Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bill Johnson and the Divinity of Christ -Redux

"You will find on Wikipedia a comprehensive description of a blog. One of the most salient features of a blog is its interactivity. In the field of apologetics, the interactivity provided by a blog can be most useful. A controversial article will often spawn research and input from others, snowballing into a synergy called the "power of the blogosphere."

In the case of BeyondGrace blog, being right is far less important than getting to the truth. So in this installment we revisit the question: Does Bill Johnson DENY that Jesus was divine (deity) during His incarnation here on earth?Back in 2010, based on the best evidence available, we said yes. On further reflection, we are not sure that he does.

2 minute theology lesson from Theopedia:

The term kenosis comes from the Greek word kenoo, translated "emptied" in chapter 2 of Paul's letter to the Philippians:

"Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men." (Phil. 2:6-7 NASB)
What has come to be called "Kenotic theology" attempts to understand the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity in light of the kenosis of Phillippians 2:7. Its aim is to solve some of the supposed paradoxes arising from Jesus having both a divine nature and a human nature. For example, how could an all knowing God become a baby, how could God be tempted, or how could Jesus (being God) not know the time of His return?


The danger comes when it is concluded that in the incarnation, the second person of the Trinity took on human nature and gave up or lost some of the divine attributes -- such that Jesus was not fully divine. The doctrine of the two natures of Christ (known as the hypostatic union) maintains that Jesus possessed a full undiminished human nature and a full undiminished divine nature, which were not combined or confused into some new nature but were added to each other forever (yet remaining distinct) in the one person Jesus Christ.


The question regarding the kenosis comes to this -- What does it mean when Scripture says Christ "emptied" Himself? Did Jesus cease to be God during His earthly ministry?Certainly not, for deity cannot stop being deity or He would never have been true deity to begin with. Rather, the "emptying" is satisfactorily explained in the subsequent words of the verse, taking note of the two participles which grammatically modify and explain the verb: He emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. This emptying, in fact, was done as the man Christ Jesus, and neither of these ideas necessitates or implies the giving up of divine attributes.


Christianity maintains that Jesus did not "empty" himself of any of his divinity in the incarnation, although it is true that his divine attributes were veiled. When the Kenosis theory concludes that Jesus is or was less than God (as has been the case in the past), it is regarded as heresy.


The Johnson problem

Bill Johnson, in order to support his theme of "we shall do greater works than Jesus," takes great pains in his teaching to stress that everything Jesus did, He did as a Spirit-filled man rather than as God. If, as Johnson says, “Christ” is not a title of deity but merely means "anointed one," we too can be anointed with the Holy Spirit so that we can do the miraculous works Jesus did. Not only that, we can do even greater works.
Jesus lived his earthly life with human limitations. He laid his 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.
-Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth
Many of Johnson's followers will go even further than Johnson in explicitly affirming a kenotic view of Jesus, often attributing Johnson as the source of their extreme view:
No, I don't see Jesus as having been ‘unwilling’ to act other than as a Man during the Incarnation. I believe (as Johnson) that He willingly set aside His divinity, came here as a Man, and was wholly unable and incapable of doing anything in and of Himself - just like us. By choice. When He was filled with Holy Spirit, He became capable - as do we. He Himself said that of Himself, He could do nothing. Jesus was a Man during the Incarnation. Period. I'm not sure how to state that any more clearly.
[Jesus] emptied Himself of His omnipotence while remaining fully God in his true essence.

If Jesus was God while on the earth, there would be no possible way for us to live like him (it's hard enough as it is)! He, being man, showed us how to like in perfect communion with God! We are to live like him. We even have the same ‘abilities’ (bad term, but I couldn't think of a better one) as he did! In fact he said we would do greater things!

Christ forfeited (for a season) His deity in that He traded His seat in heavenly places for the cross so that we all could be with Him.

Divine means: emanating from Go...d [sic]. Jesus was and is divine. It was the Spirit of God in Him that made Him divine. We are also divine and supernatural through the Holy Spirit that lives in us.
Several of these statements were posted by Johnson’s followers in a Facebook discussion posted below) in which Johnson himself participated. They demonstrate the level of confusion that Johnson's teachings have spawned. The last comment, which states that "we are also divine," is heretical in a variety of respects. One might anticipate seeing an error of that degree expressed by the follower of a cult leader but surely not by the follower of a noteworthy evangelical pastor.

Recently fellow apologist W. B. McCarty discovered the following previously overlooked statement by Johnson in When Heaven Invades Earth:
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. 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.

Here Johnson seems to be affirming the full and unqualified deity of Christ during His incarnation on earth.

Jan Sherman, editor of Johnson's companion book, When Heaven Invades Earth Devotional and Journal, had this to say in the associated study questions:
Waxing theological again, what Johnson describes may comprise a functional kenosis (dealing with the job descriptions of the persons of the Godhead) as opposed to an ontological kenosis (dealing with their nature or concept of “Godness”). While I do not personally agree with functional kenosis, there is no theological consensus recognizing functional kenosis as heresy; ontological kenosis, on the other hand, entails explicit heresy.
The author [i.e., Johnson] emphasizes how important doing the works of the Father is, by comparing all the credentials Jesus had (prophetic voices, angelic witnesses, and nature's testimonials), to this one overarching credential. In your opinion, why did God bother to do all these other proofs of Jesus's divinity? Do you see their purpose within the context of His greatest credential?
Recall that Johnson elsewhere stated that Jesus “laid aside His divinity.” The orthodox Christian view, established since the fifth century, is that Jesus was (and remains) both fully and truly divine and fully and truly human. His divinity was veiled but not cast aside. We can spend a lot of time quibbling over the semantic nuances of veiled or cloaked divinity versus set aside or laid down divinity. However, in the quoted text, Johnson seems to be affirming the eternal divinity of Christ--that is, before, during and after the Incarnation. That’s precisely the key affirmation necessary to establish theological orthodoxy.

While we can say that, despite several incomplete or ambiguous statements that seem to affirm the contrary, Johnson does ultimately appear to affirm orthodoxy, we cannot say the same for many of his followers. We very much wish that Johnson would deal with the problem. However, much of Johnson's "greater things" theme hinges on his edgy teachings that closely approach the boundary of error. One may suppose that leaves him understandably reluctant to deal with the problem by clarifying his position. In any case Johnson has stated more than once that relationships are much more important (to him) than correct doctrine. And his teachings have a decidedly anti-intellectual bias that seems inconsistent with proper theological precision. So, if you anticipate the indicated clarification from Johnson, dream on.

What does Johnson say?

Johnson is fairly active these days on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, he is the indisputable master of soundbyte theology, which often turns on loaded language and false dichotomy. Johnson’s soundbyte theology doesn't do justice to crucial theological questions of the sort that careful thinkers across the centuries have written volumes to explain. So his response to a request for clarification was, as anticipated, rather simple or even simplistic:
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!-Bill Johnson, Facebook 3/21/2011
McCarty and I have discussed these recent clarifications and have agreed that in the light of this information we think it necessary and appropriate to revise our conclusion. We now consider that Johnson is best understood as espousing not ontological kenosis (which is heresy) but functional kenosis (which is not heresy). Functional kenosis, a relative newcomer on the theological stage, is distinct from the more traditional view that Jesus veiled his divinity. Those who hold the traditional view (veiled divinity) affirm that Jesus gave us occasional glimpses of his divinity ("he who has seen me has seen the Father") in such acts as calming the sea, turning water into wine, and other sundry miracles, signs and wonders. By these, he intended to reveal himself as the unique Son of God. Johnson’s view of functional kenosis ("self-imposed restriction") entails that Jesus’ miracles were done only by virtue of an anointing of the Holy Spirit on His ministry, and supports Johnson’s thematic claim that the same anointing is also available to us.

That we find it appropriate to revise our assessment is not to say that we have no serious problems with Johnson's teachings, which we continue to view as aberrant. Many people have noted the close parallels between his teachings and Hagin-style Word of Faith doctrine, including its notorious error that Jesus had to be born again. A more immediate problem for us is Johnson’s continual emphasis on "greater things."

The Greater things dilemma

To those who say we can do all that Jesus did McCarty often suggests--waggishly but with studied irony--that they get up on a cross, die, raise themselves from the dead on the third day, and save humanity from their sins.

Bob DeWaay, who has written an excellent critique of Johnson's kenosis and other issues with When Heaven Invades Earth, notes in personal correspondence that "his [Johnson's] approach means that things Jesus did during His earthly ministry that the gospel writers mention as proof of his divinity could no longer serve as such proof, even if only functional kenosis was being taught. If we can do what Jesus did, then we could prove that we are divine."

If the quotes from Johnson's followers cited above are taken at face value, it’s evident that at least one of them believes--contrary to everything true Christians have always believed--that we are divine.

It's not as though people have not pondered the meaning of “greater things.” It's a really good question. So think about it and be ready to join in the discussion. We will take up in detail the problem of "greater things" in a future installment.

UPDATE JUNE 20, 2011


Since I can't keep the link alive to the Facebook thread, I am posting the complete dialouge here. -Bill

Bill Johnson facebook 3/23/2011


Bill Fawcett  Pastor Bill, you have said of Jesus that "When He became a man He forfeited
everything." I'm trying to understand what you mean by this. Did Jesus sin by becoming a man?
Phillipians 2 suggests that Jesus humbled Himself, but did He really give up his inheritance, did He irrevocalbly surrender His diety? Was there a chance that He COULD... HAVE FAILED in His mission, which was ordianed before the foundation of the world? Jesus, before his crucifixtion stated "Everything that the Father has is mine." How does that point to reinheritance?


Pehaps you can help me on these points. It's great stuff to think about.


Thanks.


Bill Fawcett   Where's muy spel-chekur ? LOL!


Julie Threadgill Powers   I, too, would love to hear your answer, Pastor Bill. I look forward to having my
confusion cleared up. Thanks.


