Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Part II

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

Other Christological Errors Potentially Related to Kenosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

     71 Berkhof, p 316.  Berkhof hints that Schweitzer has followed in Schleiermacher’s footsteps, at least to a degree.
72 Hodge, Vol II, p 453.  Hodge specifically cites Thomasius as a “general disciple” of Schleiermacher.
73 Allison, pp 382-83.  By mentioning Schleiermacher and Schweitzer together in the same sentence, it may be assumed the author intends a strong connection.
74 Berkhof, p 316
75 Lutzer, Erwin W. The Doctrines That Divide: A Fresh Look at the Historic Doctrines That Separate Christians. 1998, Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI; p 35.  Lutzer specifically mentions Kant who “believed in a human Christ” and Schweitzer who “believed in a Christ who was essentially insane.”  He also mentions Rudolf Bultmann who denied the pre-existence of Christ [Craig A. Evans, The Historical Jesus: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Volume I. 2004, Rutledge, London, UK; p 328].
76 Hodge, Vol II, pp 453, 440-54.  Hodge cites others influenced by Schleiermacher while identifying Schleiermacher’s pantheistic doctrine and associated aberrant Christology and anthropology.  My working hypothesis is that 18th and 19th century liberalism in general including Schleiermacher, Kant, Hegel and his dialectic process, Darwinism, et cetera, continued to barrage the Church and has resulted in the state of the church today.  Taken together, these liberals may have influenced society to the extent they helped enable various underground esoteric doctrines to flourish in the late 19th and into the 20th century (such as Rosicrucianism) and directly or indirectly lead to Theosophy (a confluence of esoteric doctrines throughout the centuries which may have influenced Latter Rain) and New Thought (which definitely influenced Word of Faith via Kenyon [cf. McConnell, D. R. A Different Gospel. 1988, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA] ), which may have, in turn, led to various errors of today.
77 Bailey, Alice A.  From Bethlehem to Calvary. Copyright 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey; Lucis, NY, 4th paperback edition, 1989; Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; pp 102-03, 111, 160-61, 168, 213, 228, 279
78 Bailey, pp 187-189, 194
79 Bercot, David W. A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs. 1998 (3rd printing Nov 2000), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 91
80 Hodge, Vol II, p 400
81 Bailey, pp 107-08.  Emphasis added.
82 Theopedia. Athanasian Creed. <http://www.theopedia.com/Athanasian_Creed> as accessed 06/15/11
83 Bailey, p 108.  Underlining from emphasis in original; bolding added.

Credence for Ecumenical Creeds as Basis for Christology

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Johnson’s Kenotic Concept

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

“…He laid his [sic] divinity aside* as He sought to fulfill the assignment given to Him by the Father: to live life as a man without sin…The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless), and had to be spotless, (without sin).” 97

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     97 Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79.  Asterisk replaces original footnote which is referenced on page 85 of Johnson’s book.  Emphasis added.
     98 Johnson, Bill, The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 29.  Underline for emphasis in original; last ellipsis as per original.  Bolding added for emphasis.  Johnson makes a specific footnote reference to John 5:19 in his book on p 35.
99 Crisp, Divinity and Humanity. p 25 [Tyndale; p 134]
100 Musick, Dan, Kenosis: Christ “emptied Himself”. “Christ’s Miracles Performed Only by the Holy Spirit?” <http://kenosis.info/index.shtml#Miracles> copyright 1997-2005; as accessed 06/15/11
101 Johnson, Supernatural Power. p 50.  Emphasis added.
102 Kostenberger, Andreas J. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: John. 2004 (4th printing July 2009), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 187.  He is quoting from NIV 1984.
103 Kostenberger, pp 185-86
104 Kostenberger, pp 186-89
105 Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One. 2003, 1st Softcover Ed, 2010, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; pp 650-52.  Keener, agreeing with Kostenberger, states, “Like the Father, Jesus could give life (5:21; cf. 17:2); this made him act in a divine manner.”  Moreover, in a section titled “Jesus as Life-Giver in the Present and the Future (5:24-30)” Keener shows agreement.  He continues, “Jesus returns to the claim that the Father has authorized him to give life (5:21) with the image of realized eschatology implied by ‘passed from death to life’ (5:24); one already abides in death until believing in the one who sent Jesus, hence in Jesus’ delegated mission…”
106 Keener, pp 650-52.
107 Kostenberger, pp 187-89.  Kostenberger also points out that Jesus Christ provided eternal life during his earthly ministry referring to John 5:24 as “…one of the strongest affirmations of realized (inaugurated) eschatology in John’s Gospel.” [p 188] And, also, “Jesus claims that God granted him life in himself, a divine attribute” [p 189] illustrating clearly that Jesus both possessed and utilized divine attributes, contrary to Johnson’s claims.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eternal Implications of Johnson’s Kenosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concluding Remarks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen!

