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

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

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

-Alice A. Bailey, 191939

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As you begin to grow into the likeness of Christ you’re gonna begin to partake of the divine nature.  And, once you begin to grow up in that-away you’ll continue to mature until you look like Christ all over the world.  Jesus was one person.  Now get ready for Jesuses [sic; plural of “Jesus”] all over the world.52

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

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

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

If God’s love is going to be manifested on planet earth, who is going to demonstrate it?  Christ in us, the hope of glory.  God has no other place to show His love except through His body.54

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

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

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

For example, a Master can be seen in various groups at the same time. He can even be in different planes serving and teaching on different levels to meet various needs of the people. He can do different jobs in different places at one time. He impresses the space with his images, and so forth.56

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Johnson: Deceived Deceiver or Deceiving Deceiver?

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

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

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

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

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

Since when is God constrained by “disturbing powers”?

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

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

…Jesus destroyed the power of sin, sickness, and poverty through His redemptive work on the cross. In Adam and Eve’s commission to subdue the earth, they were without sickness, poverty, and sin. Now that we are restored to His original purpose, should we expect anything less? After all, this is the better covenant! 67

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit

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

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

Orthodox Definition of the Antichrist Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Johnson Redefines the Antichrist Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson Redefines “Christ”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Explications and Implications of Johnson’s “Anointing”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Johnson1

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

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

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

Preliminary Background

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Johnson’s Christology Explained

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

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

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

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

…He laid his [sic] divinity aside as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin…11 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We recognize the facts that Jesus was man and that Christ was God, so that in very truth Jesus the Christ was the God-man of the ages.38

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

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

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

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?

Anthology of Bill Johnson Articles (So Far)

In Joseph Garlington’s foreword to Bill Johnson’s Face to Face with God: The Quest to Experience His Presence [2007, Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL], he quotes from Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz who asserts jazz music ‘never resolves’.  Miller goes on to claim that God “doesn’t resolve.”  Garlington then compares this to Johnson:

Bill’s ministry embraces paradox as though it is the most normal thing in the world…Often in his teaching ministry Bill will make a statement without ‘resolving’ it…His teaching entices you to pursue a way of thinking that is often foreign to traditional teachers, and it whets your appetite for something you always knew was there…

I recall in another book Johnson making a reference to jazz.  So, does Bill Johnson like jazz music that doesn’t resolve, i.e. the more avant garde (unorthodox, experimental, “cutting edge”) flavor of jazz?

…Years ago I bought a jazz album on a whim.  I eagerly looked forward to something fresh and new as I placed it on the turntable… [Dreaming with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence, 2006, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 47]

Hey, NOW we’re talkin’!  So, Johnson likes jazz and he has a turntable?!   My interest is piqued, as I have an extensive collection of jazz records (vinyl) which I still play on a turntable.  “We just might be able to have a mutually edifying conversation about jazz,” I ponder.  Not too sure about theology though.

I wonder – which artists in jazz does Johnson like?  Perhaps it’s the spiritual/free jazz of the ’60s such as Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, late-period John Coltrane and the like?  Or, maybe he prefers the heyday of Blue Note with such artists as Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd, Horace Silver, Jimmy Smith, etc.?  Or, perhaps he likes stuff such as Dave BrubeckThelonious Monk or perhaps Duke Ellington?  Vocalists such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan?  Maybe he’s a Miles Davis fan – but, then which era?  Perhaps Miles’ electric era of the late ’60s into the ’70s?  Or, how about Sun Ra (born Herman “Sonny” Blount)?  Now, Ra had some very esoteric theology to go with his diverse musical excursions.   Perhaps he likes more contemporary stuff on the German ECM label, some of which is European although the label includes the music of American Keith Jarrett, among others.  Or, maybe this relatively new band Tongues of Fire?  Hopefully, he’s not calling stuff like Kenny G ‘jazz’.

…But I was horribly disappointed.  It sounded like a child randomly pounding on a piano, with no melody or harmonies, no consistent rhythm, nothing to give it purpose or direction… [Dreaming; p 47]

Hmmm.  Well, no, it doesn’t appear he likes avant garde jazz.  He just prefers his theology that way.

In any case, this thought process led me to anthologize the Bill Johnson posts here on the site.  How did I come to that?  Well, record companies tend to anthologize the works of artists in order to acquire a larger audience and, hence, boost sales.  Of course, I’m not looking to make any money, but I do want this information disseminated to the largest audience possible.

Initially I considered titling the post facetiously “The Best of Bill Johnson”, but I didn’t want to potentially confuse or mislead, lest anyone think I’ve now begun to promote Johnson’s material as if I was like-minded.  Alternatively, I pondered borrowing a ploy by RCA Victor used on a Jefferson Airplane compilation titled “The Worst of…”, but I thought some readers would find it too negative or offensive.  So, it was decided to use the more neutral “anthology”, with the parenthetical “So Far” a nod to the title of a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young compilation of the same name.

Without further ado, here are the articles (so far):

—  Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, part I which also discusses portions of his book When Heaven Invades Earth in which Johnson discloses his kenotic Jesus and his assertion that anyone against the “anointing” (as he defines it) is anti-christ.

—  part II shows how close he comes to the Kenyon/Hagin ‘Jesus died spiritually’ heresy in his proof-texts for the ‘born again Jesus’, in addition to his view that Jesus received the “Baptism of/in the Holy Spirit” in the Jordan, plus his (and other) Latter Rain and Manifest Sons of God leanings seemingly not too far from New Age ideology.

—  Johnson’s and others’ quotes on Dominionism in The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part II, which questions just which kingdom is being promoted.

Speaking of paradox: can someone resolve the apparent contradiction inherent in Jim Goll’s foretelling prophecy of Johnson’s acquisition of a library related to someone with the name ‘Roberts’, given that Johnson had already purchased Roberts Liardon’s library the year before?:

—  Bill Johnson’s Library Mandate – a “direct from headquarters” mandate.

—  Update: Bill Johnson’s Library Mandate

—  Johnson endorsing Bob Jones: Bethel hosting a “prophetic conference” featuring Bob Jones.

—  Bill Johnson and the Sign of Jonah“If signs and wonders don’t follow you, follow them until they follow you.”

—  Signs That Make You Wonder: “…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…”

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

—  Another Challenge to Bill Johnson/Bethel Supportersregarding a Johnson tweet (which also occurs in other material). Jesus is returning for a bride whose body is in equal proportion to her head.”

—  More in depth look at Johnson’s Kenosis: “…Jesus gave Himself to be crucified.  He did not raise Himself from the dead…His job was to give His life to die.  The Father raised Him by the Spirit…”

—  Kris Vallotton and the Mantle of Jesus Christ/Bill Johnson on Corporate Anointing:“…Not just the mantle of William Branham, how about the mantle of Jesus Christ?  That’s even a bigger one there…”

—  By Whose Power Does Bill Johnson Heal?: “What have I done? This guy thinks he hobbled in here…wait until he tries to walk out!”

—  Greater works than Jesus?: …Many theologians seek to honor the works of Jesus as unattainable, which is religion, fathered by unbelief…

—  A personal testimony about Bethel’s influence

In keeping with the tradition in the recording industry which induces fans to acquire anthologies even if they have all the artist’s previous work by including something new, I’ll close with a rather ‘electrifying’ quote of Bill Johnson not used in any previous CrossWise article, taken from Face to Face with God:

I went from being in a dead sleep to being wide-awake in a moment.  Unexplainable power began to pulsate through my body.  It was as if I had been plugged into a wall socket with a thousand volts of electricity flowing through my body.  An extremely powerful being seemed to have entered the room, and I could not function in His presence.  My arms and legs shot out in silent explosions as this power was released through my hands and feet.  The more I tried to stop it, the worse it got.  I soon discovered that this was not a wrestling match I was going to win.  I heard no voice, nor did I have any visions.  This was the most overwhelming experience of my life.  It was raw power.  It was God.  He had come in response to the prayer I had been praying. [p 8]

I’m thinkin’ Johnson may prefer electric jazz…

In Exonerating Paul Cain, Is the ‘Aberrant Practices’ Document Invalidated?

[Update: we are now of the opinion that Paul Cain’s “Joel’s Army” audio referenced in this article was from 1987, rather than the 1989 date assigned here.  More specifically, we believe the date of recording is June 28, 1987.]

…[C]ertain accusations about Paul Cain proved to be entirely false, having been based on untruths that were later acknowledged as such.  Paul Cain met with the critic, as did John Wimber and others.  Though the critic was reluctant to concede the wrong of the report as a whole, he later wrote a letter conceding the godliness of Paul Cain and the reality of his exceptional gifting.

 – Dr. John White, foreword to David Pytches’ (revised) Some Said it Thundered1

The “critic” White refers to is obviously Ernie Gruen.  These are very strong words although White would later agree that his overall statement was “intemperate.”2   This will be addressed in more detail a bit later.  As stated in the first part of this article, the exoneration of Paul Cain by Gruen will be examined in full since this has been used by some to negate the entire Document.  Toward this end, we will explore Cain in some detail as well as some of his closest allies of this period including Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer – more commonly “IHOP”), John Wimber and Jack Deere.  And since there have been attempts at discrediting the Gruen analysis of the “drought prophecy,” this will be specifically discussed in detail in closing.

Here is the first page of the two page letter3 (three including the ‘15 points/errors’ enclosure):

In effect, point 2 and its sub-points appear to completely contradict nearly the whole of section VI.H in the Gruen Document.4 Let’s examine these points.

Point 2d indicates that Gruen and his staff relied on reports of William Branham’s sons regarding whether or not Cain ministered with the elder Branham.5  Branham’s sons claimed he did not.  It will be assumed that Cain and/or Wimber and his staff provided absolute proof to the contrary.6  However, this brings up an associated issue to be discussed later in this article.

