Charismatic Ramifications on the “Long Ending” of Mark’s Gospel

Most modern Bible translations include a note expressing serious doubt about the authenticity of Mark 16:9-20.  Individuals who do accept these final verses as part of Mark’s Gospel, however, are committed to an extreme view of the signs listed in verses 17 and 18, to include the explicit ability to drink poison with no ill effects.  If the Greek text in this “long ending” is taken seriously, understood, and translated in proper context, then all five signs are for all those who believe – excepting those actively preaching the Gospel message – at the point of initial conversion and continuing on thereafter.  That is, upon hearing and believing in the Gospel message, newly regenerate believers, without exception, will exhibit all the signs listed in Mark 16:17-18, as accompaniment to the Gospel.  Moreover, these five should be evident among all believers, past, present and yet future, upon initial acceptance of the Gospel and thereafter – at the least, whenever the Gospel is being actively preached.

The Long and the Short of It

For quite some time, it has been the scholarly consensus that the “long ending” of the Gospel of Mark, i.e., the last 12 verses (16:9-20), is not original to the Gospel, even though there are many manuscripts that include this text.1  While there are those who assert that the long ending is indeed original, they are well within the minority among NT scholars and textual critics.  The vocabulary and style of the Greek in the long ending is substantially different than the remainder of Mark’s Gospel.2  In addition, the associated manuscript evidence points rather decisively to the inauthenticity of these verses.3

There is even a so-called “short ending” in one extant Old Latin manuscript.  This short ending consists of a small amount of text following verse 8, about the equivalent of one long Biblical verse or two shorter ones.  While this is found as the ending to Mark’s Gospel in only one manuscript, there is yet another variation in which the long ending is appended to the short ending.4  All three – the predominant long ending, the lone short ending, and the combination of short ending followed by long ending – are almost universally rejected, and identified as spurious.

Some are of the opinion that the Gospel of Mark simply concludes at verse 8.  However, in view of the fact that verse 8 ends rather abruptly with frightened women at the tomb, and, secondarily, that the very last word is a conjunction (the word γάρ, transliterated gar, meaning for, since, or because), others believe the original ending has been lost, or that the Gospel writer just did not finish the work for some unknown reason.5  These may well be factors that influenced the writer of the long ending (assumed to be one lone author by the internal consistency of the text).

Excluding the long ending from Scripture necessarily negates any need to discuss cessationism (the belief that the ‘sign gifts’ have ceased with the Apostolic era and the closing of the Biblical canon) or continuationism (the belief that all the spiritual gifts continue to this day) by appealing to these verses.  Dr. Rodney J. Decker, Th.D., has recently written a paper on this subject, titled Mark and Miracle (Mark 16:17-18), with an emphasis on what the longer ending means in its own context and how it relates to the rest of the New Testament, and posted it on his blog.  This particular work of Decker (see hyperlink at title above, pdf here) will be relied on for portions of the remainder of this article; general references and specific quotes from it will be followed by applicable page number in brackets, e.g.: {p 3}.

Interpreting the Text of the Long Ending

Decker notes that, in academic settings, those who argue for continuationism by and large do not do so by appealing to the Markan long ending.  On the other hand, it is used quite frequently as a basis for argumentation “in non-academic discussions and among poorly trained advocates.  That is perhaps not surprising since even in cessationist circles the authenticity of the Long Ending is commonly assumed since it is in the KJV without note or comment” {p 2, n 11}.  I’ll add that it seems many readers of modern Bible versions pay little mind to the notes, further contributing to ignorance about the legitimacy of the long ending.6  Philip Comfort provides a blanket caution against the lay or academic use of these verses:

…Christians need to be warned against using this text for Christian doctrine because it is not on the same par as verifiable New Testament Scripture.  Nothing in it should be used to establish Christian doctrine or practice.  Unfortunately, certain churches have used Mark 16:16 to affirm dogmatically that one must believe and be baptized to be saved, and other churches have used Mark 16:18 to promote the practice of snake-handling…The writer of the longer ending also emphasized what we would call charismatic experiences – speaking in tongues, performing healings, protection from snakes and poison.  Although the book of Acts affirms these experiences for certain believers, they are not necessarily the norm for all.7

Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, is just one example (and there are many others within the so-called New Apostolic Reformation, aka NAR) of a hyper-charismatic (my term for those who go well beyond more conservative Pentecostal/charismatic theology and practice) who frequently cites Mark 16:15 and Mark 16:20 as base texts for the Great Commission, while selectively using only portions of verses 17-18 (healing the sick, casting out demons, and speaking in new tongues, yet omitting snake handling and drinking poison) for his continuationist stance.8  As but one example, here’s a selection in which Johnson specifically cites Mark 16:20 in the footnote reference to this passage:

…While healing is seldom the subject we teach on, it is one of the most common results.  As we proclaim the message of the Kingdom of God, people get well.  The Father seems to say Amen! to His own message by confirming the word with power….9

In reading Johnson’s quote, observe that the claim is that “people get well” as a result of the proclamation of “the message of the Kingdom of God”.  This passive “people get well” stands in stark contrast to the long ending’s explicitly active “they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover”.  In other words, according to verse 18, those who believe will actively lay on hands, resulting in the sick recovering; the sick don’t just “get well”.  We could give Johnson the benefit of the doubt and just assume he was imprecise with his wording, but what of the other signs that should accompany the message according to the context of the long ending of Mark?:

15 And He said to them [the Eleven], “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow [accompany] those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them [the Eleven], He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs [by those who believe]. Amen. [Mark 16:15-20, NKJV (emphasis and explanatory notes in brackets added)]

The text is book-ended with the preaching of the Gospel (vv 15, 20) by the Eleven (vv 14, 15, 19), but note that signs (σημεῖα, sēmeia) will follow/accompany those who believe (vv 16, 17), to exclude those preaching (the Eleven) {pp 3-5}.  The context specifies that it is regenerate believers – those receiving the preaching of the Gospel (by the Eleven; v 15) and reaching a saving faith (v 16) – who will cast out demons, speak with new languages, pick up snakes, etc.  Following are the five signs that will be exhibited by these believers:

  • Performing exorcisms
  • Speaking in new languages
  • Picking up snakes (presumably without harm)
  • Drinking poison without harm
  • Healing the sick by the laying on of hands

Note that, by the context, the snakes are not specifically identified as venomous (or not), and it’s not specified if those picking up the snakes will remain unharmed; it merely states “they will take up serpents” (some manuscripts add “with their hands”).  Some may appeal to the next point – “if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them” – but these two are not connected grammatically {p 3}.  Also, since all five, as Decker observes, “are listed in parallel with no indication otherwise, it would be precarious to suggest that one (or more) is to be taken metaphorically if the others are not” {pp 3-4, 4 n 15}.  By the context, the statement attributed to Jesus (vv 15-18), as well as the narration in verse 20 (“…the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs.”) is clearly meant in a literal sense; therefore, all five should be taken literally.

The text explicitly states that all five signs above will accompany the collective of those who believe {p 8}, as a sign of the Gospel, “whenever they believe” {p 4}.  Moreover, according to Decker, as indicated by the Greek grammar, each believer should perform all five {pp 4, 4 n 19-20}.  Further, this implies that each time the Eleven preached the Gospel there would always be demon-possessed individuals, snakes, poisonous drink, and persons afflicted with ailments in their midst.

Yet, by the context, this is not limited to the Apostolic era, the time period when the Eleven were still living {p 5}.  Since the function of these signs is in conjunction with the preaching of the Gospel – and, of course, the Great Commission is an ongoing command to all Christians (cf. Matthew 28:18-20) – these signs must continue as well {pp 4-5}.  Therefore, those who accept the long ending as part of the canonical Gospel of Mark are committed to the belief that all five signs above are applicable to every single believer, at the point of their conversion and forward.  The only limitation is imposed on those believers who are actively preaching the Gospel.  In other words, by the context provided by the author of the long ending, those who believe will perform the five signs above, which necessarily include all the regenerate – past, present, and yet future – except when they themselves are in the act of preaching the Gospel message {pp 4-5}.

It could be construed that one of the implicit points made by the author of the long ending regarding “confirming the word through the accompanying signs” is that others in the audience who may have been unpersuaded by the Gospel message itself may become convinced by the attendant display of signs.  In fact, there are three pieces of extra-Biblical, apocryphal literature depicting the Apostle John drinking poison for the express purpose of converting others.  These are: Virtutes Iohannis (Miracles of John, circa 5th or 6th century AD), Passio Iohannis (Passion of John, ca. late 6th c.) {p 10},10 and Acts of John in Rome (ca. 4th to 6th c.11), with the latter finding its writer portraying John as explicitly quoting the words of Mark 16:18b (“and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them”) {p. 10}.   With this in mind, would Bill Johnson, or any of the other self-appointed “Apostles” of the New Apostolic Reformation (or any follower of the NAR) who affirm Mark 16:9-20, like to drink from the poisoned cup, toward this same goal?

It seems one could understand this passage a bit more narrowly, interpreting “confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (v 20) as a limitation on those who believe.  That is, these signs will only accompany those who believe during the proclamation of the Gospel, thereby limiting the ‘shelf-life’ of these signs.  In other words, these five signs would be manifested each time the Gospel message is preached until Jesus Christ returns, but only for the duration of the preaching at each particular place and time.12

But note that even this more narrow view would only limit the time at which these signs are made manifest and not their actual expression.  With this limitation in mind, we’ll pose the question above a bit differently: With another actively preaching “the message of the Kingdom of God”, would Bill Johnson, or any of the other self-appointed “Apostles” of the New Apostolic Reformation (or any disciple of the NAR) who affirm Mark 16:9-20, like to drink from the poisoned chalice in order to win others to Christ?

Given his interpretation of Jesus’ promise in John 14:12, Johnson may even desire to identify such acts of ‘poison-bibbing’ {p 10} as manifest evidence of “greater works”, since it is not recorded in Scripture that Jesus Himself drank poison without harm:

Jesus’ prophecy of us doing greater works than He did has stirred the Church to look for some abstract meaning to this very simple statement…And, the works He referred to are signs and wonders.  It will not be a disservice to Him to have a generation obey Him, and go beyond His own high-water mark.  He showed us what one person could do who has the Spirit without measure.  What could millions do?  That was His point, and it became His prophecy.

This verse is often explained away by saying it refers to quantity of works, not quality…But that waters down the intent of His statement.  The word greater is mizon [sic] in the Greek…It is always used to describe “quality,” not quantity.13

But, I’m unpersuaded that even such a charismatic display of imbibing venomous drink without harm would be greater than Jesus’ dying on the Cross for the sins of the world and subsequently raising Himself from the dead (John 2:19-22, 10:17-18).

Nonetheless, as per the context provided by the author of the long ending, poison-bibbing is a requirement of all believers – at least those who accept Mark 16:9-20 as part of sacred Scripture.

Conclusion

Those who consider the long ending of Mark must understand that it’s an all or nothing proposition.  If one is inclined to accept it as authentic, then, in all intellectual honesty, one is forced to conform to a radical form of continuationism – one that must accept that all five signs enumerated in verses 17 and 18, without exception, will be exhibited by those who believe.  To explicitly or implicitly reject any of these five will not do.  On the other hand, to agree with the scholarly consensus that the long ending is not original to the Gospel of Mark means that no portion of it can be referenced for doctrine or practice.

 

Some facts and thoughts about the author of the above referenced article (see especially last paragraph):

Dr. Rodney J. Decker is on faculty at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.  He is the author of Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect (New York: Peter Lang, 2001) and Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), as well as other publications, with more material under contract, including his contribution to the Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament series (The Gospel of Mark).

I enjoy reading and being challenged by his works, most of which are a bit beyond my current level, some quite so.  However, it’s obvious he cares about his students’ learning, as he has even taken the time to place additional data, list errata, and translate the German and French text from the Peter Lang book mentioned above (this particular book series requires that all non-English language remain untranslated), onto his own website.  Here’s a portion of his remarks:

…Since, however, I have some hopes that students may find the work helpful, and even that some may be curious as to the content of those [untranslated] quotations (an idealistic notion, I suspect, but one which I hope to nurture for a bit longer!), I have thought it appropriate to provide a translation of many of those quotations here.

In addition, Decker has taken one of Dr. Stanley Porter’s difficult works and made it more comprehendible, providing a tremendous service to those wishing to become more conversant with Porter’s position on verbal aspect.  This is available as an online pdf (the title itself references Porter’s work): “The Poor Man’s Porter”: A condensation and summarization of Verbal Aspect in the Greek of the New Testament, with Reference to Tense and Mood by Stanley E. Porter (New York: Peter Lang, 1993).

While he’s very serious about his work, he occasionally injects a bit of lightheartedness in his material and on his blog (and presumably in the classroom).  Decker is currently battling stage 4 cancer.  He has recently begun chemotherapy.  He and his wife could use our prayers.

 

Endnotes:

     1 This merely illustrates that subsequent copyists faithfully reproduced (more or less) this long ending once it was introduced into the Gospel of Mark, though many manuscripts have markings suggesting its inauthenticity.
     2 Here I’m referring to what is known as the internal evidence of NT textual criticism: assessing authorial and scribal peculiarities such as style (vocabulary, grammar) and doctrine.
     3 This sentence refers primarily to what is termed external evidence in NT textual criticism: assessing all known variants of a given section of Scripture by focusing on such factors as age, similar readings among manuscripts, and geographic distribution, and then comparing with each other to determine which verbiage is likely original.
     4 The following English translation of the “short ending” is taken from Roger L. Omanson, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger’s Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society), 2006), p 104.  Note that the first sentence is a continuation of 16:8, for the obvious purpose of not leaving the verse ending with the women fearful: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told.  And after these things Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.  Amen.  Manuscripts which append the “long ending” to the “short ending” omit the final “Amen” of the “short ending” (Omanson, p 104).
     5 For more on the textual evidence consult Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: United Bible Societies, 1994); Roger L. Omanson’s adaptation of Metzger noted above; Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary (Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2008); Craig A. Evans, Word Biblical Commentary: Mark 8:27 – 16:20 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001); Joel Marcus, The Anchor Yale Bible: Mark 8 – 16 (New Haven: Yale, 2009), etc.
     6 This is based on my own admittedly very limited experience.
     7 Comfort, p 161.
     8 This is evident throughout his books, sermons and other materials.  Of the many works I’ve studied/surveyed, none promote snake handling or the drinking of poison.
     9 Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles, (Shippensburg: Destiny Image, 2003 (first edition)), p 89; emphasis in original.   I’m giving Johnson the benefit of the doubt that he’s speaking of the true Gospel, and not the differentiated “Gospel of the Kingdom” of some New Order of the Latter Rain and/or New Apostolic Reformation teachers and adherents, though the context strongly implies the latter, and he specifically uses the latter term in many places throughout the book.  Probably the best place to find the delineation of the two terms is found in the glossary of Earl Paulk’s Ultimate Kingdom (Atlanta: K Dimension, 1984, p 335), in which “Gospel” is defined as [t]he good news of God’s redemption to man. [Luke 4:18, 9:6; Romans 1:16; Ephesians 6:15]; whereas, “Gospel of the Kingdom” is defined [t]he good news principles of daily life taught by Jesus that the Church must demonstrate as a witness to the world in order to return the rule of the earth to God.  [Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:14] – in other words: Dominionism.  Also, one must keep in mind that Johnson equates such signs as part of the “greater works” in John 14:12.  See below.
     10 Here Decker quotes from (as he cites quite a bit in his paper) James Kelhoffer (Miracle and Mission: The Authentication of Missionaries and Their Message in the Longer Ending of Mark, WUNT 2.112, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000, p 450); Decker notes (p  10 n 42) that dates of 3rd to 6th century have been proposed for these two works.  Claudio Moreschini and Enrico Norelli, (Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature, A Literary History, Volume Two: From the Council of Nicea to the Beginning of the Medieval Period, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2005; English transl. Matthew J. O’Connell), claim “perhaps” 5th or 6th c. for Passion of John (“by Pseudo-Melito”) and “end of 6th c.” for Miracles of John (“included in the collection of Pseudo-Abdias”) [pp 221-222].  Both of these works apparently draw from the 3rd c. apocryphal work Acts of John, as Knut Schäferdiek (“The Acts of John”) in Wilhelm Schneemelcher (transl. R. McL. Wilson New Testament Apocrypha: Volume One: Gospels and Related Writings. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1990, English transl. James Clarke & Co. Ltd, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1991) notes, specifying that the Passio Iohannis “has taken up several narratives from the Acts of John in a considerably revised form” [p 154, cf. p 155].  Schäferdiek also largely agrees with Moreschini/Norelli regarding dates for Passion “which scarcely came into being before the middle of the 5th century” [p 154] and Miracles “which probably came into being in the late 6th century” [p 155].
     11 Schäferdiek in Schneemelcher, p 172.  The Acts of John in Rome is a recension of Acts of John.  The first 17 chapters of Acts of John are lost; the Acts of John in Rome has a total 14 chapters, in two recensions, written “not before the 4th century” [p 172].
     12 This further nuanced interpretation seems to be implied by Decker, but is not explicit – at least as I read him.  Therefore, I take full responsibility; any errors in understanding Decker or in my exegesis are fully my own!  But, note that the three apocryphal works referenced earlier do not seem to have another preaching the Gospel while John drank the poison.
     13 Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth, p 185; all emphasis in original (for those with later editions with different pagination, this is found in the chapter titled “This Present Revival” under the bolded heading GREATER WORKS).   The Greek word is actually (transliterated) meizon, not mizon.  Johnson prefaces this statement with a direct citation of John 14:12. Decker notes that some are of the opinion that the long ending can be paralleled with John 14:12, but he opines differently {pp 10-11}.  For an in-depth look at Jesus’ words in this passage of Scripture, see CrossWise article Greater Works Shall You Do.

Assessing Bill Johnson’s “Eternally God” Declarations Amidst His Other Christological Statements

[UPDATE: In a new post it is shown that Johnson actually affirmed some of the speculations in this particular article in a sermon at Bethel on the very same day this article was posted, using some of the very same Scriptures cited as possible proof-texts for such an approach!]

A hallmark of any true Christian is charity (this is not to say non-Christians cannot be charitable, of course).  Christians will give their money and time with no expectation of return.  Rightly, this generosity should extend to giving another the benefit of the doubt if a given statement or statements are not exactly clear.  Everyone makes a ‘slip of the tongue’ or a ‘slip of the pen’, right? 

But, on the other hand, when a teacher consistently makes statements that run counter to Christian orthodoxy, there is a need to address this issue forthrightly.  When these statements are in the public realm via books, online sermons, video/audio, et cetera, these should be addressed publicly. 