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

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Kenosis, Christology, and Bill Johnson, Part I

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

Kenosis Defined

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brief History and Explanation of 19th Century Kenosis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Background on More Recent Kenotic Theories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kenotic Theories of More Recent Vintage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Christ” in the New Age

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

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

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

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

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

“Christ” in Christian Orthodoxy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glossary of New Age/Occult Terms and Concepts

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

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

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

Initiation:

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

Evolution:

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

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

Reincarnation:

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

Ascended Master:

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

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

Fifth Kingdom in Nature:

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

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

Kingdom of God:

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

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Hierarchy; also simply the Hierarchy:

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

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

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

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

Solar Logos:

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

Shambhala or Shamballa:

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

Age of Aquarius:

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

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

“Christ Consciousness”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Christ Within” or “Inner Christ”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Christ Anointing”

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

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

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

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

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

“The Christ” as “Head of Hierarchy”

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

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

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

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

Historical Christ 

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

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

Jesus of Nazareth / Master Jesus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4)      Crucifixion on Mount Golgotha –“The Great Renunciation.”[84]The “sacrifice of humanity” by totally “dying to (lower, human) self” in order to achieve divinity and to arise as fully manifested son of God [85]  Sin becomes impossible [86]  Moving towards attainment of full ‘group consciousness.’[87] Soul (spiritual) death “and the causal body, the soul body is relinquished and disappears.” [88][89]. “Liberated from the form side of life, of religion and matter, and demonstrated to us the possibility of being in the world and yet not of the world, living as souls, released from the trammels and limitations of the flesh, while yet walking on earth.” [90] = manifested sons of God.

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

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

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

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

“Cosmic Christ”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Reappearance” of the Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following is how it is really going to end:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

[5] Bauer, p 887

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

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

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

[9] Bauer, p 888

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[17] Bailey, Initiation.

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

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

[20] Bailey, Initiation.

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

[22] Bailey, Externalisation. p 469

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

[24] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 51

[25] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 187

[26] Bailey, Consciousness. p 58

[27] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 185

[28] Bailey, Externalisation. p 588

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

[30] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 57-58

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

[32] Bailey, Initiation. p 67

[33] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 210

[34] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 254

[35] Lucis, Descent.

[36] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 262-63

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

[38] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 268-69

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

[40] Bailey, Initiation. pp 38, 88

[41] Bailey, Initiation. p 93

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[51] Bailey, Reappearance. P 145

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

[53] Bailey, Externalisation. p 588

[54] Bailey, Initiation. p 88

[55] ibid.

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

[57] Bailey, Initiation. p 92

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

[59] Bailey, Initiation. p 88

[60] Bailey, Initiation. pp 56-57

[61] Dowling, Aquarian. Back cover

[62] Dowling, p 82.

[63] Dowling, pp 82-83

[64] Dowling, p 8 

[65] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 100-101

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

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

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

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

[70] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 26, 47

[71] Bailey, Initiations. pp 114-15

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

[73] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 99

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

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

[76]  Bailey, Bethlehem. p 100

[77] Dowling, Aquarian. p 83

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

[79] Bailey, Initiations. p 89

[80] Bailey, Bethlehem. pp 26, 48

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

[82] Bailey, Rays. pp 688

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

[84] Bailey, Initiations. pp 56-57

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

[86] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 202

[87] Bailey, Rays. pp 694

[88] Bailey, Rays. pp 695-699

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

[90] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 187

[91] Bailey, Externalisation. p 597

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

[93] Bailey, Externalisation. p 468-71

[94] Bailey, Initiations. pp 56-57

[95] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 181

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

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

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

[99] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 259

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

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

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

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

[104] Bailey, Bethlehem. p 20

Bob Jones: Breaker, Breaker 1:9

Following is the newest ‘prophetic word‘ on Bob Jones’ website:

Dream of the Breaker Box 

Recently I was shown people sitting in darkness. When I asked why, they responded “the power has gone out!” I climbed a ladder to change the fuse in the breaker box but to my surprise, when I pulled the cover off I found it to be an old clock without hands. I could tell that it was very, very old but once the cover was removed, the face was very clear. On the face of the clock was a farmer holding a pitch fork and bales of hay behind him. I knew the clock had not been used for a very long time. When I reached out to change the fuse, the box caught fire. The heat from the flames was intense but they did not burn me; they radiated my face.

Interpretation 

I knew that we, the redeemed of the Lord, were the hands of time. We are the laborers that are going forth into the Lord’s harvest field. The veil has been removed (II Cor. 3:16-18). No longer would we sit in darkness; we as a body will move from one degree of glory to another. It’s harvest time!

II Cor. 3:16-18 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.(NKJ)

Dark Night of the Soul !

For two years the church has gone through the dark night of the soul. It has been brought low and reduced back to it’s’ foundations. We haven’t had the light and power we need for a long time to check the unsaved. The switch will now be turned on to reveal light to our souls.

Light!

Get ready for your light to shine in a very dark time, so those who dwell in darkness will see your light. 

Isaiah 60:1-2 Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. 2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. (NKJ)

Crossing Over!

The church hasn’t had power to light up and advance the way we were called to do. When the Lord turns on the breaker it will light up our understanding. And with understanding we can accomplish the things He’s called us to do. It’s time for the cross over. 

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.(NKJ)

Power!

We are ready to go forth in power and might with the holy array of God beaming forth from us bringing healing, deliverance and salvation.

Get ready for light beams to come forth from our hands as we minister. Hab 3:4 His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden.(NKJ)

Authority!

On the Day of Atonement many people were promoted and given new authority to go forth. Now get ready for the Word of God to go forth in power evangelism. Power comes out of the human spirit and anoints the tongue so that it releases evangelism.

In the natural our power comes through a breaker box. In the spirit, the breaker box has been turned off. Our Messiah is turning the breaker on again so get ready for light and power.

Micah 2:13 the Breaker (the Messiah) will go up before them. They will break through, pass in through the gate and go out through it, and their King will pass on before them, the Lord at their head. (NKJ)

The Breaker!

The breaker will give light for breakthrough. In the early 70’s Bob was shown a breaker box and the Lord had His hand on the handle. Bob was told there would be a time He would pull the handle down and connect the power. This year He’s pulling the handle on the breaker and turning on the power.

