In this video ( Why We Won’t Sing Bethel Music in Our Church ), Costi Hinn and friends accuse Bill Johnson of heresy concerning the incarnation or humanity of Jesus.
They quote Johnson saying, “laid His divinity aside,” “as a man,” and “did these miracles.” They say from this Johnson and other Charismatics like him teach the false doctrine we are to be like Jesus, by being filled with the Spirit and working miracles like Him.
Costi Hinn (along with Dale Thackrah Kyle Swanson) concludes that Johnson’s statements mean, “Jesus was not God, when He did these miracles,” and therefore it is “heresy to say Jesus was not God.”
I will not stay long on this point, other than to say, from what was quoted, (not regarding the totality of what Johnson says, for I have not read the book) Cosit slandered and bore false witness against Johnson. The phrase “laid His divinity aside,” could as easily mean, Jesus was still God, but did not chose to use all that was available to Him as God. For example, “Jesus grew in knowledge and wisdom,” does not mean Jesus “was not God”; rather, it means Jesus as a man, laid His infinite knowledge/wisdom aside, (i.e. chose not to use it), while the eternal Son of God still had His infinite knowledge (more on how this works later).
Jesus said that He “cast out Satan by the Spirit,” and not His own power. It was the Spirit who empowered the man Jesus Christ, for ministry, it was not Jesus’ own power that empowered Him for ministry. Jesus chose to use the power of the Spirit for ministry. This does not mean Jesus never used His own authority or power, in any way whatsoever, but that Jesus born as a man, under the Law, chose to operate in that limitation, and so was anointed by the Spirit (Isaiah 61) to do ministry and miracles. Jesus grew in knowledge like a normal man would; and this does not mean Jesus was not God or stop being divine. Example, I can choose to not use my right arm, without my arm ceasing to exit.
I do not know what all Johnson teaches on this, and I have no reason to care. What I care about it that these men claim to be intellectually and morally superior, and they are not; they are intellectually broken and morally wicked. They are slanderers.
For a more detailed look into what it means for the Son of God to be clothed in humanity, look at Vincent Cheung’s Systematic Theology (2010) pages 140-142. Here are some selected quotes from this book.
“…In a similar way, the doctrinal formulation for the personhood and incarnation of Christ states that he is one in one sense, and two in a different sense. That is, he is one person who possesses two natures. To ensure the clarity and coherence of this doctrine, we need to define the terms and relate them to the doctrine of the Trinity. The way “nature” is used in the doctrine of the incarnation is similar to the way “essence” is used for the Trinity. They refer to the definition of something, and the definition of something refers to the attributes or properties of something. A “person” is again defined by the consciousness or intellect.
In the incarnation, God the Son took up a human nature, or human attributes. The divine and the human natures did not combine or mingle, so that both sets of attributes remained separate. His divine nature was not diminished by his human nature, and his human nature was not deified by his divine nature. Since the divine nature was not modified by the human nature, as indeed the divine nature cannot be modified, this doctrinal formulation reaffirms the immutability of God the Son. And indeed, a human nature cannot be deified, and neither can deity be conferred. Since deity is eternal, if a person is not deity to begin with, he can never become deity.
God the Son took up a human nature, and a human nature must include a human soul or mind. Although a “person” is defined in terms of the mind or intellect, the doctrine is that Christ remains one person even though he possesses two natures. This is so because of the definition of a person as a system of consciousness, and because of the nature of the relationship between the divine mind and the human mind.
First, we must insist that Christ is one “person,” because the Bible never refers to him as “they,” as it sometimes does the Trinity. Based on the way that the Bible refers to him, the way that he refers to himself, and the way that he behaves, there is no reason to think that he is not one person. Thus there is a need to arrive at a formulation that retains the view that Christ is one person even though he has two centers of consciousness. This need is not arbitrary, but it is necessitated by the biblical data.
The proper formulation is to state that God the Son took up a human nature, including a human mind, in such a manner that the human mind is contained by the divine mind, although the two are not in any way mingled or confused. Whereas the divine mind has complete control over the human mind, the human mind does not have free access to the divine mind, but it receives special information and capabilities only as granted by the divine mind…”
The important point of Vincent’s formulation is this, Jesus’ “human nature was not deified by his divine nature.” This doctrine is immune to contradiction. It still affirms the full deity of the Son of God and that His deity never stopped existing in all its fullness.
Thus, I can say, in context of the explained doctrine, “Jesus put aside His deity,” and “as a man, was filled with the Spirit, and did miracles as a man empowered by the Spirit.” Jesus commands us to be men (albeit born-from-above men), filled with the Spirit, and work His same miracles. Jesus says He did His whole ministry by the Spirit, quoting Isaiah. Peter says in Acts 2 that Jesus has given us this empowerment of the Spirit, as a promise of the Father. Paul says this Spirit and miracle power for us, is part of the ancient promise to Abraham. Jesus our forerunner, showed us how to be men born-from-above, filled with faith and the Spirit of power.
“Third, since that time the promise of the Father — the Holy Spirit — has been poured out. The effect of this baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5) is to infuse the followers of Jesus with the same power to work miracles (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:49) that Jesus himself possessed (Luke 4:14, 8:46, Acts 10:38). This power could heal the sick and cast out demons (Acts 10:38, Matthew 12:28), and it also produces visions, dreams, prophecies, and speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4, 2:17-18).”
Even if some Charismatics do not explain the incarnation in perfect precision, I couldn’t care less, and it does not matter. Tradition is not as great as they think are in their statements about the humanity of Jesus; therefore, tradition is less than unimportant to me. Seriously, if I cared any less, I’d be dead. And despite some narrowly correct statements about the incarnation by the Reformed, any Charismatic, with their less precise doctrine, but who works miracles in faith and power of the Spirit, 10,000 more times apply a correct doctrine of the incarnation than all the Reformed tradition and books, and churches combined. This is the legacy of faith and shout of value to the Spirit, which the Charismatics have (as imperfect as they are).
The issue is this, the Bible explains the doctrine. Those who criticize the Charismatics either slander them, or make non-relevant personal attacks, while ignoring the Biblical doctrine that is clearly taught by others, like Vincent Cheung. Because the Bible correctly explains the incarnation, and the human ministry of Jesus, and Jesus’ own command for us to do His works (even doing greater works) the Reformed’s attack on the Charismatics (despite some of their sloppy or undetailed explanations) is ultimately an attack on the Bible itself. This is the Reformed’s legacy and damnation.