In his August 1990 Special Report, Albert James Dager rightly questions Cain’s exoneration given that Cain has openly endorsed KCF/GM:

…[H]ow can Cain be exonerated of GM/KCF’s excessive errors when he has openly endorsed that ministry and appears on their platform?  One who endorses a work bears responsibility for that work and is identified with its fruit.7

Part of Cain’s endorsement of GM/KCF included his explicit affirmations of Bob Jones as both a foretelling and forth-telling prophet during this time as the Gruen Document and other sources illustrate.8  So, why were limitations placed on Jones’ ministry as a result of the Vineyard assumption due to his aberrant teachings and practices while Cain continued to be embraced as a prophet?  In addition, wasn’t Cain guilty of point/error 9 in the ‘15 points’ referenced in the first part of this article (and enclosed with the July 1 letter) – “[p]ublic predictions of natural disasters, economic events, and divine visitations without the approval of government” – in his purported “earthquake prophecy” of December 1988?9

1 White, John. “Foreword” in Pytches, David. Some Said it Thundered. 1991 (revised, “new edition”), Oliver Nelson, Nashville, TN; pp xxii-xxiii
2 Beverley, James A. Holy Laughter & the Toronto Blessing: An Investigative Report. 1995, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI; p 126
3 Letter on file including attachment.
4 Gruen, Ernest J. & John J. Arnold, et. al. Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries). May 1990, self-published; pp 217-21. / pdf prepared for online posting by Tricia Tillin (Booth) <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/kcp/Aberrant%20Practises.pdf>; pp 123-25.  Hereafter listed as pdf first followed by original booklet; e.g.: pp 123-25 / 217-21
5 Gruen, Documentation. pp 124 / 218-19
6 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131 and Jackson, Bill The Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard. 1999, Vineyard International Publishers, Ladysmith, Cape Town, South Africa; p 182.  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.  Herein and hereafter, all page numbers will reference the earlier edition followed by the later one, e.g.: p 182 / 175.  Neither Beverley nor Jackson provides any specific proof.  Is there perhaps an exchange between Cain and Branham recorded or an extant photo which would prove unequivocally?
7 Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets and the Kansas City-Vineyard Connection” Media Spotlight. Special Report, August 1990, Media Spotlight, Redmond, WA; pp 6.  Report undated, however verified by Dager.
8 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131.  Notes Beverley, “Cain’s explicit blessing of Bob Jones was a major error…After Jones was disciplined for…sexual misconduct…I was told that Cain never trusted Jones in the first place.”  If he didn’t trust him from the beginning, why would he endorse him so enthusiastically in the first place?  Beverley, however, was apparently ill-informed of some of Cain’s doctrines namely Joel’s Army and Manifested Sons of God [see below in this article “Paul Cain Did Not Teach Manifested Sons Doctrine?”] proclaiming he had “no problem affirming that Cain is orthodox in his basic theology” while acknowledging Cain (and Bob Jones) did teach Joel’s Army [p 123].  The Joel’s Army doctrine as taught by Cain (and Jones) is contrary to basic Christian orthodoxy.
9 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179-80 / 172-73.  “Earthquake prophecy” discussed in some detail including discrepancies in its reporting.

Paul Cain Prophesies Earthquakes?

It’s imperative to understand the significance accorded Paul Cain.  To this day, Mike Bickle refers to Cain as one of his “spiritual fathers.”10  Jack Deere was so taken with Cain that he insisted John Wimber meet with him.  As James A. Beverley states, “From 1988 to 1991, there was no doubt Paul Cain had ‘superstar’ status in the Vineyard.”11 Cain had been established as the primary prophetic voice at Shiloh Ministries which, as noted in the first part of this article, was largely funded by Vineyard Ministries International [see second paragraph under May 12 in the timeline]:

Grace Ministries team leaders have recognized Paul [Cain] as having the senior prophetic authority over Shiloh and those in prophetic ministry who are based there.12

Wimber even claimed at one point that he was “bonded to Paul Cain for life.”13  One of the reasons for his high stature as a “prophet” was the “earthquake prophecy” which was said to have validated Paul Cain’s message to Wimber and Vineyard: “God has a strategic purpose in this for Paul and the Vineyard Movement.”14

The “earthquake prophecy” came in two parts: there was to be an earthquake in southern California on the day Cain would arrive – December 3, 1990 – and there was to be a big one in another part of the world on the day after Cain was to leave.  Paul Cain left Anaheim Vineyard on December 7; so, this would place the second predicted earthquake on December 8.  Mike Bickle, in his book Growing in the Prophetic, recounts:

…A week or two before Paul’s scheduled arrival, Dr. Jack Deere, who was at that time an associate pastor with John Wimber in Anaheim, asked Paul if God would grant a prophetic sign to confirm His message for John Wimber and the several hundred Vineyard churches under John’s leadership.

Paul answered, “The day I arrive, there will be an earthquake in your area.”  That, however, is not an astounding prediction for southern California.

Jack asked, “Will this be the big one we’ve all been hearing about?”

“No,” Paul answered, “but there will be a big earthquake elsewhere in the world on the day after I leave.” 15

This “prophecy” was also recounted in Wimber’s Equipping the Saints (ETS) magazine specifying Cain’s face-to-face visit with Wimber occurred on the 5th of December.16  There was indeed an earthquake on December 3rd in Pasadena.17  However, John Wimber had later questioned himself as to whether this “prophecy” was actually predicted. Bill Jackson, in The Quest for the Radical Middle, relates:

While Wimber wrote the account as coming before the fact, he later doubted his memory when he re-examined the prophetic.  He would later wonder privately if it hadn’t really come after the fact.  This is a very important distinction to make because the fact was used to validate Paul Cain’s message to the Vineyard.  In a phone conversation, Deere recounted to me in vivid detail the facts surrounding the prophecy, verifying that it did come before the earthquake.18

As stated above, part of this “prophecy” was Cain’s purported prediction that there would be a second “big” earthquake in another part of the world “on the day after he left” Anaheim Vineyard.19  Yet Wimber, in recounting the Deere/Cain conversation in the ETS Fall 1990 article, records the earthquake was to be, quoting Cain, “after I leave” which is less explicit on the timing.20

On the evening of Cain’s departure, December 7, 1988 – which, of course, is not the day after – there was a catastrophic earthquake in Soviet-Armenia. Deere would later apologize for being unclear in how he stated this “prophecy” initially:

…When Jack Deere realized the error he said he remembered that Paul had not said “the day after I leave” but “after I leave,” thus leaving the timing ambiguous.  He apologized for the misquote.  It was these kinds of disclaimers that raised the ire of many toward the prophetic because it seemed like backpedaling.21

10 Bickle, Mike, International House of Prayer Encountering Jesus, formerly at  <http://www.ihopmp3store.com/Groups/1000021591/IHOP_MP3_Downloads/Free_MP3s/Free_MP3s.aspx> Disc 1 <http://ihopcontent.ihop.org/ihopcntnt/endis/FreeMP3s/Encountering_Jesus_D1.mp3> 18:45 – 19:35, As accessed 10/09/11, now available on Internet Archive (Wayback Machine): https://archive.org/details/EncounteringJesus.  Bickle also refers to Bob Jones as his other ‘spiritual father.’
11 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 130
12 Lambert, Steve “Shiloh: A Prophetic Sanctuary” Grace City Report. Special Edition, Fall 1989; p 11 as cited in Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Kansas City Connection” Media Spotlight. Special Report, April 23, 1990, Media Spotlight, Redmond, WA; p 4.  Also in Dager Vengeance is Ours: The Church in Dominion. July 1990, Sword Publishers, Redmond, WA; p 129 and Dager “Latter Day Prophets: The Restoration”; p 5.
13 Hill, Clifford “Kansas City Prophets” Prophecy Today. July/August 1990, Vol 6 No 4; p 6
14 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 179 / 172
15 Bickle, Michael, M. Sullivant, Growing in the Prophetic. 1996 (5th printing Feb ’98), Creation House, Oakland, FL; p 39.  Emphasis added.
16 Wimber “Introducing Prophetic Ministry” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; pp 4-5
17 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179-80 / 172-73.  Jackson erroneously records the date of the Pasadena earthquake as December 5 as it was instead on the 3rd.   December 5 was the day Cain purportedly met with Wimber which is likely the source of the error.
18 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179, 189 / 172, 181.  Wimber “wondered privately” in a conversation with Todd Hunter.  Emphasis added.
19 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 179 / 172.  Emphasis added.
20 Wimber, “Introducing Prophetic”; p 5.  Emphasis added.
21 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 189 / 181-82.  Recounted to Jackson in phone conversation on April 2, 1999.  Emphasis added.

Open Vision of Jack Deere’s Mother and Related Prophecy

Point 2b is problematic.  Here’s the account as recorded in the Gruen Document:

Paul Cain claims a person’s dead mother appeared to him and talked with him.

Three people testified that during a conference in Kansas City in April of 1989, Paul Cain called a man out of the congregation and said, “Your brother is okay – your dead mother appeared to me and said he is in heaven with her.” 22

The concession states that it wasn’t necromancy since the woman who appeared to Cain in this open vision was a living person.  This account is detailed in the following from an audio tape of that evening:

The portion below pertaining to the account in the Gruen Document is bolded; the rest is shown to provide the broader context.  With the benefit of time and a later restatement of this particular account by Jack Deere, this can be analyzed in detail:

Last time the Lord gave me anything like this – and this is the burden of the Lord, Mike, I tell ya.  It’s a burden of the Lord because I don’t wanna do it, I don’t wanna do this… I never will forget the reproach that came upon me…and because of the ignorance of… the people, they thought I was talking to the dead.  Listen, talking to the dead is nothing new; I talk to the dead every time I get up in a place like this.  It’s people walking over dead people that are far more dead than the dead people in the ground.

We misunderstood a lot of things.  We take one little isolated Scripture out here that ‘the dead know nothing at all’ and think we’ve got the interpretation of that – if anybody sees someone face to face with the Lord that they’re talkin’ to the dead.  That’s the craziest thing I ever heard of.  Somebody saw Moses; somebody saw Elijah.  Uh, I know Moses died.  And, uh, somebody saw him, didn’t they?

…If one of your loved ones was with the Lord; and, you hadn’t had any peace about this, and the Lord just sent a little love note to you tonight, wanting you to have inner peace and happiness, wanting you to be strengthened to serve Him, He might just tell you He was face to face with him, do you believe that?  He just might do that.

