Monday, February 04, 2013

Incarnating Christ

An Excerpt from Tamara Hartzell's new online book:
"Reimagining" God: Turning the Light off to Look for "Truth" in the Corner of a Dark Round Room



Below is a relevant discussion of increasingly popular emerging doctrine, "incarnating Christ," taught by Leonard Sweet and other leaders. Today's excerpt is from Chapter 4, p. 91. 


“Early Christians drew upon ideas, phrases, metaphors, and customs of pagan cultures as ‘seeds’ of the divine Word that become enfleshed in Christ and in the church.”
- Leonard Sweet*


"The completion of the incarnation of God in the world must be in His Church.... Jesus Christ is the fruitfruit, but without the ongoing harvest, the incarnation will never be complete.... "

"We are on earth as extensions of God to finish the work He began. We are the essence of God, His on-going incarnation in the world."

- Earl Paulk**

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
(John 1:1, 14)

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”
(1 Timothy 3:16)

I
n the light of God’s unadulterated written Word of truth, “the Word was made flesh” and “God was manifest in the flesh” one time and one time only in the one and only Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God and “the Lord from heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:47), was sent by the Father “to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14). So God the Son took on a human body in order to “taste death for every man” as the only perfect and eternal sacrifice for our sins:

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9)

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.… And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:12, 22)

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me … Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.… But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:4-5, 9-10, 12)

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

Although the term is not found in Scripture, Jesus—God the Son “made flesh” in a human body—has been referred to as God “incarnate.” The term incarnate means “made flesh,”[i] and likewise, the term incarnation means “act of being made flesh.”[ii] Not surprisingly, these terms have taken on a much broader meaning now that today’s shifting Christianity is trying to “find God” and “relationship” on the broad way. And, of course, in the emerging faith of Oneness, i.e., panentheism, these terms ultimately take on as broad of a meaning as it gets. Both its immanent “God” and its immanent “Christ” are “incarnate” in everyone and everything.

First, the Lord Jesus Christ alone is both the Word “made flesh” and God “manifest in the flesh.” God is neither immanent nor incarnate in any part of His creation. And God’s Word makes it clear that God and the Lord Jesus Christ only dwell in believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers are neither “incarnations” of God nor “incarnations” of Christ nor “of one substance” with Jesus, but a “temple” in whom the Holy Spirit dwells—Who is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11). Believers are neither God in the flesh nor Christ in the flesh nor Jesus in the flesh, and can neither “be Jesus” nor “become Jesus.” We are “the temple of God” and He indwells us as a separate Being. God was not “one substance” (“One”) with the temple in Old Testament times, and neither is He, nor does He become, “one substance” (“One”) with us now. Neither does the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is God.

But, of course, those in the emerging faith of Oneness/panentheism don’t see it that way. This emerging faith “reimagines” God as immanent in creation—i.e., in the very substance of everyone and everything. Absurdly, this immanence/Oneness not only places this “reimagined” “God” in the very substance of the trees, gold, silver, brass, precious stones, etc., that were used to make the temple in Old Testament times, but also in the very substance of the flesh, blood, cells, DNA, atoms, etc., that make man.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

Second, the Lord Jesus Christ alone is Christ. The Lord Jesus is not an “incarnation” of Christ. He is the Christ, the only Messiah. The Lord Jesus was sent by God to be the Messiah—the Christ—the Saviour of the world. No one “incarnates” the Messiah; they either are the Messiah or they are not. And all who are not the one and only Person of the Lord Jesus Christ are not the Messiah. Likewise, for all who are not the one and only Person of the Lord Jesus Christ there is no “being Christ”—being the Messiah—to the world, or even at all!

