/03/11
4 Hamon, Bill. Apostles, Prophets and the Coming Moves of God. 1997 (2nd printing), Destiny Image “We Publish the Prophets”, Shippensburg, PA; p 282. Bolding in original, underlining added.
5 Branham, William Marrion. The Revelation of the Seven Seals. 1993, Voice of God, Jeffersonville, IA; pp 425-27.  From sermon tapes of March 17-25, 1963.
6 Branham; p 426
7 Branham; introduction
8 Branham; pp 259, 249-95
9 Branham; pp 281, 249-95
10 Branham; p 435
11 Branham; p 436
12 Jesus “R” Ministries. “The Mantle of Jesus” <http://www.jesusrministries.org/Mantle%20of%20Jesus.htm>; par 2, 3; as accessed 07/03/11
13 Jesus “R” Ministries; par 3, 5.  Emphasis added.  Also note the very last paragraph uses Joel 2:1-18 presumably for the Latter Rain version of Joel’s Army as well as the IHOP version.
14 Order of Christ~Sophia (Centers of Light) “Purposes” <http://www.orderofchristsophia.org/OCS_purposes.html>; points 3, 6, 5, 6 respectively; as accessed 07/03/11
15 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; p 13
16 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; p 11
17 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; p 13
18 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; p 11
19 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; p 13
20 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; p 18
21 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; pp 264-65
22 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; pp 255-56
23 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets; p 252
24 MorningStar Ministries, Media Store, VS19-000D. “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08” DVD.  A truncated version is on Jones’ site: <http://bobjonesnew.unionactive.com/Docs/Words%20of%202008/2008-09-The_New_Breed.htm>
25 Johnson, Bill. Face to Face with God. 2007; Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; p 139. Emphasis added.
26 Bentley, Todd. Monologue from Lakeland Revival, Day 57 May 28, 2008. Originally accessed here: <http://injesus.com/index.php?module=message&task=list&GroupID-WB0062AX> access date unknown, website link no longer valid.
27 Cumbey, Constance. A Planned Deception: the Staging of a New Age “Messiah”. 1985; Point Publishers, East Detroit, MI; pp 171-172. Emphasis added.  Also available as a free download: <https://public.me.com/cumbey> “A PLANNED…ULL BOOK.pdf”   pp 78-9
28 Bailey, Alice A.  From Bethlehem to Calvary. Copyright 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis, NY, 4th paperback edition, 1989; Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 187. Emphasis added.
29 Hamon, Bill. Eternal Church. 1981 (2003 revised ed), Christian International, Santa Rosa Beach, FL; pp 359-60
30 Bailey. Bethlehem; p 189. Emphasis added.
31 Bailey. Bethlehem; p 189. As per original (sentence fragment in orig.).  Emphasis added.
32 Bailey. Bethlehem; p 202
33 Bailey, Alice A. The Rays and the Initiations. 1960 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1976, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 694
34 Bailey, Rays; p 697
35 Bailey. Bethlehem; p 184
36 Bailey. Bethlehem; p 210
37 Bailey. Bethlehem; p 50
38 Paulk, Earl. Ultimate Kingdom. 1984, K Dimension Publishers, Atlanta, GA; p 335
39 Johnson, Bill When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 27. Emphasis in original.
40 Booth, Tricia (formerly Tillin), The Birthpangs of a New Age. “The Birth of the Manchild”  <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/latterrain/manchild.html>; as accessed 07/03/11
41 World Service Intergroup website. Dubois, J.D. “The Christ, His Reappearance, and the Avatar of Synthesis” <http://www.worldserviceintergroup.net/#/christ-reappearance/4543145171>; par 5; as accessed 07/03/11
42 Paulk. Ultimate. p 337
43 Frangipane, Francis. In the Presence of God. 1994, New Wine Press, UK; pp 153-57 as cited in Booth, Tricia “The Birth of the Manchild”. Emphasis added
44 Paulk, Earl. Held in the Heavens Until…: God’s Strategy for Planet Earth. 1985, K Dimension Publishers, Atlanta, GA; p 171. Emphasis added.
45 Paulk. Heavens. p 163.  Emphasis added.
46 Paulk. Heavens. p 197.  Emphasis added.
47 Paulk. Heavens. p 227.  Emphasis added.
48 Hamon. Apostles, Prophets. p 199
49 Paulk. Heavens. p 229.  Emphasis added.

Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Part I

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

Kenosis Defined

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brief History and Explanation of 19th Century Kenosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background on More Recent Kenotic Theories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     28 Martin Luther’s Christology was apparently partially predicated upon his literal understanding of Jesus’ words “This is my body” which informed Luther’s doctrine on the Eucharist.  In view of this, Luther proclaimed Jesus was/is ubiquitous, everywhere at once, omnipresent, via the communicatio idiomatum [Hodge, Vol II, pp 414-15].
     29 Lawton Church of God, “Historical Manifestation of the Redeemer: Historical Theories on the Two Estates” <http://www.lcoggt.org/Pope/18.htm#ECCLESIASTICAL_DEVELOPMENT>; par 11 (point II); as accessed 06/13/11.  This section does an excellent job of explaining the Lutheran perspective in brief.
30 Hodge, Vol II, pp 407-08; with a more complete discussion on pp 407-18
31 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 11, 12-15
32 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 14-17
33 Hodge, Vol II, p 417
34 Hodge, Vol II, p 416
35 Hodge, Vol II, pp 413-14
36 Grudem, p 562
37 Grudem, p 563
38 Hodge, Vol II, p 411.  Hodge also references in a footnote J. A. Dorner [History of the Development of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ. 1862, T&T Clark, Edinburgh; Div II, Vol II, p 203 note] “In his highest Christological utterances, the Son of man is nothing more than a God-moved organ…”
39 Hodge, Vol II, p 417
40 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 1-3.  This view as regards the two natures of Christ was historically put forth by Gregory Nazianzen, Maximus the Confessor [pp 3-4] and John of Damascus [pp 5, 20-21], but has not been pursued very much since.  This entire chapter was originally published in a Tyndale Bulletin (see next footnote below).
41 Crisp, Oliver D. Problems with Perichoresis. 2005, Tyndale Bulletin 56.1 <http://tyndalehouse.com/tynbul/library/TynBull_2005_56_1_07_Crisp_PerichoersisProblems.pdf> pp 119-140; as accessed 06/13/11.  Since this document is available online, hereafter page references will be noted after the page citations for Divinity and Humanity.
42 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 19-21, 23-24.  Crisp prefers “asymmetrical” to “unidirectional” as he believes “unidirectional” could lead to symmetry as a marriage proposal leading to becoming a spouse. [Tyndale; pp 130-32, 133-34].
43 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 22. [Tyndale; pp 130-31]
44 Specifically the reference at footnote 34, and, perhaps, 33.  Assuming Hodge would disagree with Crisp on this point, I may tentatively agree with Hodge.
45 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 24. [Tyndale; p 133]
46 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 24-25. [Tyndale; pp 133-34] I submit the possibility that the relationship between the two natures in the hypostatic union is different in kind rather than merely degree in view of the miraculous conception as compared to the Holy Spirit indwelling of the believer.

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

Kenotic Theories of More Recent Vintage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     49 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 119-20.   Crisp uses the term functionalist rather than functional; so, I continue with his convention.
50 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 139-47
51 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 144-47
52 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 120-21
53 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 121(footnote), 146
54 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 142-43.  Crisp points out specifically that the functionalist kenotic denies the use of the so-called extra calvinisticum which (at least one version of) classic Christology affirms and requires for the Word to be able to exercise His divine attributes as incarnate.
55 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 25 [Tyndale p 134].  See quoted text referenced in footnote 48.
56 Musick, Dan, Kenosis: Christ “emptied Himself”. “Christ’s Miracles Performed Only by the Holy Spirit?” <http://kenosis.info/index.shtml#Miracles> copyright 1997-2005; as accessed 06/13/11
57 Musick, “Christ’s Miracles Performed Only by the Holy Spirit”, par 5.  Luke 4:18 does not necessarily point to Jesus relying solely on the Holy Spirit as we have to look at the entire canon of Scripture.
58 Zasper, Fred G. Biblical Studies: Word of Life Baptist Church“The Person of Jesus Christ” <http://www.biblicalstudies.com/bstudy/christology/jesus1.htm> copyright 1996 by Fred Zasper; Part One: His Deity, IV “Evidence from the Old Testament Writers.”  As accessed 06/13/11.  Excellent Scriptural outline on the deity of Christ.
59 Musick, “Christ’s Miracles Performed by the Holy Spirit Only?” , point 3, par 3
60 Guelich, Robert A. Word Biblical Commentary: Mark 1-8:26. 1989, Word Books, Dallas, TX; p 271
61 Guelich, p 269.  Guelich also references Psa 107:28-29 in which God had stilled the storms.
62 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 148.  Not to be confused with the Lutheran doctrine of krypsis though divine krypsis bears a resemblance.
63 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 153
64 Swinburne, Richard, The Christian God. 1994, Oxford University Press, Oxford; p 233 as quoted in Crisp Divinity and Humanity. p 148
65 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 148-50
66 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 149-53, 19-27.  Chapter 1 goes into the details of the perichoretic relationship between the divine and human natures in hypostatic union, including the thesis that it’s this unique relationship which enabled Christ to raise Himself from the dead [p 25].
67 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 150
68 “The Heidelberg Catechism,” as quoted in Noll, Mark A., ed., Confessions and Catechisms of the Reformation. 1991, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI; p 145, as quoted in Peters, David G. The “Extra Calvinisticum” and Calvin’s Eucharistic Theology. n. d. <http://www.wlsessays.net/files/PetersCalvin.pdf>; p 7.  As accessed 06/13/11
69 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. pp 121, 151-52
70 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 152

“Christ” in the New Age

The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplishedThe church must show a wide tolerance, and teach no revolutionary doctrines or cling to any reactionary ideas.  The church as a teaching factor should take the great basic doctrines and (shattering the old forms in which they are expressed and held) show their true and inner spiritual significance.  The prime work of the church is to teach, and teach ceaselessly, preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages.  Teachers must be trained; Bible knowledge must be spread; the sacraments must be mystically interpreted, and the power of the church to heal must be demonstrated.” [1]

                                                                — Alice A. Bailey, The Externalisation of the Hierarchy; 1919

The Christian life is a life of war as we continually fight against the flesh (our own sinful desires) and the attacks of the enemy (Satan and his minions).  During wartime, one method of attack is the attempt to destroy the enemy from within by chicanery – using deception as a strategy to infiltrate the opposing camp.  Satan, our enemy, has employed this method from the very beginning.  A particularly effective means to accomplish this goal is to redefine standard orthodox Christian terms and concepts in a way which permits those in the Church to understand them as seemingly orthodox resulting in – to borrow words from Hannah Newman, author of The Rainbow Swastika – a “Trojan Horse of semantics.”[2] This article will focus on the word “Christ” illustrating some of the various ways it is used within the New Age and occult.

Who (or what) is “Christ” according to the New Age / New Spirituality?  It all depends on context.  There are at least seven different meanings/aspects.  Obviously, this can lead to confusion both to the insider and the outsider; however, it is especially confusing to those of orthodox Christian persuasion.  And, it’s that way by design according to Alice A. Bailey (AAB), who acted as a medium through which “Master D. K.” (Djwhal Khul a/k/a The Tibetan) would channel, according to the opening quote.  The Bailey books and other New Age/occult literature are available through Lucis Trust (formerly Lucifer Publishing[3]).

