Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ?, part IIIa

[See also: Part I, The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, Part II, Part IIIb and Part IV (Conclusion).]

Cosmic humanism forms the basis of the New Age Movement and related religious expressions, particularly Eastern mysticism.  It says that man is evolving toward a state of higher consciousness that will result in the attainment of godhood…

…Many have…adopted a form of cosmic humanism, believing that they are capable of achieving the same anointing of Christhood that Jesus had.  Their beliefs are predicated upon a new Gnosticism which appears so very Christian as to deceive even the elect if possible.  Through close examination, however, they are found in an error so serious that it threatens the stability of the churches in which these people fellowship and, in some cases hold positions of leadership. 

– Albert James Dager, Vengeance Is Ours85

Occultists / esotericists cannot deny that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth (and maintain any real credibility) as the evidence for His earthy life is insurmountable.  Instead, He is humanized at the expense of His deity and proclaimed a righteous teacher, a model to emulate.

As noted in part II, a belief in reincarnation is integral to New Age / New Spirituality teachings.  In New Age Christology, Jesus of Nazareth was merely human and His life as the son of a carpenter was one of a number of incarnations.   For example, one of his previous incarnations was as Joshua son of Nun.  In fact, He was incarnated once more following His crucifixion and resurrection.86

In the New Age / New Spirituality and some other occult teachings, there is a false Trinity made up of The Father, the Holy Spirit (Holy Breath, sometimes Wisdom Sophia), and The Son (the Christ, the Logos, the Word):

The Christ is son, the only son begotten by Almighty God, the God of Force and God omniscient, the God of thought; and Christ is God, the God of Love.87

In His incarnation as Jesus of Nazareth, the man Jesus overcame many tests and trials through much effort during the first 30 years of His life.  Because of this, He proved worthy to manifest ‘the Christ’.  Therefore, He was chosen to be the new world teacher (the Christ) of the Age of Pisces to succeed Gautama Buddha, the Christ of the Age of Aries, once Jesus would perfect Himself at Ascension.  Thus, Jesus was “christed” in a ceremony occurring just after His water baptism in the Jordan by John when the Holy Spirit (Holy Breath) descended upon Him as a dove.  It was at this point Jesus was deemed “the Christ”.88

This ‘christing’ resulted in Jesus becoming the temple of the Holy Breath (Holy Spirit) thus providing the power for His miracles, while “the Christ” completely overshadowed Him, taking full possession.89  This “Christ Spirit” stayed with Him until some time before the Crucifixion so that it was only the man Jesus who died.90  It was the “Christ Spirit” which raised Jesus’ dead body at the Resurrection while Jesus of Nazareth went on to be reincarnated as Apollonius of Tyana who subsequently ascended thereby becoming Master Jesus and world teacher as “the Christ” for the Piscean Age.91

Jesus’ life became a symbolic pattern for all to follow toward their own salvation – just as the man Jesus procured His own.

Before going further in explaining New Age Christology and comparing this to Bill Johnson’s, it’s important to keep in mind the intention as explained earlier by Alice Bailey.  As stated in part I, in order for Christianity to be “transcended” the goal is in preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages.  In other words, the doctrines must seem to be orthodox while actually teaching unorthodoxy.  By implication, a certain amount of duplicity and inherently contradictory statements would be part of the plan.

For example, in the kenosis theories claiming Jesus emptied Himself of some or all divine attributes to become a man, there is the implication of Jesus’ pre-existence as God rather than the New Age view that Jesus was previously incarnated as a man.  Certainly, no one can deny Jesus Christ’s pre-existence as God and remain in a Christian pulpit (at least not generally).  However, as noted in part II, claiming Jesus was/is eternally God yet He “emptied Himself of divinity” during the Incarnation is an inherent contradiction.  The point is, ‘Christianized’ New Age will not completely parallel New Age / occult theology.

Comparing Specific Christological Statements

Many prominent authors and conference speakers add fuel to the fire of fear assuming that because the new age movement promotes it, its origins must be from the devil92

Given Bill Johnson’s words above, obviously, he sees no trouble with at least some New Age concepts or practices.  And, of course, this illustrates that Johnson acknowledges there is a New Age movement.

As explained earlier, in New Age Christology, Jesus pre-existed as a human who had been reincarnated.  Once “christed”, He was en route to becoming “the new World Teacher”.93  Conversely, “Christ” is God’s son who pre-existed as “God”.  Here in the following is “Christ” as defined by a well-known New Age book by Levi Dowling first printed in 1907 (and presumably still in print) titled The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ:

We recognise 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.94

Central to most all (if not all) occult doctrine is the belief that all humans have two natures – one human nature and one latent divine nature.  This divine nature is known as the “divine spark”, “seed”95 and/or the “Christ within” which must be awakened to begin “the Path” to self-salvation.96  The point at which one realizes and begins to actualize this inherent divinity is known as the ‘virgin birth’.97

This inherent dual nature in all humans makes us potentially the same as Jesus.  Since the term “Christ” is used in many different ways in New Age / New Spirituality teaching, it is confusing and sometimes difficult to interpret meaning which is ultimately determined by context.  In the following, in a book by Alice Bailey most likely originally written in the mid to late 1940’s, she is referring specifically to the person of the Incarnate historic Jesus at first; she then uses the term more generally in the second.  That is, in the second case Bailey is indicating that anyone can expand their “Christ consciousness” by following Jesus’ example.  By “the keynote of the Gospel story” Bailey means the so-called ‘good news’ that everyone can save him/herself and relate to the Father by our inherent divinity (awakened by the “Christ anointing” or, being “Christed”) and to humanity by our human nature:

…the keynote of the Gospel story [is] the human-divine nature of the [person of Jesus] Christ, relating Him to the Father through His essential divinity and also to man through His essential humanity.  The Christian Church gave a wrong slant to the teaching by making Christ appear as unique, though the higher criticism (deemed so shocking fifty years ago) has done much to correct this false impression.98

It seems quite possible that this “higher criticism” to which Bailey refers includes the kenosis theories at the turn of the twentieth century.

Also from Dowling’s book, who is usually affectionately referred to as simply “Levi”, is the New Age / New Spirituality teaching on two different aspects of “Christ”: the first is general, meaning “anointed” (or “christed”), while the second refers to a member of the false “Trinity” as indicated earlier:

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…99

Notice in the first three sentences the similarities between them and Bill Johnson’s teaching in the following:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah.”  It [Christ] is a title that points to an experienceIt was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title [Christ].  He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.100

…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…101

Per Levi, “every anointed person is ‘christed’” or receives “the anointing” or, “Christ anointing”, as Johnson calls it.  As previously pointed out in the CrossWise article The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, Bill Johnson redefines Christ to “the anointing” and he subsequently redefines antichrist (spirit) to ‘anti-anointing’ in the same chapter of this particular book.

Confusingly, there is yet another aspect to the term ‘Christ’ in New Age Christology.  It is also an ‘office’ or ‘title’ for the “Christ” of the current age.  As noted above, there have been many “Christs” (or “World Teachers”) down the ages and, as previously stated, Jesus of Nazareth – more accurately, the now ascended “Master Jesus” – is the one for the Piscean Age, our current era/aeon102 having earned this ‘title’ and receiving His coronation at His “baptism in the Holy Breath (Holy Spirit)”.  This is explained in the Introduction to the book by Levi:

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 ChristJesus won his Christship by a strenuous life…we have a record of the events of his christing, or receiving the degree Christ.  Here is where he was coronated…103

With the exception of the introduction, Levi’s book is written in chapter/verse format as if it were a Bible.  Here is how the (fictional) account is presented:

…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 CHRIST104

Now let’s look at one more Bill Johnson quote we’ve used previously in part I to compare with the immediately preceding:

The outpouring of the Spirit also needed to happen to Jesus for Him to be fully qualified.  This was His questReceiving this anointing qualified Him to be called the Christ, which means “anointed one.” Without the experience there could be no title.105

To reiterate, following is the latter part of the previous Johnson quote with additional context provided:

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

The word anointing means “to smear.”  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit.106

As pointed out in part I, as per Johnson, logically Jesus was not Christ prior to this experience as this title was given only at the point when the Spirit descended upon Him as a dove [Luke 3:16; John 1:32].  Hence, He was merely Jesus of Nazareth until this anointing.  This sure resembles the teaching of Levi above, does it not?

One other important thing to consider which is best illustrated by picking out a bit of one of Levi’s quotes above:

…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 Christ107

If one has this in mind, one could use Luke 2:11, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” [NIV 1984], to mean that Jesus is the future Christ and NOT that Jesus was born as the Christ.  This would be similar to stating, “On February 12, 1809 President Lincoln was born.” – certainly, Lincoln wasn’t born President for he was elected to the office of the President later.  In the same way, occult / New Age / New Spirituality teachings assert Jesus wasn’t born the Christ for he wasn’t coronated until He was around thirty years of age.  Of course, Christian orthodoxy affirms that Jesus was the Christ, our Lord and Savior at birth.

In the Apocryphal/Gnostic The Gospel of Philip from the 2nd century is a similar idea.  In the following, there is a specific distinguishing between water baptism and ‘anointing’ [chrisma is the Greek transliterated word meaning anointing].  The “anointing” here is identified as the mark of a Christian rather than true Christian conversion upon which one receives the Holy Spirit indwelling:

The chrism is superior to baptism.  For from the chrism we were called ‘Christians’, not from baptism.  Christ also was (so) called because of the anointing.  For the Father anointed the Son.  But the Son anointed the apostles.  And the apostles anointed us.  He who is anointed possesses all things.  He has the resurrection, the light, the cross.108

This reads like an “ongoing incarnation”.  Alice Bailey, in her 1937 Theosophical / New Age book From Bethlehem to Calvary: the Initiations of Jesus, quotes Luke 3:16, then describes the two steps in baptism, the first by John the Baptist in water and the second by Jesus Christ “which is that of the Holy Ghost and of fire.”109  She further describes this second baptism:

…The baptism which Christ gives His followers concerns the purification of the mind by fire.  Fire, under the universal symbolism of religion, is ever symbolic of the mind nature. This baptism by fire is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.110

Those who are or were involved with the so called ‘Third Wave’ have undoubtedly heard the word “fire” used to describe those “under the anointing” (especially from Todd Bentley at Lakeland).  Bailey’s use here is referring to the transformation of the mind (continued transformation by Transcendental Meditation / contemplative prayer / centering prayer / soaking, etc.) to expand one’s “Christ consciousness”.111  [See “Christ consciousness” section of ‘Christ’ in the New Age article.]  This is a process that continues until one, hopefully, ascends to Master, becoming a god oneself.

In the following is Johnson as he explains the “baptism in the Holy Spirit”112 distinguishing between the Holy Spirit “that was already in Jesus’s life” and what transpired just after His baptism by John.  After quoting John 1:32, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him” [NKJV], a parallel passage to Luke 3:16 (as Bailey uses above), Johnson explains this baptism:

…Certainly this is not talking about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was already in Jesus’s life.  This was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Him [baptism in the Holy Spirit / “Christ anointing”] as a mantle of power and authority for that specific purpose.  But the fact that the Holy Spirit came to rest on Him is evidence of Jesus’s faithfulness to be perfectly trustworthy with the presence of GodThe same principle is true for us.

The Holy Spirit lives in every believer, but He rests upon very few…113

Here’s one more quote from Face to Face with God, the same Johnson book cited above:

…The baptism in the Spirit, a profound encounter with the face of God, adds the power of heaven to bring transformation to planet Earth…114

Does this not resemble the same basic teaching as the New Age / New Spirituality with respect to the ‘baptism of/in the Holy Spirit’ / “the anointing” / the “Christ anointing”?  “Transformation to planet Earth” sure has a New Age-y ring to it.

As noted in part I, Johnson claims that Jesus did not raise Himself from the dead contrary to John 2:19/10:17-18.

…Jesus GAVE Himself to be crucified.  He DID NOT raise Himself from the dead…His job was to give His life to die.  The Father raised Him by the Spirit…115

Of course, it was the entire Trinity who raised Jesus’ body from the dead as other Scripture attests [Holy Spirit – Romans 1:4/8:11; Father – Acts 5:29-31/Galatians 1:1/Ephesians 1:17-20; God – Acts 2:24/Romans 4:24].  However, Johnson’s phraseology is not that far from the words of well-known New Ager Benjamin Crème:

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 lived in that body for the 41 days after the resurrection.116

In essence, Crème is stating that it was the “Christ Spirit” which raised Jesus’ body and remained in Him at the instruction of the Father of the false Trinity. The difference in the Crème version is that Jesus’ immortal Spirit came back into the body of Apollonius of Tyana; and, upon his death, Jesus’ Spirit ascended and He became ‘Master Jesus’ and the “World Teacher” of the Age of Pisces.

One has to wonder why Johnson would emphatically violate Scripture in stating that Jesus DID NOT raise Himself from the dead especially when this is not much different than the occult / New Age / New Spirituality account.

Part IIIb will discuss “the Word made flesh” and “spiritual DNA” and part IV will specifically compare the Theosophical Jesus as pattern for mankind to quotes of Bill Johnson and concludes this series. [See also: part I, The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, and part II.]

85Dager, Albert James Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion. © 1990 Albert James Dager, Sword Publishers, Redmond, WA; pp 12-13.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
86Bailey, Alice A. Initiation, Human and Solar. © 1951 Lucis, NY, (4th paperback ed, 1980), Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; pp 56-57
87Dowling; p 6.  Emphasis added.
88Dowling; pp 6-8, 82-83, 94
89Dowling; p 8
90einterface 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 1-5; as accessed 04/17/12
91Bailey, Initiation, p 56-57
92Johnson, Dreaming with God; p 86.  Emphasis added.
93Dowling; p 8
94Dowling; p 8
95Dowling; p 6
96Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary, pp 24, 26; Bailey, Externalisation, p 592
97Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary, pp 9, 21-22, 24, 26
98Bailey, Alice A. Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle. © 1950 Lucis, NY, (2nd printing, 1957), George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA; pp 127-128.  Underscore added.
99Dowling; p 6.  Emphasis in original
100Johnson; Heaven Invades, p 79.  Emphasis added.
101Johnson, Face to Face, p 77. Underscore added.
102Dowling; pp 3, 8
103Dowling; p 8.  Underscore added.
104Dowling; pp 82-83.  Underscore added; caps in original.
105Johnson; Face to Face, p 109.  Underscore added; other emphasis in original.
106Johnson; Heaven Invades; p 79.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
107Dowling; p 8.  Emphasis added.
108Schneemelcher, Wilhelm; transl. R. McL. Wilson New Testament Apocrypha: Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings. © J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tubingen, 1990; English Translation © James Clarke & Co. Ltd, 1991 (Rev. ed.), Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY; p 200.  All emphasis added; parenthesis in original.
109Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 98
110Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 99.  Emphasis added.
111Here are a few statements taken from Alice A. Bailey’s A Treatise on Cosmic Fire [© 1951 Lucis Trust (1925, 4th ed 1951), Lucis Publishing Company, George S. Ferguson, Philadelphia, PA; p xvii] which are themselves from H.P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine [n.d., “Third Revised Edition”; identified as “S.D.”] (all emphasis added): “Fire is the most perfect and unadulterated reflection, in Heaven as on earth, of the One Flame.  It is life and death, the origin and the end of every material thing.  It is divine substance” (S.D. I. 146).  “Fire and flame destroy the body of an Arhat [ED: 4th level initiate]; their essence makes him immortal” (I. 35).  “The fire of knowledge burns up all action on the plane of illusion, therefore those who have acquired it and are emancipated are called ‘Fires’” (I. 114).  Of what are Bentley and others referring when they use the term “fire” and “fire of God”?  I was once given a cd of Robert Stearns / Jason Upton / JoAnn McFatter / Julie Meyer titled Freedom’s Fire [see here: http://store.liveinhispresence.com/Freedom_s_Fire_Prophetic_Worship_Robert_Stearns_p/cd-ffpw.htm ] with tunes such as “Burn Away”, “Swirling in the Fire”, “Freedom’s Fire”, “Burning Desire”.  From the same individual I was also given a copy of JoAnn McFatter / Steve Mitchell / Steve Swanson Messengers of Fire [see here: http://www.joannmcfatter.com/messengers.html ] with selections titled “Contact”, “Seven Spirits Burning”, “Messengers of Fire”, and “Winds of Fire”.  One must wonder what is meant by ‘fire’ in hyper-charismatic circles in general.
112Johnson, Face to Face; p 79
113Johnson, Face to Face; pp 21-22
114Johnson, Face to Face; p 102
115“ewenhoffman” Maintaining the crosswalk- sermon of the week Feb 27th 2011. 16:45 – 17:00.  Emphasis in original; underscore added.   As accessed 03/11/12.
116einterface website.  “The Master Jesus”; par 3

Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ?, part II

[See also Part I, The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, Part IIIa, Part IIIb, and Part IV (Conclusion).]

[T]he church movement, like all else, is but a temporary expedient and serves but as a transient resting place for the evolving life.  Eventually, there will appear the Church Universal, and its definite outlines will appear towards the close of this [20th] century…This Church will be nurtured into activity by the Christ [ED: actually Satan/antichrist] and His disciples when the outpouring of the Christ principle, the true second Coming, has been accomplished.  No date for the advent do I set, but the time will not be long.

-Alice A. Bailey, 191939

As noted in part I, Bailey’s words were channeled through her by a demon known variously as “Djwhal Khul”, “the Tibetan”, or “Master D. K.”.  Bailey was essentially a disciple of H. P. Blavatsky, one of the founders of Theosophy.  Formed in 1875, Theosophy itself is an amalgamation (uniting) of occult doctrines with some roots in 1st/2nd century Gnosticism.  These Theosophical teachings form much of the basis of the New Age / New Spirituality.

As both the Bailey quote from part I and the one above illustrate, the goal was to infiltrate the Christian Church in order to transform it into part of one large universal esoteric Aquarian Age / New Age ‘church’.  The Apostle Paul warned in 2nd Thessalonians 2:9 about this fake ‘second coming’ of which Bailey refers, which is an attempt at mimicking Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.  Paul even applies the same Greek word (parousia) to both Jesus’ Second Coming [2nd Thes 2:1, 8] and the coming of the antichrist in his warning:

7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who restrains him will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming [parousia].  9The coming [parousia] of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing.  They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie [pseudos (counterfeit)]  12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.[2 Thess 2:7-12, NIV 1984]

Parousia is defined: “arrival as the first stage in presence, coming, advent.40  By the complete context it’s clear that once the ‘lawless one’ is revealed there will be “all kinds of [false, counterfeit (pseudos)] miracles, signs and wonders”.  These will be absolutely real, but they will be false in the sense that they are coming from Satan.  Ultimately, the power comes from God as He allows Satan the use of this power for His own purposes (v 11).