“…We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” (John 1:41)

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” (1 John 4:14)

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:19-20)

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

“Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:45-47)

Again, no one “incarnates” the Christ (Messiah); they either are the Christ (Messiah) or they are not. And all who are not the one and only Person of the Lord Jesus Christ Who died for the sins of the world and rose from the dead the third day are not the Christ (Messiah). The Lord Jesus Christ alone is Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is Jesus. The Lord Jesus Christ alone is the Word “made flesh” and God “manifest in the flesh.” To believe otherwise is to believe the emerging faith of Oneness/panentheism, which is both a counterfeit gospel of a counterfeit “Christ,” and a counterfeit faith of a counterfeit “God.” Both are completely powerless to save.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

The Word was made flesh one time and one time only in the one and only Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Christ is the truth of Who the Lord Jesus Christ is and what He did for us. The Gospel is not made flesh in every culture! Nor is the Word made flesh differently in every epoch/age! But people in today’s shifting Christianity, in their eagerness to find a new “truth” and “faith” that they are willing to accept, are becoming “so open to change the old” and “so eager to embrace the new”—even from “pagan cultures” no less. [For example, Emergent leader Leonard Sweet has said,]

“There is no matter without spirit. There is no flesh without word. The height dimension of faith teaches us that without the Word made flesh, there is no Word made power. In every epoch, however, the Word is made flesh differently.… Logos materializes in Pathos in forms fundamental to, shapes revelatory of, the age.”[iii]

“Not only did God become incarnate at one time and in one place, thus becoming visible to the earth, but the gospel gets incarnated in every culture by design.…

Incarnational energies are what make the restless intelligence of the Christian tradition so eager to embrace the new, so open to change the old, so free to be creative in its engagement with the world. An incarnational faith is what guarantees generativity, the possibility of every culture to ‘know’ things about God that have never been ‘known’ before.

“Early Christians drew upon ideas, phrases, metaphors, and customs of pagan cultures as ‘seeds’ of the divine Word that become enfleshed in Christ and in the church.”[iv]

Absurdly, [according to] this emerging faith not only is the “gospel” incarnated—made flesh—in every culture and “the Word” “made flesh differently” in every epoch, but Christ is paganism incarnate! That is, the Messiah is paganism incarnate! So, in other words, paganism is the “form”/“shape” that is “fundamental to” and “revelatory of” our age. How very fitting for this post-truth age in which man is coming full circle in the culmination of Satan’s lie.

In the never-ending absurdity (to say the very least) of this emerging faith, “the man Christ Jesus” is not the only Word “made flesh.” Anything is—including “ideas, phrases, metaphors, and customs of pagan cultures.” To say that today’s shifting Christianity is “rethinking” and “reimagining” the Messiah—the Christ—is an eternal understatement. Yet today’s off-the-map changes of convoluted absurdity are inevitable when the truth and faith of God’s Word are “reimagined” as fictitious truth....

Not only is today’s shifting Christianity obviously changing its methods and message in its purposeful shift to darkness, but it is also changing to “another gospel,” “another spirit,” “another Jesus,” as well as another “Christ” and another “God.”

“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” (Hebrews 3:12)

“But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.” (Jeremiah 7:24)

“…for, behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me.” (Jeremiah 16:12)


Endnotes:
[i].Online Etymology Dictionary, “incarnate,” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=incarnate.
[ii].Ibid., “incarnation,” http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=incarnation.
[iii].Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, p. 101, emphasis added.
[iv].Leonard Sweet, So Beautiful, pp. 165-167, emphasis added.

*Leonard Sweet, So Beautiful, see footnote 4.
**This quote was added to the original text of Hartzell's book for purposes of illustrating the heresy. This quote is attributed to Earl Paulk, emphasis added, cited in the Discernment Ministries newsletter from July 1990 which states, "This is the cornerstone of Manifest Sons teaching.... we become EQUAL TO and EVEN ASSUME the ROLE OF JESUS CHRIST -- THE GODMEN!" See Herescope post: "The New Breed and Incarnating Christ." See also "Field of Dreams: Dominion Eschatology," by Dr. Orrel Steinkamp.  


Republished with permission of the author. This section of Chapter 4 was titled "Ideas, phrases, metaphors, and customs of pagan cultures" are "'seeds' of the divine Word that become enfleshed in Christ"?! Several minor textual changes were made to enhance its re-posting for blog use. The next section of Chapter 4 is titled: “The word ‘religion’ concerns relationship.”