1985 - SEEMINGLY STRONG STAND
I was just completing my tenth year as a professor in the OT department at Dallas Theological Seminary, and was entering my seventh year as one of the pastors at a Bible church in Fort Worth.
My main passion was teaching and preaching the Word of God. I believed that most of our needs--or at least our most important needs--could be met through studying the Scriptures. I had embraced a theological system that didn't leave God much room to help us in other ways.
The God I believed in and taught about wasn't as involved in our lives as he had been in the lives of NT believers. For example, I knew God no longer gave the miraculous gifts of the Spirit. I was confident that I could prove by Scripture, by theology, and by the witness of church history that God had withdrawn the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit.
I was also confident that he no longer spoke to us except through his written Word. Dreams, visions, inner impressions, and the like, reeked of subjectivity. I certainly didn't need God to speak to me with any of those subjective methods used with people in the Bible. After all, I had the Bible now, and I was one of those people who also had exceptionally good theology. If I had any problem at all, it was just figuring out how to give more of myself to God (pp. 13-15).HOWEVER!
My wife had a different view than I did. She felt I needed something more from God. Over the years she had watched my passion for God slowly drying up like the reservoirs in Southern California during a drought. I wasn't conscious of losing my passion for God. I thought I had just grown up. But she was concerned that I had become complacent and self-satisfied. And she saw my attitude as an enemy of God's calling on our lives (p. 15).FATAL CONFERENCE CHOICE
Late in the fall the leadership of my church decided we would have a spring Bible conference. After an elder meeting the chairman asked me whom I would like to have as speaker. Without hesitation I replied I would like to ask Dr. John White [charismatic], the British psychiatrist and Christian author.
He had written about fifteen books at that time, all of which my wife and I had read. He was my favorite popular author. We had been using his books for years in our SS classes. The chairman of our elder board immediately agreed with my suggestion. We decided unanimously to invite Dr. White and hold the conference in April, even though we were sure that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit had ceased (pp. 21,22).1986 - RUINOUS REVERSAL
I spent a good deal of time from January to April studying the Scriptures [rightly divided?] to discover what they said about healing and the gifts of the Spirit.
The first time I had studied the Scriptures on these topics, I had not studied them with an open mind. Godly and brilliant men told me that the Bible taught that the gifts of the Spirit had passed out of existence with the death of the last apostle [cessation] and that God only spoke through his written Word today.ENTER DR. WHITE! -- Of course Dr. White was ready for Dr. Deere and his church, but now Dr. Deere was all too ready for Dr. White. The four conference lectures were: Christ's Authority Over Temptation; Christ's Authority Over Sin; Christ's Authority Over Demons; and Christ's Authority Over Disease.
When I studied the Scriptures, therefore, it was not really to discover what they taught about the gifts of the Spirit or what they taught about healing, but it was to gather more reasons why God was not doing those things today.
But from January to April of 1986, 1 questioned all my cessationist arguments in the light of scriptural teaching. This time I tried to be as objective as I know how. By the time our conference took place in April, a radical reversal had taken place in my thinking.
My study of Scripture convinced me that God would heal and that healing ought to be a significant part of the Church's ministry. I was also convinced that the Bible did not teach that the gifts of the Spirit had passed away. None of the cessationist arguments were convincing to me any longer. I had also begun to believe that God could speak apart from the Scriptures. These were conclusions I had reached by the time April arrived and our conference was beginning (pp. 22,23).
During that time Dr. White took this naive and vulnerable church through his paces, with numerous stories of signs and wonders, hearings, and demon deliverances. In the process several of the church members were "healed," with one lady being relieved of a "demon."
Our church had been visited by a demon! I wondered what that would do for Sunday's attendance. But more than that, I wondered what kind of strife and divisions might arise because of it. The more I wondered, the more fear I felt creeping over me. I wasn't so sure I wanted this new ministry of praying for the sick in our church if it meant people were going to get emotional and demons were going to manifest themselves.
Then I did something a trained theologian is never supposed to do. I sat down on the couch, opened up my Bible at random, and began to read. I knew better than to do this. I had made fun of people who expected God to speak to them out of a random passage, a sort of "Bible roulette" [or Ouija board].For the Charismatic, when the Spirit "falls upon" a church, He brings signs and wonders, tongues, healing, and demons! All of which is tantamount to modern-day blasphemy of the Spirit!
The passage I opened to was Luke chapter eight, and my eyes fell immediately on the twenty-sixth verse. That, of course, is the story of the Gerasene demoniac. I read the whole beautiful story of how Jesus cast a legion of demons out of a man and how the man returned to his right mind. Then I came to verse thirty-seven, "Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left. I was on the verge of doing just what the Gerasenes had done.