Looking back on the past (a fading glory) you can change nothing. But looking to the future, you can change now and the future! So turn your back on the past and look forward to today and the future.

NOW IS TIME OF FIRE POWER!

The “two years” referenced in the Dark Night of the Soul! section — could this be referring to the two years that have elapsed since the Lakeland ‘Revival?’   And, his words in the Power! section seem to suggest a new healing ‘revival’ is about to ‘break out.’  Is he ‘prophesying’ the West Coast ‘revival’ that’s been mentioned for quite a while now?  Todd Bentley stated that ‘healing revivals’ were to ‘break out’ in certain cities and regions in this video from Lakeland dated April 25, 2008.

“…In the spirit, the breaker box has been turned off.  Our Messiah is turning the breaker on again so get ready for light and power.”

It needs to be pointed out that in its proper context the Micah 2:13 passage refers to the future reign of Jesus Christ when the remnant of Israel will be finally delivered.  Consequently, this does not refer to the here and now.  Furthermore, the “breaker box,” as Jones calls it — the Holy Spirit — has NOT been turned off!  Also, a breaker box, just like a breaker switch, is turned on by pulling the switch up, not down.

“…Bob was told there would be a time He [the Lord] would pull the handle down and connect the power…”

Bob Jones has a rather fanciful way of interpreting Scripture.  In context, the  II Corintians 3:16-18 passages are stating that at the moment of true salvation the veil is lifted from the believer so that his spiritual eyes can see.  And, once this veil has been removed the believer is brought closer and closer to Christ-likeness by the Spirit.   The believer, then, is an ever-increasing reflection of the Glory of the Lord.  We do not “sit in darkness” as a believer.

It should also be noted that Isaiah 60:1 is a Messianic prophetic passage referring to Jesus Christ’s first coming as it’s the Lord Himself referred to as the “light.”  However, it’s His glory, or ‘light,’ which will be present in believers in verse 2.  But, in the context of the ‘prophecy’ above, Jones is referring to ‘believers’ who do not yet have this light which is a Scriptural contradiction.  If you are a true believer you will have the Spirit, the ‘light.’  Your ‘brightness’ will be in accordance with your walk with Christ — brighter as you walk in the Spirit, dimmer if you walk in the flesh.

“Get ready for light beams to come forth from our hands as we minister.  Hab 3:4 His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden. (NKJ)” [all as per original]

Once again, we find Jones applying a Scripture which refers to God and instead applying it to the believer.  This ‘prophecy’ of “light beams to come forth from our hands” is reminscent of a Todd Bentley vision from 2004:

“In the vision, said Todd, he would try to turn away from the Lord’s gaze because he felt unworthy. Then, suddenly, from his eyes, ears, mouth and entire body came a flash of light and he went through some kind of transformation. Instantly he thought of the glory coming as on the mount of transfiguration when Jesus’ face became as bright as the sun. The same kind of transformation seemed to take place in Todd. As Jesus breathed on Todd, He said, ‘the Spirit of the fear of the Lord.’ As he breathed in “the Spirit of the fear of the Lord,” white beams of light shot from his fingers. Then Jesus explained that the Spirit of the fear of the Lord is what manages the spirit of wisdom, revelation, might, counsel and knowledge. Having a fear of God is what allows the Lord to entrust his people with a greater mantle of wisdom, revelation and knowledge (Isaiah 11). Isaiah 11:2 speaks of the spirit of the fear of the Lord before verse three speaks of delighting in the fear of the Lord.”

Bizarre…

 

Are You a Heretic?

Are you a heretic?  Am I?  No one has perfect theology, do they?

Not one person who is currently living or who has ever lived could rightfully claim ultimate infallibility with regard to Scripture interpretation (excepting Jesus Christ Himself and the rest of the Godhead, of course).  We learn from each other.  It’s an organic process as we grow in Christ.

HOWEVER, there are certain Scriptural Truths that are non-negotiable within orthodox Christianity.  And, I will fight for those Truths earnestly contending for the faith [Jude 3].  There are aberrant teachings such as Latter Rain/Dominionism/Manifest Sons of God/Prophetic/NAR, Word of Faith, the emergent/emerging church, strict legalism, etc.; plus, there are, of course, sub-Christian cults.  Each of these MUST be addressed!

The thing we must keep in mind, though, is that there are those caught up in these doctrines/movements unknowingly.  Some are truly seeking God through Jesus Christ yet are enmeshed in heresy.  It is for this reason I prefer to label the teachings as heresy rather than call those involved heretics.  To call individuals heretics, to me, seems to make a judgment of the heart.

This does not mean to say that some of these individuals are not teaching heresy knowingly.  I’m sure there are those who are quite wittingly leading others astray – wolves in sheep’s clothing [Matthew 7:15].  These people may never be reached at all as they are the tares/weeds amongst the wheat:

24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field?  How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’  The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’ [Matthew 13:24-30 NKJV]

On the other hand, we are to continue, in love, to show the error of false teaching for to do so, we may potentially help some of those who are following heretical teachings actually reach a saving faith.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh [Jude 22-23 NIV]

 19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. [James 5:19-20 NIV]

OK, so, I’m not a heretic and, hopefully, neither are you.  Let’s all grow in the knowledge of His will through all spiritual understanding in order to live a life pleasing to the Lord [Colossians 1:9-14].

[I’ve added a new tab titled “Why CrossWise?” which explains further the intentions of this site while providing some disclaimers.]

A Different Time

I receive daily devotionals from Walk Thru the Bible; and, I was struck by this one today.  It references Romans 4:

 Justification by faith is illustrated in the Old Testament through the lives of Abraham and David.