Karen Blackford   Sin is not something you do - it is a condition you are. You are born in the wrong
family. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could change families. He did not sin He became sin. It's the great exchange.


Bill McClure   If there was no possibility for him to "fail his mission" (as you put it) was Satan's
temptation really a temptation?


Ray Robles   Hello, very valid questions!
Did Jesus sin by becoming a man? No. 1 John 3:5 "And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him we have no sin." v. 8-9 "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the begi...nning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God."
Did He irrevocably surrender His diety? No. He forfeited it while on earth, but not irrevocably. Today, we pray in Jesus' name when we heal the sick. However, while on earth He was a man just like you and I. He lived the perfect example of a normal christian. It would be unfair for Him to expect us to heal the sick as He did and fulfill our commission if He was deity while on earth. He went to the Father. John 14:12.
Could He have failed? Yes. Jesus came to restore the Glory that man fell short of at the garden. God gave His dominion to man and Adam forfeited it. He not only disobeyed God but obeyed the serpent thus switching leaders and giving up his God given dominion to the devil. That's why God sent His son to become man, and reclaim dominion. Once God confirmed Jesus was His son after He was baptized, the devil knew He came to reclaim dominion; so he tempted Jesus to switch leaders and obey him just like he did to Adam in order to steal dominion again. Jesus could have failed but He didn't. Now we have been commanded to cancel the assignment of the enemy and He not only lived the example of how to do it as a man...but has given us Holy Spirit to empower us to do so. We have Jesus, and Holy
Spirit...no excuse for powerlessness.
I'm far from Bill Johnson but I hope this helps :)


Bill McCarty  Okay, I'm having some trouble getting my head around these issues. If Jesus forfeited deity, would it have been sin to worship him while he was on earth?


Ray Robles  No. The term "deity" is a man made philosphical term that Jesus is not confined to. His disciples gave up everything to follow Him, to serve Him, to learn from Him, and be with Him.
Those are all acts of worship. Regardless of the fact that... Jesus lived with the limitations of man does not change the fact that He is still the Son of God, in whom He is well pleased. Matt 3:17. What we do know is this: He is the son of God, We can't get to the Kingdom except through Him, Any and all affirmities must flee in His name, He is currently seated at the right hand of the Father. Hope it helps. If you still have trouble with this, on Bill Johnson's website he has an article on what our approach should be with the mysteries of God. Mysteries should be valued. A huge liberating revelation for people with tough questions. Here's the link: http://www.bjm.org/content/13/the-value-of-mystery.html


Bill McClure  Great comments Ray...


Bill McClure  If Jesus was God while on the earth, there would be no possible way for us to live like him (it's hard enough as it is)! He, being man, showed us how to like in perfect communion with God! We are to live like him. We even have the same "abilities" (bad term, but I couldn't think of a better one) as he did! In fact he said we would do greater things! It is amazing to think, but it is right from his mouth!


Bill McCarty  Okay, I hadn't thought about the disciples following him as being worship, since at first they didn't know that he was Messiah. So are you saying it was okay for them to worship him even though he was not divine?


Bill Fawcett  Ray, you said "The term "deity" is a man made philosphical term that Jesus is not confined to." That seems rather radical, and I've never heard anything like this before. Is this someting taught at Bethel ? (I'm on the east coast) .


Bill McCarty  Isn't deity the same as divinity?


Bill Johnson 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!


Ray Robles  There are only 2 times that Jesus marveled in the Bible. He marveled at faith, and the lack of it. Faith moves the Father, and thusly moves Jesus. Faith plays a pivotal role in the disciples following Jesus.
Divine means: emanating from Go...d. Jesus was and is divine. It was the Spirit of God in Him that made Him divine. We are also divine and supernatural through the Holy Spirit that lives in us. He came to Earth having seen the works of the Father, and not only demonstrated the works of the Father, but empowered us with the Holy Spirit so that we can also do the works of the Father. Notice how the disciples began doing miracles after they saw Jesus, and were filled with the Spirit in the Upper Room.
When we become born again we are more than saved from hell...we are made divine and supernatural because of the Spirit of God in us.
With that being said, Jesus was divine and supernatural. He came to show how a person confined with the limitations of being human is supposed to live when the Spirit of God is deposited in them through baptism in the Holy Spirit. Jesus was the Word that was with God in the beginning, before He became flesh. Jesus always was and is the Son of God; and for that reason: YES, it's always was and is OK to worship Jesus. ALWAYS! There's no way one could ever convince me that worshiping Jesus is a sin.Never in a million years. Hope this helps.


Bill Fawcett  Great, now as to my original questions, Pastor Bill, you have said of Jesus that "When He became a man He forfeited everything." I'm trying to understand what you mean by this. Did Jesus sin by becoming a man?
Phillipians 2 suggests that Jes...us humbled Himself, but did He really give up his inheritance, did He irrevocalbly surrender His diety? Was there a chance that He COULD... HAVE FAILED in His mission, which was ordianed before the foundation of the world?
Jesus, before his crucifixtion stated "Everything that the Father has is mine." How does that point to reinheritance?


Ray Robles It looks like there's a difference in the way we define divine. I certainly didn't mean to imply that we are deity. Read Romans 8:1-17, then read 2 Corinthianns 3: 17-18. Verse 18 says it all "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as ...in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the spirit of the Lord." Christ killed our flesh and took up residency in our spirits. Therefore if our flesh is dead, and the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead has taken it's place (Romans 8:11) and I, with unveiled face, beholding as in a MIRROR the glory of the Lord, am being transformed into the same image from glory to glory...this means I am supernatural. Not because of me, my flesh is dead and I am made supernatural because of the Spirit of God that lives in me. I have dual citizenship in both heaven and earth right now, and am seated in heavenly places (Eph 2:6). If I am supernatural, and the kingdom of God is at hand, and God's will is for His kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven...that's a right now word! It's my duty to cancel the assignment of the enemy, and I can not do it in the flesh or by the flesh. The problem is, the church tends to be satisfied with accomplishments that can be done through human talent and goodness. God has deposited too much in us to not be functioning supernaturally. Like Bill Johnson says: "If you are not walking in the miraculous you are living far below your birthright." We need to prophecy, heal the sick, raise the dead. The world has enough powerless christians. That's why the world goes to fortune tellers, reads horoscopes, are fascinated by demonic exorcism movies, etc. They want power, and they're getting it from the wrong source because not enough christians are tapping into their birthright.
"Operating in kingdom power attracts the world and offends the religous" (Bill Johnson). This is what Bethel teaches, my church (ICLV), Harvest Christian Center, Morning Star, all do as well. I'm sure there are a lot more that do as well. Hopefully that cleared it up some for you :)


Ray Robles Steve Thompson from Morning Star (a really prophetic church) spoke at my church in our prophetic conference a couple of months ago regarding this very subject. He now lives in Redding and partners with Bill Johnson and the Bethel team. The ...Sermon is called "Supernatural Transformation."
I left those sermon notes in my wifes car so I just tried recounting what I remember from scripture and his sermon. If you have itunes that very sermon was recorded that day and you can find it on itunes.Type: "iclv message of the week." then click on the icon. His sermon is the tenth one, called "Supernatural Transformation" by Steve Thompson. it's well worth it, you can download video or audio for free. I guarantee it will give you a greater understanding of the supernatural and change your life!


John Borelli Christ forfeited (for a season) His deity in that He traded His seat in heavenly places for the cross so that we all could be with Him. Imagine the president of the US coming to your house to clean your toilet! Christ humbled Himself so m...uch more than this:
Heb 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.


Bill Fawcett  Thanks Ray, that does help. yes, when I say divine I certainly don't mean those "who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." Funny you should mention those passages, because I prophesied around of Romans 8:11 on Sun...day.
But, no I don't think those passages suggest that Christ killed our flesh, or that our flesh is dead. If that was the case, we wouldn't have to bring our flesh under subjection as Paul exhorts in I Corinthians 9:27. Jesus himself told us that the spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).
Granted, we should not live "in the flesh," but practically speaking the flesh will be only dead when 1) we cease to breathe or 2) we are caught away. The we shall be like Him (but still won't be deity). I'm curious though. If you did not mean to imply that we are deity (whew!), but you said Jesus was divine and you said we are also divine, was Jesus, when he walked on the earth, deity?


Bill Fawcett  John, Here's the thing. If someone says "Mankind's authority to rule was forfeited when Adam ate the forbidden fruit" I can understand what they mean in the context of the "Satan's Gain" theory. Now, we all know that to forfeit means to los...e or have confiscated something because of some fault, offense or crime, a breach of contract or by treason. In otherwords, sin.
So, if Jesus Christ did not sin, "he never sinned," as Pastor Bill stated above, how did he forfeit His deity? Or back to the original quotation, what does "When He became a man He forfeited everything" mean?
The quote about Adam above comes from WHIE, page 11. In that context, it is clear that there is an understanding what the word forfeit means. Most football fans know what forfeit means.
I don't want to get picky, but I am perplexed by statements such as "(Jesus) forfeited everything."
Which is why I hope that Pastor Bill can clear this up.
Would appreciate your further thoughts, as well.


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Tags: Bethel Church, BSSM, Bethel School of Supenatural Ministry, Bill Johnson, When Heaven Invades Earth, Redding, Kenosis, Kenotic Heresy, Functional Kenosis, Ontological Kenosis, Divinity of Christ, Incarnation

For further study: An Invasion of Error, A review of Bill Johnson – When Heaven Invades Earth by Bob DeWaay. link.

87 comments:

  1. Thanks guys for publishing this. I have seen enough statements by Bill J like the one he made in answer to your Facebook question to make me wonder about this for quite a while now.

    I am glad that quote from his book was found. I think it is a big help here.

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  2. Well written. I had to think on that one.

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  3. From the quote:

    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.

