See the introduction to this blog category for a background to why I’m taking the time to respond to some of these pages. One of the primary reasons why is because the people I serve as a pastor may take the time to read these pages, and I want to best serve them and help them to think critically and reflective in our connection with the Vineyard Movement.
The first negative article that comes up in google when you search “Vineyard Movement” (as of 08-06-13) is found at GotQuestions.org. This website self-proclaims that it “seeks to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by providing biblical, applicable, and timely answers to spiritually related questions through an internet presence.” It’s a great site in many ways and provides some very good resources. Unfortunately, it’s page on the Vineyard Movement is quite misleading, misinformed, and incorrect in a number of ways.
Readers of their site may or may not be aware of the fact that, like all theological resources, GotQuestions.org has some foundational theological views that shape how it answers questions. It’s misleading for anyone to say that they just take the Bible and use it to answer questions without any theological biases. Everyone is involved in interpretation on some level. The page on the Vineyard Movement doesn’t inform readers that the theological views that are represented on the website are written from a Dispensational perspective. Thus, their answers are written from the perspective that tends to either deny or downplay things that Pentecostals, Charismatics, and Third Wave advocates believe. Everyone knows that if you ask a Baptist about infant baptism, you are going to get a Baptist answer, right? Well if you ask a non-charismatic about charismatic theology, you are going to get a non-charismatic answer. In other words, if you believe that the the gift of tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, and casting out demons are still available and happening within the Church today, you are probably going to have a different perspective than is found on GotQuestions.org.
My intention here is to actually interact with the substance of the article. I will also, as much as possible, provide documented refutation from Vineyard sources. I’ll do this by providing the quote in question and then giving respond and reflection. I actually want to help other Vineyard folks take note of how we can better communicate our views too. We haven’t always spoken as clearly and carefully as theological engagement requires. At any rate, here we go…
Questionable Statement #1: “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.”
Unfortunately, there is no reference to support such a statement. However, there are several ways in which we can respond to this objection to the Vineyard.
While I can’t speak for every person who currently attends or has attended Vineyard churches, I can point readers to the actual doctrinal position that the Vineyard has. The official Vineyard Statement of Faith has this to say about how we determine our “standard for faith and practice”:
“We believe that the Holy Spirit inspired the human authors of Holy Scripture so that the Bible is without error in the original manuscripts. We receive the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments as our final, absolute authority, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.”
As you can plainly read, the actual documents that clarify the Vineyard position on how Vineyard people discern “faith and practice” are different than what GotQuestions.com actually states. Hopefully the author will either reconcile this or provide some evidence to support the suggestion that the Vineyard Movement has a low view of Scripture.
If the Vineyard Statement of Faith isn’t enough, let’s consider the writings of several of the leading Vineyard thinkers and actual Vineyard position papers:
“Scripture will never deceive us, never lead us astray. It is wholly trustworthy and wholly reliable. It contains no mistakes and is incapable of error. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), so his word will not mislead us… some people believe mystical experience or private revelation to be equal to or superior to Scripture. This is dangerous, because “truth” that is determined by an inner revelation lies outside the scope of objective restraints… Personal experience and private revelation need the checks and guidance that only the Bible can provide.” – John Wimber, Power Points, p. 38, 41
“… we believe that the Scriptures are the primary way that God speaks to his children. We believe in the verbal, inerrant, plenary inspiration of the word of God. We believe that when the Holy Spirit illumines the heart of man, the Scriptures are sufficient to lead man into salvation and godly living (2 Tim. 3:15-17).” – Jack Deere, “The Vineyard’s Response to The Briefing” (Vineyard Position Paper #2), p. 24
“The Vineyard magazine, Equipping the Saints, has had many articles warning people never to exalt experience over Scripture, whether in the gift of prophecy, or in guidance, or in worship, or in using any other spiritual gift.” – Wayne Grudem, “The Vineyard’s Response to The Standard” (Vineyard Position Paper #3), p. 10
As you can clearly see, in the official Vineyard statements, our final authority for “faith and practice” is Scripture, not subjective experiences.
Questionable Statement #2: “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.”
Having attended Vineyard churches throughout most of my life, I am confused by this. I have never heard a Vineyard leader or seen Vineyard churches ever attempt to introduce the occult or New Age practices. In fact, in 1988 the Vineyard magazine Equipping the Saints was on “Confronting the New Age” and the primary focus was on demonstrating the differences between Christianity and New Age thinking.