 To impute something means “to apply something to your account.” The Bible teaches that no one can earn salvation.  However, God will give it to us freely if we have faith in Him.  God honors the attitude of our hearts and imputes righteousness to our accounts.  To be able to impute righteousness to those living during Old Testament times, God looked ahead to the work of Christ on the cross.  Now he looks back to the Cross.  But in both cases, God’s people have been saved by grace through faith.

The only way those in the “faith” chapter – Hebrews 11 — could have been saved is by God looking ahead to the Cross.  This is truly amazing when you think of it.  However, as we see it, Jesus Christ was yet to be incarnated; so, with our logical, finite minds it can be difficult to grasp that the OT faithful could be saved by the Cross.  Weren’t they under the Law instead?  This is because we see time in a linear fashion.  The Greek transliterated word for ‘time’ in this sense is chronos [Strong’s # 5550] from which we get the word ‘chronology,’ for example.

Yet God is not constrained by time as we know it since He is living outside of it in ‘eternal time.’  This is why many of the NT passages which are spoken of in the present tense are actually in the future according to our linear time.  When the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Church at Colosse, “Since, then, you have been raised up with Christ…” [Colossians 3:1a NIV] he was speaking of a future reality but also our present standing in Christ.  Since this is our future inheritance, Paul is instructing: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” [v 3:2]

When I consider the lost sometimes I think, “Eternity is a l-o-n-g time.”  But, is that really an adequate expression of the eternal?  The finite mind just cannot grasp such a thing.  No beginning, no end: How can that be?  This should induce us to evangelize all the more.  Yet, I don’t evangelize as much as I should.  In the hustle and bustle of life, sometimes I just don’t have the time.  No – I don’t make the time.

Today is the day of salvation.  The time is now…

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

[For a more in-depth investigation, see the series Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ? in all its parts. For additional articles see Anthology of Bill Johnson Articles (So Far)]

{Update on 11/22/11: I’ve just realized the information sourced from “Got Questions” at footnote 25 has been updated/corrected.  This article has been updated to reflect that change.  More explanation is contained in comment 842 below.}

{I’ve just now found an error (Jan. 2, 2011) in my copy of the NIV Study Bible regarding kenosis which I had perpetuated in a portion of endnote 9.  I’ve now deleted this erroneous verbiage and put an explanation of this in comment #136 of this post.  I sincerely regret the error.}

[This article could not have been completed without the work of others who came before me, the assistance of those who pointed me to certain texts and documents, the expertise of those whom I consulted for advice and clarification on theological matters, and the help of the individuals who assisted me on readability before finalizing this document. To all of these I say, “Thank you!”]

[The Kingdom of God is at Hand, Part II provides pertinent information as a bridge of sorts to Part II of this article.]

On a recently uploaded YouTube video[1] there are two clips put together exposing some faulty teaching of “Apostle” Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA.[2]  In the second part, which begins at 3:40, Johnson states that Jesus was ‘born again.’  Here[3] is the uncut sermon from December 20, 2009 with the ‘born again’ Jesus portion beginning at 33:48.  Following is the transcription:

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

 In Hebrews 1 it says this, “For to which of the angels did he ever say, ‘You are my son. Today I have begotten you’?” And Acts 13 explains that: “God has fulfilled this for us, their children, in that he has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten You.’ And that He raised Him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.”  He was born through Mary the first time and through the Resurrection the second time. He was ‘born again.’” [4]

Did Jesus become sin?  If so, when?  Was it at His incarnation?  Was it on the cross?  Was it some time in between?

As we examine Scripture we find, of course, that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life.[5]  However, Scripture does say He ‘became sin’ as substitution for ours:

21God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.                                   [II Corinthians 5:21 NIV]

Please note that Jesus Christ did not ‘become sin’ in that He did not become a sinful being with corruptible flesh but, rather, our sins were imputed to Him by the Father to atone for the sins of all who believe on Him.  The following explains this:

“God used the principle of imputation to benefit mankind when He imputed the sin of believers to the account of Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for that sin – death – on the cross.  Imputing our sin to Jesus, God treated Him as if He were a sinner, though He was not, and had Him die for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2).  It is important to understand that sin was imputed to Him, but He did not inherit it from Adam.  He bore the penalty for sin, but He never became a sinner…” [6]

We’ve established the correct interpretation regarding how Jesus Christ ‘became sin;’ but, what is Johnson’s belief?  Apparently, he does not ascribe to the orthodox view because, if so, he would not state that Jesus had to be born again.  Regarding this apparent view of Johnson: who would be worthy to atone for Jesus’ supposed sin in order for Him to be born again?

Going back to the second paragraph of the transcript, Johnson quotes the question from Hebrews 1:5a, then attempts to answer this question over in Acts 13.  The trouble with this is that these are two completely different contexts.  Why did he do that?  It just leads to potential confusion.

Logic would lead us to think that Johnson was making a thesis statement in the first paragraph while explaining it in the next.  So, to paraphrase Johnson: Jesus ‘became sin’ and thus had to be ‘born again’ which can be proven using Scripture.

Therefore, if we take Johnson’s words in the second paragraph as a strict chronology in the context he provides by isolating the verses in Hebrews and Acts, we should find the answer to his thesis statement.  In addition, we may be able to determine his underlying theology.  First, he quotes the first part of Hebrews 1:5:

            For to which of the angels did God ever say,

                         “You are my Son; today I have begotten You?”