    I'm not so sure this is a slam dunk that confirms that Johnson is affirming Jesus Christ's divinity at the Incarnation. It seems to confirm Jesus was the Messiah by His miracle workings post-Baptism, yes, however, according to Johnson it was the Christ anointing which provided the source of His miracles -- not the person of Jesus Christ -- as Jesus had "no supernatural abilities..." And, further, this same "Christ anointing" is available to all.

    As to the words which directly precede this quote, I offer this: One could be absolutely correct in stating "Dr. Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875..." yet, obviously, Jung did not have his doctorate at birth. Similarly, one could say "Jesus Christ, our Messiah was born..." and not necessarily mean He was the Messiah or the Christ at the Incarnation.

    Splitting hairs? Semantics? Sure one could argue that; but, what do we do with this?:

    Christ is not Jesus' last name. The word Christ means “Anointed One" or "Messiah." It is a title that points to an experience. It was not sufficient that Jesus be sent from heaven to earth with a title. He had to receive the anointing in an experience to accomplish what the Father desired. [WHIE p 79]

    http://diplateevo.com/Resources/When%20Heaven%20Invades%20Earth.pdf [p 75 here]

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  4. Craig, Johnson empahtically stated
    "Jesus was (and is) God." I don't know what more he could say.

    And his workbook states:

    "why did God bother to do all these other proofs of Jesus's divinity?

    Based on these two quotations I cannot say that Johnson's theology is ontologically kenotic. However, there seems to be no question that his theology is - at least- functionally kenotic.

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  5. When we say we will one day be in eternity, we won't be there from eternity past -- that's my understanding anyway. Our eternal existence begins when our temporal time on earth ends.

    One could say "Jesus was [eternity past] (and is) [currently] God and yet He was not during His earthly existence -- or at least until He received "the anointing."

    At best, Johnson has conflicting claims.

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  6. Craig,

    I don't see how Bill J could make a more blunt statement then he has either.

    His theology is still very problematic in many ways but I honestly don't see how we can at this point accuse him of saying that Jesus wasn't God at the time of, or during, his incarnation.

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  7. cherylu,

    I suppose it depends on just what Johnson means by "was" in the last quote Bill referenced. Certainly, he affirms it in the present tense.

    Could it be that in the Johnson view Jesus' divinity during his earthly existence occured only post-Baptism?

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  8. read it again, Craig- Johnson affirms divinity even in the manger.

    And I'm not convinced that "eternal" has more than one meaning.

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  9. Jesus was (and is) God. Eternally God

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  10. Craig,

    "Jesus was (and is) God, eternally God. That never changed." Bill Johnson quote from Facebook. Bolding mine.

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  11. I agree that "eternal" has but one meaning; but, not everyone else does. I've seen others state "eternity past," for example.

    The angels do affirm Jesus' divinity in the manger; but, is this truly what Johnson believes? Shouldn't we take all Johnson's statements and try to harmonize those to arrive at his beliefs just like we would the Bible? To "affirm" divinity in some instances yet effectively deny it in others paints a seemingly contradictory belief system.

    Yet, I do believe that when all statements are harmonized, they do not show conclusively that Johnson affirms a fully divine Jesus Christ during His earthly existence. The way I read Johnson, his "Jesus" was divine only by virtue of the "Christ anointing."

    Whether we agree or not regarding whether Johnson's kenosis is 'merely' functional or ontologicial, I do think it VERY important to show how Johnson's fans understand him. Apparently, some construe an ontologically kenotic Jesus -- a not-divine Jesus.

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  12. -*-ding-*-ding-*-ding-*-

    You get it - the entire point of the article is that Bill Johnson has made enough affirmations of Jesus' divinity that he cannot be pegged as ontologically kenotic but yet many of his followers have misunderstood him and come up with some pretty wacky stuff.

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  13. Craig,

    If Johnson believes Jesus was only divine because of the Christ anointing, then He was not always divine. There was a period of 30 or so years in which He was only a man. And in that case His divinity did channge--contrary to Bill J's specific claim "that never changed."

    It seems to me that we have no other choice here then to accept his statements at face value. And please remember, these statements have been made in other places by Johnson too.

    I won't argue that he isn't making statements here that are logically incoherent in my mind at all. But as you and I both know, there are people out there that have argued long and hard that what he says is possible. They don't see any problem with the statement. So probably Bill J does not either.

    (That also doesn't mean that other people are not going to take what he said and run with it to a very dreadful end).

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  14. Bill,

    I think you maybe need to read Craig's last comment again. It seems to me he only partially "got it" as he still stated that he thought BJ only believes Jesus is divine because of the Christ anointing.

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  15. Craig,

    You asked if we shouldn't try to harmonize what Bill J says to arrive at his beliefs like we do the Bible. I see a problem with that idea though. God is not incoherent. We, and Bill Johnson, as people can't always make the same claim. Since we have limited knowledge and understanding, is it not possible for us to be incoherent and not even know it? That seems to be the case here, as far as I can tell.

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  16. OK, please bear with me on this:

    "Jesus was (and is) God."

    This certainly affirms present tense deity. However, just when was "was?" Continuing:

    "Eternally God"

    When we make it to heaven we are said to have eternal life. However, we were not there "from the beginning" obviously; so, we have a starting point in our eternal life. We could say, perhaps, there's "eternity past" and an "eternal future" couldn't we?

    So, could Johnson mean by "Eternally God" that He was pre-Incarnation and post-Ascension (or Resurrection) and that He was only divine in His earthly existence by virtue of the "Christ anointing" post-Baptism?

    "That never changed"

    Could this merely affirm what I've just written?

    I know this seems like linguistic gymanastics; but, Johnson is not afraid to employ same in his writings. I'm not ready to give him the benefit of the doubt unless he wants to amend his books.

    Statements like the following are quite problematic and, to me, impossible to interpret apart from ontological kenosis:

    "The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine, enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil" [WHIE p 79]

    This plus the whole "Christ is a title" thing is how I showed kenosis in the BJ I article.

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  17. Craig,

    In relationship to the attributes of God, "eternality" (timelessness) has a very specific meaning which Johnson is no doubt familiar with. It is one of God's incommunicable attributes. Johnson was talking in context of the attributes of God, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt in his statement.

    As mentioned in the article, there are some other very real issues that I have with Johnson, but ontological kenocity (new word?) is not one of them.

    Readers who want to persue Craig's post-Ascension / anointing theory further can click on his name- a link to his blog- and read away.

    Futher study on the attributes of God, specifically eternality, may be found in the TTP series on the trinity, lessons 4 and 5. It's free.

    http://bible.org/series/trinitarianism

    ReplyDelete
  18. Bill,

    Could you maybe give us further context to your FB conversation with Bill? And for those of us on FB, maybe point us to this converssation--if it is still there of course?

    Obviously Craig is not convinced here, and I am wondering if this would help.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Craig,

    In the meantime (until Bill perhaps offers further context for this conversation if that is possible) I really can't see how we can take Bill's saying that Jesus was and is divine eternally, and that has never changed to mean anything other then He believes Jesus was God at the incarnation. He did say that in so many words in the quote from WHIE also.


    And again, if He wasn't God until the anointing came upon Him at His baptism, (according to Johnson,) then it is certainly not true that this never changed.

    I think in this context when he says that the anointing is what connects Jesus the man to the divine, he means Jesus the man with the self imposed limitations (functional kenosis?) that he says Jesus imposed on Himself.

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  20. context

    http://f1.grp.yahoofs.com/v1/oHi3TRTAofGmrz-47UmiIaQmwIAZu1yXrogw2TkRcMc8HOOrLY6pz3tOhht0m19Umi4JV3UNHGMBLFcpPpcg7Q/BJ%20facebook%203-23-2011.pdf

    some comments on the current FB page were deleted by a participant

    ReplyDelete
  21. Bill,

    Thanks for posting that.

    ReplyDelete
  22. cherylu,

    But, what do we do with this:

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

    The word anointing means "to smear." The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.1 The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit. [p 79 WHIE]

    If, as Johnson claims, the name "Jesus Christ" implies "the one smeared with the Holy Spirit" and we know that the Holy Spirit descended as a dove at His Baptism and not before, wouldn't we conclude that Jesus was not, in fact, "Jesus Christ" at the Incarnation? Johnson is quite clear that Baptism is the "experience" which provided the 'Christ title.' Presumably, prior to Baptism He was merely Jesus of Nazareth. And, it was only post-Baptism that He became "Jesus Christ" -- Jesus with the "Christ anointing."

    This comes back to my example of Dr. Carl Jung.

    Here's another quote from Face to Face with God:

    ...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 there could be no title. [p 109]

    Applying this doctrine of Johnson's then, theoretically, if the "Christ anointing" were to leave Him, then He would cease being "Jesus Christ" and revert back to just plain ol' "Jesus" once again.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Craig, Read it again:

    "Waxing theological again, what Johnson describes may comprise a functional kenosis (dealing with the job descriptions of the persons of the Godhead) as opposed to an ontological kenosis (dealing with their nature or concept of “Godness”)."

    Yes, Johnson's use of "Christ" as a title fits well with my description of functional kenosis as a "job description."

    You have illustrated again why it is confusing- Johnson appears to be teaching the kenotic heresy, but close examination of his teachings provides instances where he sets forth very specific statements which demonstrates that ontological kenosis is not what he intends.

    I think you make a very good case as to the absurdity of functional kenosis. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Bill,

    Apparently the point in which we differ is that I see "Christ" as an ontological term rather than merely functional. As Louis Berkhof states in his Systematic Theology:

    "[The five names of Christ] are partly descriptive of His natures, partly of His official position, and partly of the work for which He came into the world." [p 312]

    If the term "Christ" is "partly descriptive of His natures,” I think it should be defined ontologically (as descriptive of His being). Neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit could rightly be called “Christ” (nor any human, of course). Of the four other terms Berkhof cites: Jesus, Son of man, Son of God and Lord, only the latter could be descriptive of any other person – namely and solely the Father, of course. Continuing with Berkhof:

    "...Christ was set up or appointed to His offices from eternity, but historically His anointing took place when He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, Luke 1:35, and when He received the Holy Spirit, especially at the time of His Baptism..."[p 313]

    So, I see Johnson in his quotes from 12:57am as displaying both functional and ontological kenosis.

