K. Neill Foster
A paper delivered to the Evangelical Theological Society
November 20, 2003
Download free at www.kneillfoster.com/articles/AJesusOther.html
"A Jesus Other," A False Jesus Who is Preached and Received: An Examination of 2 Corinthians 11:1-6 and 1 John 4:1-4.
No less a missionary theologian than Arthur H. Glasser once said in my hearing, "There is something wrong with all this `Jesus' talk." My reaction was one of welcome surprise --I had not known there were others who thought as I did (Foster, 2001, 247). He was not suggesting that to refer to our Lord as Jesus, as the writer to the Hebrews does is wrong. Nor was he suggesting that to refer to the Son of God as Jesus as the gospel writers do is wrong. But he was complaining about the frivolous and mantra-like use of Jesus' name in contemporary evangelicalism to the exclusion of His full title so often used by Paul, the Lord Jesus Christ.
My instinct in the current spiritual atmosphere where Jesus is being mentioned is to wait. I must know in my own heart whether the Jesus I am hearing about is the true and only Son of God or whether the Jesus being affirmed is "A Jesus Other." Sometimes one must wait for a while before the answer becomes clear. The regular use of The Apostles' Creed would help since it so specifically identifies which Jesus is in view (Gene Rivard, Voices in Worship/Hymns of the Christian Life, 2003, 771).
A SENSUAL JESUS
Experience, they say, is the best teacher. In any case, after my 46 years in active ministry, some memorable events stand out. Of one of them, I have written elsewhere.
While at a camp meeting, we began to counsel a woman who was a friend of our family. She had picked up a spirit, which turned out to be a sensual Jesus (by its own admission), in a charismatic Anglican context. When we spoke or prayed together she would sometimes involuntarily slump to the ground under the power of this entity. Attempts to set her free were ineffective.
Finally one day, the three of us [my wife and I along with the lady] met in our motor home, and the struggle for her liberation continued. In the middle of the struggle, I suddenly became aware of sin in my heart. Specifically, it was the love of money. When I quietly confessed that sin to the Lord, the psuedo-Jesus suddenly left the woman. There was instant deliverance.
The exit phenomena were so dramatic that both my wife and the other lady turned to me and demanded to know what I had done. As you might guess, I didn't want to tell them. But I finally did. As camp director, I scheduled what we called "check nights" to assist in the raising of the budget. Thursday was the chosen night, but when this woman's husband announced that he would be leaving the grounds on Thursday, I protested inwardly, "No, he can't go on Thursday. We need his check." Those covetous thoughts had grieved the Holy Spirit. Once my sin was confessed, however, the "sexy Jesus" departed abruptly. Obviously, it was another Jesus, not the Lord Jesus Christ (Foster 2001, 250).
HUNDREDS OF INCIDENTS
This incident is but one of hundreds that might be offered as an illustration of what we are seeking to address here. The case will not be made for "A Jesus Other" reality in today's world by case studies alone, though they are available in large numbers, and though they consistently illustrate a spiritual reality, i.e., the pervasive presence of Jesus spirit references among the case studies cited by spiritual warfare practitioners.
There are also a number of authors who have written about the alternate Jesus phenomenon. George A. Birch, formerly a missionary of the China Inland Mission discusses the alternate Jesus phenomena at length (1988, 158-162); Gerald McGraw also observes the frequent appearance of "A Jesus Other" in his counseling ministry (1974b:5). And Archie Ruark has written similarly (1947, 5). These are but some of the authors who could be referenced.
SOME KEY BIBLICAL PASSAGES
What is required is a thorough examination of some of the key biblical texts which address the psuedo-Jesus reality. That full examination on the available biblical texts is beyond the scope of a single academic paper, but a textual focus on two main sections of Scripture will help. (We also obliquely touch Mark 13:21-23 and Matthew 24:23-24.)
The two main texts are: 2 Corinthians 11:1-6 and 1 John 4:1-4. They frame the key passage from Paul and John, respectively.
Before we turn to the main biblical texts, some reference must be made to the Pentecostal, charismatic and Third-Wave movements which particularly exhibit the Jesus manifestations. If these observations and tentative conclusions we reach here are valid, then some profoundly sober self-examination and phenomena-examination will be in order. (Nowhere will this examination need to be more acute than among orthodox Pentecostals who have Jesus phenomena similar to the heretical United Pentecostal and Jesus Only groups).
2 CORINTHIANS 11:1-6
1. Several observations proceed immediately from this text. The "A Jesus Other" being discussed in Paul's hypothetical deception was a Jesus preached. Scott emphasizes that a specific individual is in mind (1998, 204). Shillington also argues that a single person is in mind, connected to the serpent (1998:217). A fair conclusion is that Paul is thinking about another Jesus being preached, but that the preaching, though it is indeed preaching, is not the preaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Paul's fear had a foundation in fact, . . . an actual situation" (Harris, 1976, 385).