In great mercy the Lord Jesus Christ had visited our church. He had sent the Holy Spirit to prompt confession and to uncover hidden demonic power in order to strengthen and heal us. And now I was on the verge of asking him to leave because I was afraid of how some people might respond. I repented immediately and asked the Lord to forgive me. I told him that anytime he wanted to deal with demons in our church, he had my blessing.
After the conference was over, all of the elders and pastors agreed that we should start praying regularly for the sick in our church. At the conclusion of our services we simply invited anyone to come forward who wanted to receive Christ as their Savior or who wanted prayer for spiritual, physical, or financial needs. We had no intention of becoming charismatic (emphasis ours) (pp. 29,30).1987 - ENTER JOHN WIMBER & CO.
During my new adventure with the Lord, I had first been surprised by the Scriptures, and then I had been surprised by the Spirit. But this was only the beginning (p. 32).
When I first made contact with Dr. White I did not know that for the previous seven months he had been living in Anaheim, California, and attending John Wimber's church. Dr. White told me that if I ever had the opportunity, I should try to meet Wimber and talk with him about healing.
Dr. White said he could verify a number of significant healings that had taken place in Wimber's ministry. After Dr. White left our church, I heard that Wimber was coming to Fort Worth in about two weeks. He was to speak at Lake County Baptist Church (p. 33).Lake County [Southern] Baptist Church of Fort Worth is pastored by Jim Hylton, and is a favorite haunt of some of the most rabid Southern Baptist charismatic leaders, such as Dudley Hall, Doug White, Jack Taylor, and James Robison. This element traffics in leg-lengthening, bone manipulation, teeth filling, and all sorts of demon deliverance. Every descending step that Dr. Deere takes lowers him deeper into the quagmire of charismatic quackery.
THE WIMBER ROUTINE
I decided to go hear Wimber on Thursday night, but I didn't feel comfortable about visiting a Baptist church that had gone swimming in this new movement called "The Third Wave." We arrived late, and after about thirty minutes of singing, the pastor, Jim Hylton, a well respected and sought-after speaker among Southern Baptists, introduced John Wimber.
At one point Wimber interrupted his "clinic time" to admonish the audience. "Listen, I am going to ask the Holy Spirit to come. You don't have to be afraid of demons or the Devil now. When you ask your Father for the Holy Spirit, he doesn't give you snakes and scorpions."
Then he added, "The only demons that are going to manifest themselves are the ones you brought with you." He did finally ask the Holy Spirit to come, and then he was silent. About a full minute later, he looked up and said, "O.K. I think I know what the Lord wants to do tonight. He has given me some words of wisdom for healing" (p. 35).
God had given Wimber a revelation about someone in the audience he wanted to heal, so that not only the person might be touched, but the whole body of believers might be edified. I thought, This is incredible. This is just how Paul said the church was supposed to be! (emphasis his) (p. 36) .
It was a fascinating evening, one I shall never forget. It was the evening when our friendship with John and Carol Wimber began, a friendship that would eventually lead to our working together for four years (p. 37).EXIT FROM DALLAS
During 1987, John Wimber and I became close friends. My wife and I went to several Vineyard conferences during that time. We continued to learn more about healing and the present-day ministry of the Holy Spirit, both in the Scriptures and in practical experience.
My friendship with Wimber and my growing interest in the supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit eventually led me to resign from my church and resulted in my dismissal from my teaching position at Dallas Seminary. Before I left Dallas Seminary, however, I met another man who would also be divinely used to alter the course of my life. His name was Paul Cain (pp. 37,38).1988-1991 - WIMBER ASSISTANT -- Dr. Deere moved to Anaheim to become assistant pastor with John Wimber, and his number-one theologian and scholar. In March of '89 John and Dr. Deere, accompanied by Paul Cain, conducted a series of "Spiritual Warfare" conferences in Australia. Just prior to the Sydney conference, several Evangelical leaders who had serious reservations concerning the Signs and Wonders ministry, met with Wimber, Deere, and Cain.
The following notes recorded during the confrontation are taken from the subsequent book, titled John Wimber, Friend or Foe?, published by S. Mattheas Press, England:
(1) The Healing Ministry (the facts) -- The first issue we raised was the possible healing of children with Down's syndrome. This genetic disease cannot be caused or healed by psychosomatic "mind-over-matter" factors. It is an ideal "test case" disease, being relatively easy to diagnose genetically before and after the "healing."