And, Jack…I want you to stand up; It’s gonna hit you with brute force tonight.  Your mother came to me in an open vision this afternoon.  Her name is Wanda; second name initial J. – Right?  W. J., Wanda, and then she looks like somebody I know named Jean, so, that must be her middle name.  And she’s talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost.  And she feels a lot of guilt, and a lot of responsibility there. And you don’t know it, but the Lord said, “Cliff is in heaven.” And Cliff, uh – JEWEL – it’s Jewel Clifford, he is in heaven tonight because God saw something in the insanity that came upon him that was demonic.   And God, who is a God of perfect justice and perfect equality, said that He took one item from your dad as He did from Abraham and accounted it for righteousness sake.  And he did call on Him, and your father, Jewel, as, uh, Joel and Malachi in that day when the Lord makes up his Jewels [ed: Joels?].23

It’s not difficult to understand those in the audience being a bit confused about the details as Cain spoke this rather fast and it IS difficult to figure out the exact relationship each has with the others (except Jack with respect to his mother, of course) confounded even more by the fact that “Jewel” sounds a lot like “Joel.”  Furthermore, it’s not difficult to understand confusion as to who was alive or dead with Cain’s long introduction about “talking to the dead.”  However, yes, the woman here, Jack Deere’s mother, apparently was alive at this time.

To try to put this in perspective by restating: In an open vision that afternoon Cain saw Deere’s mother who was “talking about a jewel.”  Subsequent to this or within this same vision, Cain is claiming he received a “prophetic word” about Deere’s deceased father, Jewel Clifford, with the Lord saying, “Cliff is in heaven.”

Jack Deere recalls this himself in his book Surprised by the Voice of God.24  Tragically, his father had committed suicide when he was just twelve years old and Deere went back and forth in his mind varying between believing his father was in heaven and believing his father was in hell after weighing positive and negative evidence respectively.25

…Then he looked directly at me and said, “Jack, would you stand up please.”

As I rose to my feet, Paul said, “I had a vision of your mother this afternoon.  Her name is Wanda Jean.  I saw her standing on a cliff looking for her missing jewel.  That must mean your father’s name is Jewel Clifford.  Then I saw your father.   When I saw him, he was in heaven, face-to-face with the Lord Jesus.  The Lord showed me that sometime before your father had died, like Abraham, he believed in the Lord, and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness.”

I was absolutely stunned.  No one knew my mother’s real name.  She hated the name Wanda.  She would only use the name Jean.  It was one of our best kept family secrets.  Likewise, my dad never went by the name Jewel Clifford.  Everyone called him Jack.  I had never told Paul that my parents’ names were Jean and Jack, let alone that their birth names were Wanda Jean and Jewel Clifford.  I knew the only way he could have gotten those names was by supernatural revelation from the Lord.26

Obviously, Deere was paraphrasing Cain’s words and with the passage of time slight variances may be understandable.  However, note that Cain never said anything about Deere’s mother “standing on a cliff looking for her missing  jewel” (although that is a great metaphor) but instead Cain records Wanda Jean as saying “she’s talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost.” Cain never does equate “Clifford” with a “cliff” as in ‘a hill with a steep face’ although he does refer to Deere’s father as “Cliff.”

Contrary to Deere’s definitive statement above, it is plausible that Paul Cain obtained his parents’ names by other means, even other supernatural means.  This would not be the only time a Paul Cain “prophecy” was declared to be obtainable only from the Lord when that was not necessarily the case.27

In his book, Deere relates that the very next day after Cain delivers this “word” to him, Deere takes Cain to the pastor’s luncheon and he asks Paul why the Lord would choose to reveal this to him now as he had “put the whole subject out of his mind”:

As far as I knew, it didn’t trouble me any longer.  I wanted to know if the Lord had shown Paul why he had given me this revelation.28

Deere goes on state that the Lord had revealed to Paul Cain that there was a root of bitterness “over the possibility that he [Deere’s father] might spend eternity in hell.”  Deere claims that in retrospect the “word” had helped significantly in softening his heart.29  However, that evening, the very next night after Cain’s initial “prophecy,” Paul Cain expounds on the “prophetic word” he had provided the night before which conflicts with Deere’s account:

There was a revelation that changed a man’s life last night.  Did you know this former Dallas Theological Seminary professor that was ministered to last night? What you didn’t know was the demons of hell came and they said, “We have your father.  And, we’re gonna take you, we will take you to your father.” And then the Heavenly Father last night through His omniscience began to reveal, “No, your father, your father Jewel Clifford he is with the Lord – face to face with the Lord.”  That was a transforming act of God; that was the mercy of God.  I got to deliver it with the jealousy of God and that changed Jack Deere’s life30

Deere’s book mentions nothing about being approached by demons claiming his father was in hell; in fact, Deere claims he felt the whole matter was no longer forefront on his mind during that time.  According to Deere, Cain’s words to him on the way to lunch were, “Paul told me that after I had become a Christian, the question of my father’s eternal destiny troubled me more than I realized.”31  That’s a far cry from, “the demons of hell came and they said ‘we have your father…and…we will take you to your father’” which would obviously be very troubling and it would be doubtful that this would have been put out of Deere’s mind.

As a contrast, it’s interesting to note that after initially ‘misquoting’ the timing of Cain’s “earthquake prophecy,” Deere later would recall “in vivid detail” the facts concerning that particular “prophecy” yet in a very personal “prophecy” – one that “changed a man’s life” – he adds the detail about his mother “standing on a cliff looking for her missing jewel” and either doesn’t remember or chooses for some reason not to disclose the fact that demons appeared to him telling him his father was in hell.  In fact, the latter appears to conflict with his statement that he would go back and forth in believing his father was either in heaven or in hell.

Wouldn’t it seem more likely that a personal prophecy would be more ingrained in an individual’s memory than another one which is not so distinctly personal?  This is even more curious in view of the fact that the ‘earthquake prophecy’ was purportedly spoken circa late November 1988 with Deere recollecting this in an April 1999 conversation with Bill Jackson32 – a full 10 years later – as compared to the fact that the ‘prophecy’ concerning Deere’s father was spoken in April of 1989 with Deere recounting this in his book published in 1996.33

22 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 220.  Emphasis in original.
23 Cain, Paul “Who Will Ascend the Lord’s Hill?” cassette tape [PC05-002] The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 2, side 2.  While there’s no date listed, internal evidence points to it being at Kansas City Fellowship in April of 1989 since: 1) the venue is made obvious in various places in the recordings contained in this set; 2) Cain mentions things to occur in the ‘90s and some things to occur before the end of ’89; 3) Cain mentions “demonic killings in Mexico” he had just read about in the newspaper which is very likely the Matamoros ritual killings which made headlines in April of 1989; 4) an eyewitness recalls being there during this timeframe; and, 5) the details of this open vision seem to match up with the account spoken of in the Gruen Document [item VI.H.5] as corrected in the July 1, 1990 letter which is dated April 1989.  Taking all this into consideration, this tape set is most likely from April 1989, and unless anyone can produce proof to the contrary, this will be assumed to be the account referenced in the Gruen Document.  In a 1995 MorningStar Ministries catalog this set is listed as a 4-tape set including “Consumed by His Jealousy” as the fourth tape [PC05-004].
24 Deere, Jack Surprised by the Voice of God. 1996, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; 176.  Deere mistakenly mentions this as occurring at Metro Vineyard Christian Fellowship instead of KCF – that is, unless this “prophecy” was later recycled.
25 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177
26 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 176
27 Beverley, Holy Laughter; pp 132-33
28 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177
29 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177
30 Cain, Paul “Recapturing the Jealousy of God” cassette tape [PC05-003], The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 3, side 1.  Undated but as noted above from 1989 and very likely April 1989.
31 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 177
32 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 189 / 181.  The “circa late November 1988” timing of Cain’s purported stating of the “earthquake prophecy” was gleaned from Bickle’s statement that this was “a week or two before” Cain’s arrival at Anaheim Vineyard in Growing in the Prophetic. p 39
33 Deere, Surprised by Voice. pp 176-177

Paul Cain a True Prophet?

Paul Cain was said to provide remarkable words of knowledge.  Jack Deere’s book Surprised by the Voice of God is dedicated to Cain describing him as a “true prophet.”34   In a chapter detailing how to properly facilitate prophecy, Deere mentions that prophetic words should always be given with humility.  He states, “The most skillful prophetic people I know avoid phrases like ‘Thus says the Lord…’” as this implies “a very high level of clarity and authority…that God is not giving to very many people today.”35  Yet, in another audio from 1989 at Kansas City Fellowship, Cain quips that he trades “words” with Bob Jones and John Paul Jackson each one prefaced with “thus saith the Lord”:

…I tell ya, I had a vision – I can’t get around John Paul without havin’ a vision – you know prophets when they get around each other they, if they don’t have anyone else to work on, they just work on each other.  I mean they just say, “thus saith the Lord” and then they’ll turn around and say, “thus saith the Lord to YOU![audience laughter]  and, then I’ll turn around and say, “thus saith the Lord to YOU buddy!– and so on.  Ya know it’s a really exciting thing.  But every time I get around Bob he has a word from the Lord for me; and, I’m very humble – I don’t usually come back right awayBut I go home and the Lord gives me some stuff that almost makes me explode, and I’m just BUSTIN’ to give you this.  But John, I know this is irreverent36

This is indeed irreverent, very much so, and obviously this lacks humility as well.  We have to ask ourselves if a Holy God would take part in this sort of irreverent silliness.  Perhaps Cain, Jones and Jackson feel they had “a very high level of clarity and authority” and thus could “prophecy” using the words “thus saith the Lord” at will.  Maybe Cain was just joking around, but this is no laughing matter.

