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

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Does Becoming a New Creature in Christ Mean New DNA?

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

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

– Damon Thompson of The Ramp

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

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

This raises all sorts of questions:

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

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

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

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

Should we believe Damon Thompson and his story?

Did Ernie Gruen Recant His ‘Aberrant Practices’ Document Regarding Kansas City Fellowship/Grace Ministries?

The prophecy movement carries with it the seeds of deception.  At worst in the discipleship/shepherding movement some shepherd told you what to do.  In the prophecy movement it’s God(?) who tells you what to do.

Jamie Buckingham, May/June 1990 Ministries Today1

In context, Buckingham, in the quote above, was speaking of the excesses in personal foretelling prophecies; however, the same could be said for much of the modern so-called “Apostolic/Prophetic” (New Apostolic Reformation aka NAR) movement in general.  This would include both the foretelling and the forthtelling varieties, i.e. what some of these “prophets” are claiming God is saying today much of which is at odds with traditional, literal interpretations of Scripture.

Back in the late 1980s Kansas City Fellowship (KCF, aka Grace Ministries) in Kansas City, Missouri, pastored by the young Mike Bickle, was involved in a controversy regarding this new “Prophecy Movement.”  This controversy centered around the so-called Kansas City Prophets (KCP) of which Bob Jones, Paul Cain, and John Paul Jackson were the most visible.  Ernest J. Gruen, senior pastor of Full Faith Church of Love-West of Shawnee, Kansas, just the other side of the Missouri state line, had growing concerns about the teachings, prophecies, and practices at KCF.  After showing concern about these aberrances to Mike Bickle and feeling as though these concerns were not being heeded, Gruen, after prayer, decided to preach his sermon “Do We Keep Smiling and Say Nothing” on January 21, 1990 detailing some of the problems at KCF.

The tape of this January 21 sermon was distributed throughout the US bringing media attention to the Kansas City area.  During this time Gruen and some of his staff transcribed tapes distributed by Grace Ministries/KCF and analyzed those as well as teaching materials from KCF/GM resulting in the release of the 233-page Documentation of Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries) [hereafter identified as the “Gruen Document”or “the Document”] in May of 1990.  The Gruen Document corrected three mistakes made in the taped sermon of January 21 all having to do with associated details.

Subsequent to this, there have been persistent rumors, speculations and allegations that Ernie Gruen recanted the Document in part or in toto.  Is this true?  While it is true Gruen conceded portions of the Gruen Document in a letter dated July 1, 1990 some aspects of this statement seem troublingly self-contradictory when compared to the 233-page Document.  This raises a number of associated questions.  Is this letter real, legitimate?  If so, what factors contributed to the release of this statement?  If so, were these concessions just honest mistakes or did Gruen fabricate these portions of the Document?  Assuming these concessions were made, and given the importance of the Gruen Document, why does this continue to be the subject of rumor and speculation rather than established fact?  This article will attempt to answer some of these questions.

This is not an attempt to dredge up the past.  This is an attempt to arrive at the whole truth of the matter.  Kansas City Fellowship would later become what is now known as the International House of Prayer – more commonly “IHOP” – which is recognized worldwide.  Many other similar _HOPs, patterned after the Kansas City model, have been established throughout the US and around the world.  In view of this, the history of this movement could be of  importance to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, especially since Mike Bickle continues to espouse KCF as part of the IHOP heritage.

Timeline of Events

A timeline of events specifically regarding Gruen and KCF as well as contemporaneous accounts and findings by others regarding KCF and Vineyard (the Association of Vineyard Churches, under John Wimber’s leadership eventually assumed control of KCF) will help in assessing the facts and will shed further light.  All dates are from 1990 unless otherwise specified:

–          January (inclusive dates unknown):  A “massive” two week conference titled “Holiness” is held at John Wimber’s Anaheim Vineyard as mentioned in Bill Jackson’s book The Quest for the Radical Middle, a history of Vineyard.  The book does not specifically list the featured speakers. Reportedly, there were 5000 registrants per week.2

–          January 21: Ernie Gruen preaches the sermon “Do We Keep Smiling and Say Nothing.”  The tape was distributed in the United States and apparently eventually ended up going worldwide.  After its release over 40 Kansas City pastors united with Gruen.3

–          January 22 (or 29):4 Mike Bickle responds with an open letter.  The letter has not been recovered but portions are quoted in other sources:

I am very eager to meet with you to clear up these terrible misunderstandings.  I leave the initiative for a meeting in your hands respecting your need to first hear from the Lord in a fresh way.  I’d suggest that we call men with national ministries to come and sit with us in order to help us communicate.5

John Wimber, referencing Bickle’s January letter, in an article written after Gruen agreed to stop sending out the Gruen Document states:

Bickle declined to question Gruen’s motives or sincerity, instead claiming that much of Gruen’s accusations were based on a confusion of facts and wrong information.

Bickle took some responsibility for the confusion of facts, saying he should have been more diligent to communicate the nature of KCF’s beliefs and practices to Gruen in earlier talks.  He added, “I will not respond to specific issues publicly to avoid further strife and hurt, but will gladly meet with you along with any of your leaders at your convenience.” 6

In an article in the September/October issue of Ministries Today, Lee Grady states this about the Bickle response to Gruen’s tape:

Feeling injured and betrayed, he wrote an open letter to Gruen, denouncing the charges as false and misleading.  Most of the specific incidents described on the tape as evidence of KCF’s errors were grossly inaccurate, he said.  But Bickle displayed gentility in his response and never once tried to vindicate himself publicly or deny that his ministry had made mistakes.  “I open my heart to any correction you have to offer that relates to any of our problems,” he wrote Gruen.7

–          March (exact dates unknown):  At a conference titled “What the Holy Spirit is Saying to the Church Today” in Sydney, Australia, Wimber/Vineyard were confronted by some locals who wanted Wimber and company to go back home.  Jack Deere and Paul Cain were on this trip.8  In April, a very critical report from Philip Jensen’s church – the group that criticized Vineyard – came out in the journal The Briefing.9  Deere would later write about the incident in a 1992 position paper.10

–          March 20: Letter is sent to District Superintendents of the Assemblies of God (A/G) by Jewel van der Merwe (now Grewe) as a follow up to an earlier letter (date unknown) listing problems with GM/KCF.  In the letter, she relays an account of an individual who moved to Kansas City the previous summer [‘89] as a result of guidance from “one of  prophets in Kansas City.”  Jewel was in the KC area in October of ’89, contacted the individual and relates, “She told me prophecies had gone out that thousands of pastors would be leaving their churches and moving to Kansas City to be part of what God is doing in the End-time…”  When questioned on what authority the individual knew these prophets were of God, the conversation was abruptly ceased by the individual.

This matter has distressed me greatly for the last several months.  We have spent hours transcribing tapes from the new prophets.  I know that the Assemblies [of God] all over the country are going to be affected by what is happening because of the mass media exposure, massive conferences already planned for the near future and the amount of books and tapes being churned out at a rapid rate.

Listed in the letter are a number of serious errors being taught (from Bob Jones’ tapes/teachings and by extension Mike Bickle who was interviewing Jones on some of these) including the disbelief in a literal anti-christ, the intent to disband denominations including the A/G, the “Elect Generation” (elected seed) doctrine, the practice of the laying on of hands after which the individual “changes radically,” Melchisedek Priesthood teaching [which is taught in Rosicrucianism], disbelief in a literal Rapture, and the claim of power to remit sin.  After this list, is the following statement:

  [T]his is just the beginning of the heresy they are teaching.  The deity of Jesus Christ is being subtly undermined and replaced with the deification of man.

The letter explicitly identifies the overall teachings of the KCP/KCF as the New Order of the Latter Rain doctrine while pointing out that this was denounced as heresy by the A/G in 1948.11

–          March 30: Gruen’s letter to Bickle in response to the January 22 (or 29) letter agreeing to a meeting with “national leaders.”

…I am now convinced that your group does not represent orthodox Christianity; that many of your church’s prophecies are from familiar spirits and actually divination; and that you are very close to becoming a Charismatic heresy and a cult group.  The material that we have documented, from your own writings and tapes, has led me to this sad conclusion…

The local Kansas City situation is not the focus now, since we have followed the process and procedures commanded in Matthew 18 precisely through to the third step when we told it to the church [sic]. The message I preached on January 21, 1990, at this point, is no longer relevant.  The issue is that you have started a movement that is promoting prophecies throughout the nation that are total fabrications in order to gain credibility for ‘your movement.’ You have done irreparable harm to the [C]hurch in Kansas City, and we do not wish to harm hundreds of thousands of people nationwide…12

Gruen went so far as to suggest twelve men who “would definitely be a fair and responsible group” six of whom he never met and four “only casual acquaintances.”  At least one of those listed, Earl Paulk, explicitly taught Latter Rain doctrine including the Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) heresy.  Obviously, Gruen was not aware of this at the time since he himself denounced MSoG in the Gruen Document.  It’s apparent that Gruen was not familiar with some of his chosen group’s doctrines or affiliations.  The full list follows:

Dick Benjamin
Roderick Caeser, Jr.
Emmanuele Cannistraci
John Casteel
Charles Green
John Hagee
Dick Iverson
Houston Miles
Paul Paino
Earl Paulk
Charles Simpson
Ken Sumrall

–          April 4: Gruen releases “Open Letter to National Leaders” to the Network of Christian Ministries (NCM).  This amounted to a request for a “heresy trial” according to Jamie Buckingham which “would have forced that board into the unenviable and dangerous position of an apostolic council – something charismatics have violently opposed in years past.”13

…The purpose of the meeting would not be that Mike and I be reconciled, because we are totally convinced that many of his prophets prophecy by a familiar spirit and that they are a Charismatic heresy.  The purpose of the meeting, therefore, would be for you to examine their doctrine and practices, to ascertain whether our conclusions are accurate; if not, we should be corrected.  On the other hand, if our conclusions are accurate, equitable, and righteous, then this should be exposed and such action should be taken as you decide…14

In the letter, Gruen promised to have the documentation available by May 31st and to provide a copy to KCF.  It is reported that Bickle and Gruen had agreed to a meeting with the NCM which was scheduled for July.15

–          April (date of event in dispute): Bill Jackson’s The Quest For the Radical Middle,16 corresponding with John Wimber’s report in his own Equipping the Saints magazine,17 states that Wimber and Cain “had met with Gruen as early as April to try to resolve their differences.”  Given that Cain was not specifically mentioned until the Gruen Document which wasn’t released until May, which seems to have provided the catalyst for Cain’s desire for a meeting with Gruen (see below), and that there is specifically mentioned a May 25 meeting consisting of Wimber and Cain with Gruen, it appears this is in error.  This is further evidenced by continuing with the account as told by Jackson, “It was then agreed that Wimber’s associate Jack Deere, would meet with Gruen and his staff and consider all the charges.”  This agrees with the May 25 account below as recorded by Jamie Buckingham.  A May 25 date seems more likely since: 1) it follows the release of the Gruen Document; and, 2) the follow up meeting consisting of Deere with Gruen and his staff on June 12-14 was only about 3 weeks after May 25 rather than 6 or more weeks if this initial meeting was in April instead.

–          April 23: Albert James Dager, author and publisher of Media Spotlight founded in 1977, publishes a Special Report titled, “Latter-Day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection” thus predating the Gruen Document.  This includes an interview with Mike Bickle, partial transcriptions of GM/KCF tapes (one of which was not referenced in the Gruen Document), and other associated material (some of which were not in the Gruen document).18  Dager would incorporate this Special Report into his book Vengeance is Ours readapting this material by adding other information including bits from the Gruen Document.

Obviously, given Bickle’s interview with Dager, he was aware that Dager was to publish an article further evidenced by the fact that he subsequently sent a letter to Dager19 after GM/KCF came under Wimber/Vineyard (see below).

–          May 12: Grace Ministries/Kansas City Fellowship becomes Metro Vineyard Christian Fellowship, more commonly Metro Vineyard Fellowship (MVF), after coming under the headship of John Wimber and the Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC).20  This was “a surprise announcement,” according to Lee Grady.21  Wimber then wrote to the Network of Christian Ministries apprising them of this change stating it would be best for him to take care of the problems thus side-stepping the possibility of a heresy trial.22

It’s important to note that “[Wimber] and Vineyard Ministries International [had] been the major financial contributors to the Shiloh [Ministries] project” – a part of Grace Ministries – by Fall 1989 or earlier.  Shiloh “is a piece of land where various prophets can live together and share their revelations.”  Wimber “is credited for a key role as a counselor in helping the team members establish some of Shiloh’s basic principles and practices.”23

–          May (specific date unknown) : The 233-page Gruen Document is released.  It contains Gruen’s letters of March 30 and April 4 as noted above, letters from other local churches in support of Gruen, testimonial letters reflecting negatively on KCF, transcripts of GM/KCF tapes, excerpts from teaching materials, and explanations as to the problems associated with the GM/KCF material.  In the first section of the Document, Gruen concedes three mistakes in his January sermon/tape with respect to the accuracy of specific details of these accounts while affirming their essential truthfulness.24

The Document was apparently released just before, just after, or contemporaneous with the Vineyard assumption of KCF/GM.  In a July/August 1990 Ministries Today article, Jamie Buckingham seems to place the release of the Gruen Document after the advent of MVF.  After mentioning that KCF submitted to the Vineyard/Wimber leadership and Wimber’s subsequent letter to the NCM thereby averting a heresy trial, he then writes, “Gruen, nevertheless, released a 233-page spiral-bound ‘document’ listing numerous charges…”

Bickle and Cain immediately requested a meeting with Gruen and the board of the National Leadership Conference, which was then in session.  In that meeting, Cain said Gruen was not playing “fair” by printing accusations against him without first contacting him.  He and Bickle urged Gruen to withhold distribution of the document until Wimber could examine the issues.  (It was offered free to all who called Gruen’s church at [phone number].)  The NLC board strongly urged Gruen to consider their request.  Cain said he was flying to Kansas City and would sit and wait until Gruen talked to him.  Gruen refused to withdraw the book, but did agree to a private meeting with Cain and Wimber.25

Note that the National Leadership Conference (NLC) is different from the Network of Christian Ministries (NCM).  It seems possible that the NLC would have been more amenable to the Bickle-Cain position as Gruen had already suggested the NCM meet with Gruen and Bickle to review KCF’s doctrines and practices.

Buckingham’s account implies that Gruen defiantly went on with completing and distributing the Document even though Wimber had promised to provide oversight and the NCM agreed to allow Wimber to provide this correction rather than going through with a heresy trial presided by the NCM.  However, interestingly, Buckingham was president of the NLC board at the time – an important detail missing from the Ministries Today article above yet mentioned in the 1991 revised edition of David Pytches’ book Some Said it Thundered.26  The mere fact that a modified version of Buckingham’s article27 would appear in Pytches’ (revised) book – a positive view of KCF and the KCP – is troubling enough; however, when coupled with this omission, his objectivity could be called into question.