Next he states:

            And Acts 13 explains that…

Explains what?  Explains ‘to which of the angels did God ever say…’?  No, that’s not what Johnson answers (it was a rhetorical question in the context of Hebrews and, hence, did not require an answer) as he has shifted to a completely different context over in Acts as pointed out above.  So, which question IS Johnson attempting to answer?

God has fulfilled this [“You are my Son; today I have begotten You” from above] for us, their children, in that he has raised up Jesus [at the Resurrection].  As it is also written in the second Psalm:

            ‘You are my Son, Today I have begotten You.’ [Jesus is the Father’s begotten Son, today at the Resurrection.]  [Bracketed comments mine for explanation.]

If we take his words at face value here he seems to be inferring that Jesus became God’s Son at the resurrection.  Johnson appears to solidify this thought by continuing with the following:

…And that he ‘raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption.’

Johnson now states that Jesus was ‘born again’ “through the Resurrection:”

He was born through Mary the first time and through the Resurrection the second time.  He was ‘born again.’

So, can we conclude that Johnson believes Jesus was ‘born again’ through the Resurrection, and subsequently, or simultaneously, became God’s Son only then?  The view of Jesus being God’s Son at or through the Resurrection is only unorthodox if the belief is that Jesus was not the Son of God before this event.  We’ll return to this at a later point.

Now that we understand when and how Jesus was ‘born again’ according to Johnson, it may seem plausible to assume he is also explaining with the words in the second paragraph of the transcript when and how Jesus ‘became sin.’  Is it possible then, that he is saying it is through Mary that Jesus ‘became sin?’ This would make sense if he equated “corruption” with “sin” and that Jesus’ birth through Mary made Him ‘corruptible flesh,’ i.e., human.[7]  We’ll attempt to answer this later.

In his book When Heaven Invades Earth from 2003, Johnson further defines his theology:

“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).” [8] [all as per original]

This is bad Christology[9] (the view of Christ’s nature, person and deeds) which we’ll explain more a bit later.  When did Jesus lay aside His deity?  And, when, if ever, did He pick it back up?  Did Jesus have to strive to be sinless?  This is just faulty theology.  [This issue of Johnson’s faulty Christology is also spoken of here.]  Is it that Johnson just does not understand orthodox Christian doctrine?  This seems doubtful as he is a fifth generation[10] pastor by his own admission.

This also contradicts Johnson’s words in the transcript.  How could Jesus have been spotless and without sin yet ‘became sin’ thus making it a requirement that He be born again?  How can that be reconciled?

Perhaps the words from Johnson’s books can be harmonized with the words in the video/audio in order to understand his theology.

Returning to Johnson’s When Heaven Invades Earth we find Jesus as a boy at the Temple[11]:

“He was simply a 12-year-old boy with priorities that were different from everyone else.” [12]

With this he may be inferring that Jesus was not yet divine; but, this is inconclusive.

The “Anointing”

However, with his words below, Johnson claims outright that Jesus did not become The Christ until His baptism[13] which, by extension, means He was not divine at the Incarnation:

“Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means ‘Anointed One’ or ‘Messiah.’  It is a title that points to an experience… …He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.”  [emphasis mine]

 “The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him…”. [14]

Scripture makes it clear that Jesus was divine at His Incarnation[15] by identifying him as “Immanuel” (God with us)[16] and the “Anointed One” – The Christ[17] – at the virgin birth, contrary to Johnson.  Given his view that Jesus was not The Christ at His birth, then, by extension, does this mean he believes Jesus was born into the same fallen, Adamic sin nature as the rest of us?

This points, once again, to faulty Christology known as the Kenosis heresy.[18]  Adding Johnson’s words from a few paragraphs earlier: “The sacrifice that could atone for sin had to be a lamb, (powerless)…” drives it home.  Louis Berkhof in The History of Christian Doctrines quoting Everard Digges La Touche: “In the most absolute and consistent form it [the Kenosis doctrine] teaches what La Touche calls ‘incarnation by divine suicide.’”[19]

Adding to this, Johnson, in his book The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles states:

“…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… …Jesus so emptied Himself that He was incapable of doing what was required of Him by the Father – without the Father’s help…”[20]

Johnson lifts this Scripture out of its proper context.  So, was Jesus Christ really “powerless” with the ability to do “nothing of Himself?”  He makes clear His words:

17”The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again.  18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.” [John 10:17-18]

Johnson explains his belief that Jesus received the “title” of Christ at His baptism:

“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.” [21] 

With the above, Johnson misconstrues the meaning of the word “anointing” in this context.  First of all, in the Gospel accounts the Greek word from which we get the word “anoint” is not used at all in regard to Jesus’ baptism.  The Holy Spirit ‘descended upon’ Jesus.[22]

In Acts 10:38, in which Jesus is described as having been ‘anointed’ with the ‘Holy Spirit’ (also see Acts 4:27, Luke 4:18 and Hebrews 1:9), the Greek word used is chrio which is defined:

To anoint (physically with oil; spiritually, with the Holy Spirit), to assign a person to a special task, implying a giving of power by God to accomplish the task. [23]

Johnson is over-literalizing a metaphor.  The spiritual application should be used rather than the physical.  Referring to the Holy Spirit as a ‘smearing’ smacks of sacrilege.  This error begun in the first two sentences has compounded itself in the third with its implications.  He’s equating ‘Christ,’ The “Anointed One,” with the Holy Spirit “anointing.”