Take note that both Jones and Jackson would be limited in their ministries once Wimber/Vineyard took the reins of KCF in May of 1990.  John Wimber was in the audience that day as this transcript makes clear; so, why did Wimber continue to promote and laud Cain as a prophet afterward while Jones and Jackson were restrained?  This is especially important as Wimber claimed that Mike Bickle had asked him about KCF becoming a Vineyard as early as May of 1989 as he “was looking for pastoral accountability and a larger movement for KCF’s covering.”  Wimber also states, “Mike regularly communicated with me during this time, and looked to me for pastoral care and direction.”37

In his book What Happened to the Fire?, J. Lee Grady makes observations about Cain after attending a conference in San Antonio in December of 1989.38  In a chapter titled “Fabricating the Anointing,” Grady records Cain as calling out ‘words’ to attendees such as “first names, cities, street numbers.”  However, Grady notes that those called were mostly staff of the ministries who put on the conference (he knew some of these people personally) and that the information used to call these individuals out was accessible to Cain beforehand.  Grady remarks that it was likely most attendees were astonished by what appeared to be “the remarkable demonstration of the word of knowledge”:39

…It seemed Cain had literally “read these people’s mail” by recounting personal information he could not have known about total strangers.  But I found myself struggling with what happened that night…

…[I]t disturbed me that almost everyone who received these prophetic directives was part of the full-time staff of ministry sponsoring the conference.  It also seemed puzzling that all the information Cain ostensibly received from God was printed in a staff address directory that I knew was easily accessible to conference speakersSurely Paul Cain would not have studied that list prior to the meeting, then “recalled” the names and numbers to make us think he had revelatory powers!40

Later on, Grady would interview Cain who stressed “no one has ever proved that he obtains information from any source other than God.”  Grady also followed up on some “prophecies” given and discovered that, of the ones he checked, most of these predictions not only did not come to pass, some had actually proved to be quite the contrary.  When asked for an explanation as to why these prophecies had not been fulfilled, Cain dodged the questions, but “through a friend, denied any wrongdoing.”41

34 Deere, Surprised by Voice.  Dedication on unnumbered page preceding table of contents.  David Pytches describes Cain as one who “would certainly fall into the category of a present-day prophet.” [Some Said it Thundered. 1990 (first edition, second impression), Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK; p 16; also in Pytches’ 1991 “new edition”; p 17].
35 Deere, Surprised by Voice. p 193
36 Cain, Paul Joel’s Army. digitized audio from cassette tape, 1989, GraceMinistries, Grandview, MO; near beginning of side 2 at 39:08 – 39:45.  Cain would go on claiming he had a “word from the Lord” for John Wimber.
37 Wimber “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; p 3.  Also, it should be noted that Wimber referred to Cain as a prophet given his words regarding Cain and the New Breed teaching, “…it’s been prophesied by Paul Cain, and I think it’s a very important concept” in an undated tape circa 1989 or early 1990 [“Unpacking Your Bags” tape, undated, as sourced in Dager’s April 23, 1990 Special Report; p 12].
38 Grady, J. Lee What Happened to the Fire?. 1994, Chosen Books – a division of Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 113
39 Grady, What Happened, p 115
40 Grady, What Happened, p 115.  Emphasis added.
41 Grady, What Happened, p 116

Cain Absolved of Occultism?

One could argue that seeing a dead person – Jewel Clifford, Deere’s father – purportedly face-to-face with Jesus in heaven could be considered of the occult. Furthermore, it could be construed that the vision of Deere’s mother in which she was “talking about losing a jewel and that jewel was lost” is occultic since it involved verbal communication.  Note that the July 1 letter states that it was discovered “on careful review” that this account was not necromancy which is presumably in the narrow sense of ‘communication with the dead’ rather than the broader meaning of ‘black magic’ in general.  However, also note that Gruen specifically stated that the concessions were made on “points that could be disputed and argued about.”

Cain’s admitted association with and promotion of William Branham as “the greatest prophet that ever lived” raises an associated question as there are those who believe Branham was an agent of the occult.  Kurt Koch relates that Branham was limited in his healing: “if my angel does not give the sign, I cannot heal.”42  The following, in his book Occult A-B-C, provides more indication of occultism:

Another evidence [of spiritistic (occult) healing] is the fact that…Branham [was unable] to perform cures when faced with born-again Christians who had committed themselves to the protection of [Jesus] Christ…When he [Branham] spoke in Karlsruhe and Lausanne, there were several believers in the audience – including myself – who prayed along these lines: “Lord, if this man’s powers are from You, then bless and use him, but if the healing gifts are not from You, then hinder him.”  The result?  On both occasions Branham said from the platform, “There are disturbing powers here, I can do nothing.” 43

This is not unlike an account as related by Constance Cumbey regarding New Ager Benjamin Crème in an incident after he spoke at a gathering.  Following Cumbey’s praying aloud of the “Lord’s Prayer” while the other attendees were praying The Great Invocation – essentially a prayer to the New Age Christ, or antichrist – the expected “overshadowing” by ‘Maitreya the Christ’ did not manifest itself in Crème and he dismissed the crowd with, “That will be all.”44

While the following may or may not be related to the above, it is certainly of interest.  Recall in the first part of this article that in March of 1990 Wimber, Deere and Cain were met with open opposition during a conference in Sydney, Australia.  Jack Deere recounts a portion of this in his book The Gift of Prophecy.45 On the second night of the conference, Cain was apparently distracted and had a difficult time teaching.  Nevertheless, both the audience and Deere were anticipating a Paul Cain prophecy session after the teaching was over.  However, Cain “simply walked off the stage” instead.46

The next day when Deere inquired about this, Cain replied, “The price I pay for my gift is living with the disappointment of people and enduring the embarrassment of being deserted by the anointing.”47  [see “The ‘Christ Anointing’” section of “Christ” in the New Age article for more on “the anointing.”]  Is it possible that the Vineyard/Wimber/Deere/Cain opponents in Sydney did something similar to what Koch and his associates or Cumbey had done thereby causing this particular episode of “embarrassment?”

In the following, from the same evening as the “prophecy” for Deere, Paul Cain reminisces about his first meeting in which he spoke at an A/G church near Dallas and recalls how he understood the background of someone in the audience:

I looked over and I saw a lady – and I’m not going to tell you how I see these things because right away you would say “oh, that’s the occult” – I just wanna make one thing very clear: the New Agers and the occult, I’d like for you to know that they got all this stuff from God in the first place.  And the devil’s had it so long we think it belongs to him; I think it’s time we take it all back.  Because God is the God of Light, He’s the God of the amber light and the glory…

Anyway, I saw this light over her and the vision came to pass. I said, “Lady sitting back here in the green and white polka dot dress, you’re from San Antone [sic], Texas and you’re cripple [sic].  Get up and run to that aisle immediately…” 48

Cain goes on claiming this lady, who “came in a wheelchair” although he “didn’t realize this at first,” ran “up and down the aisles” being completely healed.  Continuing, Cain follows with another account in which he claims “the angel of the Lord” told him she had colitis.49  Is this angel similar to Branham’s healing angel, like the one Todd Bentley claimed in Lakeland in 2008?  If so, is it possible that in the Sydney “embarrassment” the angel “did not give the sign” as would happen to Branham?

The transcript in VI.H.3 of the Gruen Document, “Smelling demons”,50 certainly displays the hallmarks of occultism:

When I was a young man and first received the anointing, I could smell a cancer; I could smell a demon; I could smell different types of sin.  They all had a stench; they all had a different smell; they were identifying themselves.  You could smell infidelity and adultery…51

This is transcribed from the “7 Spirits of God” tape which was one of those deleted in June 1990 [see previous post].  As of yet, this audio has not been recovered; so, this transcript cannot be either affirmed or denounced.

Perhaps a more clear case of occultism is found in the following.  From the same evening Cain relates that Jack Deere was approached by demons who were trying to take Deere to visit his father in hell, Cain recounts how “the Lord” hit him on the chest:

…I told you the story when the Lord came to me one night I went to bed meditating on something that Augustine [ed: likely Augustine Acolla (also spelled Alcala)] said.  He said, “Man was made to find his home in God and man can’t rest until he finds his home in God.” – or something like that.  And I went to sleep meditating on that one night and I woke – well, I’m not even gonna tell you this ‘cause you wouldn’t believe it anyway, just leave me asleep if you want to.  Call it a dream.  Call it anything; but, I tell ya I call it ‘scary.’ The Lord took his two fingers and began to punch me in the chest…” 52

Now THAT must’ve left a bruise!  Dager notes “other phenomena akin to occult spiritual activity” have been observed while Cain ministered.53  It has been reported that one night in 1988 at Olathe Worship Center, a part of KCF, Cain caused a surge of electricity short-circuiting circuits resulting in the fire alarm system activating.  Purportedly, unbeknownst to the KCF congregation, the local fire station was dispatched and the firemen were surprised there wasn’t a fire.54 A similar thing was claimed to have happened when Cain was speaking at the Spiritual Warfare Conference at Anaheim Vineyard in February of 1989:55

On the first occasion in Anaheim, an expensive video camera was short circuited.  This was particularly unusual because the camera was battery powered.  It was not plugged into any outlet.