Given that, “…The church as a teaching factor should take the great basic doctrines and (shattering the old forms in which they are expressed and held),” the goal of redefining concepts is clear.  The occult/esoteric teachings of the New Age are to be expressed in such a way that the unsuspecting church attendee does not catch on right away, if at all.  This goal must be accomplished by, “…preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages….”  And, the greatest “basic doctrine” is, of course, that of the person of Jesus Christ Himself.

“Christ” in Christian Orthodoxy

It would be prudent to first provide the established orthodox Christian definition of “Christ.” The term comes from the Greek transliterated Christos which is defined “Christ,” “Messiah,” or “Anointed One.”[4]  Christos itself is derived from chrio, “to anoint.”[5]  From the Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, here’s the definition of Christos:

“Christ, Anointed One, Messiah, the Greek translation of the Hebrew 4899 (cf. Greek 3323).  The Messiah is the Son of David, an anointed leader expected to bring in an age of peace and liberty from all oppression.  In the NT, the Messiah is Jesus, who came first to bring liberty from sin and peace with God and who will come again to bring all things under His control [6]

In the New Testament, chrio is used five times, two of which refer to Jesus’ Baptism [Luke 4:18, Acts 10:38], another most likely to His Baptism [Acts 4:27][7], and once at or after His Resurrection or Ascension [Heb 1:9; cf. Ps 45:6-7, Isa 61:3, Php 2:9][8].  In the remaining instance, chrio is used to refer to Holy Spirit-endued Christians [II Cor 1:21].  The noun form of chrio is chrisma, “anointing,”[9] which is used only three times, and each time in John’s first epistle to denote the Holy Spirit anointing of believers [once in I John 2:20, twice in 2:27].

Both chrio and chrisma are always used in a sacred and symbolic sense; whereas, the Greek words aleipho [Matt. 6:17; Mark 6:13, 16:1; Luke 7:38,46; John 11:2, 12:3; James 5:14], epichrio [John 9:6,11], enchrio [Rev 3:18], and murizo [Mark 14:8], which are also translated anoint/ed/ing, are always used in a physical sense [10] in the NT.

The word “Messiah” is only used twice in the New Testament although it is derived from the Aramaic rather than the Hebrew [11].  This term is used solely in the Gospel of John [1:41, 4:25] and each time it is used in conjunction with Christos presumably for emphasis of Jesus Christ’s deity.  It is therefore noteworthy that when the word “Christ,” (Christos) is used in the NT, it is exclusively for the person of Jesus Christ and nothing or no one else (except when Jesus Himself is referring to false Christs as in Matthew 24).  As both Louis Berkhof and Wayne Grudem illustrate in each of their respective Systematic Theology’s, “Christ” is a term denoting His divinity.[12][13]

Unfortunately, many online lexicons define Christos as Christ = “anointed” which is misleading and confusing.  In the NT, Christos, though derived from chrio which means “to anoint” as noted above, is defining the unique Christ, Messiah, Son of God and He is thus the “Anointed One” as per the two sources for definitions above.  While Christians are anointed by the Holy Spirit at baptism, we are obviously not referred to as “Christ” (Christos) upon baptism; and, furthermore, Jesus was described as “Jesus Christ” at the virgin birth which means the term was applied to Him prior to Baptism (of course, He was always Christ as noted above) rather than later at His Baptism by John as these online definitions would suggest.  The importance of these distinctions will be made more obvious a bit later in this article.

The confusion likely stems from the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament from which early Catholic Bibles have been translated.  (Interestingly, many NT quotes from the OT are taken from the Septuagint rather than the Hebrew Masoretic Text.)  The term christos is rendered as “anointed” in Lev 4: 4, Lev 6:22, 1 Samuel 2:10 (appropriate by the contexts) as well as a few other passages[14] and designated with a lower case rather than a capital “c.”  In Psalm 2:2, the “C” in this term is capitalized (Christos) since this is considered a Messianic passage (prophecy about the coming Messiah).  This distinction in uncapitalization/capitalization is illustrated in Brenton’s The Septuagint with the Apocrypha: Greek and English[15].  In the NT, I’m reasonably sure the convention of capitalizing Christos in each and every instance is followed in both the NA27 Novum Testamentum Graece and the UBS4 The Greek New Testament. [I’ve not checked all the references; so, if a reader finds an exception, please let me know.]

Glossary of New Age/Occult Terms and Concepts

This section and the remaining sections constitute my current understanding of New Age doctrine and concepts.  Likely, at least some parts of individual sections will be amended in the future as my understanding grows.  I welcome any comments which could shed further light in this area.

It will be helpful to define some other New Age terms and concepts before we go on to define “Christ” in New Age/occult teachings.  Terms may be added, again, as my knowledge increases.  I want to caution readers that this is occult teaching and the goal is to confuse the reader into believing this is Biblical truth which, of course, it is not.  It is a ‘spin’ on orthodox Christian truth.  My reasoning for bringing forth this information is educational because, alarmingly, there are parallels of some of the following concepts with doctrines currently taught in quite a few of our churches!

Probably the most important doctrine in the New Age/occult is the belief that all humans have two natures, one human (of course) and one latent divine nature. 

Initiation:

“…an expansion of consciousness – a means of opening the mind and heart to a recognition of what already exists in reality.”[16]  Also known as overshadowing.  With each successive overshadowing the initiate is brought to increasing levels of soul-control, or, in other words, demonic possession.  While there are five initiations in total for the human, each overshadowing does not necessarily equate to one of these five ‘milestones’ of initiations.[17]  [Note: I personally do not believe true Christians can be demonically possessed although they may be oppressed.]

Evolution:

Evolution is a central tenet of occultism partly because, of course, it is in opposition to the creation account of Genesis 1 & 2.  The New Age belief is that mankind has been evolving over millions of years and we are now on the cusp of the next great evolutionary leap – from homo sapiens to homo universalis.[18]  On the macro level, this evolution will come forth as the collective “consciousness” of human minds expands to a certain “tipping point,” or “critical mass.”  On a micro level, individuals themselves “evolve” by the “expansions of consciousness” from man into godhood as Ascended Masters by taking all five initiations. [19][20]

This ascendance to godhood is the ultimate goal of all.  Unity is of primary importance since, without it, this “evolution” of the human race will not be possible.  Disunity or, the refusal to go along with New Age ideals, therefore, is considered the only real “sin” – the “sin of separation” or “sin of separatism.”  [See “Evil of Separatism” section of this Lucis Trust article.[21]]

Reincarnation:

Once an individual dies, his soul returns to the physical realm by reincarnating into a body with the same atomic makeup but with different outward physical characteristics as the previous one as determined by his birth parents.  This is also known as rebirth or being born again. Therefore, death is not seen as a negative thing at all as it provides another chance at life in which the individual may reach a state of perfection ascending into godhood and thereby becoming an Ascended Master.  So, the ‘removal’ of those who will not unify would be seen as best not just for the common good but for the individual ‘removed’ as well.  “Resurrection is the keynote of nature; death is not.”[22]  Souls reincarnate in groups.

Ascended Master:

An Ascended Master is a former human who, through extreme self-effort, enabled himself to transcend humanity by attaining divinity.  This is done when the “higher self”  (Christ within or Inner Christ) transcends the “lower nature”, (human), or Ego, so that the individual becomes a god.  This results in “the body of flesh” changing to the “body of bliss.”[23]  This requires five initiations.  One does not have to make all five in one incarnation as these initiations are cumulative carrying over from previous lives to subsequent ones.  Ascended Masters live in the Fifth Kingdom which is a spiritual state and these Masters have the ability to travel between the spiritual and physical planes at will [24].

This ‘ascent into godhood’ teaching is similar to Manifest sons of God doctrine which has been taught in some Christian churches [see Kris Vallotton and the “Mantle of Jesus Christ” / Bill Johnson on Corporate Anointing and Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again Jesus, part II at the “Manifest Sons of God: The New Breed” section (especially Todd Bentley’s four floors/levels teaching) and Bethel to Feature Bob Jones at Upcoming Prophetic Conference under “The New Breed of the Elected Seeds” section].  At the fourth initiation one becomes a Manifested son of God with the ability to travel between the astral and physical planes at will[25].

Fifth Kingdom in Nature:

There are five kingdoms in nature, the first four of which are: mineral, vegetable, animal and human, respectively[26].  The Fifth Kingdom is a spiritual state and is only fully visible by those who’ve taken the fifth initiation. This Fifth Kingdom will eventually materialize as the forthcoming Kingdom of God. [27]  The following quote captures the essence of this doctrine:

“Emphasis should be laid on the evolution of humanity with peculiar attention to its goal, perfection.  …man in incarnation, by the indwelling and over-shadowing soul…. …The relation of the individual soul to all souls should be taught, and with it the long-awaited kingdom of God is simply the appearance of soul-controlled men on earth in everyday life and at all stages of that control. …The fact will appear that the Kingdom has always been present but has remained unrecognized, owing to the relatively few people who express, as yet, its quality….” [28]

Kingdom of God:

The goal is “[t]hat the Kingdom of God, the Spiritual Hierarchy of our planet, can and will be materialized on earth.”[29]  This “Hierarchy” (of fallen angels) will be “externalized” on the physical plane, on earth, when the human race has fully evolved into homo universalis.  This will be a “return” to “the Garden of Eden” in which ‘gods walked with men’ and ‘men walked with gods.’  However, the “men” in this case will be “gods” also ( as Ascended Masters following the attainment of Manifested sons of God[30]).   One method to facilitate this is to “bring heaven to earth” as in Hermeticism[31] using ritual magick which can best be described by the phrase “as above, so below;” i.e., what happens in the spiritual (above) affects the natural (below) and vice versa.   The following explains this:

“Instruction is being given at this time to a special group of people who have come into incarnation at this critical period of world’s history.  They have come in, all at the same time, throughout the world, to do the work of linking up the two planes, the physical and the astral, via the etheric. [emphasis in original][32]

These individuals are using the spiritual, or etheric, realm in order to link the physical plane (that which we see) to the astral plane (the unseen) which is the place of the Spiritual Hierarchy.  This is the purpose as exemplified in the title of AAB’s book The Externalisation of the Hierarchy – to bring the astral plane to the physical plane while simultaneously bringing the physical to the astral through the merging of the two together using the etheric/spiritual by “expanding consciousness.”  Bringing ‘heaven to earth’:

“It is time that the Church woke up to its true mission, which is to materialise the kingdom of God on earth, today, here and now…” [33]

“…A new kingdom is coming into being: the fifth kingdom in nature is materialising, and already has a nucleus functioning on earth in physical bodies.” [34]

Spiritual Hierarchy; also simply the Hierarchy:

A hierarchy of spiritual entities claiming to be divine influencers in world and individual affairs which are, in reality, demons.  These include Sanat Kumara / Lord of this World (The Ancient of Days, The One Initiator), Ascended Masters, the Manu, the Bodhisattva (the Christ*, the World Teacher), the Mahachohan, and even a Solar Trinity.  For more about the Hierarchy, see “Descent and Sacrifice.”[35] (*“The Christ” will be defined more fully below.)