There are those who – while understanding that Bill Johnson’s Christological teachings are problematic, if not at least seemingly self-contradictory at times – do not fully agree with the views put forth on CrossWise regarding Johnson’s Christology.  Specifically, there are those who are of the opinion that Bill Johnson teaches that the Word retained all His divine attributes when He became flesh, yet chose not to exercise those attributes for the entirety of His earthly ministry, instead relying on the Holy Spirit for all miracle workings.  Whether they do this out of charity or out of a firm belief that this is Johnson’s teaching given the evidence of Johnson’s own words (as they read them), or both, I cannot be certain.  The following tweet from April 7, 2013 by Bill Johnson in answer to a direct question, seems to have strengthened this view:

Bill Johnson tweet April 7, 2013

Bill Johnson tweet April 7, 2013

Does this statement render false the CrossWise articles asserting Johnson teaches that Jesus Christ did not possess any divine attributes during the Incarnation?  Some may think so.  But, on the other hand, what are we to make of the above tweet in conjunction with the following selection from the recent book co-written by Randy Clark and Bill Johnson titled The Essential Guide to Healing? 

…Jesus emptied Himself of divinity and became man (see Philippians 2:7).  While He is eternally God, He chose to live within the restrictions of a man who had no sin and was empowered by the Holy Spirit.  In doing this, He provided a compelling model to follow.1

 By the clear words in the first sentence, Johnson is claiming that the Word (Jesus) divested Himself of divinity in becoming incarnate.  But, then again, in the second sentence we have the “eternally God” declaration like the tweet above.  Is this a contradiction?  Or should we be charitable and assume Johnson meant to state that Jesus ‘emptied Himself’ of all divine prerogatives, i.e., that Jesus voluntarily did not use the divine attributes He yet retained?  (Though this view is not Biblical.)  But please note, to assume the latter requires reading into this statement beyond what is clearly written in the first sentence. 

To be certain we are not misunderstanding Bill Johnson, here is another passage from this same book:

…While Jesus is eternally God, He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man (see Philippians 2:7).  It is vital to note that He did all His miracles as a man, not as God.  If He did them as God, I would still be impressed.  But because He did them as a man yielded to God, I am now unsatisfied with my life, being compelled to follow the example He has given us.  Jesus is the only model for us to follow.2

Once again, we have the same “eternally God” statement in conjunction with a claim of divested deity while incarnate.  Yet, we also have the assertion that Jesus did all His miracles “as a man yielded to God”.  Does this indicate we should, as noted above, assume Johnson really means that Jesus retained His divine attributes yet purposefully chose not to exercise them, instead relying upon the Holy Spirit for all miracle workings, despite the claim that “He emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man”?

I submit that there’s a different solution to this seeming conundrum, this apparent contradiction, without the need to read into any of the above.  But, it will require a bit of explanation first.

The Christ Anointing

One cannot effectively analyze Bill Johnson’s Christological statements apart from his teaching on “the anointing”, which is central to his theology.   In Johnson’s Christology, like some other teachers in hyper-charismaticism, both Christ, and then logically, antichrist are redefined.

Christ = the anointing
antichrist = against the anointing 

It is of utmost importance to keep this in mind.  “The anointing” is also called the “Christ anointing”,3 “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”,4 “Holy Spirit’s presence/rest upon” an individual,5 “the presence of God”,6 and “the outpouring of the Spirit”7 in Bill Johnson’s theology.  This is not speaking of the Holy Spirit indwelling; this is in addition to the indwelling:

…Certainly this is not talking about the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that was already in Jesus’s life.  This was the inauguration of Jesus’s ministry, and the Holy Spirit came to rest upon Him as a mantle of power and authority for that specific purpose8

Bill Johnson’s duplicity is plainly evident in the way he first correctly defines Christ, and then redefines the term in the same paragraph in his book When Heaven Invades Earth:

Christ is not Jesus’ last name.  The word Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah…”9

So far, so good.  This is absolutely correct.  Yet, observe how he redefines “Christ” to “the anointing”:

…It [Christ] is a title that points to an experience.  It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title.  He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired.10

 Contrary to Johnson, Scripture states that it was sufficient for Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah at His birth (Luke 2:11).  And, importantly, the term “Christ” is understood in Christian orthodoxy as indicating deity/divinity.11  Continuing on to the very next paragraph in Johnson’s book: 

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.12

 This completes Johnson’s redefinition.  If Jesus is “the One smeared with the Holy Spirit” at His baptism, and this ‘smearing’ is the anointing, and this is the “experience” that brings forth the title of “Christ”, then it logically follows that Jesus was NOT the Christ prior to baptism.

To be sure the above is correct – that Jesus did not attain the “title” of Christ until He received the anointing in the river Jordan following John’s baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon Him as a dove (aka Baptism in the Holy Spirit, etc.) – the following quote from another work makes it clear: 

The outpouring of the Spirit also needed to happen to Jesus for Him to be fully qualified.  This was His quest.  Receiving this anointing qualified Him to be called the Christ, which means “anointed one.” Without the experience [the anointing] there could be no title.13

 Had Jesus not received the anointing, He could not have received the “title” of Christ, for this was the “experience” that “qualified Him to be called the Christ”.  But note how Johnson claims this “anointing” means “anointed one”.  Is Jesus then the unique “Anointed One”, although He did not receive the title of Christ until the anointing?  Does Johnson ‘merely’ have the timing wrong on when Jesus becomes the Christ?  Note that in the first quote in this section he neglects to use the definite article (the) in front of “Anointed One”, and he does the same in the immediately preceding quote for “anointed one” (lower case).  This is because, in another example of duplicity, ALL can receive this same “Christ anointing”:

…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 Him14

Be aware that this is consistent with Gnostic and New Age teaching as exemplified by Levi Dowling’s book The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ:

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 christed15

 In Johnson’s theology, when ‘believers’ receive this “Christ anointing” do they become divine?  Not exactly.  Note below that it’s the anointing itself that’s divine, not Jesus.  The anointing links the man Jesus to the divine, thus providing the supernatural power that the non-divine Jesus lacked:

The anointing Jesus received was the equipment necessary, given by the Father to make it possible for Him to live beyond human limitations…That would include doing supernatural things.  The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine, enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil…16

It follows logically then that those who receive the Christ anointing will be linked to the divine in the same way.  To reiterate, just like mankind is non-divine and subsequently linked to the divine via the anointing, Jesus was merely a non-divine man who was linked to the divine via the anointing.  Also, given that Jesus receives the “title” of Christ only by virtue of the Christ anointing, then  it follows that anyone else who receives this same Christ anointing should receive this same “title” of Christ.  This puts us back to the teaching of Levi Dowling above: “every anointed person is christed”.

Having adequately determined how Bill Johnson defines Christ, we’ll briefly illustrate how he defines antichrist.  As he does with the term Christ, Johnson initially correctly defines antichrist (mostly, since anti can also mean “instead of”) as “anti, ‘against’; Christ, ‘Anointed One’.”17  Observe that he dispenses with the definite article (the) in front of “Anointed One” yet again.  And once again, he subtly redefines the term: “The spirits of hell are at war against the anointing, for without the anointing mankind is no threat to their dominion.18

In the following, he makes a clear distinction between believers – who would, by Christian orthodoxy, necessarily have the Holy Spirit indwelling upon conversion – and “the anointing”, though here he calls it “the Holy Spirit’s anointing” instead of the “Christ anointing”, or “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, et cetera:

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….19

 There you have it.  By Johnson’s redefinition of antichrist, I myself have the “spirit of antichrist” since I am “attempting to influence ‘believers’ to reject” the anointing.

This teaching on the anointing corresponds with Johnson’s statements such as “He [Jesus] had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever!”20 and “Jesus had no ability to heal the sick.  He couldn’t cast out devils, and He had no ability to raise the dead.”21  Given His total lack of inherent supernatural capabilities, this clearly indicates a temporally non-divine Jesus.

Eternally God Yet Temporally Man?

In Bill Johnson’s Christology, like all men, Jesus lacks divinity while in the temporal realm – except by virtue of the anointing.  But how does that theology mesh with Jesus as “eternally God”?  To answer this, first we’ll look at eternity in Scripture.

According to Ephesians 2:6 all Christians are currently seated in the heavenly realms; that is, though we are currently in our earthly bodies, we are in heaven (cf. Col 3:1-3).  Believers have a sort of “dual citizenship”.  Eternal life is a future that we already possess.  This means, in a sense, we are already in the eternal realm, while we are yet still on this earth in the temporal realm.   However, the tension between these two realities must be kept in check, as we are not bi-located; we are not simultaneously living in heaven as we walk on earth.

This is usually referred to as the already but not yet.   True believers have eternal security already, but we are not yet seated in the heavenlies.  The last days have already begun at Jesus’ first coming, but the final consummation is not yet.  This understanding that we have been in the last days since Christ’s earthly ministry is also known as inaugurated eschatology (sometimes realized eschatology, but not in the absolute sense by some liberal theologians that there is no future eschatology), with the understanding that Jesus Christ’s Second Coming brings in the eschaton (end of all things).

To explain further, Revelation 13:8 indicates one of two things (the syntax of the Greek allows one of two interpretations): 1) Jesus was slain from the creation of the world, or 2) the writing of the names into the Book of Life occurred from the foundations of the world.  To accept number 2 would seem to necessitate number 1, as it appears difficult to have a Book of Life unless there first had been a Life Giver.  In any case, the point is that some events from our temporal perspective are depicted in Scripture as already past and/or already present in the eternal realm.  Therefore, we cannot conceive of the temporal realm, with its chronological developments, as if it were a subset of the eternal.  In other words, time as we know it does not run parallel with eternity, as though eternity has a past, present, and future.  Lewis Sperry Chafer aptly describes the relationship between the temporal and the eternal:

…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.22

With the foregoing in mind, we can return to Bill Johnson.

It appears possible Johnson may be condensing the concept of already but not yet, with some of the not yet into the already.  This would not be surprising as some hyper-charismatics are known as having an over-realized eschatology; i.e., some of the things reserved for the eschaton (the end of all things; when Christ returns) are claimed to be for now.  The Manifest Sons of God (MSoG) doctrine is one example of over-realized eschatology.

It is conceivable then that, in the Johnson Christology, Jesus is “eternally God” because Jesus is God only in eternity, but not divine in the temporal, earthly realm.  Stated another way, we can read Johnson’s tweet in conjunction with the question posed such that Jesus Christ is “eternally God”, i.e., Jesus is God in the eternal realm – and, of course eternity never ceases, as it has no beginning and no end – while He was simultaneously non-divine temporally in His earthly mission, as He had “emptied Himself of His divinity and became a man”.

Note that this adequately answers the question posed in the above tweet: Johnson affirms Jesus’ full deity while on earth, but only in virtue of the assertion that “Jesus Christ is eternally God” (again, eternity never ceases).  This is somewhat similar to the believer claiming to already have eternal life.  In other words, in its context, Johnson is not necessarily affirming temporal divinity in the earthly Jesus in and of itself in the above tweet; but, in asserting eternal deity it can be comprehended as somewhat analogous to the believer’s dual status in Ephesians 2:6 and Colossians 3:1-3.  Understood this way, Johnson’s tweet and the two quotations from the book referenced at the very beginning are adequately synthesized.

To be clear, what I’m proposing above with regard to Johnson’s teaching is not orthodox; it’s merely an attempt at explaining the seeming contradictions in Johnson’s theology.  This same idea can be applied to the following Facebook quote:

Jesus is God, eternally God, and never stopped being God. But He was also man, completely man. In His earthly life He lived from His humanity to illustrate dependence on the Father in a way that could be emulated. Jesus said, “the Son of man can do nothing of Himself . . .” illustrating His dependence. His limitations were in His humanity, not His divinity. Understanding the difference can help us to successfully live the life He gave for us to live. [Bill Johnson, Facebook, August 11, 2012]

Setting aside the fact that Johnson totally distorts the meaning of John 5:19 (“the Son of man can do nothing of Himself…”) by taking only a portion of this verse, wresting it from its proper context, we can understand this such that Jesus is an earthly non-divine man concurrent with an eternally divine Jesus.  Some of the bolded portion will be discussed further below.

In another context altogether, there is evidence of Bill Johnson’s conflation of the not yet with the already:

When I first heard this phrase, the Kingdom now but not yet, over 20 years ago, it was used as a statement of promise.  It was helpful for me to realize that we have access to things right now that I had always thought inaccessibleThe phrase helped to bring into focus the reality that some things will be enjoyed in time, and some things only in eternity.  But that same phrase has also been used to define limitations and restrictions, and not instill hope.  It is used to ease people’s dissatisfaction with unrealized promises now…

It is true that a full manifestation of the Kingdom of God is more than our physical bodies can endure.  But it is also true that when we are in Heaven we will still be able to say, now, but not yet, about the Kingdom, because there is no end to the increase of His governmentThroughout eternity the Kingdom will be expanding, and we will always be advancing.  I teach our people that if now, but not yet is used to define promise and potential, accept it.  If it is spoken to build awareness of our limitations and restrictions, reject it.  We don’t need more people without authentic Kingdom experiences telling us what we can and cannot have in our lifetime.  Those who walk out their faith with an experiential paradigm understand that we will always live in the tension of what we have seen and what we have yet to see, and that we are always moving on to more in God.  This is an understanding by experience issue.23

I’m not exactly sure how to understand Johnson’s statement, “Throughout eternity the Kingdom will be expanding…”, but the phrases “we have access to things right now that I had always thought inaccessible” and “we are always moving on to more in God” indicate, in context, that some of the not yet is for now.

But, I concede, this does not unequivocally prove that Johnson intends to teach an eternally divine Jesus with a temporally non-divine Jesus simultaneously.  However, such a teaching is not without precedent within hyper-charismaticism.  

The Two Realms of the Manifested Son of God

The late Bill Britton, a Manifest Sons of God (MSoG) teacher, has implicitly taught this in his booklet Tent to Temple (and other works) in a subsection titled “A Man Living In Two Worlds”.  In the following, please note that Britton is referencing the KJV/NKJV of John 3:13 that includes a clause at the end not found in most modern Bible versions – No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven (NKJV):24

Jesus told Nicodemus a very strange thing in John 3:13.  He said that He was living in heaven at the same time he was living on earth.  It was too much for Nicodemus to comprehend, as well as for many of God’s people today.  But it was true.  Hebrews 10:20 tells us that the Veil that separated heaven and earth was His flesh.

One side of the Veil faced the sanctuary with its candlestick and the priests who ministered daily.  This was his earthly existence, living under a skin covering.  But the other side of the same veil faced the Holy of Holies and the Skekinah Presence of His Father.  So he could say “I do only those things I see my Father do – I say only those things that please Him”.  He lived on the earth where men could see him, in an earth body.  But in that body He also walked continually in a heavenly place on the other side of the veil.  And I see a people who live in “tent” bodies which have been redeemed from the sense realm, a people who walk victoriously because they walk in the spirit.  Jesus showed us the way.25

Ignoring the fact that Britton has taken Hebrews 10:20 way out of context and John 3:13 beyond proper exegesis, the above quote indicates the very thing I’m illustrating that Johnson may intend.  That is, Johnson’s quotes above are not incongruent with manifest sons of God (MSoG) doctrine.  I’m not stating definitively that Bill Johnson actually teaches or believes Britton’s exact statement; I’m just providing it as a possible explanation.

Yet, the Facebook quote above from August 11, 2012 fits the basic thrust of Britton’s statement quite nicely – as exemplified by the title of this subsection as “A Man Living In Two Worlds”.  Specifically, the Johnson statement “His limitations were in His humanity” [He was non-divine temporally on ‘this side of the veil’], “not His divinity” [He had full divinity in the eternal realm, on ‘the other side of the veil’] can align with Britton, especially when we add Johnson’s claims that Jesus is “eternally God” and “[b]ut He was also man”.

Johnson also alludes to something akin to Britton’s teaching above in his book The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind in a chapter titled “Becoming the Dwelling Place of God”:

…We are again becoming the dwelling place of God that was promised in the Bible.  [ED: Holy Spirit indwelt Christians throughout the years weren’t?]  We have hungered for more, prayed for more, and now we are receiving unprecedented insight into our privileges and responsibilities in the Kingdom of God.  These insights aren’t just being pondered; people are acting on them, and more and more, God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven.26

This chapter is describing the Christian in “tent” bodies (not that this idea by itself is unscriptural), with an allusion to the not yet in the already.  Johnson claims that Genesis 28:10-19, Jacob’s dream, with the ladder of angels ascending and descending, is the OT precursor to the above (Johnson takes this out of context to ‘prove’ his point, not surprisingly).  He continues in this vein for a while, then discusses Jesus, after first quoting John 1:14 – And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth:27

Dwelt in this verse means “to tabernacle.”  Jesus tabernacled among us – He was the House of God made flesh – the place where God lived.  He was the initial fulfillment of the prophetic picture in Genesis 28…28

There is a New Testament reference to Genesis 28:12 as Jesus being the one whom angels had ascended and descended upon in John 1:51, thus identifying Jesus as the one, unique Redeemer.

The fulfillment of the House of God began with Jesus.  He was the House of God on earth.  But this concept did not stop with Him – far from it…your conversion was not God’s ultimate intent for you.  It was His initial intent that set you up for the ultimate fulfillment, which is that you be filled with His fullness, living the normal Christian lifestyle as defined by what takes place in heaven29

For Johnson, “living the normal Christian life” means doing supernatural works in virtue of the anointing.  And, of course, this is what he means by Jesus being the “House of God made flesh”.30  Overlooking the fact that, from an orthodox Christian perspective, we cannot equate Christians as a “House of God” (via the indwelt Holy Spirit) to Jesus as the “House of God” (as He is the unique Word made flesh, with His divine nature in hypostatic union with His human), is this a veiled version of manifest sons of God (MSoG) doctrine?  I think so.