The following night, the telephone system was blown-out [sic].  This was notable because no one was on the phone at the time.56

Apparently, on a subsequent night at the same conference, Cain himself speaks of these occasions.  From audio of this conference, one of “Stadium Visions” available on his own site, Cain relates

…But, He’s gonna DO that and when He does you’re gonna have more than just a little omnipotent surgeYou’re gonna have something MORE than something that’ll knock out the cameras and knock out the phone lines and knock out all the power lines and set off the fire alarms like it did in Kansas City or Olathe, Kansas and a little bit of that happened here [in Anaheim, CA].  You’re gonna have something MORE than that…57

Dager comments, “One must wonder if the Holy Spirit is a clumsy, out of control source of electrical energy.  Such happenings are not dissimilar to those that occur during UFO sightings or poltergeist activity…”58

42 Koch, Kurt Occult A-B-C. 1986 (second edition), Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI; p 235
43 Koch, Occult A-B-C. p 235
44 Cumbey, Constance. video Discovering the New Age Movement. 2006, Radio Liberty Conference hosted by Stanley Monteith <http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8937919448007045479> starting at around 46:10.  Cumbey described this ‘non-event’ as the “spookiest thing of the evening.”  As accessed 10/15/11
45 Deere, Jack The Gift of Prophecy. 2001, Servant Publishers, Ann Arbor, MI; pp 72-74
46 Deere, Gift of Prophecy. pp 72-73
47 Deere, Gift of Prophecy. pp 73-74
48 Cain, Paul “Trembling at His Word” cassette tape [PC05-001] The Jealousy of God. 3-tape set in clamshell, undated, MorningStar Ministries, Charlotte, NC; tape 1, side 2.  Undated but as noted above from 1989 and very likely April 1989.
49 Cain, Paul “Trembling at His Word” side 2
50 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 219
51 Gruen, Documentation. p 124 / 219
52 Cain “Recapturing the Jealousy of God” side 2
53 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7
54 Sullivant, Terri “Paul Cain’s Ministry: Recent Manifestations of the Holy Spirit” Grace City Report. Special Edition, Fall 1989; p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7
55 Sullivant, Terry “Paul Cain: Recent Manifestations” p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7.  Dager records this conference as 1988 rather than 1989 (presumably receiving this from Sullivant) which seems to conflict with the overall chronology as Cain was not introduced to Wimber until December 5, 1988.  According to Jackson [Radical Middle. pp 179 / 171-172], Bob Jones purportedly told Bickle that Wimber would call him “in early 1988” opening the door “for future ministry” with Wimber and Vineyard.  Purportedly, the call came “five days later” resulting in Wimber and Bickle ministering together in the UK in the fall of 1988.  With this in mind, it would seem unlikely that Cain was at an early 1988 conference at Anaheim Vineyard.  If this supposition is incorrect, the reader is asked to provide substantiation in order to correct this.
56 Sullivant, T. “Paul Cain: Recent Manifestations” p 5 as cited in Dager “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 132 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7
57 Cain, Paul “Stadium Vision: Anaheim Vineyard” taken from February 1989 Spiritual Warfare Conference <http://www.paulcain.org/sandbox/newsite/pages/Stadium%20vision/stadiumvision.html> as accessed 10/15/11
58 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 6 / Dager Vengeance. p 133 / Dager “The Restoration” p 7

Paul Cain Did Not Teach Manifested Sons Doctrine?

The most confounding concession is point 2a which is the claim, “He does not hold to the doctrine of Manifested Sons, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching.” The transcripts clearly indicate Cain was teaching the Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) heretical doctrine.  The MSoG heresy is such that certain individuals will receive their imperishable, resurrection bodies [see I Corinthians 15:50-54] while remaining here on earth in an invincible state attaining immortality with the ability to go through walls, etc.

Dager, in his August 1990 article, states flatly

…[Gruen] is in error in saying that Cain does not hold to Manifest Sons of God doctrine; Cain’s teachings on Joel’s Army and on immortalization are purely Manifest Sons of God doctrine.”59

In Dager’s April 23rd article (and also in a chapter in his full-length book Vengeance is Ours as well as the follow up article in August), he provided his own proof that Cain taught MSoG by quoting from the KCF tape “A New Breed” – another one of the tapes on the June 1990 discontinued list [though, notably, not referenced at all in the Gruen Document] – which follows:

Now I know which is perfect is come [sic], that which is imperfect must be done away.  But anyone knows that which is perfect has come.  And we don’t have the full revelation – we haven’t grown up in the stature of Christ as we shouldAnd there is no manifestation on a wholesale basis of the sons of GodAnd I’m not afraid to mention that even though I get shot down everywhere I go every time I mention the manifestation of the sons of God.  I’m not afraid to mention any biblical, scriptural terminology…60

So my point is that there will be a manifestation of the sons and daughters of God.  And it won’t be this baloney that we’ve heard of in the past; I mean, there’s been a few people who tried to walk through a wall like this over there and knocked their brains loose, but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m talking about a true manifested son of God: if anyone walks through this wall over here, they’re not going to tell you about it – I mean, they’re just going to do it.  And sons of God don’t tell you they’re sons of God, they’ll just show you!  Amen!61

Dager clearly illustrates that Cain taught MSoG; however, are the Gruen Document transcripts in error or fabricated?  We can safely say “No.”  Existing digitized audio of the “Joel’s Army” tape – yet another one of the tapes on the discontinued list [identified in the Gruen Document as “JAPC”] – prove that the transcripts faithfully represent Cain’s words although a small portion is apparently edited.62   However, this missing section does not affect proving unequivocally that the Gruen Document does in fact show that Paul Cain was teaching MSoG which, as noted, is heresy.

“Joel’s Army” is another term for MSoG taken from a misapplication of Joel 2:1-11.  The fact that this “Joel’s Army” is the same as Manifested Sons of God in the Paul Cain vernacular is evidenced by Cain’s words as quoted in item VI.H.6: “…this army is also in the New Testament…”

Using the digitized audio of the “Joel’s Army” tape, we can put Cain’s words in the Gruen Document in chronological order (excluding the portion not on the audio in possession obviously).  Additional transcription from the audio providing more of the original context will be in plain text while portions from the transcripts of the Gruen Document will be italicized.  The Gruen Document transcriptions are underscored as per the original, bolding is added for emphasis, and CAPS are used when Cain is emphatic.  Repeats and stammers are mostly edited out.

Cain begins by talking about a vision of Bob Jones’ in which “the wind and the fire” are present and the pages of a Bible are turning.  Notice that the portion from the Gruen Document (in italics, as stated) is claimed to be a direct quote from the Lord for Cain.  There’s a second one for John Paul Jackson:

…And then…it stopped at St. John 15…He said that He’s the true vine and you’re the branches.  It seemed as though the Lord reiterated that to my heart again…He had already shown me that a dozen times before.  He said, “If you can get into this vine, if you’re really in the vine and you’re in the branch, then the life sap from the Son of the living God keeps you from cancer, keeps you from dying, keeps you from death, keeps ya from so many things.”  And I said, “Yes Lord.” …And then it blew on over to St. John 16…it came alive…The Lord said, “That’s for John Paul.  And just tell him that my Word is coming alive…”63

This illustrates that Cain is espousing the idea that the Lord is giving “new revelation” to certain “prophets” for the Church.  So, how does one “really” get “into this vine?”  The answer is revealed by the next section in which the ellipse […] in the Gruen Document is filled in providing the full context of Cain’s words.  It all has to do with “intimacy”:

So this is a billion soul crusade, Bob.  Your billion, your billion, my billion, and I want you to know that just fills me and thrills me and chills me, and Lord, please don’t let it kill me.  It’s just so good.  I’m going to live to see this, friends, I really believe it.  If I can get through this message.  So, they shut the Apostles…up in prison, they killed James, they stoned Stephen, and finally martyred all the Apostles with the possible exception of John, Saint John the Divine. I don’t think they killed him ‘cause he leaned on Jesus’ bosom and he had the heartbeat of God.  God loved him so much.  If you have intimacy with God, they can’t kill you.  They just can’t.  There’s something about [ya]; you’re connected to that vine; you’re just so close to him.  Oh, my friends, they can’t kill [ya].  God takes care of them.  He said, “I love them that love Me.”  Isn’t that wonderful?  So, I don’t think we have any record where they kill John…He may be the Enoch…as far as the martyrs are concerned.  I don’t believe that he was martyred…64

That’s an interesting thesis: on the basis of the fact that the Apostle John had leaned on Jesus’ bosom and because neither Scripture nor, presumably, any extant historical evidence records John’s death, Cain conjectures that John was taken up like Enoch never experiencing a physical death.  Consequently, if we were to have this same sort of intimacy with God we could not be killed.  This sort of “intimacy” then provides the means to attaining manifested sons of God status – truly perfected saints, the invincible Joel’s Army:

…I saw that when they shut the Apostles up in prison; they killed all of them, and except maybe John.  Many spiritual saints were slain also because of their testimony throughout the past centuries.  But this is what God showed me: But this army is invincible.  They are never put into prison; they are never delivered into the hands of their enemies…They go behind iron bars and iron gates and Iron Curtain and they enter into windows like a THIEF.  Even those behind bars and in cells and in dungeons must hear the message that we preach and if it’s accepted they bring them out to freedom and to safety.  And nothing shall escape it.  WE have the authority then!65

So, this “intimacy” not only provides invincibility to the members of this army; it provides full earthly authority!   However, this perfection may not come immediately:

But we may not reach that kind of perfection right away…But we can repent right clear down to the bottom; we’re gonna get to that kind of repentance.  And if we fail after repentance, we’re gonna repent again…66

According to Cain, God wants you to join Joel’s Army and enlistment will put both you and God “back on the map.”  Has God ever really been ‘off’ the map?

…But nevertheless God’s gonna have a people that’s gonna put Him back on the map again.  Amen.  And He’s gonna put us on the map again, isn’t He.  Let’s make up our minds to this fact.  God’s going to – He’s not gonna make ya do it – but, I want you to know this army is going to be available to ya; if you want to enlist tonight…67

In the following, Cain makes it very clear that this perfected army is specified in the New Testament, not just the Old Testament.  Not only that – it’s for the final, special end time generation only.  And he identifies the generation he was speaking with at the time as that privileged generation of the end time.  Cain identifies this Joel’s Army as the man-child, the overcomers, the 144,000 of Revelation 7, the bride of the Lamb, the manifested sons of God, and others:

This army is also in the New Testament.  It’s referred to as the man child. I know some of you’s gonna disagree with this; don’t you even stop to disagree. Revelation 12:25 [sic], if you disagree, just file it in Miscellaneous and don’t bother with it. When we get to heaven we’ll check it out, and you’ll find out I’m right. Here it is–this great army in the New Testament is a man child, Revelation 12:5; the overcomers, Revelation 2 and 3; the 144,000 servants, Revelation 7:3; the bride of the Lamb’s wife [sic]– see why they call me in on the carpet? – the revelation of the Lamb’s wife, Revelation 19:7 and 21:9; and the white horse. Revelation 6:2; the first fruit. Revelation 14:4; the precious fruit. James 5:7; the wise virgins. Matthew 21:1 – 13 [sic]; the manifested sons of God. Romans 8:19 – 23, and it’s certainly a remarkable fact that none of these names are expressions applied to the saints of God at any other time in history, but all of them are in their context and promises showing undeniably that they belong to the time of the end. The end time, let’s say the end time. They belong to the end time to this present generation, Matthew 24:34…the Lord says, “today, today, today.”  And today harden not your hearts, but it applies to the end time, this is the end time and God wants us to realize once and again, in closing, that there’s gonna be a great company of overcomers prepared for this mighty ministry which I call the prize of all ages.  And again, God’s offering to the believers of this generation a greater privilege than was ever been offered to any people of any generation at any time from Adam clear down through the end of the millennium68

Note that Cain states “Revelation 12:25” which is an obvious error as the 12th chapter of Revelation ends with verse 17.  In his zeal, Cain misspoke as he meant “Revelation 12:2-5” instead since these are the verses used to denote the “man-child” doctrine.  Also, he mistakenly says “bride of the Lamb’s wife” instead of “bride of the Lamb” and he quotes the wrong Scripture for “the wise virgins” which should be Matthew 25:1-13 instead of 21:1-13 in all his excitement.