To accomplish and even hasten their plans[36] on earth, the Spiritual Hierarchy needs the cooperation of humans who act as “co-laborers”[37] with them.  Communication arrives from the Hierarchy to humans on the physical plane as “inspiration”[38] and “impressions.”[39]

Sanat Kumara, Lord of this World (The Ancient of Days, The One Initiator):

He is at the top of the Planetary Hierarchy and is better known, of course, as Lucifer.  He is never referred to as “the Devil” as this is instead used as a pejorative term sometimes describing the true Jehovah God, Christians, and Jews or Judeo-Christian principles and others who refuse to ‘evolve’ (sometimes “Satan” is used as well, although Blavatsky has used “Satan” as an alternate for Lucifer).  Notice how “Ancient of Days” has been reappropriated [see Daniel 7:9,13,22].  He is known as “the Great Hierophant,” “KING,” “Youth of Endless Summers,” “Fountainhead of the Will,” “the ineffable Ruler,” [40] “Great Lord,”[41] “Lord Maitreya,” and “Morning Star” [see Revelation 22:16 as reference for Jesus Christ] as well.[42]  In the context of some of the other writings, he is referred to as “the Christ,” the Son, and it appears he may also be the ‘Father’ as well as the ‘Holy Spirit.’

Solar Logos:

Made up of the Solar Trinity consisting of: The Father (Will), The Son (Love-Wisdom) and The Holy Spirit (Active Intelligence).  The Father is also known as “the first Logos” which is also claimed to be the “ONE ABOUT WHOM NAUGHT MAY BE SAID.”[43] This is obviously a distortion of the True Holy Trinity of orthodox Christianity.  In the diagrams on pages 48-49 [44] in the Bailey book Initiation, Human and Solar, the Solar Logos may appear as though it rules over Sanat Kumara but, this seems to be just a concession to make it look “Christian.”  It really depends on how one views the diagrams.  The way I interpret them, Sanat Kumara and the Solar Logos are one and the same.  This makes sense within the contexts of some other writings and in light of the fact that Lucifer wants to be God – his goal from the time of his initial rebellion.

Shambhala or Shamballa:

The place where the Planetary Hierarchy currently dwells.  It is said to be in the Gobi desert.  However, mere mortals cannot see the Hierarchy until the five initiations are completed.

Age of Aquarius:

Our current era/aeon is the Age of Pisces which is now coming to a close and giving way to the next one – the Age of Aquarius.[45]  Each age has its World Teacher.  This will be explained in more detail below.

The next few sections will describe the various ways in which “Christ” is used – distorted – in the New Age/occult.

“Christ Consciousness”

“Christ consciousness” is the current state of an individual’s progress towards attaining Manifested Sons of God / Ascended Master status[46] and even higher states via initiations or, to phrase another way, the extent of one’s overshadowing or soul-control.  The goal in increasing “Christ consciousness” is to evolve from individual to group consciousness and thus be united with other “gods.”  Each successive initiation brings the individual in increasing alignment with New Age goals; i.e., group-think and unity.  Bailey defines the term:

“The evolutionary force to which we give the name ‘the Christ consciousness’…focused itself in the person of the Christ* in a manner hitherto unknown. This is the potency, latent in every human heart which is described by St. Paul as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col I.27), and is that which, under evolutionary law, brings man eventually into the Kingdom of God and “unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. IV.13.)  Of this potency and glory, Christ has ever been the symbol…” [47] [*see below for explanation of “the Christ” as the “Christ within”]

Transcendental Meditation (TM) in the East is a way to expand one’s “Christ consciousness.”  In Hinduism, for example, the aspirant chants “OM” repeatedly in attempts to unite with Brahma and thus achieve “at-one-ment” with the divine.  In the West, some churches are using Contemplative Prayer or “soaking prayer” with a goal to “experience God’s presence” and this practice bears a remarkable resemblance to TM, or, the expansion of the “Christ consciousness.”  This pursuit of “at-one-ment,” or unity with the divine, as exemplified in Christian Science, Unity and Divine Science and other metaphysical schools of thought is a New Age goal for the Christian Church[48].

Another way to effect change, to further goals of New Age “Christ Consciousness,” is to alter ‘outmoded’ procedures:

“It is not easy for the average person to be fluid and to change details and methods in relation to that which has been taught in the past about which he has evolved definite and distinct ideas.  Are you, therefore, prepared to throw these overboard and work in the way which will meet the new world need under the new incoming influences?

“ The disciple upon whom the Master can most confidently depend is the one who can – in periods of change – preserve that which is good and fundamental while breaking from the past and add to it that which is of immediate service in the present.  An attitude of spiritual compromise is right, needed and very rare to find.  Most of the things about which there may be argument and contention among disciples concern methods and relative non-essentials: they deal with points of organization.  They are not so important as the inner unity of vision and the ability to concede where no wrong is involved and where a fellow worker fails to see the point.  Disciples need to see to it that they do not hinder by any form of self-assertion, or by imposition of their own ideas or by any authoritarianism, based on past procedure.  Ponder on this…The task of the disciple is to sense need and then to meet it and this, again, is part of the new emerging technique of invocation and evocation.” [49] [emphasis added]

As noted above in the Spiritual Hierarchy section, new revelation; i.e., communication from the Hierarchy, comes in the form of “inspiration” and “impressions.”

The “Christ Within” or “Inner Christ”

As noted above, the New Age/occult view is that all individuals have two natures: one human and one of latent divinity.  The former is also known as the “lower self” [sometimes identified as “Satan”], or Ego, while the latter is the “higher self,” Christ within, or inner Christ.  Realizing one’s own inherent divinity is the first step on the path to actualizing godhood.  For this reason, a New Ager can say with a straight face “I am a god” – we are all gods even if we’ve not yet fully attained godhood.

In Gnosticism and some forms of the Kabbalah this is called a “divine spark.”  New Agers, Gnostics, and these Kabbalists (generally) believe everything – including minerals, plants, animals, as well as humans – has a Christ within, inner Christ or “divine spark” respectively.  This belief system is known as panentheism (God is in all).  Accordingly, their “god” is not omnipresent (present in all places at once) but rather immanent (within all), however, in addition, this “god” is also said to be transcendent (transcending the universe – the other aspect of panentheism: “all is in God”) being both impersonal and unknowable.[50]  [See Spiritual Hierarchy and Solar Logos above.]

From this panentheistic viewpoint springs the “green” movement, the belief in the “oneness” of all, etc.  The eventual goal is the release of these “Christs” within or ‘sparks’ so that the “reintegration” of all these ‘pieces’ of the ‘divine’ can be one again.  Once this occurs, “god” will be complete yet again after having scattered part of himself throughout the solar system in past millennia; and, simultaneously, all will be “god” and all matter, or “not-self” (which is evil), will be destroyed.  This stems from 2nd century (or 1st century depending on whose viewpoint we accept) Gnosticism or perhaps even earlier.

Of humanity’s “inherent divinity” which we must work towards achieving full actualization (think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory), AAB explains:

“…Inherent in the human consciousness…is a sense of divinity…‘As He is, so are we in this world.’ (1 John IV:17) is another Biblical statement…“Christ in us, the hope of glory’ is the triumphant affirmation of St. Paul.” [51]

This “Christ within” becomes fully manifested by taking all five initiations.

The “Christ Anointing”

In the introduction to Levi Dowling’s well known New Age book, originally written in 1907, The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ is a list of questions with corresponding answers to aide the reader in understanding terms and concepts in the book.  Question 4 reads: “What is meant by ‘the Christ,’ as the Word is used in this book?”  The answer:

“The word Christ is derived from the Greek word Kristos [ed: actually “Christos”] and means anointed.  It is identical with the Hebrew word Messiah.  The word Christ, in itself, does not refer to any particular person; every anointed person is christed.  When the definitive article ‘the’ is placed before the word Christ, a definite personality is indicated, and this personality is none other than a member of the Trinity, the Son…” [52]

Here, Dowling is referring specifically to the occult meaning in which individuals are “anointed,” or “christed” (initiated) by “the Christ” [which Dowling refers to as the “definite personality” and “member of the Trinity, the Son” above] as “Head of Hierarchy” or by one acting on “the Christ’s” behalf, i.e., other demons.  While, according to the occult, every individual has the “Christ within” (inherent but not necessarily active divinity), not all have received the “Christ anointing,” and it’s this “Christ anointing” one needs in order to receive the five required initiations to reach Manifested sons of God and eventually Ascended Master status.

As noted above in the “‘Christ’ in Christian Orthodoxy” section, Christos always refers to the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament; whereas, in the Old Testament Christos/christos would be defined as either “anointed” or “Christ” depending on context.  In the book of First John, the word for “anointing,” chrisma, denotes those endued by the Holy Spirit – Holy Spirit-indwelled Christians.

In hyper-charismatic circles the term “Christ anointing” or, simply, “the anointing” is used.  Is the Dowling book, or one like it, the root for this teaching?

“The Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy”

“The Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy” is “an official name” or title[53].  The current “Head of Hierarchy” is the one who has been assigned to be “the Christ” of the current age/aeon.  He is directly subordinate to “the Great Hierophant,” aka “Lord of the World,” [54] aka Lucifer who is, confusingly, also known as “the Christ,” the Son.  [See the Dowling quote above in “The ‘Christ’ Anointing” section.] The “Head of Hierarchy” is also the “Great World Teacher” and “Firstborn among many brethren.”  The “Head of Hierarchy” administers the first two initiations; whereas, the three others available to humankind are provided by “the Great Hierophant,” “the One Initiator,” “Lord Maitreya,” Lucifer, himself.[55]

The “Head of Hierarchy” for the Age of Pisces, our current age, is the “Master Jesus” [see below].  He will be succeeded in the forthcoming Age of Aquarius by the new “World Teacher.”  From an orthodox Christian perspective, he will be the Antichrist.

Here’s an explanation of this aspect/function from World Service Intergroup, a New Age website:

“Christ, in this aspect, is a name that is considered to be a title or office.  When the present head of Hierarchy surpasses Himself and moves on to a greater position, the One who will replace Him will also be called “the Christ.”  The Head of Hierarchy does not belong to any one religion but to all religions, to the whole of humanity.” [56]

Historical Christ 

In the New Age/occult teachings, the “Historical Christ” is the Son, the one of the “Trinity.”  He is referred to as “the Christ,” and, although listed separately in the Solar Logos above the Planetary Hierarchy, it seems that this “Christ” is one and the same [as is the rest of the “Trinity”] with Sanat Kumara, Lord of this World, The One Initiator, Lord Maitreya, etc.

Sanat Kumara, the One Initiator, provides the third through fifth initiations in humans whereas the subsequent sixth and seventh initiations of Masters in the Planetary Hierarchy are administered by “that One of Whom Sanat Kumara is the manifestation, the Logos of our scheme on His own plane” who “becomes the Hierophant”[57] which I assume to be “the Historical Christ.”  This seems to create a logical incongruity since it is claimed that when Jesus of Nazareth received His fourth initiation at the Crucifixion en route to becoming “Master Jesus,” simultaneously “the Christ” received the seventh from “the Father.” [58]  Further, as quoted above, “the One of Whom Sanat Kumara is the manifestation…” is referred to as “the Hierophant” yet Sanat Kumara himself is referred to as “the great Hierophant” [59] in the same book a few pages earlier.

Jesus of Nazareth / Master Jesus

With many previous incarnations including as Joshua, the son of Nun, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a man who had volunteered Himself to be used as a vehicle through which “the Christ,” as Sanat Kumara / Lord of this World, the One Initiator, manifested although He did eventually achieve “Master” status and is now an Ascended Master[60].