To assist in fully comprehending the unorthodox doctrine of MSoG, here’s occultist and New Ager Alice A. Bailey, as MSoG has a direct parallel with occult doctrine (the occult uses this very name).  The second quote provides the key to understanding Bill Johnson’s “eternally God” statements in conjunction with his temporally non-divine Jesus.  “Master” in the third selection is another name for a fully manifested son of God:

He [Christ] thereby liberated us 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.31 

…We are also preparing for expansions of consciousness which will enable us to live in two realms at once – the life which must be lived on earth and the life which we can live in the kingdom of God [ED: kingdom of God = eternal realm]…32 

If he chooses to take a physical vehicle [ED: body]… the Master will ‘function from the above to the below’ and not (as is the case today with all disciples, though naturally not with the Masters) on ‘the below towards the above’…33

The first Bailey quote is similar to the Britton passage (“redeemed from the sense realm”), while portions of this first quote align with the “eternally God” yet temporally non-divine Jesus in some of the above Johnson quotes (Bailey’s “being in the world and yet not of the world…while walking on earth”).  However, it’s the second one that quite adequately explains Bill Johnson’s “eternally God” with a non-divine earthly Jesus, while also being congruent with the Britton quote.  And here’s a Facebook comment of Bill Johnson from May 12, 2012, which sounds similar to the third Bailey quote, and two more quotes from other Johnson works, which read like a bit of all three:

The most consistent way to display the kingdom of God is through the renewed mind. It is much more than thinking right thoughts. It is how we think – from what perspective. Done correctly, we “reason” from heaven toward earth. [Bill Johnson, Facebook, May 12, 2012; emphasis added]               

…He wants you to see reality from God’s perspective, to learn to live from His world toward the visible world34 

…That which is unseen can be realized only through repentance [ED: contemplative prayer, aka “experiencing His presence”].  It was as though He said, ‘If you don’t change the way you perceive things, you’ll live your whole life thinking what you see in the natural is the superior reality35

However, for more explicit MSoG teaching we have the following, in which Johnson claims that the glorified Jesus Christ of Revelation 1:14-15 is the model for which the believer is to aim while here on earth.36  Note how he takes 1 John 4:17 out of context (as He is, so are we in the world) – just as Alice Bailey does in her works to promote MSoG:37

…[W]hy didn’t the Father send Him [Holy Spirit] until Jesus was glorified?  Because without Jesus in His glorified state there was no heavenly model of what we were to become! As a sculptor looks at a model and fashions the clay into its likeness, so the Holy Spirit looks to the glorified Son and shapes us into His image. As He is, so are we in the world.38

To summarize this section: Keeping in mind Johnson’s teaching on the anointing, which indicates a temporally, earthly non-divine Jesus, who is only ‘linked’ to the divine via the anointing, we can systematize this doctrine with Johnson’s other statements that Jesus Christ is “eternally God” by understanding Jesus living in two different realms, the temporal and the eternal, simultaneously.  That is, there is a temporally non-divine Jesus concurrent with an eternally divine Jesus.  This is not unlike Manifest Sons of God doctrine, and Johnson looks to be explicating a somewhat veiled MSoG at some times, while teaching it more explicitly at others.

Overcoming Some Objections

Before concluding, there other statements of Bill Johnson that are less strongly asserting divested divinity (notwithstanding Johnson’s prevalent teaching on the anointing), while seemingly more strongly implying that the Word retained His divine attributes, yet chose not to exercise them.  Following are two.  We will focus on the bolded portions:

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

…Everything He did in His life and ministry He did as man who, though He was fully God, had set aside the privileges of His divinity in order to show us a model of the kind of life He would make available to each of us through His death, resurrection, and ascension…39

The first of these is not too dissimilar from the quotes in the very first part of this article; however, the “self imposed restriction” part can be read such that Jesus had continually restricted Himself from utilizing the divine attributes He retained, throughout His earthly ministry.   But, on the other hand, this can also be read that the Word’s limitation came just before the Incarnation in the form of a divestment, or partial divestment, of His divine attributes – or at least those divine attributes providing supernatural power – resulting in this “restriction”.

One unanswered question (at least explicitly unanswered) is just what the term divinity means.  From the above, it’s clear that possessing divinity entails an ability to perform the supernatural, since when it is “emptied” or “laid aside” the result is a complete inability to act supernaturally.  This implies no longer possessing the means by which to perform supernatural acts, rather than a continual, conscious self-limitation.  For, if Johnson means that the Word continued to possess supernatural powers, yet consciously chose not to use these powers, instead relying on the Holy Spirit, then words such as “no ability,” “couldn’t,” and “NO supernatural capabilities” would not be used.  Moreover, when “Jesus, the man” is ‘linked’ “to the divine40, i.e. the anointing, Jesus has supernatural capabilities via this linking “to the divine”.  Therefore, divine, is another form of divinity, both entailing the ability to perform the supernatural.

Also, we can construe that divinity and deity are interchangeable, as the term deity was part of the question posed to Johnson in the above tweet, and the term divinity is used in Johnson’s other quotes in a similar manner.  So, in Johnson’s dictionary, to empty of divinity does not result in ceasing to exist.  So, to recap, to empty or lay aside divinity/deity entails a continued existence but at the expense of any and all supernatural capabilities, in Johnson’s theology.

In the second quote above, if we take the bolded section just as it is (and the quote in isolation from all other Johnson material), we could understand this to be stating that the Word retained all divine attributes when He became flesh, yet refrained from using His divine “privileges”, i.e., supernatural powers.  But, on the other hand, this can be understood such that He was formerly God, that is, prior to becoming man, He was fully God; however, upon becoming a man He was no longer God having – to use one of the earlier quotes – “emptied Himself of divinity” when He entered the temporal realm.  Alternatively, we can interpret this statement such that “He was fully God” means He was “eternally God” (fully God) concurrent with the time He was temporally non-divine “as a man”.  The latter understanding is congruent with our analysis of the rest of Bill Johnson’s statements.

In each of the above quotes, it must be conceded that to apply the understanding that the Word retained possession of His divine attributes during the Incarnation is directly opposed to Johnson’s teaching on the anointing, which clearly reveals a non-divine earthly Jesus.  Therefore, to accept the interpretation that Johnson is stating that the Word retained all His divine attributes yet chose not to exercise them during His earthly ministry (while ignoring the “emptied Himself of divinity” statements) renders Johnson’s Christology totally incoherent, self-contradictory.

One other objection noted is based on a passage in When Heaven Invades Earth, which appears to affirm that Jesus was indeed Christ/Messiah at the virgin birth:

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…’41

Besides the fact that Johnson above, in His Christ = the anointing teaching, illustrates that anyone who receives the anointing is an “Anointed One” or “Messiah”, the above passage does not necessarily affirm that Jesus is the Messiah/Christ at the virgin birth.  The interpretive key is the remainder of the 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.42

Do we imagine that the archangel Gabriel was 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 in John 10:37 Jesus is pointing out that they should believe He is the Son of God by virtue of the works/miracles He performs.  Jesus’ point is that, though they do not believe He is Who He claims to be, they should believe by the miracles.  Johnson proof-texts this to remain consistent with the rest of his teachings that Jesus was not really the Christ/Messiah until His Baptism after which, of course, He performed the miraculous works having been ‘enabled’ by the anointing mentioned earlier in this same book.

So, it would seem the above paragraph can be perfectly harmonized with the rest of Johnson’s teachings.  To state another way: With Johnson’s assertion that “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit”,43  in its original context (see above), he makes it apparent that baptism is the point at which Jesus receives the title/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 an “Anointed One” – for anyone receiving the Christ anointing is an anointed one.  Moreover, Johnson’s quote is not necessarily proclaiming Jesus’ divinity (“the angels gave witness to His divinity”) since he asserted that it was the anointing that linked “Jesus, the man, to the divine.”44  Jesus’ divinity was only by virtue of the yet future anointing.

But what about the specific language in the first part of the paragraph above, especially the use of Luke 2:11, that states, in effect, that the Messiah had come at that time, at the virgin birth?  To answer this, I’ll quote New Ager/occultist Levi Dowling:

…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 Christ45

If one has this in mind, one could use Luke 2:11 – “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” [NIV 1984] – to mean that Jesus is the future Christ and NOT that Jesus was born as the Christ.  This would be similar to stating, “President Lincoln was born On February 12, 1809.” Certainly, Lincoln wasn’t born President, for he was elected to the office of the President later.

Once again, if one does not accept the above explanation, then one is left with self-contradictory teaching.  However, I submit that Johnson’s penchant for redefining terms and concepts, as well as his overt duplicity in doing so at times (whether he borrowed any of this from someone else or not matters little), indicates he could be deceptive in other areas (as he has been in the account of the Roberts Liardon library acquisition); that is, Johnson could throw in the odd orthodox statement now and again in order to purposefully confuse those who see his main teachings as unorthodox.

Concluding Remarks

As this article illustrates, by using Bill Johnson’s own words, he does in fact deny the full deity/divinity of Jesus Christ while He was on earth in his teaching on the anointing.  This is not a “hurtful rumor”, as he states in his tweet; it’s an established fact as evidenced by Bill Johnson’s own clear (and sometimes unclear) teachings.  Is this being uncharitable towards Bill Johnson?  Scripture does not indicate we should be charitable toward false teachers:

17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18, NKJV)

It is Bill Johnson who is causing division with his teachings that run contrary to orthodox Christianity.  Having identified this, we are to avoid him.  The Apostle Paul states quite clearly, “such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ”.  Anyone who consistently denies the divinity of Jesus Christ in any form or fashion, as Johnson clearly does in his Christology, is an enemy of the Cross of Christ and an enemy of the Christian faith.

1 Bill Johnson “Healing and the Kingdom” in Bill Johnson, Randy Clark. The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick, © 2011 by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark, Chosen Books (a division of Baker Publishing Group), Bloomington, MN, p 125.  Emphasis added.  Each chapter is authored by either Bill Johnson or Randy Clark.
2 Bill Johnson “Healing and the Authority of the Believer” in Johnson, Clark Essential Guide to Healing, pp 132-133.  Emphasis added.
3 Bill Johnson Face to Face with God: The Ultimate Quest to Experience His Presence. 2007; Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL, p 77.  Underscore added.
4 Johnson Face to Face, pp 21-22, 58, 77-82, 100-102
5 Bill Johnson When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA, p 80; Johnson Face to Face, p 22
6 Johnson, Face to Face, pp 21-22
7 Johnson, Face to Face, pp 79, 109
8 Johnson, Face to Face, pp 21-22. Bold added.
9 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79
10 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79.  Emphasis added.
11 Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology, 1994, Inter-Varsity, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 233-38, 543-554, 624-33; Louis Berkhof Systematic Theology, 1941, 4th revised and enlarged ed, 1991, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 91-5, 312-13, 356-66
12 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79.  Emphasis added.
13 Johnson, Face to Face, p 109. Italics in original; bold added.
14 Johnson, Face to Face, p 77.  Bold added.
15 Levi Dowling The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ: The Philosophic and Practical Basis of the Religion of the Aquarian Age of the World, © 1907 Eva S. Dowling and Leo W. Dowling, © 1935 and © 1964 Leo W. Dowling, (11th printing, 1987), DeVorss, Marina del Rey, CA, p 6. Italics in original; bold added.
16 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79.  Emphasis added.
17 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 79.  Italics in original.
18 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 80.  Bold added.
19 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 81
20 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 29
21 Bill Johnson The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind: Access to a Life of Miracles, 2005, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA, p 50. Bold added.
22 Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology, 1948, 1976 Dallas Theological Seminary (1993), Kregel, Grand Rapids, MI, Vol. VII, pp 141-42.  Emphasis added.
23 Bill Johnson Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning Your World through God’s Creative Flow, 2006, Destiny Image: “Speaking to the Purposes of God for This Generation and for the Generations to Come”, Shippensburg, PA, pp 64-65.  Italics in original; bold added for emphasis.
24 This clause will be the subject of a future article here on CrossWise.
25 Bill Britton From Tent to Temple, nd, Bill Britton (no publisher listed), Springfield, MO, pp 15-16.  All as per original except bold, which is added for emphasis.
26 Johnson Supernatural Power, pp 53-54.  Bold added.
27 Johnson Supernatural Power, pp 54-57
28 Johnson Supernatural Power, p 57. Italics in original.
29 Johnson Supernatural Power, p 57.  Bold added.
30 I’ve argued elsewhere that Bill Johnson is teaching that Jesus is really the Word of Faith (WoF) “rhema” word ‘made flesh’, aka the “present truth” word made flesh, in the following: < https://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/open-challenge-to-fans-and-critics-of-bill-johnsonbethel-church/ >.  This is also is consistent with the Gnostic/New Age doctrine of divine spark or divine seed within each person waiting to be awakened.
31 Alice A. Bailey From Bethlehem to Calvary: The Initiations of Jesus, © 1937 by Alice A. Bailey, renewed 1957 by Foster Bailey, Lucis Trust, 4th paperback ed., 1989, Fort Orange Press, Albany, NY, p 187.  Emphasis added.
32 Bailey Bethlehem to Calvary, p 51.   Emphasis added.
33 Alice A. Bailey The Rays and the Initiations. 1960 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1976, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; p 699. Emphasis added.
34 Johnson Supernatural Power, p 45.  Italics in original; bold added.
35 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 38.  Italics in original; bold added.
36 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 145
37  Alice A. Bailey The Reappearance of the Christ, 1948, Lucis Trust, 9th printing 1979 (4th Paperback ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY, p 145; Bailey Bethlehem to Calvary, p 110.
38 Johnson Heaven Invades, p 145.  Italics in original; bold added.
39 Johnson, Face to Face, p 23
40 Johnson, Heaven Invades, p 79
41 Johnson, Heaven Invades p 97
42 Johnson, Heaven Invades p 97.  Italics in original.
43 Johnson, Heaven Invades p 79
44 Johnson, Heaven Invades p 79
45 Dowling, Aquarian Gospel, p 8.  Emphasis added.

Round the Mulberry Bush with Bill Johnson

Here we go round the mulberry bush,
the mulberry bush,
the mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
so early in the morning.

Yesterday evening a storm came through knocking out electrical power in the immediate area from just after 5pm until about 1:15 this morning.  No air conditioning.  No computer.  With the growing stuffiness, I had opened some windows to get some air flowing and therefore was rudely awakened by the sound of the condensing unit kicking on which is just outside my bedroom.  But, hey, at least I had air conditioning!  So, I closed all the windows and decided to check emails.  There was one showing a new Facebook quote of Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  Just a bit later, another individual sent the same quote plus one other.

“Here we go again,” I said to myself.  “Maybe I’m still half asleep and this is merely a dream,” I hoped.  But, alas, these emails were still in my inbox when I got up just after dawn.  Here are the two statements:

If Jesus Christ performed His earthly miracles as God, I stand amazed. But if He did them as a man dependent on God, I am compelled to follow His lead. [Bill Johnson, Facebook, August 11, 2012]

Jesus is God, eternally God, and never stopped being God. But He was also man, completely man. In His earthly life He lived from His humanity to illustrate dependence on the Father in a way that could be emulated. Jesus said, “the Son of man can do nothing of Himself . . .” illustrating His dependence. His limitations were in His humanity, not His divinity. Understanding the difference can help us to successfully live the life He gave for us to live. [Bill Johnson, Facebook, August 11, 2012]

The first one is merely a reiteration of other similar statements Johnson has made to promote what I call his “Annie Get Your Gun” doctrine – ‘anything Jesus can do I can do better’ – based upon a faulty interpretation of the “greater things” in John 14:12.  This fallacy of Johnson (and other hyper-charismatics) has been covered in a previous article.

The second quote is a bit thornier.  It looks almost orthodox.  One could construe this as functional(ist) kenosis, i.e. that the divine Logos retained all divine attributes when He took on flesh at the virginal conception [this term is more accurate than “virgin birth”] yet He elected not to use any of His divine attributes during His earthly ministry, instead relying solely upon the Holy Spirit for all supernatural workings.  This view does not hold up under Biblical scrutiny, however (cf. John 2:11; John 5:21-22, 24-27; Mark 4:35-41, etc.).  [This will be covered in-depth in an article currently in the works.]

Note that Johnson uses “Son of man” in his partial quote of John 5:19, yet in this passage Jesus uses “Son” only.  It seems Johnson makes the common mistake of ascribing “ the Son of man” to Jesus to denote His humanity at the expense of His divinity.  He does this same thing in the following passage from one of his books:

Most all of the experiences of Jesus recorded in Scripture were prophetic examples of the realms in God that are made available to the believer. The Mount of Transfiguration raised the bar significantly on potential human experience…The overwhelming lesson in this story is that Jesus Christ, the Son of man, had the glory of God upon Him. Jesus’s face shone with God’s glory, similar to Moses’s after he came down from the mountain… [Face to Face with God 2007, Charisma House, Lake Mary, FL; p 200.  Emphasis in original.]

Notice how Johnson states that the “Son of man had the glory of God upon Him.”  Let’s be clear: Jesus Christ was/is God.  When the Word/Logos took on flesh at the virginal conception, He remained a divine ‘person’; He remained a part of the Trinity.  Jesus Christ is one divine person consisting in two natures – one divine and one human.   “Son of man” was Jesus’ favorite self-designation; but, He also called Himself “Son of God”.  Both titles refer to the one divine person of Jesus Christ.  “Son of man” was used in the Book of Daniel as a Messianic, prophetic passage – to refer to the coming Messiah (Daniel 7:11-14).  By the context, clearly this “Son of man” would be divine.

I’ve already pointed out the problems in Johnson’s assertion that Jesus had the glory of God upon Him at the Transfiguration [see “Transfiguration” section here]; however, they bear repeating.  During His earthly ministry Jesus was, as already noted, a fully divine person; therefore, it was His inherent glory which the Apostles glimpsed at the Transfiguration.  This was nothing like Moses’ experience on Mount Sinai, and we believers will not experience our own Transfiguration like Jesus.  This illustrates just how far Johnson wishes to go with his “greater works” theology.  To make this doctrine work, he must reduce Jesus to the level of a Spirit-filled man and simultaneously exalt man to the status of Jesus as exemplified in the NT.

But, what does John 5:19 actually say?  As with any text, one must place it within its proper context.  Here are the verses preceding:

16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

Jesus’ Equality with God

18 For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. [NASB]

“These things” in verse 16 refers to verses 1-15 including Jesus’: healing of the paralytic (v 8) and instructing the now healed man to “pick up his mat and walk” (vv 8, 11-15) – all on the Sabbath.  With Jesus’ statement that He is working as His Father is working (v 17), the Jews understood that Jesus was equating Himself with the Father.  This confounded their strict monotheistic viewpoint; therefore, they deemed this blasphemy wanting to kill Jesus as a result.

So, what does Jesus do in verse 19?  According to Johnson in the Facebook quote above, Jesus, in effect, backs down and states that He can do nothing at all without the Father’s help as He was “illustrating His dependence”, as if He was wholly incapable of doing anything apart from divine intervention from the Father or the Spirit, or choosing not to use His own divine capabilities.  Yet, of course, this does not fit the context.  Note how the NASB begins a new subsection title with verse 18 – “Jesus’ Equality with God”.