Compare the bolded portion above with the bolded portion below (The verbiage both directly preceding and following the words in this paragraph below are essentially the same as the above; however, the parenthetical statement about how to obtain a copy of the Gruen Document was deleted since this book was published in 1991, of course.):

…[Cain and Bickle] urged him to withhold distribution of the book until Wimber could examine the issues.  As president of the NLC board I called a meeting in Ridgecrest, North Carolina, and we strongly urged Gruen – who was an NLC member – to consider their request.  Cain said he was flying to Kansas City…28

In a July 1993 Charisma article, J. Lee Grady seems to place the release of the Gruen Document before the transition from KCF to MVF.  The subject of the article was that both Bickle and Gruen “asked each other for forgiveness” thus resolving the three years long dispute in the aftermath of the events surrounding the Gruen Document.29  In this piece, Grady mentions Gruen’s taped sermon in one paragraph, in the paragraph following he discusses the 233-page document, and two paragraphs later he states:

Soon after Gruen aired the accusations, Bickle aligned KCF with the Association of Vineyard Churches…30

Given that the January sermon was nearly four months prior to the May 12 transition to MVF, this appears to indicate that Grady’s “soon after” comment did not refer to the tape but rather the Gruen Document instead thereby placing its release just before the May 12, 1990 transition date.  Grady’s article in the September/October 1990 Ministries Today, seems to indicate the same thing implicitly in a similar way.31

Jackson’s book also infers that the release of the Gruen Document followed the change from KCF to MVF aligning closer to Grady’s account by mentioning the tape, followed by the Gruen Document, followed by the Vineyard acquisition:

In a surprise move, however, John Wimber stepped in during the month of May to cut off the controversy’s momentum.  He announced that Kansas City Fellowship was going to become a part of the Association of Vineyard Churches…32

–          May 25: Three hour meeting is held consisting of Gruen and his staff with Wimber and Cain33 on the Friday preceding Memorial Day which reportedly “totally changed the direction of the controversy,” according to Buckingham:34

Gruen, who later called it a “sweet meeting in the Spirit,” opened by saying, “I do not have war in my heart.”  Wimber and Cain said they only wanted God’s best.  The result was the issuance of a joint statement to all factions saying:

  • The opposing leaders trust each other’s integrity and spirit.
  • Vineyard leader Jack Deere, a former Dallas Seminary professor, will oversee a process to examine all the charges.
  • Wimber and Gruen want to model to the nation a “righteous method” of handling disputes.35

–          June (specific date unknown): Tapes are discontinued from the Grace Ministries “Spring Catalog ’90” [see previous article here on CrossWise] including many of the ones transcribed or referenced in the Gruen Document and Dager’s Special Report.   All of the Bob Jones material from the original catalog was deleted and much of Paul Cain’s.  Following is a complete list of the deleted items with a corresponding letter denoting the tapes’ reference in either the Gruen (G), the Dager (D), or both (B):

Bob Jones Visions and Revelations               B
An Interview with Bob Jones                             B
The Prophetic History of Grace Min.                B
Endtime Prophetic Events (J.P. Jackson)      G
Personal Testimony (Paul Cain)                      G
Our Father’s House (Paul Cain)                      n/a
7 Spirits of God (Paul Cain)                               G
Joel’s Army (Paul Cain)                                      G
A New Breed (Paul Cain)                                   D
Personal Testimony (Bob Jones)                    n/a
Rest in His Mercy & Grace (Bob Jones)         n/a
Heaven & Hell (Bob Jones)                               n/a
Shepherd’s Rod Oct. ’89 (Bob Jones)             G
An Intercessory Vow (Noel Alexander)            n/a
Intercession With Angels (Mike Bickle)           n/a
Video-Interview With Bob Jones                         *
Video-Interview With Paul Cain                          *

The asterisk is placed next to the Cain video as it contains the personal testimony on the single tape which is also deleted; so, it could be counted by extension with this in mind.  Similarly, the asterisk is placed next to the Jones video for the same reason..  As to the others, we erred on the side of caution as the Gruen Document used its own nomenclature making it sometimes difficult to cross-reference with the GM catalog.  Also noted is that Dager’s April 23rd article references Noel Alexander’s Intercessory Prayer: Kansas City Fellowship’s Theology, History and Practice.36  It seems plausible that the tape above titled An Intercessory Vow could have overlapping subject matter.

It’s rather curious that GM/KCF would discontinue the series which “is by far our best seller” – The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries – without having one to replace it [see previous post for list of then current tape offerings].

In the Fall 1990 Christian Research Journal it is reported that all the Bob Jones tapes were taken out of circulation as a result of Wimber’s “attempt at correction”:

…limitations on public ministry were placed on Bob Jones…Jones’s controversial tapes have been withdrawn from distribution and his ministry is limited to church leadership “behind closed doors.”37

Bickle later complained that he took the heat for some of the so-called Kansas City Prophets of whom he had no governing authority.38  While this may be true, Bickle certainly had control over whose tapes he would choose to distribute.  Selling taped messages of these individuals – especially those taped at KCF – is explicit endorsement; consequently, any criticism leveled against him regarding an individual whose tapes he distributed, especially with regard to the tapes’ contents, is quite fair.  Given that a large portion of the Gruen Document was specifically about Bob Jones, whose tapes Bickle had been selling, some of which included Bickle in conversation with Jones, then this criticism is not only fair, it is expressly warranted.

Also of interest is the fact that Jewel van der Merwe (Grewe) of Discernment Ministries released her first Discernment Newsletter in May, and the June newsletter specifically mentions KCF as well as Bob Jones and Paul Cain.39

–          June 12-14: Meeting of Jack Deere with Gruen and his staff evaluating the concerns in the Gruen Document.40

–          June (likely, though date unknown): 15 points/errors jointly prepared by Vineyard & KCF obviously prior to the June 28 date in which Bickle “repents” of these specific errors.  Following is a list of these 15 in their entirety.  Note that these items are mostly, if not entirely, reflected explicitly or implicitly in the Gruen Document.  The 15 points/errors are preceded by a statement in all capital letters:

ERRORS THAT BOTH KCF AND VINEYARD HAD DISCOVERED PRIOR TO ERNIE’S REPORT AND HAD BEGUN TO CORRECT.

  1. The lack of accountability for prophecies that do not come true or do not bear witness to the person receiving the ministry.  The releasing of men to minister publicly in a teaching format who are not qualified as teachers.
  2. The attempt by some prophetic ministers to establish doctrine or practice by revelation alone, apart from clear biblical support.
  3. Dogmatic assertions in delivery of prophetic words.
  4. On several occasions revealing negative prophetic words in public without first confronting the individual.
  5. On several occasions revealing negatives in private without first confronting the individual.
  6. Predictions concerning babies or marriages (except in cases of barrenness).
  7. The conferring of governmental authority or staff positions on the individuals, as well as redirecting staff to different church locations without giving these words to the appropriate levels of leadership.
  8. Giving prophetic words which affect a movement or church without going first to the appropriate levels of authority.
  9. Public predictions of natural disasters, economic events, and divine visitations without the approval of government.
  10. The use of prophetic gifting for controlling purposes.
  11. Using types and allegories to establish doctrine.
  12. Teaching or implying that KCF and Vineyard are an elite group or that we are the leaders of a new elite group about to be revealed by God.
  13. Using jargon that reflects the teaching of groups that we do not wish to be identified with.
  14. Calling John Wimber, or others, apostles and prophets verses (sic) using the terms “apostolic leadership” and “prophetic ministry.”
  15. Manifesting an attitude of superiority through the possession of a secret body of information.  Amos 3:7 is true, but the prophetic people are not to wear a garment of pride because of this knowledge.41

–          June 28: Jack Deere, Paul Cain and Wimber present their response to the findings in the Gruen Document to Gruen and his staff.  According to Wimber, “After several hours of discussion, Gruen agreed to stop his attacks against KCF and Paul Cain” promising to bring no new charges without contacting Wimber first.42

According to a not unbiased article in Charisma & Christian Life,43 later that day, at a KCF-sponsored conference, Wimber made a statement that he had begun to scrutinize the teachings of KCF, purportedly at Bickle’s request, “before Gruen had started his public questioning.”44  Interestingly, the article states, “They [Wimber and Gruen] had found only a couple areas of agreement”45 yet in Wimber’s own Equipping the Saints article he dogmatically declares the Gruen document is wholly untrue:

After reading every line of Pastor Gruen’s document, listening to his tape, and interviewing as many people involved as possible, my staff and I are convinced that the accusations against Kansas City Fellowship and Paul Cain are untrue.  I find no evidence that they teach heresy; have an occultic spirit; have unethical practices; promote bizarre, unscriptural experiences; have cultlike tendencies or teachings; or use prophetic gifting to take over churches.46

After Wimber spoke, Bickle made his statement at the conference admitting the errors established in the 15 points/errors (which, as noted above, are essentially indicated in the Gruen Document) and “detailed mistakes made in reporting two prophecies that had been used to establish the legitimacy of KCF” claiming that “both prophecies were fulfilled” but “the later retelling of these fulfillments were exaggerated.”47  Were the “fulfillments” ‘merely’ “exaggerated” or were these “prophecies” actually fulfilled at all?  Of the two “prophecies” mentioned in the article, only the drought prophecy is discussed (identified in the Gruen Document as item I.A48) and this will be more completely analyzed in a subsequent article.

Five years later, while maintaining “that most of Gruen’s accusations were untrue,” Bickle would admit, “God was disciplining us for pride and some wrong ideas.” He continued, “If it hadn’t have been Ernie Gruen, God would have used someone else.  The message wouldn’t have gotten through to us if it had been kind.  It had to be tough.  We were wrong.”49  So, which was it?  Did “KCF and Vineyard” discover the KCF errors “prior to Ernie’s report,” as the preface to the ‘15 points/errors’ above indicated, or was it Gruen who provided the impetus to change?

The conference referenced above in which Bickle “repented” was the “3rd Annual Grace Ministries Leadership Conference” held from Monday June 25th through Friday the 29th which was advertised in the “Grace Ministries Spring Catalog ’90.”  This catalog was most likely released prior to March 1st as the advertisement mentions this date as the beginning point to write for “conference brochure and registration forms.”  At the time of publishing, featured speakers were to be John Wimber, Paul Cain, Ralph Mahoney, Bob Jones, and Leonard Ravenhill, with “other speakers” listed as Bickle, Rick Joyner, Francis Frangipane, David Parker, David Ravenhill, “and other Grace Ministries team members.”  Presumably, the featured speakers were recognized as “leaders” given the title of the conference.  This is noted since Wimber was critical of Jones being in leadership and he stripped Jones of leadership status as part of the “corrections” made upon the KCF transition to MVF.  Thus, it is assumed that Jones did not speak at the conference.

–          July 1: Gruen sends a summary letter to John Wimber regarding the June 28 meeting.  Included is the promise to stop distributing the Gruen Document after July 30.

Also in this letter, Gruen concedes some “points that could be disputed and argued” in the Gruen Document while affirming the “essential accuracy” of the Document.  The three concessions are; 1) the use of some testimonies as these “have the possibility of being totally true or…giving disgruntled people an opportunity to express their grievances;” 2) completely exonerating Paul Cain of “any negative charges;” and, 3) the retraction of the story of a baby who died after receiving personal prophecy in his sermon of January 21 as the account has not been documented.  Point 2 is the most troubling as this seems to contradict the whole of item VI.H in the Gruen Document.  The whole of the contents of this section of the letter will be detailed in the second part of this article with sections discussed in full.

As to the first point, Gruen “is careful not to say that the testimony of a disgruntled person is not true, but only that it could give opportunity to attack one’s ministry,” as noted by Dager.50  Personal testimonies can provide added weight to other evidence; so, testimonies are not to be wholly discounted as Gruen’s statement infers.  Gruen’s concession on this point was in part rather than in toto.

In this letter Gruen states

While I do not regret releasing the documentation or preaching the original sermon, I do realize that I have caused pain to many individuals in the body of Christ.  I sincerely apologize for any unnecessary pain that I have caused.  We at Full Faith do not want to continue to cause pain or hurts.  We do not want a war with Vineyard or Kansas City Fellowship… 

…[W]e release the entire situation of Kansas City Fellowship into your [Wimber’s] hands.  We recognize that it is not now our responsibility to provide either correction or approval of Kansas City Fellowship.  We believe that you are sincerely trying to bring the balance and correction that is needed.  We also understand that this will involve a process that will take some time.  We again wish to express our confidence in you, John, and state publicly that we completely and fully trust in your integrity. 

…Ultimately the issue is in God’s hands.  His sovereignty is the final court of appeal.  He will bring to all of us the balance and correction that we need.  Because we believe in the sovereignty of God, we are willing to submit this whole controversy into His hands.  We give you permission to copy these pages as a unit, to use in any way you desire.51

Included as an enclosure with this two page letter are the 15 points above.  All three pages were to be sent with the Gruen Document to all those receiving the document from that time until July 30 (at which point the Document will no longer be distributed).  In addition, all who previously received the Document were to receive this notice.

–          July 5: Gruen letter is released to be used as a cover for the July 1 letter and enclosure.  The legitimacy of both letters is evidenced by an extant copy of all 4 pages (July 5 letter, two page July 1 letter, plus one page enclosure) with a fax date/time stamp originating at Full Faith Church of Love-West (stamped “Jul-12-90” at 12:37-39).52

Following is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

As one of those who has received a copy of the [D]ocumentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship, or is now receiving a copy of our documentation, enclosed is a copy of a letter I sent to John Wimber together with a statement to us from Vineyard Christian Fellowship concerning KCF. 

This letter is the result of meetings with John Wimber and other leaders of Vineyard Fellowship, and a subsequent decision made by myself, the other Full Faith Church of Love pastors, and the elders of FFCL West. 

KCF has now become part of the Vineyard association of churches.  We ask for your continued prayers for all those involved. 

Sincerely, 

Pastor Ernest J. Gruen 53

–          July 9: “A Statement from Derek Prince” is released due to persistent questions posed to him regarding KCF.  Prince is very critical.  He recounts a conversation that he had with Mike Bickle in March of 1990 which is followed by his scathing assessment of KCF/GM:

…At this time I was asked by Mike Bickle to counsel with him and some of his leaders.  I spent nearly three hours in discussion with them.  I told them that I felt they were receiving and propagating error.  Our meeting was conducted in a friendly spirit and ended with prayer, but no conclusion was reached. 

Subsequent to this encounter, I studied [the Gruen Document]…It is based mainly on material published by Grace Ministries, or on transcripts of tapes made in Kansas City Fellowship which they themselves circulated. 

Very briefly, I can sum up the main conclusions I have reached: 

  1.       The material circulated by Kansas City Fellowship contains many statements which have no basis in Scripture and are frequently contrary to Scripture.  Some of the purported “revelations” could be described as absurd and even blasphemous. 
  2.       Much of the material is permeated by what I consider to be occult influence. 
  3.       The overall affect of the material is to divert attention away from Jesus Christ and the Scriptures and toward subjective experiences and human personalities. 
  4.      The circulation of the material from Kansas City Fellowship has exposed the Body of Christ to much error and confusion. 
  5.      These errors are deep-rooted and longstanding, dating at least as far back as 1983. 