    Apparently, we do agree there's something seriously wrong with functional kenosis. Given that the doctrine/theory of kenosis in general did not come about until the mid-19th century (Berkhof p 329] or perhaps earlier, I see it as trying to do an end run around the hypostatic union as I feel you do as well.

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  25. I suppose I need to add that even if Johnson were to affirm Jesus Christ's eternal and earthly existence as fully God (and fully man during and after the Incarnation, of course) over and over, I would then use this affirmation to induce him to change his books so that they would all be in agreement. But, as you stated, "...if you anticipate the indicated clarification from Johnson, dream on."

    Short of amending his works, I'd be unconvinced as to his profession. It would be like Arius professing Jesus Christ's full deity yet continuing to teach his doctrine.

    ReplyDelete
  26. No, I also see Christ as an Ontological term, but propose that Johnson does not in the strictest sense. Which is why I prefer Messiah, as that automatically makes the distinction. Or better yet, the Son, monogenes (the one and only).

    And I don't see how agreeing with Berkhof, a reformed theologian, is in any way a test of orthodoxy.

    Johnson can differ with you and me on the way in which he sees "Christ" and still affirm that Jesus is eternally God. Really, he can!

    >If the term "Christ" is "partly descriptive of His natures,” I think it should be defined ontologically

    Opinions are like rear-ends; we all have one.

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  27. >It would be like Arius professing Jesus Christ's full deity yet continuing to teach his doctrine.

    Your argument would carry more weight if Arius had ever affirmed the eternalness of the trinity. :)

    I'm sure history would have a different view of Arius if he had.

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  28. I agree that Messiah seems to be a better term and less apt to be misused and I prefer it as well [even though Benny Hinn had used "little Messiachs"(sp?) for "little gods" a while back]. Not to belabor my point but merely as clarification, Johnson does equate the term "Christ" with "Messiah" -- see post at 12:57 above for his quote. I would think he would understand "Messiah" as an ontological term, and I'm not convinced he doesn't.

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  29. Craig,

    Bill F made this statement, No, I also see Christ as an Ontological term, but propose that Johnson does not in the strictest sense. Which is why I prefer Messiah, as that automatically makes the distinction. Or better yet, the Son, monogenes (the one and only).

    Please don't take what I am about to say here as anything definitive. It is more just my thoughts on this subject--my perception of the way the word "Christ" was thought of in the charismatic church. I don't think this was ever stated explicitly, and it has been awhile so I may not remmber this correctly. But if I remember right,the sense I got was that the word Christ wasn't thought of as denoting divnity or godhood (making this an ontological term), but it was thought of as denoting the anointing. We were told that the word "Christ" means anointed.

    If my perception and memory on this is correct, Bill J could very easily be saying that Jesus was/is always God and mean it completely while at the same time speaking of the Christ anointing being given to Him at His baptism. (He did say, didn't he, that it wasn't enough to have the title which he seemed to mean He had at birth, but that He also had to have the experience of the anointing?)

    If my memory and perception are correct, recieving the experience of the Christ anointing at baptism wouldn't mean He became God then. It would mean that He was particularly anointed at that time for the job that He had ahead of Him to do.

    (Any thoughts from other former charismatics here on this? Did you get the same sense on this subject? Or am I totally out to lunch here?)

    ReplyDelete
  30. PS to my last comment,

    I just asked another person that was also at one time in the charismatic church if she had the same perception of the way that the word "Christ" was used there. She agreed that she perceived it in the same way that I did.

    ReplyDelete
  31. cherylu,

    The problem is that Johnson clearly defined Christ as "Messiah" or "Anointed One" as per my quote above at 12:29 yesterday in the last paragraph.

    In posting a comment to John Ashton on the BJ I thread, I went through a systematic presentation of the way Johnson defines Christ by using Johnson's words. Here's the link.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Craig,

    I have read your reply to John Ashton on your blog.

    The word translated "Messiah" seems to be the Hebrew equivalent of the New Testament word translated "Christ." Here is a lexicon definition of the OT word: 1) anointed, anointed one
    a) of the Messiah, Messianic prince
    b) of the king of Israel
    c) of the high priest of Israel
    d) of Cyrus
    e) of the patriarchs as anointed kings

    From here: http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H4899&t=KJV

    Now if you think of these terms both as meaning "anointed" and not think of them as denoting divinity, like I said above, I can see how Bill J can say what he says and still believe Jesus is fully divine even if He believes these titles were given Him at His baptism.

    I will admit, I never heard the word "Messiah" spoken of that way in the charismatic church, but it was the way the word "Christ" seemed to be used. You and I have thought of it this way: Christ = a designation for deity/godhood. The charismatic way of looking at it seems to be Christ = anointing (by the Holy Spirit)

    If that is the case, it would seem that Jesus who has put self imposed restrictions on Himself to live as a man only on this earth, would be receiving this anointing by the Holy Spirit to connect Him to the divine since He limited Himself on earth to living as a man--even if He was truly God at that time.

    Remember the Facebook quote in the article above: 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!-Bill Johnson, Facebook 3/21/2011

    ReplyDelete
  33. ****ADMIN****

    for some odd reason Blogger is requiring a Gmail account to post. Until this is resolved, if you wish to post, email me and I will post it for you

    fawcetwd@gmail.com

    -Bill

    ReplyDelete
  34. POSTING FOR CRAIG

    Cherylu,



    For a moment, let’s accept your hypothesis that, in the Johnson view, Jesus was fully divine pre-Baptism but yet did not receive His official title of Christ/Messiah/Anointed One until an anointing at Baptism. He was not quite the Messiah in full. Johnson terms this anointing at Baptism the “Christ anointing.” He also states, and this is key here, “The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit." [WHIE p 79] So, logically, the name of “Christ,” Jesus Christ, came after Baptism and not before and Jesus could not rightly be called Jesus Christ until then.



    Here’s where this view of Johnson falls apart. Johnson also states we can get the same “Christ anointing” which means we become Christs/Messiahs/Anointed Ones, ourselves. So, then, following this logic, you are Cheryl Christ and I am Craig Christ once we are “smeared with the Holy Spirit.”



    The problem is Johnson can’t have it both ways. Either we accept the orthodox view that Jesus Christ was fully the Messiah, the Anointed One, at the Incarnation and already had this title pre-Baptism (although certainly His Baptism inaugurated His ministry) or we accept the self-contradiction inherent in this teaching.



    Craig

    CrossWise

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  35. POSTING FOR CHERYLU


    Craig,

    First of all, please remember that I am in no way endorsing Bill Johnson's teachings. But I do think we owe it to Johnson and whoever of the rest of the world that may be reading or listening to what we have to say to represent what he believes as fairly as possible.

    And you are right, there is a real problem with where BJ's "you are anointed ones" teachings lead us. No one is arguing that. In fact that is the point Bill F leaves us with in his article above.

    But we also know that BJ has stated that we can do what Jesus did. I don't think that statement is changed any by his believing that Jesus was fully God during the whole incarnation since he seems to believe that Jesus was acting under functional kenosis on this earth. But it is still a very problematic statement no matter what.

    However, it is a very typical word of faith teaching. It also of course, smacks of manifest sons of god teaching, or at least borders on it. As a side note, it was either Kenneth Copeland or Kenneth Hagin, I believe Copeland, that has been quoted as saying that God told him that if he had known what Jesus knew, he could of done what Jesus did on the cross! So this teaching can get carried away to vast extremes.

    But it is still a different issue then Johnson's believing Jesus was God, as far as I can tell. What it really seems to change is a to elevate man.

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  36. POSTING FOR CHERYLU

    Bill F has mentioned TTP, (The Theology Program) several times. I read this article by Michael Patton from that same ministry on the ministries official blog the other day. The comments have some further discussion in them.

    The way Michael describes the hypostatic union is 100 % God and 100 % man. However, what he says about the way Jesus functioned in that union could almost be Bill Johnson speaking if the vocabulary was changed a bit. He said Jesus always had access to all the powers of God, but chose not to use them in order that he would really live as a man and could truly be our representative as the second Adam. He was speaking of representation in salvation, not as a model for doing miracles. But the same principle was being spoken of. However, Patton did not call it "laying His divinity aside."

    Here is the link: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/04/the-discipleship-book-christ/#more-7569

    I don't always agree with what Patton says. However I found it significant that a mainstream and quite uncharismatic guy theologically would make the statements he made above. And I know enough about him to never doubt for a minute that he believes Jesus was always fully God while on this earth.

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  37. posting for craig

    I understand your position. I hope it didn’t seem as though I was attacking you as that was not my intention.

    Here’s another sticky point on that particular hypothesis, though. Quoting Johnson, “The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine enabling Him…” [p 79 WHIE] In this statement Johnson clearly identifies the “anointing” with the term “divine.” So, if we assume the term “anointing” to mean Christ/Messiah/Anointed One [or Christ anointing] and these are non-divine terms according to this particular view, then how can Johnson use the term “divine” in this quote here?


    This one really requires some linguistic gymnastics to fit. We have to change “Jesus, the man” to mean something like “Jesus, in his humanity although He was the God-man,” and we have to say the “anointing” is “divine” which does not make Jesus divine because He’s already divine yet we can’t actually call Jesus “Jesus Christ” until this particular “anointing” as this title is only conferred on Him at the anointing (Baptism), yet “Christ” itself is a non-divine term.

    If anointing = Christ anointing = Messiah = Anointed One and these terms are non-divine, what is the purpose of calling Jesus “Jesus Christ?”

    If Jesus cannot rightly be termed “Jesus Christ” until the anointing, then it sure seems like the term “Christ” connotes divinity especially in light of the quote above, does it not?