In Levi Dowling’s The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ  are the “Akashic Records” which purport to detail some of Jesus’ so-called ‘lost years’ between the ages of twelve and thirty[61], Jesus passed the “seventh brotherhood test;” and, in so doing, received the “highest degree, THE CHRIST.”  This title and degree had to be conferred upon Him by “God himself” at Baptism[62].  Prior to this, Jesus could not rightly be called “the Christ” or “Jesus Christ” as He was merely Jesus of Nazareth; however, after Baptism He was on His way to become “the Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy” for the Piscean Age.  Dowling’s book is in chapter/verse format so that it looks like a “Bible”:

“…and now you stand ready to take the last degree. 6 Upon your brow I place this diadem, and in the Great Lodge of the heavens and earth you are THE CHRIST. 7 This is your great Passover rite.  You are a neophyte no more; but now a master mind. 8 Now, man can do no more; but God himself will speak, and will confirm your title and degree. 9 Go on your way, for you must preach the gospel of good will to men and peace on earth; must open up the prison doors and set the captives free. 10 And while the hierophant yet spoke the temple bells rang out; a pure white dove descended from above and sat on Jesus’ head. 11 And then a voice that shook the very temple said, THIS IS THE CHRIST; and every living creature said, AMEN.” [63]

Dowling explains further about how Jesus received His title of Christ in the Introduction:

“The word Christ means “the anointed one,”* and then it is an official title.  It means, The Master of Love.  When we say ‘Jesus, the Christ’ we refer to the man and to his office; just as we do when we say…Lincoln, the President…Lincoln was not always President, and Jesus was not always Christ.  Jesus won his Christship by a strenuous life, and in chapter 55 [of Dowling’s book], we have a record of the events of his christing, or receiving the degree Christ.  Here is where he was coronated by the highest earth authorities as the Christ-King; properly speaking, ‘the Master of love;’ and after this was done he entered at once upon his Judean and Galilean ministry.

“We recognize the facts that Jesus was man and that Christ was God, so that in very truth Jesus the Christ was the God-man of the ages.” [64] [*This contradicts his assertion above as quoted in “The ‘Christ Anointing’” section that Kristos [sic] means simply “anointed.”  Further, Dowling stated that “the Christ” is part of the ‘Trinity,’ whereas Jesus of Nazareth is not, although he was anointed by “the Christ” and subsequently became “the Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy” for the Piscean Age which is what he’s trying to explain here.  My point is to show the logical incongruity in some of these teachings.]

Alice A. Bailey, in her 1937 book From Bethlehem to Calvary states essentially the same thing:

“This initiation [Baptism] marked a tremendous change in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  Up to that time, for thirty years, He had simply been the carpenter of the little town, and the son of His parents.  He was a personality doing much good in a small sphere.  But after the purification in Jordan, having ‘fulfilled all righteousness,’ He became the Christ…” [65]

“The Christ,” as Sanat Kumara / Lord of this World, the One Initiator, which provided this initiation, remained with Jesus until the Crucifixion at which point “the Christ” left him:

“The Christ is an immortal being transcending all laws of nature and it is not possible for anyone to crucify or kill the Christ.  They killed his disciple Jesus through whom the Christ was speaking by crucifying him…” [66]

This is apparently where the “Jesus Died Spiritually” teaching of Kenyon/Hagin/Copeland, etc. originates [see also point 4 below: “Crucifixion on Mount Golgotha”].

The view that the “divine Christ” joined the human Jesus at Baptism and left him before His death is essentially the same view espoused by Cerinthus as noted in Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part I.

When Jesus was raised from the dead following His crucifixion it was not by his own power but by “the Christ”:

“Jesus was raised from the dead by his teacher the Christ who entered his body 3 days after his death. Jesus was no longer in that body and it was the Christ whose personal name Lord Maitreya who lived in that body for the 41 days after the resurrection.” [All as per original][67]

In the New Age/occult view Jesus did not provide Atonement on the Cross as the propitiation for our sins.  Rather, He provided a pattern/model for each of us to follow in order to actualize our own divinity and thus save ourselves (auto-soterism).  Dowling’s book claims to speak for Jesus post-Resurrection:

“My human life was wholly given to bring my will to tune to the deific will; when this was done my earth-tasks all were done.

“You know that all my life was one great drama for the sons of men; a pattern for the son’s of men.  I lived to show the possibilities of man.

“What I have done all men can do, and what I am all men shall be.” [68]

Jesus’ life is mapped out as symbolically (not actually) representing the five initiations:

1)      Birth at Bethlehem –  “the birth of Christ in the cave of the human heart.”[69] Recognizing the “Christ in you, the hope of glory” – your inherent but latent divinity (duality) [70][71].  “Freedom from the control of the physical body and its appetites.” [72]

2)      Baptism in Jordan – Water baptism “purifies the emotional nature” which precedes the “purification of the mind by fire,” [73] or the “baptism of spirit and fire aka baptism of the Holy Spirit,” thus providing the ability to consciously reject all evil [74]. “What therefore lies ahead for the initiate who has entered the purificatory water, or rather fire?”[75]  Jesus became “the Christ”[76] having received this title and name at Baptism [77][78] in working His way towards becoming “Head of Hierarchy” for our Age; and, similarly, we can receive the “Christ anointing” on our way to becoming Ascended Masters.

3)      Transfiguration on Mount Carmel – “transfiguration of the [human] nature” into “full-grown man in Christ” – learning to “die to self;” i.e., working towards overcoming the ‘lower, human nature.’  “Develops “fourth dimensional vision.”[79] Full-grown man working towards manifested son of God. [80]. Receives “terrific voltage” of Kundalini[81] “…the mind… …begins its true task as an interpreter of divine truth…” (i.e., new revelations)[82] “Third eye” is opened. [83]

4)      Crucifixion on Mount Golgotha –“The Great Renunciation.”[84]The “sacrifice of humanity” by totally “dying to (lower, human) self” in order to achieve divinity and to arise as fully manifested son of God [85]  Sin becomes impossible [86]  Moving towards attainment of full ‘group consciousness.’[87] Soul (spiritual) death “and the causal body, the soul body is relinquished and disappears.” [88][89]. “Liberated 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.” [90] = manifested sons of God.

5)      Resurrection and Ascension – “The cave of the tomb into the fullness of the resurrection life.” [91] Attainment to full status of Ascended Master in which the individual can move between and live in either the physical and the astral realms[92]. [93]

It’s important to stress that the above is only a symbolic representation of how we can attain divinity.  Jesus Himself did not actually achieve all five initiations in His lifetime as the following explains:

“…He [Master Jesus] is well known in the Bible History, coming before us as Joshua the Son of Nun, appearing again in the time of Ezra as Jeshua, taking the third initiation as related in the book of Zechariah, as Joshua, and in the Gospel story He is known for two great sacrifices, that in which He handed over His body for the use of the Christ [ed: at Baptism], and for the great renunciation [ed: the Cross] which is the characteristic of the fourth initiation.  As Appollonius [sic] of Tyana, He took the fifth initiation and became a Master of the Wisdom.  From that time on He has stayed and worked with the Christian Church, fostering the germ of true spiritual life which is to be found amongst members of all sects and divisions, and neutralising as far as possible the mistakes and errors of the churchmen and the theologians…” [94]

Jesus of Nazareth, reincarnated as Apollonius of Tyana, lived as a manifested Son of God having achieved this status as a result of His Crucifixion.  At the death of Apollonius of Tyana, according to this New Age/occult teaching, Jesus ascended and now this “Master Jesus” is “the Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy” who guides the Christian Church as well as all of humanity in this Age of Pisces.

“Cosmic Christ”

“The cosmic Christ has existed from all eternity.  This cosmic Christ is divinity, or spirit, crucified in space…” [95]

“The Cosmic Christ [is] the soul of the Universe.  The Cosmic Christ can be recognized as the link standing between matter and spirit.  The Cosmic Christ is not only the bridge between Hierarchy and humanity but also the bridge between Hierarchy and Shambhala.” [96]

The following article from an online source explains the “Cosmic Christ” and at the same time delineates some of the other meanings of “Christ”:

“This does involve the recognition of the Christos as a vast spiritual principle which narrowed Himself to make entry through the prepared and perfected vehicle of Jesus, 2000 years ago.  Thus Jesus and the Christ are not identical.  The Master Jesus is now the Head of Hierarchy who work[s] to prepare the way for the Great Coming of the Lord.

“This lifting and thinking of the Cosmic Christ helps to clear much confusion about the relation of the Christianity to the other great religions.  All the great religions, as we have said before, foretold the descent of the Exalted Lord of the Spiritual Sun. None could know precisely when and how the event would happen.  Spiritual knowledge reveals that the descent of the I AM took place at Baptism on Jordan, at the deepest point on the surface of the Earth. [97]

The “Great Coming of the Lord” is also known as “the reappearance of the Christ,” or, in actuality, the coming Antichrist.

“Reappearance” of the Christ

New Agers are waiting for the new “World Teacher,” Lord Maitreya to “reappear.”  They use the word “reappear” as the belief is that he never really left.  He has been initiating other “World Leaders” throughout the ages and dwells in Shambhala.  And, while Christians await the Second Coming of Christ, Muslims await the Imam Mahdi, Jews await the Messiah, and Buddhists are watching for the Fifth Buddha, this new “World Teacher” will fulfill all these roles, according the New Age religion.

The Christ expressed Himself as Jesus. But it is not Jesus who will be reappearing, but rather Christ, the head of Hierarchy, Who is coming… [98]

This will culminate in the end of the Piscean Age and the beginning of the Age of Aquarius, also known as the Kingdom of God.  AAB in From Bethlehem to Calvary states:

“…We can produce, and as a [human] race, give birth to, the next kingdom in nature, which Christ called the kingdom of God; this is the kingdom of souls, the kingdom of spiritual lives, and herein, uniquely, Christ emerges…” [99]

Here Bailey is referring to the “reappearance” of “the Christ,” or Lord Maitreya.  Note her words: “give birth to.”  This sounds eerily similar to what is known as “Birthing the Man-Child” in some hyper-charismatic circles:

“The key event toward which all of today’s world events as well as all of earth history has been working since the cross is a birthing of a first generation of believers directly into a place of immortal union with Christ.  It is by this birthing that heaven will definitively declare that the kingdoms of this world have at last come under actualized captivity to the Lord and His church.” [all emphasis in original] [100]

And, here are some excerpts from Todd Bentley’s monologue from May 28, 2008 at the Lakeland ‘Revival.’  Notice the New Age references:

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m talking about a maturity tonight – and it’s being formed in you.  Let Christ be formed in maturity.  Let the full man, let the fullness of God come forth, and let the womb open tonight… and let there be a great birthing…”  [101] 

Also, as part of the “Birthing the Man-Child” doctrine is the belief that Christ will return in “His body, the Church.”  This is what Bob Jones was speaking of in his monologue on August 8, 2008 at the Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries when he proclaimed there will be “’Jesuses’ all over the world”:

The New Breed will be those that are partaker of the divine nature.  As you begin to grow into the likeness of Christ you’re gonna begin to partake of the divine nature.  And, once you begin to grow up in that-away you’ll continue to mature until you look like Christ all over the world.  Jesus was one person.  Now get ready for Jesuses [sic; plural of “Jesus”] all over the world.”  [102]

According to New Age, when “The Christ” “reappears,” he will also have the ability to manifest through many at one time:

“The Christ, when He comes into incarnation, will most likely project himself into many parts and be where he wants to be. This is called the Law of Divisibility, a term used in Agni Yoga that means a highly developed spirit—one who is able to contact, simultaneously, various people in various locations. For example, a Master can be seen in various groups at the same time. He can even be in different planes serving and teaching on different levels to meet various needs of the people. He can do different jobs in different places at one time. He impresses the space with his images, and so forth.”  [103]

In the following, “Christ” refers to the coming antichrist which will be empowered by “the Christ” aka Lucifer:

“Christianity will not be superseded.  It will be transcended, its work of preparation being triumphantly accomplished, and Christ will again give us the next revelation of divinity….” [104]

Contrary to AAB and the New Age, Christianity will not be transcended!

