2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
All that is wrong with American “Christianity” can be found in the Childish Charismatic Movement. Charismatics are in retreat from the cross and reality. Charismatics are babyish at best, and insane at worst. Holly Rollers are not holy, and Charismatics are not “filled with the Spirit.” This is not part the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is wretched Hinduistic subjectivism.
This article focuses on the Vineyard Movement and its relationship to the pseudo gospel and the Charismatic Movement.
The 1st Wave of the Pentecostal Movement began in April 1906 at Azusa Street 2nd Baptist Church in California. Many reported being “baptized by the Spirit” which was manifested by speaking in tongues (jibber jabber). The Pentecostal fire spread rapidly across America and the world. As these congregations descended into the indignities of barking like dogs, clucking like chickens, and rolling in the isles, a group of Pentecostal business men formed the 2nd Wave of the movement who wanted the Pentecostal fire without the undignified perversions happening in mainstream Pentecostalism. *(Daryl here. Demonic influences, tho’ present at the time, baptism in H.S. and tongues have Biblical precedent. Cessationist overtones present.)
The 2nd Wave of the Pentecostal movement practiced “speaking in tongues” their private prayer closet (1960’s). These Pentecostals called themselves “Charismatics” meaning “gifted ones.” The Charismatics practiced their aberrations and sought the Spirit’s anointing in small groups. *(Daryl. Aberrations – anything unbiblical)
The 3rd Wave of the Pentecostal Movement was started by John Wimber who broke away from the Calvary Chapel Movement in 1974 in order to Pentecostalize to form Vineyard Ministries International. Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, emphasized the supremacy of the Word of God and self-control among its members while Wimber emphasized sensual experiences supposedly from God. His leading disciple, Dr. Peter Wagner, taught the “signs and wonders” class at Fuller Theological Seminary at the School of World Missions. Desiring a more flammable fuel, Wimber returned to his Pentecostal roots introducing members to “Power Evangelism” through “signs and wonders.” The movement became known as “The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit.”
Some Evangelicals believe all three movements have done more to break down the truth of the gospel and to prepare people for the one-world harlot church than any other movement in history. Because there are so many victims of this heteropraxy, you need to know the fruits of the 3rd Wave of Pentecostalism so you can help restore them with truth and gentleness.
With “anointed” music as a tool, Wimber appealed to the feeling and emotions of his audiences producing sensuous Christians. A Jazz musician, Wimber awed his audiences with variations of Beetle music. A sensuous Christian doesn’t need to study the Word of God because he already knows the will of God by his feelings. He doesn’t want to know God through His Word; He wants to experience Him in his heart. The sensuous Christian is moved by emotion and feelings and regards strict adherence to the Bible as legalism and “child-like faith” as ignorance. As weeping, loud sobbing, shaking, animal noises, physical gyrations, deafening music, jumping, and hysterical laughter often break out Vineyard meetings. Wimber could be heard saying, “It all right folks, the Spirit is at work. Come, Holy Spirit, Come.”
Wimber believed in a “fierce pragmatism;” i.e., and that the ends-justifies-the means. He tried to find out what works in the realm of healing, prophetic messages, casting out demons, etc. by visiting Pentecostal power practitioners. “If it works, it must be good; If it helps, it must be of God,” reasoned Wimber. Jacob’s deception of his father, Isaac, worked but it did not mean it was right. Pragmatists are concerned about results and the results determine the truth. The pragmatist is not concerned so much about what the Bible says but about whether the “practice” produces the appearance of good or bad (Wimber, “Zip to 3,000 in 5 Years-Part I, “Signs and Wonders”: Christian Life Missions).
The gospel of the 3rd Wave is not about Jesus Christ and his death, burial, and resurrection or the marvelous effects of justification, regeneration, and eternal life received by faith, but the gospel of the here and now, the gospel of deliverance, the gospel of “signs and wonders,” the gospel of personal revelations, the gospel of healing, the gospel of the Spirit in the heart.
We are not against deliverance from evil, but in the context of the Vineyard, deliverance is “another gospel” that by-passes the cross (Gal. 1:6- e[teron euvagge,lion).
The 3rd Wave believes in animism; i.e., there are demons in people, over cities (territorial spirits), in trees, in cars, in foods, and things. Wimber believed in casting out demons from believers and emphasized exorcism and healing. F.V. Scott observed “the gospel is more than a disclosure of magic that matches and outdoes the magic of folk religions and cults. Its agenda includes more than relief from the pains of life. The ultimate goal is the fruits of the Spirit, not the gifts of the Spirit. Yet, that is the emphasis of John Wimber’s ministry” (See Wimber, Healing Seminar Syllabus, Section 2, Healing in the New Testament).