    ReplyDelete
  38. posting for Cherylu

    Craig,

    You said, "If Jesus cannot rightly be termed “Jesus Christ” until the anointing, then it sure seems like the term “Christ” connotes divinity especially in light of the quote above, does it not?"

    I don't think so Craig. Remember Christ means anointed in this view. Anointed with what? Anointed, or to use Bill J's words quoted elsewhere, "smeared with the Holy Spirit". It is what He is anointed or "smeared" with that is divine. Not the anointing itself. He is the anointed one in this view--the one anointed in or with the Holy Spirit.

    The quote where the word "smear" was used: "The word anointing means “to smear.” The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.1 The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit. [p 79 WHIE

    Definition of "anoint" from the same lexicon I quoted above:

    1) to smear, anoint, spread a liquid
    a) (Qal)
    1) to smear
    2) to anoint (as consecration)
    3) to anoint, consecrate
    b) (Niphal) to be anointed

    The terms Christ or Messiah means "anointed or anointed one." (See my earlier comment where I gave the lexical definition for "Christ". It is a direct derivative of this word "anoint".

    So Christ means the one that is smeared or anointed. And again, anointed with what according to Johnson? Anointed with the Holy Spirit--hence connected with the divine.

    ReplyDelete
  39. posting for mbaker

    Craig,

    I know you are already aware of this from John Piper as I have shared it with you, and with WB McCarty who helped write Bill’s redux article.

    "Second, our text has important implications for understanding the divinity of Christ. It helps us understand what Paul meant when he said, "Though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant" (Philippians 2:6,7). One of the things Christ emptied himself of was omniscience. He said concerning the time of his return (Matthew 24:36), "Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven nor the Son, but the Father only." Similarly, here in our text Jesus is not just playing games with the scribes. His questions aim to gain insight for verse 52 says "He increased in wisdom."

    "But it is not easy to imagine how Christ can be God and not be omniscient. Evidently the incarnate Christ was able somehow to bracket or limit the actual exercise of his divine powers so that he had the personality of God (basically, the motives and will of God) but the powers of knowing all and the infinite strength of God he somehow restrained. They were his potentially and thus he was God; but he surrendered their use absolutely and so he was man."

    From here:

    http://www.soundofgrace.com/piper81/011181e.htm


    Certainly, it would seem that Piper, who is one of the giants of the faith, is in essence saying the same thing as BJ, yet I doubt anyone would ever think of saying he is preaching another Jesus, or kenotic heresy.

    Yes, the kenosis can be very confusing, because it is so hard for our minds to grasp how Christ could be 100% man, like us in every way, and at the same time 100% God. If it is so hard for theologians to explain, one can certainly see how it could cause confusion among the lay people of a church, just like the Trinity seems to.

    I am not agreeing with Johnson's seriously flawed theology, which is both confusing and contradictory to say the least, and aberrant in many other ways. However, given his statements that he believes Jesus was and is eternally God, I think we, as Christians who profess the same thing have to give credit to him for that, just as we do for each other when our theology disagrees.

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  40. posting for W B McCarty

    MBaker, it does appear from your offered quote that John Piper teaches a functional kenosis, which many today accept as orthodox. And, as the above article states, Bill Johnson has affirmed the deity of Christ. As a consequence of that affirmation, I have inferred that Johhson intends teaching a functional (orthodox) kenosis, rather than an ontological (heretical) kenosis. But that is emphatically not to say that what Piper says, Johnson says. What is in Piper's case explicit is in Johnson's case the result of reasoning that affords him, as a matter of Christian intellectual courtesy, the benefit of considerable doubt occasioned by the ambiguity and inconsistency of his statements.

    Please note that Piper's statement on kenosis is clear, consistent, and complete in the sense that it includes an affirmation of deity. To confirm Piper's position as orthodox, it isn't necessary what we seek clarification of ambiguities by examining the full corpus of Piper writings. It isn't necessary that we make inferences from his silence. And it isn't necessary that we extend him benefit of doubt. Instead, Piper's statement stands on its own. On the other hand, Bill Johnson's various statements on the kenosis generally fail these criteria. They are unclear, inconsistent, incomplete, and therefore ambiguous. Simply put, on its face, Johnson's teaching on the kenosis is incoherent. The same is by no means true of Piper. Since Johnson has affirmed the deity of Christ, I infer that he intends a functional kenosis. But I can't be sure what he intends. Nor, I submit, can any other reader.

    Stated somewhat bluntly, there is in my mind no reasonable excuse for a Christian minister to be incoherent or even unclear in his teaching on the person and full deity of Christ. Though, in the face of doubt occasioned by ambiguity, I choose to regard Bill Johnson's position on this point as orthodox, I continue to consider his teaching on the subject as ambigous and dangerous. In particular, that he teaches a functional kenosis is merely inferred from his occasional affirmations of Christ's deity. Anyone who doubts this should re-read the collected statements, above, by Johnsons fans showing how they interpret him.

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  41. posting for mbaker

    That was exactly my point. Piper does say the 'incarnate' God in the quote itself, even if it might seem to some that he is saying Christ gave up one of the proofs of His divinity.

    No one agrees more than I that BJ is inconsistent and incoherent, and decidedly incorrect in much of his personal interpretation of the Bible, as are Bickle, Jones and Joyner. Like them, BJ has just gone one step further with the kind of personal theological license that twists the scriptures to his own dominionist leanings. But of course this is nothing new in the hyper-charismatic world.

    And like them he does affirm Jesus is God, however much we have to dig for it.

    This from his book When Heaven Invades Earth, chapter 2:

    "While He is 100 percent God, He chose to live with the same limitations that
    man would face once He was redeemed."

    Now granted he's presented a lot of crazy teachings in that context, but I do think I am satisfied that he is not preaching another Jesus entirely.

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  42. Bill Johnson has affirmed the deity of Christ. But that does not, by itself, establish that he preaches the true Jesus. Paul, in Galatians, uses the phrase "another Jesus" not in reference to a Christological error but in reference to a distorted Gospel.

    I haven't carefully examined Johnson's claim that (as I recall and understand him to say) the Gospel as proclaimed for almost two millennia is a "false" Gospel. But, taken at face value, his claim would amount to preaching another Jesus in the very sense in which Paul intended the term. I think the question whether he preaches "another Jesus" is very much open.

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  43. posting for craig
    cherylu,



    If “Christ” means merely “anointed/ing” in this view then, why would Jesus be called Jesus Christ before the “anointing?” Are there 2 different (re)definitions of “Christ” with respect to Jesus, one pre- and one post-Baptism? And, of course, why aren’t we given the title of Christ as well when we receive the anointing? These are rhetorical questions, of course, as I’m just trying to illustrate the absurdity of that particular view when it’s carried all the way through. And, I understand you yourself do not adhere to this view as you are just trying to explain it.



    I am aware of the relationship of the terms Christ (Christos) and anointing (chrisma/chrio) as I go through this in the BJ I article. But, I submit we should judge Johnson’s words by orthodoxy rather than by their redefinitions. This is important because, apparently, not everyone understands the redefinitions and applies them in various ways.



    Quoting portions of Johnson’s words and stating the logic flowing from them:



    If Jesus “laid His divinity aside,” [WHIE, p 79] He cannot properly be “fully God” also.



    If “Jesus, the man,” was linked via the “anointing” “to the divine” we can’t logically infer “Jesus, the man’s” divinity before this ‘linking.’ [Face to Face with God; p 77]



    If Jesus did not receive His title of Christ and hence His name until Baptism, then, logically, He did not have this name/title prior to Baptism. [WHIE, p 79; Face to Face, p 109]



    If Jesus died a “powerless lamb” [WHIE, p 79], He could not have made Atonement.



    Given the above, Bill Johnson can claim Jesus was divine at all times during the Incarnation; however, his words above would run contrary to that claim.

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  44. looks like the post thingy is working now- I set up a new form box as a work around.

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  45. W B McCarty,

    Regarding what Bill J said about a false gospel, if I remember right, what he was referring to as the true gospel was "the gospel of the kingdom" isn't that right? That seems to me, from what I understand, to be an overemphais on the kingdom here and now. If it is off enough to truly call it "another gospel I don't know. Haven't looked at it closely enough.

    But is "another Jesus" truly not related to Christological error? I have always thought it was. Paul speaks of "another spirit, another Jesus, and another gospel". It doesn't seem to me that they all relate just to another gospel.

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  46. Craig,

    You know what I am starting to think? I think we could discuss this until the proverbial cows come home and we are not likely to come to any real concensus on this at all. I think this is an issue that only the Lord knows for sure. We can weigh all the evidence we have through whatever lens we each come to this with, hopefully being as objective as possible. One comes to one conclusion, one to another. But when it comes right down to it, only God can see Bill Johnson's heart and know what he really believes. As is of course the case with each one of us.

    This has started to seem like a conversation going nowhere to me. Maybe I have just gotten too tired. But I think I am bowing out at this point and leaving it with God because there is simply no way for us to know for 100% for sure. Hope that doesn't sound trite or like a cliche, it is just the way I see things right now.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Craig @ CrossWise here:

    Right near the beginning of the comments on the BJ I thread, are comments by a fan of Bill Johnson's which illustrate how some have (mis?)understood him:

    I'll go on recod...I agree with Bill Johnson's Christology 100%...have researched it, agonized over it, spent hours on the floor crying out to God for truth...and lo an behold, there it was right in my own Bible.

    When I mentioned that the way I understood Johnson he was teaching that Jesus was not God at the Incarnation but, rather not until Baptism, here was the response:

    Craig, I'm not sure what you do for a living, but for the moment I'm going to designate you a "software engineer."
    If, when you were born, a prophet had come to your house and said to your parents, "He is a software engineer" - would that have been the truth?

    This is where I got the idea to use my "Dr. Carl Jung was born in 1875..." analogy above.

    Continuing with the commentator:

    Craig it does beg the question...how exactly does God grow in wisdom? How does He grow in stature? How does God grow in favor with God?