John Wimber claimed to have prayed over more than 200 [!] children with Down's syndrome. To his disappointment only one of the 200 has shown any sign of healing. From a medical viewpoint, Wimber's 0.5% success rate with Down's syndrome is less than is achieved through the ministrations of medical professionals.
The implications this has for other "healings" seemed to escape John completely. We know that many illnesses are psychological or psychosomatic. We know of the placebo effect--where a patient takes what he believes to be a cure for his problem (but which is a sugar pill), and improves. The evidence thus far suggests that John Wimber "heals" in the "sugar pill" area.
(Theological Significance) -- Given the very low percentage of healings, we asked John if he considered that his healings were like those of Jesus and the Apostles. He quickly and rightly saw that they were radically different. We asked about the claims of his books, and his previous teaching that the powerlessness of Evangelicals lay in their failure to pray for and claim the Signs and Wonders of the Kingdom seen in Jesus and the Apostles.
John replied that thanks to the advice of Jack Deere he has come to understand that the current "miracles" fit into the NT not at the point of Jesus and the Apostles, but in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and the gifts of healing.
This "change of mind" seriously compromises the stance of the previous Signs and Wonders conferences, Vineyard Ministries, and John's books. He was asked if he would explain this change of mind to the coming Sydney Conference, but he declined.
(2) Power Evangelism -- One of the most contentious aspects of Wimber's speaking and writing has been his distinction between evangelism and power evangelism, with the resulting distinction between Christian conversion, inferior and superior.
When we raised the matter, John expressed dissatisfaction with his teaching both recently in Canberra (where he spoke of "natural" and "supernatural" evangelism), and in his book, Power Evangelism. He explained that his book was not written by himself, but came from tapes and notes of his seminars. He had not read the manuscript in detail or critically before publication.
He agreed that the book was unbalanced, lacking as it does any real exposition of the Gospel or evangelism. However, he said this was due to the manner of composition, and plain oversight.
When asked to publicly repudiate this false distinction (between natural and supernatural evangelism), and to withdraw his erroneous book and to desist from talking of power evangelism, he equivocated. He agreed that the book is wrong and needs re-writing, and that he was wrong in his address at Canberra--but somehow John feels this is not a serious problem.
(3) Sufficiency of Scripture -- John Wimber was keen to stand in the Evangelical tradition, upholding the inspiration and authority of the infallible and inerrant Scriptures which are sufficient in all matters of the Christian life. However, this was because he had not understood the implications of his "words of wisdom," which go well beyond Scripture and play an essential part in his Christian living.
John's advisor, Jack Deere, assured him and us that he (Jack) did not believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. Thus, the ministry of gifts is used to add to the Scriptures as the authoritative voice of God for Christian living.
The meeting was concluded with our invitation to John Wimber, Jack Deere, and Paul Cain to cancel the Spiritual Warfare Conference in Sydney and to return to America--which suggestion John declined.1990 - TOTAL DOCTRINAL DEGRADATION -- At a Charismatic Conference here in the States, where Wimber and Deere were the speakers, Dr. Deere was questioned in a friendly conversation, as follows:
Questioner: I wonder if you might tell me why you felt my explanation of the Gospel given yesterday was defective. [I said that Christ died for our sins, was buried, raised on the third day, and that it is this Gospel by which we are saved.]
Dr. Deere: I am not prepared to talk about that.
Questioner: Well, just offhand, what do you think the Gospel is?
Dr. Deere: I am not prepared to make a formal statement about that.
Questioner: Could you tell me informally what the Gospel is?
Dr. Deere: I am not sure.
Questioner: I find that surprising--that you are not sure just what the Gospel is.
Dr. Deere: I used to be just like you--thinking the Gospel was simply justification.
Questioner: Are you saying that the Gospel is more than justification by faith?
Dr. Deere: Yes.
Questioner: What would you add to it?
Dr. Deere: Deliverance.
Questioner: What do you mean by deliverance?
Dr. Deere: Things like demons and healing and....
Questioner: You would add as an essential part of the saving Gospel things like exorcising of demons and healing?
Dr. Deere: Yes.
Questioner: But you are not sure exactly what should be included?
Dr. Deere: No, not yet.
Questioner: Would it be fair to say that you are in a state of flux since joining the Wimber thing?
Dr. Deere: We are always in a state of flux--you are....In Biblical Perspectives, Sept.-Aug. 1990, p. 3, Dr. Thomas Ice reports that "Dr. Jack Deere gave a message recently, entitled "Joel's Army"--his explanation of what the Church is going to be like in just a few years:
Questioner: But in the Gospel message? Surely that is one thing we should have worked out. Don't you think we can reduce the Gospel to some sort of summary statement like Paul does in say 1 Corinthians 1 and 2, or 15; or 1 Thessalonians 4, or Romans 5?