Here’s the Strong’s definition of “Christ” from the Greek Christos:

“Christ, Anointed One, Messiah, the Greek translation of the Hebrew 4899 (cf. Greek 3323).  The Messiah is the Son of David, an anointed leader expected to bring in an age of peace and liberty from all oppression.  In the NT, the Messiah is Jesus, who came first to bring liberty from sin and peace with God and who will come again to bring all things under His control.[24]

The orthodox view of the significance of Jesus’ baptism is stated here:   

Jesus’ baptism…symbolized the sinners’ baptism into righteousness of Christ, dying with Him and rising free from sin and able to walk in the newness of life.   His perfect righteousness would fulfill all the requirements of the Law for sinners who could never hope to do so on their own…

 Perhaps most importantly, the occasion of the public baptism recorded for all generations to come the perfect embodiment of the triune God revealed in glory from heaven.  The testimony directly from heaven of the Father’s pleasure with the Son and the descending Holy Spirit upon Jesus [Matthew 3:16-17] is a beautiful picture of the Trinitarian nature of God.  It also depicts the work of the Father, Son and Spirit in the salvation of those Jesus came to save…[25]

Note that Jesus “publicly announced Himself” as the Son of God; however, He already was the Son of God at His incarnation (and before this, of course).  Jesus Christ being ‘fully God and fully man’ at the virgin birth did not need the Holy Spirit.  He was already the “Anointed One.”

This same “anointing” is available to others according to Johnson.[26]  With his belief, then, by implication, when individuals receive the Holy Spirit – thus receiving the same ‘Christ’  “anointing” as Jesus – they will, in essence, be just like Jesus.  Taken to its logical conclusion, this leads to the view that once an individual receives this ‘Christ anointing’ he/she will be Joe/Jane Christ.   Quoting Johnson:

Through the shedding of His blood, it would be possible for everyone who believed on His name to do as He did and become as He was. [27]            

This seems to state outright that we can become just like Jesus Christ.  While we are to strive to be ‘like Christ’ by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are never going to be equal to Christ.  Jesus Christ is the one and only Son by nature.[28]  We, however, are adopted as sons (and daughters) by grace.[29]   There is only one Christ and He is Jesus Christ!

According to Johnson, after receiving the “anointing,” we are to pass ‘it’ to others.  Not necessarily others who are or wish to become Christians exclusively, but to anyone:

“For the most part, the anointing has been hoarded by the Church for the Church.  …thinking it is for our enjoyment only. …This wonderful presence of God is to be taken to the world.” [30]

 “…When we are smeared with God, it rubs off on all we come into contact with – and it’s that anointing that breaks the yokes of darkness.” [31]

“…The anointing is substanceIt is the actual presence of the Holy Spirit, and He can be released into our surroundings” [32]  [all emphasis mine]

Johnson is claiming the “anointing” is a transferable, tangible substance; however, the “anointing” is also described as the “smearing” on of the Holy Spirit at baptism.  Are these one and the same?  Presumably not since Johnson refers to the “anointing” above as an impersonal ‘it.’  The Holy Spirit, as the third person of the Trinity and part of the Godhead, is most certainly not an ‘it!’

This seems as though Johnson is implying the Holy Spirit may be manipulated almost at will.  If that’s the case, could we just ‘pass Him on,’ so to speak, to unbelievers – those in “the world” – in order to bring salvation?

The Apostle John makes it clear there is a counterfeit anointing.  Is it possible Johnson is passing a counterfeit?

20But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.  I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth…

 26I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.  27As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.  But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him. [1 John 2:20, 26-27 NIV; emphasis mine.  Underlined portion is rendered in other translations as “is true, and is not a lie”]

Johnson also speaks quite a bit about the antichrist spirit:

“The nature of the antichrist spirit is found in its name: anti, “against”; Christ, “Anointed One.’” [33]

 “…The spirits of hell are at war against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion.” [34] 

 “The antichrist spirit has a goal for the Church – embrace Jesus apart from the anointing.”[35]

The first sentence is nearly correct; however, it’s not a complete definition (see below).  However, in the second and third passages, once again we find Johnson confusing “anointing” with “Anointed One.”  Johnson’s view here then may be better stated as ‘anti-anointing,’ ‘anti-Holy Spirit,’ or, perhaps, anti-hagiopneuma [or anti-pneumahagios].[36]

Johnson defines further his version of the antichrist spirit calling it a ‘religious spirit:’

“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. …That spirit has worked to reduce the gospel to a mere intellectual message, rather than a supernatural God encounter. …But, never does this spirit expect the anointing of God’s power to be available in the here and now…”

 “It is the antichrist spirit that has given rise to religious spirits.  A religious spirit is a demonic presence that works to get us to substitute being led by our intellect instead of the Spirit of God.” [37]

Since Johnson’s definition of antichrist would be more accurately termed ‘anti-anointing,’ or ‘anti-Holy Spirit,’ then this “demonic presence,” – the term he uses to describe those with ‘religious spirits’ (those who hold to doctrine over personal experience) – are actually those who are against Johnson’s “anointing” rather than against Christ.

The prefix ‘anti’ from which the term ‘antichrist’ is derived is defined as:

“in exchange for (often as a sign of benefaction), in place of (often as a sign of contrast), instead of (often as a sign of an exchange of a relationship), one after another (often as a sign of purpose or result).  Note that this preposition used in absolute does not mean to be ‘against’ or ‘in opposition to’ something.” [38]

Therefore ‘antichrist’ is not just ‘against Christ’ it can be ‘instead of Christ,’ ‘in place of Christ,’ et cetera.

