The Vineyard Movement – Part 2

(November 1995 – Volume 2, Issue 1)  Last time we dealt with the background and leadership of the Vineyard Movement (VM). In this newsletter we would like to detail the VM’s actual teachings. It would appear that the VM is orthodox in much of its theology. The Trinity, deity of Christ, salvation by grace through faith alone, the inspiration of Scripture, and most other essential doctrines are taught. Therefore many within the Vineyard are not our enemies, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. In addition, we are in agreement with them in most of what they espouse. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned about some of their teachings that we believe are leading many astray. VINEYARD THEOLOGY Below we will discuss briefly some of the Vineyard teachings that trouble us in the light of Scripture: 1) The VM is noncessationist. As we saw in our last newsletter, one of the…

The Vineyard Movement – Part 1

(October 1995 – Volume 1, Issue 12)  Almost everyone has heard of the Vineyard Movement (referred to as VM from this point on) by now, but it seems that few know much about it. It is our intent in this newsletter to get a firm handle on the VM by describing its beginnings, identifying its leaders, and examining its teachings. BACKGROUND The VM is a recent development within Christianity, having been founded in 1982 by John Wimber. The movement has experienced rapid growth with a reported 250 churches and 50,000 members by 1990. Two years later Wimber claimed that those numbers had already doubled (Power Evangelism p92). Its leadership has set a goal of 10,000 churches by the year 2000, and it would appear that they are on target. However, the VM’s influence is even wider than that. For example, on the academic level, professors at several evangelical seminaries have joined…

The Toronto Blessing and the Laughing Revival

(October 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 10)  Something happened on January 10, 1994, at a Vineyard Church near the Pearson International Airport in Toronto, that was unique in the history of Christianity. While some point back to somewhat similar phenomena during the Welsh Revivals, Cane Ridge Revivals (1800-1801), Charles Finney (1800s), and even the Great Awakening (1734-47), all of these pale in comparison to the claims of the “Laughing Revival” that received its energy, if not origin, on that cold day in Canada. Supporters say that on this occasion the Holy Spirit was poured out on that small congregation, resulting in spontaneous, uncontrollable laughter. Thus began a “revival” that continues to this day and has impacted churches throughout the world. Hundreds of thousands of visitors, including thousands of pastors, have attended the services at the Toronto Airport Vineyard (now called the Airport Christian Fellowship) in hopes of catching and transporting the…

The Holiness Movement

(December 2004 – Volume 10, Issue 12)  Pentecostalism was born in the cradle of the Holiness Movement of the nineteenth-century. The Holiness Movement actually traces its roots to John Wesley in the eighteenth-century, who taught sort of a two-tiered salvation. The first tier was conversion or justification, in which one is forgiven and freed from past sins. The second tier was “entire sanctification” which liberated one from their fallen nature, or at least the tendency toward sin. Revivalists, in the early 1800s, such as Asa Mahan (president of Oberlin College) and evangelist Charles Finney advanced Wesley’s theology. They taught “that sinners had the natural ability to believe, and that evangelistic methods could overcome their ‘moral’ inability through the persuasive power of the Gospel.” [1] “Finney and Mahan applied this same understanding to the Christian’s growth toward spiritual maturity…. To be sanctified, they insisted, required only the same kind of simple, instantaneous…

The History of the Charismatics

(March 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 3)  What began in a corner at the turn of the twentieth century is now barreling down main street, with flying colors, at the close of that same century. What was once known as the Pentecostal movement has now splintered into numerous diverse, yet overlapping movements: Pentecostal, Charismatics, Vineyard, Word of Faith, Holy Laughter. The goal of our papers on this subject will be to inform, clarify, document and warn concerning some of the teachings and practices of those claiming to be charismatic (the term we will use, rightly or wrongly, as a generic handle for all the above-mentioned splinter groups). The salvation of the charismatics is not at issue here. We believe many to be born again. Indeed over half of all “evangelicals” plant their spiritual feet in some wing of this movement. On the other hand, we do not assume their salvation either.…