However, note that “the secret power of lawlessness is already at work” during the time Paul wrote this epistle which is obviously well before the ‘lawless one’s’ revealing (v 8).  These counterfeit/false signs and wonders will be in evidence before the arrival of the antichrist.   He may not yet be ‘revealed’ but his works are already made manifest.  It seems to make sense that these counterfeit signs and wonders would be increasing in both quantity and intensity in the time immediately preceding this false parousia.

Promoter of New Age / New Spirituality teachings Matthew Fox expressed the need for global mysticism in his 1988 book The Coming of the Cosmic Christ in order to bring forth this “Church Universal” of which Bailey speaks above:

Without mysticism there will be no “deep ecumenism,” no unleashing of the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions…The promise of ecumenism, the coming together of religions has been thwarted because world religions have not been relating at the level of mysticism.  The Western tradition appears to have nothing to offer on a mystical level because its religious traditions are unaware of their mystical heritage…41

Perhaps Fox wasn’t aware of the mysticism already growing in the Western church primarily in the hyper-charismatic wing of Christianity.  No doubt hyper-charismaticism has grown since the time his book was written.

At last year’s Piercing the Darkness “prophetic conference” held at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church in Redding, CA, “prophet” Bob Jones told the audience they were “called to be a mystic generation”.42

…Man is six things.  He’s mind, will, and emotions.  He is human spirit, Holy Spirit and Wisdom of the Ages.  What happens if you begin to tap into the Wisdom of the Ages?  In that little bitty God sperm seed – 1st Peter 1:23 is all the Wisdom of the Ages.  That genetic thing – you have authority over DNA43

For the record, 1st Peter 1:23 is referring to the Holy Spirit indwelling upon conversion, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” [NIV 1984].  All of mankind does not have the Holy Spirit; only true Christians will be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  Of course, what Jones is teaching here is not Biblical; but, what does he mean?  More on this in a bit.  “Wisdom of the Ages” is analogous to the ‘Ancient Wisdom’, or occult teachings,44 or “the power of wisdom from all the world’s religious traditions” as Fox states above.  Jones continues later in his ‘sermon’ with even more alarming words:

…Man was created all at oncet [sic: “once”]. Bang.  And God finished it and He made man out of the clay. The DNA.  What He put in here [ED: the body] was not DNA.  It was His genetics that has authority over DNA.  And, you’re gonna have to begin to get a-hold of this.  For this conscience of yours is really your spiritual guide.  God gave this to you to guide your lives.  Don’t violate your conscience.  In certain places it’s called your spirit.  Especially in 2nd Corinthians 7:1 it’s called spirit and flesh….45

Clearly, Jones is making a distinction between the creation of the spirit / conscience / “His (God’s) genetics” which was “made all at oncet”, and the physical human body (clay) containing DNA which was made subsequent to this, indicating a two-step process.  Yet, Scripture describes the creation of man a bit differently, “the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” [Genesis 2:7, NIV 1984].  However, Jones words work well as a ‘Christianized’ explanation of the esoteric/occult/New Age doctrine of reincarnation.  To explain this doctrine, we’ll elicit help from some enthusiasts of the esoteric/occult.

In Annie Besant’s Theosophical/occult book The Ancient Wisdom from 1897 (Theosophy forms much of the basis of the New Age / New Spirituality teachings, as note above) she describes how the individual souls (spirits) await “the opportunity of incarnation” in human bodies:

…As the [human] race evolved, the human tabernacles improved, and myriads of souls [spirits] that were awaiting the opportunity of incarnation, that they might continue their evolution, took birth among its children….46

One time leader of the Theosophical Society Pasadena, Gottfried de Purucker, in his book Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, a “Commentary and Elucidation of H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine”, explains that the spirit is immortal:

…The spirit is the immortal element in us, the deathless flame within us which dies never, which never was born, and which retains throughout…its own quality, essence, and life, sending down into our own being and into our various planes, certain of its rays or garments or souls which we are; and furthermore, that these rays, in descending, constituted the life-essences of a hierarchy, whether we treat of our own selves as individual human beings, or whether we think of the atom, or the solar system, or of the universal cosmos. 47

De Purucker may seem a bit confusing here (and his run-on sentences do not help in clarifying); but, what he’s stating is that in the doctrine of reincarnation all spirits are part of the one “god” who is within all things – a doctrine known as panentheism.  These spirits are immortal, eternal.  De Purucker differentiates between spirit and “soul” with the latter referring to any vehicle containing the spirit.  Each entity has its own “soul”.  That is, the descending spirit has its own “soul”, its vehicle, which enables it to descend and it, in turn, inhabits the soul/vehicle of the human body.48  Besant above is speaking of the soul as vehicle containing this immortal spirit which is “awaiting  the opportunity of incarnation”.  According to this occult doctrine, the human being can function without acknowledging this descended spirit; however, once one acknowledges the ‘god spirit’ inside, one can begin the path to “godhood”.

After explaining how the immortal spirits emanate from the transcendent “God”, and that each spirit remains fully “God”, yet the transcendent “God” is in no way diminished, de Purucker provides a helpful analogy:

A perfect analogy is found in the intrauterine development of man and his descent into incarnation.  His [immortal] spiritual nature does not come down and become his actual body; it remains always his spiritual nature…[T]he physical man, the body, is in very truth the ‘temple of the living God,’ which is itself the glory thereof, hence a part of the temple; the temple, verily, is the lowest manifestation of the living God within.49

In the doctrine of reincarnation, the immortal, disembodied spirit must inhabit a new body at conception as de Purucker and Besant illustrate.   Going back to the first Jones quote: his teaching about “God sperm” works well when put into the context of reincarnation in which the immortal spirits ‘take birth’ in the ‘temple of the living God’.  Combining this with Jones’ second quote, he is claiming that the “God sperm seed” [immortal spirit] provides the “authority” over your DNA (your body) since this “God sperm seed” is, as he calls it, the spirit / conscience or, ‘God’s genetics’, which is placed into the “clay” (body) containing your DNA.  So, once you “tap into the Wisdom of the Ages”, according to Jones, you will gain authority over your DNA.  Apparently this is the basis for the “spiritual DNA” teachings which are becoming more prevalent both in the hyper-charismatic and “Emergent” streams of Christendom.  More on this “spiritual DNA” in part III.

Jones continues with more esoteric teaching, this time sounding decidedly New Age:

But, you’re getting ready to wake up for the night is far spent and the dawn is at hand.  And we’re getting ready for one of the greatest awakenings of all time – no revival but a’ awakening that never ends50

One can almost hear the refrain of the 1969 hit by The 5th Dimension “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” at this point: “This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…”  According to the New Age / New Spirituality, we are currently in the latter stages of the Age of Pisces and the dawning of the Age of Aquarius is imminent.

But, Jones is far from through [the remainder will be the subject of a future post].  He even speaks of Christ coming in His people, a reference to the anti-biblical doctrine known as the “birth of the man-child” which is part of the heretical manifested sons of God (MSoG) teaching (MSoG is also an occult / New Age teaching):

…Recently, the Lord spoke to me and said, “I’m coming IN my people.  Christ in you, the hope of glory.  I’m comin’ IN my people.”51

This is not dissimilar to his August 08, 2008 monologue at a conference hosted by Heritage International Ministries and distributed by Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries:

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.52

Esoteric/occult/New Age literature has long proof-texted Colossians 1:27, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” to indicate the god within which needs to be first realized then actualized.  As but one example of Alice Bailey, “There is a growing and developing belief that Christ is in us, as He was in the Master Jesus…”53 Here Jones seemingly has yet another application in mind.  Is he speaking of the fake parousia, the false second coming of which both the Apostle Paul and Alice Bailey spoke?

Actually, Bob Jones has been speaking these sorts of things for about 25 years now.  To help further explain the preceding Jones material, here’s a more direct, concise quote from the late Earl Paulk which should help shed some light (actually dark):

…‘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.54

Satan and his demons need our cooperation to do their bidding (“the hope of the heavenlies is on earth”).  Following is the New Age / New Spirituality teaching on the false parousia as Bailey calls it, “the outpouring of the Christ principle, the true second Coming”.  According to New Age / New Spirituality, when “the Christ” (antichrist, the new ‘World Teacher’) “reappears”, he will also have the ability to manifest through many people at one time:

The Christ, when He comes into incarnation, will most likely project himself into many parts and be where he wants to be. This is called the Law of Divisibility, a term used in Agni Yoga that means a highly developed spirit—one who is able to contact, simultaneously, various people in various locations.55

Does this not seem uncomfortably close to the Jones/Paulk version above?  Continuing:

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.56

Certainly, Bill Johnson bears some responsibility for Bob Jones’ teaching since this “prophetic conference” was hosted at his Bethel Church.  Presumably, he’ll likely revert back to his words here:

…As a pastor I sometimes invite speakers who come in a rough package but carry a great anointing.  I do this to train my congregation to recognize the anointing and to celebrate who people are, not who they aren’t.  People want to be doctrinally safe, not relationally safe.  Often people expect me to publicly rebuke a previous speaker for teaching against what we believe.  I will do that only if it’s actual heresy.57

One has to wonder what Johnson’s definition of heresy is.  Certainly, refusing to rebuke a specific unbiblical or anti-biblical teaching by an individual who has spoken at his church amounts to tacit approval despite his statement above.  However, given that the Bob Jones material cited in this section (excepting the MorningStar monologue) is sold in both audio and video format at Bethel, this connotes not just tacit but explicit endorsement.  And for this, Johnson should be held responsible.  With this endorsement from Bethel, one may be led to believe Jones’ teachings (at the least his words on this DVD/cd) are part of the Johnson / Bethel belief system.  Are they?

Bob Jones “The Coming Kingdom”
Piercing the Darkness, 2011

Bob Jones lurks in the background of much of hyper-charismaticism.  He is lauded as a true ‘prophet of God’.  Do his esoteric teachings form the backdrop for the movement as a whole?  “Apostles” in the New Apostolic Reformation, the very ones who claim authority, do nothing to correct any of Jones’ strange teachings.  Since Bill Johnson himself is a recognized ‘Apostle’ within his own sphere of influence, he certainly has the authority.  Will he correct any of Jones’ teachings?  Has he yet?

Bill Johnson: Deceived Deceiver or Deceiving Deceiver?

While we cannot know for certain an individual’s true heart or motives, we are to ‘know them by their fruit’ [Matthew 7:15-23], i.e. their doctrines and practices.  Following is a list of things showing redefinition of key Christian terms and concepts, apparent deceit, questionable associations and endorsements, a dubious ‘healing’, and other concerns:

— It has been demonstrated that Bill Johnson has redefined repentance and, even worse, Christ and antichrist spirit, some of this in mid-paragraph.  It is very difficult to view this as other than deliberate.  Given that Johnson has changed Christ to “anointing” and antichrist spirit to ‘anti-anointing’, and that he’s termed our present era the “post-denominational era”,58 is it any wonder that Johnson would want the anointing of William Branham, the one who called all Protestant denominations antichrist?59

…That antichrist spirit that we’re studying, in denominationalism, and proven that denominationalism is antichrist….60

— The circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the Roberts Liardon library indicate apparent deceit.  Of note also: Liardon’s book God’s Generals is highly endorsed by Johnson.61  This book contains historical snapshots of a number of “past revival leaders” including Branham.  While Liardon doesn’t shy away from some of the problems with Branham in the latter part of his days including that denominationalism was “the mark of the beast”,62 he attributes these doctrinal aberrations to be caused by Branham moving away from his ‘gift of healing’63 which he claims God “couldn’t take back”.64  Liardon mentions the fact that Branham could only heal if his ‘angel’ was “standing at his right side”.65  Apparently, according to Kurt Koch, in his book Occult A-B-C, Branham’s ‘angel’ would not appear when Christians were in the audience praying thus rendering Branham powerless:

There are disturbing powers here.  I can do nothing.66

Since when is God constrained by “disturbing powers”?

— He clearly borrows from Word of Faith (WoF) theology.  As stated in a previous article, some of his doctrines follow Kenneth E. Hagin, Sr. in the way he moves from one Biblical proof-text to the next to make his theological points.  One such example is the ‘born again Jesus’ teaching in which he moves from Hebrews 1:4-5 to Acts 13:33 although Johnson stops short of Hagin’s claim that Jesus went to hell, took on Satan’s nature and was subsequently ‘born again’.

Here’s one Johnson quote illustrating the WoF ‘prosperity gospel’:

…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! 67

Moreover, it has been demonstrated that there’s a strong possibility Johnson has even adopted the same (re)definition as E.W. Kenyon for the word reality (the spiritual realm as opposed to the physical).  Kenyon, from whom Hagin borrowed heavily, was the originator of Word of Faith doctrine.  Kenyon very likely borrowed this redefinition from Theosophy (H. P. Blavatsky) who apparently had in mind the Dualism of 1st/2nd century Gnosticism.

— Johnson has friends who have propounded and continue to promote unorthodox and heretical doctrines including Bob Jones (as noted in the previous section), Todd Bentley and others.   Conferences of which Johnson both hosts and speaks feature individuals with unbiblical and anti-biblical doctrines and some with questionable practices.  He specifically backed Todd Bentley both at the Lakeland “Revival” and in its aftermath, and he even wrote a letter last year in support of him recommending him for ‘ministry’.

— There is at least one recorded dubious (or worse) healing.  The following probably says it all: “What have I done?  This guy thinks he hobbled in here…wait until he tries to walk out!68 The Biblical witness does not once show God making an individual worse en route to divine healing.  In essence, Johnson states that God subsequently ‘covered him’ for his initial mistake in this ‘healing’.69

— Johnson promotes contradicting concepts.  Johnson states one thing one time then contradicts this very thing the next.  One example is his definitive statement, “sin and its nature have been yanked out by its roots”.70  This, of course, is not Biblical as we never get rid of our sin nature until we receive our imperishable bodies [1 Cor 15] at the resurrection of the saints.  Johnson will make statements seemingly affirming our ability to remain sinless71 (a view in common with New Age / New Spirituality) yet, at other times Johnson will make statements about our sin.72  In addition, Johnson’s followers sometimes understand his teachings in an unorthodox manner while Johnson rarely makes any attempts to correct these ‘misunderstandings’.

With all the preceding in mind, let’s look at a few statements which seem to contain orthodox statements at least in part:

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

The first three sentences in and of themselves are entirely orthodox.  Adding the fourth, some have understood Johnson to be teaching what is known as functional(ist) kenosis (see here for a full discussion on kenosis, or self-emptying), i.e. that Jesus retained all His divine attributes yet chose not to use his omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience (and possibly other traits) during His earthly ministry relying instead on the Holy Spirit. [This view violates some key Scripture in any case: Heb 1:3/Col 1:17; John 5:21, 24-25.]  However, this narrow view fails to look at the rest of Johnson’s explicit statements as shown in part I and this article which prove the contrary.

Moreover, “self imposed restriction” can also be understood such that the Word voluntarily divested Himself of some or all divine attributes at the moment of the virginal conception/birth resulting in this restriction.  This would indicate a stronger form of kenosis (or worse) known as ontological kenosis.  In fact, this seems more likely given Johnson’s next sentence that Jesus defeated “the powers of darkness as a man”.  In addition, the emphatic last sentence seems to drive home that it was His sinlessness as a man which provided “His victory”.  According to orthodox Christianity, to provide effective Atonement Jesus had to be both fully God and fully man on the Cross.

In addition, it’s important to note that all modern (mid 19th century to today) kenosis theorists proclaim Jesus Christ’s eternal deity yet many effectively deny this in their theory by asserting He lacked some or all divine attributes while incarnate creating an inherent contradiction.

Here’s another quote which backs up the assertion that it’s both the stronger kenosis (or worse) and Jesus Christ’s lack of sin that is Johnson’s focus.  The following even suggests that if one were to follow Jesus’ example one could be sinless (again, this is not unlike New Age / New Spirituality teaching):

Jesus modeled what life could be like for any person that had no sin and was filled with the Spirit of God.  He’s eternally God; He’s not a created being – He’s eternally God, but He set aside divinity and chose to live with the same set of restrictions that a human being would have.  Why? To set an example for us.  Now if He did what He did as God, I’m still impressed; but, I’m not inclined to follow.  But when I find out He did it as a man with the same limitations I have, suddenly I’m no longer content to stay where I’m at.73

In the following, a statement in an article in the March 2012 Charisma, Johnson states quite explicitly that Jesus no longer had any deity/divinity during the Incarnation:

While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man (see Phil. 2:7). It’s vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God.

If He did them as God I would still be impressed. But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us. Jesus is the only model for us to follow.74

The Charisma article states that this quote was adapted from his book (co-authored with Randy Clark) The Essential Guide to Healing.  Here’s the quote from the book which is much the same as above:

Jesus emptied Himself of divinity and became man (see Philippians 2:7).  While He is eternally God, He chose to live within the restrictions of a man who had no sin and was empowered by the Holy Spirit.  In doing this, He provided a compelling model for us to follow.75

Each of these suggests not ‘merely’ kenosis but metamorphosis instead, i.e. the Word literally became a man transforming Himself into a human devoid of any deity/divinity.76  Perhaps Johnson was not very careful with his words (and Charisma as well as Chosen Books, the publisher of his book, were equally careless in editing); however, when taken together with the other two statements above and the rest of his Christological statements, something is definitely amiss.  This reconfirms the analysis of Johnson’s Christology in part I.  Moreover, in looking over all the other evidence noted in this section one may wonder if he is not deliberately making these seemingly confusing and contradictory statements.

However, Johnson does proclaim Christ’s eternal deity in most of these statements, doesn’t he?  As regards this ‘affirmation’ issue, this proclamation of Christ, we must look at some Scripture such as 1st Corinthians 12:3, “…and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit”.  Gordon Fee, in his commentary on 1st Corinthians, does not see this as a “means of ‘testing the spirits’…” because “…it would seem possible for anyone to say these words at will“.77

The presence of the Spirit in power and gifts makes it easy for God’s people to think of the power and gifts as the real evidence of the Spirit’s presence.  Not so for Paul.  The ultimate criterion of the Spirit’s activity is the exaltation of Jesus as Lord.  Whatever takes away from that, even if they be legitimate expressions of the Spirit, begins to move away from Christ to a more pagan fascination with spiritual activity as an end in itself.78

Following is Craig Blomberg expounding on Matthew 7:15-23:

Jesus now explicitly addresses the situation in which greater numbers profess Christ than actually follow him.  He describes some of the pretenders as “false prophets,” those who claim to be God’s spokespersons but are not.  Yet, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, they give all external appearances of promoting authentic Christianity in both word and work.  “Prophets” as in the Old Testament, refer to those who either foretell or “forthtell” God’s word.

Verses 21-22 enumerate some of the ways in which individuals can masquerade as Christians.  They may verbally affirm that Jesus is their Master, perhaps with great joy and enthusiasm…some [may] work various kinds of miracles…We are reminded that signs and wonders can come from other sources other than God…It is worth emphasizing, however, that one can never know with absolute certainty the spiritual state of any other individual.79 

Blomberg’s last statement works both ways: one cannot affirm with absolute certainty whether another is a Christian and one cannot affirm with absolute certainty that s/he is not.  We must look at their ‘fruit’.  Johnson’s ‘fruit’, as outlined above, should give us cause for concern.