Low View of the true
Wimber does not outwardly deny the glorious gospel of Christ but he did not believe in its power. He believed the task of world evangelism could not be accomplished by emphasizing an accurate articulation of the Gospel, but that it needed to be accompanied by “signs and wonders and miracles and healings.”
This view not only contradicts Romans 1:16, it induces the false notion that Christians have been deceived and deprived of power for 2000 years.
The Vineyard needs to be reminded that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, not by seeing signs and wonders (Rom. 10:17).
Though Wimber was a Pentecostal of Pentecostals, Wimber had the audacity to call himself an Evangelical. “I just call myself an evangelical who’s a little more Biblical than I have been before.”
Identifying with Evangelicals gave Wimber respect he would not otherwise have gained and a cloak under which to practice the debasing acts of Pentecostalism. The Vineyard’s close association with Pentecostal, Charismatic leaders in major rallies refute their non-charismatic claims and document their duplicity says M.H. Reynolds (Foundation’s Magazine, Vol. XII, Los Osos, CA).
Wimber and his Charismatic brethren a childish false prophets. Speaking in tongues is not of the same character as the gift of languages in the New Testament. Seeing Charismatic madmen rolling in the isles, flopping on stage with laughter, slapping people on the forehead so they fall backward, crawling on stage like a drunk, neck jerking, twitching, and convulsions is nothing but childishness. It is worse than being babyish, it is criminal fraud – pass the offering plate please. This is not Christianity, it is a cult of wretched subjectivism.
The Vineyard Movement is dependent on experience rather than Scripture. Wimber’s use of Scripture is problematic because his starting point was his own experience. Wimber said, “I’m sort of a have-experience-will-travel person” (New Wine, 1.87., p. 7) “Experiencing God” in the heart is more important than knowing God through His Word—a Catholic concept.
To Wimber, the locus of salvation is not Calvary, but the human heart; the Savior is not Christ, but the Spirit; the great necessity is not Christ’s experience on the cross, but the believer’s experience with the Spirit.
The Vineyard folk are deeply subjective, feeling orientated, and introspective. They seek daily illumination and self-authenticating experiences with God, which they believe are of God merely because they have experienced them.
One member of the 3rd wave was telling me about how God had spoken to him with a word of knowledge and how it changed his life. He went on and on about his sensual vision that caused him to tremble and shake and the audible word “God” supposedly spoke to him. He almost impressed me until I found out he was shacking up with a live-in girl friend. He saw no contradiction between his orgasmic spiritual experience with “God” and his fornicating experience with his mistress. What spirit was speaking to him? Not the Holy Spirit!
Wimber believed in “speaking things into existence,” the act of a god; i.e., that Christians can bind the Devil, command spirits, and rebuke diseases. A modern day ghost buster, Wimber believed in power messages, power evangelism, power healings, and power exorcism. Instead of being content with the fact that power is resident in God alone, Vineyard ministers can be seen “breathing in” power, be heard making sucking sounds, and waving hands pushing in the Spirit to the heart to receive power. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul practicing this hocus pocus? In the Vineyard, Spiritual power is a goal in itself. Wimber emphasized the need for his adherents to seize the force and power of the Spirit, the force of grace, and the force of love which separated “dead doctrine” from “living reality.”
Since when is Biblical doctrine “dead”? When did the Spirit become a “force”? If I remember correctly, “you shall be as gods” was a promise of Satan to the first couple.
Low view of Scripture
Wimber did not believe in the sufficiency of the Word of God declared his advisor (“Wimber Changes His Mind”, Evangelicals Now, p. 15). In criticizing the Calvary Chapel Movement, Wimber is reported to say that, “they’re very Pharisaical in their allegiance to the Bible. They have very little life, and growth and spontaneity in the innards” (Wimber, Church Planting Seminar, Tapes I-V, 3.28.81). He equated those who measure a ministry with Scripture . . . as unbelieving Scribes.
Wimber believed, “all truth is God’s truth” even “truth” outside of Scripture. The Vineyard movement practices “listening to God” through impulses and feelings. Listeners hang on every word supposedly received directly from God.
In the Indianapolis conference in 1990, Wimber told his audience, “It was amazing and astounding to me when I found out that God also could communicate outside of the Scripture and directly to His children—astounding to me. . .” (Reynolds, p. 7).
Leaders in this sensual movement will claim that God spoke to them, that they have a message from God, or “the Lord said,” or they have a “revelation from God.”
