Appendix B

The Kingdom of God According to John Wimber

John Wimber is the leader of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, also known as The Association of Vineyard Churches, headquartered in Anaheim, California. Wimber, with co-author Kevin Springer, have written several books, including Power Evangelism (1985, 1992), Power Healing (1986), and Power Points (1991). Up until the recent "laughing revival" phenomena began happening in the Vineyard, Wimber was perhaps best known among evangelicals (and Catholics) as a conference speaker, where the theme was often "Signs & Wonders," that "the gifts are for today." Going ye into all the world, Wimber, accompanied by his "ministry team," have held numerous conferences in cities around the globe, inviting all the Church leaders (all denominations) in the area to attend, and often proceeding to teach them his view of the kingdom of God, that "the kingdom of God is here," accompanied with "signs" of "kingdom power," all to make the point that evangelism is more effective when demonstrations of "kingdom power" accompany the message; hence the term, "power evangelism." Pastors who receive Wimber's views, often making a sudden shift from their previous "Dispensational" views, then go back to their congregation, and before you know it, another "Vineyard" (name change or no) is born. Perhaps Christians who attended other churches in the area would hear of the exciting changes taking place in his or her friend's church, then leave their own "denominational church," and join in on all the excitement. This is what is known as "church growth." Thus it is rather obvious that the influence of John Wimber on the Body of Christ has been significant.

Wimber has been very candid at admitting in his books that the views of George Eldon Ladd regarding the kingdom of God are the theological justification for his "doin' the Jesus stuff" ministry of preaching "the kingdom of God" accompanied by "Signs & Wonders." After opening with his testimony [1] of having been taught and believing that the kingdom of God would only come at the second coming of Christ (a view that neglected God the Father's eternal without-a-mediator kingdom we learned of in Chapter 3, and which view also set Wimber up to be fooled by Ladd's black-or-white fallacy mentioned in Appendix A), Wimber wrote that his perspective "completely changed" once he joined the Department of Church Growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in 1974:

At Fuller I was introduced to the writings of George Eldon Ladd, especially his books The Presence of the Future and Critical Questions about the Kingdom of God. From Dr. Ladd I came to believe that the kingdom of God is, in fact, relevant to our lives today. As I read George Ladd's books and reread the Gospels, I realized that at the very heart of THE GOSPEL lies the kingdom of God and that power for effective evangelism and discipleship relates directly to our understanding and experiencing the kingdom today. This revelation remains the most significant spiritual experience since my conversion in 1963, because thereafter I explored the practical implications of the presence of the kingdom [2] (CAPS added for emphasis).
Further commenting on the influence Ladd had on his theological shift, Wimber wrote,
I was already acquainted with George Eldon Ladd's writings (he was a Fuller Theological Seminary professor), but it was not until I read his book Jesus and the Kingdom that I realized his work on the kingdom formed a theological basis for power evangelism. As I read Dr. Ladd's books, and read afresh the gospel accounts, I became convinced that power evangelism was for today [3].
That Ladd's view of the kingdom of God formed a theological basis for Wimber's "power evangelism" is further evidenced in the Signs & Wonders & Church Growth syllabus which Wimber distributed at a conference he held in Seattle in the mid 1980's. Section 2 in the syllabus is titled, THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATION: THE KINGDOM OF GOD. The "proposition" below this title demonstrates the similarity between John Wimber's theology of the kingdom of God, and that of George Eldon Ladd:
The KINGDOM OF GOD is the Rule of God (the age to come) which has invaded the kingdom (rule) of Satan (this present evil age), and is the arena in which Signs and Wonders occur. They are the "marks" (signs) of the Kingdom. Understanding about the kingdom of God is fundamental to understanding the ministry of Jesus; the kingdom of Satan was his real enemy. There is a war on! Jesus was sent by God to shatter the strongholds of Satan. His ONE PURPOSE was Satan's defeat. Jesus accomplished this through his death, resurrection, and ascension. This demonstrated who was the victor, but Satan is not yet cast out and will not be until Christ returns to establish his Kingdom forever. The Church is God's army in the continual fight which goes on with Satan as she "lives between the times" [CAPS added for emphasis].
To anyone familiar with the theology of George Eldon Ladd (see Appendix A), the above should sound strikingly familiar, and the false teaching above should be easily discernible. I leave the reader with the following things to consider regarding the theology of John Wimber as indicated above, and the effect his theology may have had on those who follow him:

1) The content of the Biblical "gospel" of Jesus Christ which the Church is to preach today is indicated in such Scriptures as 1Corinthians 15:3-8, Romans 3:24-26, Hebrews 9:27-28, and Colossians 1:5, regarding faith in a) Jesus' physical death on the cross to appease God's wrath against sin, enabling God the Father to legally and righteously justify the sinner; b) Jesus' physical resurrection from the dead, and c) His appearance in the air for those who are eagerly waiting for Him to bring them eternal salvation and an inheritance in heaven via a resurrected body. It is this "gospel" that signs and wonders are to accompany according to such scriptures as Hebrews 1:14 - 2:4. The question is, what is the actual content of the message that is accompanying the "Signs & Wonders" that allegedly take place around John Wimber and his Vineyard? If it is the gospel indicated above, fine. If not, there is a good chance that false prophets and false teachers might be at work, using Signs & Wonders of the devil to encourage people to believe the false message that accompanies the Signs & Wonders, as the Antichrist and False Prophet will do. How else can you discern if the Signs & Wonders are of God unless the message that accompanies the Signs & Wonders is the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ which the Church is to preach to the world? We are left with no other Biblical/post-ascension precedent to accompany signs and wonders worked by the Holy Spirit than the message of the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ.

2) The Vineyard's Statement of Faith [4] contains the main elements of the gospel indicated above. The Vineyard appears orthodox. The question is, is this gospel emphasized (as it should be) by John Wimber and the Vineyard, or is it rather simply affirmed, occasionally talked about, and referred to (using audio or written records [5] for proof that "the Vineyard does believe and preach the biblical gospel" when someone criticizes the Vineyard for not believing or preaching the Biblical gospel?

3) When John Wimber and his cohorts in the Vineyard teach concerning "the cross of Christ," do they emphasize the doctrines of substitution, justification, and propitiation, or do they tend to emphasize a "spiritual/kingdom warfare" aspect of Jesus destroying Satan by His death on the cross?

[1] Found in John Wimber's booklet, Kingdom Come (Servant Publications, 1988), p.7.

[2] Ibid., pp. 7-8.

[3] John Wimber & Kevin Springer, Power Evangelism, Revised Edition (Harper Collins, 1992), p.12.

[4] Rich Nathan, A Response to Charismatic Chaos (The Association of Vineyard Churches, 1993), pp.21-22.

[5] Wayne Grudem, The Vineyard's Response to The Standard (The Association of Vineyard Churches, 1992), pp.3-7.