2. The reception of a spirit other than the Holy Spirit is in view. "If you receive a different spirit from the one you received" (v. 4) is a statement that should be troublesome in that it clearly suggests that those who have received the Holy Spirit may be deluded into receiving another spirit, a false spirit, obviously. ". . . Paul definitely holds that they [the super apostles, or the super apostle] preach another Jesus . . . they give another spirit, (evidently regarded as satanic vss. 13-15) than the Holy Spirit . . ." (Filson, 1953, 393). Thrall sees the Corinthians falling under the "control of evil spirits" (1965, 162).
3. Paul plunges on to anticipate a different gospel (v. 4), so it becomes clear that he is describing "A Jesus Other," a different spirit and a different gospel, indeed a gospel that will not be the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Wetherington, as do a number of commentators, sees an interesting triad here: another Jesus, another spirit and another gospel (1995. 445).
4. Most surprising (though all of this is surprising), Paul observes that the Corinthians put up with this deception rather easily (v. 5). The false Jesus with the false spirit and the false gospel wins easy acceptance among them. The toughness of the true gospel, the sharp edges of the cross of Jesus Christ, and the sound doctrine which is hard to put up with (2 Timothy 4:3) are not in view here.
5. Paul's reference to "super apostles" and his reference to their speaking ability (v. 5-6), introduces yet another factor into the welcome the Corinthians were giving to the false Jesus. There appears to have been a dramatic anointing which accompanied one super apostle particularly as he advocated another Jesus, urged the reception of a different spirit and preached a different gospel. He was, it is fair to assume, persuasive beyond belief and wonderfully entertaining. The new Jesus, new spirit, new gospel and "super" apostle swept the people in.
6. In face of all the buzz, Paul asserts that though he may not be flashy, he has knowledge (v. 6). Is he implying that the different Jesus, the different spirit, the different gospel and the super apostle are all at variance with sound doctrine and biblical knowledge? I assume so.
False Christs and false prophets will appear, said Jesus. They will be accompanied by miracles and signs which will deceive many, perhaps even the very elect. So the supernatural by itself is not an indicator of divine approval. There is a plurality of the real supernaturals (Foster, 2001, 2, 6, 47). Hence, there is the profound need to separate the supernaturals and distinguish between them. "A Jesus Other" was a false Christ, and if the intentional narrative of Jesus registers upon us, we may conclude that the false Christs are one and the same, false prophets.
Matthew is more expansive than Mark, though the latter is commonly assumed to have written first. The connection between false Christs and false prophets is once again evident (v. 24). Again there is the reference to dramatic signs and wonders which will accompany the psuedo-Jesus, and the psuedo-prophets (v. 24). The deceptive power of these mighty works is also emphasized. Plainly Jesus wanted to make it clear that miraculous events do not necessarily indicate divine authenticity. As in Mark, the deceptive power of real miracles worked by counter-kingdom power is underlined. The true Christ is not going to be geographically contained (v. 26, 27); He is coming after a time of tribulation and distress (v. 29); He will be seen in the heavens, exhibiting power and great glory (v. 30); and He will gather his elect from "one end of heaven to the other."
If the Corinthians had been thoroughly familiar with the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, surely they would not have been so tempted by "A Jesus Other."
1 John 4:1-4
This passage at first glance does not refer to false Christs but rather to false prophets (v. 1). Many of them have gone out in the world according to the author John. However, John switches his vocabulary from prophets to spirits (v. 2), requiring that they continually confess Jesus Christ. Occasional positive confessions are not enough (Foster 1994:110). Does John then mean that false prophets are false precisely because they are spirit-driven? That may be his intent.
But there is another "Jesus issue" found here. A specific Jesus is involved which connects us to Paul's phrase, "A Jesus other." If these various matters stand scrutiny, then this passage clearly has Christological intent.
THE SPECIFIC JESUS
During the writing of my dissertation I wrestled at length with the ton Jesous phrase, 1 John 4:3. And from here and forward, I am quoting extensively. ". . . we must advance to the phrase . . . ton Jesous, this Jesus" (1988, 168).
"This Jesus" who has come in the flesh is a particular Jesus, not "A Jesus Other." Haupt says,
. . . it is generally admitted that the object denied [in the verse] is defined simply ton Jesuos, and . . . this must be so explained as to show that the apostle connects with the name Jesus the whole matter which he had announced in the previous verse (1879:249).
Clark is more precise: "There is a definite article before the name Jesus: the Jesus. This could be strengthened to 'this Jesus,' the one mentioned as having come" (1981, 124).