It is reported that Wimber heard a voice from God saying that the “Beetles music” was the sound Wimber should use for his ministry.
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
Though his experience on the Mt. of Transfiguration was real, Peter said, “We have a more sure Word of Prophecy” –a reference to the Word of God (2 Peter 1:18).
Wimber taught that the church was hiding behind doctrinal beliefs that curtail the work of the Spirit. “The church today is committing evil in the name of sound doctrine,” taught Wimber (Church Plainting Seminar, 3.28.81).
Wimber was wrong!
Sound doctrine will not curtail the work of the Spirit but encourage it and shape it to produce godly character (1 Tim. 6:2-3; Tit. 1:1, 2:9, 10; 3:5-8).
Its members are wrong when they errantly quote, “Knowledge puffs up.”
The Scriptures says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children” (Hosea 4:6).
The Vineyard’s low view of Scripture combined with an emphasis on following “the Spirit” as opposed to following the Word creates a climate of permissiveness and tolerance. The Word is perceived in juxtaposition to the Spirit contrary to the teaching of Paul (Eph. 5:18; Col. 3:15,16).
Spontaneity is seen as “spiritual” and obedience to Scripture and strict adherence to the Word is perceived as Pharisaical legalism.
When corrected by a knowledgeable Bible student who speaks the truth in love, Vineyard adherents will say, “that is not loving, or “The letter killeth,” or that is “legalistic.”
Since when is obedience to the Word of God legalistic? The great Christians of history have been people of the Book with an iron-clad grip on its truth: “Blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it,” declared Jesus (Luke 11:28). The Vineyard movement needs to be reminded that it is not loving or Christian to depart from Scripture.
Hinduism has invaded the West through the in roads of pop psychology. It is clear that the Vineyard drifted deep into psychology and the occult through Wimber’s leadership. The Vineyard practices “inner healing’ and uses borrowed ideas from the false prophets of John Sandford, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung.
Wimber believed in “healing memories,” “repressed memories,” and the “touchy-feely” world of inner feelings. He saw men controlled by demons. He had his “antennae” into the cosmic reality so he could receive special anointings. The Vineyard forms small groups so they can “call down the power of God” through their “power ministry” so victims can experience “power healing.” Instant relief from the pains and struggles of life is not only commanded in prayer, but paramount to their false gospel.
Wimber taught his followers how to heal, how to cast out demons, and how to bring about deliverance. Instead of exploring Scripture and challenging people to grow in godliness, adherents explore the inner psyche of the victim to detect blame points for present behavior. Instead of teaching truth, prayer warriors seek to somehow manipulate God and control His powers for deliverance—an occult concept.
Vineyard shamans seek innate power inherent in themselves. Advocates believe that taking a person back into the past, using meditation concepts and visualization, Jesus can enter the past traumatic event and heal it.” Inner healing includes: “hot flushes and stiffness in certain parts of the body, tingling sensations, trembling and shaking, falling down under the power of the Spirit, strong electrical current, ripples on the skin, movement underneath the skin, radiance on the face, heavy breathing, moaning and groaning and being in a trance” (Healing Seminar Syllabus: II Observations, p. 74).
“Forgiving self” is often emphasized in the Vineyard Movement. Can you imagine Jesus telling the prostitute, “You must forgive yourself? We have no authority to forgive ourselves, but we can believe that God forgives sin and enjoy its fruits by faith (Lk. 5:24).
The real problem of inner healing is that it shifts the emphasis from Christ and the cross to a spirit and the heart—thus, the Vineyard undermines the work of Christ turning the Gospel up side down (Gal. 1:4-8). Wasn’t this the heresy in Roman Catholicism that Luther confronted in his day?
More can be said about the Vineyard’s false prophets, false apostles, false gospel, and “damnable heresies”.
The wise Christian will avoid the movement and find a Bible believing church that teaches the sufficiency of the Scripture and the sufficiency of the Gospel. It is more important for the believer to understand the Gospel of Christ and to lay hold of its blessings by faith (Eph. 1:3ff) than it is to tunnel into one’s past or investigate the demonic realm of principalities and powers.
If you have come under the influence of the 3rd Wave or know someone who is under the influence of the 3rd Wave, there is cleansing power in the Word and joy in the true grace of God
“that brings salvation . . . to all men which teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope– the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Tit. 2:11-14).
If you are in this vile movement, run away as fast as your sandals can slap pavement! Get out now! Find a solid Bible-based fellowship and recover!
Brook Stockon, Professor of New Testament Theology