Dr. Deere: [No response, except a shrug of the shoulders.]
Questioner: Do you think the Apostle Paul had anything particular in mind when he wrote to Timothy and asked him to guard the Gospel that had been entrusted to him? Are you saying that you couldn't go back into that pavilion and tell those people the Gospel?
Dr. Deere: No, not yet.
Questioner: When do you think you could do it?
Dr. Deere: Maybe five years, maybe ten....
(From Biblical Perspectives, July-Aug. 1990, p. 5.)
Heretofore in history we have only had one Moses on the scene. Only one Elijah, and only one Elisha at a time. Among the Apostles we only have one Paul, one John, one Peter--a few of those were really outstanding."Dr. Deere is saying that the soon-coming Latter Rain revival will be carried out by those who are in "Joel's Army," which he also equates with the 144,000 witnesses from Revelation 7. Dr. Deere has gone a long way from what he was as one of my Hebrew professors at Dallas Seminary!"
Heretofore we have only had one or two mighty servants of God on the face of the earth at a time. This is not true any longer! When this army comes, Joel says, there will have been nothing like it before. Revelation hints at this when it talks about the 144,000 that follow the Lamb wherever He goes. A powerful Army with many Pauls, and many Moseses, and many Davids.
DISPENSATIONAL BREAKDOWN -- Yes, all the way down in just a few brief years. One might ask in shocked amazement, How could a long-time Dallas professor fall from the Dallas doctrinal level to the subjective skid-row degradation of Charismatic craziness--all the while convinced that he had risen from Dallas doctrinal depths to the very height of Charismatic wonders? Actually, it isn't very difficult.
If Dr. Deere had been dispensationally established, rightly dividing the Word of truth, he never would have succumbed to the kingdom level of the John White ministry. Ever since Dr, Chafer's Homegoing, the Dallas trend has been to flatten out to the horizontal kingdom level, from Paul's vertical stance of the heavenly Church.
While Dr. Deere was dismissed because his dispensational breakdown turned him to the left into Arminianism, other Dallas professors have been dismissed because their failure to rightly divide the Word of truth turned them to the right, into the Covenant realm. Today the vast majority of the Dallas faculty and administration have a proclivity to Covenantism--all the while remaining in good repute,as dispensationalists.
INCONGRUITY -- In recent promotional material for the Journal of the [Covenant] Reformation & Revival organization, I noted the name of a veteran Dallas professor listed on their Advisory Council. He was also quoted as considering their Journal as his favorite. In writing to this professor I granted that it was his prerogative to assist and promote Covenantism in that manner--but as a faculty member of Dallas Theological Seminary?
In his kind reply the professor seemed to be unaware of any incongruity in his straddling stance--a rolling model. He stated that our land desperately needs revival [!], hence he seeks to work with this revival-oriented organization to that end. He insisted that he is not into Progressive Dispensationalism, or Covenantism, although his ecclesiastical heritage and theological preferences are in the Reformed tradition.
He has written articles for the Reformation & Revival Journal, which of course could not be in any way dispensationally positioned. He has also spoken at Ligonier Conferences, headed by R.C. Sproul. There his messages could not be on the side of Dispensationalism. He also writes for the Modern Reformation periodical.
He made it known to me that he had recently informed Dr. Thomas Ice that he declined to participate any longer in the Pre-Trib Study Group. He closed his letter by saying that his actions as to the interest of Dallas are to be judged by the Seminary, and thus far no one has aired any "disappointment." Now I am really disappointed!
STAND! -- Dear dispensational friend, pray for these pathetic victims of Charismatic chaos, as well as for those in the house of Dr. Chafer who countenance Covenantism. Stay with Paul, Mr. Darby, Dr. Scofield, and Dr. Chafer for the development of your Christian life and service.
"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
What is it to "walk in the Spirit"'? It is not self-occupation, nor even occupation with the Spirit. Walking according to the Spirit is occupation with the glorified Lord Jesus Christ. If the believer ever looks to the Lord Jesus, depends upon Him, abides in Him above, draws all his needs from the True Vine, if He is his All--then the believer walks according to the Spirit. --A. Gaebelein1995 -- Today John Wimber is ill with cancer, the Vineyard movement is a dead issue, Dr. Deere has departed and is now on his own--speaking in Charismatic circles and writing Charismatic material.
1996 to the Present -- John Wimber died November 17, 1997 at the age of 63 from a massive brain hemorrhage. Jack Deere continues to infect non-charismatic churches with the charismatic plague.