    To my concern of the "little gods" heresy:

    We do not attain Christ-likeness on this side of glory? Where's that in the Bible? And for that matter, how do you reconcile "this side of glory" with the Bible? (Man-made doctrines seem to do a good job of it, but if you carefully examine Scripture, it all comes undone like a house of cards.)

    Is this the "fruit" of Bill Johnson's ministry?

    I know of at least one individual who has petitioned Bethel/Johnson to bring correction to his individual's aberrant theology, yet the pleas go unheard or at least unresponded to. This is a travesty.

    The primary reason I began the CrossWise blog was in response to Johnson's blasphemous "Jesus was born again" since "He had to be; He became sin" statement. Frankly, before this, I knew very little about him. This 'born again' Jesus statement strikes right at the core of our faith: Jesus Christ's deity, the Atonement, etc.

    When a commentator on Facebook asked him about his 'born again' statement, Johnson's response was that it was just "to get people to think." Think what? That Jesus really DID become sin? That Jesus "went to hell" and "took on satan's nature" as his apparent mentor Kenneth "Papa" Hagin states unequivocally? This is irresponsible!

    Unless and until Johnson repents publicly of his denunciation of Jesus Christ's diety in the 'born again' statement as well as his other false teachings by amending his books, etc., I see affirmations of Christ's deity as merely paying lip service to our Lord and Savior's divinity.

    If he were to repent as such, I would buy a plane ticket to Bethel and personally seek him out to shake his hand and praise God!

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  48. Craig,

    You said, "If Jesus cannot rightly be termed “Jesus Christ” until the anointing, then it sure seems like the term “Christ” connotes divinity especially in light of the quote above, does it not?"

    I don't think so Craig. Remember Christ means anointed in this view. Anointed with what? Anointed, or to use Bill J's words quoted elsewhere, "smeared with the Holy Spirit". It is what He is anointed or "smeared" with that is divine. Not the anointing itself. He is the anointed one in this view--the one anointed in or with the Holy Spirit.

    The quote where the word "smear" was used: "The word anointing means “to smear.” The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism.1 The name Jesus Christ implies that Jesus is the One smeared with the Holy Spirit. [p 79 WHIE

    Definition of "anoint" from the same lexicon I quoted above:

    1) to smear, anoint, spread a liquid
    a) (Qal)
    1) to smear
    2) to anoint (as consecration)
    3) to anoint, consecrate
    b) (Niphal) to be anointed

    The terms Christ or Messiah means "anointed or anointed one." (See my earlier comment where I gave the lexical definition for "Christ". It is a direct derivative of this word "anoint".

    So Christ means the one that is smeared or anointed. And again, anointed with what according to Johnson? Anointed with the Holy Spirit--hence connected with the divine.

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  49. COMMENT POSTING PROBLEMS FIXED. REALLY.

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  50. Well, I hope the comments are really fixed now!

    I see that the last comment of mine there is really one I posted yesterday morning. So it is there twice now. So please disregard the double posting folks.

    The wonders of technology.

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  51. Cheryl, I agree that even a seriously over-realized eschatology might not rise to the term "another Gospel." But, as I recall, Bill Johnson used the term "false Gospel" to refer to Gospels other than his own. So he, at least, seems to see the distinction in those terms.

    The person and work of Christ are strongly related. It's hard to imagine a Christological heresy that wouldn't entail "another Gospel." Similarly, it's hard to imagine "another Gospel" that wouldn't entail Christological heresy. Although the term "another Jesus" is used in Galatians, I don't recall a Christological heresy being in view there. So I infer that the term can pertain to a soteriological heresy. In any case, that's the sense in which I meant it.

    Moreover, affirming the deity of Christ doesn't necessarily entail a correct Christology. Hindu polytheists, for example, affirm the deity of Christ but don't worship the Jesus we do. To be sure, I don't mean to compare Bill Johnson to Hindu polytheists. My point is only that there's more to Christology than a simple affirmation of deity.

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  52. "My point is only that there's more to Christology than a simple affirmation of deity."

    I don't think any of us are arguing that point, otherwise we wouldn't be spending all this time, when we could be doing other things, in trying to get this all straight!

    Like the Hindus, lots of other religions recognize Jesus in different aspects, but we cannot compare those within the church who do profess to agree with the essential tenets of the Christian faith, with those out of it, to come up with anything other than circumstantial evidence against folks like BJ for another Jesus. That would be like comparing apples and oranges. Both may both be classified as fruit, but they are definitely not the same kind.

    While I’m convinced, based upon his own words, that BJ is preaching a version of the gospel to fit his own stated dominionist leanings as are many others in hyper-charismania, I am not 100% convinced on the evidence presented so far that it is another gospel or another Jesus entirely. So until more clear cut information is presented other than speculation that he could be, for my part I will just continue to agree with the focus of this particular article. That is, as least as I understand it: That while BJ has declared the divinity of Christ, which was the original issue in question here, it doesn’t prove the rest of his theolgy is accurate.

    With that said, I shall also bow out of the discussion now, and just say thanks to the authors for bringing out this newly discovered information. That was helpful in putting some of the confusion in BJ's teachings in perspective.

    God bless.

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  53. What you need to uncover and do true due diliegence here is where did Johnson get his Kenosis teachings and where did he get his born again Jesus teachings known as the JDS heresy [Jesus died spiritually]? I believe Johnson is a copier and an adapter and not an original thinker. I see him as a product of the Jesus Movement where as a young leader he read books and then reworded teachings so as to disquise his sources so he had always new material to teach given out as if it was his own material.Over time he perfected this technique to what it is today.In Dec 2009 he presented to Bethel Church his Jesus had to be born again heresy and gave no source for his comments but it is very clear to those who have been following this JDS heresy for over 40 years now that he got this false teaching from E. W. Kenyon's writings. You can now find Kenyon books at Bethel's bookstore and many of the BSSM students have Kenyon's books on their book shelves at there homes. I believe Johnson is a heritic on the Kenosis and also a heritic on Jesus being made sin and needing to be born again.Bob Dewaay clearly shows the transition from Johnson's kenosis to JDS in his article on the Invasion of Error. I believe Dewaay has it spot on right.It is a very logical transition as to Johnson Jesus was just a man and therefore needed to be born again due to our sin. At Bethel they teach in their elementary school to very young children that "their" Jesus went to Hell and got the keys of death and hell from the devil.This unfortunately primes these youngsters later in life to receive the JDS heresy Johnson and Valloton believe.When publically questioned about Jesus going to Hell Kris Valloton stated one has to read between the lines.So there is no proof of a Jesus in Hell fable or theory? Johnson's Kenosis and JDS doctrines on the doctrine of Christ came from E.W. Kenyon. This can be traced back to Randy Clark and the Word of Faith Movement introduced to Randy in 1994.Clark has been promoting Kenyon on his website books for sale for many years now.If Johnson is not a hereitic over the Kenosis like you now state then he is certainly a heretic over JDS just by him stating these word's that Jesus had to be born again because he was made to be sin. I am going to stay with Craig Dorsheimer [Crosswise blog] and Bob DeWaay on this one. Johnson is a hereitic on two accounts.We all know where Satan's seat is at Bethel [Kenyonism].

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  54. Johnson being about my age was no doubt influenced by WoF teaching coming out of Rhema in the late 70s and early 80s. It had a profound influence in those times; Tulsa was commonly referred to as the New Jerusalem.

    I don't know how one would prove ("due diligence") anything as to influence; I couldn't document anything on MYSELF that far back, much less Johnson, but there is no question about the parallels between Johnson's teachings about Jesus visiting Hell and Hagins.

    Of course, this article was focused on the divinity of Christ.

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  55. Over on the CrossWise blog is a two part article in which is offered explanations for both the When Heaven Invades Earth passage and the Facebook quote in this article that do not contradict an ontologically kenotic interpretation while incorporating the main themes of Bill Johnson’s work alongside them (part II). It also illustrates that not only is Johnson’s claim that Jesus “was completely dependent on power of the Holy Spirit working through Him” to perform miracles [WHIE p 29] “not conventional” [Oliver Crisp Divinity and Humanity; p 25] but unbiblical (parts I and II).

    Crisp shows that a true functionalist kenosis does not adhere to a Chalcedonian Christology (nor does an ontological kenosis, of course) while offering his own divine krypsis which does. Crisp’s version he describes as non-kenotic since it does not limit the exercise of the divine attributes of Christ (the limitation is only by virtue of Christ’s humanity) while conceding some may term it a “weak” or “minimalist” functionalist kenosis. However, the divine krypsis view allows Jesus Christ to perform His own miracles instead of relying on the Holy Spirit in contradistinction to true functionalist kenosis (part I).

    Brief history and explanation of various kenotic views:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2011/06/14/kenosis-christology-and-bill-johnson-part-i/

    The importance of adhering to a Chalcedonian Christology; Bill Johnson’s kenotic conception with its eternal implications:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/kenosis-christology-and-bill-johnson-part-ii/

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  56. Craig,

    I think you have certainly proven that Johnson is a lousy teacher. Since I cannot know Johnson's heart, I will have to accept the statement that he made to me as we dialouged:

    "Jesus was (and is) God. Eternally God."

    That is Orthodoxy.

    That may seem to contradict what you think he is teaching. So... he's a lousy teacher.

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  57. NOTE TO READERS- I have now posted the FB thread in the body of this article because the links just don't seem to work. The commonts of some of Johnson's followers are rather shocking, so much that Johnson weighed in with a lengthier post than normal in order to make correction.

    Those follower comments reveal how poor the teaching is- nothing of substance is often put forth, as a result - biblical anarchy.

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  58. Bill Johnson is our brother in Christ. He has never denied the divinity of Christ, now or ever. I have seen more "fruit" from his ministry than any "BeyondGrace" or "Crosshairs?" blog. What a waste of time...I know Jesus is not happy about your gossip and slander of your brother. I personally think it is all of you on this blog who are "BeyondGrace"!