Any effective remedy would require open confession and renunciation of the errors practiced and a radical elimination of the occult element.  All this should be communicated as widely as the errors have been circulated.  A mere change of label or of leadership, by itself, is not sufficient.54

Prince goes on to stress that it’s the “doctrines and practices” and not the individuals he is judging.  He continues:

…We are living in a period when it is more important than ever for all of us to cultivate “the love of the truth.” (See 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12.)55

Yes, Derek Prince was part of the “shepherding” controversy; however, his words and advice here are spot on!

–          July (specific date unknown): Albert James Dager releases Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion which incorporates and expands on the Special Report released on April 23rd in a chapter titled “Who Are the Apostles and Prophets?”56

In a letter sent out in July to those on Dager’s Media Spotlight mailing list in which Dager announces his book, he also mentions a forthcoming Special Report on Vineyard.57  This report, released in August, contained two articles.  One was authored by John Goodwin, a former associate of Wimber at Vineyard, while the other was another update on Dager’s April 23rd Special Report discussing Gruen’s July 1 letter including an analysis on Gruen’s exoneration of Paul Cain.

The Cain exoneration by Gruen will be examined in detail in the second part of this article.  And, as noted above, the ‘drought prophecy’ will be fully analyzed as well.

1 Buckingham, Jamie “Buckingham Report” Ministries Today. May/June 1990, Vol. 8 No. 3; p 22.  Question mark “(?)” after “God” in original.
2 Jackson, Bill The Quest for the Radical Middle. 1999, Vineyard International Publishers, Ladysmith, Cape Town, South Africa; p 211.  Confusingly, at least one subsequent “Re-published” issue has different page numberings.  The 2nd issue was Re-published in 2000 as VIP, Cape Town with the same page numbering as the first edition; whereas, the 2010 “Re-published for Amazon” issue (VIP, Cape Town also) has different page numberings.  This particular reference is on page 202.  Hereafter, all page references will reference the earlier edition followed by the later one, e.g.: p 211 / 202.
3 Buckingham, Jamie “Buckingham Report” Ministries Today. July/August 1990, Vol. 8 No. 4; p 22
4 Gruen letter to Mike Bickle dated March 30 states Bickle’s letter is from January 22, 1990.  This letter is included in the Gruen Document.  [Gruen, Ernie & John J. Arnold, et. al. Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries). May 1990, self-published, Shawnee, KS; p 35 / <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/kcp/Aberrant%20Practises.pdf> pdf prepared for online posting by Tricia Tillin (Booth) p 28 [hereafter listed as pdf p # / booklet p #].    However, Wimber [Wimber, John “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition, p 3] identifies the date of Bickle’s letter as January 29.
5 Gruen Documentation. p 28 / 35
6 Wimber “A Response” p 3.  Emphasis added.
7 Grady, Lee “Resolving the Kansas City Prophecy Controversy” Ministries Today. September/October 1990, Vol 8 No. 5; p 50.  Emphasis added.
8 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 154-55 / 149
9 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 154-55 / 149-50
10 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 154-57, 170ftnt / 149-52, 164ftnt
11 Letter on file; emphasis added
12 Letter included in Gruen Documentation. pp 28-9 / 36. Emphasis added.
13 Buckingham, “Report” July/August 1990; p 22
14 Letter included in Gruen Documentation. p 30 / 37.  Emphasis in original.
15 Grady, “Resolving Kansas City” p 51
16 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 217-18 / 207-08
17 Wimber, “A Response to Gruen” p 3
18 Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection” Media Spotlight. Special Report, April 23, 1990, Media Spotlight, Redmond,WA; pp 4-5
19 Dager, Albert James Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion. July 1990, Sword Publishers,Redmond,WA; p 128
20 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 217 / 207
21 Grady, “Resolving Kansas City” p 51
22 Buckingham, “Report” July/August 1990; pp 22-3
23 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 4 referencing Lambert, Steve “Shiloh: A Prophetic Sanctuary” Grace City Report . Special Ed., Fall 1989, p 11.  Also Dager. Vengeance. pp 128-29.  Emphasis added.
24 Gruen, Documentation. p 7 / pp 3-4
25 Buckingham, “Report” July/August 1990; p 23.  Emphasis added.
26 Buckingham, Jamie. “Afterword” in Pytches, David. Some Said it Thundered. 1991, Oliver Nelson, Nashville, TN; p 148
27 Buckingham, “Afterword” in Pytches Some Said it Thundered. pp 145-54.  Contains both May/June and July/August 1990 articles with alterations and some additional commentary.
28 Buckingham, “Afterword” in Pytches; p 148.  Emphasis added.
29 Grady, J. Lee “Kansas City Churches Reconciled” Charisma. July 1993, Vol. 18 No. 12; p 54
30 Grady, “Kansas City Churches Reconciled”p 54
31 Grady, “Resolving Kansas City” p 51
32 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 217 / 207
33 Grady, ”Resolving Kansas City” p 51
34 Buckingham, “Report” July/August 1990; p 23
35 Buckingham, “Report” July/August 1990; p 23.  Emphasis added.
36 Alexander, Noel Grace City Report  Special Edition, Fall 1989; p 14 as quoted in Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 4
37 Alnor, William & Robert Lyle. “Controversial Prophetic Movement is Incorporated Into the Vineyard” Christian Research Journal. Fall 1990, © 1994 Christian Research Institute, San Juan Capistrano, CA; p 5 / <http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/crj0044a.txt>; par 4; as accessed 10/01/11
38 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 212 / 202
39 van der Merwe (Grewe), Jewel Discernment Newsletter. “False Prophets” May 1990, Vol. 1 No. 1 http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Newsletters/NL1990May-FirstEdition.pdf>; “A New Breed” June 1990, Vol. 1 No. 2 <http://www.discernment-ministries.org/Newsletters/NL1990Jun.pdf>; as accessed 10/01/11.  Presumably, this ministry was started as a direct result of the controversies surrounding KCF and KCP.
40 Wimber, “A Response to Gruen” p 27
41 “15 points” on file as enclosure to July 1, 1990 letter to John Wimber from Ernie Gruen.  Obviously, this originated with Wimber or Deere, but, presumably, the inclusion of this with the July 1 letter was a joint decision of Wimber/Deere/Cain with Gruen and staff.
42 Wimber, “A Response to Gruen” p 27
43 “Truce Called in Bickle Controversy” Charisma & Christian Life. September 1990, Vol 16 No. 2; p 42.  The article only once refers to the Gruen Document as “public questioning” in paraphrasing Wimber with the balance instead using such verbiage as “accusers,” “leveled charges,” and “printed a book of accusations.”  More importantly, the author misquotes Gruen claiming he “acknowledged that he had no authority to question or examine the validity of KCF’s teachings and practices” which is misleading.  The July 1, 1990 letter which came about as a result of this June 28 meeting stated, “We recognize that it is not now our responsibility to provide either correction or approval of Kansas City Fellowship” because Gruen and staff had released “the entire situation” into Wimber’s hands while noting that the issue is actually “in God’s hands.” [bolding/italics added for emphasis; underscore in original]  Author not known.
44 “Truce Called” p 42
45 “Truce Called” p 42
46 Wimber, “A Response to Gruen” p 30.  Also recorded in Jackson p 218 / 208.  Emphasis added.
47 “Truce Called” p 42
48 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41-42 / 53-56
49 Grady, J. Lee “Kansas City Churches Mend Rift” Charisma & Christian Life. September 1995, Vol. 21 No. 2; p 34
50 Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets and the Kansas City-Vineyard Connection” Media Spotlight. Special Report, August 1990,Redmond, WA; p 16
51 Letter on Full Faith Church of Love-West stationery on file including enclosure.  Underscore in original.
52 July 5 letter and July 1 letter and enclosure with fax date/time stamp on file.
53 Letter on Full Faith Church of Love-West stationery on file.  Underscore in original.
54 Prince, Derek “A Statement from Derek Prince” pp 1-2.  On file.  All emphasis added except “doctrines” and “practices” in which underscore is in original.
55 Prince,“A Statement”p 2
56 Dager, Vengeance.
57 Letter on file.

Hyper-Charismatica versus True Christianity

Personal Testimony by mbaker

For many years after beginning my Christian life as a Southern Baptist, I converted to the charismatic church because several things about it appealed to me.  Unfortunately, while I met many committed wonderful Christians in the process, it was almost my downfall spiritually.   Except for the urgings of the Holy Spirit and some very good discernment websites, I would still be there now, thinking I possessed or could possess some ‘special’ revelation that others weren’t privy to, rather then being deceived by emotional appeals which had no biblical basis.

They say hindsight is 20-20.  In hindsight, of course, I see that because of some things that occurred in my life, like divorce, I no longer felt accepted by the mainstream church. Without a mate, I no longer felt I was personally a part of that body which seemed more about couples and ‘real’ families. For many years, I only felt connected to anyone through the mutual emotional highs I experienced in the charismatic church. For a while, they fulfilled this unmet emotional need in me for connection.

Unfortunately, I let my need for emotional validation through this connection with others interfere with the true foundational tenets of Christianity and it almost destroyed my faith. I do not want to make the same mistake and make this all about my testimony, although I suspect many reading here would readily identify with my personal journey.

What I do want to focus on is the experiential brand of Christianity, as promoted by the hyper-charismatics, as opposed to something that a lot of folks think is out of date and immaterial – the foundational tenets of the faith that Christ promoted. Those are things which will never change with time or popular religious fads.

The first clue was the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that the leaders of hyper-charismatica seem to almost universally to express when questioned.  It has to do with not questioning anything that comes out of the mouths of the leadership, in this case being the five-fold ministry, or whatever leadership is in place. We were told ‘not to touch God’s anointed’ in any instance because to do so was committing a sin against God Himself.  I fell for that at first because I was raised to respect whatever came out of the pulpit as God’s truth.  However, blindly accepting that rule was my first mistake down the long road of deception I was to follow for years.

My second mistake was bowing to appeals for ‘unity’.  Unity of the brethren as the Bible speaks of it has nothing to do with blindly agreeing to anything our particular church leadership deems as correct, but the unity that comes from the belief in the essentials of the faith determined by God the Father, and the Christ His Son. All else is non-essential in that we can chose where we stand.  Some examples would be whether the spiritual gifts continue or have ceased since the advent of Christ, or the Calvinism versus Arminianism debate, and so on. It is important to know the difference between mere denominational preferences and biblical essentials.

The third thing was the emphasis upon ‘new’ revelation, vis a vis ‘prophecy’.  While I believe that we can receive true prophetic words, I know now that they do not constitute new ‘additions’ or changes to the Bible, as they are often presented in hyper-charismatic venues, such as the Elijah List.  They are not bought and sold either, as all God’s gifts are apportioned freely according to his grace, not determined by popular religious fads.

In short, to get back to the real truth I had to return to the basic truths of the Bible and to the honest emotional conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, who only tells us what Jesus tells Him.  I can only urge anyone who is reading this who has any doubts about what they are being taught to check it out from several Bible based on theological sources which have God’s unchanging truth uppermost in mind.

It isn’t easy to admit we are wrong as Christians.  However, when we do, it is almost like a death in the family, because it is hard to tell others we were wrong, when we are supposed to be so right.

As a former charismatic, I knew many of the people I was personally connected with were very sincere Christians, yet we were all being deceived. It is hard on an otherwise intelligent person to admit that at first.  Then you become angry.  Then you wonder what was so wrong with you that you got yourself into it, or what need it was fulfilling in you.  Then finally you want to make sure others never get sucked into it.  It’s a real process that people need to be helped through. 

And, I’m thankful to have these blogs with individuals who go to the trouble to patiently explain step by step the false teachings and errors by using good Bible hermeneutics and solid theological resources and who do so without being dismissive or having a holier than thou attitude as these were invaluable resources in my journey back to God’s truth.

God bless.

[see also Testimony of a Former IHOP-KC Attendee: Stephanie]

Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part II

[It will probably be best to read or review part I before reading this article.  In addition, it is important to view The Kingdom of God is at Hand, Part II as this provides more insight into Bill Johnson’s theology and its possible New Age implications. Once again, I’m indebted to all those who’ve assisted.  Thank you!]

In part I, we discussed the Christology of Bill Johnson based on his words from a portion of his sermon series titled Jesus Is Our Model as well as quotes from other sources. In part II, we will look further into Johnson’s doctrine and compare it to some other aberrant theology. Here’s the same part of his sermon which was referenced in the first part:

“…Did you know that Jesus was born again? I asked… the first service and they said, “No.” But I will show it. It’s in the Bible. He had to be. He became sin.

In Hebrews 1 it says this, “For to which of the angels did he ever say, ‘You are my son. Today I have begotten you’?” And Acts 13 explains that: “God has fulfilled this for us, their children, in that he has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.” He was born through Mary the first time and through the Resurrection the second time. He was ‘born again.’” [1]

Word of Faith Connections and Disconnections

Kenneth E. Hagin, who borrows heavily from E. W. Kenyon, used the same verses as Johnson in speaking about a ‘born again’ Jesus. Hagin starts out in Hebrews 1:4-5 explaining how Jesus inherited His “more excellent Name”[2]. Then, just as Johnson does (or, perhaps the converse is more correct as it appears Johnson is copying Hagin), Hagin proceeds to Acts 13:33 to ‘explain’ how and when Jesus was born again:

“When was it that Jesus was begotten? When He was raised up! On that Resurrection morn!” [3]

So far this is practically identical to Johnson in terms of the method used although Hagin writes in his idiosyncratic Southern style in explaining his view. While Johnson does not provide his reasons as to why Jesus was ‘born again,’ Hagin does:

“Why did He need to be begotten, or born? Because He became like we were, separated from God. Because He tasted spiritual death for every man. His spirit, His inner man, went to hell in our place.”

“…Physical death would not remove our sins….”

Jesus is the first person ever to be born again.” [4] [emphasis added]

“Spiritual death means something more than separation from God. Spiritual death also means having Satan’s nature.” [5][emphasis in original]

Can we conclude that Johnson may believe that Jesus died spiritually as does Hagin? It’s certainly possible; however, absent an explanation from Johnson himself we are still left wondering. There is one important difference between Hagin’s and Johnsons’ renditions, though. Hagin claims Jesus was “not born as He took on flesh” because He “preexisted with the Father” stating that Jesus “just took upon Himself a body.”[6] Then, he makes the definitive claim that Jesus died spiritually on the Cross requiring that He be born again. However, Johnson states that Jesus was “born through Mary the first time” and had to be ‘born again’ because He ‘became sin’ with no further explanation.

Kenneth E. “Papa” Hagin is known as the “Daddy” of the Word of Faith movement. If that’s the case, then E. W. Kenyon is the grandfather since Hagin largely emulates his teachings. Kenyon’s doctrine has much in common with New Thought [7] and that’s because he was a follower of founder Phineas P. Quimby’s teachings. For an excellent expose on Word of Faith read Atonement Where?[8] by Moreno Dal Bello.

Some New Age doctrine seems to come from New Thought ideology:

“The New Thought movement, which originated in the late 19th and early 20th century, has at its core a belief that a higher power pervades all existence, and that individuals can create their own reality via affirmations, meditation and prayer. Early New Thought groups emerged from a Christian Science background, and many New Thought writers refer back to the Bible as their foundation text. New Thought resembles in some respects New Age philosophy, although some… …groups dismiss a connection….” [9]

While Johnson may diverge a bit from Word of Faith teachings, it seems he has much more in common than not with this false doctrine as much of the rest of this article will confirm.