59 Dager “The Restoration” p 16
60 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 9 / Dager Vengeance. p 144 / Dager “The Restoration” p 12
61 Dager, “Kansas City Connection” p 9 / Dager Vengeance. p 145 / Dager “The Restoration” p 12
62 Cain, Joel’s Army. digitized audio from cassette tape; however, the tape is apparently edited.  Frustratingly, the extant audio is missing the latter portion of item VI.H.1(the portion after the first ellipse of the last paragraph) and all of item VI.H.4 in Gruen Documentation; p 123-24, 124 / 218, 217.  However, the remaining audio is quite enough to illustrate that the Gruen Document transcripts faithfully represent the audio/tape.  It appears that the tape used for the Gruen transcription either had the sides reversed or the transcriber reversed the sides during transcription.  The transcripts from the Gruen Document are put into their original chronological order as this may provide a better understanding of Cain’s overall message.
63 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 1 at 41:05 – 42:15.  The digitized audio records the tape abruptly ending with “this concludes side one; please turn the tape over” and then after a short duration, the audio resumes at the same place at which side one ended.  However, at 43:18 there is an obvious edit with Cain coming back in speaking on a totally different subject.  This is apparently the section which had been edited.  The quoted portion transcribed is from VI.H.1, third paragraph excepting the edited verbiage after the ellipse.  This picks up soon after the transcription at footnote 35 ends.
64 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 53:21 – 54:39.  Includes VI.H.1, first paragraph.
65 Cain, Joel’s Army. side 2 at 55:01 – 55:48.  Includes VI.H.1, second paragraph.
66 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:03:19 – 1:03:37
67 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:04:12 – 1:04:30
68 Cain, Joel’s Army; side 2 at 1:05:37 – 1:07:26.  Includes all of VI.H.6

Assessing Gruen’s Concessions

Let’s recap Gruen’s concessions specifically related to Paul Cain.  As stated, “Paul Cain did minister with William Branham” [point 2d].  Assuming this is indeed true, it appears to be an honest mistake on Gruen’s part and a mistake which needed to be corrected.

While it is apparently true that the woman (Jack Deere’s mother) who appeared to Paul Cain in the open vision recorded in the Gruen Document was a living person [point 2b], it has been shown that this vision and the associated vision of Cain seeing Deere’s deceased father in heaven could be construed as of the occult.  In addition, Cain’s association with and promotion of William Branham, who apparently used occult powers being rendered powerless when Christians were praying, adds more credibility to the possibility of occultism [point 2c].  Moreover, as mentioned above, there are other accounts which suggest the possibility of occultic activity.

Gruen’s only specific mention of anything related to occultism was the claim of necromancy, i.e. communing with the dead, associated with the open vision in which, as noted, the woman was actually still living.  The “Smelling Demons” section may be considered a claim of occultism also which, as stated earlier, cannot be either affirmed or denounced since there’s no extant audio.  Yet witness Gruen’s words in the concession, “We know of no occultism connected with him or his ministry.”  Gruen may have still suspected it yet felt like he could not make a strong enough case.  Let’s not overlook the words before the list of the three points, “it is obvious there are points that could be disputed and argued about.”

Using existing audio from the tape identified in the Gruen Document as “JAPC” (known as “Joel’s Army” and numbered among the tapes which were discontinued), it has been shown that the document faithfully represents these portions of the tape (to the extent of the audio recovered so far) thus proving that Cain did in fact teach the Manifested Sons of God heresy [point 2a].  Obviously if one teaches such a heresy this could call into question a proclamation of the individual being “a godly man and a man of integrity” as MSoG is not faithful to orthodox interpretations of Scripture and is blasphemous since it, in essence, equates man with God.  So, why did Gruen concede these points?

The way point 2a is worded may provide a clue: “He does not hold to the doctrine of Manifested Sons, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching.”  This sentence is phrased rather peculiarly.  This appears to state that Cain does not currently hold to MSoG, formerly adhered to this teaching as the Gruen Document illustrates, yet nevertheless denies ever having believed in this doctrine perhaps keeping in mind the tapes which had recently (at the time) been discontinued.  Gruen’s statement would not necessarily contradict his preface, “In my limited dealings with Paul Cain, I have found him to be a godly man and a man of integrity.”  With this, Gruen could merely be admitting he’s had “limited dealings” with Cain and each time Cain was found to display integrity and godliness.  This discreet statement would not be inconsistent with the testimony of others.69

Furthermore, note that the phrase “We completely exonerate Paul Cain of any negative charges” is specifically in conjunction with “We know of no occultism connected with him or his ministry” in sub-point ‘c’ rather than the preface which would have necessarily encompassed all the sub-points: ‘a’ through ‘e’.  Does this mean Gruen only intended the “we completely exonerate…” phrase to be specifically in connection with occultism such that the “negative charges” only pertain to occultism?  As it’s written, it seems possible this phrase of exoneration does not apply to sub-points ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘d’ & ‘e’.  It appears that each sub-point addresses one specific item namely: sub-point ‘a’ – Manifested Sons doctrine; ‘b’ – the alleged necromancy; ‘c’ – occultism; ‘d’ – Cain’s association with Branham; and, ‘e’ – a blanket apology.

However, we must concede the possibility that the list is placed in order with each sub-point necessarily following the other.  In this case sub-point ‘a’ addresses MSoG as per the explanation two paragraphs above; ‘b’ addresses the alleged necromancy; ‘c’ exonerates Cain of MSoG, necromancy, and occultism while specifying that occultism is not known to be associated with him; ‘d’ speaks of Cain’s connection to Branham; and ‘e’ is a blanket apology.

James A. Beverley scrutinized the Gruen Document after having read a “scathing review” of Gruen in Wimber’s own Equipping the Saints magazine titled “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” from fall of 1990.70  This review was written and published after Gruen’s concessions above and included those concessions in the body of the report.  Based on its contents, Beverley expected a poorly documented, biased work with texts being taken out of their context.  However, upon reading the Gruen Document and comparing with KCF material Beverley commented, “…Gruen had every right to warn the charismatic world.”71

Beverley criticized Wimber’s article as “unbalanced and faulty.”  He recognized a number of specific points that the Gruen Document brought forth including “the ridiculous wholesale verdict that Pastor Gruen’s accusations are untrue;” that “it failed to give sufficient acknowledgement of the…elitist spirit evident in the material documented by Gruen;” and, that it failed to recognize “an eschatology far removed from exegesis and [that was] rooted instead in the subjective, mystical experiences of Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, and Paul Cain.72

In addition, Beverley states the ETS article was essentially Jack Deere’s report73 although this, if indeed true, in no way absolves Wimber of full responsibility since it bears his name.  According to Beverley, John Wimber would later contact Gruen privately “to express his regret that their response to him was so careless and unbalanced.”74 Vineyard, however, never did publicly apologize.75  Jackson states Deere “was openly sympathetic toward Bickle” and “a source close to Wimber later came to believe that the facts had been somewhat biased toward KCF…”76  As for Gruen, he “decided the Lord did not want him to reply” to this report.77

While noting the biased nature of David Pytches’ book Some Said it Thundered describing it as  an “overly optimistic interpretation of KCF,”78 Beverley relates White’s later agreement with Beverley’s charge of ‘intemperance’ regarding his foreword to Pytches’ book:

…Dr. White, in a spirit of graciousness, wrote me later and agreed that my verdict was correct.  My view was based on his harsh statements about Ernie Gruen and his uncritical acceptance of Vineyard’s written reply about Gruen.79

It’s a shame there isn’t a further revision to Pytches’ book including a more balanced Dr. White foreword.  Also note that contrary to a portion of White’s claim in the quote which begins this article, Gruen does not concede “the reality of [Cain’s] exceptional gifting” as Gruen makes no mention at all about Cain’s “gifting.”

Attempts have been made to discredit both the Gruen Document and Gruen himself over the years.  Wimber’s Equipping The Saints article, Pytches’ book, and Jackson’s work have been used in this endeavor.  Jackson mentions that it was “public knowledge” that Gruen “was in an immoral relationship at the time” but does not provide an adequate source for this statement.80  While it is true Gruen did begin divorce proceedings in May of 1993,81 nearly three years after his promise to stop sending out the Gruen Document (his marriage was subsequently restored about 2 years later82), these rumors of immorality have not been substantiated.

In any event, whether Gruen was involved in immorality at the time or not, the Gruen Document stands or falls with respect to its veracity.  To the extent it can be proven true, it is true; to the extent it can be proven false, it is false.  Notwithstanding the concessions in the July 1, 1990 letter and taking into account the findings here regarding the charge of MSoG, there is no evidence we have found suggesting that any aspect of the Gruen Document is false.  (However, see below in “A Drought Evolves” section.)  In fairness, any claim that a part or parts of the Gruen document is/are false should be accompanied by specific proof of same.

In assessing all the above, the following information must be kept in mind:

1) The July 1 letter was “a summary letter of the result” of the June 28 meeting consisting of Gruen and his staff with Wimber, Cain and Deere in which the Gruen Document was reportedly reviewed “page by page” by all parties involved.  Presumably, these concessions were a joint decision by all since these were affirmed, or at least not denied either in part or in full, in Wimber’s Equipping The Saints article “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship.”83

2) Paul Cain was celebrated by Wimber and favored by him to the point that he claimed the two were “bonded for life.”  That’s a very strong connection between the two.  Likewise, Jack Deere continued to promote Cain as a “true prophet.”  Moreover, Vineyard Ministries International had a financial stake in Paul Cain in providing the majority of the funding for Grace Ministries Shiloh project by fall 1989 with Cain as its senior prophetic voice.