In proper context, Jesus, in verse 19 and following, is affirming the Jews’ assertion that He is “equal with God” since Jesus, the Son, is part of the Trinitarian Godhead with the Father.  Jesus claims He can actually “see” the Father (vv 19-20); therefore, His dependence here is as opposed to acting independently from the Father.  Jesus does not just ‘do His own thing’, as it were; He acts of His own divine power as He emulates His Father, following what He “sees”, in obedience. Contrary to Johnson, He is not reliant on the Father or Spirit – as in not having the ability in and of Himself or choosing not to use this ability– as the rest of the context makes clear:

19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. 21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. 22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

25 Truly, truly, I say to you, an 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 just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. [NASB; emphasis added]

So, in continuing with this pericope, we see Jesus “gives life to whom He wishes” just like the Father (v 21); and, moreover, all judgment is left to the Son (v 22, 24-27).  This clearly illustrates Jesus used His inherent divine power as He was granting eternal life in the then present (v 24-25) indicating inaugurated eschatology, i.e. the Kingdom of God had already begun [cf. Craig S. Keener. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One 2003, 1st Softcover Ed, 2010, Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; pp 650-652].

Marianne Meye Thompson does an excellent job describing the way in which Jesus receives “life” from the Father comparing this to Jesus’ “giving life” to believers and the way in which believers receive “life”:

…Unless Jesus’ life were granted to him from the Father, he would have no life; unless he came from the “living Father,” he would be unable to confer life.  The two assertions of this verse [v 21] offer analogous, although not parallel, affirmations about the way in which Jesus and the believer receive life.  Just as the Father has life and gives life to the Son, so the Son has life and gives life to those who have faith.  Jesus lives because of the Father’s determination that he should have life in himself (cf. 5:21, 24-27), even as believers live because of Jesus’ determination that they should have life.  There is a difference, however, for believers always have a mediated life, never “life in themselves.”  They cannot pass on their ‘life’ to others; they have no offspring or heirs.  If others live, it is because they receive the Father’s life through the Son.  Furthermore, although those who believe are said to become “children of God” who are “born of God” (John 1:12-13) or born “from above” by the power of the Spirit of God, the terminological distinction between them as children who are born of God and Jesus as the Son who comes from God remains. [Marianne Meye Thompson The God of the Gospel of John  2001, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI / Cambridge, UK; pp 79-80.  Emphasis in original.]

Jesus did not “give life” by the Holy Spirit and neither can we.  To paraphrase Thompson, Jesus “gives life to whom He wishes” by the divine authority conferred upon Him by the Father; yet, it is of His own inherent divine power that Jesus confers eternal life to those individuals who have faith.

Craig Blomberg notes that there are two things Jews recognize that God continues to do on the Sabbath, namely, giving life (birth) and passing judgment (death) [The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel: Issues & Commentary 2001, InterVarsity, Downers Grove, IL; pp 112-114].  Jesus illustrates that He Himself does these very things so that the Jews may understand He is further equating Himself with God (vv 21-22 & 24-25; cf. John 9:39-41).  This indicates quite clearly that Jesus did not live his earthly life merely and solely “from His humanity” as Bill Johnson states above implying this is to the exclusion of utilizing His inherent divine attributes.

Note also that Jesus uses both Son of God (v 25) and Son of Man (v 27) for Himself (speaking in the third person) in this particular pericope.1  This illustrates that Jesus used these self-designations almost, if not wholly, interchangeably.2  Both refer to God in the flesh, i.e. the Person of Christ, including both His divine and human natures.

Here’s the bottom line.  Even if Bill Johnson comes out with an unambiguously orthodox Christological statement, this would not undo the unclear, contradictory, and flat-out false statements he’s made with respect to Christology.   There are many unclear statements such as the following which could be construed as either functional(ist) kenosis or ontological kenosis (the Logos divested Himself of certain or all divine attributes during His earthly ministry), in and of itself:

…Jesus set aside His divinity, choosing instead to live as a man completely dependent on God. [Face to Face; p 108]

This one below reads like ontological kenosis and perhaps even metamorphosis (the Word literally transformed Himself fully into a man devoid of all divine attributes during His earthly ministry).  While some have tried to read functional(ist) kenosis into this, such a reading is forced.  Johnson’s claim of Jesus being eternally God either contradicts the first part of the quote; or, Johnson construes eternity as wholly separate from temporal time and thus envisions an eternally divine Jesus apart from an earthly non-divine Jesus:

Jesus emptied Himself of divinity and became man (see Philippians 2:7). While He is eternally God, He chose to live within the restrictions of a man who had no sin and was empowered by the Holy Spirit. In doing this, He provided a compelling model for us to follow. [Bill Johnson & Randy Clark. The Essential Guide to Healing: Equipping All Christians to Pray for the Sick © 2011 by Bill Johnson and Randy Clark, Chosen Books (a division of Baker Publishing Group), Bloomington, MN; p 125. Emphasis added.]

And here’s one that is flat-out false.  An essential aspect of a divine Being is the possession of supernatural capabilities:

…He had NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever! [When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles 2002, Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 29]

Unless and until Bill Johnson both comes out with an unambiguous, orthodox statement and corrects all his other unorthodox statements I remain unconvinced that he actually intends on promoting orthodox Christology.  This would be a monumental task, for sure; however, “with God all things are possible” [Matthew 19:26].

[See also The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit and the series Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ?.]

1 I note that my NIV 1984 omits “of man” in v 27 (NASB capitalizes the “M”); however updated NIV translations (that I checked) contain it.  I’m assuming it was an error as it is in the original Greek.
2 Yet, there may be a very nuanced difference; see Herman Ridderbos The Gospel of John: A Theological Commentary 1997, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 200-201, 92-93.

Bill Johnson’s Christology: A New Age Christ?, part IV (Conclusion)

[See also: Part I, The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, Part II, Part IIIa, and Part IIIb.]

One of the most persistent themes in early Christian accounts of heresy is that it smuggles rival accounts of reality into the household of faith.  It is a Trojan horse, a means of establishing (whether by accident or design) an alternative belief system within its host.  Heresy appears to be Christian, yet it is actually an enemy of the faith that sows the seed of faith’s destruction.*  It could be compared to a virus, which establishes its presence within the host, ultimately using its host’s replication system to achieve dominance.  Yet whatever the ultimate origins of heresy might be, the threat comes from within the community of faith.

– Alister McGrath188

 As McGrath points out, there is a long tradition of heresy distorting Truth, whether wittingly or unwittingly, to the destruction of the faith.  The asterisk above denotes a footnote reference in the original text of a Thomas Aquinas quote from Summa Theologiae: “[H]eresy is a species of unbelief, belonging to those who profess the Christian faith, but corrupt its dogmas.”189  The Trojan horse/virus analogy is an apt description of the way in which heresy is spread.  As the dark intentions of Djwhal Khul, Alice Bailey’s demon, makes clear, “The Christian church in its many branches can serve…as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished.”190  This is effected by “preserving the outer appearance in order to reach the many who are accustomed to church usages”.191

Jesus is Our Model

Jesus Christ died for our sins.  He is also a model for us.  His sacrificial life provides an example of how we are to live:

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had:

6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. [Philippians 2:3-7, TNIV]

We are to serve others in humility not thinking ourselves more important keeping in mind Christ’s example as He, though fully God, condescended to take the form of man (without diminishing His deity) with all its inherent limitations, except for the sin nature, in order to redeem man.

18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.

21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. [1 Peter 2:18-25, NASB]

We are to submit to authority even to the point of enduring unfair treatment, as Jesus had.  We must “die to sin” by yielding to the indwelling Holy Spirit rather than our inherent sinful nature [Romans 8:1-17] which never takes leave this side of glory.  Those who remain in Christ will bear much fruit [John 15:1-17] evidenced by good works [James 2:14-26].

In contrast, the Theosophical/New Age/New Spirituality writings of Alice Bailey also cite Jesus as an example to follow, but, of course, not in the same way as orthodox Christianity.  As noted in Part IIIa, in occult literature man has two natures: one human and one latent divine nature (divine spark/seed), the latter needing to be awakened.  Once activated, the divine nature (the “ego”, or “higher self”) is to be actualized while the human nature (the “lower self”) is simultaneously diminished.  This process is also known as “dying to self”.  One ‘dies to self’ through much self-effort such that the divine spark/seed grows eventually overtaking the lower human nature (aka the “not self”) so as to fully actualize inherent divinity, to become ‘gods’.  This is a works-based system accomplished in part by asceticism and service.192  This is the polar opposite of Christianity.

The New Age / New Spirituality Jesus’ life both symbolically and actually represents “The Path” of the aspirant signified by five markers, or initiations, as identified in Alice Bailey’s From Bethlehem to Calvary: the Initiations of Jesus.193  Recall also that these five initiations do not have to be achieved in one lifetime as they are cumulative carrying over from past incarnations, just as they had for the Theosophical Jesus of Nazareth.  Following are the signposts:

1)     Birth at Bethlehem – a/k/a virgin birth, or new birth.  “The birth of Christ in the cave of the human heart.194 Recognizing the “Christ in you, the hope of glory” – your inherent but latent divinity (duality).195  The divine spark/seed is activated.  “Freedom from the control of the physical body and its appetites.”196

2)     Baptism in Jordan – Water baptism “purifies the emotional nature” which precedes the “purification of the mind by fire,”197 or the “baptism of spirit and fire” / “baptism of the Holy Spirit,” thus providing the ability to consciously reject all evil.198What therefore lies ahead for the initiate who has entered the purificatory water, or rather fire?”199  This is the point at which Jesus of Nazareth became “the Christ”200 having received this title and name at Baptism.201

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.”202 Full-grown man working towards manifested son of God.203 Receives “terrific voltage” of Kundalini.204  “[T]he mind…begins its true task as an interpreter of divine truth…205 (i.e., new revelations, reinterpretations {usually allegorical} of Scripture).  “Third eye” is opened.206

4)     Crucifixion on Mount Golgotha – “The Great Renunciation.”207 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.208  Sin becomes impossible.209  Moving towards attainment of full ‘group consciousness.’210  At the final stage of this initiation, post-‘Great Renunciation’, one dispenses with the fleshly body and attains resurrection body thereby becoming free from death:211 “and the causal body, the soul body is relinquished and disappears.”212 “[Christ] thereby liberated us 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.”213

5)     Resurrection and Ascension – “The cave of the tomb into the fullness of the resurrection life.”214 Attainment to full status of ascended Master in which the individual can move between and live in the physical and/or the astral realms.215If he chooses to take a physical vehicle (as many will when the Christ reappears and the Hierarchy is externalised on Earth), the Master will ‘function from the above to the below’ and not (as is the case today with all disciples, though naturally not with the Masters) on ‘the below towards the above.’…They will therefore need no centres on the etheric levels of our planetary physical plane.”216

This is “The Path” open to all regardless of religious affiliation.217  Bailey summarizes the five steps above:

The babe in Christ, the little child, the full-grown man, the perfected man!  Through the Bethlehem experience the babe is born.  The little child grows to maturity and manifests his purity and power at the Baptism.  He demonstrates at the Transfiguration as the full-grown man, and, on the Cross, he stands forth the perfected Son of God.  An initiation is that moment in which a man feels and knows through every part of his being that life is reality and reality is life.  For a brief moment his consciousness becomes all-enfolding; he not only sees the vision and hears the word of recognition, but knows that the vision is of himself, and that the word is himself made flesh.218

Recall Bill Johnson’s statement about ‘the word becoming flesh in us again’ in part IIIb:

…It’s the Spirit of God that makes this thing [the Bible] come alive to where we actually have the privilege of the Word becoming flesh in us again, where we become the living illustration and manifestation of what God is saying.219

As Johnson states quite often, Jesus is our model – even to the point that we become the ‘Word made flesh’.  Is Johnson using the New Age / New Spirituality Jesus as his model?  Let’s compare some of his doctrine to the five initiations above.

New Birth

Bill Johnson says little about initial conversion, yet each time he does, there always seems to be more attached to it.  For example, he’s made it clear that “an authentic gospel” is “the gospel of the Kingdom220 which means one in which it is accompanied by signs and wonders in order to supposedly take dominion back from Satan (Dominionism) – in distinction from merely preaching the plain ol’ Gospel.  However, he rarely, if ever, actually explicitly states the Gospel message.  Johnson’s ‘gospel’ always includes miracles221 as if any gospel preached which doesn’t include a manifestation of miracles is not authentic:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of power and must become manifest through supernatural demonstration.  Miracles aren’t optional.222

Does this mean those individuals whose conversion experiences were without signs, wonders and miracles in evidence are not true Christians?

As noted in part IIIb, Johnson refers to the “seed of God’s Word, the sperma of God,” which is “released into the seed,” within the individual, “through His Word,” which is deposited “into the soil” of the individual (the ‘soil’ containing the individual’s ‘seed’).  He claims this is the proper exposition of Matthew 13:18-23.  However, this seems more in line with Bailey’s ‘new birth’ in which the divine spark/seed is activated thereby marking this ‘new birth’.

In addition, the “spiritual DNA” concept, which resembles the “sperma of God” schema, is correlated to the ‘new birth’ or being born again as evidenced by the following Bill Johnson statements:

When the Spirit of the resurrected Christ took up residence in our bodies, all of heaven positioned itself to see what we would conquer in His name. Resurrection power is in our nature, in our spiritual DNA.  When we were born again, we received the same spiritual DNA as Jesus.  His resurrection power now is to dwell in us through the Holy Spirit…223

Every born-again believer has the DNA of Christ.224

Progressive Repentance

In Johnson’s book When Heaven Invades Earth is a chapter titled “Repent to See” with the ‘seeing’ referring to the Kingdom: “Most Christians repent enough to get forgiven, but not enough to see the Kingdom.225  Progressive repentance?  Is this a form of Gnosticism (recall that Gnosticism is inherent in Theosophy / New Age) – the quest for secret knowledge, new revelation, via mysticism in order to advance one’s spiritual walk?

This subject has been covered in-depth in a previous CrossWise article illustrating the strong possibility that Johnson’s use of the term repentance is of the likes of Unity, Christian Science and New Thought which were all influenced by Theosophy.  This alternative definition is used by New Ager / Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault who goes back to the Greek metanoia claiming, “[t]he word literally breaks down into meta and noia, which…means ‘go beyond the mind’ or ‘go into the larger mind.’”226  One goes ‘beyond the mind’ and ‘into the larger mind’ through meditation a/k/a contemplative prayer a/k/a ‘soaking’.

Johnson has distorted Jesus’ words to Nicodemus (John 3:3) to mean that in becoming ‘born again’ one will, with the benefit of additional training, attain the ability to literally see the Kingdom in the here and now:

Through Christ, God has made it possible for every person to see the kingdom. Our conversion experience gives us access to that realm, as Jesus explained to Nicodemus, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ (John 3:3, NKJV). However, it is our responsibility to develop this capacity, to train our senses to perceive God through renewing our minds and feeding the affections of our hearts on the truth227

In the John 3 passage, Jesus is making the statement that no one will see the eschatological Kingdom unless one is ‘born again’.  Jesus is not saying we will literally ‘see’ the Kingdom upon conversion (not initially, but after enough ‘repentance’).  Yet, this is a persistent theme of Bill Johnson:

If the Kingdom is here and now, then we must acknowledge it’s in the invisible realm.  Yet being at hand reminds us that it’s also within reach…That which is unseen can be realized only through repentance.  It was as though He said, “If you don’t change the way you perceive things, you’ll live your whole life thinking that what you see in the natural is the superior reality.  Without changing the way you think you’ll never see the world that is right in front of you.  It’s my world, and it fulfills every dream you’ve ever had.  And I brought it with me.” All that He did in life and ministry, He did by drawing from that superior reality.228

The Kingdom does not gradually unfold before our eyes as we ‘renew our minds’ or through repentance (as defined by Johnson) as Johnson asserts by essentially putting words in Jesus’ mouth.  The Kingdom will only come at the eschaton, the end of all things, when Jesus Christ returns.  However, this concept of progression in general and of the ‘hidden’ Kingdom on earth in particular is part of Theosophy:

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 controlThe 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….229

Here’s Alice Bailey describing the purpose of initiations indicating a progressive ‘seeing’:

…[E]ach initiation enables the initiate to “see ahead” a little further, for revelation is always a constant factor in human experience.  The whole of life is revelation; the evolutionary process is, in relation to consciousness, a process of leading the blind out of darkened areas of consciousness into greater light, and therefore into vaster vision.230 

…It is a spiritual fact that those who have passed from the cave of the tomb into the fullness of the resurrection life can be seen, and at the same time evade the vision of the believer; seeing and recognition are two very different things…231

Baptism in the Holy Spirit

In addition, Bailey says at the second initiation, the baptism in the Holy Ghost and fire, the tri-part aspect of human personality (physical body, emotional nature, and the mind) is perfected bringing man “en rapport with the existing universe, and therefore with God, immanent in nature.”232

The physical body enables us to touch the tangible, visible world.  The emotional, feeling nature enables us to say, “I lift up my heart unto the Lord.”  Most people live in their heart nature and in the feeling body, and it is through the heart that we find our way to the Heart of God.  Only through love can Love be revealed.  When through right use and understanding the mind is definitely and properly oriented, it is brought en rapport with the Mind of God, the Universal Mind, the Purpose, the Plan and the Will of God.  Through the illumined mind of man, the Mind of Deity stands revealed.  Thus man is seen as “made in the image of God.”233

Is this what Johnson means by ‘repenting enough to see the Kingdom’?  Is the above what Johnson is referring to in the following?

…‘Re’ means to go back.  ‘Pent’ is like the penthouse, the top floor of the building.  Repent, then, means to go back to God’s perspective on reality. And in that perspective there is a renewal, a reformation that affects our emotions, and every part of our lives234

Bill Johnson claims that it’s only at the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Christ anointing), that Jesus obtained the ability to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ the Father and this same ‘anointing’ is available to every believer providing these same abilities:

This anointing [“Christ anointing” / “baptism in the Holy Spirit”] is what enabled Jesus to do only what He saw the Father do, and to say only what He heard the Father say. It was the Holy Spirit that revealed the Father to Jesus.235

It was the Holy Spirit upon Jesus [“baptism in the Holy Spirit” / “Christ anointing”]  that enabled Him to know what the Father was doing and saying.  That same gift of the Spirit has been given to us for that same purpose.236

This means, according to Johnson (and other hyper-charismatics) that those Christians who have not experienced the ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’ lack the ability to commune with the Father.  Yet the writer of Hebrews tell us that believers have the right to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-24) with no mention of a ‘second blessing’ being necessary for this privilege.

(See Part IIIa and Part I for more details on Johnson’s baptism in the Holy Spirit / Christ anointing.)