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  59. Steph,

    Thank you for your kind remarks. If you took the time to read the article, you might be surprized that I was actually defending Bill Johnson, whom I consider a Brother in the Lord. How you know whether Jesus is happy or not is beyond me.

    If you have specific points that you would like to discuss or seem to be in error, please respond (but I'm guessing this is a drive by).

    Anyhow, bless you and have a great day!

    -Bill

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  60. Steph,

    I'd sure stay away from any blog with the name "Crosshairs." That sounds rather militant.

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  61. listen to your selves, ontologically kenotic theology whatever that is . there is supposed to be one church ,one lord one faith etc .yet the church is being dragged down by division and intelectual pride ,i am reminded of the blind man in john who was brought before the pharisees for some hair splitting .we all need to grow up into the fullness of the stature of christ and that will never happen if we spend our time finding fault other parts of jesus church .its his and not ours

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  62. Anon, The fact that 2 Thessalonains 2:11 is in the Bible should suggest to you that there might be error in the church. Paul did not embrace unity for unity's sake- rather he called out those who erred- he named names.

    As to spending my time finding fault, let me say that I have found great freedom and spiritual growth since being freed from the bondage of the apostolic/prophetic church. I'd like to help others. Some don't want to be helped; I get that.

    A call for unity from a Johnson supporter seems disingeneous considering that Bill Johnson separated himself from the fellowship that he was raised in. He may be a fifth generation pastor, but he is the first generation to participate in division. Unity works both ways, doesn't it?

    If indeed it is Jesus' church, not ours (true) then why does Johnson spend so much time telling the church that it must rise up and do this or that in or for God's purposes to be fulfilled. I could illustrate this at depth but I think you know what I mean.

    Which brings us full circle back to doctrine. Paul expected the Bereans to study the word and let him know if they had problems with anything Paul was saying. Is Bill Johnson above Paul- has he attained infallability? If not should we be quiet and say nothing? I'm really puzzled by your comments.

    If you have somethin substantial to discuss, fine. If you just want to play the pharisee card, not so fine. That's divisive, isn't it?

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  63. Jesus called those who demanded doctrinal purity "disciples" not pharisees.

    Playing the Pharisee Card

    http://www.extremetheology.com/2010/01/playing-the-pharisee-card.html

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  64. I may have found an answer to Johnson’s apparently contradictory teaching regarding Christ’s deity. Specifically, his claim that Jesus was/is God; eternally God, yet He had “NO supernatural capabilities whatsoever.” He may adhere to Steven T. Davis’ idea of divine attributes [Evans, C. Stephen, Editor Exploring Kenotic Christianity. “Is Kenosis Orthodox?”, 20006, Regent College Publishers/© 2006 Oxford University Press, Vancouver, BC; pp 112-138] as, for example, “omnipotent-unless-incarnate,” and, similarly, “omniscient-unless-incarnate,” etc. While this would obviously be an unorthodox definition of God, it would eliminate a seeming contradiction. Davis’ claim (and Sarah Oakley’s whom he quotes) is that this does not violate Chalcedon; however, I see that this violates Scripture [Hebrews 13:8 among others].

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  65. hey trying to keep up with u guys but really a little to deep for me. My question is though, forget Bill and everyone else like him are we doing what we instructed to do by God in the BOOK or are we about our own thing, because the world is still waiting to see the sons of God of manifested on this planet.

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  66. "word"
    I sure hope so - for that resurrection morning- when we see the redememption of our bodies- could be soon.

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  67. Word,

    Not that I am an expert or anything, but do you really think that when we stand before the Lord that HE is going to care whether we are going to care whether we how well we defend our particular favorite popular gurus or not, or whether we paid attention to Him in the first place?

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  68. Nonetheless, Johnson still said Christ laid His divinity aside!

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  69. I am in agreement with annonymous,
    You people are wasting so much time defending this man and his way of interpreting the bible that you have lost sight os what Christianity is really about. which is to preach a gospel that tell s the world that we are sinner separated fron God and that the only way to him is through our repentance and our acceptance of Jesus into our hearts. We are so fram from that at the moment , cos we are more worried as to wether or not the preacher we seem to listen to is being critically analised by others. lets keep wasting more time defending him cos at the end of the day we already have our " salvation" who cares about the MILLIONS of people dying without Christ, while you people sit here and argue wether Bill freaking Johnos is right or not!!!. Yep this is excatly what Christ died on the cross for!!!!!! If you are followin the MAN and not Christ then something is seriously wrong. GOD DOES NOT SHARE HIS GLORY WITH ANYONE!!!! Glad to see that the precious blood of the lamb is being wasted on this!. If you dont like the articvle then dont read it..

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  70. Right On palifer! It is beyond understanding why people will take so many words to bash another Christian. What a sad state of affairs. To the Catholics all of the protestants (Protesters) are heretics. We certainly do more than divide don't we? If anything we should say, "You will know them by their fruit." The ministry at Redding has done much to change lives. Much fruit there... As far as God not "sharing His glory," I think that 2 Corinthians 4 would disagree with you... What else do you think He was sharing when He sent His Son?

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  71. False doctrine is never a private matter and is always to be dealt with publicly. Much of the New Testament was written to publicly correct false teaching. Even the beloved Apostle John named Diotrephes in 3 John and promised that when he came to that church he would publicly correct the Offender in person.

    Paul withstood Peter to the face publicly for his false interpretation of the law that caused Him not to associate with Gentile believers(Gal:2:11-14)

    In a day of mass media, particularly when denied access to Christian TV networks, the only method of public correction of false teaching is to write books [and blogs] to call the attention of the Body to errors that affect the whole Body.

    Never is it suggested that no one must disagree with what is being taught because to do so would cause “division.” On the contrary, we are told that we must correct error in teaching and do so publicly.

    Unfortunately, there are thousands and, in the case of some, millions who have read and/or heard and taken it at face value, as any reasonable person would. Words have meaning and it is assumed that the normal meaning applies. Even if one of these teachers has changed his beliefs, we must still deal with what has been published for the sake of those who have been affected by it. If a person has changed his beliefs, then he ought to publish just as widely in tape and book form a renunciation of any false or misleading teaching he has given in the past.


    TJH

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  72. http://www.thebereancall.org/content/july-2012-q-and-a-3

    Answer to this question...

    It seems like more and more churches and commentators use Philippians 2:7 to support the “Doctrine of Kenosis,” the idea that Christ “emptied Himself” of His divine abilities and became just a man. This doctrine appears to violate 1,600 years of Biblical Christianity. Am I mistaken?

    Tim

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  73. Although "the whole earth is filled with HIS glory" it remains HIS glory. None of us are deity, and NONE of us are fit to be worshipped.

    Let's not get hung up with this "glory" business, which I did not bring up in the article, because to different people, and even in the bible, glory has many different meanings.


    To those who think that Christians should not discuss issues on the internet, don't waste your time on the internet telling others what your take is on it, because you are making yourself out to be a hypocrite, and it is not pretty.

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  74. I think it is so interesting that people will scream "Sola Scriptora" and then site church history as an authority. Everything went south when Constantine officiated Christianity as the "State" religion. Authentic Christianity is 2nd century Christianity. It's a good thing for Christians to discuss things but it's another thing when we use "Doctrine," which is seemingly more subjective than it should be, as a reason to discredit and demonize other believers.

    "You shall know them by their fruit." Enough said.

    How many of you ACTUALLY read "When Heaven Invades Earth?" I believe Bill Johnson to be genuine and he hits the mark on just about everything he says. I reserve judgement to lift an eyebrow once in a while but I find agreement with him in most cases. I fellowship with allot of believers who don't all believe the same things. I can go to my local Baptist church and guarantee I'll find at least four people who hold different views on doctrine.

    IMHO... He believes Jesus to be completely divine. Why argue the nature of the kenosis? Philipians 2:7 is quite clear that Jesus did not consider himself equal to the Father and that he emptied himself. What is the point of being emptied unless some divine potential is removed? Why make the statement at all? It is also clear that despite the fact that Jesus emptied himself of divine potential that he was still God made man. A car is still a car but empty it of gasoline it's potential is diminished. Is it still not a car? His divinity is intact because Jesus can be no less than who he is. Jesus choose to forgo his power and authority and draw them strictly from the Holy Spirit. He was an "Undercover Boss" working to show us how good employees should look like. He is using the same tools in the Holy Spirit that He would give us. At any time Jesus could have shifted the game plan to take up his full power and authority but this would not have served the Father's good purpose. Jesus came as our example in what Kingdom living should look like and provided the means to become part of God's community. Why is that so hard for people to understand?


    Respectfully, IMHO

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  75. Well, I would not completely agree with your understanding of the kenosis, but it seems more orthodox than Johnson's. Nontheless, I also believe that Johnson affirms that Christ retained his deity during His incarnation.

    Yes, I've read WHIE, and much more of Johnson's pulp theology.

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  76. UPDATE **ding**ding**ding**

    "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 August 10, 2012

    Johnson affirms the hypostatic union once again, and clarifies his position on the humanity of Christ. A better take on the humanity would be that it is necessary for the penal subsitution, but I understand where Johnson is goin with it. While I don't agree with his empahsis, it is not heterodox.

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  77. Bill Johnson is not stating this in his continued comments that has brought so much controversy, therefore I cry "foul" and do not see where he is speaking in these terms regarding the divinity of Christ...

    Jesus Christ possessed two natures: divine and human. This makes Him unique. To state "in his earthly life he lived from his humanity" suggests his divine nature was subordinated to his human nature which runs afoul of the apostle, " And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (Jn. 1:14). What we do see is the Son subordinating Himself to the Father to secure our redemption, "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men...." (Phil 2:5ff) The Father and Son are one in essence, yet two persons.