Pentecostalism

(December 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 12)  Pentecostalism has become the fastest growing segment of Christianity. “It is growing at a rate of 13 million a year, or 35,000 a day. With nearly a half billion adherents, it is, after Roman Catholicism, the largest Christian tradition” (Christian History, “The Rise of Pentecostalism,” issue no. 58, vol. XVII no. 2, p.3). In addition, the largest church in the world (the Yoi Do Full Gospel Church) is a Pentecostal church in Korea, pastored by David Yongii Cho, with a weekly worship attendance of 240,000. Two Pentecostal Churches in Buenos Aires attract together 150,000 each week (ibid.). Just who are the Pentecostals, how did they originate and what do they believe? The intent of this paper is to answer these questions. Pentecostal History Most consider the father of Pentecostalism to be Charles Parham, a young college student from Kansas with roots in the Methodist…

Doctrinal Distinctives of the Charismatic Movement – Part 2

(September 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 9)  If, as was demonstrated in our last paper, the gift of tongues has fulfilled the purpose for which it was designed, and therefore has ceased, what is going on today? That is, how do we explain the present day phenomenon of speaking in tongues, if the Holy Spirit is no longer bestowing this gift upon people. What is the origin of speaking in tongues in the modern church? Certainly there is more than one origin. Tongues can be demonic, as is demonstrated by documented tongues-speaking in pagan religions. Tongues can be faked for the purpose of peer-approval. After all, if you attend a church which teaches that speaking in tongues is a sign of spiritual maturity, the pressure to conform could be enormous. My personal opinion is that the majority of tongues-speaking in the modern church is a learned response. In other words, people…

Doctrinal Distinctives of the Charismatic Movement – Part 1

(August 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 8)  The focus of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements has always been centered on shared experiences, not theology. This is especially true of those in the charismatic movement which transcends all denominations. Thus, for example, there are Catholic charismatics, who believe in a sacramental form of salvation, and there are Lutheran charismatics who believe that infant baptism is redemptive, and there are Baptist charismatics who believe they are saved through faith alone. While these three types of charismatics might vary widely in their views of the fundamentals of their faith, what they have in common is an experience — the experience of speaking in tongues. While all charismatics do not personally speak in tongues, all would accept the validity of tongues-speaking. This experience does have a doctrinal framework, of course, which could be expressed in the following two statements: The baptism of the Holy Spirit…

Brownsville Revival – A River Runs Through It

(November 1999 – Volume 5, Issue 11) On Father’s Day I am lucky to get a card from my adoring sons, so you can imagine my chagrin when I found out that on Father’s Day 1995 a church in Pensacola, Florida, got the Holy Spirit. Up until that time the Holy Spirit had apparently been camping out up in Canada (see paper on “The Toronto Blessing”), but for some unknown reason He decided to move South. Since He did, the Brownsville Assembly of God has experienced “Revival.” Four nights per week, 48 weeks per year, services are held, usually with long lines of anxious seekers wanting to get in. Of course the stats keep changing (so fast that the church’s marquee actually is a McDonalds’ type sign that reads “Over ___ souls saved”). But according to the church’s web site (www.Brownsville-revival.org), over 2,660,000 have attended the Revival and 141,387 have made…

Ancient-Future Faith, Its Practices

(July 2008 – Volume 14, Issue 7)  In a recent sermon dealing with the emergent/emerging church, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle and self-described emerging church leader, identified four lanes in which the emergent/emerging movement is traveling. In the first lane are emerging evangelicals who believe in basic Christian doctrine, such as the Bible being God’s Word and Jesus dying for our sins. They also tend to form the “hip, cool church,” according to Driscoll. Pastors who may fall in this category include Dan Kimball and Donald Miller. Without taking much time to debate with Driscoll at this point, I would certainly challenge the notion that Donald Miller is a supporter of basic Christian doctrine. Kimball, on the other hand, does hold to certain doctrinal positions such as the three ancient ecumenical creeds, but would not want to drift much beyond them. Traveling down the second lane are the…