Transfiguration

So far we have Johnson claiming we are ‘the Word made flesh’ with the baptism in the Holy Spirit enabling Christians to both ‘see’ and ‘hear’ the Father.  In addition, we can ‘see’ the kingdom increasingly unfold in front of our eyes through ‘progressive repentance’.  Thus far, this appears to parallel the Theosophic model as put forth by Bailey above.  But Johnson goes further in the Theosophic ‘Jesus is our model’ theme:

Most all of the experiences of Jesus recorded in Scripture were prophetic examples of the realms in God that are made available to the believer.  The Mount of Transfiguration raised the bar significantly on potential human experience…The overwhelming lesson in this story is that Jesus Christ, the Son of man, had the glory of God upon Him.  Jesus’s face shone with God’s glory, similar to Moses’s after he came down from the mountain.  But Jesus’s clothing also radiated the glory of God, as if to say this was a new era as compared to Moses’s day. In this era the boundaries had changed – a veil could not be used to cover Jesus’s face as it shone with glory, as the veil itself would also soon radiate the same glory.  We influence and impart what God has given us to change the nature of whatever we touch…In the kingdom, things are different.   

…Through the Spirit of the resurrected Christ living in us we are designed to carry the same glory.  But we still must go up the mountain – to the place where we meet with God face to face.237

First, let’s get this straight.  At the Transfiguration it was Jesus’ inherent divine Glory that was radiated; it wasn’t God’s glory coming down upon Him like Moses on Mount Sinai.  As Grant Osborne explains, “Moses reflected the glory of God in his ‘radiance’ when he descended the mountain (Exod 34:29, 33-35), but here Jesus’ true preincarnate glory shines through his humanity.”238

Note how Johnson not only humanizes Jesus, but he raises man up to the Incarnate Christ’s (lowered) level in the last two sentences of the quote.  This is just like New Age / New Spirituality teachings.  Johnson is saying we can match the glory of Jesus, that our garments will radiate God’s glory as we ‘go up the mountain’, as we progress in the “kingdom”.

At Todd Bentley’s ‘commissioning’ ceremony at the “Lakeland Revival” on June 23, 2008, Bill Johnson spoke the following words over Bentley:

…We shape the course of history by partnering with you giving honor where it’s due.  You welcome the glory as well as anybody I’ve ever seen in my life – I long to learn from you in that and I bless you.  And, I pray with the rest of these that the measure of glory would increase, that Moses would no longer be considered the high water mark with the glory shown from his face but instead the revelation of the goodness of God would change the face of the Church.  And that he would use your voice, he would use your grace, your anointing, to alter the face of the Church before this world239

Wait, wasn’t Jesus’ example at the Transfiguration a progression from Moses and thereby the new high water mark?  Well, so much for theological consistency from Johnson.  (Please note the publishing of Johnson’s Face to Face with God, from which the above quote on the Transfiguration is found, predates the Bentley commissioning by at least 1.5 years.)

Crucifixion, the Great Renunciation

The Theosophical / New Age / New Spirituality “dying to self” culminates in the “Great Renunciation,” the cross.  In the Theosophical model, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection are very closely related with the latter usually immediately following the former.

Christ’s major task was the establishing of God’s kingdom upon earth.  He showed us the way in which humanity could enter that kingdom – by subjecting the lower nature to the death of the cross, and rising by the power of the indwelling Christ.240

Let’s compare the above words of Alice Bailey to those of Bill Johnson in a sermon from February 2011:

…How did you get into the Kingdom in the first place? The Cross. What does the Christian life look like? It is only as strong as our connection to how we got in. It is the Cross.  It never deviates from that.  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…My emphasis is on – the Christian life is not the Cross, the Christian life is the Resurrection; but, you can’t get there without the Cross…But the problem is, is the focus of the people of God – it can create an appetite for success.  Meaning, more books sold.  Or, ya know, you put it in your world; I have to try to filter this through the things that I face – that success has some sort of external measurement instead of that internal sense: ‘I have laid my life down for His honor, for His glory’. It’s the Cross; it’s the Cross.  My job is to die; HIS is to raise me. My job is to prefer others; HIS job is to exalt ME…241

Taking the first sentences in and of themselves, this can be understood as orthodox.  Yes, the Cross is the only way into the Christian life.   However, one may call this quibbling, but we are either ‘connected’ to the Cross by salvation through faith in Jesus Christ or we aren’t.  There aren’t degrees of ‘connectedness’.

As already pointed out in part I, Jesus did, in fact, raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19-22, 10:17-18) as it was the entire Trinity who raised Jesus: Father, Son and Spirit.  And, as pointed out in part IIIa, Johnson’s phraseology on this reads like New Ager Benjamin Crème’s.

Yet, it’s the portion in the middle and following which is of interest here: “the Christian life is not the Cross, the Christian life is the Resurrection; but, you can’t get there without the Cross.”  From an orthodox perspective, we cannot reach the future resurrection of the saints (1 Corinthians 15:50-54) unless we’ve accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross by grace through faith and nothing else – no works.  But Johnson states that ‘the Christian life IS the Resurrection’ as if that is for the here and now.  By Johnson’s full context, it makes more sense when viewed with a Theosophical / New Age lens.  He seems to be comparing Jesus being raised ‘by the Father through the Spirit’ with himself, “My job is to die; HIS is to raise me.”  So, presumably, like Jesus, Johnson is to be raised ‘by the Father through the Spirit’ by ‘dying to self’ as per Theosophy – in virtue of works through self-effort.

According to Bailey, it is after this initiation that “the initiate now works from above downwards”.242  Compare this to Johnson’s words in the following: “He wants you to see reality from God’s perspective, to learn to live from His world toward the visible world.”243  On his Facebook page, Johnson recently stated something similar:

The most consistent way to display the kingdom of God is through the renewed mind. It is much more than thinking right thoughts. It is how we think – from what perspective. Done correctly, we “reason” from heaven toward earth.244

One other goal the New Age / New Spirituality aspirant seeks relative to this particular initiation is the attainment of full ‘group consciousness’.  This is gradually developed as one progresses on “The Path”; however, it’s full manifestation comes at the “Great Renunciation”.  In the following, Johnson speaks about a “corporate anointing” which seems akin to the Theosophical / New Age “corporate Christ” concept [This was covered more completely in a previous article.]:

…Here’s what I’m believing for – I know it’s never happened; but, I know that it must before the end.  There must be, not just individuals – I’m thankful we have individuals that are rising up with such anointing, such strength, we have people scattered all over the planet right now that are just making a mess of things in all the right ways.  We are so encouraged.  But, what I’m believing for is a generation – a generation that’ll rise up with a corporate faith, a corporate anointing to press into realms because it’s my conviction that as much as God put on a William Branham, or a Kathryn Kuhlman, or a Wigglesworth, He’ll put far greater anointing on a company of people than He ever would on an individual.  To do that, there must be that corporate sense of, ‘we have to deal with the issue of obeying the rules of this kingdom to tap into the resources of this kingdom’…we cannot use the principles of this world and expect to tap into unlimited resource of the kingdom of God245

Resurrection Life

The final stage in the Theosophical schema is the Resurrection at which point the aspirant is now a Master and no longer an earthly disciple.  The physical body is shed as it’s no longer necessary.  However, there will be some who will stay behind to help further the cause:

If He chooses to take a physical vehicle (as many will when the Christ [ED: actually antichrist] reappears and the Hierarchy is on Earth), the Master “will function from the above to the below” and not (as is the case today with disciples, though naturally not with the Masters) “on the below towards the above”… 246

The individual who stays “to help humanity on this globe” will be “in charge, also, of large work, teaching many pupils, aiding in the many schemes, and is gathering under him those who are to assist him in future times.”247  This ‘physical vehicle’ will, of course, be a ‘resurrection body’.

Bill Johnson claims that our current model is the glorified, resurrected Jesus of Revelation 1:13-16.248  He proof-texts a portion of 1 John 4:17 to make this point, yet in its context, the Apostle John is speaking of how we are to be like Christ in love, not like Christ’s current glorified state:

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

The Holy Spirit came with the ultimate assignment at the perfect time.  During Jesus’ ministry, it was said, “The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”…[W]hy didn’t the Father send Him until Jesus was glorified?  Because without Jesus in His glorified state there was no heavenly model of what we were to become! As a sculptor looks at a model and fashions the clay into its likeness, so the Holy Spirit looks to the glorified Son and shapes us into His image. As He is, so are we in the world 

“The Christian life is not found on the Cross.  It is found because of the Cross.  It is His resurrection power that energizes the believer…249

Clearly, Johnson is promoting that we attain our glorified, resurrection bodies in the here and now.  This is known as the heretical Manifested Sons of God doctrine.  As can be seen, this mirrors New Age teaching.  The “resurrection power that energizes the believer” could be construed as the Theosophical “Christ in you, the hope of glory”, the divine spark/seed.  Johnson expounds further claiming emphatically that we follow Christ “all the way – to a lifestyle empowered by the resurrection!”:

At some point the reality of the resurrection must come into play in our lives – we must discover the power of the resurrection  for all who believe…we must follow Him all the way – to a lifestyle empowered by the resurrection!”250

…Religion is unable to mimic the life of resurrection with its victory over sin and hell.251

For comparison, here’s an Alice Bailey quote illustrating a few Scriptures being pulled out of their contexts in order to create pretexts, including 1 John 4:17:

…Inherent in the human consciousness…is a sense of divinity.  “We are all children of God” (Gal. III.26); “One is our Father, even God,” [John 8:41?] says the Christ and so say all the world Teachers and Avatars down the ages.  “As He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John IV:17) is another Biblical statement. …“Christ in us, the hope of glory” [Col 1:27] is the triumphant affirmation of St. Paul.252

The common theme in all of these is ‘inherent divinity’ and universalism, as in all are potential gods.  The Galatians verse should read, “You are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus“; and, in the Colossians verse, the original “you” is replaced by “us” to make it more inclusive.  The verse from John’s epistle is used much like Johnson does above.  Interestingly, Johnson hints at universalism in a snippet from an advertisement for the “Open Heavens 2010 Conference“: “What does it mean to you when it says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on A-L-L flesh?’”[Acts 2:17/Joel 2:28]

Going back to the so-called Lakeland Revival, Georgian Banov delivered two anointings ‘from the Lord’ to Todd Bentley at his ‘commissioning’ ceremony.  Prior to this, Banov, speaking for ‘the Lord’, deemed Bentley a “well pleasing son” – the very words used by the Father at both Jesus’ baptism and the Transfiguration:

…And The Lord says that because you’ve loved his personal presence there are two anointings that are released on His presence and I just want to release those two anointings on you from the LORD.  By the way, the Lord says ‘you are well pleasing son.’The Father, Abba, says that to you personally.  The first anointing is the anointing of the pleasure of the LORD.253

For this first anointing, Banov quotes Isaiah 53:4-6, a Messianic passage, i.e. Scripture pertaining to Jesus Christ, the Messiah.  Interestingly, this Scripture speaks primarily about the Cross:

‘Surely He has borne our grief, sickness and weakness and carried our sorrow and the pain and the punishment of us all. He was considered stricken, smitten and afflicted by God; but, He was bruised for our transgression. He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities and chastisement that brought our peace came upon him and by His stripes we were healed and made whole.’  And, yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him and in His presence there is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore.   And, God’s releasing his pleasure of what He did to Jesus upon you Todd.254

It seems this can well be construed as a ‘crucifixion anointing’, or the fourth initiation of Theosophy.  The second anointing is based on Psalm 45:6-7 – another Messianic passage.  Derek Kidner, in his commentary on the Psalms, explains:

…[V]erse 7 distinguishes between God, your God, and the king of verse 6.  This paradox is consistent with the incarnation, but mystifying in any other context. It is an example of Old Testament language bursting its banks, to demand more than a human fulfillment…255

These verses, as Banov notes below, are referenced in Hebrews 1:9.  The writer of Hebrews puts it in the context that Christ is above the angels in status and is worshiped by them.  Of this verse, William L. Lane states: “…The implication that the Son shares the quality of deity only intensifies the reference to his eternal rule and sharpens the contrast between the unchangeable Son and the mutable angels…”256   With this in mind, it seems Banov is ascribing deity to Bentley which, from a Theosophical standpoint would represent the fifth initiation, resurrection, in which one becomes a Master:

And, the second anointing that he wants to release upon you is in Psalm 45 but it’s also in Hebrews chapter one verse nine.  It says, ‘Because you have loved righteousness and you have delighted in integrity and virtue and uprightness in heart and thought and action and you have hated injustice and inequity; therefore God, your God has anointed you with the oil of exultant joy and gladness above and beyond your companions.’  We bless you.257

Hebrews 1:9 is also a parallel passage to Philippians 2:9 – a part of the ‘Philippians hymn’ [vv 2:6-11]: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” [NIV 1984].  Again, this represents Jesus Christ’s Resurrection (and Ascension).  Interestingly, Todd Bentley himself, a little over one month later, would speak of “resurrection life” describing a progression in its attainment:

…And, I just believe there’s an impartation to call forth ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ – the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. And, I want to take one moment church, and I want to press in, I want you to press in with me, to go from one floor, to two floors, to three levels, to four.  And, let’s progress and let’s say, ‘God, beyond raising the dead, beyond notable miracles, beyond healing, let there be a release in the Church of the realm of glory and power and dominion and authority that affects everything that’s death and decay around us.’  And, it’s true victory, it’s true resurrection life, true resurrection power, and true resurrection gloryPeople will be made alive – born again.258

When was it that Johnson claimed Jesus was ‘born again’?  It was at the Resurrection:

…Did you know that Jesus was born again?… 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.’259

Just like the name of the sermon from which the above was taken echoing words of Bill Johnson in other contexts: Jesus is our model.

Conclusion

This rather lengthy series attempts to illustrate that not only is the Bill Johnson Christology (and by extension, others within hyper-charismaticism with similar teachings), his Jesus, not like the one revealed in Scripture, his theology could fit into the New Age / New Spirituality model.  Whether one agrees or not, the hope is that the reader at least has been given food for thought and the desire for further investigation.

[See part I, The Christ Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit, part II, part IIIa, and part IIIb.]

Endnotes:

188McGrath, Alister. Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth. © 2009, HarperOne, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY; p 34
189McGrath; p 239 n3
190Bailey, Externalisation; p 510
191Bailey, Externalisation; p 511
192Bailey, Initiaton; pp 92-93: “Students must get rid of the idea that if they are ‘very good and altruistic’ suddenly some day they will stand before the Great Lord.  They are putting effect before cause.  Goodness and altruism grow out of realization and service, and holiness of character is the outcome of those expansions of consciousness which a man brings about within himself through strenuous effort and endeavor.”
193Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary.  From back cover: “…These experiences are both symbolic and actual, setting guideposts along the way of the disciple.  They exemplify the experience of the human soul through the five stages of its spiritual journey and can be invaluable to individual man facing the vast span of the same five-fold experience.”
194einterface, “The Master Jesus” par 2; as accessed 06/18/12
195Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 26, 47.  Bailey, Initiation; pp 114-15
196Bailey,  Alice A. The Rays and the Initiations. 1960 Lucis, NY, 2nd paperback ed, 1976, Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, New York; pp 685, cf. 664-673
197Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 99
198Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 27, 47-48
199Bailey, Rays; pp 677, cf. 673-687
200Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 100.  Dowling;  pp 83
201einterface, “The Master Jesus” par 2; as accessed 06/18/12
202Bailey, Initiation; p 89
203Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 26, 48
204Bailey, Rays; pp 687, cf. 688-89, 367
205Bailey, Rays; pp 688
206Bailey, Rays; pp 689-91, 368
207Bailey, Initiation; pp 56-57
208Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 28, 48-49, 184-194, 206-207
209Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 202
210Bailey, Rays; pp 694
211Bailey, Rays; pp 695-699.  Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 178, 184, 186
212Bailey, Rays; p 695
213Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 187
214Bailey, Externalisation; p 597
215Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; pp 28, 49-51.  Bailey, Externalisation; p 468-71.  Bailey, Rays; pp 699-703
216Bailey, Rays; p 699
217Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 9
218Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 105.  Emphasis added.
219“whizzpopping” YouTube video, Bill Johnson – Friendship with God. 1:24 – 1:37; as accessed 04/23/12.   Caps from emphasis in original; other emphasis added.
220Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 27
221Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 33-34, 25-28
222Johnson, Bill “Mandate for Miracles” Ministry Today. September/October 2008, Vol. 26, no. 5; p 70
223Johnson, Bill, “Super-Natural by Nature” Charisma, par 13; as accessed 4/26/12
224Johnson, Clark, Essential Guide to Healing; p 147. Bold from emphasis in original; underscore added.
225Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 37
226Bourgeault, Cynthia The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind – a New Perspective on Christ and His Message. 2008, Shambhala, Boston, MA; p 37
227Johnson, Face to Face; pp 89-90.  Emphasis added.
228Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 38
229Bailey, Externalisation; p 588.  Emphasis added.  This portion originally written in 1946.
230Bailey, Rays; p 703
231Bailey, Externalisation; p 597.  Emphasis added.
232Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 88
233Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 88
234Johnson, Supernatural Power; p 44.  Emphasis added.
235Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 80.  Emphasis added.
236Johnson, Dreaming; p 136.  Emphasis in original
237Johnson, Face to Face; p 200.  Emphasis in original.  Cf. Johnson, Heaven Invades; pp 149-150
238Osborne, Grant,  Arnold, Clinton E. (Gen. Ed.) Matthew: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. © 2010 by Grant R. Osborne, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 646
239“nowbelieve” YouTube video “Todd Bentley’s Apostolic and Prophetic Commissioning 2/4” Todd Bentley ‘Commissioning’ of June 23, 2008. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A05WQYi7aQ> Bill Johnson; 1:30 – 2:10
240Bailey, Bethlehem to Calvary; p 206
241“ewenhoffman” Maintaining the Cross-Walk; 16:31 – 17:55.  Caps from emphasis in original.
242Bailey, Rays; p 701
243Johnson, Supernatural Power; p 45.  Emphasis in original.
244Johnson, Bill Facebook, May 12, 2012
245“ChasingRiver” The Real Jesus – Part 4 – by Bill Johnson.  <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHcRI60j0HI&feature=related>; 0:36 – 1:30.  As accessed 07/03/11
246Bailey, Rays; p 699
247Bailey, Initiation; p 90
248Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 145
249Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 145
250Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 146
251Johnson, Heaven Invades; p 147
252Bailey, Alice A. The Reappearance of the Christ. 1948, Lucis Trust, 9th printing 1979 (4th Paperback ed.); Fort Orange Press, Inc., Albany, NY; p 145
253“nowbelieve” YouTube video “Todd Bentley’s Apostolic and Prophetic Commissioning 3/4” Todd Bentley ‘Commissioning’ of June 23, 2008.  <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjl5wKso9eU&feature=player_embedded#t=0shttp://>; Georgian Banov, 6:23 – 6:49; as accessed 06/24/12
254“nowbelieve” Banov; 6:49 – 7:34; as accessed 06/24/12
255Kidner, Derek Tyndale Old Testament Commentary: Psalms 1 – 72; © Inter-Varsity Press, London, 1973 (2008 reprint), Inter-Varsity Press, Nottingham, England/Downers Grove, IL; p 189
256Lane, William L. Word Biblical Commentary: Hebrews 1-8; 1991, Thomas Nelson, Nashville/Dallas/Mexico City/Rio de Janiero; p 29
257“nowbelieve” Banov; 7:34 – 8:11; as accessed 06/24/12
258Bentley, Todd.  Excerpt of his monologue from an August 08, 2008 conference held at Heritage International Ministries Retreat Center featuring Todd Bentley, Bob Jones and Rick Joyner.  DVD sold through Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries, Media Store, VS19-000D. “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08” <http://www.morningstarministries.org/store/teaching-sets/todd-bentley/todd-bentley-healing-and-impartation-service-08-08-08>; 1956:46 – 1957:53.  Emphasis added.  As accessed 04/01/12.
259“ewenhoffman” Jesus is our Model  sermon by Bill Johnson. 33:48 – 34:57; as accessed 06/23/12.

