The Roots: John Wimber and the Vineyard

     I believe that the only accurate evaluation of any movement
begins by looking at the roots.  As it is written, A good tree
cannot produce evil fruit, nor can an evil tree produce good
fruit.  Origin determines everything when it comes to spiritual
evaluation.  So many times we make our own judgments about things
and get burnt!  Eve looked at the fruit offered her and said,
basically, "It looks good to me!"  Even so, many are looking at
Toronto and saying "I know, it looks weird, but so much "good" is
coming out of it.  People are falling passionately in love with
Jesus and Satan wouldn't want that!"  Of course, there will be much
apparent good to come from this movement!  There has to be.  How
else would any Christians accept it?  What I hope to do in this
chapter is take a step back into recent history and examine who I
consider to be one of the main roots of the Toronto Blessing
Phenomena; John Wimber and the Vineyard.
Who is John Wimber?

     There are a lot of conflicting opinions about the answer to
that question.  Some hail him as a "prophetic leader," and others
as a false prophet.  He has certainly been a major influence on the
church, as a hymn writer, lecturer, author, pastor, evangelist, and
builder of the Vineyard movement, John Wimber has worn many hats. 
Even before he was converted he was influential in the field of
music, forming and managing the pop group, The Righteous Brothers
and as a business man.  By his own confession, in the early 1960's,
as his music career soared, his marriage was diving, until 1962,
which was the year that he was converted.  Previously, he was
despondent over being separated from his wife.  Upon the advice of
a friend, he went out into the desert to seek some peace, and cried
out to God for help.  When he got back to his hotel, a message from
his wife awaited him telling him that she wanted to come back home. 
Both of them eventually began attending a Bible study group led by
a Quaker, Gunner Payne, who became somewhat of a mentor to them,
for a period, in the things of God.  After six weeks of Bible
study, one evening Carol, John's wife, knelt down to accept Christ,
30 seconds later, John found himself on the floor weeping, calling
upon God also.  John left music, took a job at a factory and
entered into discipleship.  By 1970, he was pastor of a Quaker

     Wimber's wider scale influence on the body of Christ began in
the mid 70's when he left the Quaker church he pastored to become
the founder and lecturer for the Fuller Church Growth Institute. 
This travelling ministry gave him the opportunity to get a broad
view of the church in America, across denominational lines.  He
served more or less as a consultant to local churches on church
growth and related issues and was a highly sought after lecturer.

     In this position, he came into contact with C. Peter Wagner,
a fellow professor at Fuller and known as one of the leaders of the
"church growth" movement.  Wagner takes a very pragmatic approach
to church growth.  By that I mean, he has examined a wide spectrum
of growing churches, to find out "what is working" for them.  In
his book Leading Your Church To Growth, Wagner features everyone
from the Southern Baptist Convention to Robert Schuller, from John
Wimber to John MacArthur.  This is very important for our
understanding of Wimber, for he was greatly influenced by Wagner
and vice versa.  Wimber has developed a very pragmatic approach to
ministry, healing, spiritual growth, etc.  He has shown a
willingness to examine and implement a wide range of what seems to
be working in the Christian world, particularly in the area of

     Through his contact with Wagner, who for years was a
missionary in Bolivia, as well as with other pastors and students
from Third World countries, Wimber was exposed to the stories of
supernatural confrontations, miracles, healings, demonic
oppressions, and deliverances that are somewhat common in those
places.  He was also told of the explosive church growth wherever
the power of God was demonstrated.  This forced Wimber, who
considered himself a cessationist (one who believes that miracles
have ceased) to rethink his position.  Three books that influenced
him at this time were: Concerning Spiritual Gifts, by Donald Gee; 
Healing and Christianity, by Morton Kelsey;  Look Out! The
Pentecostals are Coming, by C. Peter Wagner.  Wimber, in the
introduction to his book, Power Evangelism, assures us that he
doesn't agree with all that Gee and Kelsey wrote, but they were
used to cause him to reconsider the issue of spiritual gifts.

     In 1977, Wimber left Fuller to put into practice the ideas he
taught about evangelism and church growth, by starting a local
church.  That church began with a Bible study in his living room,
grew to 50 people and eventually swelled to some 6000 members and
became known as the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim,
California.  At first, they were affiliated with Chuck Smith's
Calvary Chapels.  Eventually, they disassociated and joined with
another former Calvary group of seven churches, Ken Gullickson's
Vineyard Fellowships.  In the early 1980's Gullickson turned the
leadership over to Wimber.  Since then, there are approximately 600
Vineyard Churches worldwide.