3) Given that we can prove the veracity of the large majority of the Paul Cain transcripts – over half of the portion specifically pertaining to Cain – thereby proving the “Joel’s Army” tape did indeed teach the Manifested Sons of God doctrine, why did Gruen state specifically that Cain “does not hold to the Manifested Sons doctrine, but totally denies ever having believed in that teaching” and why did Wimber and company agree with this?  Is the analysis above correct regarding the interpretation of this statement; and, if so, does this mean Paul Cain, John Wimber, Jack Deere and Mike Bickle no longer adhere to and/or claim to have never adhered to MSoG?  This will be the subject of two future articles – one specifically with regard to John Wimber, the other Mike Bickle.

4) Why was the Paul Cain “Joel’s Army” tape discontinued?   If the claim is that Cain did not teach MSoG, wouldn’t this tape be kept in circulation by KCF turned Metro Vineyard Fellowship to illustrate that the Gruen Document was in error in order to ‘vindicate’ Paul Cain especially since the transcripts from this tape make up over half the information on Cain in the Gruen Document?  Why were the other Paul Cain tapes discontinued some of which were not even referenced in the Gruen Document?

5) Gruen stands by the Document stating, “We still believe our documentation of the aberrant practices and teachings of Kansas City Fellowship are essentially accurate” in prefacing the three conceded points.

69 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131. Beverley states that most who meet Cain find him to be “a gentle man” and himself describes Cain as “delightful and warm” while Kenn Gulliksen extolled Cain’s “love and care.”  Grady [What Happened p 116] states, “…several prominent leaders in the charismatic renewal endorse his ministry and vouch for his character.”
70 Wimber, John “A Response to Pastor Ernie Gruen’s Controversy with Kansas City Fellowship” Equipping the Saints. Fall 1990, Special UK Edition; pp 3, 27-30
71 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125
72 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125
73 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125
74 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126
75 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126
76 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 219 / 209
77 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 125
78 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126
79 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 126
80 Jackson, Radical Middle. p 219 / 209. Jackson has a duplicate footnote reference placing 6 in the text twice.  The first one references the immorality charge while the second refers to the fact that Deere was openly sensitive toward Bickle which Jackson sources from Beverley. After checking the Beverley thoroughly, there is no mention of immorality whatsoever with respect to Gruen.  Going back to footnote 5 in Jackson is Wimber’s “A Response to Gruen” article in ETS which similarly has no mention of immorality.  This is not to make a counterclaim that there was no immorality; this is to illustrate, in fairness, that there’s no substantiation to the claim by Jackson.
81 Grady, J. Lee “Kansas City Churches Reconciled: Gruen Resigns After Announcement” Charisma. July 1993, Vol. 18 No. 12; p 54.  Gruen made his statement on May 24, 1993 claiming, “My sin causing this resignation is not committing adultery, but committing divorce.”
82 Grady, J. Lee “Kansas City Churches Mend Rift” Charisma & Christian Life. September 1995, Vol. 21 No. 2; p 34
83 Wimber “Response to Gruen” pp 3, 27-30

A Drought Evolves

One of the most common attempts at discrediting the Gruen Document involves the “drought prophecy.”  Like Paul Cain’s “earthquake prophecy” was used to validate Cain’s message to Wimber and the Vineyard, Bob Jones’ “drought prophecy” was claimed to legitimize Mike Bickle’s KCF “movement.”

From the opening in the Gruen Document:

For example, Mike regularly retells the story of how the so-called “prophet” Bob Jones predicted [on May 27, 1983] a 3-month drought which would finally end with a “drought-breaker” on August 23.

In telling this tale, Mike makes such statements as, “We watched it day by day…June, no rain…then on August 23, three to four inches of rain!” This is portrayed as God’s confirmation of their “Movement.” It sounded like a pretty impressive miracle until we checked with the National Weather Bureau and the daily newspaper accounts for that timeframe. We found the following:

a.         Actual readings from the former Richards Gebaur Air Force base, which is only a few minutes from Kansas City Fellowship, show over seven inches of rain in June, which is well above normal!

b.         The “drought-breaker” on August 23 actually produced less than one-third of an inch.

c.         Of the 12 days it rained in June, [six] of them produced records of rains heavier than the “drought-breaker.” One day alone had over seven times the rainfall on August 23 – 2.35 inches. (See Section I)

From the beginning this could have never been considered a true prophecy.84

Gruen lays out the specific parameters as set forth in the Bob Jones “prophecy” as gleaned from the earliest recording of this event [1986].  This ‘drought’ was to be one of no rain from the time of Jones’ purported proclamation at the end of May until August 23rd at which point there was to be a drought-breaking rain.  This is both very well defined and very straightforward.

Even though there was in fact a drought defined as ‘a prolonged period of less than normal rainfall’ in the late summer of 1983 beginning in July, Gruen’s point was to merely disprove the specific parameters of Jones “prophecy” which proclaimed a ‘no rain whatsoever’ drought to encompass all of June, July and August up through to the August 23rd ‘drought-breaker.’  To do so, all he had to show was that there was rainfall in June thereby negating the drought’s beginning and then show that even though there was rain on August 23rd, the amount was very small, much less than the reported 3 to 4 inches of ‘drought-breaking’ rain as reported by Bickle.

The Gruen Document transcribed two different tapes of this “drought prophecy.”  The earliest, from Spring 1986 titled The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries, Volume 2 (a tape series among those on the June 1990 discontinued list), follows.  This starts out with Bickle quoting Bob Jones:

‘This is the sign in the heavens, again…For three months there will be a drought in this city.’…The sign is (that) there will be a pattern in the heavens – a weather pattern, and you can’t manipulate weather patterns, so we said, ‘Okay, if it comes to pass, we know the word is true.’…But he says, ‘On August 23, God will send a sign from heaven…’  I said, ‘Bob, I hope this is right.’  Cause it was terrible.  June – no rain…August 23, 6:00 at night, it rains, what, 3 to 4 inches of rain…It was a sign in the heavens that no man could have manipulated; it was spoken publicly for all to hear.85

Gruen left out a bit from the audio here (illustrated by the ellipses […]) as, again, his point was to show that the Bickle claim of no rain for the month of June and a pouring rain of 3 to 4 inches on August 23rd were untrue.  Thankfully, we also have David Pytches’ Some Said it Thundered (original, unrevised first edition)86 rendition of this “drought prophecy” which corresponds to the Gruen account above while filling in some of the information missing in the ellipses.

Pytches transcribed KCF tapes as he states this in the “Acknowledgements”: “I want to express my appreciation to Kansas City Fellowship for their ready permission for me to quote from their unedited tapes…”87 Unfortunately, Pytches’ work does not provide footnotes and does not include any tape titles or numbers in the list of references in the back of his book.  However, it appears as though he paraphrases a bit rather than quoting directly since some of the words don’t exactly match up to Gruen’s even though the basic details do:

“…[T]here will be the total withholding of everything for three months,  although God will allow a little bit of liberty.

In this city everything will be withheld.  For three months there will be a drought.  That’s the sign!  God has spoken!…for three months there will be no rain – not until 23 August.”88

Once again, to restate, according to this “prophecy” there was to be no rain at all, not a sprinkle, until August 23.  Picking up where we left off:

Bob had given a specific date for the end of a drought which he predicted was about to begin.

This level of prophecy could certainly be nervy!  Mike found himself becoming an expert weather watcher…To quote Mike:

“…For the whole month of June there was no rain!  It was terrible!  For the whole month of July there was no rain!  It was terrible!

No rain still during the first week of August or the second or the third.  It was terrible!  Bob Jones said the Lord had told him it would come on 23 August.  We had all been poised since early dawn that day but by 1 p.m. there was still no rain.  By six o’clock we were just resigned to wait for another day when suddenly it began.  And did it rain?  It poured!  No man could have manipulated that.  It just had to be God!”89

As Pytches’ clearly describes, the claim is that as “an expert weather watcher” Bickle saw not a drop of rain for the entire period of June, July and August until August 23rd at which time “It poured!”  Yet when this is compared to actual rainfall as the Gruen Document states, June had above average rainfall for the area with six of those days well exceeding the .32” of rainfall on August 23rd.90 Furthermore, July and August, while having much less than normal rainfall, did indeed have some rain.91  According to National Weather Service archives, actual monthly rainfall in Kansas City in 1983 for the summer and early fall was as follows: June: 6.46”; July: 1.17”; August: 0.97”; September: 1.91”; and, October: 4.15”.92

Apparently, Bickle found out there really was some rainfall during the period of June 1 through August 22 since he revised this “prophecy” a bit as evidenced by the transcription of a recording from May of 1989 titled Overview of Our Prophetic History in the Gruen Document.  Bickle backpedals a bit:

Then Bob stands up at the end and he says, ‘I got bad news.’  He says, ‘The Lord told me that there isn’t gonna be a revival being poured out at the end of this 21 days.’  He said, ‘Worse than that, we’re goin’ to the three months of total barrenness.  And there’s gonna be a drought upon the city.’  He didn’t say that there would be, you know, not a, not a sprinkle of rain.  He said there’d be a drought.  He said through the city.  And ah, I checked the newspaper once and found out that it rained an inch in the north over the summer.  But ah, you know, I’m not sure exactly how much, or somebody did – I can’t remember all the those details, but we watched it day by day and there was a drought through those three months93

In the earlier account there was the emphatic declaration of no rain yet the later account claims that Bob didn’t say there would be “not a sprinkle of rain.”  The first account was three years after this all important prophecy was spoken in 1983, yet in 1989 it seemed they didn’t recall it quite right in the earlier account of 1986.  Given that this was purportedly a “word from the Lord,” wouldn’t this have been meticulously recorded?  This should have been especially important to write down as this “prophecy” was to confirm the “movement” at KCF.

Bickle “can’t remember all those details” yet he “watched it day by day”?  Are we really to believe the “details” of something this important would not be remembered in view of the fact there was so much at stake?  And he maintains there was a “drought those three months” including June in which, as stated, there was almost 6.5” of rain with more than a few of those days much more than “a sprinkle.”   Continuing:

He (Bob) said, ‘The Lord will break the drought in the natural over Kansas City, and it’s a sign that He will, on an appointed time, break the drought in the Spirit, but not until He appoints the time.’  