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

But you remain the same and your years will never end. [Psalm 102:27, NIV 1984]

God is not a man that He should lie or a son of man that He should change his mind. [Numbers 23:19, NIV 1984]

In my opinion, by distorting the Christian faith, specifically the person of Jesus Christ, the New Age/occult is not only trying to “transcend” Christianity (its primary goal with respect to Christianity), it wants to deny seekers the true salvation through the atoning work of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and/or to render Christians ineffective by the resulting confusion.

20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen [Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV 1984]

The following is how it is really going to end:

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. [Romans 16:20, NIV 1984]

12 “Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” [Revelation 22:12-13, NIV 1984]

 

[This article will likely be changed/updated with new information as my understanding grows of the different terminology and aspects of the term “Christ” in the New Age religion.  This may include adding quotes and accompanying footnotes].

[1] Bailey, Alice A. The Externalisation of the Hierarchy. 1957 Lucis, NY, 6th printing 1981; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; p 510-511; [underlining from emphasis in original; bolding added.] While the book was not published until 1957, most sections within the book have corresponding dates.  The portion quoted here is from 1919, some of the earliest writings of Bailey/The Tibetan.

[2] Newman, Hannah. The Rainbow Swastika: A Report to the Jewish People about New Age Antisemitism.  <http://philologos.org/__eb-trs/naC.htm>  Quote taken from section C: “The Gods of the New Age.” par 1; as accessed 05/08/11. Excellent expose of the New Age movement especially from a Jewish perspective even though I disagree with some of her conclusions with respect to “Master Jesus” and the “Planetary Hierarchy.”

[3] Lucis Trust website. The Esoteric Meaning of Lucifer. <http://www.lucistrust.org/en/arcane_school/talks_and_articles/the_esoteric_meaning_of_lucifer>; as accessed 05/08/11

[4] Bauer, W., W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 1958, 2nd edition; Chicago, Chicago, IL; pp 886-87.  Also known as “BAGD.” 

[5] Bauer, p 887

[6] Strong, James, Dr. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. fully revised by John R. Kohlenberg III and James A. Swanson; 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; Strong’s #5547; p 1542

[7] Bruce, F.F. The Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary. 1990, 3rd Revised and Enlarged Edition, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 157

[8] Bruce, F.F. The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text; NIGTC. 1982, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 20

[9] Bauer, p 888

[10] Vine, W.E., Unger, White. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1996, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN; p 28 New Testament Section

[11] Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One. 2003, 1st Softcover Ed, 2010, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 619.  Reference from Gustof Dalman’s Jesus-Jeshua: Studies in the Gospels. 1929; p 13

[12] Berkhof, L. Systematic Theology. 1941, 4th revised and enlarged ed, 1991, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 91-5, 312-13, 356-66

[13] Grudem, W. Systematic Theology. 1994, Inter-Varsity, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 233-38, 543-554, 624-33

[14] Thayer, J. H. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1979, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 672

[15] Brenton, C. L. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. 1851, 11th printing, 2005, Hendrickson

[16] Bailey, Alice A. Initiation, Human and Solar. 1951 Lucis, NY, 4th paperback ed, 1980, Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; back cover.  First printing 1922.

[17] Bailey, Initiation.

[18] Hughes, Dennis. Share Guide: The Holistic Health Magazine and Resource Directory. Interview with Barbara Marx Hubbard. 2004, par 6; as accessed 05/08/11

[19] Bailey, Alice A. The Consciousness of the Atom. 1961 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1974, Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY.  First printing 1922.

[20] Bailey, Initiation.

[21] Lucis Trust website. <http://www.lucistrust.org/en/arcane_school/talks_and_articles/descent_and_sacrifice> par 8; as accessed 05/08/11

[22] Bailey, Externalisation. p 469

[23] Bailey, Alice A.  From Bethlehem to Calvary. Copyright 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis, NY, 4th paperback edition, 1989; Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 237

[24] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 51

[25] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 187

[26] Bailey, Consciousness. p 58

[27] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 185

[28] Bailey, Externalisation. p 588

[29] Bailey, The Unfinished Biography. 1951 Lucis, NY, George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA; p 294

[30] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 57-58

[31] Discernment Research Group. “Yoism: Creating Heaven on Earth” <http://herescope.blogspot.com/2006/05/yoism-creating-heaven-on-earth.html> as accessed 05/08/11

[32] Bailey, Initiation. p 67

[33] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 210

[34] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 254

[35] Lucis, Descent.

[36] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 262-63

[37] Bailey, Discipleship in the New Age, Volume I. 1972 Lucis, NY, 8th printing, 1972, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 32.  First printing 1944.

[38] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 268-69

[39] Bailey, Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle. 1950 Lucis, NY, 2nd printing, 1957, George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA

[40] Bailey, Initiation. pp 38, 88

[41] Bailey, Initiation. p 93

[42] Newman, Rainbow Swastika. “The Gods of the New Age.” Part 4

[43] Bailey, Alice A. A Treatise on Cosmic Fire. 1925 Lucis, NY, 4th edition, 1951, George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA; pp 146-48

[44] Internet Sacred Text Archive website. Bailey, Initiation, Human and Solar. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/ihas/ihas09.htm> diagrams of pp 48-49; as accessed 05/08/11.

[45] Bailey, Alice A. The Destiny of the Nations. 1949 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1974, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 149

[46] Center for Christ Consciousness website. “What is Christ Consciousness?” <http://www.ctrforchristcon.org/christ-consciousness.asp> as accessed 05/08/11

[47] Bailey, Alice A. The Reappearance of the Christ. 1948 Lucis, NY, 4th paperback ed, 1979, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 75

[48] Bailey, Alice A. Esoteric Psychology, Volume II. 1970 Lucis NY, 6th printing (paperback), 1971, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 100.  First printed in 1942.

[49] Bailey, Discipleship I. pp 681-82

[50] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 181, 185-86

[51] Bailey, Reappearance. P 145

[52] Dowling, Levi. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. 1907, 1935, 1964, 11th printing, 1987, DeVorss, Marina del Rey, CA; p 6.

[53] Bailey, Externalisation. p 588

[54] Bailey, Initiation. p 88

[55] ibid.

[56] World Service Intergroup website. Dubois, J.D. “The Christ, His Reappearance, and the Avatar of Synthesis” <http://www.worldserviceintergroup.net/#/christ-reappearance/4543145171> Point 3; as accessed 05/08/11

[57] Bailey, Initiation. p 92

[58] Bailey, Alice A. The Rays and the Initiations. 1960 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1976, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 697

[59] Bailey, Initiation. p 88

[60] Bailey, Initiation. pp 56-57

[61] Dowling, Aquarian. Back cover

[62] Dowling, p 82.

[63] Dowling, pp 82-83

[64] Dowling, p 8 

[65] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 100-101

[66] einterface website. “The Master Jesus” taken from Benjamin Crème’s works Maitreya Mission, Volumes 1, 2, and 3. <http://www.einterface.net/gamini/indexju.html> par 5; as accessed 05/08/11

[67] einterface, par 3; as accessed 05/08/11

[68] Dowling, Aquarian. pp 7-8, 255

[69] einterface, par 2; as accessed 05/08/11

[70] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 26, 47

[71] Bailey, Initiations. pp 114-15

[72] Bailey, Rays. pp 685, 664-673

[73] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 99

[74] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 27, 47-48

[75] Bailey, Rays. pp 677, 673-687

[76]  Bailey, Bethlehem. p 100

[77] Dowling, Aquarian. p 83

[78] einterface, par 2; as accessed 05/08/11

[79] Bailey, Initiations. p 89

[80] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 26, 48

[81] Bailey, Rays. pp 687, 688-89, 367

[82] Bailey, Rays. pp 688

[83] Bailey, Rays. pp 689-91, 368

[84] Bailey, Initiations. pp 56-57

[85] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 28, 48-49, 184-85, 206-207

[86] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 202

[87] Bailey, Rays. pp 694

[88] Bailey, Rays. pp 695-699

[89] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 178, 184, 186

[90] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 187

[91] Bailey, Externalisation. p 597

[92] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 28, 49-51

[93] Bailey, Externalisation. p 468-71

[94] Bailey, Initiations. pp 56-57

[95] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 181

[96] World Service Intergroup; Dubois; point 4; as accessed 05/08/11

[97] Trevelyan, George. The Cosmic Christ in the New Age: A Wrekin Trust Lecture, 1977. <http://www.sirgeorgetrevelyan.org.uk/tht-cosmicchrist2.html> par 34-35; as accessed 05/08/11

[98] World Service Intergroup; Dubois; par 8; as accessed 05/08/11

[99] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 259

[100] Anderson, Chris. “Revelation 12: A Paradigm for Understanding the End Times” endtimespropheticvision website <http://www.etpv.org/2009/rev12.html> October, 2000; par 7; as accessed 05/08/11

[101] Bentley, Todd. Monologue from Lakeland Revival, Day 57 May 28, 2008. Originally accessed here: <http://injesus.com/index.php?module=message&task=list&GroupID-WB0062AX> access date unknown, website link no longer available.

[102] MorningStar Ministries, Media Store, VS19-000D. “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08” DVD.  Starting at 1934:39.

[103] World Service Intergroup; Dubois; par 5; as accessed 05/08/11

[104] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 20

“Look at the Fruit!”

In response to criticism of a leader or teacher within the hyper-charismatic movement, one of the most popular catch-phrases used by followers in their defense is, “Look at the fruit!” [See The Use of Loaded Language in Hyper-Charismaticism.]  But does this really provide an adequate counter-argument?  Let’s see how Scripture speaks on this matter.

The word “fruit,” karpos in the Greek, has a number of different renderings in the NIV including: fruit, crop(s), harvest, benefit, grain, fruitful, and others.1  However, other sources define the term: an effect; work; act; result; yield; and more.2,3  Context will determine intended meaning, of course.   With the phrase, “Look at the fruit,” the meaning of “fruit” in this limited context would be “result,” “benefit,” “an effect,” “yield,” etc.

There are three primary areas in Scripture which address “fruit”: 1) “The Fruit of the Spirit” [Galatians 5:16-26], 2) “The Vine and the Branches [John 15:1-17], and 3) “A Tree and its Fruit” in the Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 7:15-20].  We’ll look at the first one briefly, discuss the second one a bit more, and examine the third even more closely.

