Questions about Christianity: What Is the Vineyard Movement?

The Vineyard Movement is a charismatic organization, also recognized by such names as the “third wave,” “power theology,” and the “signs and wonders movement.” The Vineyard Movement’s founder, John Wimber, formed five churches in 1982, with the original goal of forming 2,000 churches by the year 2000. The stated goal of the Vineyard Movement was to combine the best of evangelical thinking with Pentecostal practices.

There are certain aspects of the Vineyard Movement’s teachings that are suspect, if not entirely non-biblical. Members of the Vineyard Movement often rely on “experience with God” rather than following the Bible as the standard for faith and practice. Because of this, they teach that if what they do “works” pragmatically, then it must be from God. Additionally, the Vineyard Movement promotes various practices that have more in common with the occult and the New Age movement than with biblical Christianity. Some Vineyard Movement churches have been known to include “inner healings,” contact with familiar spirits, aura readings, and psychological programs.

The Vineyard Movement tends to promote certain spiritual gifts such as healing, casting out demons, and binding Satan as the more desired gifts. In contrast, Paul’s imperative is to stop desiring the “showy” gifts and learn the more excellent way, the way of love. Love, as Paul explains, is not “puffed up,” envying, boastful or proud. It is not self-seeking. Yet the Vineyard Movement promotes exactly these things, encouraging Christians to think of themselves as greater than others by virtue of the sign gifts they believe they possess. Paul goes on to say that prophecies and tongues will cease, so where is the boasting that comes from sign gifts (1 Corinthians 13:4–11)? Vineyard Movement adherents also practice what is called “power evangelism,” which they claim is the gospel presented to the unbeliever with an added twist: a demonstration of God’s presence by “signs and wonders” through healings and other miracles.

The initial goal of the Vineyard Movement, to combine solid evangelical theology with Pentecostal expressions of the Holy Spirit, was admirable. However, that is not the direction the Vineyard Movement has, for the most part, followed. The Vineyard Movement increasingly emphasizes the miraculous gifts of the Spirit and de-emphasizes the need to use the gifts of the Spirit as the Bible instructs. The Vineyard Movement, in its goal to “allow the Spirit to move in ways we do not expect,” has allowed doctrines and practices to infiltrate its ranks to which the Holy Spirit is diametrically opposed. The Vineyard Movement should not be considered a cult. Rather, the Vineyard Movement is an example of what happens when followers of Christ have good motives, but lack the commitment to submit to the Word of God in all things.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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