…And, ah, we’ve had several different theories when that drought was gonna break, but it hadn’t broke yet.  And, ah, so, so much for all our theories.  But there is an appointed time when the drought breaks in the natural as well as the Spirit.  And he said, ‘And here’s the proof that there will, it will break on an appointed day in the natural.’  He said, ‘On August 23, the drought will end and the rains will come to the city. 94

Once again, Bickle makes the claim that August 23rd would be the drought-breaker at which time “the drought will end and the rains will come to the city.”  Bickle goes on reiterating how no one could humanly predict that it was to rain on a particular day three months later “to break a 3-month drought.”  He proclaimed, “It was a supernatural sign to us.”95

Once Wimber/Vineyard took over the reins of Kansas City Fellowship, the “drought prophecy” was analyzed and explained in a much different way.  Their claim was that Gruen was wrong in his dogmatic statement: “There was no drought…This prophecy did not happen.  It was a total fabrication to promote ‘The Movement.’”96 Unfairly, they left out a very important part of Gruen’s complete statement which follows:

There was no drought.  Anyone who went outside or read the newspaper could not have considered June a month of drought.  The sprinkle of rain on August 23 was not considered a drought-breaker.  This prophecy did not happen; it was a total fabrication to promote “The Movement.”  From the start, this prophecy could never have been considered true.97

To reiterate, Gruen’s point was that the drought as “prophesied” was stated to have begun right away with the specific claim that June had no rain when in fact the rainfall that month was above normal.  Gruen does not deny there was a drought as defined by ‘a prolonged period of less than normal rainfall’ as he earlier stated, “July and August were below normal in rainfall;”98 however, it would have been better if he had qualified his initial statement with something like “There was no drought as ‘prophesied’ by the specific parameters set by Jones.”  Gruen’s conclusion “From the start, this prophecy could never have been considered true” is absolutely correct given the heavy rains in June.

The Wimber/Vineyard defense consisted of shifting the “prophecy” to one of very limited rainfall instead of no rain simultaneously moving the start date from June 1 to July 1.  In addition, the August 23rd date was changed to merely a date of “prophesied” rain (admitting Bickle’s “mistake” in proclaiming a 3 to 4 inch downpour) instead of the drought-breaker yet no new drought-breaking date was specified claiming merely that the drought ended “in early October.”99  What was the date of the definitive drought-breaking rain?

Among other reasons, Pytches would publish a “new edition” of his book as he “corrected details in the case of one prophecy” which lined up with Wimber’s revised version.100  Using some of the portions already quoted above, we’ll compare the original Pytches rendition with his revised account by listing the ‘uncorrected’ followed by the “corrected” version:

for three months there will be no rainnot until 23 August.

 …there will be rain on August 23.101

…Bob had given a specific date for the end of a drought which he predicted was about to begin.

…Bob had given a specific date for rain during the droughtwhich he predicted was about to begin.102

…For the whole month of June there was no rain!  It was terrible!  For the whole month of July there was no rain!  It was terrible!

The drought did not begin immediately.  In fact there was heavy rain in June, but for the whole of July it was dry.  It was terrible.103

Pytches continues with the same paragraph ending with “It had to God” as in the original account.  Then he continues:

That was still not the end of the drought, however.  Although it was not a total withholding of rain, the exceedingly dry period covered a full three months, except for the predicted break on August 23104

Recall that in the very beginning of the original account – which matches the revised version – are the words, “In this city everything will be withheld.”  So, why was this initial verbiage retained?  It obviously contradicts with the words above “it was not a total withholding of rain…”  And the “predicted break” consisted of a relatively scanty .32 inch which was hardly a break from the “exceedingly dry period” which admittedly contained sprinkles of rain during this time anyway.  Pytches, like Wimber, does not specify a “drought-breaker” date.

So, initially in the 1986 version “total barrenness” meant “no rain” (matching Pytches’ original account), in 1989 it was changed to not mean “not a sprinkle of rain” in view of the fact that there was in fact rain in June, which was changed again in 1990 to the drought actually beginning in July since it was further discovered that June had higher rains than normal (matching Pytches’ revised account).  Are we to believe that Bickle’s memory is that poor with respect to the “drought prophecy” yet he was certain that May 7, 1983 was the starting point of a 21-day fast which had just ended at which point Jones had purportedly proclaimed this “drought prophecy” and Bickle was certain of other specific dates in KCF’s history as well?  Why would he have meticulously recorded these dates and not the beginning and end of the “drought?”

84 Gruen, Documentation. pp 10 / 11-12.  Underscore in original; emphasis added.
85 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41-2 / 55. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
86 Pytches, David Some Said it Thundered. 1990 (first edition, second impression) [unrevised version], Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK
87 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) unnumbered page just before Introduction
88 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) p 89
89 Pytches, Thundered 1990 (unrevised) p 90
90 Interestingly, data recorded at Kansas City International Airport (MCI), which admittedly is 30 miles north of Grandview, shows that the 22nd was mostly cloudy or overcast beginning at 7am with a trace of rain [.07”] recorded at 1pm with the mostly cloudy/overcast conditions continuing into the 23rd.  The next day, on the 23rd, data shows rain beginning around 7am with accumulation of .18” by 8am, another .04” by 9am followed by .04” at 10am.  The mostly cloudy/overcast conditions continued into the night. This does not preclude the Bickle account of the 23rd from being true including no rain until 6pm, of course, noting the distance from KCF to the airport.  This info was gleaned from Weather Underground <http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KMDT/1983/6/1/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA> by inputting the airport code (MCI) and the applicable dates.  As accessed 10/15/11
91 Weather Watcher (see link above) indicates rain at the airport in both July and August.  Since the prophecy was for the entire city of Kansas City, rainfall at the airport must be included in any analysis.  In Pytches’ account, which appears to be the same as Bickle’s, it’s explicitly stated there was no rain whatsoever until August 23rd.  In August prior to the 23rd, the airport recorded .12” on the 7th with traces [less than .1] on the 9th, 15th, 20th and 22nd.
92 These totals are from the Weather Warehouse which takes its data from the National Weather Service <http://weather-warehouse.com/WeatherHistory/PastWeatherData_KansasCityDowntownArpt_KansasCity_MO_June.html> As accessed 10/15/11
93 Gruen, Documentation. p 41 / 53. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
94 Gruen, Documentation. pp 41 / 53-54. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
95 Gruen, Documentation. p 41 / 54. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
96 Wimber “Response to Gruen” p 28
97 Gruen, Documentation. p 42 / 56. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
98 Gruen, Documentation. p 42 / 55. Underscore in original; emphasis added.
99 Wimber “Response to Gruen” p 28.  Actual rainfall for October as recorded at Kansas City International Airport (MCI) shows none until the 4th with a mere .21 inch of rain and no further rain until nearly an inch [.93”] fell on the 11th; however, this was followed by no significant rain (there was a trace [.02”] on the 16th) until the 19th with about ¾ inch [.79”] which was followed the next day with ½ inch [.57”] and the next with a bit under ½ inch [.40”].  However, as stated earlier, it’s possible there was more (or less) rain in other parts of KC.
100 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p xxvii.  The revised version also omits some verbiage from Cain’s account of the Lord purportedly appearing with him in his car [Pytches (first, unrevised) p 38].  Specifically, the words deleted were describing items Jesus purportedly wore during the incident: “…dressed in a monk’s black habit and wearing a skull cap.”  In an August 1990 letter to Prophecy Today subscribers, Clifford Hill states the original Thundered was “at present out of print” although the publishers “intend on reissuing it” in a revised version.  Hill also states, “John Wimber told me that he had identified ‘a number of factual errors’ in the book, and Mike Bickle has sent David Pytches a 60 minute tape of corrections.”  Keep in mind that Pytches was given access to KCF/GM tapes for the original issue.
101 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90.  The original account [p 89] is listed first.
102 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90.  The original account [p 90] is listed first.
103 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90.  The original account [p 90] is listed first.
104 Pytches, Thundered. 1991 new edition; p 90.  The original account [p 90] is listed first.

Comparing ‘Words’

Let’s compare this “drought prophecy” to the circumstances surrounding the 1988 “earthquake prophecy.”  Jack Deere initially ‘misquoted’ the timing of the second earthquake, however later he recalled “in vivid detail” the ‘facts’ of this “prophecy.”  As shown above, Deere had difficulty with details of a “prophecy” of a much more personal nature with both conflicting and added details coming later, so his memory would seem to be questionable.   Mike Bickle would also incorrectly record the timing of the second earthquake in his 1996 book Growing in the Prophetic.  John Wimber later was unsure whether it was actually predicted or not.

The circumstances surrounding the “drought prophecy” are similarly troubling.  Given that the “drought prophecy” was initially one of no rain with very specific parameters including a drought-breaking rain on a specified date, it’s odd that the final Wimber (and/or Deere) version is one of limited rainfall, a different starting date, and no specified drought-breaking end date but instead a rather nebulous “early October” ending.  To quote Beverley: “…many of Bob Jones predictions were announced ex post facto105 – after the fact.  Given the evolving nature of the “drought prophecy,” was it among those announced after the fact despite the claim to the contrary?

In each case there is no recorded proof either in written form or in audio to confirm these “prophecies” were given in advance.  Given that the “earthquake prophecy” was to validate Cain’s message to the Vineyard and the “drought prophecy” was to provide legitimacy to the KCF “movement,” why weren’t these “prophecies” recorded in such a manner to prove their veracity?  Absent any sort of proof, it would be prudent to remain skeptical – especially given the circumstances as outlined above in each of these.

If Cain were to have remained discredited in the Gruen Document, this could cast further doubt on the legitimacy of Cain’s “earthquake prophecy” which would in turn cast a long shadow on the Vineyard in general as it was Cain’s message which validated the Vineyard involvement in the “prophetic movement” in the first place.  With stakes this high, the pressure to discredit the Gruen Document and to exonerate Cain must have been enormous.

105 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 128

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.