A Watershed Event

     In 1981 on Mother's Day, a service was held at the church
Wimber pastored, which would prove to be significant enough to
change Wimber's ministry.  I believe that you will see striking
similarities to the Toronto Blessing and other examples of
mysticism we see today.  The following account is narrated by Carol
Wimber, John's wife.

          On Mother's Day of 1981 we had a watershed
     experience that launched us into what today is called,
     "Power Evangelism."  At this time, John [Wimber] invited
     a young man who had been attending our church to preach
     one Sunday evening.  By now we had grown to over 700
     participants.  The young man shared his testimony, which
     was beautiful and stirring; then asked for all the people
     under the age of 25 to come forward.  None of us had a
     clue as to what was going to happen.  When they got to
     the front, the speaker said, "For years now, the Holy
     Spirit has been grieved by the church, but He's getting
     over it.  Come, Holy Spirit."  And He came.  Most of the
     young people had grown up around our home.  We had four
     children between the ages of 15-21.  We knew the young
     people well.  One fellow, Tim, started bouncing.  His
     arms flung out and he fell over, but one of his hands
     accidentally hit a mike stand and he took it down with
     him.  He was tangled up in the cord with the mike next to
     his mouth.  The he began speaking in tongues, so the
     sound went throughout the gymnasium.  We had never
     considered ourselves Charismatics, and certainly had
     never placed emphasis on the gift of tongues.  We had
     seen a few people tremble and fall over before, and we
     had seen many healings.  But, this was different.  The
     majority of the young people were shaking and falling
     over.  At one point it looked like a battlefield scene,
     bodies everywhere, people weeping, wailing, speaking in
     tongues.  And Tim in the middle of it all, babbling into
     the microphone.  There was much shouting and loud

          John sat by quietly playing the piano and wide eyed! 
     Members of our staff were fearful and angry.  Several
     people got up and walked out...

          But I knew God was visiting us.  I was so thrilled
     because I had been praying for power for so long.  This
     might not have been the way I wanted to see it come, but
     this was how God gave it to us...I asked one boy, who was
     on the floor, "What's happening to you right now?"  He
     said, "It's like electricity.  I can't move."  I was
     amazed by the effect of God's power on the human body. 
     I suppose I thought that it would be all inward work,
     such as conviction or repentance.  I never imagined there
     would be strong physical manifestations.[1]

     Now mind you, this was 1981 and yet note the striking
parallels to the "Toronto Experience."  Just on the surface, I can
note several.  For example:

1.   It happened in a Vineyard Church
2.   There was a prophecy in the name of the Holy Ghost
3.   There was a prayer to the Holy Ghost
4.   There were similar manifestations, bouncing, shaking,
violently falling, weeping, electricity

     John Wimber was actually quite troubled by it all, until he
received a sensual confirmation to the experience.  I'll let Carol
recount it:

     John wasn't as happy as I.  He had never seen large
     numbers of people sprawled out over the floor...He spent
     that night reading scripture and historical accounts of
     revival from the lives of people like Whitefield and
     Wesley...But, his study did not yield the conclusive
     answers to questions raised from the previous evenings
     events.  By 5 am, John was desperate, he cried out to
     God, "Lord, if this is you please tell me."  A moment
     later the phone rang and a pastor friend of ours from
     Denver, Colorado was on the line.  "John," he said, "I'm
     sorry I'm calling so early, but I have something really
     strange to tell you.  I don't know what it means, but God
     wants me to say, "It's Me, John."[2]

Mystical Confirmation

     Here also is a parallel with Toronto.  For in their attempt to
justify the mystical revival, scriptures are sought, mainly to
interpret manifestations.  Then church history is used extensively,
citing anyone from George Fox to Teresa of Avila, to Jonathan
Edwards, as though they belong together.  Fox, founder of the
Society of the Quakers, or Friends, taught that every man has an
inward light that was sufficient in itself to lead him to know God. 
The Quakers took Fox's teaching to the point of elevating that
subjective, inner witness above the objective Word of God.  Teresa
of Avila was a Roman Catholic mystic who had an almost complete
spectrum of mystical experiences, out of body experiences, trances,
and visitations of the Virgin Mary.  And, of course, Jonathan
Edwards, a late Puritan who wrote "Religious Affections" to defend
the Great Awakening, a true revival based on the preaching of God's
Word.  All of these and others are thrown together to "defend" the
Toronto Phenomena.

