Is Acts 29 "Distinctly" Kenotic?

Came across one of Acts 29’s “Distinctives” today. Sounds to me as though A29 advocates Kenosis–that Christ emptied himself of his divinity while on earth such that he needed to be indwelt by the Spirit in order fulfill his earthly ministry (note, “entirely dependent”). I know there are a lot of good pastors and people involved in A29, but this “distinctive” seems off to me. What do you all think?

We recognize and rest upon the necessity of the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit for all of life and ministry.

The Holy Spirit is fully God, equal with the Father and Son, whose primary ministry is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ; he also convicts unbelievers of their need for Christ and imparts spiritual life through regeneration (the new birth).

The Spirit permanently indwells, graciously sanctifies, lovingly leads, and empowers all who are brought to faith in Christ so that they might live in obedience to the inerrant Scriptures.

The model for our reliance upon the Spirit and our experience of his indwelling and empowering presence is the Lord Jesus Christ himself who was filled with the Spirit and entirely dependent upon his power for the performance of miracles, the preaching of the kingdom of God, and all other dimensions of his earthly ministry.

The Holy Spirit who indwelt and empowered Christ in like manner indwells and empowers us through spiritual gifts he has bestowed for the work of ministry and the building up of the body of Christ. Although there are different understandings in our network of the nature and function of these gifts, we all recognize that they are divine provisions central to spiritual growth and effective ministry and are to be eagerly desired, faithfully developed, and lovingly exercised according to biblical guidelines.


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Ehhh, I see why you’re concerned, but I don’t think I’d have to conclude kenosis from their verbiage.

To say Jesus was “dependent” upon the Spirit’s power for miracles, preaching, and ministry seems consistent enough with Scriptures. And I believe it’s possible to say these things without implying that Jesus had abandoned his deity. If anything, it’s the word “entirely” that I’d take beef with, not because of what it explicitly says, but because of how people will read that word in an NAR-infected culture.

Some Scriptures that come to mind regarding Jesus’ interaction with the Spirit:

Luke 4:18 - “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” ---- Prophecy plainly affirms that the Spirit of the Lord would be upon the Messiah, empowering him for his ministry.

Matthew 12:27-28 - " And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." ---- Jesus cast out demons by the person of the Spirit, not in and of himself as the person of the Son.

Matthew 3:16-4:1 - " And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him. . . Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." ---- The beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry is marked by the coming of the Spirit, and the leading of the Spirit.

So I think it’s entirely fair to say that Jesus’ ministry on earth was not and could not have been apart from the involvement and power of the Holy Spirit. But that does not at all imply that the Son emptied himself of deity.


Ok, “Kenosis” is, admittedly, strong. Certainly too strong to apply to the whole A29 network. Perhaps even to strong to apply to Bethel and the NAR–at least in broad strokes. But I think there’s something to it. Maybe Semi-kenosis? In the way that pelagianism is a heresy while semi-pelagianism is an error.

Agreed. But that is equally true of the Father. There’s always a sense in which it is folly to divide up the actions of the Trinity. Every action of one member of the Trinity in redemptive history is in fact an act of all the members of the Trinity in perfect harmony. Every act of one person of the Godhead in history was not and could not have been apart from the other two.

But to say Christ was “entirely dependent” on the spirit for his miracles, preaching, and ministry makes it seem as though the incarnate Son had no power or authority of his own. But we know that he did have and use his own authority (John 10:17-18 for example), so it seems to me the statement from A29 as written is either confused or misleading. I’m not saying it’s heretical, but it does seem off to me.

Agreed. And that’s a problem. Thankfully, nobody ever reads anyone’s Distinctives, and even if they do, they don’t read them to learn theology. :wink:


I don’t believe it’s too strong to apply this to Bethel. Though they would deny that Bill Johnson subscribes to kenosis, what he’s actually said and how his theology works testifies pretty plainly against him. His theology depends upon a Jesus who was just a man. That is the starting point for much of what they teach and practice.

I think this is just a sign that your heresy-o-meter is well-calibrated and working as intended. :slight_smile:

Something I’ve become more and more aware of over the years is that heresy is stirred up not only from the words we say, but from the paradigm in which we are saying them. A term like “entirely dependent” may have seemed innocuous and non-threatening to us in a previous generation, but today the term seems to emanate a particular theological battle of our day. Precise speech is definitely important, across all ages, but discernment involves being able to also perceive the wind that’s behind the words.


What I think Acts 29 are doing - and they should be clearer about it - is saying that while Jesus was dependent on the Spirit for the power in which he worked, he still in his nature had the authority to do what he did. A Canadian Vineyard leader called Gary Best brought out this distinction some time ago, which I think is useful, and I wouldn’t think that Vineyard especially deserve to be lumped in with the NAR; or Bill Johnson.

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