I have, however, heard Vineyard leaders encourage people to seek healing in a holistic manner, both physical and spiritual. That means that Vineyards aren’t just concerned with physical healing but believe that the Lord also can provide spiritual healing, including emotional and mental. So what exactly is wrong with “inner healing”? Are we to understand that GotQuestions.org actually doesn’t believe that God can heal people emotionally or spiritually? Are they unaware of the way that way in which Peter quotes Isaiah 53:5 in 1 Pet. 2:24?
Furthermore, “psychological programs” are not necessarily anti-biblical. That’s a common belief that some Christians have, but there are many Christian psychologists who would suggest otherwise.
So we are left wondering what actual examples or references would suggest that the Vineyard Movement promotes these questionable practices. In my 22 years of experience, I haven’t seen any.
Questionable Statement #3: “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.”
This concern is very important for the Church to consider. Unfortunately, the author’s lack of actually reading Vineyard literature or attending a Vineyard church suggests to me that he or she is guilty of associating the Vineyard Movement with the worst examples found with the more “charismatic” expressions of our faith. First of all, I don’t know of any Vineyard leaders that state that “casting out demons” is a spiritual gift. Is this a confusion with the “ability to distinguish between spirits” (1 Cor. 12:10), I’m not sure. Second of all, the Vineyard intentionally tries to downplay being “showy.” This is what attracts a Continuationists like myself to it. Rather than embracing all of the abuses and excesses that are found in some of other groups, the Vineyard seeks to focus on the “main and the plain” and point people to Jesus, period.
Thirdly, I’m concerned that this answer actually isn’t as biblical as it attempts to be. While Paul most certainly does suggest that love is the primary quality that should be found in the expression of the spiritual gifts, he also gave the following commands (the Greek is in the imperative):
“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.” (1 Cor. 14:1)
“So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” (1 Cor. 14:39)
The criticism above creates a false dichotomy. One can pursue spiritual gifts and do it and minister them lovingly.
Lastly, the statement that “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” is so incorrect I don’t know where to begin. Unlike what I experienced within some Pentecostal denominations, I’ve never walked away from a Vineyard gathering or teaching under the impression that certain people were greater than others. That’s so patently false I’m inclined to almost wonder if the person who wrote this article actually did any research at all.
When we turn to the actual writings of Vineyard leaders, we find the exact opposite of what GotQuestions.org suggests. I encourage readers to consult Naturally Supernatural, Empowered Evangelicals, and Doing Church for representative works that indicate what the Vineyard actually believes regarding this subject. Furthermore, I think many Vineyard pastors would fully agree with how Grudem carefully treats the subject of spiritual gifts in his widely used Systematic Theology.
This very issue is one of the significant differences between Third Wave evangelicals and other Pentecostal/Charismatic groups. After reading GotQuestions.org’s page on the Third Wave, I’m convinced they clearly have no real scholarly understanding of key differences. Rather than read their page, check out Sam Storms’ essay in Are Miraculous Gifts for Today. Even the essays from opposing views in that book are more appropriate than the page we are looking at here.
This is a #CriticismFail.
Questionable Statement #4: “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.”
Actually, this isn’t a questionable statement. On this one, we’re guilty as charged. We do believe that the proclamation of the gospel often occurs through word, deed, and sign. But this is no different than the apostle Paul. In 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, Paul told the Thessalonians that his gospel “came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” He also indicated that his character and lifestyle was “proved” among them. This same “model” is found in Romans 15:18-20.
But before Paul, another person set the stage for seeing gospel “preaching” to include both proclamation and demonstration… Jesus. Just read through the book of Luke and you’ll see it all over the place (cf. Luke 8:1; 9:1-2, 11; etc.). One is hard pressed to try and suggest that the NT method of missional praxis did not include both word and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment, including healing and demonic deliverance. I’m surprised that’s even still a debate since that issue was settled so long ago in NT scholarship.
That being said, I think that there has been confusion over the issue of whether or not “signs and wonders” must occur. My feeling on that is that they do not, though we should be open to the Spirit’s leading in those situations as he sovereignly empowers people as he wills (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11).
Questionable Statement #5: “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.”
As with the previous criticisms, there are no references or sources to support this assertion. If, as has already been demonstrated, the Vineyard Movement holds that Scripture is the final authority, I think it’s pretty safe to say that Vineyard churches would agree that the Bible is the primary source of instruction on the use of spiritual gifts. In all my experience with the Vineyard, I’ve never heard the Bible de-emphasized; rather, I’ve actually heard leaders use Scripture to guide people’s doctrine and praxis!
