Subscribe via RSS Feed

William Atkinson: The Spiritual Death of Jesus

William P. Atkinson, The ‘Spiritual Death’ of Jesus: A Pentecostal Investigation, Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies series (Brill, 2009), 304 pages, ISBN 9789004171992.

William P. Atkinson tackles the controversial issue of the supposed spiritual death of Jesus from a firm Pentecostal perspective, being an ordained minister in the Elim Pentecostal Church in the UK. He spent seven years as the president in his denomination’s theological college, and is presently associated with the London School of Theology.

This book under review won the annual book award from The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship. When one reads through it, it is easily observed why this distinction was given.

At the very beginning of the book, the author lets you know where he stands, and the conclusions to which he has arrived. Taking the theological appraisal farther than any previous research to date, Atkinson counsels that Pentecostals would experience unnecessary damage by adopting this aberrant theology, and thus be drawn away from the foundations of traditional Christianity. His advice is to reject the bulk of the teaching of JDS (Jesus Died Spiritually).

Does the teaching that Jesus died spiritually stand up against historic Christianity?

The rest of the book then serves the purpose of showing his thorough research, how his conclusions were drawn, and the practical implications of those conclusions. While there have been previous investigations into this doctrine, this present work goes well beyond them, both building on and questioning some of their conclusions, providing the reader with a far more robust critique built on better and more thorough research.

Because the teaching of JDS is central to the Word of Faith, this book, in a sense, also serves as a critique of that movement. The Word of Faith movement cannot be classified as a single denomination, but nevertheless has greatly influenced Pentecostals throughout the world by means of their mass media techniques (TV, radio, publications, Internet, etc.). Who can calculate the number of independent, Pentecostal or charismatic churches that have embraced these teachings? This spread of inaccurate interpretations is an obvious concern to the author.

In particular, Atkinson focuses on three individuals: E. W. Kenyon, Kenneth E. Hagin and Kenneth Copeland. Kenneth E. Hagin is the main person who initiated the Word of Faith movement, leaning heavily on the writings of E. W. Kenyon. Kenneth Copeland is still alive and continues to advance this teaching. These three men have articulated the JDS doctrine the most comprehensively and to more of an extent than any of their followers.

Indeed, many of their disciples have picked up on this teaching and taught it in different measures, even modifying it. But the basic foundations have been strongly laid by these three men. Many people have unconsciously assumed this teaching, thinking it is orthodox.

Atkinson insists that this whole theological stance only serves to misrepresent the incarnation, the role that Satan played in the crucifixion, and the events that transpired between the cross and the resurrection.

Pin It
Page 1 of 41234

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2015

About the Author: Eugene Smith currently pastors a church in Northern Ireland. He spent over thirteen years in global ministry, constantly travelling from country to country as a missionary teacher, participating in pastors’ seminars, conferences, Bible schools and church services. Eugene has a strong burden that Spirit and Word be brought together to speak with one voice.

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Invitation: Stories about transformation

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Studies in Acts

    Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but h...

    Will I Still Be Me After Death?