     Notice in the above testimony, that Wimber didn't find any
justification for what happened in church after spending a night in
scripture.  Nor did he in church history.  It was only after a man
in another city received a mystical confirmation that "It's Me,"
could John be assured that nothing was amiss.  Ultimately with
Toronto, it won't be scripture, or church history that confirms
(Although there is a huge attempt to make Jonathan Edwards the
theologian of their revival), rather it will be subjective
experience, "I've gotten a new passionate love for Jesus now," "I
felt God there," "An angel appeared to me," will be all the
verification many will require, or, "I'm tired of not feeling God,
this must be it!".

MC510, Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth

     In the early 1980's, Wimber was invited to lecture at Fuller
again.  The course which he taught was entitled, "MC510, Signs,
Wonders, and Church Growth."  This course, which was immensely
popular, was later renamed, "The Miraculous and Church Growth."  It
consisted of ten consecutive Monday evenings, for four hours each
night.  The first three hours consisted of a lecture, including
questions, answers, and discussion.  The last hour was a "lab" in
which the gifts of the Spirit were demonstrated by Wimber and the
class.  Words of knowledge, healings, and deliverances were
reported to have occurred, as Wimber and his students ministered
one to another.

     This course gained nationwide attention when Robert Walker,
the editor of Christian Life Magazine devoted the October 1982
issue, now known as the "sold out" issue, to "Signs, Wonders, and
Church Growth."  That issue has since been reprinted as a book,
Signs and Wonders Today, and according to C. Peter Wagner, "It is
currently being read as a study guide in churches and other
Christian groups across the country."[3]

     Many of the terms and concepts presented by the teaching have
become common terminology since then.  Terms like "Power
Encounter," "Divine Appointment," "Power Evangelism," "Proclamation
and Demonstration Evangelism," and "Paradigm Shift," are all being
discussed, debated and commonly used today.

     The essence of the "Signs and Wonders" teaching is this; there
has been an explosive growth of Christianity in the Third World,
while at the same time, it has stagnated in the developed, Western
World.  Why is this?  At the risk of over simplification it is
because the Gospel is being preached with kingdom power and
demonstration in the Third World, and in the Western World,
proclamation alone is the primary means of advancement.  Church
growth in the Third World is marked by the "Power Encounter," the
ultimate confrontation between the Gospel witnesses and the
entrenched Satanic opposition.  (As in,  Elijah and the Prophets
and Baal).  "Power Encounters" can be deliverances, miracles,
healings, even "showdowns" with witch doctors, the clash between
light and darkness, which ultimately brings the breakthrough in a
given area.

     Why is the Third World so much more open to God's kingdom
power then the developed world?  It is, according to Wimber,
primarily because of world view.  The Third World mentality is one
in which Satan, demons, angels, elemental spirits, and even
household gods, are interacting with us in everyday life.  Those
with this paradigm, or, world view, seem to have no problem with
believing in a supernatural God or His miracles, in fact, they
would expect God to perform miracles.  Supposedly because their
world view allows for this, it happens.  With that kind of world
view, God can be God!

     But, we in the Western World, have an entirely different mind
set.  We supposedly have what has been called a "two-tiered" mind. 
In the "upper story," we have God, Jesus, angels, and the
supernatural.  In the "lower story," we have everyday life, family,
bills, responsibility, etc.  And according to "Signs and Wonders"
teaching, rarely do the two meet.  In between the two compartments
of our "paradigm" is what Wimber calls "the excluded middle," a
layer of reality ignored by the Western world view.  He describes
this "excluded middle" in his "Signs and Wonders Church Growth"
Syllabus this way: Supernatural forces on this Earth includes:

     * spirits, ghosts, ancestors, demons

     * earthly gods and goddesses who live within trees,
     rivers, hills, villages

     * supernatural forces: maya, planetary influences, evil
     eyes, power of magic, sorcery, witchcraft

     * Holy Spirit, angels, demons, signs and wonders, gifts
     of the Spirit[4]

This is supposedly the "layer of reality" that the Western world
view has neglected, thus the call for a "Paradigm Shift," a
radically new way of looking at reality!  More on this important
Wimber contribution to Toronto later.

The Third Wave

     What made MC510 a novelty was that neither Wimber nor Fuller
Seminary ever considered themselves even remotely Pentecostal or
Charismatic.  Therefore their teaching was acceptable to the
thousands of evangelicals who were hungry for God and
demonstrations of His power, but closed to anything associated with
"tongues!"  The idea was that the power of God is every bit as
crucial to evangelism as the knowledge of God, and it is available
to every believer.  This would prove to be an idea whose time had
come.  (By the way, I do also believe that the gospel can and
should be preached with confirming power according to Mark

     Those evangelicals who suddenly became aware of the power
dimension of the Gospel, became known as "The Third Wave." 
According to C. Peter Wagner, "The first wave was the Pentecostal
movement, the second, the Charismatics, and now the Third Wave is
joining them."[5]  The Third Wave being, of course, those
mainstream evangelicals, now aware of the possibility of the power
of God, but not wanting to identify with Pentecostalism. 