Baptism in Confusion

There was an unanswered point in part I of this article:

… The view of Jesus being God’s Son at or through the Resurrection is only unorthodox if the belief is that Jesus was not the Son of God before this event….

Bill Johnson quoted Matthew 3:17 from the NKJV, “‘This is My much loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’”[10]; so, it would seem that he believes Jesus was the Father’s Son at baptism, if not before. However, the question that remains is if Johnson believes Jesus was divine at any point before baptism. It also seems possible though that Johnson believes Jesus was divine at the Virgin Birth (His Incarnation) even though his claim is that Jesus did not become The Christ until baptism at which point He received this ‘title’ of Christ. As pointed out in part I, this, of course, creates a contradiction within Johnson’s theology as Christ is the transliterated Greek word Christos which is taken from the Hebrew word meaning Messiah of which there can be only one; however, Johnson states we all can receive the same “anointing” as Jesus did. This would mean, in effect, we, too would attain the ‘title’ of Christ – which is tantamount to calling us individual Messiahs!

Passages such as the following from his 2007 book Face To Face With God aid in perpetuating this contradiction:

“…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.” [11]

Johnson makes it clear that Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist was what is known as the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” and it’s this baptism which provided the ‘power’ of the Holy Spirit which Jesus needed to perform the works of His earthly ministry. And, again, it’s this baptism all believers must receive in order to live a life of miracles, signs and wonders according to Johnson. [12]

Johnson explains this by differentiating between the Holy Spirit indwelling which “comes about at our conversion” and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which is “upon” the believer.[13] Johnson declares emphatically “He’s in me for my sake, but He’s upon me for yours! ” in affirming the supposed tangible nature of this “anointing.”[14] He uses the Apostles – the real first century ones – as an example claiming Jesus Christ “breathed” the Holy Spirit indwelling into them in John 20:22:

“…In the lives of Christ’s disciples, we see this take place in John 20:22, when Jesus met with them, ‘breathed on them’ and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’ But at His ascension [sic], Jesus told these same people that the Holy Spirit was going to come upon them. The Holy Spirit was already in them, but He was going to come upon them with power… ” [15] [emphasis added]

This raises some questions such as: Why didn’t Jesus “breathe” the Holy Spirit in/on them sooner? Given that the 72 were sent out (Luke 10) well before the events recorded in John 20:22 which took place while Jesus was on the earth in his post-resurrection body, why didn’t Jesus have the Holy Spirit indwell them at that time or before? Or did Jesus do this for the 72 and not the eleven (the twelve minus Judas Iscariot)? And, if the 72 weren’t – to use Johnson’s theology – both indwelled with the Holy Spirit and Baptized in the Holy Spirit, how could they have healed the sick and driven out demons?

Johnson states that the Holy Spirit “was already in Jesus’ life” [16] when Jesus received the “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” at His Baptism by John. How can this be reconciled with Johnson’s belief that this ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit’ could only come after Jesus’ Ascension?[17] Since John’s baptism was one of repentance, how could he provide Jesus a “Baptism of the Holy Spirit?”

Scripture shows that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove. This was an identifying sign that Jesus was the Son of God. This was not an “impartation.” The Apostle John makes this distinction clear:

32 Then John [the Baptist] gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. 33 I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” [John 1:32-34 NIV]

Orthodox Christianity attests that prior to the events of the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 the Holy Spirit indwelling was “selective and temporary.”[18] The permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit was not available until after Jesus Christ’s Ascension. While most, if not all, Pentecostal and charismatic denominations believe in a second baptism or “blessing” – known as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit – (also the view is that sometimes these two can occur simultaneously rather than being separate events) many other Christians do not.

Sinless at the Other Side of the Cross

“Jesus Christ was entirely God. He was not a created being, yet He became a man and lived entirely within man’s limitations. His ability to demonstrate power, walk on water, and carry out countless other divine manifestations was completely due to the fact that He was without sin and was totally yielded to the Holy Spirit. He became the model for everyone who would experience the cleansing of sin by the blood of Jesus.

The forgiveness that God gives puts every believer in a place without sin. The only question that remains is how empowered by the Holy Spirit we are willing to be.” [19]

This is worded very poorly and seems to suggest heterodoxy. Johnson can be quite explicit in some passages as he writes; so, it’s curious why he wasn’t more careful with this one. He had already stated that Jesus “laid His divinity aside”[20] and when this statement is added to just the bolded portion in the first paragraph we seem to have a “Jesus” that “became man” (at birth/Incarnation?) and performed supernatural acts “entirely” by yielding to the Holy Spirit’s power. Taking the entire first paragraph as a whole this could lead to the conclusion that during His earthly existence Jesus was not God in human flesh but, rather a man who lived a life powered by the Holy Spirit after Baptism even though He preexisted as God.

The second paragraph of the Johnson quote above creates two problems, especially when viewed in its full context in the whole of both paragraphs. The first is that it can be construed that Jesus could have sinned but did not solely because of submission to the Holy Spirit. Further support for this view comes from this quote from part I: “…He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin…”[21]

Secondly, it can be understood – in fact it seems to state outright – that believers can live a sinless life if they “are willing” to be fully empowered by the Holy Spirit. If this second view is not entirely driven home above, Johnson makes it clear in his words below by claiming believers are now dead to sin and its nature:

“Many believe His power exists only to help us overcome sin. This understanding stops very short of the Father’s intent for us to become witnesses of another world. Doesn’t it seem strange that our whole Christian life should be focused on overcoming something that has already been defeated? Sin and its nature have been yanked out by its roots…”

“…Many in the church are camped on the wrong side of the Cross… …I don’t need power to overcome something [sin] if I’m dead to it” [22] [emphasis added]

The human sin nature does not ever leave us this side of glory since it’s a part of the human condition as a result of the The Fall in the Garden of Eden. It’s a struggle of all humanity – unsaved or saved. The Holy Spirit indwelled believer can choose to be led of the Spirit or to succumb to the sinful nature [cf. Galatians 5:16-26]; but, the believer never lives in a sinless state until the other side of Glory. The Apostle John states it quite succinctly:

“8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” [I John 1:8 NIV]

This is another example of the already but not yet [23] as discussed in both The Kingdom of God is at Hand articles on this blog. The Apostle Paul speaks of the struggle with sin and outlines the process of sanctification in Romans chapters 6, 7, 8 and 12 by a life lived by and through the Spirit. For a good discussion on sanctification see Sanctification – Set Apart.[24]

Kenneth E. Hagin’s view is similar to Johnson’s:

You see, as long as I believe that I receive forgiveness of my sins, and that’s all (not remission, but just forgiveness), then I remain in the position where Satan will dominate me all my life….” [25]

By making the distinction between “forgiveness” and “remission” Hagin seems to be saying that sin will, just like a sickness in remission, be absent from the believer for an indefinite period of time. He also speaks negatively about the Cross while promoting the Resurrection side:

“The Cross is actually a place of defeat, whereas the Resurrection is a place of triumph. When you preach the cross, you’re preaching death, and you leave people in death.” [26]

This negative view of the Cross bears a resemblance to the Theosophic/New Age/occult/esoteric teachings of Alice A. Bailey from a book from 1937:

“The outstanding need of Christianity today is to emphasize the living, risen Christ. We have argued too long over the death of Christ, seeking to impose a narrow sectarian Christ upon the world. We have fed the fires of separation by our Christian divisions, churches, sects and ‘isms.’ ‘Their name is legion,’ and most of them are founded upon some sectarian presentation of the dead Christ, and of the earlier aspects of His story. Let us now unite on the basis of the risen Christ…” [27] [emphasis added]

Notice how Bailey refers to the denominational orthodox Christian view and their focus on “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” [I Corinthians 2:2] as “legion” just like the self-ascribed name of the demons who inhabited the man from the region of the Gerasenes in the account of Mark 5:1-17. While Johnson does not go any where near as far as Bailey does here, he does speak negatively about denominations and “religion” throughout his books; and, at one point he even called our present age the “post-denominational era.” [28]

The question is: why would a New Ager speak positively about any aspect of the Cross? Wouldn’t the New Ager look upon Christianity in general with utter disdain? This question will be answered as we progress through this article and part III. And, why would Johnson and Hagin – purported ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ – speak negatively on any aspect of the Cross? Shouldn’t this be the central focus of Christianity as the Apostle Paul stated numerous times?

The Resurrection of the Latter Rain

If there was any doubt, Johnson makes it clear that he adheres to Latter Rain (or New Order of the Latter Rain) doctrine – an aberrant branch of Pentecostalism/charismaticism:

“On the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that the promise of Joel 2 was fulfilled. …Yet, that day was only the initial fulfillment of the promise – the Spirit was poured out on that day, but there is a day coming in which He will truly be poured out on all flesh….” [29] [bolding from emphasis in original]

The way this is worded it sounds as though Johnson is adhering to universalism – a New Age concept that all will be (or can be) saved.  In a video advertisement for a recent  “Open Heavens” conference (October 13-15, 2010) once again Johnson stresses the word “all”:

 “What does it mean to you when it says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on A-L-L flesh?’ Everywhere I go IS an open heaven. Miracles follow those who believe. Whenever He restores something, he restores it to a place greater than before. I’ve lived without miracles, and I’ve lived with miracles. With miracles is better.” [30]

Continuing with Johnson from the quote above regarding Joel 2:

“…This is a fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit being poured as the early and latter rain. The early rain was the first century, and the latter is now.” [31]

As justification for his position, Johnson uses the water turned to wine at the wedding in Cana and Job’s returned possessions as ‘proof’ that God “saves the best for last” and to disagree with him is “at best pure ignorance or at worst unbelief.”[32] Yet the Assemblies of God – the denomination of which Bill Johnson was formerly a part – denounced Latter Rain as heresy back in 1949.[33]

The Latter Rain movement went underground in the 1950s but emerged again in the 1970s and has gained momentum since then.

Here’s Johnson claiming we can seek to emulate Jesus in His glorified state as described by John in Revelation 1:13-16 by the power of the ‘other side of the Cross:’

“The ‘as He is, so are we’ [1st John 4:17] declaration is far beyond what any of us could have imagined; especially in light of the glorified description of Jesus in Revelation, chapter 1. Yet, the Holy Spirit was sent specifically for this purpose that we might attain… ‘to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’

“The Holy Spirit came with the ultimate assignment at the perfect time. During Jesus’ ministry, it was said, ‘The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.’ …why didn’t the Father send Him until Jesus was glorified? Because without Jesus in His glorified state there was no heavenly model of what we were to become! …As He is, so are we in the world.

“The Christian life is not found on the Cross. It is found because of the Cross. It is His resurrection power that energizes the believer…” [34] [bolding from italicized original; underlining added for emphasis]

Johnson speaks more on this “resurrection power” for the believer:

At some point the reality of the resurrection [sic] must come into play in our lives – we must discover the power of the resurrection [sic] for all who believe.

“…we must follow Him all the way – to a lifestyle empowered by the resurrection!” [35] [bolding from italicized original, underlining added for emphasis]

Johnson’s words above are similar to some of Kenyon’s as taught by Hagin. After stating that as representatives of Christ “[w]e are Christ” “not only collectively, but individually” Hagin quotes 1st John 4:17 just as Johnson does above: “As He is, so are we in this world.” Then he poses the question: “when we get to heaven?” [36] to which he answers:

“No! In this world! Glory!” [37]

And, here Hagin quotes Kenyon directly:

“Oh, that our eyes were open; that our souls would dare rise into the realm of Omnipotence… …that we would act up to our high privileges in Christ Jesus.” [38]

“…so far, none of us have been able to take a permanent place in our privileges and abide where we may enjoy the fullness of this mighty power….

“But we have a conviction that before the Lord Jesus returns, there will be a mighty army of believers who will learn the secret of living in the Name, of reigning in life, living the victorious, transcendent, resurrection life of the Son of God among men….” [39]

“If our minds could only grasp… …that Satan is paralyzed… …it would be easy to live in this Resurrection Realm.” [40] [emphasis added]

Manifest Sons of God: The New Breed

This sounds very close to, if not is by definition, Manifest Sons of God (MSoG) doctrine. Known by other names such as Sonship[not to be confused with the orthodox doctrine of the same name], Overcomers, Joel’s Army and New Breed among others, MSoG is part of Latter Rain (or New Order of the Latter Rain) which teaches that certain individuals can obtain their resurrected, glorified bodies, as in 1st Corinthians 15:35-55, in the here and now before the Rapture and/or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Yet, as verses 51 and 52 of 1st Corinthians make clear, all true believers in Jesus Christ will receive resurrection bodies at the same time. This false teaching is largely based on a faulty interpretation of Romans 8:19-23:

19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from the bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. [NIV; emphasis added]

Verses 24 and 25 which follow the above make it clear that this is a future promise; and, as 1st Corinthians 15:50-52 and 1st Thessalonians 4:15-17 attest, the dead in Christ are raised first a nanosecond before the living and all this occurs “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye” [NIV] at the same time. No living person precedes another living person and no living person will receive their resurrection body before the dead in Christ receive theirs.

For more on “resurrection power” and “Resurrection Life,” here’s Todd Bentley from August 08, 2008 at Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries speaking of the fourth stage/floor/level he saw in a vision:

“I got up to the fourth floor, the door opened, it was Romans 8, the manifestation of the sons of God, power, dominion, and it was called ‘Resurrection Life.’” [41] [emphasis mine]

Bentley claims that at this point he enquired of God about the difference between raising the dead and “resurrection life.” In his account, God answered explaining that “resurrection life” will result in a coming “corporate anointing” in which people will be raised from the dead just because of “the anointing in the atmosphere.”[42]

“And that’s when I said, ‘God, I’m not focused on raising the dead anymore, I want resurrection life.’

“Do you know raising the dead isn’t something that happens? Raising the dead is a person. Resurrection isn’t something that happens – resurrection is a person. Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection, I am the life.’ Raising the dead is Jesus. When the dead are raised, it’s Jesus. …Resurrection is Jesus, not something that happens.” [43]

Following along with this train of thought leads to the ‘we are Christ, we are Jesus’ similar to Johnson’s ‘Christ anointing.’ Bentley continues:

“God’s going to move the church into such a realm… But, we’re moving into a realm of Romans 8: resurrection life; power; dominion over every sin, sickness, disease, death. …Because everything is the person of Jesus. [ed: panentheism?] And, we are pressing in for that ‘Romans 1:4 anointing.’” [44] [emphasis added]

Bob Jones relates just what this “Romans 1:4 anointing” is:

“What He’s doing now is bringing you to a level of maturity where you grow up. And, if you grow up you’ll never regress, you’ll continue progress year by year. So, what he’s talking about is the New Breed, is this: it’s Romans 1:4 – the spirit of holiness. So, for years I tried to get understanding of what the spirit of holiness is for it’s different than the Holy Spirit…” [45] [emphasis added]

Different than the Holy Spirit?! What ‘spirit’ would THAT be?! Continuing with Bentley:

“Do you know how Jesus was raised from the dead? By the spirit of holiness and declared by the resurrection of the dead…” [46]

Clearly, it was the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ’s lifeless human body. However, it’s less clear which kind of spirit Jones and Bentley are speaking about (or, maybe it’s not). Continuing from the above:

“…And, I just believe there’s an impartation to call forth ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ – the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead.’” [47]

True Christians already have the Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead – the Holy Spirit indwelling – and the “hope of glory” at initial conversion. Why the need for a further ‘impartation?’ These ‘impartations’ seem to have more in common with the occult than Christianity especially as Bentley describes them as “levels” or “stages/floors” which sound eerily like “initiations.”