Keeping in mind the goal as specified by Alice Bailey in part I of this article in “ preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages”,80 the kenosis/metamorphosis teachings may be a way to ‘Christianize’ the concept of reincarnation, i.e. by superimposing this on the subject of the person of Christ in a way that seemingly remains ‘Christian’.

From a Christian perspective one cannot state, “Jesus is eternally God” yet claim, “He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man”, as this is a logical contradiction.  However, in the esoteric doctrine of reincarnation all spirits are immortal.  “Immortal” can be synonymous with “eternal”.  And according to the Theosophical doctrine of reincarnation all of these immortal spirits are a part of the one transcendent “God”, so one could say these are “gods” as well.   Therefore, one could claim that not only is Jesus “eternally God”, we are also gods, for we all, including Jesus, have these immortal spirits within us!81

Essentially, Bill Johnson, like much, if not all, of the rest of hyper-charismaticism, humanizes Jesus at the expense of His deity.  This makes Jesus just like we are, and makes us just like Jesus.  Once the playing field is leveled in this way, the door is opened to deify ourselves, to make ourselves into gods.  Consider the following Johnson statement with this in mind:

…And the whole issue of Jesus going to the Father was that He would be going as the Resurrected, Ascended, glorified Son of God, and, in that condition would set the stage for what you and I would become.  It’s an amazing part of the Gospel.  Did you know that Jesus gave up everything to become a man?   He owned everything.  He and His Father owned everything…But when He became a manHe forfeited everything to become a man.

One of the most amazing truths in the Bible…in John 16 is that Jesus re-inherited everything…He’s talking to His disciples…‘The Father’s given me everything.’  Now think about this.  He gave it all up; He forfeited His right to everything to take on a human body and be murdered to take upon Himself what you and I deserve so that we could take upon ourselves what only He deserves.  Stunning. 

The Father so honored Him for His perfect obedience that He now re-inherited everything; but, now not as GodDon’t misunderstand me, Jesus is not an ascended being; He’s not, uh, He didn’t work His way up into divinity.  He is eternally God, eternally God.  But, when He re-inherited everything, He inherited it as a man without sin.  Why?  Because He became our elder brother.  He became the one who inherited everything.  Why?  So, that you and I could be positioned to inherit everything with Him.  He forfeited all so that He could re-inherit in a way that would include us.82

Note the disclaimer in the last paragraph, “Jesus is not an ascended being…He didn’t work his way up into divinity” and his stammering in the middle.  It appears Johnson is well aware of the Christological contradiction inherent in his teaching: Christ cannot be eternally God yet temporally (in our time-space continuum) merely a man during His earthly ministry.    But more importantly, he’s obviously aware of New Age teaching which he seems to be trying hard to convince the audience he is not teaching.83

Most importantly, this quote begs the question: what did Jesus relinquish when He “forfeited everything to become a man”, and what did he subsequently “re-inherit in a way that includes us”?  Did He become wholly a man complete with the human sin nature yet successfully remain sinless, thereby (re)attaining His salvation and becoming the model for the rest of mankind to follow in order to attain their own salvation in the same fashion?  Or, did He forfeit His divinity and subsequently regain it thereby paving the way for mankind to attain deity?  Considering all the Christological quotes above, one or both of these seem to be quite logical conclusions to Johnson’s teaching, for it seems Jesus gave up His divinity at the beginning of the Incarnation and reacquired it some time before or at Ascension.  This is not inconsistent with WoF doctrine.84

No matter how all this is meant, any interpretation seems not to approach Christian orthodoxy.

Part IIIa will take specific quotes of Bill Johnson and compare these to various quotes from New Age material.  In addition, Part IIIb we’ll take a closer look at the “spiritual DNA” teaching and will discuss “the Word made flesh”.  All this should prove quite ‘illuminating’.

39Bailey, Externalisation; p 510.  Emphasis added.
40Bauer, Walter, F. W. Danker, W. F.  Arndt, F. W. Gingrich A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 2000 (3rd ed.),University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL; pp 780-781.  Also known as “BDAG”.
41Fox, Matthew The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance. © 1988 by Matthew Fox, HarperCollins, New York, NY; p 65.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
42Jones, Bob “The Coming Kingdom” Piercing the Darkness Prophetic Conference, February 2011. Hosted by Bethel Church, Redding, CA, Feb 23-25, 2011, Session 4, Feb 24, 2011, 7:00pm; 16:02 – 16:05.  Available for sale at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church website: <http://store.ibethel.org/p4810/piercing-the-darkness-february-2011-complete-set-bethel-campus> As accessed 04/01/12.
43Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 11:30 – 11:59.  Emphasis added.
44de Purucker, G. Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy. © 1979 Theosophical University Press, 2nd rev ed (1932), Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, CA; p 147.  The front cover describes the book as a “Commentary and Elucidation of H. P. Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine.  From the text on page 147 referencing volume I of Blavatsky’s work (page 272): “The Secret Doctrine is the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages…”
45Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 24:36 – 25:30.  Emphasis added.
46Besant, Annie The Ancient Wisdom: An Outline of the Theosophical Teachings. © 1939 The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, (1897; 8th Adyar ed 1969), Adyar, Madras, India; p 214.  Book is “dedicated with gratitude, reverence, and love to H. P. Blavatsky who showed me the light”.  While there are a few minor discrepancies in the teachings of Blavatsky, Besant and Bailey, they mostly agree.
47de Purucker; p 157.  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
48de Purucker; p 154.  “…What do we mean by soul as contrasted with spirit?  We speak of the human soul and the spiritual soul, and we speak of the astral soul, and we speak of the animal soul.  But we do not use those terms in connection with the word spirit.  Does it not teach us that the meaning of soul is that of a vehicle, an uphadhi in general; that vehicle, or any vehicle, in which the monad [ED: spirit, i.e. part of the transcendent “God”], in any sphere of manifestation, is working out its destiny?” [Emphasis in original.]  In this doctrine of reincarnation, everything has a “soul” – minerals, plants, animals and humans – and each have an inhabiting “spirit” which is using the “soul” as a vehicle to ascend to godhood.  The mineral must first ascend its way to the plant, then the animal, then the human, and ultimately to godhood.
49de Purucker; p 150
50Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 21:26 – 21:40.  Emphasis added.
51Jones, “Coming Kingdom”; 38:53 – 39:05.  Emphasis in original.
52Jones, Bob.  Excerpt of his monologue from an August 08, 2008 conference held at Heritage International Ministries Retreat Center featuring Todd Bentley, Bob Jones and Rick Joyner.  DVD sold through Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries, Media Store, VS19-000D. “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08”
<http://www.morningstarministries.org/store/teaching-sets/todd-bentley/todd-bentley-healing-and-impartation-service-08-08-08>.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 04/01/12.  Here’s an advertisement announcing the conference: <http://www.morningstarministries.org/events/morningstar-conferences/todd-bentley-healing-impartation-service-2008> As accessed 04/01/12
53Bailey, Externalisation; p 592.  Emphasis in original.
54Paulk, Earl Held in the Heavens Until…: God’s Strategy for Planet Earth. 1985, K Dimension Publishers, Atlanta, GA; p 229.  All emphasis added.
55World Service Intergroup website. Dubois, J.D. “The Christ, His Reappearance, and the Avatar of Synthesis” < http://www.worldserviceintergroup.net/#/christ-reappearance/4543145171 >   World Service Intergroup; Dubois; par 5; as accessed 03/27/12
56Dubois; par 5.  Continuing from above.
57Johnson, Face to Face; p 71, cf. 66-67
58Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 90
59Branham, William M. The Revelation of the Seven Seals. © 1993 VGR (2009 reprint), Voice of God Recordings, Jeffersonville, IA; pp 259, 283-285, cf. 259-295.  Transcribed from original tapes recorded March 17-24, 1963.
60Branham, p 259
61Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 103
62Liardon, Roberts God’s Generals: Why They Succeeded and Why Some Failed. © 1996 by Roberts Liardon (2nd prtng), Albury Publishing, Tulsa, OK; p 340.  The book is endorsed by C. Peter Wagner, Hee Kong, Jack Coe, Jr., Gerald Coates and others.
63Liardon; pp 335, 343
64Liardon; p 343
65Liardon; p 332
66Koch, Kurt Occult A-B-C. 1986 (2nd ed), Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI; p 235
67Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 33
68Johnson, Release Power of Jesus; p 107.  Emphasis added.
69Johnson, Release Power of Jesus; p 108
70Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 110
71Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 29-30
72Johnson, Supernatural Power; p 110
73Johnson, Bill. “Authority and Power for Healing, Special Impartation and Activation Service”, NW Healing Explosion – Seattle Region, held at Sonrise Christian Center, Everett, WA, Thursday, December 1, 2011 (most likely date, as it seems there’s discrepancy between schedule on bulletin and date listed on url with Johnson’s monologue), 7pm; 42:30 – 43:10. <http://www.livestream.com/nwhealingexplosionseattle11/video?clipId=pla_49e5829f-8bef-4441-a0a1-3d91097b27a2&utm_source=lslibrary&utm_medium=ui-thumb> As accessed 04/01/12.  Emphasis added.  Many thanks to the CrossWise reader who sent this to me recently.
74Johnson, Bill. “You’ve Got the Power!” Charisma. March, 2012, Vol 37, No. 8; p 26.  Emphasis added.  Also currently available online: <http://www.charismamag.com/index.php/new-man/1622-features/32505-youve-got-the-power> Feb 23, 2012; par 7-8.  As accessed 04/01/12.  Many thanks to CrossWise reader/commenter Tim Bain for providing the source.
75Johnson, Bill, Randy Clark. The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick. © 2011 by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark, Chosen Books (a division of Baker Publishing Group), Bloomington, MN; p 125.  Emphasis added.  Each chapter is authored by either Bill Johnson or Randy Clark.  The chapter from which this quote is taken was authored by Johnson.
76This is consistent with Word of Faith doctrine.
77Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: The New International Commentary on the New Testament. 1987, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MN; p 581.  Emphasis added.
78Fee, Corinthians; p 582.  Emphasis added.
79Blomberg, Craig L. The New American Commentary: Vol. 22; Matthew. 1992, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN; pp 132-133.  Emphasis added.
80Bailey, Externalisation. p 511
81See de Purucker; pp 150-151
82Johnson, Bill. Audio clip taken from 2010 Australian “When Heaven Invades Earth” Tour as accessed from Plantagenet Family Church, Mount Barker, Western Australia, 03/21/11 from the following url: <http://pfchurch.org.au/?p=357> which now is redirected to a different page altogether.  Link recovered on Internet Archive / The Wayback Machine; however, audio clip is unavailable: <http://web.archive.org/web/20101106155256/http://pfchurch.org.au/?p=357>.  Originally transcribed by CrossWise on 3/21/11 or just after; last access date to original web link unknown but likely Fall, 2011.  All emphasis added.  Many thanks to the CrossWise reader who sent this to me on 3/21/2011.
83A similar quote is available on YouTube by “whizzpopping” Bill Johnson – Bringing Heaven to Earth (Part 2 of 2). Aug 20, 2010 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxVdxzJ0vN4> 3:10 – 4:30: “He forfeited everything because He owned everything; literally all that exists was His. And, He gave it all up to become a man; and, then He re-inherited everything as a man so that you and I would have an inheritance – the absolute mercy of God.  So, now He stands after His triumphant Resurrection. The defeat of the power of death, hell and the grave – all that stuff was defeated, the power of sin. And, He stands before humanity and He says, ‘I got the keys back.  That which was lost in the Garden, I’ve got it back. Now, let’s get back to plan A.’  And, he makes this profound statement; he says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.”  Jesus did not make that declaration as GodNow, na – He’s eternally God; he’s not a created being, He didn’t ascend, ya know, to some position. He’s eternally God; but, He did not make that statement as God.  How do we know? Because He said, ‘All authority’s been given to me.’  There’s no one higher than God to give God authority.    When Jesus made that statement, He made the statement as our elder brother.”  Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.  As accessed 04/01/12.  Once again, note the stammering in his disclaimer.
84McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement. 1988 (4th prtng, March 1991), Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, MA; pp 116-133

The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit

[See also: Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ?, Part II, Part IIIa, Part IIIb and Part IV (Conclusion)]

In Bill Johnson’s popular book When Heaven Invades Earth is a chapter titled “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit”.1  In Johnson’s theology “the anointing” is variously termed “the Christ anointing”,2 “the baptism in the Holy Spirit”,3 “the Holy Spirit’s presence upon” an individual (including Jesus),4 and “the presence of God”.5 The “antichrist spirit” is defined as essentially ‘anti-anointing’ in this chapter and is thus a redefining of this term as compared to the Apostle John’s definition.

Orthodox Definition of the Antichrist Spirit

Here are the Apostle John’s words in his first epistle defining the antichrist spirit:

22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.  23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.  [1 John 2:22-23, NASB]

One must confess that Jesus is the Christ and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  John makes it clear that there is only one Christ and He is Jesus, and if one denies the Son by denying that Jesus is the Christ, then consequently the Father is also denied.  It’s a flat out rejection of God.  However, the one who confesses that Jesus is the Christ and,  hence, is also the Son, has the Father.

The Apostle John also commands us to test the spirits providing one more identifying mark of the antichrist spirit:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;  3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of antichrist of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. [1 John 4:1-3, NASB]

One must confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.  This means one must confess that Jesus was the Christ at conception or at least the Virgin Birth [Luke 1:35/2:11; Matt 1:18] thereby precluding any adoptionist or separationist Christology.6  A confession to the contrary is evidence of the antichrist spirit.  Colin G. Kruse expounds:

…[I]t is not only those who…remain faithful to the message heard from the beginning and who love fellow believers who claim an experience of the Spirit.  There are many others who claim to be indwelt by God, to have received the Spirit, and to speak in his name…[John] warns his readers to exercise discernment when they encounter people claiming to speak in the name of God…Not everyone claiming to speak in the name of God actually does so….7

Kruse continues warning about “false prophets operating within the Christian community” [Matt 7:15; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22; 2 Pet 2:1, etc].8  He then describes the test:

…The spirit of God is recognized as the one teaching human beings (‘every spirit’) when they acknowledge that Jesus Christ ‘has come in the flesh’…The expression ‘to acknowledge Jesus’ is but a shortened version of the expression ‘to acknowledge that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh’ [ED: from verse 2].  It is important to note that… here…the Spirit’s role is that of witness to the truth of Jesus Christ.

When in 4:2 the author refers to the confession ‘that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh’, he uses a perfect form of the verb ‘to come’, indicating that it is Christ’s status as one come in the flesh, rather than simply the historic act of his coming that he had in mind….9

Judith Lieu notes also the Greek perfect tense and explains the phraseology “in the flesh”.  It is not merely making reference to the Virgin Birth/miraculous conception (not to be confused with the RCC doctrine known as the “immaculate conception” of Mary) but the entire manner with which His being is made known to us during the Incarnation:

Yet to acknowledge Jesus Christ as having come in flesh is not merely another way of saying that he has come into the world.  “In flesh” signals not destination but mode and location: the means by which and wherein his presence is known….10

Bill Johnson Redefines the Antichrist Spirit

Bill Johnson initially defines antichrist spirit correctly (though not completely as anti can also mean “instead of”11):

The nature of the antichrist spirit is found in its name: anti, “against”; Christ, “Anointed One.”12

Yet, on the very next page he deceptively redefines the term:

It would seem that with all the significance attached to the name “Jesus,” anyone desiring to undermine His work of redemption might be referred to as “Anti-Jesus,” not “Anti-Christ.”  Even religious cults recognize and value Jesus, the man.  At the very least, cults consider Him to be a teacher or a prophet and possibly “a” son of God.  This horrendous error provides us with an understanding of why antichrist was the name given to this spirit of opposition.  The spirits of hell are at war against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion.13

Notice the sleight of hand in the last sentence.  While the preceding sentences seem to build the case as to why cults and false religions value Jesus as a man yet not as the Son of God, Johnson’s conclusion totally redefines his own definition of antichrist spirit on the previous page from “against Christ” or “against the Anointed One” to ‘against the anointing’ or ‘anti-anointing’.  This revised definition is used throughout the remainder of the chapter such that anyone who is against “the anointing” (as defined in the beginning of this article) has an antichrist spirit per Johnson.

As noted in an earlier CrossWise article in which this same methodology was employed, this is the mark of cultic teaching and bears repeating here:

This is not unlike the way in which cultists work; i.e., making a series of orthodox statements and then concluding with an unorthodox sentence.  The mind is prepared for a logical, orthodox conclusion so that when what seems to be an illogical or unorthodox conclusion is reached instead, the hearer/reader may reject it assuming he just did not hear or read it correctly or some other such reason.  This is known as cognitive dissonance, the uncomfortable feeling in holding two conflicting views at once, which results in some sort of action to alleviate this feeling in this case which may be either by 1) rejecting the negative thought that the conclusion is unorthodox or illogical while mentally inserting one’s own orthodox or logical conclusion instead; or, 2) just dismissing the conclusion as a misunderstanding on the reader/hearer’s part; or, 3) assuming the speaker simply misspoke.

Yet, just as important if not more so, we see that Johnson has subtly split ‘Christ’ from ‘Jesus’ in his redefining above.  By stating “anyone desiring to undermine His work of redemption might be referred to as ‘Anti-Jesus’ rather than ‘Anti-Christ’” and his subsequent explanation and redefinition of the antichrist spirit, Johnson seems to illustrate the very thing the Apostle John warned against – that the antichrist spirit separates “Christ” from the person of Jesus Christ.  This redefinition itself could be construed as antichrist in nature.  This may be confusing, but please read on.

Johnson Redefines “Christ”

This same methodology above is in evidence in the first two paragraphs which begin this chapter in Johnson’s book – he starts with the correct definition of Christ then redefines it to anointing:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah.”  It is a title that points to an experience.  It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title.  He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.

The word anointing means “to smear.”  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit.14

In this case, Johnson is absolutely correct with his first two sentences; however, with the third through fifth he is claiming that the “title” of Christ was received in a later “experience” which he identifies as “the anointing”.  This “anointing” is consistently defined throughout Johnson’s various works as noted above in the beginning of this article.

The second paragraph continues this line of thought with his concluding sentence making his redefinition clear: “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit”.  By further logical implication Jesus became “Christ” only after He was “anointed” or “smeared with the Holy Spirit” and, consequently, He was merely Jesus of Nazareth prior to this “anointing”.  That this explanation/analysis is itself correct is borne out in Johnson’s own redefinition of antichrist as essentially ‘anti-anointing’.  Hence, Christ = the anointing and antichrist =anti-anointing’ in Bill Johnson’s theology.

As noted in the previous article, separating Christ from the person of Jesus is known as separationist Christology and is, by the Apostle John’s very definition above, antichrist Christology.