Donald Burdick's comments are among the strongest:
Many modern commentators fail to take into consideration the significance of the [Greek] article ton before the name Jesous. . . . Although it was common in Greek to use the article before proper names, there is a good reason for understanding the article in ton Jesous as indicating previous reference (1985, 298).
Hobbs, citing another author, translates as follows: "the aforementioned Jesus" (1983, 101). And Findlay says,
The article ton before Jesous is well established, and gives point to the shorter reading: "Every spirit which does not confess the Jesus" in question --the Jesus of the Church's faith and the apostle's testimony [sic] (1909, 316).
Why is the particularity of Jesus so important? Because there is the peril of "A Jesus Other" (2 Corinthians 11:4). Apparently Paul perceived that at Corinth [already observed above] there was the possibility of receiving another spirit, and further that the Corinthians would think the new options as rather attractive and desirable ( Foster 1988, 168-169).
Now, in November 2003, emphasis on the specific Jesus of 1 John 4:2 is more necessary than ever. Any imprecision as to which Jesus we are worshipping or talking about opens the door to "A Jesus Other."
Truncating the name of Jesus, or even turning it into a modern-day mantra, is what Arthur Glasser was talking about when he complained about "all this Jesus talk" (see above). There is an alternate reading of 1 John 4:2 which intrudes itself into any discussion of "A Jesus Other."
The NIV translates 1 John 4:3 as follows, "and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God." Though the presence of the perfect tense would better cause the translation to be "does not continually acknowledge."
The exceptionally strong alternate reading is worth consideration because it may impinge on our discussion of "A Jesus Other."
The alternate reading says, "every spirit that severs Jesus is not from God." The "Jesus chatter" so frequent among evangelicals might be the "severing" of the alternate reading. (If you are reading carefully, I am defending the appropriateness of referring to our Lord as Jesus, as in the Gospel, and Hebrews. But failing to refer to Him as our Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ Jesus becomes worrisome after a while.) Severing Jesus from His titles of Christ and Lord may be an open doorway to "A Jesus Other."
Findlay presents a good case for the use of luei [severs].
Though ho may homologei stands in all the extant Greek codices, earlier and later, ho luei ton Jesous is vouched for by Irenaeus and Origen (in Latin translations), by Tertullian, Lucifer, and Augustine. The patristic Socrates, in his Hist. Ecclesiae, vii. 32, approves the reading luei, stating that "it had been so written in the old copies," and argues from it against the Nestorians; he even asserts, on the testimony of the "old interpreters," that the disappearance of luei from the current text was due to its depravation by heretics! This is strong evidence for the actuality of the Greek reading luei; (1909, 316).
And Farrar ventures a translation thus: "Every spirit WHICH SEVERS JESUS [is not of God]" (1882, volume 2, 447).
Marshall gives five important reasons for accepting "severs" or luei as the correct reading.
In favor of this reading it is argued: (1) The attestation is very old, going back to the mid-second century. (2) The grammatical irregularity of using may with the indicative homologei suggests that this reading is not an original. (3) Luei is a pregnant substitution, while may homologei is a colorless substitution. (4) The sharp continuation in verse 3b demands the stronger word. (5) It is easier to explain the scribal word to bring the saying into conformity with verse 2 (1978, 207).
I prefer the "severs" reading since it fits the most literal hermeneutic possible on the spirit-speaking in the text. Plunging into discussions about Docetism ignores the plain common-sense grammatical-historical hermeneutic the text seems to demand.
Still, an authority like Westcott considers luei carefully, but prefers not to embrace it, believing that Polycarp in an indirect reference to the writings of John affirms the accepted reading (1886, 142). Others, such as Ward, citing Blass-Debruner-Funk, and Gore much favor the "severs" reading (1920, 171). Using today's probability scale, SEVERS is probably a nine.
The alternate reading of 1 John 4:2 connects at a visceral level with our discussion about "A Jesus Other." If the Cerinthian habit of severing Jesus is what we are hearing in the Jesusization of evangelicalism, if the "Jesus chatter" is the severing of Jesus Christ our Lord from His full name and title, then much more consideration should be given to the text of Paul's "A Jesus Other," to the text of John's "this specific Jesus," and the probable correctness of the text of "Every spirit WHICH SEVERS JESUS."
On the personal level, deliverances and escapes from "A Jesus Other" may be the ultimate result of this discussion.
On a broader canvas, today's Christologists, who sometimes see the Jesus talk as Jesusology, an expression of Christ's humanity (King, 2003, 1) may not be seeing far enough. Christological nuances will not do if "A Jesus Other" is actually being broadly preached and worshiped today. If such is the case, a vast deception is being embraced, indeed cradled by the Church. The eternal consequences are incalculable.
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