“And, I want to take one moment church, and I want to press in, I want you to press in with me, to go from one floor, to two floors, to three levels, to four. And, let’s progress and let’s say, ‘God, beyond raising the dead, beyond notable miracles, beyond healing, let there be a release in the Church of the realm of glory and power and dominion and authority that affects everything that’s death and decay around us.’ And, it’s true victory, it’s true resurrection life, true resurrection power, and true resurrection glory

People will be made alive – born again.” [48] [emphasis added]

So, according to Bentley, this “resurrection life” makes one or leads one to be ‘born again?’ Going back to Johnson: The original sermon series from which Bill Johnson makes the ‘born again Jesus’ comments is titled Jesus is Our Model – a theme echoed in his books. So, is he saying essentially the same thing as Bentley; i.e., is Johnson saying that we are to become ‘born again’ and achieve “resurrection life” using Jesus as our model given that – according to Johnson in the transcript – Jesus was “born again through the Resurrection?

While it is possible that Johnson means something a bit different than Bentley, the wording and implications look the same. However, one must take into account the fact that Bill Johnson feels so strongly about Todd Bentley that he defended him during Lakeland[49]. [Here’s the corresponding video with him reading an email beginning around the 21:00 mark.] In response to this question: “What do you think of Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival” Johnson answers:

“Have you spent time with Todd? Do you know him? …Have you laid hands on him and prayed? Has he laid hands on you and prayed? Have you grieved over tragedy together? Have you celebrated victory together? Has he sought your counsel?…Have you ever received his counsel?

“I didn’t think so. I have. And I’ll continue to support those who I have walked with in life and ministry. He’s my friend…” [50]

Obviously, they had a close relationship not just in their association within ministry but in their personal lives as well. While this still doesn’t definitively prove a connection regarding their respective doctrines, it shows each was likely aware of the other’s. Also, Johnson lists both Todd Bentley’s Fresh Fire USA Ministries as well as Bob Jones as “Friends”[51] on one of his sites. In his book Face to Face With God, Johnson writes on the New Breed himself:

“We are in the throes of change; a reformation will impact society on all fronts. This is happening largely because today there is a new breed of believer.” [52] [emphasis added]

If that’s not convincing enough when added to all the above that Johnson is teaching MSoG, consider this. Todd Bentley was one of the endorsers on at least two of Bill Johnson’s books: When Heaven Invades Earth and The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind.[53] Similarly, Bill Johnson endorsed four[54] of Bentley’s books including Journey into the Miraculous from 2008 in which he writes in his endorsement:

I love this book. …this book is more than a story about his life. It’s a prophetic declaration of God’s intent for an entire generation….” [55][emphasis added]

The Militant Joel’s Army of the Manifested Sons of God

Right in the first chapter titled “The End-Time Healing Revival” of Bentley’s Journey into the Miraculous are some “prophetic words” of Bob Jones, Paul Cain and even Benny Hinn(!); and, on the very first page:

For 20 years, the prophets have foretold about a youthful generation that will rise up… In 1973, the Lord showed Prophet Bob Jones this coming anointing that would fall on God’s people. Bob told me that I was part of the ‘first fruits’ wave of a billion people whom God would light on fire.” [56] [emphasis added]

Then, referring to a quote of Paul Cain in a section titled “JOEL’S ARMY,” Bentley relates:

“…They’d learn patient endurance, how to demonstrate the power of God, and, having learned all, stand against the enemy. As Christian soldiers, they’d have the mind of Christ, and ‘partake of the heavenly calling, and be a new breed, God’s dread champions.’” [57]

This is “Joel’s mighty army” Bentley is speaking of “as described in Joel chapter 2” who are “the army of God – not a wicked army (as some have thought).”[58] However, it should be noted that Biblical scholars generally agree that the army of Joel 2:1-11 refers to both a locust plague and the Assyrian army who chastened the Nation Israel in the 7th and 8th century BC.[59]  And, there is likely a future fulfillment in the ‘Day of the Lord’ identified in Zechariah 14:2 as an evil army (also see Revelation 9:2-9) arrayed against Jerusalem which will be defeated by the Lord Himself (Zech 14:3-4; Rev 19:15).

In the following, Bentley quotes Paul Cain from the Grace City Report Special Prophetic Edition, from Fall 1989:

“‘They are the ones with feet of iron not mixed of clay, with the wisdom of God alone, not imitators of other men of God. Some of the superstars of the church will fall. The Lord will have an army of holy anointed vessels to usher in His Kingdom so that no one man can take credit for it. It will be to the glory of God alone.’” [60]

For those unaware, according to the Latter Rain view, Joel’s Army/Manifested Sons of God will be exacting judgment and penalty unto death if necessary upon those in the Church who do not go along with this “end-times move of the Spirit” as per Rick Joyner’s “vision” in The Final Quest [61] and earlier MorningStar Journals from Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries. This dispensing of “God’s judgment” or “cleansing of evil” was spoken of in Constance Cumbey’s 1985 book A Planned Deception as one of the stated goals of both New Agers and Manifested Sons of God[62]. This “old-order brethren” is referenced in Bentley’s book as spoken of here in the following quote from Paul Cain’s You Can Become the Word! at a 1989 Vineyard Prophetic Conference:

“…God has invited us to have a role in establishing a new order of ChristianityGod is offering to this generation something He has never offered to any other generation…beware lest old-order brethren rob you and steal this hope from you.” [63] [emphasis added]

Oddly, Bentley even quotes Jewel Grewe of Discernment Ministries(!) from one of her Discernment Newsletters in quoting Paul Cain:

“As Paul Cain says, these days will be marked by miracles; ‘All the sick are gonna be healed, the dead are gonna be raised and nations are gonna turn to God in a day.’ (Bob Jones and Paul Cain, Selections from the Kansas City Prophets, audiotape from discernment newsletter).” [64] [all as per original except bolding/underlining for emphasis]

Since Bill Johnson endorsed Bentley’s Journey into the Supernatural and claims that he “loves this book,” it’s fair to say he agrees with Bentley’s views regarding Joel’s Army as stated in the quotes above. Then, by extension, perhaps Johnson agrees with Todd Bentley’s and Bob Jones’ words from the 08/08/08 DVD as referenced above as well especially since Johnson has already identified with the New Breed which is another name for Joel’s Army or Manifest Sons of God.

A New Age Christ?

Here’s Johnson teaching more MSoG in a You Tube video:

“…It’s the Spirit of God that makes this thing [the Bible, which he’s holding] come alive to where we actually have the privilege of the Word becoming flesh in us again, where we become the living illustration and manifestation of what God is saying.” [65] [emphasis mine]

The bolded portion above is reminiscent of what is known as “birthing the man-child”[66] – yet another euphemism for the purported Manifested Sons of God. Also, it needs to be noted that this bolded portion sounds like it relates to the title of the piece from the Vineyard Prophetic Conference of Paul Cain mentioned above: You Can Become the Word! In addition, the above quote sounds quite a bit like some words by the late Earl Paulk from his 1985 book Held in the Heavens Until…:

The living Word of God, Jesus Christ, was conceived in the womb of a virgin. The Word became flesh in the God man, Jesus Christ… Likewise, the Word of God must be made flesh in the Church in order for us to bear witness to the Kingdom which God has called us to demonstrate” [67] [emphasis added]

“…Natural conception and birth graphically symbolize God’s offspring in His Church. The Church is the womb of God’s Kingdom. God wants to quicken His Word, to bring it alive in us, causing us to live by His Word, not by sight or natural understanding.” [68] [emphasis added]

All things have been given to us, even to the point of allowing us to share the divine nature of Jesus. Sharing His nature is a definition of the ongoing incarnation of God on the earth. ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory.’ His inheritance is already ours.” [69][emphasis added]

Taken together, these quotes seem quite similar to the New Age view of bringing in the “Kingdom of God” as mentioned in the “New Age Kingdom” section of The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part II article on this blog.

By quoting “Christ in us, the hope of glory” as Paulk and Bentley both do, the implication in their respective contexts above seems to infer our own divinity. This sounds eerily similar to the New Age/Theosophic/esoteric/occult teachings of Alice A. Bailey working as a medium for one of the “Masters of Wisdom” identified as “Master DK” or “Djwhal Khul” from her 1948 book The Reappearance of the Christ:

“…Inherent in the human consciousness… …is a sense of divinity. …‘As He is, so are we in this world.’ (1 John IV:17) is another Biblical statement. …‘Christ in us, the hope of glory’ is the triumphant affirmation of St. Paul.” [70]

Of course, both Johnson and Hagin quote 1st John 4:17 above in the “Resurrection of the Latter Rain” section. Restating part of Johnson’s quote:

“The ‘as He is, so are we’ [1st John 4:17] declaration is far beyond what any of us could have imagined; especially in light of the glorified description of Jesus in Revelation, chapter 1. Yet, the Holy Spirit was sent specifically for this purpose that we might attain… ‘to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’

“…why didn’t the Father send Him [the Holy Spirit] until Jesus was glorified? Because without Jesus in His glorified state there was no heavenly model of what we were to become! …As He is, so are we in the world.

“The Christian life is not found on the Cross. It is found because of the Cross. It is His resurrection power that energizes the believer…” [71] [bolding from italicized original; bold/underlining added for emphasis]

This focus on the “Resurrection side of the Cross” at the expense of the Cross itself as Johnson, Hagin, Bentley and others do above, as evidenced by quotes in this article, is yet another aspect of the New Age religion as referenced in the “Sinless at the Other Side of Cross” section above. Quoting Bailey again in The Destiny of the Nations from 1949:

“In the Aquarian Age, the Risen Christ… …will not this time demonstrate the perfected life of the Son of God, which was his main mission before; He will appear as the supreme Head of the Spiritual Hierarchy, meeting the need of the thirsty nations of the world – thirsty for truth, for right human relations and for loving understanding. He will be recognized this time by all and in His Own Person will testify to the fact of the resurrection and hence demonstrate the paralleling fact of immortality of the soul, of the spiritual man. The emphasis during the past two thousand years has been on death; it has coloured all the teaching of the orthodox; only one day in the year has been dedicated to the thought of the resurrection. The emphasis in the Aquarian Age will be on life and freedom from the tomb of matter, and this is the note which will distinguish the new world religion from all that have preceded it.” [72]

This “death” emphasized over “the past two thousand years” is the preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. The “paralleling fact of immortality of the soul” is the ‘fact’ of “inherent divinity.” This “Spiritual Hierarchy” is also known as the “Masters of Wisdom” who are, in reality, demons. Their “Risen Christ” is actually referring to the coming antichrist.

Are Bill Johnson and company teaching and preaching a New Age Christ whether unwittingly or wittingly?

Endnotes:

[1] “ewenhuffman” Jesus is our Model- Sermon of the week 20 Dec 09. <http://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2009/12/23/jesus-is-our-model-sermon-of-the-week-20-dec-09/> 33:48 to 34:57; as accessed 11/08/10
[2] Hagin, Kenneth E. The Name of Jesus. 1979, 3rd printing 1981; Rhema Bible Church aka Kenneth Hagin Ministries / Faith Library, Tulsa, OK; p 28
[3] ibid.
[4] ibid. p 29
[5] ibid. p 31
[6] ibid. p28
[7] Affiliated New Thought Network The Philosophy of New Thought. <http://www.newthought.org/new_thought.html>; as accessed 11/08/10
[8] THE WORD on the The Word of Faith (a GroupBlog) Atonement Where? By Moreno Dal Bello <http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2010/10/15/atonement-where-1-mdbello/>; as accessed 11/08/10
[9] Hare, John Bruno / Internet Sacred Text Archive New Thought. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/nth/index.htm>; as accessed 11/08/10
[10] Johnson, Bill When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 99
[11] Johnson, Bill Face to Face with God. 2007; Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; p 77
[12] ibid. p 99-102
[13] ibid. p 78
[14] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 134
[15] Johnson, Op.cit. Face to Face with God. p 78
[16] ibid. p 21-22
[17] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 145
[18] Got Questions? What Was the Role of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament? <http://www.gotquestions.org/Spirit-Old-Testament.html>; par 4; as accessed 11/08/10
[19] Johnson, Op.cit. Face to Face with God. p 199
[20] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 79
[21] ibid.
[22] ibid. p 110
[23] Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stewart How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. second edition, 1993; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 133-134
[24] AllaboutGOD.com / All About Following Jesus Sanctification – Set Apart. <http://www.allaboutfollowingjesus.org/sanctification.htm>; as accessed 11/08/10
[25] Hagin, Op.cit. p 55
[26] Hagin, Kenneth E. The Believer’s Authority. 1986, 2nd ed.; Rhema Bible Church aka Kenneth Hagin Ministries / Faith Library; Tulsa, OK; p 16
[27] Bailey, Alice A. From Bethlehem to Calvary. Copyright 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis Trust, 4th paperback edition, 1989; Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; pp 238-239
[28] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 90
[29] Johnson, Op.cit. Face to Face with God. p 76
[30] ibethelTV Open Heavens 2010. < http://vimeo.com/15808994 > as accessed 03/26/11
[31] ibid. pp 76-77
[32] ibid. p 77
[33] Wikipedia The General Council of the Assemblies of God in the United States of America. “Relations with other denominations and renewal movements” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Council_of_the_Assemblies_of_God_in_the_United_States_of_America>; as accessed 11/08/10
[34] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 145
[35] ibid. p 146
[36] Hagin, Op.cit. The Name of Jesus. pp 106-107
[37] ibid. p 107
[38] ibid. p 49
[39] ibid. p 52
[40] ibid. p 53
[41] Bentley, Todd Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service 08-08-08. DVD; available at MorningStar Ministries Store <http://www.morningstarministries.org/Store/Products/1000013034/MorningStar_Store/Media_Store/Teaching_Sets/All_Teaching_Sets/DVD_Teaching_Sets/Todd_Bentley_Healing.aspx>; 1953:26 – 1953:37
[42] ibid. 1953:37 – 1954:44
[43] ibid. 1955:18 – 1956:00
[44] ibid. 1956:00 – 1956:38
[45] ibid. 1934:39 – 1935:10 (Bob Jones speaking)
[46] ibid. 1956:38 – 1956:46
[47] ibid. 1956:46 – 1957:00
[48] ibid. 1956:58 – 1957:53
[49] Bill Johnson Ministries, Questions and Answers. “UPDATE: What do you think about Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival? June ‘08” <http://www.bjm.org/questions/11/update-what-do-you-think-about-todd-bentley-and-the-lakeland-revival.html?file=regarding-todd-bentley>; as accessed 11/08/10
[50] ibid.
[51] Bill Johnson Ministries, Friends. <http://www.bjm.org/friends.html>
[52] Johnson, Op.cit. Face to Face with God. p 139
[53] Both books from Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., copyright 2003 and 2005 respectively
[54] Journey into the Miraculous, Sound of Fire Productions, Ltd.; 2003 / Journey into the Miraculous, Destiny Image; January 1, 2008 / “Endorsements” ; The Reality of the Supernatural World, Destiny Image; June 1, 2008; “Endorsements” / Kingdom Rising, Destiny Image; October 1, 2008: pp 15-17
[55] Bentley, Todd Journey into the Miraculous. 2008; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; “Endorsements”
[56] ibid. pp 21-22
[57] ibid. pp 22-23
[58] ibid. p 23
[59] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “Joel.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 7. 1985; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 245-250. with contribution by Richard D. Patterson
[60] Bentley, Op.cit. p 23
[61] Joyner, Rick The Final Quest. 1996, 2nd ed.; MorningStar Publications, Charlotte, NC; pp 36-38
[62] Cumbey, Constance A Planned Deception. 1985; Pointe Publishers, East Detroit, MI; p 172
[63] Bentley, Op.cit. pp 24-25
[64] ibid. p 25
[65] “whizzpopping” You Tube video, Bill Johnson – Friendship with God. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4RZ_ctiwlE&gt>; 1:24 – 1:37; as accessed 11/08/10
[66] Booth, Tricia (formerly Tillin), The Birthpangs of a New Age. “The Birth of the Manchild” <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/latterrain/manchild.html>; as accessed 11/08/10
[67] Paulk, Earl, Held in the Heavens Until…. 1985; K Dimension, Atlanta, GA; p 156
[68] ibid.
[69] ibid. p 197
[70] Bailey, Alice A. The Reappearance of the Christ. 1948, Lucis Trust, 9th printing 1979 (4th Paperback ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY; p 145
[71] Johnson, Op.cit. When Heaven Invades Earth. p 145
[72] Bailey, Alice A. The Destiny of the Nations. 1949, Lucis Trust, 5th printing 1974 (2nd Paperback ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY; pp 150-151