Further Explications and Implications of Johnson’s “Anointing”

With this sort of linguistic gymnastics one is left wondering what is truth and what is falsehood and what the real definition of other terms are in Johnson’s theological corpus.  Which parts of Johnson’s theology can be trusted to be true and accurate?

Johnson carries this same redefinition of Christ as anointing into other works.  Here in another book he states that this “Christ anointing” (aka “baptism in the Holy Spirit”) was not only for Jesus but for all in the Church:

…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…15

He makes a clear distinction between believers who would by necessity have the Holy Spirit indwelling upon conversion and “the anointing”:

The spirit of antichrist is at work today, attempting to influence believers to reject everything that has to do with the Holy Spirit’s anointing….16

Just to be clear, every truly converted Christian believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thereby has the Holy Spirit anointing as per Scripture [Eph 1:14; 2 Cor 1:21-22; 1 John 2:20].  Johnson’s “anointing” is separate and distinct.

With his redefined antichrist spirit, Bill Johnson also claims that it leads to “religious spirits” which are described as

…demonic presence that works to get us to substitute being led of our intellect instead of the Spirit of God…Anything that will take the place of dependence upon the Holy Spirit [ED actually, again, Johnson’s “anointing”] and His empowering work can be traced to the spirit of opposition.17

Here we have one of the many times Johnson promotes false dichotomies – as if the intellect and the “Spirit of God” are mutually exclusive.  We worship in Spirit and Truth [John 4:24].  Yes, a person can be led of the flesh and hence his/her own mind; but, as noted by Bob DeWaay, there’s a consistent “anti-intellectual bias” permeating this book (and other works of Johnson).  Also, notice how he has, in effect, drawn a line in the sand between his unorthodox doctrine of “the anointing” and orthodoxy by claiming those who allow the Spirit to lead the intellect have the “spirit of opposition” and a “demonic presence”.

He also promotes “Toronto Blessing” style manifestations while speaking negatively on anyone who opposes these.18  Near the end of the chapter in his book he attempts to flip the table on orthodoxy stating more clearly that those who “embrace Jesus apart from the anointing”, once again, have the antichrist spirit:

The antichrist spirit has a goal for the Church – embrace Jesus apart from the anointing.  Without the anointing, He becomes a safe religious figure who is sure not to offend us…How can people who love God be offended by the anointing of the Holy Spirit?19

If the reader does not understand that “the anointing” is separate from the true Holy Spirit indwelling, s/he would be left wondering why anyone would reject the Holy Spirit and therefore agree with Johnson.

This illustrates quite clearly that Johnson’s Jesus is not only NOT the Jesus Christ of the Bible, Johnson’s whole Christology emanates from an antichrist spirit.  His Jesus could be termed ‘Jesus, the one among many anointed by “the anointing”’ (aka “Christ anointing”, “baptism in the Holy Spirit”, “presence of God”).  The following words by the Apostle Paul could well define Johnson’s theology and his followers:

4For if someone comes to you and preaches another Jesus other than the Jesus we preached , or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough…13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.  14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.  Their end will be what their actions deserve. [2 Cor. 11:4, 13-15, NIV 1984]

But, it’s not yet too late for Bill Johnson and his followers to repent.

1Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003; Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; pp 79-86
2Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007; Charisma House ,Lake Mary, FL; p 77.  Underscore added.
3Johnson, Face to Face; pp 21-22, 58, 77-82, 100-102
4Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 80
5Johnson, Face to Face; pp 21-22.
6Judith M. Lieu [I, II & III John: A Commentary. 2008, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY] does an excellent job describing vv 2:22-23 in 1 John by putting it in its original context: “It appears that what sounds like the traditional formula of belief in Jesus as Messiah has taken on a new dimension of sonship…This confirms that the force of the correct confession is ‘that Jesus is the Christ,’ and not, as is grammatically possible, ‘that the Christ [about whom we know] is Jesus [rather than someone else or as not yet appeared]’…The author’s logic is simple and can be understood within its immediate context.  His strategy is to start from what matters: the real charge is not about ‘the Christ,’…Rather, it is that the antichrist denies the Father and the Son: this is no longer denial of belief about (‘that’) but a refusal to acknowledge…it is ultimately a question of acknowledging, or denying the Son…the Son is Son only in relation to the Father, and the Father is Father only in relation to the Son; to reject the Son is to reject both, even if this was not the intention” [p 106].  While Lieu refers to “sonship” this explanation works just as well with the respect to separationist or adoptionist Christology.  The term separationist as regards Christology is defined in Heikki Raisanen’s The Rise of Christian Beliefs [2010, Fortress, Minneapolis, MN; p 208] and is specifically referring to 1st century proto-gnostic Cerinthus.
7Kruse, Colin G. The Letters of John: The Pillar New Testament Commentary. 2000, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 144.  Emphasis added.
8Kruse; p 145
9Kruse; p 145-147
10Lieu; p 167
11Vine, W.E., Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (With Topical Index).  © 1996 W.E. Vine Copyright Ltd. of Bath, England, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN; p 30 of New Testament section.
12Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 79.  Emphasis in original.
13Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 80.  Emphasis in original.
14Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 79.  Emphasis in original except underscore added.
15Johnson, Face to Face, p 77.  Underscore added.
16Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 81
17Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 81
18Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 81-85
19Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 84-85

Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ?, part I

[See also: The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, Part II, Part IIIa, Part IIIb and Part IV (Conclusion)]

Heresy has become the term used to describe anyone who disagrees with a particular leader, but that is not so.  We need to give more grace to those who differ from us.  The essential doctrines of the church – the Virgin Birth, the divinity and humanity of Jesus, the Atonement, and the like – qualify as issues we should fight for.

Bill Johnson1

There are certainly those who are hasty in labeling doctrines as heresy when they are not really so.  This is both irresponsible and hurtful to the body of Christ.  Let’s call teachings heresy and teachers heretics only when this is indisputably evident.

By inference, it would be fair to assume that with Bill Johnson’s statement above he would define heresy as any doctrine which departs from the orthodox Christian teachings on the essentials of the faith.  These are “issues we should fight for” and Johnson should consider the following a fight, a defense of the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ and the Atonement over against Johnson’s own doctrine with respect to these essentials.

This article will restate and clarify Bill Johnson’s teaching on Christology – the study of the person and work of Jesus Christ – which has been the subject of many different articles here on CrossWise.  Johnson’s Christology will then be compared to that of New Age / New Spirituality teaching which is really not very ‘new’ as it goes all the way back to the early Church.

Preliminary Background

In Constance Cumbey’s pioneering work, the 1983 book The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow, is the assertion that New Age Christology meets the test of antichrist as per the Apostle John in his first epistle [1 John 2:22].2  Cumbey notes that “New Agers generally do not openly repudiate Christianity”.  Instead “they often clothe New Age concepts in Christian language and…undermine Christianity while pretending to be its friend”.3  This was the specific goal outlined by Alice Bailey in her numerous writings (most of which were channeled through her by “Master Djwhal Khul”) and it’s these writings which form much of the basis for the current New Age / New Spirituality:4

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 accomplished…The church must show a wide tolerance…The church as a teaching factor should take the great basic doctrines and (shattering the old forms in which they are expressed and held) show their true and inner spiritual significance [ED: occult/esoteric meaning].  The prime work of the church is to teach, and teach ceaselessly, preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages.  Teachers must be trained; Bible knowledge must be spread; the sacraments must be mystically interpreted, and the power of the church to heal must be demonstrated.5

In a 1982 letter to Cumbey, Marilyn Ferguson, author of the New Age book The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1980’s, defends her professed stance as a ‘Christian’ yet she promotes liberal, non-Christian methods to expand Christianity while simultaneously denigrating orthodox teaching:

My definition of Christianity has expanded over the years.  After I became involved in meditation, for example, I experienced the vision of Christ more vividly than I ever had through sermons and dogma.  You would be surprised, I think, to know how much of the New Age Movement centers on Christ Consciousness.  Many Christian churches are seeing that direct spiritual experience offers a revitalization for modern Christianity.6

“Christ consciousness” is another term for the “expansion of consciousness” or “transformation of consciousness” akin to contemplative prayer aka centering prayer which are all in reality much like transcendental meditation (TM) in methodology. [See “Christ Consciousness” section of the “Christ” in the New Age article.]   Note how Ferguson stresses spiritual experience, i.e. mysticism, over “sermons or dogma”.  She appears to be following the agenda as set forth by Alice Bailey in the above quote.  As Bailey states elsewhere, “Christianity will not be superseded.  It will be transcended…”7

Bill Johnson’s Christology Explained

In essence, Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, a recognized “apostle” by some, teaches that at conception, or at least prior to the Virgin Birth, Jesus divested Himself of all His divine attributes thereby living a sinless earthly existence by being totally reliant upon the Holy Spirit while receiving the power to do miracles at His baptism.  This divine self-emptying is known as the kenosis doctrine as discussed here.  The quotes used in this section are taken from six different books by Bill Johnson (and one sermon) to illustrate that this teaching undergirds his entire theology.

Jesus did everything as a man, laying aside His divinity in order to become a model for us.8

…Jesus did everything in His earthly ministry as a man who had set aside all His divine privileges and power in order to model the Christian life for us.9

..Jesus set aside His divinity, choosing instead to live as a man completely dependent on God.10

…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…11 

The above quotes can be construed such that Jesus retained all His divine attributes yet chose not to exercise them; however, the following illustrates that He no longer had inherent deity:12

Jesus Christ said of Himself, ‘The Son can do nothing.’  In the Greek language that word nothing has a unique meaning—it means NOTHING, just like it does in English!   He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever!…He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God.13 

…Jesus had no ability to heal the sick.  He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead.  He said of Himself in John 5:19, ‘the Son can do nothing of Himself.’  He had set aside His divinity.  He did miracles as man in right relationship with God because He was setting forth a model for us, something for us to follow….Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…14

Given that deity is by very definition supernatural, Johnson has, in effect, reduced Jesus to less than God.  With Johnson’s claim that Jesus had no inherent ability to perform miracles in and of Himself, it is clear that Johnson means Jesus no longer had his divine attributes to utilize even if He so desired.  He “had NO supernatural capabilities”; He was totally and completely a man but “in right relationship to God” by the Holy Spirit:

 The Father, by the Holy Spirit, directed all that Jesus said and did.15

Analytic theologian Oliver Crisp describes this view that Jesus Christ performed all His miracles by the Holy Spirit rather than His inherent divinity/deity as “not conventional”.16  Furthermore, this doctrine is simply not Biblically accurate.  Jesus certainly exercised His deity in providing life to whom He “is pleased to give it” [John 5:21, NIV 1984] during His earthly ministry pre-Cross [John 5:24-25; cf. Luke 23:43].17  This life-giving to the believer was performed by Jesus not as an agent through whom the Spirit worked but because Jesus had “life in himself” [John 5:26].18   In other words, the life Jesus Christ as God the Son gives to those who believe comes from God the Father since both are part of the Triune Godhead.  Jesus was not an intermediary per se in this regard.19

Johnson makes the explicit claim that Jesus became the Christ after coming up out of the water at His baptism in the Jordan by John when the Spirit came upon Him as a dove at which point He received the “Christ anointing” (see quote further below) contradicting Luke 1:35/2:11 [cf. Matt 1:22-23/Isaiah 7:14, etc.].  Brackets are inserted to provide explanation:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah.”  It [Christ] is a title that points to an experience [Spirit resting upon Him after baptism in the Jordan]It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title [Christ].  He had to receive the anointing[“Christ anointing” resulting in Christ title] in an experience [Spirit resting upon Him] to accomplish what the Father desired.

The word anointing means “to smear.”  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit [after water baptism in the Jordan].20

Admittedly, this is a bit confusing; but, with his concluding sentence above logic follows that if “the name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit” immediately following John’s baptism, then, by further implication, before baptism He must have been simply Jesus of Nazareth [again, contrary to Luke 1:35 / Luke 2:11].  Bill Johnson is more direct in the following:

The outpouring of the Spirit also needed to happen to Jesus for Him to be fully qualified.  This was His quest.  Receiving this anointing qualified Him to be called the Christ, which means “anointed one.” Without the experience [“Christ anointing” by the Spirit after water baptism] there could be no title.21

In Christian orthodoxy the term “Christ” denotes deity/divinity22  which would mean that in Johnson’s Christology Jesus was not divine before the Holy Spirit came upon Him after His baptism by John in the Jordan and, consequently, Jesus would be made divine by virtue of this “Christ anointing” after which He is “qualified” to be called Christ.  This is exactly Johnson’s intended meaning:

The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil.23

This statement flows logically from all the previous statements.  This “anointing” ‘enabled Him’ for He had “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever” having laid His divine attributes aside.  To reiterate, if, as in the Johnson Christology, the ‘anointing’ “linked Jesus, the man, to the divine” then, as implied earlier, Jesus is merely a human made divine at baptism by virtue of the “Christ anointing” by the Holy Spirit coming upon Him.  Further, this would one could infer that as others receive this same “Christ anointing” they too would be “linked to the divine” in the same manner.  The following adds weight to this inference:

…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…24

Moreover, given that Jesus was called “Christ” when He was, as Johnson puts it, “smeared by the Holy Spirit”, believers should logically be called “Christ” at this “Christ anointing”, too.

Johnson calls Jesus’ second baptism in the Jordan (the first is water, the second follows and is by the Holy Spirit coming upon Him) the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” and this is available to all who believe.25  This is consistent with the over-arching theme permeating all Johnson’s work that “Jesus is our model”.  After quoting John 1:32, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him” [NKJV] Johnson continues

…Certainly this is not talking about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was already in Jesus’s life.  This was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Him [baptism in the Holy Spirit / “Christ anointing”] as a mantle of power and authority for that specific purpose.  But the fact that the Holy Spirit came to rest on Him is evidence of Jesus’s faithfulness to be perfectly trustworthy with the presence of GodThe same principle is true for us.

The Holy Spirit lives in every believer, but He rests upon very few…26

Johnson continues to drive home his assertion that Jesus was not inherently God but merely divine by virtue of the Holy Spirit as He was “perfectly trustworthy with the presence of God” (“the presence of God” being the “Christ anointing” or “baptism in the Holy Spirit”) so that the Spirit of God did “rest upon Him”.  And we can enjoy this same privilege if we are just as ‘faithful’ proving that we are “trustworthy”.

This anointing [“Christ anointing” / “baptism in the Holy Spirit”] is what enabled Jesus to do only what He saw the Father do, and to say only what He heard the Father say. It was the Holy Spirit that revealed the Father to Jesus.27 

It was the Holy Spirit upon Jesus [“baptism in the Holy Spirit” / “Christ anointing”]  that enabled Him to know what the Father was doing and saying.  That same gift of the Spirit has been given to us for that same purpose.28 

If the Son of God was that reliant upon the anointing, His behavior should clarify our need for the Holy Spirit’s presence upon us [“baptism in the Holy Spirit”] to do what the Father has assigned….This anointing [“Christ anointing”] is actually the person of the Holy Spirit upon someone to equip them for supernatural endeavors.29 

The second baptism deals with…getting us filled with God so we can walk with Him and more effectively represent Him as His agents of power on the earth.30

Without this “Christ anointing” there seems to be no possibility that God could perform supernatural works through an individual (including Jesus Christ) in Johnson’s theology.  The individual is simply powerless until this second “baptism in the Holy Spirit”.  In addition, one receives the ability to “walk with God” only after receiving this “Christ anointing” / “baptism in the Holy Spirit”.

Jesus’ inherent powerlessness is carried all the way beyond the Cross to the Resurrection thereby negating the efficacy of Jesus Christ’s Atonement for our sins.31  He cannot even raise Himself from the dead contrary to John 2:19/10:17-18:

…The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless), and had to be spotless, (without sin).

The anointing Jesus received was the equipment necessary, given by the Father to make it possible for Him to live beyond human limitation…32

…Jesus gave Himself to be crucified.  He did not raise Himself from the dead…His job was to give His life to die.  The Father raised Him by the Spirit…33

Of course He did not raise Himself from the dead; He could not as He was “powerless” except by virtue of the “Christ anointing” according to Johnson.  Faulty Christology always has negative implications on the Atonement.

Bill Johnson’s Christology can certainly be described as heresy.  It is known as separationist Christology34 for it separates Christ from Jesus and vice versa.  By definition, as Cumbey states above, it meets the test of antichrist as it denies Jesus is the Christ [1 John 2:22] since He is only human (having “laid His divinity aside”) and becomes Christ only by virtue of the “Christ anointing” which also, in effect, denies Jesus is the Son of the Father (as opposed to merely a son) which in turn denies the Father [1 John 2:22-23];35 moreover, Johnson’s Christology denies that the person of Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [1 John 4:1-3] since it was merely Jesus of Nazareth who came in the flesh.

However, Johnson at times makes statements which appear entirely orthodox in and of themselves:

Jesus Christ was entirely God.  He was not a created being. Yet He became a man and lived entirely by man’s limitations…36

The first two sentences are completely orthodox while the third is not, yet this third sentence is consistent with Johnson’s Christology as put forth in the foregoing.  Confoundingly, these first two seem to contradict the rest of Johnson’s Christological doctrine – but, do they really?  Keeping in mind the Alice Bailey goal of “transcending” Christianity by “preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages” let’s compare the above with these two quotes from the well known New Age book The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ:

Before creation was, the Christ walked with the Father God…The Christ is son, the only son begotten by the Almighty God…37 

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.38

Notice how, in the New Age version, Christ is distinct from Jesus for Christ was God as God’s son while Jesus was merely a man.  This is not inconsistent with the Christological views of Johnson as shown in this article.  This will be explored in much more detail in Part II, Part IIIa, Part IIIb, and Part IV (Conclusion) of this article.

[For more on Johnson’s Christology, including more indications of a separationist Christology, see “The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit”.]

1Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007, Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; p 71.  Emphasis in original.
2Cumbey, Constance. The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow: The New Age Movement and Our Coming Age of Barbarism. 1983, rev. ed., Huntington House, Shreveport, LA; p 146.  This resource is also available as a free download at <https://public.me.com/cumbey> “HIDDEN DANG…ND COVER.pdf”
3Cumbey, Hidden Dangers, p 146.  Emphasis added.
4Cumbey, Hidden Dangers, p 39
5Bailey, Alice A. The Externalisation of the Hierarchy. © 1957 Lucis, NY, 6th printing 1981; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; pp 510-511; [underscore from emphasis in original; bold added for my own emphasis.] While the book was not published until 1957, most sections within the book have corresponding dates of initial writing, or, more accurately, transmission.  The portion quoted here is from 1919, some of the earliest writings of Bailey/The Tibetan.
6Cumbey, Hidden Dangers, pp 146-147
7Bailey, Alice A. From Bethlehem to Calvary:The Initiations of Jesus. © 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis Trust, 4th paperback ed., 1989; Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; p 20.  Emphasis added.
8Johnson, Bill Strengthen Yourself in the Lord. 2007, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 26
9Johnson, Bill. Release the Power of Jesus. 2009, Destiny Image “Speaking to the Purposes of God for this Generation and the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
10Johnson, Bill Face to Face, p 108
11Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
12The terms “deity” and “divinity” are used throughout this article interchangeably (as always on CrossWise unless specifically identified otherwise) both defined as “God” or “godlikeness”.  Bill Johnson seems to prefer “divinity” over “deity” as the latter is not readily found in his material.  He uses “divinity” as in “godlikeness” e.g. divine attributes.
13Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 29.  Emphasis and last ellipsis as per original; underscore added for my emphasis.
14Johnson, Bill, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA; p 50.  Emphasis and last ellipsis as per original except underscore added for my emphasis.
15Johnson, Face to Face, p 108
16Crisp, Oliver D. Divinity and Humanity: The Incarnation Reconsidered. (Current Issues in Theology series) 2007, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK; p 25.  Crisp continues, “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.”  Crisp is being polite in not calling this view heterodox or heresy given that Crisp’s point was that such a view violates the Chalcedonian Creed which itself was codified in order to combat the heresies of its day and to provide a means by which to judge future doctrine.  To be at odds with Chalcedon is to be in the realm of heterodoxy.
17To make the claim that it was by the Holy Spirit that Jesus “gave life” logically implies that any Holy Spirit indwelt individual can give life to whom s/he chooses – obviously an incorrect assertion.
18Marianne Meye Thompson explains [The God of the Gospel of John. 2001, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI]: “[T]he Son partakes of the very life of the Father: the Son has life in himself.  Therefore, when Jesus confers life on those who believe, they also participate in and have to do with the life of the Father because the Father has given the Son to have life in himself, even as he has it.  Such predications assume and are dependent upon the conviction that there is but one God, one source of life.  Jesus is not a second deity, not a second source of life, standing alongside the Father.  Rather, the Son confers the Father’s life, which he has in himself” [p 78; italics in original, underscore added].  “[T]he Son exercises certain divine prerogatives and…exercises them even as God does….Jesus exercises these powers as no other figure – save God – can or does” [p 175].
19Herman Ridderbos expounds [The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary. 1997, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; translated from the Dutch by John Vriend], “Just as the Father as Creator and Consummator possesses life, he has given that possession to the Son, not merely as the executor of incidental assignments but in the absolute sense of sharing in the Father’s power.  And it is on account of that power and authority that the great decisive ‘hour’ of God is not only coming but here” (during the Incarnation).  [p 178; emphasis in original]
20Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 79.  Underscore added; other emphasis in original.
21Johnson, Face to Face, p 109.  Underscore added; other emphasis in original.
22Grudem, Wayne Systematic Theology. 1994, Inter-Varsity, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 233-38, 543-554, 624-33.  Also, Berkhof, Louis Systematic Theology. 1941, 4th revised and enlarged ed, 1991, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 91-5, 312-13, 356-66.
23Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 79.  Underscore added.
24Johnson, Face to Face, p 77.  Underscore added.
25Johnson, Face to Face, pp 79, cf. 21-22, 58, 77-82, 100-102
26Johnson, Face to Face, pp 21-22.  Underscore added.  “The first baptism deals with getting us out of the red…The second baptism deals with getting us into the black – getting us filled with God so we can walk with Him and more effectively represent Him as His agents of power on the earth” [p 58].
27Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 80.  Underscore added.  This creates a logical fallacy within the Johnson theology: if Jesus could only see/hear the Father by virtue of the “Christ anointing” He received at John’s baptism, how could He know to ‘be about His Father’s business’ [Luke 2:49] as a 12 year old?
28Johnson, Bill Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World Through God’s Creative Flow. 2006, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA; p 136
29Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 80
30Johnson, Face to Face, p 58
31Insufficient Atonement means no salvation for the sinner.  No salvation means no eternal life!  As Erwin Lutzer contends [The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians. 1998, Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI]: “…The real question is whether [Jesus] Christ is capable of being the Savior of mankind” [p 33]. “If [Jesus] Christ is not God, then God has not saved us” [p 34].  “Only an incarnate Christ who is fully God qualifies to be Savior” [p 36].
32Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 79.  Underscore added.
33“ewenhoffman” Maintaining the crosswalk- sermon of the week Feb 27th 2011. <http://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2011/03/01/maintaining-the-crosswalk-sermon-of-the-week-feb-27th-2011/> 16:45-17:00.  Emphasis in original; underscore added.  As accessed 03/11/12.  Johnson stated the same basic thing on Facebook in mid-February of 2011 in an exchange with Kevin Moore: “…He needed to be raised from the dead. Acts 13 calls Him ‘the first born from the dead.’ He did not raise Himself. The Father through the Spirit raised Him…”
34This term is defined in Heikki Raisanen’s The Rise of Christian Beliefs [2010, Fortress, Minneapolis, MN; p 208].
35Judith M. Lieu [I, II & III John: A Commentary. 2008, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY] makes an excellent point on this verse by putting it in proper context: “It appears that what sounds like the traditional formula of belief in Jesus as Messiah has taken on a new dimension of sonship…This confirms that the force of the correct confession is ‘that Jesus is the Christ,’ and not, as is grammatically possible, ‘that the Christ [about whom we know] is Jesus [rather than someone else or as not yet appeared]’…The author’s logic is simple and can be understood within its immediate context.  His strategy is to start from what matters: the real charge is not about ‘the Christ,’…Rather, it is that the antichrist denies the Father and the Son: this is no longer denial of belief about (‘that’) but a refusal to acknowledge…it is ultimately a question of acknowledging, or denying the Son…the Son is Son only in relation to the Father, and the Father is Father only in relation to the Son; to reject the Son is to reject both, even if this was not the intention” [p 106].  While Lieu refers to “sonship” this explanation works just as well with the respect to separationist Christology.
36Johnson, Face to Face, p 199.  Johnson’s phraseology here sounds not like ontological kenosis but rather metamorphosis instead: God the Son literally transforms Himself into a fully human being devoid of any deity/divinity.
37Dowling, Levi. The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ: The Philosophic and Practical Basis of the Religion of the Aquarian Age of the World. © 1907 Eva S. Dowling and Leo W. Dowling, © 1935 and © 1964 Leo W. Dowling, (11th printing, 1987), DeVorss, Marina del Rey, CA; p 6.  On page 3 is the following from the “Introduction” by Eva S. Dowling: “The full title of this book is ‘The Aquarian Age Gospel of Jesus, the Christ of the Piscean Age’…”
38Dowling, Aquarian Gospel, p 8

Learning Etymology with Bill Johnson: A New Age ‘Repentance’?

Many prominent authors and conference speakers add fuel to the fire of fear assuming that because the new age movement promotes it, its origins must be from the devil

-Bill Johnson1

Etymology is the study of the derivation of words, the history/origin of the elements which make up a word.  For example, the Greek word (transliterated) pharmakeia is translated to English in the New Testament as medication, magic, sorcery, and witchcraft.2  Obviously, the English word pharmacy is derived from this same word.  Hence pharmakeia is part of the etymology of the English word pharmacy.

There are at least two instances in which Bill Johnson breaks down words in order to help the reader understand the meaning.  However in each case, Bill Johnson explained the words in a way which went beyond their actual etymology and true meaning.  In his book Dreaming with God is the following:

A good way to remember the intent of the word desire is to break it down by syllables.  ‘De’ means ‘of.’  And ‘sire’ means ‘father.’  The question should not be, ‘are my desires from God?’  The question should be, ‘With what, or with whom have I been in communion?’*  I can communicate with God or the enemy… 3

For the record, the asterisk above replaces a footnote in the original text which indicates that the portion in quotation marks is from Lance Wallnau.  While it’s possible the above was a sort of mnemonic device (a concept such as the general rule for spelling in English “i before e except after c”) in order for Johnson to make a larger point, it should have been stated for the sake of correctness that this is not the actual origin, the etymology of the word desire to alleviate any potential confusion.

The word de, a preposition,can mean not just “of”, but also “with”, “by”, “for”, “from”, or “in” in Spanish, French, Latin, and other languages.  The word desire is a shortened form of the Latin desiderare with its origin explained in the following:

Early 13c[century]…“long for, wish for,” original sense perhaps “await what the stars will bring,” from the phrase de sidere “from the stars,” from sidus…“heavenly body, star, constellation”…4

So, as can be seen, the word’s derivation is essentially “longing for what the stars will bring” which has absolutely nothing to do with the Wallnau/Johnson claim above.  While the word sire does mean “father”, this is not part of the etymology of the word desire.

Here’s another example.  In Johnson’s book The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind is the explanation of the word “repent”:

Renewing the mind begins with repentance.  That is the gateway to return to our original assignment on earth.  Jesus said, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  To many Christians, repent refers to having an altar call where people come forward and weep at the altar to get right with God.  This is a legitimate expression of repentance, but it’s not what the word repentance means.  ‘Re’ means to go back.  ‘Pent’ is like the penthouse, the top floor of the building.  Repent, then, means to go back to God’s perspective on reality. And in that perspective there is a renewal, a reformation that affects our emotions, and every part of our lives…5

In the first example with the word desire the intent of Johnson/Wallnau may not have been clear, however, with Johnson’s repent he appears to be making the explicit claim that his explanation is the true meaning and origin.  Nevertheless, the word’s actual etymology proves Johnson wrong.

The term comes from the French repentir with prefix “re” from Latin (“again”) and penitire (“regret”) which is itself derived from Latin poenitire (“make sorry”) which in turn comes from poena (“punishment”).6  Obviously, within the word is the recognition of and regret for wrongdoing.

With this sort of carelessness with the English language, one must wonder how Bill Johnson handles the Word of God.   As has already been shown here on CrossWise, Johnson is similarly haphazard with Scripture as he reinterprets terms and concepts.  However, despite Johnson’s botching of the etymology of repent, it appears to be similar to the orthodox Christian understanding of the term.  Or is it?  Johnson’s phrase “God’s perspective on reality” is rather peculiar.  We’ll return to that in a bit.  First, let’s establish the meaning of repent from an orthodox Christian perspective.

Orthodox Christian Meaning of Repentance

Repentance is the noun form of the verb repent which means “[g]odly sorrow for one’s sin and a resolve to turn from it”.7  The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms defines it as, “The act of expressing contrition and penitence for sin.  Its linguistic roots [Ed: etymology] point to its theological meaning of a change of mind and life direction as a beginning step of expressing Christian faith (Acts 26:20).”8

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) is more thorough noting true repentance affects our intellect, emotions, and will.  As to the intellect, “…human beings must apprehend sin as unutterably heinous, the divine law as perfect and binding and themselves as falling short of the requirements of a holy God…”  As to emotions, repentance involves, “…an earnest appeal to God to forgive according to His mercy…”  The most important element is the understanding that to repent is an act of the will; we must choose to turn from sin.  Repentance is not a one time event but the constant choosing between alternatives.  However, equally important is that God takes the initiative.  It’s a paradox of sorts “reflecting the mysterious relationship between the human and the divine personalities”.  The choice is to follow Him or not .9

In terms of how repentance relates to salvation, the ISBE notes:

Repentance is only a condition of salvation and not its meritorious ground. The motives for repentance are found chiefly in the sinner’s experience of God’s kindness (Rom 2:4), love (Jn 3:16), and earnest desire that sinners be saved (Ezk 33:11; 1 Tim 2:4), of the inevitable consequences of sin (Lk 13:1-5), of the universal demands of the gospel (Acts 17:30), and of the hope for spiritual life…and membership in the kingdom of heaven (Mk 1:15).…A consciousness of spiritual poverty dethroning pride…surrender to God…spiritual hunger and thirst, are all part of the experience of one who wholly abandons sin and heartily turns to God who [alone] is able to grant eternal life.10

The words repent and repentance are translated from the Greek (transliterated) metanoeo and metanoia respectively.  In the definitive A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature, Third Edition (BDAG) the definition for metanoeo is “feel remorse, repent, be converted”.11  Similarly, metanoia means “repentance, turning about, conversion”.  Now let’s look at the etymology of these Greek words.12

Meta is a preposition in the Greek (and is used as a prefix in English) meaning “with”, “among”, “in company with someone else”, “take”, “bring something along”, “behind”, “after”, et cetera, basically meaning “in the vicinity of”.13

Noeo means “to grasp or comprehend something on the basis of careful thought, perceive, apprehend, understand, gain an insight into”; “to think over with care, consider, take note of”; “to form an idea about something, think, imagine”; or, “to pay heed with intent to set appropriately, be minded”.14

Note again the Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms definition near the beginning of this section which states, “The linguistic roots point to its theological meaning of a change of mind and life direction as a beginning step of expressing Christian faith…”  This seems to capture the etymological root of the Greek word metanoia (the noun form of the verb metanoeo) keeping in mind the first part of the Westminster definition, “the act of expressing contrition and penitence for sin.”  Once we understand God’s holiness and righteousness as compared to our unrighteous, sinful condition, we perceive/comprehend/gain insight into the mind of God and act accordingly in penitence.

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology states similarly that repent has the meaning “to turn back, away from” sin feeling “[h]eartfelt sorrow for sin” with a call to conversion.  “Repentance is the theme of the preaching of John the Baptist (Mt 3:1; Mk 1:4; Mt 3:8).  Baptism in water unto repentance is accompanied by confession of sins (Mt 3:6; cf. 1 Jn 1:8-9)…Generally…metanoia can be said to denote that inward change of mind, affections, convictions, and commitment rooted in the fear of God and sorrow for offences committed against him, which when accompanied by faith in Jesus Christ, results in an outward turning from sin to God and his service in all of life…”15

This establishes the orthodox Christian understanding of repent and repentance.  Now let’s look at how some of the unorthodox/heterodox16 define the terms.

Unorthodox/Heterodox definitions of Repentance

In the Metaphysical Bible Dictionary used by the Unity School of Christianity is the following definition of repentance:

The Greek word metanoia is translated ‘repentance,’ which has been interpreted to mean an admission to God of sorrow for past sin and a resolve to be good in the future.  The field of action for that which has been assumed to be goodness in the sight of God has nearly always been in conduct.  The whole Christian world has in a measure failed to discern the teaching of the New Testament about mental laws.  A proper translation of the mission of John the Baptist is: He came into all the region round about Jordan preaching immersion in mentation for the doing away with shortcomingMetanoia means change of mind, middle mind, transformation of the mind, change of thought and purpose.17

The word “mentation” is not defined, but by the usage it seems to indicate a transformation of the mind by contemplative/meditative prayer.  [See “‘Christ Consciousness'” and “The ‘Christ Within’ or ‘Inner Christ’” sections of the “‘Christ’ in the New Age’ article here on this site.]  Apparently, in the Unity view, mainline orthodox Christianity has had it wrong all these years with the focus on sin.

In New Ager Cynthia Bourgeault’s book The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message is a reinterpretation of Jesus’ earthly ministry as a “teacher of the transformation of consciousness”.18   She agrees with fellow New Age author Jim Marion as she writes:

…Jim Marion’s wonderfully insightful and contemporary suggestion is that the Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness; it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from.  It is a whole new way of looking at the world, a transformed awareness that literally turns the world into a different place.  Marion suggests specifically that the Kingdom of Heaven is Jesus’s own favorite way of describing a state we would nowadays call a ‘nondual consciousness’ or unitive consciousness.’ 19

Apparently Bourgeault and perhaps Marion are not very well informed as this teaching is hardly new having been around for quite a while in the Eastern religions which have infiltrated the US for at least the past 100 years including inside the Church.

Bourgeault also defines metanoia for the reader:

…It doesn’t mean feeling sorry for yourself for doing bad things.  It doesn’t even mean to ‘change the direction in which you’re looking for happiness’…The word literally breaks down into meta and noia, which…means ‘go beyond the mind’ or ‘go into the larger mind.’ 20

Similar to Unity, Bourgeault espouses the contemplative/meditative as a vehicle to the transformation of the mind.  What does “go into the larger mind” actually mean?

…I sometimes joke with my Centering Prayer students that when they sit down to do their twenty minutes of meditation, they are really engaged in an exercise in repentance.  It’s true if you take metanoia in this alternative sense.  They are going beyond their minds, into the larger mind.  And Jesus, the master of repentance, is leading them there.21

Perhaps that would be akin to Johnson’s “go[ing] back” to “the penthouse, the top floor of the building” to receive “God’s perspective on reality”?

It’s interesting how terms meant to convey ideas in a figurative way are literalized instead and, conversely, how terms meant to be understood literally are reinterpreted metaphorically in the New Age and esoteric ‘Christian’ groups.

A Closer look at Bill Johnson’s Definition of Repentance

Bill Johnson rightly mixes repentance with renewing the mind.  Upon salvation/justification one must repent.  After this, each one must continue to repent for sins committed throughout their Christian life.  With sanctification comes the renewing of the mind as this is the process of sanctification as we grow in the Christian faith.  By submitting ourselves to the indwelt Holy Spirit rather than succumbing to the sinful nature (flesh) we continue to be sanctified (Romans 8:1-17; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:16-26).  And, it’s the Holy Spirit who convicts of the sins we commit as we live out the Christian life.

Yet, Johnson uses some peculiar wording as he explains both concepts.  Here’s the quote once again:

Renewing the mind begins with repentance.  That is the gateway to return to our original assignment on earth.  Jesus said, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  To many Christians, repent refers to having an altar call where people come forward and weep at the altar to get right with God.  This is a legitimate expression of repentance, but it’s not what the word repentance means.  ‘Re’ means to go back.  ‘Pent’ is like the penthouse, the top floor of the building.  Repent, then, means to go back to God’s perspective on reality. And in that perspective there is a renewal, a reformation that affects our emotions, and every part of our lives…22

Yes, weeping in an altar call, while “a legitimate expression of repentance”, is not the actual meaning of repentance as the definition is much more.  However, to claim that “God’s perspective on reality” is the full definition is not adequate needing both further elaboration and a reigning in.  Since God is omniscient, He has full “reality”; mere men do not and will not.  And as noted above, Christian orthodoxy requires penitence as part of the definition of the term repentance.

Sure, if we take the strict meaning of metanoia as from its etymology we could arrive at the Johnson view divorcing sin and penitence from the definition as we know it and, similarly, we could redefine desire to mean “longing for stardust” thereby adding to its accepted meaning by using its etymological roots.  However, just like there’s an established meaning for desire as a “longing” or “craving”, throughout the past 2000 years the Christian understanding of repentance is as described above in the “Orthodox Christian Meaning of Repentance” section.