     There is no question, the Third Wave has significantly
affected Christianity.  A large number of our current leaders,
authors, preachers, and scholars have been touched by it.  I have
already mentioned Robert Walker, and John Wimber, as well as C.
Peter Wagner.  Psychologist and popular Christian author, John
White, (Eros Defiled, The Golden Cow, The Fight, and others), took
a leave of absence from his practice in Canada and moved to
Pasadena, California so that he and his wife could enroll in MC510,
in 1981.  He told C. Peter Wagner, "I had discovered I was trapped
in what has been called a Western Mind set, a cultural bias that
impeded my capacity to perceive the supernatural phenomena."[6] 
White wrote a book in 1988 called, When the Spirit Comes With
Power, which is now being referred to as an explanation for some of
the manifestations in Toronto.  Much of the book amounts to a study
of John Wimber and Vineyard and related manifestations.

     Another man whom Wimber has influenced is Charles Kraft,
Professor of Anthropology and Intercultural Communications at
Fuller.  He also spent time on the mission field in Nigeria, where
he says he took a "powerless Christianity to Africa."  According to

     As missionaries, we were well prepared in theological,
     cultural and linguistic studies.  As evangelicals,
     however, we were totally unprepared to deal with the one
     area the Nigerians considered the most important_their
     relationships with the spirit world.[7]

     His book, Christianity with Power, is a virtual testimonial to
the influence of Wimber and the "Signs and Wonders" course, which
he also took in 1982.  But, his book is much more than that.  It is
a call for a "Paradigm Shift," from a "Western Mind set" to a more
experiential paradigm.

     On the back cover of the book is the following headline and
introductory paragraph:

                              What's Missing?

          Power.  Politicians crave it, money buys it, and
     some people will do anything for it.

          In a world where New Agers rely on crystals and
     channeling to tap into spiritual power, the Christian is
     reminded that Jesus used supernatural power to heal the
     sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead.  Two thousand
     years later, the world still desperately needs a Saviour
     who works in power.  Charles Kraft believes that many
     modern Christians have become embarrassed and reluctant
     to preach a gospel accompanied by supernatural power. 
     Our Western World view conditions us to fit God into a
     neat, predictable, mold.[8]

(Why blame it on world view?  Whatever happened to unbelief?)

     Don Williams is another author, theologian, professor and
pastor who has been impacted by Wimber and the Third Wave.  In his
introduction to the book, Signs, Wonders, and the Kingdom of God,
he makes the following acknowledgement.  

     A surprising turn in the road brought me into contact
     with John Wimber, the founder of The Vineyard Christian
     Fellowship, in Anaheim, California, in 1983.  This led me
     into a whole new direction in ministry and a
     reformulation of its biblical basis.  John became my
     pastor and friend for this current phase of my

     Williams also counts Francis MacNutt among the major
influences in his life.

     There are so many others who have been directly or indirectly
affected by Wimber and the Third Wave.  Men like Ken Blue, Mike
Bickle, Jack Deere, George Mallone, James Ryle, John Arnott, Randy
Clark, and countless others.  I think I have demonstrated to you
where Wimber and Vineyard have come from, and the widespread
influence on the church.  I would emphasize that much of that
influence has been positive, in my view.  Bringing people into an
awareness of the possibility of the demonstration of the Spirit and
restoring a measure of the priesthood of every believer is a worthy
accomplishment.  Healing ministries have flourished in churches
that used to be noted for not believing in healing, new churches
have been planted, souls have been saved, compassion extended to
the poor, all of this is good and I applaud it!

     However, in my attempt to put Toronto in context, I will look
now at four aspects of Wimber's contribution which I consider to be
part of the problem.  Toronto didn't happen "out of the blue," it
is my contention that thousands have been pre-conditioned to enter
into the mystical experiences that make up this revival.  Here is
what that conditioning has been composed of!

Paradigm Shift

     Wimber, Kraft, White and Williams, as well as many other Third
Wave teachers, have been calling for a "paradigm shift" for some
time now.  I have already outlined the teaching on "worldviews" and
how they allegedly affect the demonstration of God's power.  A
paradigm shift is a total exchange of your world view!  You once
saw the gospel and the things of God through a certain grid; you
now see it through an entirely different "grid!"  I am beginning to
think that thousands of Western Christians have "made the leap"
into a new paradigm.  This is the only way to explain the "Laughing

     What is the shift?  It is from a primarily Western, rational,
logical, objective point of view to an Eastern, subjective,
experiential paradigm.  Haven't we been subtly taught over the
years, that the Western mind set is cold, calculated, rational,
based on just the observable facts?  On the other hand, allegedly,
the Eastern is mystical, from the heart, and based on experience?