The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part II

‘Tween the Times

In part I, the intertestamental era (the time between the Old and New Testaments) was discussed including the literary works, social developments, and beliefs of the different Jewish sects of this period. Since God had sent no prophets since the time of Malachi, the oppressed Jews turned to writing various works which are known as Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Much of this literature was fictional, some of dubious origin, while others contained factual historical accounts interspersed with inaccuracies; however, there was a fair amount on the spirit world including the angelic realm, eschatology, and the afterlife.

The Church of today is in waiting in a not too dissimilar way. There have been no prophets since the writings of the Apostles in the first century; and, we are in between the two advents – Jesus’ First and Second Comings.

However, in recent years there has been the claim that God has brought back prophecy through the so-called “restoration of the five-fold ministry” of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers based on an interpretation of Ephesians 4:11-13. Interestingly, the focus is primarily on the first two in this list to the virtual exclusion of the others with some of the self-proclaimed using these titles to define their own personhood as in Apostle __________ or Prophet __________ (with the first letter of their designation capitalized).

It is beyond the scope of this article to do an in-depth exposition on the Latter Rain movement[1] from which the “five-fold” teaching in the previous paragraph and much of the remaining article emanate. Others have already done a fine job such as Tricia Booth (formerly Tillin of Banner Ministries) at The Birthpangs of a New Age[2], Herescope[3], and others.

It would be journalistically improper, unfair and inaccurate to make direct correlations between the Jewish sects of the intertestamental era with Christians of the present; however, general comparisons may prove interesting. The Qumranians as identified in the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) lived a monastic type of lifestyle perhaps not too dissimilar to monks and nuns of the Roman Catholic Church of today. Also, the Qumran group had their “teacher of righteousness” whom they looked to for interpretation of the Scriptures not unlike the Roman Catholic Church looks to the Papacy.

Similarly, Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP)[4] in Kansas City, Missouri could be compared to the Qumran community in that both groups are separative – IHOP less so, as they do allow guests. However, once you are ‘in’ at IHOP, it’s not so easy to leave as one ex-IHOPper illustrates[5].

Like the Qumran community had its “righteous teacher,” the International House of Prayer has its leader, Mike Bickle, as primary expositor of the Bible. While Bickle himself says he’s not a prophet, he has relied upon both Bob Jones [see here for article on this blog] and Paul Cain for “foundational revelation” with respect to the vision of the International House of Prayer and its 24/7 worship. And, similar to the Qumranians, Bickle believes we are in the last days; and, likewise, Bickle feels like his congregation has reached a step or two beyond other Christian groups.

More comparisons could be made; but, that would detract from the primary focus of this article. However, in general, it could be said that most people today believe we are currently in the last days much like those of the intertestamental period thought.

Kingdom Now/Dominionism and the Redefined Great Commission

The first paragraph of part I ended with this question: “So, is the kingdom of God NOW?” Bill Johnson answers in the affirmative:

“Jesus taught us how to live by announcing, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand!’ It is a present reality affecting the now.

“…Many say that we must be careful over how much emphasis we put on what we are to become in the now. Why…?”[6] [bolding from italicized original]

While the Kingdom of God is most certainly now, its consummation will come only when Jesus returns bodily [Acts 1:6-11]. Johnson, however, believes Jesus gave the authority to us to “take dominion” over the earth; i.e., to “Christianize” by ‘miracles, signs and wonders’ thus distorting Matthew 28:19-20 and redefining the Great Commission as orthodox Christianity knows it:

“In redeeming man, Jesus retrieved what man [Adam] had given away. From the throne of triumph He declared, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore…’ In other words I got it all back. Now go use it and reclaim mankind…”[7] [emphasis and ellipse as in original]

Johnson states that the “authentic gospel” is actually “the gospel of the kingdom [8] – meaning what is known as Dominionism or Kingdom Now. Interestingly, the part about repentance and sin as in Luke 24:47 – “and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” [NIV] – is conspicuously absent or deemphasized amongst those who have redefined the Great Commission. Without the knowledge that we are sinners – the bad news – what good is the Good News of the Gospel? Todd Bentley even goes so far as to say:

“…We can preach the Gospel all day long, but that won’t save souls….” [9]

That’s because it’s all about the ‘miracles, signs and wonders’ according to the Bentley and Johnson viewpoint. In the October, 2009 issue of Charisma, C. Peter Wagner states the same basic thing as Johnson:

“Formerly I thought my task was to go to as many nations of the world as possible and plant as many churches as possible. Now I take the Great Commission more literally when it tells us not to make as many individual disciples as we can but to disciple whole social groups – such as entire nations. This is kingdom theology.

“When God created Adam and Eve, He told them to take dominion over all His creation (see Gen. 1:28). This was God’s plan until Satan succeeded in persuading Adam to obey him rather than God. The result was that Satan usurped Adam’s authority and took dominion himself.”[10] [emphasis mine]

This whole premise of ‘reclaiming lost dominion’ is faulty. The main problem with this logic is that the dominion referred to in Genesis 1:28 refers to ruling over the fish, birds, animals, and “every living thing” on the earth. The next two verses in Genesis explain God’s intent:

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food. And it was so. [NIV]

In effect, the Lord is saying we are to have stewardship rather than ownership over the earth. Who really owns the earth? Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” [NIV] In the book of Job, Satan himself must receive God’s permission to test Job (Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-6). And, in Job 38:33 God states the following as a rhetorical question:

33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? [NIV]

Obviously, Satan does not have dominion over the earth – he may be “lord of this world” in a sense; but, he doesn’t own it or control it. God is still sovereign. So, regarding Wagner’s and Johnson’s (and others’) claim that the dominion of the earth was lost to Satan at The Fall, Scripture just does not attest to that. From the Adam Clarke commentary regarding Genesis 1:28:

“…God created man capable of governing the world, and when fitted for the office, he fixed him in it. We see God’s tender care and parental solicitude for the comfort and well-being of this masterpiece of his workmanship, in creating the world previously to the creation of man. He prepared every thing for his subsistence, convenience, and pleasure, before he brought him into being; so that, comparing little with great things, the house was built, furnished, and amply stored, by the time the destined tenant was ready to occupy it.” [11]

The more traditional view of postmillennialism (that Jesus will return after the Millennium spoken of in Revelation chapter 20) does not believe that man has any control as to when the coming of the new heavens and the new earth will take place. Yet, this is the basic premise of the late Earl Paulk in his 1985 book Held in the Heavens Until…. In it, he asserts the classic Latter Rain notion that Jesus cannot return until certain things are accomplished by Christians. The back cover of the book explains:

Why must Christ “remain in heaven until the time of restoration of all things” (Acts 3:21)? When will the time come? As Christians, are we responsible for holding Christ?

“…The Church must accept its responsibility in the Second Coming of Christ. Only when the church is in the spirit of unity as the mature Bride of Christ will He return.” [12][emphasis mine]

So, with this view, Christians are either hindering or hastening the Second Coming by our actions or inactions. The book goes into all the Latter Rain doctrines, including Dominionism, in the same way Johnson and Wagner believe. Paulk begins by saying Adam and Eve were not only created in God’s image, but were created as His offspring with the implication, of course, that they were little gods:

“When God created His offspring in His own image, He determined that they would bring order and dominion to the earth. God declared the dominion of His Kingdom over everything throughout the entire universe (Genesis 1:26).…” [13][emphasis mine]

Just like Johnson and Wagner above, Paulk goes back to the Garden of Eden.

Error Incarnates Error

Some of the implications and ramifications of the “errors” regarding one’s view of the kingdom of God are delineated by D. A. Carson in his Common errors in understanding the Kingdom[14].  As indicated here throughout this article, these doctrinal “errors” compound themselves in and with their associated teachings.

[Side note: there are various movements with this same flair such as Reconstructionism[15]; however it is beyond the scope of this article for a full discussion. Herescope[16] has been doing a very fine series on the various flavors of Kingdom Now theology.]

Kenneth E. Hagin says basically the same thing as Johnson, Wagner and Paulk with respect to the Great Commission in his book The Name of Jesus in which he quotes heavily from E. W. Kenyon’s similarly titled book The Wonderful Name of Jesus. The belief is that Christians can do most anything in Jesus’ name because Jesus specifically gave His authority to the “Church” including, of course, taking dominion[17]. Hagin picks up where Paulk left off in the previous section:

“…When someone is born again, he is baptized into, put into, immersed into the Body of Christ.

“Jesus is the Head. We are the Body. The Head and the Body are one.” [18] [all as per original]

Note how “Body” is capitalized. Hagin also references II Corinthians 6:14-16; and, because of the words of verse 15, “…And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” [KJV] he equates this to mean “the Church is called Christ…:”[19]

“…In fact, in the Epistles, the Church is called Christ!

“The Church has not yet realized that we are Christ.” [20]

Curiously though, in the following he does not capitalize “head” or “body” which is assumed to be a typographical error especially as he explains further that we are Christ individually not just collectively:

“…Christ is the head; we are the body. We are Christ.

“…We are here as His representatives – not only collectively, but individually.” [21] [emphasis mine]

Then he quotes Kenyon directly (attributing this to Kenyon):

“When we pray in Jesus’ Name, we are taking the place of the absent Christ; we are using His authority to carry out His will on the earth.” [22]

So, we go from a redefined Great Commission to self as god. It gets worse. Here are well known words of Kenyon which Hagin parroted on more than one occasion:

Every man who has been ‘born again’ is an Incarnation, and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an Incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.” [23] [emphasis mine]

This is tantamount to Manifest Sons of God doctrine[24]. By strict definition, the word incarnation infers a preexistence; and, by extension, this also infers the doctrine of reincarnation. Here’s Paulk stating basically the same thing as Hagin/Kenyon:

“…It was the quickening and bringing alive of the Word which was incarnate in Jesus Christ. That Word became incarnate in the Church.

“…Jesus was the firstfruit of God’s incarnation, a man living out God’s perfect will. Now He says, “…My people will bring forth life as they become the ‘incarnate Word’ on planet Earth.” …the Church is the ‘ongoing expression’ of God.” [25] [emphasis mine]

“All things have been given to us, even to the point of allowing us to share the divine nature of Jesus. Sharing His nature is a definition of the ongoing incarnation of God on the earth. ‘Christ in us, the hope of glory.’ His inheritance is already ours.” [26][emphasis mine]

Then Paulk goes on to reference Matthew 18:19-20[27] just as Hagin does in his book[28] in justifying the same doctrine AND; similarly Paulk references Mark 16:17-18[29] in the same manner as Hagin[30]. There is certainly a lot of cross-pollination between Hagin’s teachings and Paulk’s even though Hagin is considered Word of Faith while Paulk is considered Latter Rain. In reality, both Word of Faith and Latter Rain have much in common.

“…The next move of God awaits Christ in us taking dominion, being the standard by which God can judge the world. The next move of God awaits the total oneness of the family of God in heaven and earth…” [31][emphasis mine]

The Changing Face of Christianity

At the time of publication of Paulk’s Held in the Heavens Until…, the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA)[32] was not yet formed; however, one of the major goals of Latter Rain was to establish a hierarchy of leadership which others must be subordinate to. In 1985 when this book was first published the “modern prophetic” was gaining momentum.