Johnson’s Christology Defined

If we take Bill Johnson’s words in total so far, we have Jesus devoid of divinity at birth, but receiving His divinity at baptism by the “anointing” of the Holy Spirit and thereby becoming the “Anointed One” and consequently obtaining the ‘title’ of Christ. Immediately following this “anointing,” The Father declared, “This is My much loved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”[39]  In laying His divinity aside he was “powerless,” completely dependant upon the “anointing” in seeking to live a sinless life.  He was successful in living out a sinless life; however, because He had ‘laid His divinity aside,’ he died as the man Jesus – a “powerless” lamb – on the Cross.  Further, since He ‘became sin’ He had to be ‘born again.’  He was ‘born again’ through the Resurrection and was consequently reaffirmed as God’s Son.  Presumably, He reacquired His divinity which He previously laid aside.

The remaining question to attempt to answer: When was it that Jesus ‘became sin’ according to Johnson?  Logically, it was either at birth or at the Cross.  Let’s explore these two options.

First, if He ‘became sin’ at the Cross as per the orthodox meaning as described near the beginning of this article – i.e., our sin was imputed to Him by the Father– then it would not have been necessary for Him to be ‘born again.’  So, it is fair to say he either does not hold to this doctrine or he does not fully understand it.

Second, If Johnson’s view is that Jesus ‘became sin’ on the Cross like that of Word of Faith, then, it is considered heretical.[40]  We can’t know for sure since, of course, Johnson is not clear on how he supports this particular view.

The next possibility then is that Johnson believes Jesus ‘became sin’ at His incarnation. Since Jesus apparently did not have a divine nature until His baptism, according to Johnson, then it is logical to assume that He had only a human nature and, by extension, He inherited an Adamic, sin nature.  Going back to the second paragraph of the transcription: if we consider, as noted above, the possibility that Johnson was actually explaining his viewpoint on when and why Jesus ‘became sin,’ it is plausible that his interpretation of “corruption” in Acts 13 is “sin,” and thereby “corruption” could mean “corruptible flesh.”

It seems the most plausible conclusion is that Johnson believes Jesus ‘became sin’ at the Incarnation since Jesus was not divine until baptism; however, this is not made certain in the texts.

It appears Johnson has adopted a Christological view close to that of Cerinthianism, derived from its main spokesman Cerinthus.  A form of 1st century Gnosticism, this is one of the heresies the Apostle John was specifically refuting in his first epistle.[41]  He did this by proclaiming that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, was the Son of God, and had preexisted as part of the Triune God [vv 1:1-4].  Further, he identifies that which is antichrist [vv 2:22-23; 4:2-3].

1Dear friends, 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.  2This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus [Christ] is not from God.  This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. [I John 4:1-3 NIV.  Emphasis mine.] [42]

The study note of 4:2 referencing ‘Every spirit that acknowledges that’ “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” ‘is from God’ states:

…Thus John excludes the Gnostics, especially the Cerinthians, who taught that the divine Christ came upon the human Jesus at His baptism and then left him at the cross, so that it was the man Jesus who died.” [43]

The Apostle John goes further in showing that Jesus was also divine at the Cross (blood):

6This is the one who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ.  He did not come by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7For there are three that testify:[the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit and these three are one] 8[And there are three that testify on earth:] the Spirit, the water and the Blood; and the three are in agreement. 9We accept man’s testimony but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about His Son. 10Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart.  Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. [I John 5:6-11 NIV] [44]

The study note referencing verse 5:6 explains the importance of Jesus being divine at the Crucifixion:

“…He [John] now asserts that it was this God-man Jesus Christ who came into our world, was baptized and died.  Jesus was the Son of God not only at His baptism but also at His death (v. 6b).  This truth is extremely important, because, if Jesus died only as a man, his sacrificial atonement (2:2; 4:10) would not have been sufficient to take away the guilt of man’s sin…[45] [emphasis mine]

Sad to say, but, Bill Johnson’s ‘Jesus’ is not the one of orthodox Biblical Christianity.  In addition, his ‘Christ’ is inconsistent with Scripture; and, this ‘Christ’ does not offer true salvation.

The Good News!

However, there is good news!  Salvation is available through the one True Savior: the Anointed One, The Messiah, the one and only Son of God – Jesus Christ.

Orthodox Christianity asserts that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God, [John 3:16] incarnated through the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit coming upon and overshadowing her [Luke 1:26-35; Matthew 1:18], fully God and fully man [John 5:18; Philippians 2:6-7] – the unique God-man – at all times during His earthly ministry.  He was preexistent as part of the Triune Godhead (the Trinity) from ‘the beginning’ [Genesis 1:1; John 1:1] and He is ‘the alpha and the omega’ [Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13], the beginning and the end.

Salvation into eternal life is only through Jesus Christ [John 14:6] as a result of His death, burial, and resurrection on the third day [Philippians 2:8; Matthew 28:1-7; Luke 24:1-10,46] which atoned for our sins [John 3:16; Romans 5:8, 10:9].  Christ has now ascended to be at the right hand of the Father [Acts 2:33] serving as our mediator [Galatians 3:19-20; 1 Timothy 2:3-6].  Salvation is a free gift of unmerited grace through faith in Jesus Christ [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Jesus’ death also fulfilled the Law of Moses [Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:1-2]; consequently, Christians are free from this bondage [Galatians 3:10-25].

If you believe the above and acknowledge the fact that you are a sinner in need of a Savior [Romans 3:23, 5:12, 6:23], repent of your sins [Luke 13:5; Matthew 3:2], and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you will gain eternal life [Romans 10:9,13].  At the point of salvation the Holy Spirit indwells each and every believer [Romans 5:1-2,5] identifying each one as a Christian who has become a new creature [2 Corinthians 5:17].  Christians are a Royal Priesthood [1 Peter 2:9] with the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place [Mark 15:37-38] to petition the Father by prayer [Hebrews 10:19-22] in the Name – i.e., in the character – of Jesus Christ, His Son as revealed through His Word.