Let’s continue with the above quote in order to keep Johnson’s words in proper context:

…Without repentance we remain locked into carnal ways of thinking.  When the Bible speaks of carnality, it doesn’t necessarily mean obvious, disgusting sin.  Most Christians have no appetite for sin; they don’t want to get drunk or sleep around, but because they live without the demonstrated power of the gospel, many have lost their sense of purpose and gone back to sin…23

This is not wholly untrue.  If we do not submit to the Spirit and consequently live by the flesh, we will be stuck in “carnal ways of thinking”.  But, it doesn’t necessarily take the “demonstrated power of the gospel” to keep the already justified/saved Christian from sin; it’s by submitting to the Spirit instead and living by and in faith.  But, this is Johnson’s usual lure: to give the reader/listener the idea that the Christian life is primarily about living in the supernatural realm:

…Having a renewed mind is often not an issue of whether or not someone is going to heaven, but of how much of heaven he or she wants in his or her life right now.24

This goes to Johnson’s faulty premise that we can literally ‘bring heaven to earth’ based on his esoteric understanding of the “Lord’s Prayer” (Mt 6:9-13).  As Grant Osborne explains, there will be a new heaven and a new earth in the age to come at which point the current age is no longer.  Heaven and earth are separate and remain so:

…[I]t is a prayer that the fullness of his will, known only in heaven at present, be fully consummated via the second coming.  This will come with the arrival of ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ (Rev 21:1), when the old order passes away and the eternal order will begin.  At present we cannot introduce his perfect will and lead the people of this world to embrace it.  But we can proclaim his name and guide those around us to follow his will more fully…25

The Apostle Peter explained that the heavens (the atmosphere surrounding earth, not God’s dwelling place!) and the earth will disappear (2 Peter 3:10-13): “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10b-d; NIV 1984).

There are different views of eschatology (end times) which we should not divide over; however, to assume that we can literally bring the heavenly realm down to earth in bits and pieces until Christ returns is not Biblical.  But, it is a New Age and Latter Rain belief.

Johnson also states, “The only way to consistently do Kingdom works is to view reality from God’s perspective.”26  Johnson claims that when Jesus tells Nicodemus one cannot see the Kingdom unless one is born again (John 3:3) He meant that with a “renewed mind” one can literally see the Kingdom in the here and now instead of Jesus’ intent that this will be in the age to come.27  But what exactly does Johnson mean by his line of thinking?

Johnson’s Word of Faith Roots Showing

Bill Johnson has roots in Word of Faith theology as evidenced, for example, by his belief that all Christians should be healed of all afflictions.  E. W. Kenyon is recognized as the originator of Word of Faith doctrine with Kenneth E. Hagin, Sr. popularizing it in the past 40 years or so.  In D. R. McConnell’s book (McConnell did his graduate work at Oral Roberts University) A Different Gospel, he notes how Kenyon appropriated practices from metaphysical cults such as New Thought, Unity and Christian Science in order to form his own theology.28  Of Kenyon he states

The typical pattern in such instances is to disclaim any similarities with cultic teaching on a particular topic and then proceed to teach exactly that.29

In the following, McConnell quotes from Kenyon illustrating this practice:

We are not dealing with mysticism, philosophy or metaphysics.  We are dealing with realities…we are dealing with the basic laws of man’s being, the great spiritual laws that govern the unseen forces of life.30

This is not a new metaphysics or philosophy.  This is reality.  This is God breaking into the sense realm. This is God imparting His own nature to the human spirit.31

Now here’s Johnson with his disclaimer on his repentance/renewing your mind teaching.  He sets this up by pointing out how some have studied theology to the exclusion of living out a life of faith contrasting that with the excesses of others who promote supernatural experience at the expense of any sort of theological orthodoxy thinking doctrine has no value.  Of course, that’s not incorrect.  This then prefaces the following statement:

Many Christians instinctively distrust the mind, thinking it is irredeemably corrupt and humanistic.  They point to Harvard and Yale and other universities that were originally founded on Christian principles, but which today promulgate deceptions and lies…32

He follows this tact for a time setting up the quote above on repentance.  After establishing his definition on repentance and how important a renewed mind is to ‘bring heaven to earth’, he makes this statement:

…He wants you to see reality from God’s perspective, to learn to live from His world toward the visible world…33

This sounds very much like a quote from Bourgeault’s book, “…the Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness; it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from”.  Also, compare this to part of one of the Kenyon quotes above “This is God imparting His own nature to the human spirit” plus the following quote from Kenyon:

This is not psychology or metaphysics.  This is absolute fact.  God becomes a part of our very consciousness.34

Is Johnson conveying with the above that we need to, in his words, repent, i.e. “go back” to “the penthouse, the top floor of a building” which means regaining “God’s perspective on reality” in order to “to live from His world toward the visible world” and that the renewed mind is literally the mind of God?  That we can literally see the supernatural realm as if we were God himself and “view reality from God’s perspective”?

Compare this to the following taken from one of McConnell’s footnotes:

…It should be pointed out that ‘Reality’ as Kenyon uses it is a term used in New Thought and Christian Science to refer to the spiritual realm and truths that were hidden by the sensations of the physical realm, which were not reality at all, but was considered ‘error,’ the opposite of metaphysical reality….35

This is describing the concept in Brahmanism, a subset of Hinduism, known as maya, or illusion.  The physical realm is considered a dream, illusion.  Kenyon above called it “the sense realm”.  As Ankerberg and Weldon explain, “…Essentially, the idea that the world is an illusion ‘hiding’ Brahman is a key teaching of Hinduism in America.  The teaching aims at supposedly revealing one’s inward divine nature by ‘contacting’ Brahman through occult practices such as yoga, meditation, and altered states of consciousness.”36  If Brahma/God is inside everything in “hiding”, then Brahma/God can be contacted by going inward via meditation/contemplative prayer and the individual can become “one” with “God” thereby possessing the very mind of “God”.  That’s the essence of Transcendental Meditation.

Occultist H. P. Blavatsky, one of the founders of Theosophy in the late 19th century and thereby contemporaneous with New Thought and Christian Science, utilized the term “reality” in the same manner, denoting the spiritual realm in opposition to the illusion of maya, the physical universe:

…When the spiritual entity breaks loose for ever from every particle of matter, then only it enters upon the eternal and unchangeable Nirvana. He exists in spirit, in nothing; as a form, a shape, a semblance, he is completely annihilated, and thus will die no more, for spirit alone is no Maya, but the only REALITY in an illusionary universe of ever-passing forms.37 [all spelling, capitalization, and emphasis in original]

Is this similar to what Johnson means?  Taking the same basic information from another Johnson book, When Heaven Invades Earth, we see the same concepts as explained above, “Repentance is not complete until it envisions His Kingdom”.38

The focus of repentance is to change our way of thinking until the presence of His Kingdom fills our consciousness.  The enemy’s attempt to anchor our affections to the things that are visible is easily resisted when our hearts are aware of the presence of His world…

If the Kingdom is here and now, then we must acknowledge it’s in the invisible realm.  Yet being at hand reminds us that it’s also within reach39

Note how Johnson compares the ‘visible’ to the ‘invisible’.  Is this like Kenyon’s ‘sense realm’ as opposed to ‘reality’?  Johnson continues with the same reference to Nicodemus in John 3:3 claiming we should be able to “see” the Kingdom now on earth rather than Jesus’ intention that this will be in the future at the consummation, the Second Coming.  Continuing with the quote:

…That which is unseen can be realized only through repentance.  It was as though He said, ‘If you don’t change the way you perceive things, you’ll live your whole life thinking what you see in the natural is the superior reality…40

Does this not appear to be expressing the same basic New Age, Eastern and Unity doctrines described above?

Meditating on Johnson’s Doctrine of Meditation

Considering the quote on Brahmanism above and comparing this to Johnson’s use of the word “reality”, what exactly does Johnson espouse regarding meditation?  In Dreaming With God is Johnson’s explicit promotion of meditation which he begins with the definitive statement ‘Learn the biblical art of “meditation”’.41 After quoting Psalm 77:6, he goes into his own definition utilizing the same methodology of Kenyon in making a disclaimer and then actually promoting the very thing disclaimed.  Yet, in this case he misconstrues the occult/esoteric practice of meditation:

…Biblical meditation is a diligent search.  Whereas religious cults teach people to empty their minds as the means of meditation, the Bible teaches us to fill our minds with God’s Word.  Meditation has a quiet heart and a ‘directed’ mind.  Mulling over a word in our heart, with a pursuit that springs from the inquisitive child’s heart, is meditation.42

First, notice that he seems to state the Biblically correct way to meditate on God’s Word in the first few sentences yet his concluding sentence runs contrary to what he just explained.  “Mulling over a word in our heart” is not diligently studying and meditating on God’s Word using our mind.  What he’s describing is actually a definition of occult esoteric meditation!

This is not unlike the way in which cultists work; i.e., making a series of orthodox statements and then concluding with an unorthodox sentence.  The mind is prepared for a logical, orthodox conclusion so that when what seems to be an illogical or unorthodox conclusion is reached instead, the hearer may reject it assuming he just did not hear or read it correctly or some other such reason.  This is known as cognitive dissonance, the uncomfortable feeling in holding two conflicting views at once, which results in some sort of action to alleviate this feeling, in this case which may be either by 1) rejecting the negative thought that the conclusion is unorthodox or illogical while mentally inserting one’s own orthodox or logical conclusion instead; or, 2) just dismissing the conclusion as a misunderstanding on the reader/hearer’s part; or, 3) assuming the speaker simply misspoke.

The teachings in Alice Bailey’s books [available from Lucis Trust, known initially as Lucifer Publishing] are recognized as the foundation for current New Age doctrine and practices.  Here’s a section from a book almost 100 years old describing meditation dos and don’ts as well as its purpose :

…The stage at which a man awakens to group realisation, and becomes a conscious participant in the activities of the group is brought about in two ways: through meditation, and through a series of initiations…There is much misconception these days as to what meditation really is, and there is a great deal of so-called meditation which has been truly described by a person not so long ago, as ‘I shut my eyes, and open my mouth, and wait for something to happen.’  The true meditation is something that requires the most intense application of the mind, the utmost control of thought, and an attitude which is neither negative nor positive, but an equal balance between the two.  In the Eastern Scriptures the man who is attempting meditation and achieving results, is described as follows… ‘The Maha Yogi, the great ascetic, in whom is centred the highest perfection of austere penance and abstract meditation, by which the most unlimited powers are attained, marvels and miracles are worked, the highest spiritual knowledge is acquired, and union with the great Spirit of the universe is eventually attained.’  Here this union with the group life is held to be the product of meditation, and there is no other method of attainment.

True meditation (of which the preliminary stages are concentration upon and application to any particular line of thought) will differ for different people and different types.  The religious man, the mystic, will centre his attention upon the life within the form, upon God, upon Christ, or upon that which embodies for him the ideal…We need to find our own method of approach to that which lies within, and to study for ourselves this question of meditation.43   

What are “initiations” and their purpose as defined by Bailey above?  By the context, an ‘initiation’ is associated with ‘meditation’ which brings one ultimately in “union with the great Spirit of the universe”.  In a book, of the same vintage as the one above, titled Initiation, Human and Solar, Bailey defines the term:

An initiation is an expansion of consciousness – a means of opening the mind and heart to a recognition of what already exists in reality.44

This “union with the great Spirit of the universe” accomplished by the “expansion of consciousness” corresponding to “a recognition of what already exists in reality” – is this the same as “chang[ing] our way of thinking until the presence of His Kingdom fills our consciousness” thereby gaining “God’s perspective on reality” as Johnson states above effected by using his rather vaguely defined method of meditation?  Note the last sentence of the first Bailey quote above: “We need to find our own method of approach to that which lies within, and to study for ourselves this question of meditation”.  Is this the reason Johnson’s description of the practice is so general?

Johnson asserts later in Dreaming with God, “While it’s true that God does not give His glory to another, we’re not another – we are members of His Body” (the capital “B” in original).45  Does he mean God will give us His full “perspective on reality” along with His glory, or perhaps as Kenyon would say “God imparting His own nature to the human spirit”?  Johnson then goes on to quote John 16:13-15 and explains his interpretation:

…the Holy Spirit is therefore leading us into experiencing all truth.  He receives all of His instructions from the Father.  It was the Holy Spirit upon Jesus that enabled Him to know what the Father was doing and saying.  That same gift of the Spirit has been given to us for that same purpose.46

Johnson is once again promoting the unbiblical and heterodox kenosis doctrine [see here for more] in effect denying Jesus’ inherent divinity and, simultaneously, he is claiming that we will be able to communicate with God with the same clarity and frequency as Jesus during His earthly ministry.  This is not too dissimilar from John Hick’s assertion that the Incarnation was not actual but instead metaphorical in that the human Jesus of Nazareth so communed with God that He “incarnated” God in a figurative sense:

The idea of the incarnation of God in the life of Jesus, so understood, is thus not a metaphysical claim about Jesus having two natures, but a metaphorical statement of the significance of a life through which God acted on earth.  In Jesus we see a man living in a startling degree of awareness of God and of response to God’s presence.47

Thus, as per Hick, Jesus is merely an example to which we should aspire.48  Similarly, according to Johnson, we can achieve the same level of communion with God as did Jesus as we repent, as per his redefinition of the term, and renew our minds by receiving God’s glory and thereby “view reality from God’s perspective”.

A New Age of Sanctified Imagination?

Elsewhere in this same book Johnson states, “A yielded imagination becomes a sanctified imagination; and it’s the sanctified imagination that is positioned for visions and dreams.  There is great paranoia over the use of the imagination in the Church of the Western World.”49  I suppose it could be argued that as we submit to the Holy Spirit as opposed to the flesh our entire mind is sanctified which would necessarily include our imagination, however, I contend that we can’t actually submit our imagination to the Spirit by itself as Johnson states.  In addition, Johnson’s words set up an expectation for visions and dreams when it’s the Spirit who gives as He determines (1 Cor 12:11).  But why is he using the word “imagination”?  Here’s Webster’s definition of imagination:

  1. (a) the act or power of forming mental images of what is not actually present; (b) the act or power of creating mental images of what has never been actually experienced…creative power…
  2. image in the mind; conception, idea
  3. a foolish notion, empty fancy
  4. the ability to understand and appreciate the imaginative creations in others, especially works of art and literature.50

Of the choices above the more generic #2 or the more esoteric #1 could apply given Johnson’s context although #1 appears more appropriate.  Johnson makes his meaning more obvious by the footnote accompanying this text:

Many prominent authors and conference speakers add fuel to the fire of fear assuming that because the new age movement promotes it, its origins must be from the devil51

Does Johnson really believe it’s safe to assume that doctrines and practices of the New Age Movement can originate with God rather than the enemy?!  Does he not understand that the New Age worships a different god (actually many different “gods” including the god of self)?  Continuing with the above:

…I find that form of reasoning weak at best.  If we follow that line of thought we will continue to give the devil the tools that God has given us for success in life and ministry.  In doing so we will be building a confidence in the power of darkness above the Spirit of God.52

So then, what of God’s sovereignty?  Is He too weak to carry out His purposes?  This is yet another example of the numerous false dichotomies Johnson promotes.  However, is he stating this as justification to promote New Age doctrine and practice himself?

It is clear that Johnson’s explanation of repentance and renewing the mind are at odds with historical orthodox Christianity.  While some of the wording is peculiar, this peculiar terminology and phraseology can be found in New Age teachings.  Is Bill Johnson embracing and teaching New Age doctrine whether wittingly or unwittingly?

1Johnson, Bill. Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World through God’s Creative Flow. 2006, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 86 (1st endnote).  Emphasis added.
2Strong, J., Baker, W. and Zodhiates, S. AMG’s Annotated Strong’s Dictionaries. 2009 (November, 1st printing), AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN; p 953.  Pharmakeia is Strong’s # 5331.
3Johnson, Dreaming; p 30
4Dictionary.com, “desire,” in Online Etymology Dictionary source location: Douglas Harper, Historian. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/desire>.  Available: <http://dictionary.reference.com>. As accessed 2/18/2012.
5Johnson, Bill. The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. © 2005 Bill Johnson, Destiny Image Publishers, Shippensburg, PA; p 44
6McKechnie, Jean L. (Ed.) Webster’s New Twentieth Century (Unabridged) © 1983, Simon & Schuster, New York, NT; p 1533.  Dictionary.com, “repent,” in Online Etymology Dictionary source location: Douglas Harper, Historian. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/repent>. Available: <http://dictionary.reference.com>. As accessed 2/18/2012.
7Erickson, Millard J. Concise Dictionary of Christian Theology. 1986, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI; p 142
8McKim, Donald K. Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms. 1996, Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, KY; p 237
9Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (Gen. Ed.) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 1988, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 3.136-137
10Bromiley, p 3.137
11Bauer, Walter, Danker, F.W., Arndt, W.F., Gingrich, F.W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 2000 (3rd ed.), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL; p 640.  Also known as and hereafter identified as “BDAG”.
12BDAG, pp 640-641
13BDAG, pp 636-638
14BDAG, pp 674-675
15Elwel, Walter A. (Ed.) Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 1984 (10th pr. 1994), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI; p 936
16McKim defines heterodox “[t]hat which is counter to or different from accepted orthodox belief in a church [p 127].  It seems to be a ‘softer’ term than heresy.
17Unity School of Christianity Metaphysical Bible Dictionary. 1931 (1955, 8th pr.), Unity School of Christianity (no publisher specified), Lee’s Summit, MO; p 552.  Underscore added; other emphasis in original.
18Bourgeault, Cynthia The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message. 2008, Shambhala, Boston, MA; pp 25-33.  Bourgeault self-identifies as per the back cover as “an Episcopal priest, teacher, and retreat and conference speaker”.  The book promotes contemplative prayer, mysticism and worst of all, Jesus as merely one path [pp 65-71] putting her squarely in the New Age camp as well as a promoter of religious pluralism.  In addition, “Shambhala” is a New Age term from the Buddhist tradition.  It is also spelled “Shamballa”and is known in Theosophy/New Age as the dwelling place of the governing deity of earth, Sanat Kumara, and his ‘Spiritual Hierarcyh’ and other associates.
19Bourgeault, p 30. Emphasis in original.
20Bourgeault, p 37.  In a footnote referencing her redefinition of meta and noia she claims indebtedness to Marcus Borg as the source [The Heart of Christianity. 2003, HarperSanFrancisco, San Francisco, CA; p 180].   Also, interestingly, the first quote, “change the direction in which you’re looking for happiness” is Thomas Keating’s preferred definition as per her footnote. Keating, a Roman Catholic Mystic in the tradition of St. John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila, is a major promoter of centering prayer’.
21Bourgeault, pp 37-38.  Emphasis in original.
22Johnson, Supernatural Power, p 44
23Johnson, Supernatural Power, p 44
24Johnson, Supernatural Power, pp 44-45
25Osborne, Grant, Arnold, Clinton E. (Gen. Ed.) Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. © 2010 by Grant R. Osborne, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 228-229
26Johnson, Supernatural Power, p 42
27Johnson, Supernatural Power, p 45
28McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement. 1988 (4th pr. 1991), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; pp 43-55.  Back cover states McConnell, “did his graduate work at Oral Roberts University in theological and historical studies”.
29McConnell, p 45 citing Kenyon, E. W. The Hidden Man. 1970, Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society, Seattle, WA; p 35
30McConnell, p 45 citing Kenyon, The Hidden Man, p 74.  Emphasis added.
31McConnell, p 45 citing Kenyon, The Hidden Man, p 137.  Emphasis added.
32Johnson, Supernatural Power, p 43
33Johnson, Supernatural Power, p 45
34McConnell, p 45.  Emphasis added.
35McConnell, p 55.  This is in a parenthetical note in his 53rd footnote.
36Ankerberg, John, Weldon, John. Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs. 1996, Harvest House, Eugene, OR; p 220.