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

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

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

-Alice A. Bailey, 191939

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Johnson: Deceived Deceiver or Deceiving Deceiver?

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

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

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

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

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

Since when is God constrained by “disturbing powers”?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Apparent Deception of the Roberts Liardon Library Acquisition

Two previous CrossWise articles were on Bill Johnson’s “Library Mandate” with the second, a follow-up to the first, indicating a contradiction regarding the “prophetic word” by James Goll with respect to the timing of the Roberts Liardon library acquisition.  This discrepancy was discovered after finding a previous blog post by Bill Johnson on this matter subsequent to the posting of the first article.  The following is an attempt to explain this contradiction in a more detailed yet clearer way by using a chronology.

On Bill Johnson’s blog is a post titled “Anointings Come from Honor” [ED 08/09/13: link removed but recovered on Internet Archive – http://web.archive.org/web/20121224150939/http://www.bjm.org/blog/9/anointings-come-from-honor.html ] dated February 2, 2009 in which he explains that he purchased the Roberts Liardon library in the past year, which logically dates the purchase as some time in 2008:

In the past year we have purchased Roberts Liardon’s library/museum. He authored the wonderful series of books, God’s Generals (required reading in BSSM). While I have been collecting books and artifacts for years, his is the most complete I’ve ever seen or heard of. With over 11,000 volumes of books, and amazing items for viewing, the House of Generals will be a wonderful place to visit or study. Things like Smith Wigglesworth’s piano, and Kathryn Kuhlman’s wedding dress, are just a couple of the items for the museum. Priceless photo’s, letters, and memorabilia fill the collection.

On September 17, 2009 James Goll purportedly was with Bill Johnson at Oral Roberts’ home.  In a purported dream Goll received a “prophetic word” about a future “inheritance” (not ‘purchase’) by someone with the name Roberts “and the name ‘Roberts’ would be important”:

Hi, this is James Goll.  I’m with Bill Johnson at Oral Roberts’ home.  And this morning I went into a dream and in this dream I went into a large library and a museum of signs and wonders.  It was the largest library I have ever gone in.   I went from room to room and it was books from the floor to the ceiling…And then, when I went into this library and museum of crutches and wheelchairs and signs and wonders, The Holy Spirit spoke to me in the dream and He said, “It is my desire to give the stewardship to Bill Johnson of the world’s largest library and artifacts of signs and wonders that church history has ever known.”

I heard that in a dream this morning on 9/17/09; and I bless you, that you’ll begin the stewardship in church history of the largest archives.  And I heard the name ‘Roberts’ and the name ‘Roberts’ would be important; and, it wasn’t just being Oral Roberts today, but there’s a double meaning because you would receive something of a library inheritance by somebody with the name ‘Roberts.’

Going back to Johnson’s blog post we see that not only had Johnson already stated he was working on building the “House of Generals” library/museum, a project he states God had previously given to him, he had already purchased the Roberts Liardon library/museum.  Also of note is the fact that Roberts Liardon was named after Oral Roberts.  Maybe Goll was referring to a different “Roberts” with an even larger library than Roberts Liardon’s?  It would seem not.

In the following video posted on December 9th or 10th of 2010 Bill Johnson plays Goll’s ‘word’ to an audience at Bethel Church (presumably BSSM students).  He prefaces this with, “You are about to receive a prophetic word about your destiny”:

 

Immediately following the audio of Goll’s ‘word’ Johnson asserts:

That’s what we’re doing.  We’re building a library; it’s called “The House of Generals”.  And, uh, I’ve already made a purchase of a library/museum already in existence – Roberts Liardon’s library.  It’s a fabulous collection of materials, of books.  And we’re adding to it, I can’t say daily, but almost daily.  And trying to build what will be to our knowledge the greatest library of revivalist materials in the world…

It would seem that at least one of the points in Johnson presenting Goll’s ‘word’ was to show its partial ‘fulfillment’ in the acquisition of the Roberts Liardon library which, as already noted, had been purchased prior to Goll’s “prophetic word”.  Moreover, Johnson had already stated that God had told him to build the “House of Generals” in the February, 2009 blog post.  So, what was the significance of Goll’s ‘word’ exactly with respect to the importance of a ‘Roberts’?  Is there now or will there be in the future someone else with the name “Roberts” with a larger library than that of Roberts Liardon which Bill Johnson will subsequently inherit?

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

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

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

Bill Johnson1

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

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

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

Preliminary Background

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Johnson’s Christology Explained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Bill Johnson1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orthodox Christian Meaning of Repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unorthodox/Heterodox definitions of Repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bourgeault also defines metanoia for the reader:

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

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

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

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

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

A Closer look at Bill Johnson’s Definition of Repentance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnson’s Word of Faith Roots Showing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meditating on Johnson’s Doctrine of Meditation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A New Age of Sanctified Imagination?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Does Becoming a New Creature in Christ Mean New DNA?

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

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

– Damon Thompson of The Ramp

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

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

This raises all sorts of questions:

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

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

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

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

Should we believe Damon Thompson and his story?

Anthology of Bill Johnson Articles (So Far)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—  Update: Bill Johnson’s Library Mandate

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

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

—  Signs That Make You Wonder: “…it’s just increasing all kinds of manifestations. It’s the angelic realm; it’s just the supernatural breaking into this one: the gold and the oil and the wind. We’ve been having gusts of wind that just come out of nowhere. And, uh, ya know, it’s all good. It’s all signs that make you wonder…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

—  A personal testimony about Bethel’s influence

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

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

I’m thinkin’ Johnson may prefer electric jazz…

Greater Works Shall You Do

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.

-The Gospel of John 14:12, NKJV

What are these “greater works” which those who believe in Jesus Christ will do?  What can be greater than calming the wind and the waves of a raging storm by rebuking [Mark 4:35-41; Matt 8:18, 23-27; Luke 8:22-25]?  Halting a hurricane perhaps?  Or, how does one do greater than raising Lazarus from the dead after four days [John 11:38-44]?  Raising the dead after five days? Six days?  Thirty days?  A year?

Craig Blomberg notes Jesus’ emphatic “double-‘Amen’” [“Verily, Verily” in the KJV or “Truly, truly” in the NASB, rendered “Most assuredly” above, which literally translates as “Amen, amen”] yet, “it is not likely that the later church would invent a saying ascribed to Jesus susceptible to the interpretation that the disciples were greater than their master.”1  So, what does this verse mean?  What are these “greater works” we will do?

Bill Johnson, Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, teaches that Jesus is referring to greater signs and wonders.  This is based, in part, on Johnson’s claim that Jesus Christ performed the miraculous merely as “a man in right relationship to God…not as God”2 who was “completely dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit working through Him”3 because He had “laid his divinity aside”4 in His “self-imposed restriction to live as a man”5 therefore possessing “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever”.6  In Johnson’s theology, if Jesus Christ could do all He did as a Spirit-moved man, then Holy Spirit indwelt Christians should be able to exceed the greatness, the quality, of Jesus’ miracle workings:

Jesus’ prophecy of us doing greater works than He did has stirred the Church to look for some abstract meaning to this very simple statement.  Many theologians seek to honor the works of Jesus as unattainable, which is religion, fathered by unbelief.  It does not impress God to ignore what He promised under the guise of honoring the work of Jesus on the earth.  Jesus’ statement is not that hard to understand.  Greater means ‘greater.’  And, the works He referred to are signs and wonders.  It will not be a disservice to Him to have a generation obey Him, and go beyond His own high-water mark.  He showed us what one person could do who has the Spirit without measure.  What could millions do?  That was His point, and it became His prophecy.

This verse is often explained away by saying it refers to quantity of works, not quality.  As you can see, millions of people should be able to surpass the sheer number of works that Jesus did simply because we are so many.  But that waters down the intent of His statement.  The word greater is mizon [sic] in the Greek.  It is found 45 times in the New Testament.  It is always used to describe ‘quality,’ not quantity.7

Johnson is correct in that the Greek word meizon (not mizon)8 refers to greater in quality rather than quantity.  But are the ‘greater works’ referring to “signs and wonders” as in calming storms and raising the dead?  Gary Burge asserts, “The promise can hardly mean that the efforts of disciples will exceed those of Jesus who, for instance, provided the stupendous miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead.”9  Andreas Kostenberger reflects:

Do greater things than Jesus did?  This claim seems daring.  The difficulty evaporates when one realizes that these ‘greater works’ are still works of Jesus, now carried out from his exalted position with the Father through his commissioned, faithful followers.   Because Jesus is now with the Father, we can expect to do greater works than even Jesus did: on the basis of his once-for-all death on the cross, and in answer to believing prayer for all that is necessary to accomplish the mission Jesus never relinquished.10

And what was Jesus’ mission?

“Because I Go to My Father”

J. Louis Martyn refers to the “highly paradoxical”11 nature of this verse.  However, the key to interpreting and understanding this verse, as in any Scripture, is to keep it in its proper context as “he clearly says in the promise that all this will take place because he is going to the Father.”12  What occurs after His Ascension?  Two things: 1) Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father providing intercession for us as our Mediator through prayers in His name; and, 2) after Pentecost, all true Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  For more complete context, here are verses 12 through 17a in the NIV (1984):

12I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.  He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.

15If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever — 17the Spirit of truth. [NIV 1984]

Kostenberger: “For once Jesus is exalted in his Father’s presence, believers will be able to pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, and Jesus himself will answer these prayers.”13  Burge states, “What is ‘greater’ is that these works will be done by regular people in whom the power of Christ has taken up residence following his glorification.”14  However, Kostenberger adds, “understanding the impact of Jesus’ words to his original audience requires historical imagination.  For what was a novel vision for Jesus’ first followers has become an everyday reality for us today: to be indwelt by the Spirit and to pray – in Jesus’ name”.15  (Kostenberger also clarifies, “Praying in Jesus’ name does not involve magical incantation but rather expresses alignment of one’s desires and purposes with God [1 John 5:14-15]”,16 i.e. obedience to the written Word [v 15].) While both of these should remain awe-inspiring to the child of God, these privileges are, shamefully, very easy to take for granted.

Partnering with God Rather Than Exceeding His Greatness

Martyn sees in John 14:12 a continuation of partnering with Jesus which Jesus Himself had told His disciples back in John 9:4 (and first mentioned in 3:11): “We must work the works of him who sent me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work” [NASB].17  This will progress until the culmination of all things:

The work of Jesus appears not to be terminated in the time of his earthly life.  On the contrary, his going to the Father inaugurates a time in which his followers do his works.  Indeed, 9:4a leads us to see this continuation of Jesus’ works as an activity of the Risen Lord in the deeds of Christian witnesses.18

After Jesus’ glorification, the Father sent “another Counselor” [Helper, Advocate, Comforter], another parakletos (Paraclete) [v 15], the “Spirit of truth” [v 17; 15:26; 16:13].  This other Paraclete is invisible to the world as the world does not know Him [14:17].  Yet, He will teach believers all things [14:26].  He will bear witness of Jesus [15:26]; He will glorify Jesus [16:14] not speaking of His own authority, only what He hears [16:13].  He will judge the world and convict of sin [16:8-11].19

Observing some obvious parallels between Jesus and the Paraclete (parakletos), Martyn illustrates how the Gospel writer compares these to believers.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world [17:18 (NIV) compared to Jesus in 8:42 and the Holy Spirit in 15:26/14:26, also 12:49/14:24 and 16:13].  The reason that the world does not know us [believers] is that it did not know him [1 John 3:1 (NIV), also John 17:25, compared to 8:19/17:25 and 14:17].  And you [believers] will bear witness also… [15:27 (NASB) compared to 8:14 and 15:26].  Noting the current application of the narrative of John 9, Martyn states of 9:39, “Jesus [in the person of the Christian Witness] said, ‘For judgment I came into the world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind’” [compared to 3:18-19 and 16:13].  And, lastly, Martyn sees Jesus’ work extending into the present through believers specifically in the “greater works” verse: Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father [14:12 (NASB) compared to 14:25 and 14:26/16:13].20

So, while Jesus literally healed the blind man by giving him the eyesight he never had [9:1-11], there is also a figurative/spiritual application in this teaching narrative/discourse as spiritual sight in contrast to spiritual blindness [9:35-41].  Jesus tells the unbelieving Pharisees [‘This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath’ – 9:16 NIV], “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains” [9:41 NIV].  These Pharisees were now guilty because they remained in their sins despite seeing the Son of God:

39And Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and those who see may become blind.’ [John 9:39 NASB]

Yet the man formerly blind from birth passed from eternal death to eternal life as he gained his spiritual sight [9:38-39] – something much more important than merely receiving physical sight!

As J. Louis Martyn rephrases, “this [miraculous works to include healing] is not terminated in Jesus’ earthly lifetime…but rather…the Risen Lord continues his earthly ministry in the work of his servant, the Christian preacher…”21  This is the privilege of all children of God as we preach the true Gospel – that we are hopeless sinners in need of a Savior who has already paid the price for our sin debt – the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth [14:17; 15:26; 16:13] works through us, His children, convicting of sin [16:8-11] leading to repentance.  While there will be those in the world who wish to hold on to their sin and thus hate God and His disciples [15:18-25], it is still our distinct privilege to preach the Gospel to the lost.

To reiterate, the Holy Spirit does not speak on His own, only what He hears [16:13], which means He does not glorify Himself or even bring any attention to Himself whatsoever as He will bear witness to and glorify Jesus Christ [15:26; 16:14] instead.  And by extension, we, as Holy Spirit indwelt Christians, do the same: we do not glorify or magnify ourselves but rather we bear witness [15:27] to and glorify Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior by the power of the Spirit working through us.

Eternal Life – The Greatest of Miracles

F. F. Bruce finds precedence of the “greater works” motif of John 14:12 in 5:20:

When, after the healing at the pool of Bethesda, Jesus affirmed that the works he did were those which the Father showed him, he added, ‘he will show him greater works than these, to give you cause for marvel’ (John 5:20).  Now [in 14:12] he tells his disciples that they in turn would do the works that he did.  That must have been surprising enough.  But what were they to think when he went on to say that, because he was going to the Father, they would do even greater works than they had seen him do?22

Likewise, so does D. A. Carson see 5:20’s “greater works” in 14:12.  As per Kostenberger’s BECNT commentary, “[Carson] correctly locates the clues to a proper understanding of 14:12 in the parallel in 5:20 and in the final clause ‘because I am going to the Father,’ and points to the disciples’ greater understanding after the resurrection in the ‘new eschatological age that will have dawned.’”23  For a better understanding of how 5:20 relates to 14:12 we need to take a closer look into the pool of Bethesda.

The pool of Bethesda is the place where individuals of various afflictions would congregate waiting for someone to stir the pool assuming this stirring would provide curative powers in its waters [5:7].  Jesus met the paralytic man waiting beside the pool, told him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk” [5:8], and the man was cured, then he picked up his mat and walked away [5:9].  Since this miracle was performed on the Sabbath [5:9], the Jews informed the now healed man that it was unlawful to work (carry his mat) on the Sabbath [5:10] according to their extra-biblical oral tradition. Jesus later found the former paralytic and said, “See, you are well again.  Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you” [5:14].  This prefigures the healing of the blind man [9:1-7] who subsequently received his spiritual sight [9:39] by believing Jesus to be the Son of Man [9:35; cf. Daniel 7:13], the Messiah (Anointed One) [Daniel 9:26], then believing in and worshiping Him.

The Jews were angry that Jesus not only healed on the Sabbath, but that He instructed the man to ‘sin’ by ‘working’ on the Sabbath [5:16].   Once Jesus equated Himself with God as God’s Son working on the Sabbath along with His Father [5:17], the Jews desired all the more to kill him [5:18].  Jesus responds by reiterating His relationship with the Father as both His Son [5:19] and His equal [5:20-21], and, further, by claiming that Jesus Himself will judge rather than the Father [5:22; cf. 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”].  Blomberg expounds, “Verses 21-22 refer to two major ‘works’ that Jews recognized God continued to perform on the Sabbath – giving life (as children were born) and exercising judgment (as people died).”24

20 For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and greater works than these will He show Him, that you may marvel.
21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes.
22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,
23 in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
25 Truly, Truly I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear shall live.
26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself;
27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. [John 5:20-27, NASB; emphasis added]

The “greater works” [5:20] referred to in this passage – greater than healing a paralytic on the Sabbath – is the fact that Jesus “gives life to whom He wishes” [5:21], which means providing “eternal life” [5:24] in the then present [5:25] continuing till the eschaton (end of all things).  In addition, Jesus has been given authority to judge all [5:22] in the then present [5:24] and at the eschaton [5:27-29].  He provides eternal life to those who honor Him [5:23a] while judging those who refuse [5:23b].  The thief on the Cross is an example of how Jesus ‘gave life to whom He wished’ [Luke 23:43] during His earthly ministry.  Conversely, after witnessing the blind man who could subsequently see, the Pharisees met Jesus’ judgment [9:39-41] for their unbelief in Jesus as the Christ/Messiah.

Craig Keener also recognizes the “parallel language” of 14:12 and 5:20 [and 1:50].25   He comments, “The claim that God delegates the judgment to Jesus would have unnerved his opponents.”26  Keener adds

Like the Father, Jesus could give life (5:21; cf. 17:2); this made him act in a divine mannerThe resurrection of the dead was a divine work, specifically attributed to God…God was widely viewed as the giver of life, hence the only one who life was not contingent  on a giver of life…In the context, the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda prefigures in a small way the resurrection; Jesus will raise the dead, just as he told the lame man to ‘rise’…That he gives life to ‘whomever he wills’ (5:21) reinforces the image of divinity in this Gospel; God made alive (cf. 6:57, 63) and drew to life those whom he willed (6:37, 44, 65; cf. 3:8).