“Jesus cannot come until the apostolic ministry is re-established. We are now in the period of the prophets. Today God is raising up prophets who are under the anointing of God, but the period of the apostolic ministry will soon return also. Only then can Jesus Christ return.” [33][emphasis mine]

The ICA’s “Presiding Apostle” is C. Peter Wagner of Global Harvest Ministries[34]. Membership as of November 10, 2009 can be found at this link.[35] The newest version of their website now requires a member login; whereas, previously anyone could access their site. Courtesy of Internet Archive a/k/a The Wayback Machine the following info from their former site is recovered:

“The Second Apostolic Age began roughly in 2001, heralding the most radical change in the way of doing church at least since the Protestant Reformation. This New Apostolic Reformation [NAR] embraces the largest segment of non-Catholic Christianity worldwide, and the fastest growing. Churches of the Apostolic Movement embrace the only Christian megablock growing faster than Islam.” [36][emphasis mine]

Further, on the Prospectus tab the redefined “Great Commission” is identified and its importance explained:

“The fundamental vision of ICA is to speed the completion of Jesus’ great commission to preach the gospel to every creature and to make disciples of all nations. World evangelism is the pulse beat of apostles wherever they might be found. Nothing that we do in ICA should eclipse or even dull this essential vision. The accelerated advance of the Kingdom of God is our highest priority….” [37] [emphasis mine]

Bill Johnson, in his own push for both apostolic authority and unity (at the expense of doctrine) in this “post-denominational era,” compares and contrasts what he terms “fathers” (modern day “apostles”) and “teachers” (those who adhere to sound doctrine). He claims these “fathers/apostles” are humble, they imitate other “fathers,” and they have a ministry of power with a focus on “The Kingdom.” On the other hand, “teachers” are prideful, they “gather around ideas” to the point of being divisive (in sticking to orthodox Christian doctrines) while focusing on the “many words” of said teachings. To him, signs and wonders take precedence over sound doctrine.[38]

Mike Bickle states that Jesus cannot return until the Bride of Christ (the Church) is mature, perfect. Bob Dewaay wrote an excellent piece on Bickle’s Bridal Paradigm[39] which shows the International House of Prayer view.   This belief of Bickle is shared by Paulk:

“The purpose of every move of God is to produce the mature Bride: Christ in us, the power of God’s authority displayed through us, taking dominion of the planet. God waits for us to complete His plan. God cannot move again until we fulfill our mission on earth.” [40] [emphasis mine]

Mike Bickle is also (in)famous for the following quote:

“The Lord said simply, ‘I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the earth in one generation.’” [41][Emphasis mine]

Rick Joyner, of MorningStar Ministries[42] on the back cover of his book The Harvest, states a similar thing:

“What is about to come upon the earth is not just a revival or another awakening; it is a veritable revolution. This vision was given in order to begin awakening those who are destined to radically change the course and even the very definition of Christianity.” [43]

And, Bill Johnson, at Todd Bentley’s “commissioning” service at the ‘Lakeland Revival’ on June 23, 2008 said:

“…We shape the course of history by partnering with you giving honor where it’s due. You welcome the glory as well as anybody I’ve ever seen in my life – I long to learn from you in that and I bless you. And, I pray with the rest of these that the measure of glory would increase, that Moses would no longer be the high water mark with the glory shown from his face but instead the revelation of the goodness of God would change the face of the church. And that he would use your voice, he would use your grace, your anointing, to alter the face of the Church before the world….” [44] [emphasis mine]

It seems, unfortunately, the “face of the Church” has changed, and for the worse, in some quarters; but, did God do this or did man? “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Hebrews 13:8] “But you remain the same and your years will never end.” [Psalm 102:27] “God is not a man that He should lie or a son of man that He should change his mind.” [Numbers 23:19] The Bible provides the answer. [all Scripture from NIV]

The New Age Kingdom

“The Kingdom of God will be presented to Christ by the Kingdom prototype, a true demonstration of Him in the world. When His Kingdom on earth has been demonstrated in prototype, Christ will return…” [45][emphasis mine]

The words above are those of Earl Paulk. Compare these and the other quotes in this article to Alice Bailey, acting as a medium for “Tibetan Master DK (Djwhal Khul),” in her 1937 esoteric/occult book From Bethlehem to Calvary, explaining the New Age view of the kingdom of God in the chapter titled “Our Immediate Goal: The Founding of the Kingdom:”

“…The question, however, arises whether we may hasten the process; whether, by a right understanding of Christ and His teaching, we could so expedite matters that the kingdom and its laws may hold sway earlier than would otherwise be the case….” [46][emphasis mine]

“…We can produce, and as a [human] race give birth to, the next kingdom in nature, which Christ called the kingdom of God; this is the kingdom of souls, the kingdom of spiritual lives, and herein, uniquely, Christ emerges.” [47][emphasis mine]

Bear in mind that “Christ” here does not refer to the Jesus Christ of orthodox Christianity but rather the occult/esoteric/New Age version. The soon-to-emerge “Christ” above refers to the “Christ consciousness” and; once enough individuals achieve this state – a “critical mass” – the physical embodiment of the antichrist will arise on the scene.

Put another way, the New Age view is that “Christ” is not a person but an “office”[48] or “anointing” which Jesus received; so, in the following quotes, “Christ” refers to this “Jesus” rather than the actual divine Jesus Christ of true Christianity. In the occult/esoteric view Jesus had both a human nature and a divine nature (as do all humans according to this view); and, through effort He attained godhood leaving His humanity behind. This, of course, changes the definition of “church” and the “kingdom of God” as well.

“…the motive must be the one that incited Christ to all His divine activity – the founding of the new kingdom and the attainment of that state of consciousness on a universal and human scale which will make out of the human being a citizen of the kingdom, consciously functioning therein, voluntarily subject to its laws and striving steadfastly for its extension on earth….” [49][emphasis mine]

“The true Church is the kingdom of God on earth, divorced from all clerical government and composed of all, regardless of race or creed, who live by the light within, who have discovered the fact of the mystical Christ in their hearts, and are preparing to tread the Way of Initiation. The kingdom is not composed of orthodox theologically minded people. Its citizenship is wider than that, and includes every human being who is thinking in larger terms than the individual, the orthodox, the national and the racial. The members of the coming kingdom will think in terms of humanity as a whole; and as being as they are separative or nationalistic, or religiously bigoted, or commercially selfish, they have no place in the kingdom. The word spiritual will be given a far wider connotation than that which has been given in the old age which is fortunately now passing….” [50][underline/bold as emphasis in original, additional bolding mine for emphasis]

“How will this condition of God’s kingdom materialize on earth? …by men and women everywhere cultivating the wider consciousness, and becoming more and more inclusive….” [51][emphasis mine]

The exclusivity of the “old age” of Biblical Christianity with its insistence on only one way to salvation is seen as “sin” and “divisive” by the New Ager. Their goal is inclusiveness as the above quote demonstrates. The reasoning is that worldwide unity is critical to the attainment of the next leap in humankind from the homo sapiens of the current Piscean Age to homo universalis in the upcoming Age of Aquarius[52]. Ed Tarkowski, in his work Lord Maitreya: Lord of the Apostasy, (“Maitreya” is the name given for the antichrist) explains:

“New Agers believe that every age has had a teacher who manifested ‘the Christ.” During the past 2,150 years, they say, we have been in the age of Pisces, the energies of which brought divisions into the world. It is believed that now we are in a transition period, and that the new age of Aquarius will be one of synthesis, an age of unity and oneness. This unity of all things will bring fulfillment to humanity through the realization that man is god. Many believe that this realization will be brought forth under the Aquarian leadership of and through the personal appearance of the Lord Maitreya.” [53] [emphasis mine]

A central tenet of New Age teachings is evolution and the accompanying doctrine of reincarnation. In her 1948 book The Reappearance of the Christ – which refers, once again, to the “Christ consciousness” and/or antichrist – Alice Bailey speaks of the ultimate fulfillment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The “Hierarchy” mentioned below is the New Age “spiritual Hierarchy” or “Masters of Wisdom” who are, in reality, demonic spirits. “Christ” in the last sentence is actually the antichrist or Lord Maitreya:

“…It will then be possible for the Hierarchy [Masters of Wisdom], the Church of Christ hitherto invisible, to externalise [sic] itself and to function openly upon the physical plane. This will indicate a return to the situation which existed in Atlantean days when (to use Biblical symbology, Genesis Chaps. 2 and 3) God Himself walked among men; He talked with them and there was no barrier between the Kingdom of men and Kingdom of God. Divinity was then present in physical forms and the Members of the spiritual Hierarchy were openly guiding and directing the affairs of humanity, as far as man’s innate freedom permitted. Now, in the immediate future, and on a higher turn of the spiral of life, this will again happen. The Masters will walk openly among men; the Christ [antichrist] will reappear in physical Presence….” [54][brackets mine for explanation, emphasis mine]

In stating “The Christ will reappear” the actual meaning is the antichrist will appear. This will NOT be Jesus Christ’s second coming as the text may seem to say.

Building the Kingdom on the Firm Foundation

Ethics and religion cannot be legislated as this will not, by itself, change the heart. Only God through Jesus Christ can do that. For a good read on the correct way to ‘build the Kingdom’ see Relevant Bible Teaching[55].

The Kingdom of God is within the true believer (Luke 17:21) by the indwelling Holy Spirit – the one who trusts in the Jesus Christ of the Holy Bible. The Kingdom is constructed by God through Holy Spirit conviction, not man. It is built through preaching the True Gospel and a receptive heart accepting this Gospel – the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the one and only begotten/incarnated Son of God, who took the sins of the world upon Himself and nailed them to the Cross thus providing the means of salvation for all who believe on Him. Raised on the third day, He ascended bodily and is now at the Father’s right hand providing intercession for us. If you confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you will have eternal life provided you stand firm to the end.

Please dear reader, be sure you are helping to build the right Kingdom. Your eternity could be at stake.

Endnotes:

[1] Wikipedia. Latter Rain <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latter_Rain_(post-World_War_II_movement)>

[2] Booth, Tricia (formerly Tillin). The Birthpangs of a New Age. <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/latterrain/gloryappx.html>

[3] Herescope home page <http://herescope.blogspot.com/>

[4] International House of Prayer home page <http://www.ihop.org/>

[5] “Ariel” “Why I Believe IHOP is a Cult” The Gospel Masquerade <http://gospelmasquerade.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/why-i-believe-ihop-is-a-cult/>

[6] Johnson, Bill. When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 178

[7] ibid. p 30

[8] ibid. p 27

[9] Bentley, Todd. Kingdom Rising: Making the Kingdom Real in Your Life. 2008; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 67

[10] Wagner, C. Peter. The Case For Dominion. Charisma (2009, October) p 29

[11] Adam Clarke Commentary on Genesis 1:28; studylight.org <http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?book=ge&chapter=1&verse=28#Ge1_28>

[12] Paulk, Earl. Held in the Heavens Until… 1985; K Dimension, Atlanta, GA; back cover

[13] ibid. p 153

[14] Carson, D. A. Common Errors in understanding the Kingdom. 2008; Evangelicals Now <http://www.e-n.org.uk/p-4197-Common-errors-in-understanding-the-Kingdom.htm>

[15] Wikipedia. Christian Reconstructionism. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Reconstructionism>

[16] Herescope. “The Emerging Order” Part 6: The Next Great Awakening… Or Great Deadening? see parts 1-5 also <http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/10/emerging-order.html>

[17] Hagin, Kenneth E. The Name of Jesus. 1979; RHEMA Bible Church / Faith Library, Tulsa, OK; pp 18-19, 42, 47

[18] ibid. p 66

[19] ibid. p 105

[20] ibid.

[21] ibid. p 106

[22] ibid.

[23] Hagin, Kenneth E. “The Incarnation” The Word of Faith. (1980, December; #13) Kenneth Hagin Ministries, Tulsa, OK; p 14 as quoted in Russell Sharrock’s book Covenant Theology: A Critical Analysis of Current Pentecostal Covenant Theology. 2006, Lulu Enterprises, Morrisville, NC; p 109

[24] Graves, Charles S. “Sonship and Rebellion Anointing or Apostasy: The Latter Rain Legacy. As sourced from Tricia Booth’s website Birthpangs: A New World Order in the Making. <http://birthpangs.org/articles/background/Chas-Graves-Anointing-Apostasy.pdf> pp 22-30

[25] Paulk, Op.Cit. p 163

[26] ibid. p 197

[27] ibid p 198

[28] Hagin, Op.cit. The Name of Jesus. p 20

[29] Paulk, Op.cit. p 198

[30] Hagin, Op.cit. pp 17-18

[31] Paulk, Op.cit. p 198

[32] International Coalition of Apostles (ICA) home page <http://www.coalitionofapostles.com/>

[33] Paulk, Op.cit. p 228

[34] Global Harvest Ministries home page <http://www.globalharvest.org/>

[35] International Coalition of Apostles Membership Directory, November 10, 2009 <http://www.psa91.com/resource/ica.pdf>

[36] International Coalition of Apostles former home page courtesy Internet Archive / Wayback Machine <http://web.archive.org/web/20080204161103/http://www.apostlesnet.net/> par 4

[37] ibid. par 5

[38] Johnson, Op.cit. pp 89-94

[39] Dewaay, Bob. Mike Bickle and International House of Prayer: The Latter Rain Redivivus. <http://cicministry.org/commentary/issue107.htm>

[40] Paulk, Op.cit. pp 230-231

[41] Bickle, Mike. Growing in the Prophetic. 1996; Creation House, Lake Mary, FL; p 30

[42] MorningStar Ministries home page <http://www.morningstarministries.org/> Joyner is the one who predominately “restored” Todd Bentley to “ministry.”

[43] Joyner, Rick. The Harvest 1993; MorningStar Publications. Charlotte, NC; back cover

[44] “nowbelieve” YouTube video “Todd Bentley ‘Commissioning’ of June 23, 2008.” <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A05WQYi7aQ> Bill Johnson; 1:30 – 2:10

[45] Paulk, Op.cit. pp 235-236

[46] Bailey, Alice A. From Bethlehem to Calvary. Copyright 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis Trust, 4th paperback edition, 1989; Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 262

[47] ibid. p 259

[48] Cumbey, Constance. The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow. 1983, Rev. ed., Huntington House, Shreveport, LA; p 252. This is also available as a free download at <https://public.me.com/cumbey> “HIDDEN DANG…ND COVER.pdf” p 214

[49] Bailey, Op.cit. pp 271-272

[50] ibid. p 273

[51] ibid. p 274

[52] Tarkowski, Ed. “1945: The Signal For The Christ’s Return” Lord Maitreya: Lord of the Apostasy. <http://www.velocity.net/~edju/maitreya.htm>par 5

[53] ibid. “Who Is Lord Maitreya?” par 2

[54] Bailey, Alice A. The Reappearance of the Christ. 1948, Lucis Trust, 9th printing 1979 (4th Paperback Ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY; p 121

[55] Barnett, Brenton M. Relevant Bible Teaching webpage Does the Bible Teach a Cultural Mandate? <http://www.relevantbibleteaching.com/site/cpage.asp?cpage_id=140011557&sec_id=140001239>

“Signs That Make You Wonder”

Following is a transcription of a YouTube video[1] from early 2008 with Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California surmising that angels “have been bored for quite a few decades.” Johnson’s words begin at about 1:13 after an introduction by Patricia King of Extreme Prophetic[2] who refers to him as an “apostolic adviser” and “apostolic covering:”

Heaven is invading Earth; and, it’s happening through all different kinds of unusual manifestations. It’s happening through much more angelic encounters – those kinds of things are much more frequent.

And, I know people get nervous when you start talking about angels and this. It’s foolish to worship angels; but, it’s equally foolish to ignore them. God sent them to assist us in our assignment. We’ve been commissioned because we embrace His mission.

And, Jesus needed them. They came, ministered to Him. He cooperated. Paul cooperated with them. There wasn’t this praying to them – there’s not that sort of thing; but, they are there to assist us. And, quite frankly I think they have been bored for quite a few decades in this country and they’ve been looking for a generation that will live with some risk ‘cause that gives them something to back up. Because their whole deal is to enforce the Word of the Lord.

And, the Word of the Lord in Psalms 103 comes in two ways. It comes from God declaring a matter and it comes from Him speaking to His people and His people declaring a matter. And, they can tell when a word has originated in the heart of the Father ‘cause it carries that fragrance of the Throne Room with it and they recognize, “This is my assignment.” And, they jump all over that and enforce it. I’ve watched it; I’ve seen this happen where a word comes from the Father it’s declared in a room in a setting and instantly there is the absolute, most impossible situation reversed simply because of a declared word. And, I know there’s angelic assistance in enforcing them.

So, that’s, uh, it’s just increasing all kinds of manifestations. It’s the angelic realm; it’s just the supernatural breaking into this one: the gold and the oil and the wind. We’ve been having gusts of wind that just come out of nowhere. And, uh, ya know, it’s all good. It’s all signs that make you wonder and it’s just good to be in awe again. It’s not healthy to not be in awe. It’s not healthy to live accustomed to what’s going on around you. It’s really important that we live with that sense of awe and that appreciation for God’s unusual ways of working with us.