    "His limitations were in His humanity, not His divinity." The Son is sinless and during his earthly incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ he remained sinless. Christ lived the perfect life for His posterity that Adam failed to live for his posterity; thus He is referred to in Scripture as the "second Adam." Christ perfectly performed the Law, making His sacrifice on Calvary acceptable to the Father on behalf of His seed who place their trust in Him on their behalf (heirs according to the promise, Hebrews 11:17ff).

    "Understanding the difference can help us to successfully live the life He gave for us to live." It is true that Christ gave His followers an example that we might follow in His steps, the context being how to obediently endure suffering while doing good, "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, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 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...." (1 Pet. 2:21ff). Jesus Christ is the supreme example of obedience to the Father in all things. While we strive to emulate His obedience we will always fall short, for unlike Christ we possess a sin nature which grieves our souls. We long to be perfectly obedient, but are unable to, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us"
    (1 Jn. 1:8).

    Our "success", then, is not in "being" perfect according to the Law, but being accepted by the Father "as perfect" by the imputed righteousness of Christ (imputed, not infused as the Catholic Church teaches). For by grace we are saved through faith. Our "success" is in abiding and resting in the completed work of Christ on our behalf, what He did for us, not in what we can do for Him.

    Tim

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  78. I just want to say I do not have the time to read all the responses to this blog, so if this is already addressed it will be addressed again. Also, when I use all capitals I am not screaming, just trying to emphasize some specific points.


    I want to give a counter-argument to:

    "A more immediate problem for us is Johnson’s continual emphasis on 'greater things.'"


    Although at first glance this might seem to be an issue, but looking at his full statement in context can open up further dialogue.

    Jesus is speaking to his desciples, "comforting" them and guiding them as Thomas and Philip inquire about which way they are to go and to see the Father. Jesus replies in John 14:12 saying, "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." What Jesus is saying here is NOT that we are deity or will be greater than His deity, but the subject of discussion here is WORKS. We will do the WORKS, and the WORKS that we will do will be greater. No where does it say that we will be deity, nor do I believe Johnson says we are deity.

    Johnson, and other associated pastors teachings (when understood properly, and not from outward influences or interpretations) are focused on demonstrating (WORKS) the power of the Gospel, the power of Jesus resurrection. Not just teaching or preaching the gospel. It is not enough to just have faith, because faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

    I can have all the faith in the world, belief in Jesus resurrection as my Lord and Savior, and unparalleled wisdom and knowledge of the Gospel but if I just sit in my room all day, what good am I to God, Jesus, or this world? How will this life bring anyone to Christ?

    The whole premise of Bethel is love, I have heard Johnson preach on this concept many of times, although it might not be said explicitly during every teaching. Having love for God and others are the two MOST IMPORTANT commandments, these are the TWO MOST IMPORTANT laws to follow, everything else falls under these (Matthew 22: 37-40) Our love for God is also shown through the love of our neighbors (1 John 4:7-8, 11) Further, we are to have compassion as Jesus did (Matthew 20:24), and when He had compassion he healed the sick. Jesus went to the cities and NOT ONLY PREACHED, but HEALED every disease (Matthew 9:35-38).

    Johnson and Bethel have an insatiable love for God and others, and the way it manifests is through the biblical (from Jesus directly) mandate to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons (Matthew 10:8). Johnson is addressing our WORKS as the body of Christ, and that we will do much greater things than him, not that we will be much greater in the Kingdom or God, greater than God, or any of his deity. I think that argument strays away from the fact that Jesus gave us a mandate, and it might be humbling and frustrating to see Johnson and Bethel strive to fulfill this mandate (with some success by the way).

    I think instead of writing off Bethel and Johnson as a cult, we should dig deeper. Jesus Culture was born out of Bethel, which as one person said in their description of a YouTube post (paraphrasing) "I think their worship is of God but I do not affiliate with their doctrine." I ask why? Because it is humbling and challenging?

    Some points for discussion :)


    With Love, Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus.

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    Replies
    1. I must ask, what is possibly greater than Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead after four days? Is there really anything greater than that - not equal to, but greater than that?

      I submit that Jesus is talking about the absolute greatest miracle of all: the salvation of an individual. The passing from death to eternal life.

      http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/greater-works-shall-you-do/

      As regards Jesus Culture, Kim Walker herself has affiliated doctrine with her performing. She had an "encounter" / "awakening" with both Jesus and the Father that is both startling and blasphemous:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt7Y61qUoB0

      A 'stretch Armstrong' Jesus (at around 8:00)?

      In the following she describes both Jesus AND God the Father appearing to her. Yet Scripture states that no one can see God and live:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k89rGQ2nR4Q

      And God the Father rips out a part of His heart, and then He runs around like some sort of crazed teenager...well, you'll have to listen to the whole thing...

      In any case, I'm quite convinced this was an occult encounter - not anything remotely Christian.

      Delete
  79. Been digging deeper and will continue. Thanks!

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  80. I am glad that people get to talk among each other about GOD, it inspires me :). I am even more glad when I see people encourage each other to love, for that is ultimately what we should do :) in obedience to Jesus.

    I am glad for GOD blessing us with so much of His love, really.

    What is faith then? Its evidence according to Hebrews 11:1. So in other words, faith is substance. James 2:17 "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.”Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?"

    The above scripture is just to support Anonymous with the comment.

    Our goal is to become Christlike according to Phillipians 3:12-21 and the 1st verse of chapter 4

    Become all that GOD, who bought you with precious blood, has called you to be!

    When Jesus returns, will He find faith on this earth?

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  81. Update - July 28, 2013

    Johnson has once again AFFIRMED the hypostatic union - in a facebook post

    "Jesus is fully God, but became fully man, while remaining fully God."

    http://www.beyond-grace.org/~archive/KENOSIS.jpg

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  82. Interesting discussion, I haven't had time to read all of these comments either, but I was wondering if you could comment on these YouTube clips from Bill Johnson. It seems to me that Bill IS denying the deity of Christ in both of them. What do you think? Thank you for the time you devote to teaching others and warning them about false teachers, this website has been a very valuable resource for me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNVINiUaCrA&list=HL1388531688 at 40:50
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_85bCON5YhU&list=HL1388531688 at 3:23

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  83. In response to Johnson's continued claim that Jesus did not do something as God, yet that he was eternally God, Johnson continues to show his lack of learning and his confusion regarding the topic.

    The problem seems to be one of Bifurcation. Johnson want's to divide what cannot be divided. Yet his affirmations seem to keep him clear of the label of heretic.

    Many would say that Jesus did not exercise the attribute of omnipresent. Yet that doesn't mean that Jesus was not God- something Johnson continues to affirm.

    So what do we say? Johnson makes these statements because they support his "Anything God can do, we can do better" thesis. He's a lousy teacher and not to be recommended.

    The classic understanding of the Trinity is that
    The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Father.
    The Son is not the Spirit, The Spirit is not the Son.
    The Spirit is not the Father, The Father is not the Spirit.

    The Father IS God
    The Son IS God
    The Spirit is God

    It's a pity that Johnson never furthered his education. Bible school could have helped him so much.


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  84. Thank you for your answer to my question. I just find this debate so fascinating. Johnson does state that Jesus is eternally God in these clips, and yet he also says that Jesus so emptied Himself of all divinity, everything he did he did as a man in right relationship to God. I find this extremely confusing and misleading, Jesus cannot stop being God, it is something that He is, He cannot separate Himself from His divinity and only be a human, which is basically what Bill Johnson is saying, even though he casually throws in that Jesus is eternally God. Johnson is clearly contradicting himself! I disagree with your statement that Bill Johnson is not a heretic, he is a heretic of the worst kind, intentionally confusing and manipulating people so as to promote his own interpretation of the Bible to push his own agenda, mainly that his followers can be just like Jesus. It really is sickening.
    You're right about saying that it is a shame that he didn't get a proper seminary education, but something tells me he definitely did not want a proper education, how would he be able to promote his false teachings if he submitted to scripture?
    I want to thank you again for your website, I agree with you most of the time and I appreciate the work that you do, keep it up!

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  85. Thanks for the very fair and informative discussion on this topic.

    1. First, to those who think these kinds of discussions are waste of time, nothing further could be from the truth. These kind of discussions must happen because we must examine the teachings we receive like the Bereans. Theology properly motivated is nothing more or less than the quest to know more about God, the goal of our faith. What you believe affects how you live your lives and what you teach others.

    2. This blog pointed me to Bill Johnson's book "When Heaven Invades Earth". Let's look at Chapter 7 "Anointing and the Antichrist Spirit".

    1) On page 83 we read his definition of "Anointing" "The word anointing means 'to smear'. The Holy Spirit is the oil of God that was smeared all over Jesus at His water baptism." In other words, the anointing Jesus received happened when he was baptized by John and the Holy Spirit, an event happened just before his public ministries, when he was a full grown adult.

    2) Pg 84, "The anointing is what linked Jesus, the man, to the divine, enabling Him to destroy the works of the devil." Combing this with what he just said on page 83, what I think Bill Johnson is saying is that Jesus was "the man" up to the point of his anointing, during which he got linked "to the divine". I.e. for near 30 years on earth, Jesus was just a man, it was only the baptism of the Holy Spirit that give him also his divine identity, I believe that is the very definition of ontological kenosis and not merely functional.

    3) If that indeed what he is saying, then perhaps that is why he is able to make these seemingly contradicting statements. According to that logic, the orthodox statement that "Jesus was fully human and he was fully God" gets re-purposed to mean that he was ONLY man for almost 30 years THEN he was God for the last three or so years. Jesus was fully man and fully God, just not at the same time! So even when Johnson is seemingly affirming orthodox, he could be defining kenosis.

    We all make mistakes, we all say incorrect things from time to time, the difference is most of us don't write books and have a world wide ministry, for which one ought to face greater scrutiny (James 3:1). If this is simply a mistake, he should have come out and completely retracted those statements as false. The failure to do so (as far as I know) shows at best he is a "lousy teacher", at worst someone believes, and teaches heresy.

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