The discourse reports a number of divine activities the Father has ‘given’ the Son: judgment (5:22, 27), life in himself (5:26), and divine works (5:36; cf. 5:20)…27

For those who insist, like Bill Johnson, that Jesus performed all His miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, the above Scripture [5:20-27 and the others Keener cites] irrefutably proves otherwise.  To assert the Holy Spirit was the vehicle used in Jesus’ ‘giving life to whom He wishes’ and ‘executing judgment’ is to defy logic.  How could Jesus ‘give life to whom He wishes’ (and its converse – execute judgment) if He was dependent upon the Holy Spirit instead?  Or, did Jesus command the Holy Spirit to give life to whom He willed?  Of course not; if Jesus was functioning strictly as a man dependent on God, as Johnson asserts, then He certainly could not command God the Holy Spirit to obey Him.

Furthermore, if we were to assume (incorrectly, of course) that Jesus relied on the Holy Spirit both to “give life” [5:21, 24-25] and “execute judgment” [5:22, 24, 27], then Holy Spirit indwelt Christians should be able to ‘give life to whom we choose’ and judge those whom we wish to judge.  Of course we can neither grant eternal life/judgment to anyone in and of ourselves nor can we command the Holy Spirit to do so [however, Christians do have a role in judgment after the eschaton, cf. Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3].  Instead, we play an integral role in effecting eternal life (or judgment) as the privileged vehicle through which the Holy Spirit works in and through as we preach the true Gospel and as we humbly pray for others in Jesus’ name.

The greatest miracle of all is the changed hearts of individuals as they transition from eternal death to eternal life by the acceptance of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ: by believing and confessing that Christ died on the Cross in propitiation for the collective sins of mankind, was raised from the dead, and by acknowledging individual inherent sinfulness and subsequently repenting, one is spared God’s eternal wrath, passing from death to everlasting life.

Nineteenth century expositor J. C. Ryle puts it succinctly:

In short, ‘greater works’ mean more conversions.  There is no greater work possible than the conversion of a soul.28

Keener, commenting on 14:12, asserts “The promise of ‘greater works’ calls John’s audience to look not only backward but also to the present, where Christ continues to remain active through his presence by the Paraclete and his proclaimed word.”29  The “greater works” then refers to Christians, mere mortals, whom the Holy Spirit works in and through to effect salvation to those who believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and are saved, in contrast to exacting judgment on those who refuse Him and His sacrifice.  This is “greater” than Jesus who did these things as God – not a Spirit-moved man – during His earthly ministry.

see also:
Kenosis, Christology and Bill Johnson, part I
Kenosis, Christology and Bill Johnson, part II
Kris Vallotton and the Mantle of Jesus Christ/Bill Johnson on Corporate Anointing

Endnotes:

1 Blomberg, Craig. The Historical Reliability of John’s Gospel. 2001, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL; p 199
2 Johnson, Bill. When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. 2003, Treasure House/Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 29.  Ellipse in original.
3 Johnson; p 29
4 Johnson; p 79.  In original text a footnote follows this phrase referring to Philippians 2:5-7, a proof-text used for those propounding the unorthodox/heterodox kenosis doctrine.
5 Johnson; p 29
6 Johnson; p 29
7 Johnson; p 185.  Underscore from emphasis (italics) in original; bolding added for emphasis.
8 Strong, James; J. R. Kohlenberger, III and J. A. Swanson, eds. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 440, 1514.  Meizon is Strong’s # 3187.
9 Burge, Gary M. “John’s Gospel” in Evans, Craig A., ed. The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: John, Hebrews – Revelation.  2005, Victor/Cook Communications Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO; p 127
10 Kostenberger, Andreas J. “John” in Arnold, Clinton E., gen. ed. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Volume 2: John, Acts. 2002, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 139.  Emphasis added.
11 Martyn, J. Louis History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel. 2003 (3rd ed. rev. (1968)), Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY; p 135
12 Martyn; p 136.  Italics in original.
13 Kostenberger, Andreas J. Encountering John (Encountering Biblical Series). July 2009 (8th prtg (paperback), (1999)), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 156.  Italics in original.
14 Burge; p 127
15 Kostenberger, Encountering John; p 156
16 Kostenberger, Andreas J. John: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. July 2009 (4th prtg (2004)), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 433-434
17 Martyn; p 38 including important footnote 20.  Pronoun emphasis in original: We (Jesus and His disciples and, by extension, all subsequent believers) are to partner with the Father (the one “who sent me”).  This was begun in 3:11: “I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.” [NIV 1984]
18 Martyn; pp 38-39.  Emphasis added.
19 This section somewhat roughly follows the outline of Martyn; pp 137-138
20 This is adapted from a chart in and quoted from Martyn; pp 141-142.
21 Martyn; pp 39-40
22 Bruce, F. F. The Gospel & Epistles of John. 1983, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; p 300.  Bruce notes in the Preface, “The biblical text which is printed at the head of each section of the exposition is my translation from the Greek of the Nestle-Aland edition of 1979.”  This explains why the translation of 5:20 is not exactly like any other.
23 Kostenberger, John: Baker Exegetical Commentary; p 433 (footnote) citing Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John: Pillar New Testament Commentary. 1999, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 495-496
24 Blomberg; p 114
25 Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume Two. 2010 (1st softcover ed, (2003)), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 947
26 Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary, Volume One. 2010 (1st softcover ed, (2003)), Hendrickson, Peabody, MA; p 651
27 Keener, Gospel of John: Vol. One; pp 650-651.  Emphasis added.
28 Ryle, J. C. “Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John 13:1-21:25Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, Volume Four (John 10:31-21:35). 2007 (1878), Baker, Grand Rapids, MI; p 67.  Originally part of a seven volume series with one each of Matthew and Mark, two of Luke (1-10 & 11-24), and three of John (1-6:70; 7-12:50; 13:1-21:35) beginning in 1856 and completed in 1878.
29 Keener, Gospel of John: Vol. Two; p 947. In the larger context of Keener’s thoughts here, it seems he is promoting the idea of ‘greater works’ as signs and wonders. However, he also notes that the various contexts of ‘works’ in John’s Gospel “indicates that these may include miraculous signs (5:20, 36; 7:3; 9:3-4; 10:25, 32-33, 37-38; 15:24) but also his mission as a whole”; and “…’works’ in this Gospel includes doing God’s will” (p 946; emphasis mine). Yet, Keener also contends that ‘greater’ would “imply “greater magnitude” (p 947), with no further comment indicating what that could be. Jesus’ “mission as a whole” was salvific, and that seems to be the main point of the Upper Room discourse. Miracles, in the sense of signs and wonders, may or may not attend the proclamation of the Gospel, but it’s the conversion that it is the ‘greater work’.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 White, John. “Foreword” in Pytches, David. Some Said it Thundered. 1991 (revised, “new edition”), Oliver Nelson, Nashville, TN; pp xxii-xxiii
2 Beverley, James A. Holy Laughter & the Toronto Blessing: An Investigative Report. 1995, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI; p 126
3 Letter on file including attachment.
4 Gruen, Ernest J. & John J. Arnold, et. al. Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries). May 1990, self-published; pp 217-21. / pdf prepared for online posting by Tricia Tillin (Booth) <http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/kcp/Aberrant%20Practises.pdf>; pp 123-25.  Hereafter listed as pdf first followed by original booklet; e.g.: pp 123-25 / 217-21
5 Gruen, Documentation. pp 124 / 218-19
6 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131 and Jackson, Bill The Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard. 1999, Vineyard International Publishers, Ladysmith, Cape Town, South Africa; p 182.  Confusingly, at least one subsequent “Re-published” issue has different page numberings.  The 2nd issue was Re-published in 2000 as VIP, Cape Town with the same page numbering as the first edition; whereas, the 2010 “Re-published for Amazon” issue (VIP, Cape Town also) has different page numberings.  Herein and hereafter, all page numbers will reference the earlier edition followed by the later one, e.g.: p 182 / 175.  Neither Beverley nor Jackson provides any specific proof.  Is there perhaps an exchange between Cain and Branham recorded or an extant photo which would prove unequivocally?
7 Dager, Albert James “Latter-Day Prophets: The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets and the Kansas City-Vineyard Connection” Media Spotlight. Special Report, August 1990, Media Spotlight, Redmond, WA; pp 6.  Report undated, however verified by Dager.
8 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 131.  Notes Beverley, “Cain’s explicit blessing of Bob Jones was a major error…After Jones was disciplined for…sexual misconduct…I was told that Cain never trusted Jones in the first place.”  If he didn’t trust him from the beginning, why would he endorse him so enthusiastically in the first place?  Beverley, however, was apparently ill-informed of some of Cain’s doctrines namely Joel’s Army and Manifested Sons of God [see below in this article “Paul Cain Did Not Teach Manifested Sons Doctrine?”] proclaiming he had “no problem affirming that Cain is orthodox in his basic theology” while acknowledging Cain (and Bob Jones) did teach Joel’s Army [p 123].  The Joel’s Army doctrine as taught by Cain (and Jones) is contrary to basic Christian orthodoxy.
9 Jackson, Radical Middle. pp 179-80 / 172-73.  “Earthquake prophecy” discussed in some detail including discrepancies in its reporting.

Paul Cain Prophesies Earthquakes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Vision of Jack Deere’s Mother and Related Prophecy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deere goes on state that the Lord had revealed to Paul Cain that there was a root of bitterness “over the possibility that he [Deere’s father] might spend eternity in hell.”  Deere claims that in retrospect the “word” had helped significantly in softening his heart.29

However, that evening, the very next night after Cain’s initial “prophecy,” Paul Cain expounds on the “prophetic word” he had provided the night before which conflicts with Deere’s account:

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Cain a True Prophet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cain Absolved of Occultism?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Cain Did Not Teach Manifested Sons Doctrine?

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

Dager, in his August 1990 article, states flatly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assessing Gruen’s Concessions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Drought Evolves

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

From the opening in the Gruen Document:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 …there will be rain on August 23.101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comparing ‘Words’

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

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

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

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

105 Beverley, Holy Laughter; p 128

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

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

Jamie Buckingham, May/June 1990 Ministries Today1

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

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

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

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

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

Timeline of Events

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this letter Gruen states

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

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

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

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

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

Following is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

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

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

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

Sincerely, 

Pastor Ernest J. Gruen 53

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Assistance Requested: Seeking Original Audio/Video of Kansas City Fellowship/Grace Ministries

“…The deep conviction of my heart is that we have, in Kansas City, the beginnings of a Charismatic heresy which is far more significant than the shepherding controversy.  I believe that this could split the body of Christ and cause untold damage to tens of thousands of Christians, as well as hundreds of churches across America.”

– Ernie Gruen, January 21, 1990 “Do We Keep Smiling and Say Nothing”

The former Kansas City Fellowship (KCF), aka Grace Ministries, in Kansas City, Missouri was founded and pastored by Mike Bickle in 1982 who now leads the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in the same city.  KCF was embroiled in controversy centering around the teachings and practices of Bickle and the so-called Kansas City Prophets (Bob Jones, Paul Cain and John Paul Jackson) resulting from a tape  “Do We Keep Smiling and Say Nothing?” circulated in January 1990 and a subsequent published document in May of the same year titled “Documentation of Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries)”  both by the late Ernest J. Gruen, then Senior Pastor of Full Faith Church of Love–West in Shawnee, Kansas.  This document referenced and transcribed tapes distributed by KCF/Grace Ministries and other KCF/GM printed materials.

John Wimber of Anaheim (California) Vineyard was brought in to bring “correction” and guidance to KCF resulting in the name changing to Metro Vineyard Christian Fellowship on May 12, 1990 as the church fell under the umbrella of the Association of Vineyard Churches (AVC).1

I have recently received some material from the KCF days including a giant fold-out [17” x 23.5” double-sided] Grace Ministries “Spring Catalog ‘90” listing audio cassettes (single and multiple sets), a few videos, and some books.  It also includes listings of music by Julie Meyer as far back as 1986.

The catalog features material from Bickle, Jones, Cain, J. P. Jackson, Rick Joyner, Francis Frangipane, Leonard Ravenhill (including conferences with him alongside some of the others – a surprise for me), David Ravenhill, David Parker, Noel Alexander, Michael Sullivant, Wimber, Bob Scott, Terry Virgo, Jim Goll, Gary Schmitz, Reuven Doron and Ed Pioreck.  The descriptions accompanying the individual items illustrates the relationships between and among these individuals at the time providing an interesting historical snapshot.  I will refrain from making any commentary in the body of the texts below as I want the texts to reflect as closely as possible the original catalog and I don’t wish to detract from them.

In addition, apparently distributed and accompanying the catalog itself around the time of this controversy was a separate plain sheet of paper which states “PLEASE READ CAREFULLY BEFORE ORDERING” with handwritten “FROM GRACE MINISTRIES” and “JUNE 1990”:

“The following tapes have been discontinued since this catalog was printed and are not available at this time.  We’re sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused for you.”

While the date could conceivably have been written by anyone and therefore not necessarily be accurate, the timing does make sense in view of the then current controversy given that a number of these “discontinued” tapes were transcribed and excerpted in the 233 page spiral-bound Gruen document.  If accurate, this would likely be part of the “correction” John Wimber was bringing to KCF.

Paul Cain had been associated with KCF since 1987.  Wimber had Paul Cain speak at his Anaheim Vineyard church at least as far back as December, 1988; so, presumably, Wimber should have already been familiar with the teachings and “prophecies” of Cain before KCF’s transition to MVCF (known more commonly as Metro Vineyard Fellowship or MVF).   Paul Cain’s website has an audio of his Anaheim Vineyard “Stadium Vision” “Joel’s Army” prophecy taken from the “Spiritual Warfare Conference” of February,2 1989.  [A YouTube version (with overdubbed music) is also currently available.]  Yet it was Wimber who was brought in for “correction.”

The “discontinued” items include all the Bob Jones material (save for some included in the multiple sets featuring multiple speakers) yet Jones was apparently still in “ministry” after this – at least up until his discipline and removal discussed in a letter dated November 7, 1991 for “using his gifts to manipulate people for his personal desires, sexual misconduct, rebelling against pastoral authority, slandering leaders and the promotion of bitterness within the body of Christ.”  He was apparently in a leadership position at that time as evidenced by this same letter written by Wimber regarding Jones’ “serious sin” according to the words beginning this letter: “When a leader falls into sin…”3 If the content of Jones’ tapes were presumably so damaging to KCF/MVF that they had to be pulled from distribution, why was he still in leadership?

In a letter dated November 4, 1991 written to MVF and signed by Jones on Metro Vineyard Fellowship letterhead is the following excerpt:

In recent months, I have manipulated certain people for selfish reasons on the basis of my prophetic gifting.  I have been guilty of sexual misconduct, and I deeply regret this.  (I have not committed adultery).

I deeply resented the published restraints placed upon me in my ministry by John Wimber in July 1990, and this resentment created an imbalance in my reasoning ability.  Now I believe that these restraints were right.4

Exactly which “restraints” were put on him given he was still a “leader” according to Wimber’s letter?

In the International House of Prayer’s “Encountering Jesus” series, a history including the KCF days, Mike Bickle had this to say about Jones and Cain, “The two men that have been my spiritual fathers in different ways and at different times — Bob Jones and Paul Cain.  When I look over my 30 years plus of walking with the Lord those two men are significantly, clearly I would have to call my spiritual fathers through all these years.”  And, he goes on to claim, “And, Bob Jones, from ’82 to ’92, from those 10 years, I had nearly daily communication with Bob…”5 Clearly, the history of KCF/MVF is of continuing importance.

The tapes excerpted in the Gruen document and other KCF-associated tapes have been referenced quite a bit in various sources.  Some of the audio has been digitized with full and partial transcripts existing.  However, not all of these are readily available for the researcher and hence my desire to collect these.  The Grace Ministries catalog aids immensely in the search as it provides catalog numbers, titles and in many cases descriptions of contents.  If you have any of the following items, please contact me privately here:

Following is the complete list of all the tapes included in the catalog (not included are the books and music which are on the back side of the original catalog along with an order form) even though I’m not sure I would want allof the material as some is redundant.  I’ve listed first those items in the separate “discontinued” list – as I deem these of higher importance – with notes (when available) from the larger catalog for explanation.  I’ve changed the order of the “discontinued” list by grouping tapes by speaker for (hopefully) easier reference.  Following the contents of “Spring Catalog ‘90”, which are categorized in the same order as the catalog itself, are some tapes and teaching papers listed in the Gruen document which are not included in this catalog.

Discontinued Items:

Grace Ministries:

A4PHG            The Prophetic History of Grace Ministries – This four tape series is by far our best seller.  This is the album that is often simply referred to as “the history tapes”.  Unfortunately, the audio recording quality of the original masters is poor, but the content is the reason we have sold so many of these albums.  Mike Bickle recalls and describes both the miraculous events as well as the discouragements and setbacks that surrounded the establishing of Grace Ministries in Kansas City.

Bob Jones:

V1BJI              Video-Interview With Bob Jones – This five hour interview was recorded during the Celebration Feast in May of 1988.  Mike Bickle talks with Bob Jones for approximately five hours covering a wide variety of topics ranging from angelic visitations to demonic deliverance.

A4BJV             Bob Jones Visions and Revelations – This four tape series was recorded over three evenings in September, 1988.  Kansas City Fellowship pastors interview Bob Jones for nearly five hours about recent visions and revelations.  Among other things, Bob discusses what believers are doing in the eighties (both positive and negative) that will determine how God will be able to use them in the nineties.

A4BJI              An Interview with Bob Jones – four tapes [see V1BJI above for description]

60608              Personal Testimony
81231               Heaven & Hell
90226              Rest In His Mercy & Grace
91010              Shepherd’s Rod Oct. ‘89

Paul Cain:

V2IPC              Video-Interview with Paul Cain – This two hour video was recorded during the Celebration Feast in May of 1988.  Mike Bickle talks with Paul Cain about his personal testimony, his early days of ministry in his teens and his tent ministry and healing revivals in the 1950’s.

70512              Personal Testimony
70628              Joel’s Army
70629              7 Spirits of God
70929              Our Father’s House
71001              A New Breed

Mike Bickle:

30510              Intercession with Angels Da. 10

John Paul Jackson:

JPJCC               Being Conformed to Christ: Taproot of End Time Prophetic Events

Noel Alexander:

90326              An Intercessory Vow

The remaining includes the rather lengthy list remaining on the “Spring Catalog ’90.” It is possible that individual tapes have been separated from the multi-tape sets yet are identified individually with catalog numbers or names corresponding to the single tapes – yet another reason I wish to have complete descriptions which sometimes includes individual titles within a series/album [noted in the following by underlining].  Care was made to transcribe exactly as written including grammatical errors and such, but I did not want to detract from the overall content by marking these errors with the usual “[sic]”; however, it’s certainly possible I’ve made some mistakes of my own.  Specific items from the discontinued list above will be denoted with an asterisk (*) with no further descriptions rather than duplicating the above.  I’ve omitted prices and moved the catalog number to the beginning of each item for easier reference.