     Wimber teaches, "We must remember always that the Bible was
written in the Middle East, not with rational assumption, that we
bring to it as we try to understand it, but with an experiential
assumption."[10]  I interpret him to be saying that the Bible is
not so much an objective book, but a subjective one.  Not so much
for understanding God mentally, but for experiencing Him

     In another tape, Wimber explains: "You tell someone from the
Far or Middle East that cotton only grows in warm semi-arid
climates.  England is cold and wet.  [Ask them]  Does cotton grow
in England?  The answer you'll get is, "I don't know, I haven't
been to England.""[11]  Or, "I can't say unless I've been there,
(experience)."  This is the new paradigm, a down playing of
doctrine or "head knowledge" in favor of mystical experience. 
Another variation of this is, "God is bigger than His written
word," translated, God wants to bring you into experiences that
aren't in the limits of scripture.  Just knowing God "doctrinally"
is not sufficient, you now must have self authenticating
experiences.  All of these attitudes are the end result of the New
Paradigm.  This is the shift from primarily objective, to
subjective thinking in our approach to truth!

     Though there is so much lamenting about the "Western Mind set"
that has "trapped" so many, we must ask ourselves two questions.

     Is this a Biblical distinction?

     Is this even a real problem?  (ie Western vs Eastern Paradigm)

     When Jesus was in His home town, the Bible says He could do no
miracles there because of unbelief.  These were Eastern people who
certainly believed in God, angels, miracles, and had a Biblical
world view.  But, when the Son of God came among them, He could do
no miracles because of "unbelief."  I don't think that unbelief is
so much a cultural phenomena, as it is a moral one.

     John 7:17  If any man do his will, he shall know of the
     doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of
     myself.  (If you are willing to obey, you will be able to
     believe, not vice versa!)

     John 3:11-12  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak
     that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye
     receive not our witness.  If I have told you earthy
     things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I
     tell you of heavenly things?  (Notice, "You won't
     receive, or believe!")  Unbelief is a moral problem not
     an intellectual one.

     Is trying to adapt a new cultural perspective Biblical?  There
is the renewing of the mind, but that is commanded of all, whether
Eastern or Western.

     Is it even real?  Is someone with an Eastern Paradigm so dumb
that they can't relate a simple problem in logic?  (ie: cotton in
England)  I don't know, but I don't think so.  I think that
everywhere in the world there are people who are sensuous, and want
to relate to God on primarily a sensual basis, feeling Him,
visions, dreams, constant physical assurances.  And also,
everywhere in the world there are people who will be willing to
take God at His Word, judging all things by the Word, willing to
wait till the time when "We will be like Him for we will see Him as
He is."

     As I said, the new paradigm shift is one from a primarily
objective knowledge of God with subjective experiences as a
secondary aspect, to a primarily subjective view of God, with
objective truth as secondary.  In an audio cassette message called,
"Healing, An Introduction," Wimber calls us to "know more
personally the God who exists both beyond and within the boundaries
of well defined doctrinal systems."12  How can you really know God? 
Outside of doctrinal boundaries, right?  Get out there beyond the
doctrine, Eve!  In another audio message, Wimber informs us, "All
that is in the Bible is true, but not all truth is in the Bible. 
We integrate all truth, both Biblical and other into our experience
of living."13  It's the same old song and dance.  "Don't be limited
and narrow, we go beyond the scripture for truth, integrate it all
into our "experience." "  In the new paradigm, scripture is
acknowledged and given lip service, but it is no longer the primary
standard which measures spiritual reality.  Subjective experience
is now the center to which scripture must be measured.  In short,
"Have experience, will travel."

The Lowered Status of Scripture

     In his book, Power Evangelism, Wimber explains, "God uses our
experiences to show us more fully what He teaches us in scripture,
many times toppling or altering elements of our theology and world

     As I explained earlier, experience now is ranked higher than
doctrine, your doctrine can be toppled by your experience at times. 
What is doctrine or theology?  Some nonessential detail?  Is it
negotiable?  Biblical theology and doctrine are the body of truth,
the only objective measure you have to test the spirits to see
whether they be of God!  We used to measure all experience by
doctrine, but in the new paradigm it is the doctrine that is
suspect, and is measured by degree of experience.