So this is, uh – I love it, I just welcome all that He’s doing.

While the exact vintage of this video is unknown to this writer, it should be noted that this upload of February 3, 2008 predates the Lakeland ‘Revival’ by a couple months in which Todd Bentley claimed all sorts of things regarding angels. In this video[3] of Lakeland from April 25, 2008, Bentley speaks of forthcoming ‘revivals’ and he states that a ‘revival’ was already taking place at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church:

…Denny Cline,[4] are you watching me in Albany? Bob Jones[5] told me it’s coming back to Washington, Oregon, California… …Ya know Albany, Oregon was the first healing outpouring that I had in America. Ya know why it broke out? Because I was in Shreveport, Louisiana and the angel of the Winds of Change was released. I went all the way over to Grant’s Pass, Oregon and I went all the way to Albany, Oregon and the healing revival broke out and it launched our ministry. And that Bob [Jones] told me that same Winds of Change angel had come all the way back to Lakeland.

We know it’s already happening in Bethel – in northern California. It’s happening in Redding, California…”  [emphasis mine]

So, did the Bethel ‘revival’ rival the Lakeland ‘revival’ regarding angels? Did the same “Winds of Change angel” visit Bethel at the same time as Lakeland? Are angels omnipresent?

Todd Bentley stated back in 2002 or 2003 that it was an “angel called Healing Revival” that came to him in Grant’s Pass; whereas, above he says it was the “Winds of Change angel” who launched his ministry. Perhaps the angel changed his name later to “Winds of Change” because of a change in the wind? In the following, Bentley mentions that this “Healing Revival” angel was the same one of John G. Lake, William Branham and John Knox:

I first saw the angel called Healing Revival on December 5 of 2000 in Grant’s Pass. The angel came to me again in Albany the next February. He stood in the church service with his body going through the ceiling of the church. Then the Lord told me the angel’s name and that he was the same angel I saw in Grant’s Pass earlier. God also revealed to me that this angel was involved in the ministry of John Lake, William Branham, and John Knox in Scotland. This angel, the Lord said, is from the North West Healing Revival and is manifesting again as a sign that God is restoring the Voice of Healing revival and opening up the ancient wells.

In our ministry over the last year, this angel has come frequently and on many different occasions… …Many other people have also seen or had contact with this angel in the meetings. And whenever this angel shows up the miracles go off the charts. Instead of a few healings, we’ll get three blind eyes in one night or maybe a cripple guy gets out of a wheel chair.

I believe the angel showed up in Albany as a sign that God was endorsing what was taking place and that it was opening up a healing well. Everywhere I have seen this angel the miracles continue after I leave and a healing well is established in that church and in that city… [6]

From Scripture we know there are angels who minister to us. And, according to Psalm 103:19-21 – the verses Johnson must be referring to in the video above – we find another function of angels:

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will. [NIV]

In this context, it is made evident that angels obey the Word of God and are commanded by God [see also Psalm 91:11]. It is the Father who dispatches them; they do not, as Johnson states, “recognize” their “assignment.” Rather, they obey their assignment.  They do not act on their own accord. 

Quoting Johnson from the transcript:

 And, the Word of the Lord in Psalms 103 comes in two ways.  It comes from God declaring a matter and it comes from Him speaking to His people and His people declaring a matter.

With the latter part of the second sentence above Johnson sets up a straw man argument which is incumbent on him to defend as it is extra-biblical.  For more on the function and nature of angels, here’s the Hebrew word from which we get “angel” — mal’ak — as defined by Strong’s:

 messenger, a human representative; angel, a supernatural representative of God, sometimes delivering messages, sometimes protecting God’s people; the “angel of the LORD” sometimes shares divine characteristics and is sometimes thought to be an manifestation of God himself, or of the preincarnate Christ [Theophany]. [7] [bracketed comment mine]  

Even Satan, a fallen angel, is constrained by the permissive will of God [see Job 1:12; 2:9]. To quote J. Hampton Keathley, III from his article Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels:

Surely it is comforting to know that God may protect, provide, and encourage us through His angels, but this fact does not always guarantee such deliverance, and certainly we should never presume on this provision of God. … we should keep in mind that God does not always deliver us from danger or supply our needs in miraculous ways whether by angels or by His direct intervention. For His own sovereign and wise purposes, the opposite is sometimes His will as life clearly illustrates and Scripture declares (see Heb. 11:36-40).

But there is another truth regarding angels that needs to be kept in view.  Just as people usually do not think of the punitive ministry of angels, so people, in their popular ideas about angels, often ignore the Scripture’s teaching about the deception of Satan’s evil angels (2 Cor. 11:14-15). [8]

Here[9] is a post on an angel named “Breakthrough Revival” in which Randy DeMain claimed this angel came to him while he was in Nigeria. While the YouTube video from which the transcription is taken from has been removed by the user, the bulk is verifiable as the contents are referred to both on another blog and in a ‘prophetic word’ which will be quoted from later in this article:

“All of a sudden I realized there was a presence of God that I had never experienced before upon my life. And in that moment of time, I heard a voice say this: ‘I have a gift for you, will you receive it?’ And it stunned me. And I looked up and it was like a veil between the natural and the supernatural opened, just an opening of the veil.”

It needs to be pointed out that the ‘veil’ DeMain speaks of sounds suspiciously like what is known in the New Age Religion as a “portal.” The author here[10] defines portals as “‘…inter-dimensional doorways, two-way tunnels, curtains of light’” and “’are a recurring concept in our cultural tradition allowing for travel between worlds and a means of transcending time and space.’” She states further:

“Some people say they can travel physically through portals, but most of those who visit the portals in Sedona move within their minds, as in meditation. This is commonly known as an out-of-body experience as they project their consciousness into an astral realm…

“There is an awareness that entities exist beyond our third dimensional existence, and that it is possible that there is movement between dimensions at portals…”

Going back to Randy DeMain’s account of his “visitation:”

And when this opened, the light became very bright, and as I looked up that living Lord Jesus Himself walked through that veil and stood before me just as a couple of feet in front of me and began to speak to me. He said, ‘An angel has come to me and asked to be assigned to you. His name is ‘Breakthrough Revival.’ He has seen in you the same heart and perseverance as the ones he has formerly served who have since died. He has new assignments since that time…”

Jesus Himself, in speaking of signs of the end of time gave this warning, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.” [Matthew 24:23 NIV] Therefore, it is very doubtful that DeMain actually saw Jesus Christ. In fact, given that we have no photos or verifiable representation of what Jesus actually looked like, how could DeMain be sure?

Continuing on with DeMain:

“…And then He said this: ‘What you saw tonight, what you experienced tonight is what the angel does. He goes before you and he opens up the realm of the area you’re ministering in and he drives back all the power of darkness. And, he creates an atmosphere where it is on earth as it is in heaven.’ And, as you say… …the word of God manifests instantly just like there is in heaven, there’s no hindrance; and, I was just overwhelmed at what the Lord was saying…

“…One of the things I said to the Lord, ‘…Why would I take this mighty angel… … from Nigeria, that’s causing all these things to happen, and take this angel from here back to America?’

“…And, immediately the Lord said, ‘because his work is done, it’s now the work of gathering and reaping angels. They will go forth now into the harvest and partner with men in the harvest just like they did with Philip in the New Testament…’ I come to find out historically that this is also true because to this very day the born again rate exceeds the birth rate in that nation of Africa; so, indeed, its work was done.

“The second thing really stunned me though. The Lord said to me, ‘It’s America’s time’ and I knew that all of a sudden the gaze of God had come to America.”

So, is it that God’s ‘gaze’ can only be on one nation at a time? This whole idea of angels moving from one region to another contradicts the pervasive belief in charismatic circles that angels and demons are constrained to specific geographic areas. This thought is one of the bases for the ‘spiritual warfare’ known as “spiritual mapping” written on extensively by C. Peter Wagner of Global Harvest Ministries[11]and practiced in the modern prophetic movement. This notion of “territorial spirits” is debunked here.[12]

In the following, Shawn Bolz relates how this “Breakthrough angel” worked through Liz Jones of Guildford Prayer School (UK)[13] while she was visiting his Los Angeles church:

“…Liz Jones, saw an angel, and said the angel’s name was “Breakthrough.” He had come to bring revival to California and breakthrough to us, or city, and the State.

“When she told me I was encouraged, but it did not fully register. In the past ministry I was involved in, WhiteDove Ministries, we did a series of conferences on a similar encounter that Bob Jones and Randy DeMain had reported having about an ‘angel of breakthrough’ who is instrumental in revival…

“…I recently went to a conference with Randy DeMain who had had an encounter with what he also called the “Angel of Breakthrough” in Nigeria while on a ministry trip in 2004. This angel had been involved with Benson Idahosa during the great Nigerian revivals of the 1990’s. Bob Jones had a similar encounter a few months later with similar details about this ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ being released in America… I told Randy about Liz Jones’ encounter when I was with him during a conference held on Valentines weekend in Idaho. He looked surprised. He said the presence of the angel had left him, and that the Lord told him that he was taking ‘Breakthrough’ somewhere else for a while. However, the ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ would be back with Randy in the future! Randy said, ‘So, that is where he is!’” [14] [Quotes (‘ ‘) and capitalization on ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ are mine. All else is as per original]

In a ‘prophetic word’ on the Elijah List[15] from April 4, 2006, Paul Keith Davis of White Dove Ministries relates how Bob Jones had a vision of Randy DeMain’s “Breakthrough Angel” on March 24th of the same year. In this ‘word’ there were to be three “major” moves “soon to take place.” When did they occur? There does not appear to be any specific expression of this particular angel with the exception of the rather minor encounter referenced by Shawn Bolz above. Here[16] Bolz relates in a little more detail the account of Liz Jones and this angel with a claim of 100 people in his congregation, including the homeless, receiving jobs within a month; however, again, it does not seem to be a “major” ‘move.’

There was an account in early 2009 of “Breakthrough Angel” showing up in Harrisburg, PA[17] ; but, it did not seem to materialize into a “major” revival – if one at all. Here’s a snippet from the advertisement:

“…We see this as a time to pull Heaven down and establish the Kingdom of God with every step that you take as the revival breakthrough angel is displacing spiritual forces over this region…” [all as per original]

In this ‘prophetic word’[18] from a March 2, 2010 “angelic visitation” referenced on Bob Jones’ website, Jones speaks of a ‘breakthrough’ in Ohio. No other information on this ‘revival’ is yet to be found as of the date of the writing of this article. Please note some confusing words at the end of Jones’ ‘word:’

“Let’s take an aggressive stand against the spoken word. Don’t give the enemy an inroad. Pray to cancel the power and authority out of the spoken word that is not aligned with God’s destiny for your family, city and state. Stand firm on the word of God and be assured ‘With God All Things Are Possible!’ Welcome the Breakthrough Revival Angel to do that which is necessary to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven…”

According to modern charismatic belief, isn’t the spoken word the rhema, which is the one of ‘prophetic revelation,’ while the Word of God is the written word, the logos, the Bible? How does one know which ‘spoken word’ is “aligned with God’s destiny for your family, city and state?”

It has been since early 2006 that this Bob Jones’ ‘prophecy’ about the three “major” ‘moves’ of the “Breakthrough Angel” were to “soon take place” yet to date they have not come to fruition. With all the different angels of the Lakeland ‘revival,’ “Breakthrough” was not one of them. What happened to the “Breakthrough Angel?” Isn’t the “Angel of Breakthrough” supposed to return to Randy DeMain?

Is it possible that the unnamed angel of the Bethel ‘revival’ Todd Bentley references in the April 2008 clip above is the elusive “Angel of Breakthrough?” This seems doubtful since if this were a partial fulfillment of Jones’ ‘prophecy’ certainly it would have been promoted as such.

Taking all the above into consideration I would have to agree with this portion of Bill Johnson’s words from the transcript at the beginning of this article:

“It’s all signs that make you wonder…”

 

[1] “fr33info4u,” Bill Johnson – Heaven invades Earth <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdOY42jUeks> February 3, 2008;  as accessed 10/10/10

[2] Extreme Prophetic homepage <http://www.extremeprophetic.com/>

[3] “GodOfElijah,” Todd Bentley Florida Healing Revival 3 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-nwMfOKgXo> April 25, 2008; as accessed 10/10/10

[4] Jesus Pursuit Church home page <http://www.vcfalbany.org/>

[5] Bob Jones Ministries home page <http://www.bobjones.org/>

[6] Bentley, Todd / Fresh Fire Ministries (archived), “An Angel Called Healing Revival” Angelic Hosts <http://www.etpv.org/2003/angho.html> as accessed 10/10/10

[7] Strong, James, Dr. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. fully revised by John R. Kohlenberg III and James A. Swanson; 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; Strong’s # 4397; p 1414 “mal’ak,”

[8] Keathley, III, J. Hampton, “The Ministry of Angels” Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels. <http://bible.org/article/angelology-doctrine-angels> par 18-19; as accessed 10/10/10   

[9] “endtimespropheticwords” Randy DeMain’s Jesus encounter and the Angel Breakthrough Revival <http://endtimespropheticwords.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/randy-demains-jesus-encounter-and-the-angel-breakthrough-revival/> July 25, 2008; as accessed 10/10/10

 [10] “Jocelyn” Portals <http://www.sedonanewagecenter.com/newsletter/html/2005/cnanewsletter5-11.htm> Center For The New Age Newsletter, Volume 5 Issue 11, November, 2005; as accessed 10/10/10

[11] Global Harvest Ministries homepage <http://www.globalharvest.org/>

[12] Stevens, David E., “Daniel 10 and the Notion of Territorial Spirits,” Bibliotheca Sacra. 157: 628 (2000): 410-431 <http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/daniel10.pdf> Stevens is Senior Pastor, Central Bible Church, Portland, Oregon; as accessed 10/10/10

[13] Guildford Prayer School (UK) <http://www.guildfordcommunitychurch.org.uk/Articles/9689/Guildford_Community_Church/GCC_life/GCC_Guildford/Prayer/Guildford_Prayer_School.aspx> as accessed 10/10/10

[14] Bolz, Shawn “The Release of Breakthrough in California (Not another cliché breakthrough word)” blogs.myspace.com/shawnbolz <http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=19410816&blogId=476320097> March, 13 2009; as accessed 10/10/10

[15] Elijah List, Paul Keith Davis and Bob Jones: “The Angel Stated That His Name Is ‘Breakthrough’” <http://elijahlist.com/words/display_word/3959> April 4, 2006; as accessed 10/10/10

[16] “RevivalFiresMedia” “The Angel of Breakthrough” Interview with Shawn Bolz <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kkaq4ZXeLPs> May 24, 2010; as accessed 10/10/10

[17] Life Center Ministries advertisement for “Firestorm 2009” <http://www.lcmi.org/about/firestorm-february-26-28-2009/> as accessed 10/10/10

[18] Jones, Bob “Invite Breakthrough Revival Angel” Damn the Torpedos Full Speed Ahead! Breakthrough is in Ohio! <http://bobjonesnew.unionactive.com/Docs/Words%20of%202010/2010-03_BreakthroughInOhio.htm> as accessed 10/10/10