37Blavatsky, Helena P. Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology: Vol 1 – Science. 1988 (unabridged from original 1877 first edition), Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, CA; p 290
38Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 38
39Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 38. Bold in original, underscore added for emphasis.
40Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 38. Emphasis in original.
41Johnson, Dreaming, p 132.  Bold in original.
42Johnson, Dreaming, p 132.
43Bailey, Alice A. The Consciousness of the Atom. © 1961 Lucis Trust (1st prtng 1922, this issue 9th prtng 1974 {2nd paperback ed.}), Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; pp 110-112.  Underscore added for emphasis, other emphasis and spelling as per original.

44Bailey, Alice A. Initiation, Human and Solar. © 1951 Lucis Trust (1st prtng 1922, 14th prntg, 1980 (4th paperback ed.)), Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY; back cover.  Emphasis added
45Johnson, Dreaming, p 135.  Emphasis in original.
46Johnson, Dreaming, p 136.  Emphasis in original.
47Hick, John, The Metaphor of God Incarnate. © 1993, 2005 (2005 2nd ed.), SCM-Canterbury Press, Great Britain; p 102
48Hick; pp 109-110
49Johnson, Dreaming, p 67
50McKechnie, Webster’s, p 907
51Johnson, Dreaming, p 86 (1st endnote).  Emphasis added.
52Johnson, Dreaming, p 86

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?

Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Part II

Part I of this article discusses the various Kenosis theories and provides good background information, if rather technical, for part II which will focus on other Christological errors potentially influencing kenosis or derived from kenosis doctrines, the importance of adhering to the tenets of ecumenical creeds in upholding orthodox Christology, and how all these things relate to the doctrine of Bill Johnson.

Other Christological Errors Potentially Related to Kenosis

Gregg R. Allison, in his Historical Theology, cites both Friedrich Schleiermacher and Albert Schweitzer (Schweitzer was apparently one of Schleiermacher’s followers,71 along with Thomasius72) as revisionists with respect to the historical Jesus Christ of the Incarnation,73 humanizing Him at the expense of His deity.74  It seems possible that Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel and other progressive liberals from the 18th and 19th centuries75 may have paved the way for the proponents of the various kenosis theories and their adherents starting around the mid 19th century and continuing to today.76

New Ager/occultist Alice A. Bailey, who furthered the work begun by the 19th century Theosophy of Helena P. Blavatsky, cites Dr. Schweitzer approvingly in her 1937 treatise of esoteric Christology titled From Bethlehem to Calvary.77  Bailey’s explanation of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by Satan provides an example of her heretical Christology which, while not kenotic – the belief is that Jesus was a man (with latent divinity like all men) who had the Christ spirit descend upon Him at Baptism and subsequently leave Him prior to the Crucifixion,78 similar to the belief of first century proto-Gnostic Cerinthus79,80 – suffers, among other serious issues, from some of the same inherent problems as some forms of kenosis:

“…Was it possible that Christ in reality could be tempted, and if so, could He have fallen into sin? Did He meet these temptations as the omnipotent Son of God, or did He meet them as a man and therefore subject to temptation? …What really took place in the wilderness?  For what purpose are we permitted to share with Him in this experience?” 81

Bailey continues, disparaging the Athanasian Creed82 in the process.  In the original text, she refers to it in a footnote signified in the following with an asterisk (*):

“Many such questions arise in the mind of the intelligent man, and many have been the commentaries written to prove the particular point of each writer.  It is not the purpose of this book…to define the times when Christ was functioning as a man, and when He was functioning as the Son of God.  Some believe He was simultaneously both, and was ‘very God of very God,’* and yet essentially and utterly human at the same time.  People make these statements, but they are apt to forget the implications.  They affirm with decision their point of view, and omit to carry their attitude to a logical conclusion.  The inference is that we are allowed to know about the temptation in order to teach us, as human beings, a needed lesson; let us therefore study the story from the angle of Christ’s humanity, never forgetting that He had learned obedience to the divine spirit, the soul in man, and was in control of His body of manifestation.” 83

Bailey is cited here to illustrate both the importance of understanding proper Christology and as a potential example of historical error leading up to current Christological error.  Adherence to the ecumenical creeds which had established proper Christology in the early Church will help to minimize or alleviate these sorts of errors about the person of Christ in the Christian Church of today.

     71 Berkhof, p 316.  Berkhof hints that Schweitzer has followed in Schleiermacher’s footsteps, at least to a degree.
72 Hodge, Vol II, p 453.  Hodge specifically cites Thomasius as a “general disciple” of Schleiermacher.
73 Allison, pp 382-83.  By mentioning Schleiermacher and Schweitzer together in the same sentence, it may be assumed the author intends a strong connection.
74 Berkhof, p 316
75 Lutzer, Erwin W. The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians. 1998, Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI; p 35.  Lutzer specifically mentions Kant who “believed in a human Christ” and Schweitzer who “believed in a Christ who was essentially insane.”  He also mentions Rudolf Bultmann who denied the pre-existence of Christ [Craig A. Evans, The Historical Jesus: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Volume I. 2004, Rutledge, London, UK; p 328].
76 Hodge, Vol II, pp 453, 440-54.  Hodge cites others influenced by Schleiermacher while identifying Schleiermacher’s pantheistic doctrine and associated aberrant Christology and anthropology.  My working hypothesis is that 18th and 19th century liberalism in general including Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel and his dialectic process, Darwinism, et cetera, continued to barrage the Church and has resulted in the state of the church today.  Taken together, these liberals may have influenced society to the extent they helped enable various underground esoteric doctrines to flourish in the late 19th and into the 20th century (such as Rosicrucianism) and directly or indirectly lead to Theosophy (a confluence of esoteric doctrines throughout the centuries which may have influenced Latter Rain) and New Thought (which definitely influenced Word of Faith via Kenyon [cf. McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel. 1988, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA] ), which may have, in turn, led to various errors of today.
77 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; pp 102-03, 111, 160-61, 168, 213, 228, 279
78 Bailey, pp 187-189, 194
79 Bercot, David W. A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs. 1998 (3rd printing Nov 2000), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 91
80 Hodge, Vol II, p 400
81 Bailey, pp 107-08.  Emphasis added.
82 Theopedia. Athanasian Creed. <http://www.theopedia.com/Athanasian_Creed> as accessed 06/15/11
83 Bailey, p 108.  Underlining from emphasis in original; bolding added.

Credence for Ecumenical Creeds as Basis for Christology

Historically, councils were called to establish creeds (statements of beliefs) in order to codify specific truths as borne out in Scripture while simultaneously refuting specific errors.  The ecumenical creeds – those accepted by the Church catholic, as in universal, and not merely the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) but to also include Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches – have largely been uncontested over the centuries as to their veracity, or accuracy, compared to Scripture until the 19th century84 with the various kenosis doctrines.  Oliver Crisp, in his book God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology, puts the historical Christian creeds in perspective:

“…Creeds are not merely a means to making dogmatic sense of, say, the Incarnation.  They are – just as fundamentally – a means of confessing faith in the Christ to whom the creeds bear witness, as they are attempts to make sense of the gospel accounts of who Christ is.  This underlines the fact that the creeds of the Church, and the ecumenical creeds in particular, have several functions that run together: they bear witness to the gospel in Scripture, they tease out aspects of the doctrine of the gospel, and because they do this, they serve as doxological and liturgical purpose in the life of the Church as a means by which Christians may affirm what it is they believe, and what it is that holds the church together.’ 85

A proper view of Christ is essential to the Christian faith.  For a given teacher to put forth a doctrine which is at odds with the ecumenical councils is to put said teacher at odds with historical orthodox Christianity and, as a potential consequence, in the realm or vicinity of heresy.

Crisp continues stating that the ecumenical creeds which asserted proper Christology are “theologically binding” because they are “dogmatic reflection upon Scripture by the undivided Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”86   While noting that the creeds are “not infallible guides,”87 Crisp strongly believes the ecumenical councils have “not…in fact canonized substantive errors”88 due to Holy Spirit influence.

In an interview discussing the book God Incarnate, Crisp reiterated the authority of Scripture over ‘tradition’ while defining what that tradition is:

“…I think Scripture is the norming norm, the bedrock of all Christian theology.  The ‘tradition’ consists in a cluster of different, subordinate norms, such as the catholic [universal] creeds, confessional creeds, confessional statements (e.g. Westminster Confession) and the works of particular theologians.  But these are all subordinate to the Word of God.” 89

Of the four ecumenical councils embraced by the Church catholic (universal) which include Christological discussions (Nicea in 325, Constantinople in 381, Ephesus in 431, and Chalcedon in 451), the Council of Chalcedon is the most recent and most definitive.  Here’s a modern English translation of the Chalcedonian Creed:

“Following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in divinity and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a rational soul and body; of one substance [homoousios] with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the virgin, the God-bearer [theotokos]; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence [hypostasis], not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ.” 90

In his Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology, Thomas Oden affirms the importance of ecumenical Christology in general91 and notes how adherence to the ecumenical creeds will aid in avoiding Christological error.92

“…The major tendencies to heretical distortion in the two-natures are these: it runs the risk of inordinately divinizing the human, humanizing the divine, or dualizing the one person.  Keeping these factors in due balance is the challenge of classic Christian teaching or Christology.” 93

Cognizant of the inherent mystery of the Incarnation and the fact that it’s not “fully comprehensible to objective analysis,” but rather it’s “a divine gift for joyful contemplation,”94 he states:

“…Modesty of expression remains a radical intellectual requirement in the presence of this incomparable Person…” 95

In other words, Oden’s point was that we should not try to go beyond Scripture in attempting to define the mystery of the Incarnation.  Even the Apostle Paul did not fully fathom the person of Jesus Christ:

16 Beyond all comprehension, the mystery of godliness is great:
                        He appeared in a body,
                            was vindicated by the Spirit,
                        was seen by angels,
                            was preached from the nations,
                        was believed on in the world,
                            was taken up in glory. [I Timothy 3:16, NIV 1984]

Recognizing the continuing assault on Christology, Martin Luther once commented, “I know nothing about the Lord Christ that the devil has failed to attack.”96

     84 Allison, pp 377, 381
85 Crisp, Oliver D. God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology. 2009, T&T Clark, London, UK; p 13
86 Crisp, God Incarnate. p 13
87 Crisp, God Incarnate. p 14
88 Crisp, God Incarnate. p 14.  See explanation in Crisp’s footnote 10
89 Davies, Guy. Exiled Preacher Blog. “An Interview with Oliver Crisp” March 24, 2010 <http://exiledpreacher.blogspot.com/2010/05/interview-with-oliver-crisp.html>; Answer to Davies’ 5th question.  As accessed 06/15/11
90 Allison, pp 376-77.  Footnote reads, “Creed of Chalcedon, in Schaff 2.62-63; Bettenson, 56.”  I assume Bettenson translated to modern English from Phillip Schaff’s 3-volume The Creeds of Christendom.
91 Oden, Thomas C. Classic Christianity: A Systematic Theology. 1992 (2009), HarperCollins, New York, NY; p 306.  This printing is a single-volume condensed version of three separate volumes.
92 Oden, p 307
93 Oden, p 306
94 Oden, p 307
95 Oden, p 307
96 Oden, p 307.  Quotes from Martin Luther’s Table Talk. 1.269

Bill Johnson’s Kenotic Concept

All the preceding background brings us to the Christological doctrine of Bill Johnson which illustrates the peril of not using ecumenical creeds as a basis for proper Christology, as he clearly teaches kenosis.  However, the questions are: 1) which type; and, 2) can his teachings be harmonized into one consistent doctrine with respect to kenosis?  Here are two quotes from his book When Heaven Invades Earth:

“…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…The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless), and had to be spotless, (without sin).” 97

“Jesus Christ said of Himself, ‘The Son can do nothing.’…He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! …He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God.” 98

The asterisk (*) in the first quote denotes the place in which Johnson originally had a footnote in referring to Philippians 2:5-7 – the very Scripture kenotics use in justifying the theory.  Since God Himself is, by definition, supernatural, then by the wording in the quotes, Johnson appears to be teaching ontological kenosis as Jesus was “powerless” with “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever.”  This is as opposed to functionalist kenosis which maintains that Jesus had all His divine attributes, but rather chose not to exercise some of them.  Had Johnson stated something like, “He chose not to exercise any of His supernatural capabilities,” then he could be construed of intending functionalist kenosis instead. However, as pointed out in part I, claiming it was the Holy Spirit who performed Christ’s miracles rather than Jesus Himself is both “ not conventional”99 and not Biblical even though this claim is growing in charismatic circles.100

Here’s another quote, this time from his book The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind:

“…Jesus had no ability to heal the sick.  He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead.  He said of Himself in John 5:19, ‘the Son can do nothing of Himself.’  He had set aside His divinity.  He did miracles as man in right relationship with God because He was setting forth a model for us…Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…” 101

Once again, this suggests ontological kenosis as Jesus was both “incapable” of performing and “had no ability” to perform miracles.  If, according to Johnson, Jesus Christ had merely chosen not to exercise His divine attributes as in functionalist kenosis, then He would still have the ability to perform miracles if He so desired.

Johnson references a portion of John 5:19 in the quote above and the one immediately preceding this one [by footnote 98].  Putting this verse in its proper context, however, shows that Jesus Himself had both the authority and the power (omnipotence) to raise the dead and give life apart from the Father (v 21) contrary to Johnson’s proof-texting above.  Andreas Kostenberger states, “He claimed not merely to be God’s instrument in raising other people, but to give life himself to whom he is pleased to give it.”102 [See Luke 23:43; John 6:70; 10:28-29; 11:1-44; 13:18; 15:16, 19.]  Once again, this argues against a functionalist kenotic interpretation.  Furthermore, this provides one more example illustrating that functionalist kenosis, in general, as not a viable, Biblical doctrine as Jesus Christ certainly displayed His omnipotence.

18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.  19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.”

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” [John 5:19-27, NKJV]

In verse 18, the Jews wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy since the claim that God was “His” Father was understood by the Jews that Jesus was equating Himself with the Father and hence claiming He was God also.103  In the rest of this passage of Scripture Jesus goes on to explain that He is, in fact, deity.104

Do we assume Jesus was only able to ‘give life’ post-Ascension?  The text clearly shows otherwise as Craig Keener explains in his well-regarded commentary on the Gospel of John.105  Going further to verse 25 and through to 27 is the indication that Jesus could grant life in the then present106 and that Jesus had life “in Himself” granted by the Father along with the authority to make judgment (vv 22-23 also).  Taking all this into account indicates, once again, that Jesus Christ not only could, but very likely did, perform other miracle workings apart from the Father or the Holy Spirit,107 contrary to Johnson.

     97 Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79.  Asterisk replaces original footnote which is referenced on page 85 of Johnson’s book.  Emphasis added.
     98 Johnson, Bill, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 29.  Underline for emphasis in original; last ellipsis as per original.  Bolding added for emphasis.  Johnson makes a specific footnote reference to John 5:19 in his book on p 35.
99 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 25 [Tyndale; p 134]
100 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 06/15/11
101 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50.  Emphasis added.
102 Kostenberger, Andreas J. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John. 2004 (4th printing July 2009), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 187.  He is quoting from NIV 1984.
103 Kostenberger, pp 185-86
104 Kostenberger, pp 186-89
105 Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One. 2003, 1st Softcover Ed, 2010, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; pp 650-52.  Keener, agreeing with Kostenberger, states, “Like the Father, Jesus could give life (5:21; cf. 17:2); this made him act in a divine manner.”  Moreover, in a section titled “Jesus as Life-Giver in the Present and the Future (5:24-30)” Keener shows agreement.  He continues, “Jesus returns to the claim that the Father has authorized him to give life (5:21) with the image of realized eschatology implied by ‘passed from death to life’ (5:24); one already abides in death until believing in the one who sent Jesus, hence in Jesus’ delegated mission…”
106 Keener, pp 650-52.
107 Kostenberger, pp 187-89.  Kostenberger also points out that Jesus Christ provided eternal life during his earthly ministry referring to John 5:24 as “…one of the strongest affirmations of realized (inaugurated) eschatology in John’s Gospel.” [p 188] And, also, “Jesus claims that God granted him life in himself, a divine attribute” [p 189] illustrating clearly that Jesus both possessed and utilized divine attributes, contrary to Johnson’s claims.

Johnson’s View of How Jesus Received His Title/Name of Christ

In Johnson’s zeal to humanize Jesus Christ at the expense of His divinity, he goes even further with his kenosis doctrine.  He makes Jesus into a man indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the Incarnation who subsequently receives the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’108 by the “Christ anointing”109 at His Baptism by John which provides Jesus the title/name of Christ.  In the following, brackets are inserted within the text for explanation:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means ‘Anointed One’ or ‘Messiah.’  It [Christ] is a title that points to an experience [Baptism].  It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title [Christ].  He had to receive the anointing [“Christ anointing” resulting in Christ title/name] in an experience [Baptism] to accomplish what the Father desired.

“The word anointing means to ‘smear.’  The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared [anointed] all over Jesus at His water baptism.  The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared [anointed] with the Holy Spirit [at Baptism].” 110

After reading this in the full context Johnson provides [and setting aside his horrendous portrayal of Jesus being “smeared all over with the Holy Spirit”], without adding or subtracting anything, the reader will understand that he is teaching that the “title” of Christ was received in “an experience” – referring to Baptism.  Furthermore, according to Johnson, the ‘name’ of Christ did not actually belong to Jesus’ until He was anointed, “smeared all over,” by the Holy Spirit at Baptism.  Logically, this means Jesus did not have the Christ ‘name’ or ‘title’ until this point, and, hence, could not rightfully be called “Jesus Christ” until then.  This implies Jesus was simply ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ and not “Jesus Christ” prior to Baptism which contradicts Luke 1:35/ 2:11 and other Scripture.   Yes, according to orthodoxy, Jesus Christ was anointed at Baptism which began His earthly ministry, but He already had the title of Christ prior to Baptism as He was proclaimed the Son of God before His birth [Luke 1:35] and referred to as “Christ the Lord” upon His birth [Luke 2:11].

The term Christ is used universally within orthodox Christianity indicating divinity111,112 [see Hebrews 13:8, 1:12/Psalm 102:27] as the Messiah must, by necessity, be deity in order to atone for our sins.  Jesus Christ, the Eternal Logos [John 1:1-18], was “from the beginning” [I John 1:1] and is the “Alpha and the Omega” [Rev 1:8, 1:17, 21:6, 22:13] and no one can rightly be called Christ except Jesus.  Berkhof states:

“There are especially five names [Jesus, Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, Lord] that…are partly descriptive of His natures, partly of His official position, and partly of the work for which He came into the world.”