     Wimber has consistently in his teaching pitted doctrine over
against true experience, as if they were at variance!  According to
him, "God is greater than His Word."[15]  As John Goodwin has said
in his report on Vineyard, "As a result of this equating of
experiential "truth" with the authority of scripture, Wimber's
teachings are then validated by finding a Bible verse which appears
as though it might apply to what has occurred."[16]  The constant
refrain about "dry Christians" who believe the right doctrine but
don't know God from the heart, has a conditioning effect on God's
people.  "Because they believe the right doctrine and can give you
the right answer doesn't mean they're born again."[17]  OK, that's
true, but what are you saying?  Is there something wrong with
Christians wanting to be doctrinally accurate?  Here's another
example:  "That's what separates dead doctrine, from the living
reality.  There's a force of grace, there's a force of faith that
must be manifest in our midst."[18]  Don't just settle for more of
that "dead doctrine," go after the impersonal force, right?  Like
Ken Copeland and others, evidently Wimber has accepted the occult
idea of an impersonal force of faith and grace that must "manifest
in our midst."  Without this "force" energizing it, doctrine is
supposedly dead.  The truth is, all correct doctrine is living (Heb
4:12), the only dead doctrine is false doctrine.

     John 6:63  It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh
     profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they
     are spirit, and they are life.

     Heb 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and
     sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the
     dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints
     and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and
     intents of the heart.

     I wonder about the teacher who lashes out at sound doctrine,
and would make a distinction between the Word of God taught and
"living reality."  In his teaching on Luke 5:18-24, Wimber accuses
fundamentalists of "chiseling" at ministry, with the Word!

     Many of you and myself included, have committed that sin. 
     We have been theologically correct as we've attempted to
     conform something to scripture, saying, "At this point
     the teaching is..."  Many fundamentalists do exactly the
     same thing today about the works of the Spirit.  They
     take the Word of God and chisel at a practice or a
     ministry or a flow, without recognizing it's God moving. 
     Not recognizing that God is bigger then His written

     As John Goodwin points out, the affect of this kind of
teaching is to identify "Those who measure a practice or ministry
by scripture with the unbelieving scribes."[20]  Incredibly, in the
same teaching, he pits doctrine against the work of the Spirit!  

     Jesus, knowing their hearts, said, "Why are you thinking
     evil in your heart?"...I said, "Lord they're not thinking
     evil...they're just operating under sound
     doctrine"...But, you see, it's evil when you don't
     recognize God.  It's evil when you don't see Jesus in the
     things that are going on.  It's evil when you hide behind
     doctrinal beliefs that curtail and control the work of
     the Spirit...The church today is committing evil in the
     name of sound doctrine.  And, they are quenching the work
     of the Holy Spirit.  And they are turning against the
     work of the Holy Spirit.[21]

     Evidently, Wimber stands on the side of the "Work of the
Spirit," but those who would dare appeal to scriptural confirmation
are trying to curtail and control the work of the Spirit, hiding
behind doctrinal beliefs.


     Another Wimber contribution, which I feel you can see in
Toronto, is mysticism.  What is mysticism?  Mysticism is the
sensualization of our relationship with God and dealings with the
spirit realm.  By sensualizing, I am not referring to sexuality,
but with the feeling realm.  A mystic is someone who wants to know
God intimately, but is not patiently waiting for the "beatific
vision."  He wants to see, touch, feel, and be one with God NOW. 
The mystic asks Why can't we feel God?  See Him?  Go deeper and
deeper with Him, into deeper levels of intimacy?  We can, but in
His time and on His terms.  

     I Cor 13:12-13  For now we see through a glass darkly;
     but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall
     I know even as also I am known.  And now abideth faith,
     hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these
     is charity.

     I Cor 15:49-53  And as we have borne the image of the
     earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 
     Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot
     inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption
     inherit incorruption.  Behold, I shew you a mystery; We
     shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a
     moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:
     for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised
     incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this
     corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal
     must put on immortality.

     I John 3:1-2 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath
     bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of
     God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew
     him not.  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it
     doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that,
     when we shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall
     see him as he is. 

The mystic does not accept the fact that our salvation is not yet
complete.  The hunger "to know and be known" is good, but coupled
with the discontented impatience, and a low or distorted view of
scripture, and you have a mystic.  Toronto is a mystical revival. 
The work of the Spirit is relegated to the level of sensual
manifestation.  People are trying to feel God and they have tapped
into something. 