The Holy Spirit empowers all believers [Romans 8:9-11] to live out the Christian life; and, His indwelling is a seal guaranteeing eternal life [2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 1:13-14] if we stand firm to the end [Matthew 24:13].  The Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and guides into all Truth [John 16:8-11,13].  He will testify and bring glory to Jesus Christ [John 15:26, 16:14].  The Holy Spirit gives believers spiritual gifts [1 Corinthians 12:7-11; Romans 12:4-8; I Peter 4:9-11] just as He determines [1 Corinthians 12:11] and, He intercedes on our behalf [Romans 8:26-27].  AMEN!

This article, The Kingdom of God is at Hand, Part II, provides pertinent information as a bridge of sorts to Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part II.

[This article is not copyrighted and may be reproduced with the stipulation that all endnotes be included as these provide additional explanation critical to the document.]
Endnotes:
[1] “raideragent” Bill Johnson False Teacher. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzAwFYKe3h0> 3:40 to 4:55
[2] Bethel Church, Redding, CA home page <http://www.ibethel.org/site/>
[3] “ewenhuffman” Jesus is our Model- Sermon of the week 20 Dec 09. <http://ewenhuffman.podbean.com/2009/12/23/jesus-is-our-model-sermon-of-the-week-20-dec-09/> 33:48 to 34:57
[4] Here Johnson quotes Hebrews 1:5a and Acts 13:33-34b from the NKJV
[5] Hebrews 4:15; I Peter 2:22/Isaiah 53:9; etc.
[6] Got Questions? What is the Definition of Sin?. <http://www.gotquestions.org/definition-sin.html> par 4
[7] When taking the larger context into account by adding vv 36 and 37 it is clear the best definition for “corruption” is ‘the decay of the body after death.’  See Studylight.org diaphthora <http://www.studylight.org/lex/grk/view.cgi?number=1312>
[8] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[9] Got Questions? What Is Christology <http://www.gotquestions.org/Christology.html> The claim that Jesus Christ laid His divinity aside is known as the Kenosis heresy – the misunderstanding of the words “emptied himself” of Philippians 2:7.  Jesus was never less than fully divine; however, some of his attributes were veiled.  See http://www.theopedia.com/Kenosis.
[10] Johnson, Bill “Introduction.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 23
[11] Luke 2:41-52
[12] Johnson, Bill “The Works of the Father.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 98
[13] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[14] ibid.
[15] Luke 2:11; I John 1:1-3; Matthew 1:18-23; Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6
[16] Strong, James, Dr. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. fully revised by John R. Kohlenberg III and James A. Swanson; 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; Strong’s # 1694; p 1495 “Immanuel,” ‘God with us.’
[17] Strong, Op.cit. Christos Strong’s # 5547; p 1542 “Christ, Anointed One, Messiah, the Greek translation of the Hebrew 4899 (cf. Greek 3323).  The Messiah is the Son of David, an anointed leader expected to bring in an age of peace and liberty from all oppression.  In the NT, the Messiah is Jesus, who came first to bring liberty from sin and peace with God and who will come again to bring all things under His control.”
[18] Theopedia Kenosis <http://www.theopedia.com/Kenosis>
[19] Berkhof, Louis The History of Christian Doctrines. 1975, Baker, Ann Arbor MI; p 121
[20] Johnson, Bill “Change Your Mind.” The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles. 2005; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 50
[21] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[22] Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10, Luke 3:22
[23] Strong, Loc.cit. Chrio Strong’s # 5548; p 1542
[24] ibid. Christos Strong’s # 5547; p 1542
[25] Got Questions? Why was Jesus baptized? Why was Jesus’ baptism important?. <http://www.gotquestions.org/Jesus-baptized.html>; updated 11/22/11
[26] Johnson, Op.cit. pp 79-80, 134-135
[27] Johnson, Bill “Our Debt to the World: An Encounter with God.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 138
[28] John 3:16-18
[29] Romans 8:15, 8:23, 9:4; Ephesians 1:5  We are adopted as sons by Grace; whereas, Jesus is God’s Son by nature.
[30] Johnson, Op.cit. p 134
[31] ibid. Johnson p 135
[32] Johnson, Bill “The Kingdom and the Spirit” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 75
[33] Johnson, Bill “The Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit.” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 79
[34] ibid. p 80
[35] ibid. p 84
[36] Not an actual word, but made from the Greek, hagios which is ‘Holy,’ and pneuma which is ‘Spirit,’ for illustrative purposes.  It is understood that these two terms are never used as a compound word.
[37] Johnson, Op.cit. p 81
[38] Strong, Op.cit. anti, Strong’s # 473; p 1480
[39] Johnson, Bill “The Works of the Father” When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA;   p 99 (Here Johnson quotes Matthew 3:17 from the NKJV)
 [40] Gospel Outreach Ministries Online. “Atonement” What is the Word of Faith Movement?. <http://www.gospeloutreach.net/whatwordfaith.html>
 [41] Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. “Introduction: I John; Gnosticism” NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society,  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; p 1905
[42] Strong, Op.cit. p 198 The word “Christ” put in brackets here is disappointingly omitted in the NIV; however, it is in the original Greek (Christos) and appears in the KJV and NKJV as well as other translations.
[43] Barker, Op.cit. p 1910
[44] ibid. p 1911 Bracketed portion is in “Late manuscripts of the Vulgate…”  However, this text is “not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century.”
[45] ibid.