The Fruit of the Spirit

 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with one another, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. [Galatians 5:16-18; NIV 1984.  All Scripture references are from NIV 1984 except as noted]4

The Apostle Paul is admonishing the Galatians to live by the Spirit and leave the bondage of the (Mosaic) law.  As F. F. Bruce states, “‘Walk [live] by the Spirit’ means ‘let your conduct be directed by the Spirit’”.5  Paul goes on to list “the acts of the sinful nature” [“acts” is from a different Greek word than karpos] and contrasts those with the fruit of being led of the Spirit:

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.  25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. [Galatians 5:22-26]

Verses 22 and 23 list the traits of those being led of the Spirit rather than by their sinful nature [vv 19-21, 25-26].  “Fruit” in this context is result or outcome.6  Keeping “in step with the Spirit” [v 25] will result in the outward display of the fruit listed above; whereas, not being directed by the Spirit may be evidenced by the acts of the sinful nature in vv 19-21.

This is not to say that the unregenerate (non-Christian) cannot exhibit some of the same qualities as those listed as the fruit of the Spirit.7  For example, surely the Dalai Lama exhibits some of these traits, at least by outward appearances. Therefore, the appearance of having the fruit of the Spirit does not necessarily guarantee that the individual is truly being led of, and exhibiting the fruit of, the Spirit of God.  On the other hand, exhibiting those traits of the sinful nature is a sure sign of not being led of the Spirit whether regenerate or not.

The Vine and the Branches

In the upper room discourse [John 13-17] Jesus, after Judas Iscariot leaves to betray Him, tells the remaining eleven about the Holy Spirit who will come after His Ascension.  The Holy Spirit is “another Counselor” [14:16], the “Spirit of truth” [14:17, also 15:16; 16:13] who “will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” [14:26].  A bit later, Jesus says of the Holy Spirit, he will “testify about me” [15:26]; “convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” [16:8] “guide you into all truth” [16:13]; and “speak only what he hears” [16:13].  In the midst of these descriptions of the Holy Spirit’s function Jesus teaches “The Vine and the Branches” [John 15:1-17]:

“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit showing yourselves to be my disciples. [emphasis added]

Jesus’ words make it clear that to “bear fruit” – i.e., produce positive results/outcomes for the kingdom of God – you must “remain” in Christ, and He will, in turn, remain in you.  Further, those who do “bear fruit” will be pruned – afflicted and disciplined resulting in the process of increasing sanctification [see James 1:2-5; Heb 12:4-11; Pro 3:11-12; Ps 94:12] – so they will bear even more fruit.  This is similar to the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ in the Galatians passage above in that this outward fruit will be the evidence of being “in step with the Spirit.”

In contrast, verse 4 illustrates that you cannot bear fruit apart from abiding in Christ.  Verse 6 goes even further: those who do not remain in Christ will be thrown into the fire and burned up!  J. C. Ryle comments:

“The consequence of not abiding in Christ, of refusing to live the life of faith in Christ, are here described under a terrible figure.  The end of such false professors [of faith in Christ] will be like the end of fruitless and dead branches of a vine…They will finally come to the fire that is never quenched in hell.”8

So, what does it mean to “remain in me” [Jesus]?  The apostle John continues Jesus’ words:

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruitfruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. [emphasis added]

To remain in Jesus is to remain in His love.  To remain in Christ’s love is to have His words remain in you [v 7] so that you may “obey His commands” [v 10].  And, to “obey His commands” is to lay down your life [v 13], “take up your cross daily” [Luke 9:23].  F.F. Bruce states, “…the mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son, and of Jesus and His disciples, and of the disciples with their heavenly Father as his children, is a mutuality of love, a love in which obedience is a spontaneous joy and not a painful duty.…”9  Note that ‘love’ is the first attribute listed in the “fruit of the Spirit.”  The way to be in His love is to know His word, His commands, as revealed in the Scriptures.  This is not unlike Jesus’ words in John 8:31-32:

31 To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Quoting Bruce once again, “To ‘remain’ in Jesus’ ‘word’ is to adhere to his teaching – to direct their lives by it….discipleship is something continuous; it is a way of life.  A true disciple has an affinity for his teacher’s instruction and accepts it, not blindly but intelligently….”10

A Tree and its Fruit

In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records Jesus’ words of “wolves in sheep’s clothes” equating these to bad trees bearing bad fruit [7:15-20].  To understand the larger meaning of this passage it’s best to put this teaching in its full context by reading the verses immediately preceding and immediately following.  Here’s the section identified in the NIV as “The Narrow and Wide Gates”:

13 “Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. [Matthew 7:13-14]

Of the various “I am” statements in the Gospel of John including, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” [11:25] is this one: “I am the Gate for the sheep” [10:7; 10:9].  Jesus is the “Gate” – the “narrow Gate.”  He is the one who “leads to life.”  “Only a few find it” while many do not.  This brief two verse passage sets the stage for the teaching that follows, “A Tree and its Fruit,” which provides a warning about those who seem to be in the faith yet are not.  These are some of those who lead down that broad road through the wide gate to death [John 10:10]:

15 “Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. [Matthew 7:15-20]

The term “false prophets” here is to be understood in a broad sense11, i.e., not merely indicating those who fail in the foretelling of future events, but also including all who claim to speak on divine authority yet, in actuality, do not [see also Mat 24:11,24; Mark 13:22; Jer 23:9-40].  Verses 16 and 20 show that it’s the fruit, the results, which expose these false prophets for who they are.  Notice the similarity between verse 19 and John 15:6 above in the “The Vine and the Branches” teaching.

While the wolf as natural enemy to the sheep is a well used motif, the phrase wolves “in sheep’s clothing” is unique in the literature of the time.12  Obviously, these wolves come with the intent to deceive and then devour.  Since they “come to you” [v 15] this appears to be indicative of travelling missionaries13 which sounds not unlike those nowadays who are frequently putting on various conferences worldwide and peddling their wares to the unwary.  This would also seem to include televangelists.  Of course, this is not to say that all missionaries or those who preach on TV are false prophets.

Matthew Henry believed the fruit referred to in vv 16 and 20 could be both: 1) the “fruits of their persons,”14 such as the acts/traits listed in Galatians 5:19-21 as well as Philippians 3:18-19; and, 2) the “fruits of their doctrine”.15

“If the doctrine be of God, it will tend to promote serious piety, humility, charity, holiness, and love with other Christian graces; but, if [to] the contrary…we may conclude that ‘this persuasion comes not of him that calleth us’[Gal 5:8, KJV]…” 16

Donald Hagner, in his 1993 commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, states:

“…The ultimate test of the truth is in deeds, not claims or pretensions.  The Church must be ever vigilant against appearances and empty words and press the criterion of good works in discerning the true from the false.”17

The NIV Study Bible includes verses 21-23 under the heading titled “A Tree and its Fruit” as does the NASB.  This would seem to indicate that these editors understand these three verses to conclude this particular section.  However, some other versions differentiate verses 21 through 23 from 15 through 20 by a separate heading.

The NKJV titles this three verse subsection “I Never Knew You.”  Rudolf Schnackenburg’s The Gospel of Matthew titles this portion “Concerning Self-Deception”18 although he apparently considers verses 13-29 all of a piece titling this section of his commentary “Concluding Admonitions”19 and thus a conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount which began in chapter 5 of Matthew’s Gospel with the Beatitudes.  Perhaps the most descriptive comes from Hagner who titles this subsection: “The Insufficiency of the Charismata”.20  And, similar to Schnackenburg, Hagner groups verses 13 through 27 as simply “Conclusion”.21

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’ [Matthew 7:21-23]

These are some of the most sobering words in all of Scripture.  Surely, not many, if any, would want to be referred to as “evildoers” by Jesus Himself on Judgment Day and be told, “I never knew you.  Away from Me…”  Perhaps worse yet are the Apostle Paul’s words stating that God Himself will send a “powerful delusion” to those who “refuse to love the truth” by following and participating in “counterfeit signs and wonders” [II Thessalonians 2:9-12] so that they will continue in their deception and thus be condemned.

In the larger context of verses 15 through 23, the “Insufficiency of the Charismata”22 subsection seems to be explaining aspects of, and resulting fruit from, the ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ [v 15]. The charismatic demonstrations from these ‘wolves’ will be for naught resulting in eternal damnation instead of redemption.  Apparently, the prophecies, exorcisms, and many miracles [v 22] were not done according to the will of God [v 21].

While this section may not be describing all the characteristics of ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing,’ note the word “prophesy” (again, to be understood in its broad application) in verse 21 which correlates to the “false prophets” of verse 15 and the word many, — not some or few, but many – which begins the list of the charismata in verse 22.  Also, compare many in verse 13 to the many of verse 22.

The next section, titled “The Wise and Foolish Builders” in the NIV, both concludes the previous section and at the same time concludes the Sermon on the Mount:

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

Taken together, this final section and the two verses which make up “The Narrow and Wide Gates,” provide bookends to the “Tree and its Fruit” [including vv 21-23] passage.  The former section explains that there are only two ways: the way to life which is narrow compared to the broad road which leads to death.  The final section contrasts those who built wisely upon the rock, i.e., Jesus Christ, with the foolish who built on sand.  Both of these parables demonstrate that it’s the truth of the Scriptures which provides the way to life and this truth is found by abiding in Jesus Christ, His Word, and the Holy Spirit [John 15:1-17, Galatians 5:16-26] in order to do His Father’s will.  And, in between these two parables is an illustration of the consequences of being outside His will and, therefore, not in the truth – the broad and foolish road to death.

Inspecting the ‘Fruit’ of the phrase “Look at the Fruit!”

This short phrase, “Look at the fruit!” uttered in defense of the criticisms levied against hyper-charismatic leaders can either be interpreted as a request to look at the character of, or the results from, the leader(s) being defended.  As to character: as noted above, the outward appearance of the “fruit of the Spirit” does not necessarily indicate being led of the Spirit.  However, acts of the flesh are a sure sign of being led by the sinful nature.  It appears, though, that a defense of character, the ‘evidence’ of “the fruit of Spirit,” is the least likely meaning behind the use of this phrase.

There have been quite a few leaders in the hyper-charismatic movement who have ‘fallen from grace’ over the years.  In fact, it’s usually the so-called “good fruit” of works predominately of the “signs and wonders” variety which are of dubious authenticity that are used to justify or override the sinful behavior of those who’ve ‘fallen from grace.’  Supposedly, because these individuals are “so used of God” they are that much more subject to the devil’s snare.

However, according to Scripture, to “bear fruit” is to show results for the kingdom of God.  To accomplish this, one must remain in Jesus Christ’s teaching in order to do the Father’s will.  How is this done?  As outlined above: by taking up one’s cross daily, to die for the One who calls you ‘friend,’ our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is accomplished by following His precepts, the truths of Scripture.  Is this the intended meaning behind “Look at the fruit!?”  It would not appear so.

Most, if not all, hyper-charismatic leaders adhere to some aspects in their teachings and/or practices that are clearly at odds with historical orthodox Christianity.  Biblical truths are, in fact, many times superseded by “present truths” – new revelations.  This then would be an indication that these leaders are not abiding in Christ and hence not capable of bearing good fruit for the kingdom of God.

The large majority of the time the phrase “Look at the fruit!” is used to defend the “fruit” of prophecy (mostly of the foretelling variety which has a very low percentage of accuracy), healings, exorcisms, raisings from the dead, etc.  Many of the so-called “prophecies” are mentioned after the fact with no proof that an actual prophetic word was uttered prior to the incident in question.  The healings are rarely, if ever, verified; the ‘dead raisings,’ never.

Apparently, it’s the fruit of aberrant teachings from these ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ which lead to the fruit of aberrant practices resulting in the fruit of the “ministries” of hyper-charismatic leaders.  In light of Matthew 7:21-23, this is bad fruit indeed!