     In his Healing Seminar Syllabus, Wimber has taught thousands
different healing techniques.  In teaching them to recognize the
anointing that ministers healings, they are to look for "sensations
of warmth (flowing out of hands), [Aura manipulation], tingling
feelings, trembling of hands, and a sense of anointing."[22] 
Allegedly, "These spiritual phenomena are manifestations of the
Spirit's presence on the person.  By observing them you can begin
to see what the Spirit is doing in and through the person.  We
don't have an explanation for all the various manifestations."[23]

     Not having an explanation for these manifestations doesn't
discourage him though, for,

Sometimes you can learn more from what's not said than what's said,
[in scripture].  If you take today's practices and put it up
against the scripture, lots of stuff falls off, there's no place to
put it.[24]

     I'll say.

Lack of Use of Discernment

     Toward the mid to late 1980's, Wimber became enamored by the
ministry team of the Kansas City Fellowship, or as they are now
affectionately known as, "The Kansas City Prophets."  At an August
1989 conference in Denver, Colorado, Wimber called on Vineyard
pastors to receive their ministry.

     I think you'll find that the prophets are pretty nice
     people by and large, I've come to know several of them
     here, I think maybe five or six, that are from Kansas
     City Fellowship.  And then we have Paul Cain, that lives
     in Dallas and has had quite a relationship with Kansas
     City for a number of years, but is not evidently
     technically considered a Kansas City Prophet.  You'll
     hear from them, some this week, although they won't be
     largely behind the scenes.  They've already ministered
     significantly this weekend.  And, it's my hope that every
     one of you, if you've not today had the occasion of
     sitting down with one or two of them and having them
     minister to you, that that will happen before the week is
     over.  Because I believe that in God's providence you'll
     be blessed and you'll go home with your pockets full and
     you're heart singing, if they do so. [25]

     Interestingly enough, in 1990, when the Kansas City Prophets
began to be exposed as fraudulent, it was to Wimber that they went
for "correction."  But, he never stopped promoting the erroneous
teachings of Paul Cain, Mike Bickle, Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson. 
In 1991, he did stop promoting Bob Jones, but not because of
heresy, but because of immorality.

     The point is that Wimber, by his acceptance of false prophets,
has paved the way for an unquestioning acceptance of "prophets." 
I'm all for modern day prophets as long as they will submit to the
tests of Deut 18 and Deut 13.  But, these prophets actually boasted
about the margin of error that the Lord had graciously allowed!

     Another area of lack of discernment is in the techniques of
healing, which Wimber has promoted.  They are highly syncretistic
and also highly mystical.  His syncretistic approach to healing can
be seen in his books, tapes, and seminars.  In them he includes as
equally valid: inner healing, healing of memories, modern
psychology, self forgiveness, visualization, the teachings of
Francis MacNutt, Matthew and Dennis Linn, John and Paula Sandford,
etc.  In his video series, "Healing," tape one, Wimber teaches us
what to look for in healing.  

     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
     currents, ripples on the skin, movement under the skin,
     radiance on the face, heavy breathing, moaning, groaning,
     and falling into a trance.[26]

It's this combination of sensual confirmation and nondiscernment
that has conditioned a whole generation to seek mystical
experiences, which are evidently being granted to them in Toronto
and other places.

     Listening to this incredible view of the scene in Luke 4:40-41
brings Toronto to mind,

     See the crowd dynamics?  They brought people to him, they
     brought people to him, they brought people to him. 
     What's happening on Sunday night at our church?  They're
     bringing people, they're bringing people...This wasn't a
     neat crowd.  There were probably people flipping and
     flopping all over the ground, manifesting demons...People
     with foam running down their faces who had just barfed
     all over themselves.  They were screeching like animals. 
     They were bringing people with chains on them that were
     tied.  This is frenzy, people.  This is not calm, this is
     not orderly.  This is frenzy, this is frantic.[27]

     Go into a meeting full of people who have that interpretation
of the Bible and watch what happens!

     John MacArthur writes in a recent book,

     An appendix in Wimber's Power Evangelism, seeks to
     establish that signs and wonders have appeared throughout
     church history.  Wimber cites an eclectic catalogue of
     individuals and movements_both orthodox and heretical_as
     evidence.  Included in these are Hilarion (a fourth
     century hermit), Augustine, Pope Gregory I (The Great),
     Francis of Assisi, The Waldenes (who opposed the Pope and
     were persecuted by the Dominicans), Vincent Ferrer (who
     was himself a Dominican), Martin Luther, Ignatius Loyola
     (founder of the Jesuits), John Wesley, and the Jausenists
     (a Catholic sect).  In a booklet published by The
     Vineyard, Wimber adds The Shakers (a cult that demanded
     celibacy), Edward Irving (discredited leader of the
     Irvingite sect in 19th century England), and the supposed
     miracles and healings worked by an apparition of the
     Virgin Mary at Lourdes, France![28]