Audio Tape Albums:

A7TFM            Experiencing The Father’s Mercy – These seven tapes by Mike Bickle on God’s mercy and grace, reveal the never-ending compassion of the Father’s heart toward His children when they’re sincerely trying to grow, yet often find themselves falling short.  This message has helped many believers overcome the discouragement of personal failure and learn to entrust their lives to the Father without reservation.  Titles includes: The Tender Mercies of David, His Mercy Endureth Forever, Elijah: Loving Mercy, The Compassion of God and Mercy That Leads to Righteousness.

A8PIJ               Pursuing Intimacy with Jesus – Mike Bickle shares with passionate insight on the splendor and majesty of the person of Christ Jesus.  Mike goes on to elaborate on the importance and relevance of that knowledge to both the individual and the church.  Titles in this eight tape series include: An Old Testament Love Song to Jesus, The Glorious Man Christ Jesus and Revival of Intimacy.

A6PEM            Your Personal Eternity in the Making – This six tape album by Mike Bickle develops the often overlooked theme of eternal rewards, judgment and evaluation for the born-again believer.  Mike challenges the listener to make a realistic reappraisal of this life and values, in light of eternity.  Titles in this album include: Eternal Rewards for Good Works, The Judgment Seat of Christ, Six types of Eternal Rewards , and Eternal Rewards According to Motives and Ministry.

A5CSH            Cultivating Spiritual Hunger – This five tape series is for those who long to gain spiritual ground, but lack the motivation to begin the journey.  In his practical down-to-earth style, Mike Bickle offers helpful insights and encouragement for every believer who longs to increase his desire to seek the Lord.

A4PCT             Paul Cain’s Life Testimony – This four tape series was taken from the video tape series recorded in early 1990.  Paul covers material ranging from his grandmother, and mother, his childhood, his early years in ministry, the “silent years,” his current ministry and a prophetic look at the future. AVAILABLE AFTER 4-1-90

A5ROW           Revelation of Worship – Mike Bickle stirs the spirit of the believer to new depths of worship by expounding various themes on the topic from the book of Revelation.  In this five tape series Mike paints a vivid image of the never-ending worship which surrounds the throne of God.  Mike, as always, offers some very practical how-to’s on the subject of worship as well.  Titles include: Foundation of Worship, Prophetic Worship, Understanding Worship – Rev 4, and Worship: Revelation of the Throne of God.

A6GTT            Growing Through Personal Trials – In this six tape series Mike Bickle offers encouragement for those who are struggling with circumstances, disappointments and injustices in their personal lives.  Mike brings into perspective the spiritual gains to be made through perseverance, and overcoming those trials.  Titles include: Perplexity in the Ways of God, Job: Patience in Trials, and Job and God’s Integrity.

A5PGG            Preparation to Experience God’s Glory – In this five tape series Mike Bickle explains the relationship between God’s presence and His judgment.  These essential truths will have increasing relevance in the days ahead, as the Lord’s anointing is poured out upon the earth.  Using Exodus 32-34 as an example, Mike teaches the higher accountability which accompanies the greater manifestation of His presence.

A6PFD             Practical Foundations For Devotional Prayer – This brand new 6 tape series from Mike Bickle includes: Principles of Beholding the Lord, Developing a Vocabulary in Prayer, Mary of Bethany: Wasting Your Life, Principles of Spiritual Hunger, and two other messages which will challenge the believer to lavish their life upon Jesus.

A16SW            Spiritual Warfare Conference – This 16 volume set includes messages by Bob Jones, Rick Joyner, Francis Frangipane, David Ravenhill, David Parker, and Michael Sullivant.  Messages include: The Apostolic Standard, Identifying Principalities, Pulling Down Strongholds, and Binding the Strongman.

A7SFI              School For Intercessors – This 7 tape series by Mike Bickle was given at the Vineyard in Anaheim California in April, 1989.  It is, without doubt, Mike’s most thorough and comprehensive teaching on the subject to date.  Mike lays out both the theology and the practical “how-to’s” of intercession, dealing realistically with the obstacles to developing corporate intercession.

A4PCN            Paul Cain November ’88 – Paul draws upon more than four decades of prophetic ministry in sharing three messages about God’s purposes in this generation.  Included in this series is: Given As a Token, Behold I Will Come Quickly, and My Father’s House.  Paul describes one of his many personal encounters with God in which the Lord speaks of His longing for a group of men and women who will make Jesus their “magnificent obsession.”  Also included in this set is a fourth tape which contains Paul Cain’s dramatic personal testimony.

A6PPP             Power Purity & the Prophetic – This six tape set was given by Paul Cain in May of 1989.  In includes: The Original Extract, Extracting the Precious From the Vile, A Picture of the Church in America, The Dwelling Place of God, and a remarkable two tape set entitled Principles For the Prophetic Ministry in which Paul talks about the specific how’s of the prophetic ministry.

A8LRI             Leonard Ravenhill: Intercession and Revival – This eight tape series embodies the wisdom and passion formed during the more than 60 years of full-time ministry.  Leonard Ravenhill delivers a stirring message for holiness, revival and intercessory prayer.  Included in this series is: A Vision for an Unsaved World, Be Strong and Do Exploits, A Living Hope Through the Resurrection, The Excellency of Knowing God, Repent! Repent! Repent!, and Give Me Souls or I Die.

A4BJI*

A4BJV*

A8FLC             Leadership Conference: Fall ’88 – Team members discuss the evolving strategy and emerging network of Grace Ministries.  This eight tape series includes: Builders of Strategy, The Why and How of Team Life, Strategy for Reaching a City and It’s Region, and The Grace Ministries Network.  Also included in this series is a tape of worship, prayer and prophecy as well as two tapes featuring Bob Jones entitled: Bob Jones: Questions and Answers and Bob Jones on Pastors and Prophets.

A32SL             Leadership Conference: Spring ’89 – This remarkable set of 24 tapes includes material by Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, Leonard Ravenhill, Reuven Doron, Francis Frangipane.  Rick Joyner, David Parker, Noel Alexander and others.  More than 2000 leaders from across America, and beyond, gathered for this series of meetings.

A6FHS             Fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit – This six tape series by Mike Bickle was recorded over a three month period in late 1982 and early 1983.  These were some of the very first messages ever spoken at Kansas City Fellowship and are still very popular.  In this set Mike builds a solid foundation on which all other ministry must come forth.  Mike teaches, as have others through the ages, that the secret of enjoying the Lord through personal fellowship is the basis for a triumphant life and fruitful ministry.  Mike’s practical “how-to’s” have made this series a best seller.

A4WOG          The Ways of God – In this four tape series Mike Bickle covers some of the most fundamental precepts about the nature of God and his relationship to man.  Titles in this album include: The Fatherhood of God, A Testimony of Pleasing God, How a Loving God Can Send Men to Hell, and The Knowledge of Acceptance.

A3POP             The Perils of Perfectionism – Mike Bickle taught this three tape series in 1987 and it has remained popular ever since.  Mike carefully probes the issue of perfectionism among believers, presenting a biblical balance between a godly desire to give Him our best, versus an ungodly anxiety that restrains us because of our fear of failure.  So many Christians find themselves doing too little in the Kingdom of God because their natural parents or others taught them that if they can’t do it perfectly it’s not acceptable.  This series challenges that myth and encourages believers to step out in faith and give the Lord their best.

A4CTH            A Call to Holiness – Noel Alexander shares a resounding call to that rare but precious life of holiness entitled End Times Holiness.  Mike Bickle then offers some of his best practical “how-to’s” on the subject on three other tapes entitled: Walking Free From Adultery and Fornication,  and Taming the Tongue (part 1 & 2).

A4JOG            The Judgment of God – In this four tape album Mike Bickle identifies and teaches on three areas that can lead a believer into God’s judgment.  As always, Mike’s teaching is thoroughly biblical and full of practical ideas that can be applied to a Christian’s daily walk.  Titles included in this series are: Criticism and the Judgment of God, Tithing and the Judgment of God, and a two part message entitled Immortality and the Judgment of God.

A4THS            The Holy Spirit – This four tape series of foundational teachings by Mike Bickle includes: Ministering the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Understanding the Gift of Tongues (Part 1 & 2), and Bestowing the Holy Spirit.  Mike addresses these topics from a thoroughly biblical perspective with a candid discussion about why the role of the Holy Spirit has been the subject of so much controversy within the church.  Mike encourages believers to do more than just “receive” the Holy Spirit, but to actually begin utilizing the gifts in their daily walk.

A4IIP               An Introduction to Intercessory Prayer – This set of four tapes is basic to the Grace Ministries vision and calling.  Mike Bickle shares two messages entitled: Understanding Intercessory Ministry Teams and Seven Intercessory and Devotional Prayers.  Also in this album are two messages by Noel Alexander including: The Time for the Watchmen has Come and The Power of United Prayer and Fasting.

A8CC1            Grace Ministries Commitment Classes: Vol. 1 – This volume contains the first 8 of the 13 recently revised and updated 1989 commitment classes which are taught at Kansas City Fellowship.  Mike Bickle’s topics include: The Wineskin and Values of Grace Ministries, The Overall Vision and Structure of Grace Ministries, The Local Vision and Structure of Kansas City Fellowship, Heart Standards and Ministry Style, The Kingdom and the End Times, The Apostolic Gospel and God’s Eternal Purpose, The Nature of the Local Church, and Spiritual Authority and Eldership.

A5CC2            Grace Ministries Commitment Classes: Vol. 2 – This five volume set will complete the revised and updated 1989 Commitment Class series with tapes 9 through 13.  This series will not be complete or available until approximately July 1, 1990.

A4PHG*

A10P2             Prophecy II Conference – Vineyard – This 10 tape series from July 1989 at the Vineyard in Anaheim, California features Paul Cain, Mike Bickle, Bob Jones and John Paul Jackson.

Single Tapes:

Mike Bickle:

80814              Overview of Romans 5 & 6
80612              Loving Mercy
80214              Discerning The Various Seasons
71108              The Glory of Sexual Purity (2 tapes)
60215              Dating
50106              Cultivating the Secret Life in God
40529              Promotion By Humility
30508              Understanding Fasting
30430              Understanding Intercession Is. 62:6
30423              Understanding Intercession I Cor. 3:9
30123              Understanding Worship Rev. 4
30501              Spirit of Prayer Ze. 12:10
30424              Spirit of Prayer Ha. 2:9
30510*
30517              Eph. 6:10-15
41230              Commitment to Financial Integrity
90319              The Father Heart of God (Jn 17:24-26)
90108              The Mystery of the Will of God
80515               Hospitality
41127               Losing Your Life
30227              Understanding the Love of God
90613               Revelation of the Father’s Mercy
90702              The Good Intentions of the Heart
90604              Discerning the Religious Spirit Mt. 18:1
90611               Discerning the Religious Spirit (Pt. 2)
90730              Value of Significance
31115                How to Know God’s Will (2 tapes)
90801              Establishing Your Life Vision
90723              The Value of Acceptance
90627              Confidence Before the Father: Our Greatest Joy
90402              Five Steps to the Knowledge of God John 17:22-26
90903              Discerning the Will of God
80726              Job & God’s Integrity
70602              Eternal Rewards
70503              The Value of Daily Diligence
70502              Apostolic Prayer
60212               Personal Prayer
81002              A Vision for Personal Ministry
91001              Restoration of the Church
91212               Three Tensions of End-Time Prophecy
AA28A            Power of Meditation on the Word
91210              Cultivating an Intimate Knowledge of God
80609             Freedom From Unsanctified Emotions
81211               Scheduling Your Time
91000              Principles for Nurturing the Prophetic Ministry (2 tapes)
90623              Principles of Spiritual Maturity (2 tapes)
91100               Introduction to the Song of the Lord
61118                Spiritual Authority
60708              Sinning Against Unity

Noel Alexander:

80330              The Jezebel Spirit
90326*
90328              Prayer Challenge (with Bob Jones)
90604              Religious Spirit
90815              The Hope for This Generation
90910              Freedom From Sin by the Cross
90709             Holy Spirit
AA218             Princes of Israel take the Lead
91224              Name of Jesus
AB06A            Gladness of Heart
AB11A             Deliverance From Mourning

David Parker:

91108             Making Godly Choices
95555             How to Study the Bible
80524             The Pruning of the Lord
80809             Maintaining Your Spiritual Equilibrium (2 tapes)
70303             Discipleship in the Word
90117              Walking in the Comfort of God
90820             Eyes to See the Goodness of the Lord
90822             Engage Your Faith
90716             Testing the Spirits
90604             The Symptoms of Self-Righteousness
90411              The Privilege of Loving Jesus
91022             Learning to Delight in Mercy
AA16B            The Source of Joy

Michael Sullivant:

AB11B             It’s Time to Rebuild
80320             The Purpose of Patience
90207             Forbearance and Confrontation
90122              Judgment and Mercy – Joel
90305             Overcoming the Fear of Man
90618              God’s Blueprint for the Christian Family (2 tapes)
90709             The Four Foundational Standards of K.C.F.
90806             God, Your Work & Money (3 tapes)
91008              Achieving Oneness in Marriage
91015              Restoring Intimacy in Marriage

David Ravenhill:

90219              New Leaders for a New Purpose
90222              Binding the Strongman (2 tapes)
90221              Samson: Conceived out of Barrenness
90418              Abrahamic Covenant (2 tapes)
90813              Overcoming the Enemy
90905              Abraham: The Price of the Promise
91024              Simeon: A Transient Man
90917              Understanding Prophecy & It’s Fulfillment
AA07B             A New Breed “David’s Warriors”
91217              The Presence of God

John Wimber:

AB04A            The Kingdom of God in Your Midst

Leonard Ravenhill:

9021A             Worship in the Beauty of Holiness

Bob Scott:

70811              The Prophetic Church (2 tapes)

Bob Jones:

60608*
90226*
81231*
91010*

Paul Cain:

91222              Paul Cain’s Early Ministry
70512*
70929*
70629*
70628*
71001*
91217              Intimacy with God

Rick Joyner:

9LC23             The Vision of the Harvest

Terry Virgo:

91101              Enjoying God’s Grace (2 tapes)

John Paul Jackson:

8LS13              Responding to the Prophetic Call
60831              Interpretation of Dreams & Visions
88LS9              The Jezebel Spirit
8LC5A             Prophetic Administration (2 tapes)
JPJCC*

Jim Goll:

90919              Wisdom in Handling the Prophetic
90521L           God’s Remedy for Rejection
90725             The Antidote Called Hope

Gary Schmitz:

AA14B             Securing Undistracted Devotion

Ed Pioreck:

AA09A            The Fatherhood of God (2 tapes)

VIDEOS:

V3PCH            Paul Cain’s Life Testimony – Highlights – This 60 minute video highlights Paul Cain’s life and ministry.  Taped excerpts from the six hour full-length tapes are intended to provide an introduction for those who are unfamiliar with Paul Cain. [AVAILABLE AFTER 4-1-90]

V4PCT             Paul Cain’s Life Testimony – This six hour series was recorded in early 1990.  Paul covers material ranging from his grandmother, and mother, his childhood, his early years in ministry, the “silent years,” his current ministry and a prophetic look at the future. [AVAILABLE AFTER 4-1-90]

V1BJI*

V2IPC*

Items listed in the Gruen “Aberrant Practices” document not included in above catalog:

Tapes:

– Bob Jones Speaks to Dominion School, Fall 1989
– Bob Jones Prophecy: Olathe Christian Fellowship, part I
– Bob Jones, Lee’s Summit, February 1988
– John Paul Jackson with Bob Jones, KCMO, September 23, 1985
– Interpretation of Dreams and Visions, John Paul Jackson
– Prophetic Events, part I, John Paul Jackson
– Prophetic Events, part II, John Paul Jackson
– Visions and Signs, John Paul Jackson
– Maranatha World Conference, Mike Bickle, October 1989
– A New Breed, Bob Jones, 1989
– Night of Enlightenment: Bickle, Wes Adams, Larry Fry, John Paul Jackson, October 7, 1987
– The Fact in the New Order in God’s Work, Bickle, October 26, 1986
– New Order Illustrated – David/Saul, Bickle, October 1986
– New Order Illustrated – David/Saul, Bickle, October 26, 1986
– Olathe Christian Fellowship, Bickle, February 8, 1987
– Prophetic History 1, 2, 3, Bickle Spring 1986
– Remembering Our Heritage, Bickle, May 5, 1987
– Vineyard School of Prophecy, Bickle, Jones, 1989
– Vineyard Pastor’s Meeting, David Parker, March 2, 1990

Teaching Papers:

–          The Angelic Realm, Part I, “The Heavenly Identity, Nature & Service of Angelic Beings”
–          The Angelic Realm, Part II, “The Ministry and Relationship of Men and Angels”
–          Commitment Class, Part I, “Dominion & New Testament Church Life,” Week II, “The City Church,” Mike Bickle
–         Grace Ministries Leadership Conference, Session 1, “Preparation of a New Wineskin,” Mike Bickle, 1989
–         Grace Ministries Leadership Conference, Session 4, “The City Church,” Bickle, 1989
–          Gathering of Prophets, Lecture Notes, Bickle, 1989
–          “Emergence of Joseph Company,”Grace Ministries Leadership Conference, 1988
–          The Prophetic Church, Part I, “A New Order of Men”
–          “Strategy For Reaching a City & Its Regions,” Bickle

 

I’m also collecting ANY teaching papers from the KCF/Grace Ministries era (1982-1990)!

1 Jackson, Bill The Quest for the Radical Middle. 1999 (2010 “Re-published for Amazon”), Vineyard International Publishing, Cape Town, South Africa; pp 206-07
2 Jackson Quest. p 195.  This is confirmed in an extant digital copy of the complete audio of Cain’s message that evening (exact date unknown) in which Cain mentions a January 1989 conference as being “last month.”
3 copy of letter on “Association of Vineyard Churches” letterhead on file
4 copy of letter on “Metro Vineyard Fellowship” letterhead on file
5 International House of Prayer Encountering Jesus.  “IHOP MP3 stores: Free MP3s”  <http://www.ihopmp3store.com/Groups/1000021591/IHOP_MP3_Downloads/Free_MP3s/Free_MP3s.aspx> Disc 1 <http://ihopcontent.ihop.org/ihopcntnt/endis/FreeMP3s/Encountering_Jesus_D1.mp3> 18:45-19:35 as accessed 09/09/11

By Whose Power Does Bill Johnson Perform Healings?

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

– Bill Johnson, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continuing this account:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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