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’ [Matthew 7:21-23; emphasis added]

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness![Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV; emphasis added]

1Goodrick, E. W. & J. R. Kohlenberger III. NIV Exhaustive Concordance. 1990; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 1737
2Thayer, J. H. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1979 (20th Zondervan printing); Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 326
3Bauer, W., W. F. Arndt, and F. W. Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 1958, 2nd edition; Chicago, Chicago, IL; pp 404-405.  Also known as “BAGD.”
4Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society,  Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI
5Bruce, F. F. The Epistle to the Galatians: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC. 1982, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 243
6Bauer, p 404
7Bruce, p 255-256
8Ryle, J. C.  “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 13:1-21:25”  Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume Four: John 10:31 – 21:25. 2007 (1878), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 102. Originally part of a seven volume series with one each of Matthew and Mark, two of Luke (1-10 & 11-24), and three of John (1-6:70; 7-12:50; 13:1-21:35) beginning in 1856 and completed in 1878.  Available also at < http://www.gracegems.org/Ryle/ >
9Bruce, F. F. The Gospel & Epistles of John. 1983, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 310
10Bruce, p 196
11Hagner, Donald A. Word Biblical Commentary: Matthew 1 – 13. 1993, Word, Dallas, TX; p 183, 187
12Schnackenburg, R. The Gospel of Matthew. 2002, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 78
13ibid.
14Henry, M. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 5. 1991 (8th printing 2006), Hendrickson, USA; p 77.
15ibid.
16ibid.
17Hagner, p 184
18Schnackenburg, p 78
19Schnackenburg, p 76
20Hagner, p 184
21Hagner, p 177
22ibid.

Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism – A Personal Testimony of Bethel’s Influence

[Following is a personal testimony of an individual who, under the influence of Bethel Church in Redding, CA pastored by Bill Johnson, fell into error and later was freed.  The original article in four parts can be found at inerrantword.]

A Dangerous Journey – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 1)

 

At the beginning of 2010 I decided I wanted to get involved in a more passionate “Christianity”. I have always thought of myself as a worshipper & I craved being around others who lived & breathed worshipping the Lord. 

Our church had been *pushing* & wanting revival to break out. So naturally I went home one day and decided to research about what “revival” actually was and how we could get it!  Through my discoveries I found out about The Welsh Revival, Charles Finney and others.

I wanted *revival* to break out in our church. The more I read about the “amazing” things that happened in Wales, the more I wanted that to happen to us.

A member of our church had been involved in the Brownsville Revival.  She told me many stories about the revival that happened there & the anointing that she received from there.  Whenever she went up for prayer her body would shake & eventually she would, fall to the floor.

I was curious and started looking into the information surrounding the Brownsville revival. Like the Toronto blessing, the Brownsville revival had similar manifestations of the holy spirit, and following that was the Lakeland revival.

At that time I was initially very cautious. It didn’t seem to line up with the God of the Bible I knew and I couldn’t find anything in the scriptures to back up what was happening in these places. BUT I so desperately wanted to feel God and being among passionate Christians, I thought that this was where those sorts of people were.  Some of the manifestations, including the prophetic seemed exciting and it drew me in.

Despite my initial caution & a nagging feeling of unease, I started listening to the answers that these extreme prophetic people would give to the sceptics.

Here are some of the things they said/say:

 – God was revealing new things to the church today.

 – God was moving in a way that was different & more relevant to the world now.

 – How could these things not be of God, when people were singing his praises all within the safety of a church?

 – No one can judge or dismiss the manifestations of the holy spirit, if you did then this then you were quenching the Spirit.

 – David danced in the streets and people then thought he was crazy, but he was a man after the Lord’s heart.  This meant that even though manifestations were similar to David’s dancing (disorderly behaviour) they were of God.

 – The church at Pentecost had exactly the same spirit manifestations (like drunken behaviour…because in the Bible the mockers thought they were acting drunk therefore the early church must have had drunken spirit manifestations.

 – Bill Johnson is such a kind, quietly spoken & gentle man therefore he must be a man of God.

 – People from all over are coming in droves to these churches, so its has to be good.

 – In the last days, God’s spirit will pour out on his people and this is that.

 – No-one can judge the holy spirit. If something is done in the name of the holy spirit then it must be the holy spirit.

 – Those who think that these manifestations are not of God are Pharisees (& are not open to things happening in the spirit outside of the Bible).

 – People who were outside of these movements were missing out on a special anointing from the Lord.

I became convinced by these sorts of answers. I was drawn to it, I wanted to be around enthusiastic worshippers of God and I did not want to act like a so called Pharisee. It also looked exciting.

So began my journey into the world of extreme Pentecostalism, the teachings of Bill Johnson, Bethel Church, & the music of Jesus Culture.

(Little did I know how dangerous this path was going to be)…

 

Hidden Dangers – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 2)

 

I spent months immersing myself into the Bethel Church teachings and music of Jesus Culture.

 I started engaging in what is called ‘soaking’. Soaking is a practice of opening your mind and spirit to the “lord” whilst listening to loungey “Christian” music.  I gave up reading my Bible…because I wanted new revelations from God.  I had heard mentioned in so many sermons (including writings by Rick Joyner) that the Bible was being superseded by new revelations.  The people who only read the Bible were called “wordies” and these people (the “wordies”) were setting themselves up against the new spiritual move of “god”.  The new spiritual movement was more important than the information in the Bible.  So I gave my regular bible reading and embraced soaking.

I wanted to encounter God.  I wanted something dramatic to happen, something exciting. During my soaking I would sit quietly opening my mind and heart up to the ‘presence’. I would focus on this little warm fuzzy I had in me and eventually this feeling started to get bigger and bigger. I would have this almost ecstatic feeling on call anytime I wanted it. Eventually I would just begin to start a soaking “prayer” and this feeling would come over me immediately. It made me feel “in love” with jesus. He was no longer in a position of authority or a lord on a throne, but someone I was in love with.  Someone who made me feel really good and superior.  This feeling made me feel good and I wanted more of it.

My whole world started to change…in fact I was changing more than I really knew…and not for the better.

The more I engrossed myself into Bethel church’s teachings the more passionate I became about “us” being ‘right’ and those that only followed the Bible being wrong. This set me up against my husband. My husband is a fervent student of the Word of God – quiet and humble – and so he did not embrace what I was now into.    I resented this and felt he was not good enough anymore. I wanted him to be more passionate and open to the spirit like I was. My main goal in life now was to save our money to get to a Bethel Conference so I could receive these special anointings. I was increasingly unhappy with my life the way it was. It was too boring, it didn’t excite me or make me outwardly more passionate for God. I wanted this anointing. I wanted to see the gold glitter and jewels falling from heaven. I wanted to move in the prophetic.

As you may have noticed…it had now become all about ME.

I wanted the new anointings. I wanted to be blessed by God. I wanted to give up my entire life and get into one of these churches…I even wanted to get my husband to move our entire family to Redding (where Bethel is based) so that I could be apart of this new move of God.  All I wanted was to have these good feelings I had inside all the time. The ones that made me feel “in love” and passionate about jesus. I loved how those feelings made me feel, and I wanted more of it.  No one was going to stand in my way. I knew what was right for me! I had become a loud, aggressive woman, extremely impatient and completely caught up in my own selfish ambitions. 

I could not see that this was happening.  I no longer had any time for my family, I needed this and that what was all that was important.  I couldn’t understand that my husband wasn’t able to see the great *change* in me. I needed to be soaking and listening to my Jesus Culture music.  As time went on, I started to get exceedingly rude towards my husband. I grew to be resentful towards him and completely disrespected his walk with the Lord.  I wanted him to become “great” for God by receiving the new anointing.  I was in a superior place with the Lord and I thought his bible studies were a waste of time. 

One day however I did pick up my Bible and read it.  It was during that time that I noticed something very different from what I was experiencing.  I became aware of this quiet still voice. This had become very foreign to me. It was no at all like the excited, loud experiences I was having in my soaking time. It concerned me as I could not work out in my head why this gentle, quiet voice was so different from my other experiences.

Then something happened that completely opened my eyes.

At a church gathering I started chatting to the same member that I referred to in part one on my story.  We started talking about all the amazing anointings and manifestations that were happening overseas, like the gold dust, glitter and jewels and how we wanted these things to start happening in our church.  We longed to go and attend these conferences and receive “more”. 

Then it happened.  She started telling me about this amazing “anointed” man of god, who received the glory of god.  His name was Joshua Mills.  At his conferences were all the same manifestations…she started telling me that the glory of god was so strong on this man that he had oil that drips from his body as a show of his anointing. She was amazed by this. But for I suddenly started to realise that something wasn’t right. In fact there was something very wrong with this.

I felt very uncomfortable with this. I had been raised in the Catholic church, before I became a born again believer. When I became I believer God opened my eyes very clearly to the satanic influence in that church.   The Catholic church is full of visitations from “mary”, oil dripping from their own “anointed” people, the stigmatas etc.   So when my friend started telling me about Joshua Mills and his oil dripping from this body as a sign of the glory of god, alarm bells starting ringing inside my heart!

As soon as I got home I started looking up Joshua Mills to find out more about this.  Joshua Mills is part of the Elijah List, a list of special “prophets”.  On this list included Bill Johnson, Kim Clements, Rob De Luca, Randy Clark, Cindy Jacobs, Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, Patricia King, Rodney Howard-Brown, Carol and John Arnott and so on.  Joshua Mills was a man who ran conferences and teaching classes (which you pay huge amounts of money to attend).  He ran these classes so the students could receive from him and take home his special anointing.  And sure enough, just as my church friend had said, Joshua Mills was producing oil from his skin, that was sign of the glory of god upon him.  And if it wasn’t bad enough – he was collecting his drips of oil on rags and selling it…so that people could buy and get his special anointing from the rag.

All of a sudden, like a lightning bolt, I realised what I had got myself involved.

 

Uncovering the Dark Deception – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 3)

 

After reading about Joshua Mills on the internet I started to realise exactly what I have allowed into my spirit, my heart and my life. It hit me like nothing I have ever experienced before! I had allowed a deceiving spirit into my life. A false spirit, a false jesus.

All of a sudden everything that had been covered up was uncovered.  The truth of what was my reality, my darkness was exposed. The moment of this is like nothing I can explain or give a full account of. I became completely aware of this sick, filthy darkness that had been in my life. The heaviness of the reality on my spirit was awful.  To give you an idea of what this felt like I can only explain it like this: There have been times in my life when I felt a deep darkness. Times like when I had a life before Christ. Another time was when I was a born again believer but started living in the world for myself. I got involved in immorality and it was awful and caused a deep wound in my spirit then. When I realised I had allowed a deceiving spirit into my life, it was far, far greater than anything I have ever felt when I was not a believer and when I was engaging in full blown sin as a believer. The intensity and depravity of what I had done and allowed in was so great I simply just cannot explain in words. Perhaps for me I can only liken this to what is the actual reality of the dark evil spiritual realm. What it may feel like to be in alliance with satan. One thing is sure, when the Light of God and His Truth uncovers deception nothing can hide from His glory.

I came before my husband and confessed what I had allowed into mine and our lives. I explained to him exactly how I had been deceived and the burden and heaviness on my spirit that had come from allowing this false spirit in my life. I had spent so many months desperately trying to get him into this “world”. He told me that he had been praying to God intensely for Him to reveal to either one of which of us was wrong. God answers prayer and He came through for us!