     In another teaching tape on the subject of healing, Wimber

     In the Catholic Church for over a 1,200 year period
     people were healed as a result of touching the relics of
     the saints.  We Protestants have difficulty with
     that...but we healers shouldn't because there's nothing
     theologically out of line with that.[29] 

In Conclusion

     We have to remember that the things happening in Toronto, are
happening in a Vineyard context.  Therefore, the contribution of
John Wimber has to be looked at.  Praise God for bringing "signs
and wonders attending the Word" to the church's attention.  But,
the conditioning of God's people (which I'm sure is unintentional)
in four areas in particular, has set the stage for the "Mystical
Revival."  I'm talking about the:

     Paradigm Shift - The call for a new world view, a shift from
an objective approach to God's truth, to an almost entirely
experiential approach.  To attempt to abandon your entire world
view, particularly, your "Western rationalistic paradigm," and
replace it with a more subjective view, leaves you quite

     The Denigration of Doctrine and Theology - The constant down
playing of the "head knowledge and theology" which is the teaching
of the Bible.  Partially because of this kind of influence, it is
the one who insists on measuring all things spiritual by the
scripture, who is now suspect, as a narrow minded scribe or
Pharisee!  The only "sin" now recognized is the "sin" of critical

     Thirdly, the blatant mysticism.  Wimber has taught people to
look for the anointing, the "force of faith and grace," the power
to heal, and the activity of God through physical sensations.  You
have a whole group of Christians very aware now, of "tingling,"
"radiant glow," expecting to tremble, feel electricity, and a host
of other manifestations catalogued by him.
     Finally, the confusion of Wimber's syncretistic approach. 
Almost every approach is equally valid, from laying on of the
believer's hands, to Roman Catholic relics.  To him, George Fox,
Jonathan Edwards, Teresa of Avila, and Ignatius of Loyola all
belong in the same category!  This has sown much confusion into the

     All the groundwork has been laid (unwittingly) for the
Mystical Revival.  All that was needed was a bold, innovative,
Charismatic catalyst.  One came to this country from South Africa
in 1987...Rodney Howard Browne.

End Notes

1. "Carol Wimber, A Hunger for God."  Kevin Springer, ed.  Power
Encounters.  Harper and Row.  1988.
2. Ibid.
3. C. Peter Wagner.  The Third Wave of the Holy Spirit.  Vine
Books.  Page 25.
4. J. Wimber. "Signs, Wonders, and Church Growth" Section 3,
"Today's Tension with the Miraculous: World View" Vineyard
Ministries International.  Placentia, California.
5. Wagner, 13.
6. John White quoted in Wagner, 29.
7. Charles Kraft.  Christianity With Power.  Vine Books.  Pages
8. Ibid. Back Cover.
9. Don Williams.  Signs, Wonders, and the Kingdom of God.  Vine
10. F.V. Scott.  John Wimber and the Vineyard Ministries  Page 19.
11. J. Wimber.  "Ministering in England." Audio Tape (Media
Spotlight Report).  John Goodwin "Testing the Fruit of the
12. J. Wimber. "Healing, An Introduction." Audio Tape #5. Vineyard
Ministries Inc.  1985.
13. J. Wimber.  "Vineyard 83 Leadership Conference, The Five Year
14. J. Wimber. Power Evangelism. Harper and Row. 1986. Page 89.
15. J. Wimber. "Church Planting Seminar."  Audio Tape, 5 volume. 
16. John Goodwin.  "Testing the Fruit of the Vineyard." Al Dager's
Media Spotlight Special Report.  Goodwin was a Vineyard pastor for
eight years and travelled extensively with Wimber.
17. J. Wimber.  Healing Seminar Series.
18. Ibid.
19.  Ibid.
20. Goodwin.  "Testing the Fruit of the Vineyard."
21. Wimber. Healing Seminar Series.
22. Wimber.  Healing Seminar Syllabus II Observations A.  Spiritual
Phenomena. Pages 74-75.
23. Wimber. Healing Seminar Series.
24. Wimber. Healing Seminar Series.
25. J. Wimber.  "Unpacking Your Bags."  Undated audio tape.
26. J. Wimber.  1985 Healing Video Series.  Tape 1 VMI.  Placentia,
27. Wimber. Healing Seminar Series.
28. John MacArthur, Jr.  Charismatic Chaos.  Zondervan Books.  Page
29. J. Wimber.  Healing Seminar.  Three tapes.  1981.  Tape #1.