“…Christ is the official…name of the Messiah…Christ was set up or appointed to His offices from eternity, but historically His anointing took place when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:35, and when He received the Holy Spirit, especially at the time of His baptism…It served to qualify Him for His great task…” 113 

Note that Berkhof explains that Christ was “eternally appointed” yet did not receive the anointing for His office until conception by the Holy Spirit [Luke 1:35; Matt 1:18-20].  This means that Jesus was the Christ at conception.  The angel Gabriel referred to Him as “Son of God” in Luke 1:35 and the angel in Luke 2:11 referred to Him as “Savior,” “Christ,” and “Lord.”  He was also understood to be the Messiah/Christ by Herod [Matt 2:3-4] and He was Immanuel, “God with us,” [Matt 1:22-23/Isaiah 7:14] from the moment of the virgin birth.  Moreover: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Heb 13:8 NIV 1984]  To claim, as Johnson does, that Jesus did not receive the name or title of Christ until Baptism is serious error.  Jesus Christ is the Eternal Logos made flesh [John 1:1-14].

Bill Johnson makes it clear that the “anointing” linked Jesus to the divine (hence, implying Jesus the person was not divine) and that this ‘linking’ provided the power necessary to perform the miraculous which corresponds with his two paragraphs above regarding when/how Jesus received His Christ title/name:

“…The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil.” 114

“To fulfill His mission, Jesus needed the Holy Spirit [anointing]….

“This anointing is what enabled Jesus to do only what He saw the Father do, and to say only what He heard the Father say.” 115

To state Jesus was ‘enabled’ by the Holy Spirit (at Baptism) implies, once again, that Jesus did not have omnipotent power of His own and is thus less than divine.  In Face to Face with God, Johnson goes into more detail emphasizing this “experience” as the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit,’ while specifically referring to Jesus being ‘indwelled’ by the Holy Spirit prior to Baptism and that Jesus is our model in this regard.116  This next quote is following a reference in Johnson’s book to John 1:32 in which the Holy Spirit descended as a dove upon Jesus at His Baptism:

 “…Certainly this is not talking about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was already in Jesus’s life.  This [Baptism] was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Him as a mantle of power and authority for that specific purpose.  But the fact that the Holy Spirit came to rest on Him is evidence of Jesus’s faithfulness to be perfectly trustworthy with the presence of God.  The same principle is true for us.

“The Holy Spirit lives in every believer, but He rests upon very few…” 117

The Holy Spirit ‘resting upon’ Jesus and others is Johnson’s vernacular for his version of the ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit’ which is necessary to provide power for the miraculous.118  Stating that Jesus was “perfectly trustworthy with the presence of God” implies that Jesus was not God Himself but instead merely a “trustworthy” man faithful enough to ‘earn’ God’s continued “presence”.  Once again, this is indicative of ontological kenosis.  Also, Johnson is pointing out that we can receive the same “Christ anointing”,119 or “baptism in the Holy Spirit”120 as Jesus.121  He is more explicit below:

“…The outpouring of the Spirit comes to anoint the church with the same Christ anointing that rested upon Jesus in His ministry so that we might be imitators of Him…” 122

To reiterate: Jesus Christ is the Eternal Logos, the Word, the second person of the Trinity, made flesh [John 1:1-14]. Scripture does not indicate that the Word plus the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, were made flesh – the Incarnation was simply the Word made flesh.  As a contrast: Holy Spirit indwelled believers would not say “the Holy Spirit became flesh” in the new believer as that would be absurd.  Rather, the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the already existing flesh of the newly saved individual.  On the other hand, the Logos acquired a human nature (not a human being) and dwelt among us [John 1:14].  At the Incarnation He did not subtract from His divine nature; He added to it.  As Berkhof affirms, “The pre-existent Son of God assumes human nature and takes to Himself human flesh and blood, a miracle that passes our limited understanding.”123

     108 Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007; Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; pp 21-2
     109 Johnson, Face to Face. p 77
110 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79.  Underline from emphasis in original; bolding added for emphasis; bracketed comments added for explanation.
111 Grudem, pp 233-38, 543-554, 624-33
112 Berkhof, pp 91-5, 312-13, 356-66
113 Berkhof, pp 312-13, 312-15.
114 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79.  Emphasis added.
115 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 80.  Underline from emphasis in original.
116 Johnson, Face to Face. pp 77-80
117 Johnson, Face to Face. pp 21-22.  Emphasis added.
118 Johnson, Face to Face. p 79
119 Johnson, Face to Face. p 77
120 Johnson, Face to Face. p 79
121 Johnson, Face to Face. pp 78-79
122 Johnson, Face to Face. p 77.  Emphasis added.
123 Berkhof, p 333

Johnson Contradicts His Kenosis by Affirming Jesus Christ’s Deity?

With the following, a paragraph at the start of chapter 9 in Bill Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth, he appears to affirm Jesus Christ’s full deity:

“For hundreds of years the prophets spoke of the Messiah’s coming.  They gave over 300 specific details describing Him.  Jesus fulfilled them all!  The angels also gave witness to His divinity when they came with a message for the shepherds: ‘For there is born to you this day…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Nature itself testified to the arrival of the Messiah with the star that led the wise men…’ 124

Does the above quote show that Johnson affirms Jesus Christ’s full deity and thereby contradict his kenosis teachings above?  Or, alternatively, does this show that Bill Johnson is actually teaching a very poorly articulated functionalist kenosis rather than an ontological kenosis?  The key is the rest of this paragraph:

“…Yet with this one statement, ‘Unless I do the works of the Father, do not believe me,’* Jesus put the credibility of all these messengers on the line.  Their ministries would have been in vain without one more ingredient to confirm who He really was.  That ingredient was miracles.” 125

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

So, it would seem the above paragraph can be perfectly harmonized with the rest of Johnson’s ontologically kenotic teachings.  He is unambiguously clear in his basic doctrine that Jesus was merely “a man in right relationship to God” who “had no ability to heal the sick,” “couldn’t cast out devils,” and “had no ability to raise the dead”126 except by virtue of the ‘enabling’ by the “Christ anointing,”127 occurring at Baptism.  With Johnson’s assertion that, “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit128  within its original context (see above), he makes it apparent that Baptism is the point in which Jesus receives the name of Christ/Messiah.  Consequently, according to this teaching, it follows that since Jesus did not have the name of Christ, and, hence was not yet Christ before Baptism, the angels’ and the other messengers’ words were contingent upon Jesus ‘proving Himself’ by performing the miraculous thereby showing Him to be the “Anointed One.”  Therefore, the first part of the quote from chapter 9 is merely affirming Jesus’ future “title” or name of Christ/Messiah at Baptism instead of a definitive statement that Jesus was the Christ, or Messiah, at the virgin birth.  Furthermore, Johnson’s quote is not necessarily proclaiming Christ’s deity since he asserted that it was “the anointing” which “linked Jesus, the man, to the divine.”129

To further explain by way of example I’ll make a statement: “Dr. F. F. Bruce was born on 12 October, 1910.”  This is 100% correct; however, Bruce did not have his doctorate bestowed upon him until later, of course, as he was obviously not born with his degree.130  Similarly, one could interpret (incorrectly, of course) that Luke 2:11, the verse referenced in the first part of the above quote, is merely affirming Jesus as the Christ at some point in the future rather than at the virgin birth.

     124 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 97
125 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 97. Emphasis in original.
126 Johnson, Supernatural Power. pp 29, 50
127 Johnson, Face to Face. pp 21-22, 77-79
128 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79
129 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79. Emphasis added.
130 Wikipedia. F.F. Bruce.  F.F. Bruce biography <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F._F._Bruce>; par 1; as accessed 06/15/11

Eternal Implications of Johnson’s Kenosis

Bill Johnson claims Jesus did not raise Himself at the Resurrection, contrary to John 2:19/10:17-18 and other Scriptures.  From his sermon at Bethel on February 27, 2011:

“…Jesus gave Himself to be crucified.  He did not raise Himself from the dead…His job was to give His life to die.  The Father raised Him by the Spirit…” 131

He stated the same basic thing in answering a question on his Facebook page in February of this year just prior to the date of the sermon above.  This illustrates that Johnson carried ontological kenosis all the way to the Resurrection which would necessarily include the Cross.  It would appear Jesus could not raise Himself from the dead since He was a “powerless” lamb on the Cross [see above for full context]:

“…The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless)…” 132

Being “powerless” means Jesus lacked the divine power in Himself necessary to provide proper Atonement which is explicit heresy.  Insufficient Atonement means no salvation for the sinner.  No salvation means no eternal life!  As Erwin Lutzer asserts: “…The real question is whether Christ is capable of being the Savior of mankind;”133 and, “If Christ is not God, then God has not saved us…”134

“…Only an incarnate Christ who is fully God qualifies to be Savior.” 135

According to Scripture, Jesus Christ raised Himself [John 2:19], He was raised by the Father [Gal 1:1; Acts 5:29-31], He was raised by the Holy Spirit [Rom 8:11], and, He was raised by God [Acts 2:24; Rom 4:24; Col 2:12], beautifully illustrating the interrelationship of the Trinity.

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) contrasts mankind’s eternity, which will commence at a definite point some time in the future, with that of God’s which is infinite with no beginning point.  Of course, according to orthodox Christianity, both man, upon resurrection in his new glorified body [I Corinthians 15:50-54], and God have no termination point in the eternal realm.

“Man eschatologically and God ontologically experience an endless duration of time; both experience a non-terminating sequence of events; both participate in eternity.

“…[A] person’s eternity is bounded on one side by its beginning at a point in time…” 136

With this in mind, here’s Bill Johnson in a statement on his Facebook page on 3/21/2011:

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

So, with this statement, does Johnson once and for all prove that he believes Jesus was fully divine during the Incarnation, i.e., is his kenosis functionalist rather than ontological?   Taken as a discrete statement apart from the rest of Johnson’s doctrine, this could potentially be labeled as functionalist kenosis [although the “as a man” part is problematic].  However, when this statement is added to the entire corpus of Johnson’s written works, sermons, etc., it merely affirms Jesus Christ’s eternality as God; but, it does not prove the belief in Jesus’ earthly existence as God.  As shown above, Johnson explicitly disavows Jesus Christ’s full incarnational deity on many occasions.  It should be pointed out that to affirm Jesus Christ as eternally God yet claim He “set aside His divinity”137 during the Incarnation is self-contradictory.

However, can the above quote be harmonized as a complete, non-contradictory statement in and of itself and in relation to the rest of Johnson’s teachings on the subject of kenosis?  It really depends on how Johnson defines and interprets the word “eternally” and how he views eternity in relation to the temporal, created realm.  Do they intersect in any way or are they wholly separate from one another?

If Johnson understands eternity as that in which there is no past, present, or future as opposed to the temporal realm which, of course, does have a past, present and future, then he can make the statement above and not be contradicting his particular doctrine of kenosis.  In fact, it would be necessary to keep his ontological kenosis teaching from falling into self-contradiction.  To explain: By simple logic, Jesus must have been God pre-Incarnation in order to have possessed the divinity He had “set aside.”  Similarly, Jesus was God post-Incarnation as there’s no evidence Johnson has ever stated the contrary and has inferred, if not outright stated, Christ’s deity post-Ascension (or, perhaps post-Resurrection) in his teachings.138

To rephrase: By definition, ontological kenosis in general, with all divine attributes – or at least all the ‘omni’ traits – laid aside when the Logos became flesh, implies, or at least potentially implies, a break in the eternality of the Son of God.  That is, a logical conclusion of this doctrine is that Jesus Christ would leave the eternal realm at the Incarnation and return again upon Ascension (or, perhaps, at the Resurrection) since unbounded eternality is a divine attribute.  So, if Johnson believes the eternal realm is wholly separate and distinct from the temporal, then he could maintain that Jesus is and was eternally God but not temporally divine – and, hence, not God during the Incarnation – and, thus, keep his version of ontological kenosis consistent and non-contradictory.139

Going back a bit to the first set of quotes of Bill Johnson used above, and, adding more of the context, we can see more of this concept in evidence regarding the eternal realm as wholly separate from the temporal with no intersection:

“…He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever!  While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that man would face once He [sic] was redeemed.  He made that point over and over again…He performed miracles, wonders and signs, as a man in right relationship to God…not as God” 140

Yes, according to Johnson, Jesus is/was God eternally – just not during the Incarnation as He performed miracles as a man, not as God since He was not actually God during the Incarnation.

From an orthodox Christian perspective, God exists unrelated to time or anything material and is therefore not constrained by these.  God created both.  Did eternity pause or cease during the Incarnation?  Of course not.  Chafer states:

“…Whatever time may be and whatever its relation to eternity, it must be maintained that no cessation of eternity has occurred or will.  God’s mode of existence remains unchanged.  Time might be thought of as something superimposed upon eternity were it not that there is ground for question whether eternity consists of a succession of events, as is true of time.  The consciousness of God is best conceived as being an all-inclusive comprehension at once, covering all that has been or will be.  The attempt to bring time with its successions into a parallel with eternity is to misconceive the most essential characteristic of eternal things.” 141

There are apparently varying understandings of eternity and how the temporal realm relates to the eternal among theologians.  It is beyond the scope of this article to get into a full discussion on the subject of eternity; however, Matthew Henry’s words help put the subject in perspective:

“…Should we ask why God made the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words without knowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity?” 142

     131 “ewenhoffman” Maintaining the crosswalk- sermon of the week Feb 27th 2011. <htt6://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2011/03/01/maintaining-the-crosswalk-sermon-of-the-week-feb-27th-2011/> 16:45-17:00.  Bolding added.  As accessed 6/15/11
    132 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79. See full context at quote referenced by footnote 97.
133 Lutzer, Doctrines That Divide. p 33
134 Lutzer, Doctrines That Divide. p 34
135 Lutzer, Doctrines That Divide. p 36
136 Bromiley, G. W., The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Volume Two. 1982 (1988 reprint), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 162.  First published 1915.
137 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50
138 I’ve not seen any quotes to the contrary; and, his Facebook quote affirms current deity.  Further, the quote referenced below in footnote 140 confirms present tense deity.
139 This view is not without precedent as A. B. Bruce refers to a variation in The Humiliation of Christ in quoting Ebrard (as in Chafer as quoted in part I at footnote 22), “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.”
140 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth. p 29.  Underline from emphasis in original; bolding added for my own emphasis.  The “He” identified by “sic” is rather curious – probably a typographical error, however, as written it seems as though it was Christ who was redeemed.
141 Chafer, Vol. VII, pp 141-42
142 Henry, M. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Volume 1. 1991 (8th printing 2006), Hendrickson, USA; p 2

Concluding Remarks

Like some others before him, Bill Johnson refuses to adhere to orthodox Christian teaching concerning the person of Jesus Christ as exemplified in the Chalcedonian Creed.  He denies that Christ possessed His divine attributes during the Incarnation because “Jesus did everything as a man, laying aside His divinity in order to become a model for us.”143  While Johnson affirms that Jesus Christ is eternally God, this does not negate his teachings that Jesus had “so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…”144 during the entirety of the Incarnation to the point of not being able to raise Himself at the Resurrection.  It is certainly self-contradictory to assert that Jesus is eternally God and yet had no divine attributes during the Incarnation.   But this is a part of Johnson’s overall doctrine.

On the other hand, when filtering Bill Johnson’s seemingly orthodox statements affirming Jesus Christ’s deity through the ontologically kenotic lens of the rest of his teachings, these statements can be harmonized into one mostly, if not totally, non-contradictory doctrine with respect to kenosis.  This is not to say that some of Bill Johnson’s teachings do not contradict Scripture as, of course, they clearly do.

In considering the entire corpus of Bill Johnson’s teachings we seem to have the Logos, the Word, divested of His ‘omni’ attributes, His impeccability (inability to sin – note the last sentence of his Facebook comment above), His immutability (changeless perfection), and perhaps other divine attributes, having ‘laid these aside’ in order to live His earthly existence as a man who was subsequently successful in living a sinless life and thereby providing an example to mankind.  This necessitated the second person of the Trinity leaving the eternal realm at the Incarnation; however, He re-attained His full deity upon Ascension (or, perhaps the Resurrection) as He reentered eternity.

In any case, whether one believes the entirety of Johnson’s teachings is hopelessly self-contradictory or whether one accepts that it can be harmonized as ontological kenosis throughout, the fact remains that certain aspects of his teachings are unambiguously ontologically kenotic.  This is explicit heresy.

If Johnson ‘merely’ intends functionalist kenosis instead (with its teaching that the Word made flesh retained all divine attributes but the Holy Spirit performed all Christ’s miracles and all ‘omni’ functions and possibly other divine functions), he has many very poorly worded passages in his books, sermons, etc. which need correction or clarification.  However, even a functionalist kenosis account such as this suffers from a debilitating problem (in addition to the fact that it denies immutability): it violates Scripture [John 5:24; John 2:19, 10:17-18, etc.] and it necessarily precludes the Word made flesh from upholding the cosmos [cf. Colossians 1:16-17; Heb 1:3] via the so-called extra calvinisticum [aka extra catholicum].

To amend these works to bring his Christology up to Christian orthodoxy would be a monumental task for sure; but, it all depends on how much he really loves the truth.  Everyone makes mistakes; however, the extent to which individuals are willing to correct those mistakes is the mark of a true teacher who reveres both God and Scripture and who cares about his flock.  A case in point regarding the correct way to respond to mistakes is illustrated in the following taken from a 2002 DVD by R. C. Sproul:

“…Just this week I got the second letter from somebody that read my book Renewing Your Mind which is now out in its third title, third edition.  The last edition of which was reworked, brought up to date by an editor at the publishing house.  And, after they did it they sent it to me – after they made their changes – and asked me to give the final corrections and proofs, which I did.  Hastily.  And I missed something that somebody who read it wrote to me and said, ‘Did you? – I can’t believe it.  You teach the Kenotic heresy.’ Because on one of the pages in that book it has me saying that in the Incarnation, Jesus laid aside His divine nature.  I saw that; I almost fainted.  I called the president of the publishing house, ‘This must be my fault.  I didn’t catch that.’ ‘But,’ I said, ‘I wouldn’t say that on the worst day of my life.’  And, I said, ‘What can we do?’  And, you know what he did?  He pulled every single copy that they had in inventory off the shelves and reprinted it to correct that error.” 145

To continually refer to Jesus Christ as merely “a man in right relationship with God,”146 as Johnson insists throughout his works, at the expense of deity, does our Lord and Savior much disservice.  Even the decidedly non-Christian first century Jewish historian Josephus paid Him more reverence:

“Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works – a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure.  He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles.  He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.” 147

Amen!

     143 Johnson, Bill, Strengthen Yourself in the Lord. 2007, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 26
144 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50
145 Sproul, R.C. The Mystery of the Trinity. DVD 2002, Ligonier Ministries, Sanford, FL
146 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50
147 Josephus, Flavius, W. Whitson, The Works of Josephus Complete and Unabridged: New Updated Edition. 1987 (22nd printing June 2009), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 480.  Emphasis added.