When I realised what had crept into my life, all I wanted to do was get rid of this thing as fast as possible. I was absolutely desperate to get rid of this darkness, this filth! (One can only imagine what it will feel like in hell for people who will live an eternity with this constant desperation and never be able to get rid of it and get peace).

Praise the Almighty One. Earlier that year I had visited a blog about a woman who had gone through a similar experience (visit M’Kayla’s Korner), but I thought I knew better and had not heeded her warning. Thankfully I had bookmarked her blog page and that night Nick and I sat down searching through it to help us work out how to get rid of this darkness and filth that was in my spirit. God had given this woman the insight to put an extremely helpful link to getting rid of these false spirits if you had allowed them into your life (read this here).  We printed off the pages and followed each step.  I spent a few hours in our bedroom on my own paging through the advice and looking up bible verses. 

That night I spent those hours confessing my sin and disobedience to my Lord. I confessed my lack of discernment and my own sinful willingness to expose myself to this deception and false spirit.  I was able to see that after I confessed this from my heart and made a decision to never expose myself or my family to these false spirits again I was set free! The Lord Jesus took the darkness away from my life and in place the sweetness of His Spirit returned.

 

What is a False Jesus? – My Wife’s Deliverance from Extreme Pentecostalism (Part 4)

 

This false spirit, a false “jesus”, one that pleases the flesh, had been given permission by me into my life. If I knew the character of the Lord well or knew my Bible basics I would have recognized the false spirit simply by looking at what type of behaviour I was displaying when I was experiencing this “spirit”.  I would have know that the fruit of the real and true Holy Spirit  is peace, love, real joy, gentleness, self-control, humility, patience, kindness, faithfulness and goodness. If I had done this little test I would have clearly seen that I lacked gentleness, self-control, patience, peace and real love. This false spirit is very easily recognised when you do this little test. What I had allowed in my life brought out impatience, anger, rudeness, complete lack of Self-Control, chaos, flesh seeking madness, self ambition and selfish desires.

The next way to determine a false spirit is to do a quick comparison with what the God of the Bible is like in character versus the spirit you have opened yourself up to. Does it match up with what the Word of God says?

 – Who God is (a God of order and peace)

 – The order of a Church service (no chaos, no un-interpreted tongues, no more than 2 or 3 people talking in tongues and in turn (not over each other)

  – That these manifestations are similar if not the same to the strange fire offered by Aaron’s sons in Exodus

 – Leadership in the church (should be characterised by godly character: men of peace, self-control, peace, gentleness, quietness and of humility).

 – The focus of godly teaching (is leading one towards complete reliance on Jesus Christ and not on yourself or a person or a ministry)

 – People under the authority of the Lord (will display a peace, calmness, quietness and gentleness about them).

 – Dying to self and dying to flesh. The entire false spirit movement is characterised by satisfying your own flesh and carnal nature. Rather than bowing down before the Lord, it is about getting as much out as you can for yourself, getting the “anointing” for yourself, getting the “manifestations” for yourself, seeing the signs and wonders for yourself. This is completely the opposite to the life of Jesus Christ, one of complete self sacrifice and in turn the life Christians are to live. We are to beat our body/flesh to make it our slaves (1 Corinthians 9:27).  

 – The real gospel of the Lord is unpopular. I have realised that wherever there are huge crowds and no real genuine repentance (followed by no major changes in the person’s life) then one needs to proceed with extreme caution! The way of the Lord is a narrow way, not a popular one.

 – We need to be very careful of false teachers and false prophets in the end times. There are no arguments that we are in the end times, so why would we switch off our discernment buttons because we are too scared to be wrongly called Pharisees.

Will we be accountable to God for being easily deceived?

We have access to the Truth, the Word of God. The Word of God specifically warns us in detail about what deceptions there will be in the end times and yet we are still easily deceived.  I was warned by earnest believers, but still chose to be lead astray.  And in turn we have earnestly warned others but they choose to defile themselves with these false spirits too.

Why are we caught off guard by so called “men of god” that are bringing these false spirits into the church?

Most likely they are completely deceived themselves and are themselves, in turn, deceivers. The whole purpose of deception is that is going to come in and trick us! Why does it surprise us that this is happening in the church? Satan has had over 7,000 years to work out the best ways to deceive and cheat people, of course he is going to influence people in the church today. It is naive to think he wouldn’t. There will be no excuse for us on our day of judgement when we face our Lord and King and we realise we have been tricked into allowing false spirits into our hearts. We should know better and be prepared for this.

How do we know and recognise satan?

Satan will deceive us by enticing our flesh! It is not surprising them to find that these so called movement of the “holy spirit” are about ‘making us feel good’, ‘hyping up our emotions’ and ‘satisfying our carnal desires’ into chaos, uncontrolled disgusting behaviour and acting like mad people.

Is it any surprise why we are so desperate for the next “fix”?

This behaviour is not found anywhere in the Word of our God. The Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and then they went out with their purpose, to spread the gospel NOT to  run from conference to conference, meeting to meeting to get *more* of the “anointing”.

When I look back over my darkest days I can now very clearly recall some of the behaviours of these people and even friends who are in these “movements”. Their behaviour (including my own) was some of the most selfish, prideful displays I have ever seen. We were desperate to have our next “fix”, the next manifestation, the next drunken moment in the so called holy spirit, and the next “loved up” feeling. The longer I was involved the greater my drive and motivation was to fulfil my flesh and carnal desire. This selfish, flesh seeking drive is intensely stronger than the motivation to go out into the world and spread the gospel and to save lost sinners in the name of Jesus.  I only cared about myself and truthfully I had no real genuine care or love for other believers during that time. It was all about me.

I also have noticed and experienced the anger of these people when they are questioned about the truth behind these movements and any mention of false spirits. It is like they turn into monsters defending their prey. There is an awful ugliness that emerges and it is quite frightening (that is why I used the word monster). I displayed this ugly behaviour myself so I speak from first hand experience…these people have sold themselves out to a false spirit, a false jesus. The devil has a hold on their heart and their desires. This false spirit makes them feel good and they will hold onto it like nothing else! Their flesh fights to hold onto it and fights against the truth being revealed.

If you are concerned about this false spirit that is creeping into the church please go to my sister in Christ’s Mkayla Kelly’s blog.

Open Challenge to Bill Johnson/Bethel Supporters

[Here’s Another Challenge to Bill Johnson/Bethel Supporters.]
[2/27/13: Here’s another challenge: Open Challenge to Fans and Critics of Bill Johnson/Bethel Church.]

The following is based on an original idea of and primarily written by W B McCarty in conjunction with Craig who provided minor additions, changes and editing.

Many have charged that the teaching of Bill Johnson is unbiblical and wrong. Not a few have charged that his teachings violate orthodoxy – the ancient, common theological understanding of the Christian Church – and therefore entail or promote heresy. On the other hand, no small number of Bill Johnson supporters have denied these charges.

This brief article challenges Johnson supporters to reconcile just one of Bill Johnson’s statements in his book When Heaven Invades Earth (WHIE) with Christian orthodoxy. The article does not address all the suspect statements in that book or suspect statements in other books, sermons, or talks.

Here is the selected statement of Bill Johnson:

“Jesus lived His earthly life with human limitations. He laid his [sic] divinity aside as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin, and then die in the place of mankind for sin. This would be essential in His plan to redeem mankind. The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless), and had to be spotless, (without sin)” [When Heaven Invades Earth, Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 2003, p. 79].

And, here are the questions that comprise the challenge:

1. To what “limitations” does Bill Johnson refer? Does he mean that the God-man Jesus, in His divine nature, lacked divine attributes such as omniscience (possessing all knowledge) and omnipotence (being all powerful)?

a.)    If so, how could God relinquish divine attributes and yet remain God?  In what sense might a limited, finite man be considered God, when the very term “God” denotes infinity?

b.)    If so, given that all things consist in Jesus (Col. 1:17) who upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3), why did the world not cease to exist during His Incarnation?

c.)    If so, how did Jesus regain His divine status? Can other non-divine beings gain divine status?

d.)    If so, how could the finite sacrifice of a non-divine man pay the infinite penalty of the sins of humankind?

2. What does Bill Johnson mean when he writes that Jesus “laid his [sic] divinity aside?”

a.)    What, exactly, was laid aside? That is, what does Bill Johnson mean by “divinity?”

b.)    Did Jesus cease to be God at the time of His Incarnation?

c.)    If Jesus was not God in His Incarnation, what is the significance of his name Emmanuel [“God is with us” (also Immanuel)]?

d.)    If Jesus was not God in His Incarnation, how was he able to forgive the sins of the paralytic man (Mk. 2:9)? Can anyone other than God actually forgive sins?

e.)    If Jesus was not God in His Incarnation, how could John’s account of His ministry have as its purpose the affirmation that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” [John 20:31, emphasis added]?

3. When Bill Johnson writes “He laid his [sic] divinity aside,” why does he write “his” rather than “His?”

a.)    Does “his” refer to a non-divine Jesus?

b.)    If “his” refers to a non-divine Jesus, how and at what point did Jesus regain divine status?

4. As a sacrifice, was Jesus “powerless?”

a.)    That is, was He or was He not in possession of the divine attribute of omnipotence even as He hung on the Cross?

b.)    If He was not in possession of omnipotence during His time on the Cross, and was therefore unable to free Himself, in what sense was His sacrifice willing?

For those who lack training in the Scriptures and Christian theology, here is a summary of the main points of orthodoxy at issue in Bill Johnson’s statement:

A. Jesus is the eternally pre-existent, second member of the divine Trinity.

B. At His Incarnation, Jesus took on a second, human nature in addition to His divine nature.

C. Since the beginning of His Incarnation, Jesus has been at all times fully God and fully man (known as the hypostatic union).

D. God possesses a number of divine attributes, such as omniscience and omnipotence.

E. By definition, divine attributes are a necessary and sufficient condition of divinity. That is, no one but God may possess divine attributes. And, if God were hypothetically to cease to possess any divine attribute, He would cease to be God.

Note: For further exposition of these points, including biblical references, see any good discussion of the Nicene and Chalcedonian creeds, which are common to the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Protestant Church. No one who rejects these creeds has any reasonable basis to claim to be Christian in the usual, historical sense of that term.

Finally, here are some ground rules for the discussion that the authors of this article hope will ensue:

1. It isn’t intended that the statement/answer/response be selectively cited. Those who wish to support Johnson by bringing in other explanatory material from the book WHIE are free to do so. However, those who challenge the orthodoxy of the statement should not bring in new material. Let’s keep the discussion as focused as possible.

2. Bringing in explanatory material from sources other than the book is prohibited, as doing so would unduly widen the discussion. If this challenge proves popular, the authors may find time to offer similar challenges based on other statements within WHIE and other of Bill Johnson’s books and sermons. The authors believe there is no shortage of suspect statements requiring explanation by Bill Johnson’s supporters or ideally by Bill Johnson himself. Those who are unfamiliar with the works of Bill Johnson should not suppose that the offered statement is the only of his statements that seems unorthodox or heretical.

3. To respond, copy both the corresponding number and its question followed by the corresponding letter and question.  For example, if responding to “2b)” then copy and paste from the article the following with your response following that:

2. What does Bill Johnson mean when he writes that Jesus “laid his [sic] divinity aside?”

b.)   Did Jesus cease to be God at the time of His Incarnation?

[your response]

Who will take the challenge?

_______________________________________________________________________________

Here’s a new challenge.

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