I would like to see some supporting evidence for this statement. Whenever I have heard a Vineyard leader speak on spiritual gifts, Scripture has been the foundation. And since many Third Wave advocates would point to Grudem’s The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today or Carson’s Showing the Spirit as providing serious biblical and theological reflection on how the miraculous gifts of the Spirit are to function, it’s safe to say that this criticism is, like many of the others, untrue.
Questionable Statement #6: “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.”
I’m unaware of any Christian organization that would state that it does not have the goal of allowing the Holy Spirit to move in ways that are unexpected. Are we to assume that GotQuestions.org does not allow the Spirit to move, based on this criticism?
Unfortunately, we are again left wondering just exactly what “doctrines and practices” have infiltrated our ranks. There is no evidence or explanation. Or are we to understand that being a Continuationist itself is what the Holy Spirit is diametrically opposed?
I think it’s important to mention here that one of the reasons why the Vineyard Movement distanced itself from the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church (now called Catch the Fire Toronto) was over this issue. Related to the manifestations that were associated with the “Toronto Blessing,” the Vineyard leadership concluded that,
“We should never promote manifestations in any way, but focus on the main and the plain issues of Scripture such as the fruit and gifts of the Spirit, evangelism and church planting. We are after long-term fruit, not experiences. If God has truly touched a person, he or she should go home talking about Jesus, not falling or shaking. The result of true renewal will be seen in new passion for Jesus, and the words and works of the kingdom.” (Bill Jackson, The Quest for the Radical Middle, p. 314-15)
As you can read above, the focus should be on the “main and the plain issues of Scripture.”
In closing, I’m thankful that GotQuestions.org goes on to state that “the Vineyard Movement should not be considered a cult.” Yet the criticisms are so misleading, misinformed, and incorrect that it’s hard to take seriously. I hope that they will take the time to either provide some supporting evidence or make a retraction. At the very minimum they could allow readers to know that they take a completely different interpretive position regarding certain issues related to spiritual gifts than Pentecostals, Charismatics, and those who identify with the Third Wave.
Update (03/2014): I’m very encouraged to see that GotQuestions.org has made some huge improvements on their page covering the Vineyard. You’ll notice the absence of many of the objections that I responded to above. They should be commended!
I am really interested to follow these posts! Thanks Luke. I use GotQuestions quite often but this was a poor representation of the Vineyard movement
Hey Jake. Thanks… I’ll try and post one of these at least once a week, maybe more.
I tell people about GotQuestions.org as a resource as well… I just tell them that they aren’t Continuationists, so that’s going to shape their answers 🙂
Thanks for your blog. I like it a lot. I have to confess that i have now spent only 30min on it and my comment might come as pre-mature.
I am at the point of leaving the Vineyard church due to a sermon where some of the “questionable statements” that have no reference to any formal Vineyard teology was preached at a church. I was dumped into a spritual crisis.
My view: I believe that scripture is sufficient for salvation and sanctification. 2 Tim 3:16. the power of Salvation is through the gospel Rom 1:16. Jesus came to preach the Gospel and not to wow people into believing (Mark 1:29-37. Matt 12, Matt 16, Luke 11, Luke 23). Signs and wonders do not always bring people to God (Luke 16:31) but the gospel does. Being spirit filled (Eph 3:18-21) is an ongoing reality keeping is contimually focussed on the glorious work of Jesus Christ that does (always) lead to salvation.
What happened: After condensing and re-hashing (with errors) Derek Morphew’s kingdom theology the pastor said he is going to “open up heaven and let the holy spirit come and minister” (direct quote). After about 2 min nothing happened (in his opinion) and his team he brought along told us that it is because of our body posture (folded arms, etc.) that nothing is happening. [I was not aware my body posture could influence the divine Will of the Spirit] I am still not sure what was “supposed” to have happened but we had to pray again. And again a 3d time. One of the team got up and spoke a “prophetic word” over me (and others) that did not make any sense for me or others i spoke to. [could it be that a “prophet” (revealing the Word of God whether immediate or future) could have “misheard” God? ]. There was also a claim of a healing but i know the guy who were healed and it did not happen. he is still on meds and actually “should be in a wheel chair” (direct quote. his words. 2 weeks after).
Sorry if this is long but i am working this out for myself more than for any other reason. I also hope you can see how my view of the gospel conflicts with what which i heard that sunday and why i was shaken spritually.
I am not trying to convince you of anything but am only trying to say that the old “lonnie frisbee” mentality is still present in the vineyard movement. by that i mean little bit of Word, lots of show.
Are there “rougue” elements in the movement (or for that matter in any church) ? yes ! of course. All men are evil and full of sin. Does this event define the Vineyard ? No. Because there are people who seek the Lord and manifest the fruits of the spirit without any desperate need for signs and wonders.
It is difficult to shake a false image of a movement if it is still manifested (no matter how small) within the body.
I thank God for your blog and the discernment you bring in addressing false statements. and also for reading this. Regards
Thanks so much for posting on this blog. I really appreciate it for several reasons: you have good questions and concerns and I’m pretty convinced that issues like this should be discussed openly.
Your initial summary of what your view is regarding the sufficiency of Scripture, the nature/scope of salvation, the purpose of “signs and wonders” and overall approach to being “filled with the Spirit” are quite similar to mine.
So I can totally understand your concerns and I think you have some valid questions. Couple thoughts:
(1) Have you had a chance to discuss this with the pastors/leaders? I would really, really, really hope that church leaders would be mature enough to “pastor” people through questions and concerns like this… and even be willing to learn from issues like this. Unfortunately, as you already noted, people don’t always respond the way that we want them to or how they should, but it might be worth it! I’ve learned a lot from people who have expressed concerns about statements I’ve made or had questions about praxis. Sometimes our praxis or statements don’t clarify what we actually believe, ha ha! And sometimes our praxis is actually better than our theology too, but that’s for another discussion, right?
(2) It sounds like the church/leadership may be more in line with the theology found within Bethel (Bill Johnson) or IHOP (Mike Bickle), as a lot of what you describe sounds similar to what I’ve read in books from those movements and/or heard preached and taught by people from those ministries. I am not sure about anyone saying things like “I’m going to open up the heavens and let the Spirit minister.” For me, that’s a bit more related to a theological perspective that I feel doesn’t adequately acknowledge the sovereignty of the Spirit and his own will (1 Cor. 12:11).
However, as I think about it, it’s possible that the pastor was having faith for that moment that the Spirit wanted to minister to the church. While the language that was used wasn’t the best, it may have come from good intentions or from the belief that the Spirit always wants to minister. It’s hard to say. I’m uncomfortable with the presumptiveness that a statement like that can unwittingly communicate, but I’m also inclined to wonder if it was simply a misstatement in the “heat of the moment” or if it was just immaturity or lack of experience. Hard to say. I’d certainly want to know why anyone is saying that they are going to personally open up heaven! And if there is an “open up heaven” button, I would like to know how to get it 🙂
So, that is to say that I’m concerned about that language. I don’t think it adequately represents what Scripture teaches and is, quite frankly, not very representative of the praxis (or theology) of the Vineyard Movement.
(3) I’ve had some really “weird” prophetic words given to me at Vineyard functions too. That isn’t to say that I haven’t received some spot-on prophetic ministry either. But there have been some weird ones. One of them was related to my wife and I haven’t another kid soon (we already have four!) and I was under the impression that the person giving me the word was thinking the kid he was prophesying we were going to have was going to be our first. It just seemed weird and confusing.
One of my questions (and concerns!) within the Vineyard Movement is related to the necessity for church leaders (and movement leaders) to being spending more time discussing discernment and testing prophetic ministry. Not every “word” given to people is from God. That is fact. The Bible makes that clear and I think our own experience verifies that. So I think your concerns regarding prophetic ministry needs to be really thought through. I am really frustrated by “prophetic” ministry that is just automatically assumed to be correct and no emphasis is given on “testing.”
And what would really help people like you (and me!) would to know the process and to be encouraged to test and pray and seek God for confirmation and things like that. What is the process? How can we be more discerning? What should we do with the obscure and weird things that people tell us?
(4) Concerning your thoughts about “prophets” and “hearing from God” and “hearing wrong,” I want to recommend that you get Wayne Grudem’s The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today. In my opinion, it is the best book on the subject out there. D. A. Carson’s Showing the Spirit is also helpful.
Grudem makes a good case for there being different aspects of prophetic ministry. There’s the initial spontaneous revelation (what God tells us) and then the communication of that revelation (what we share with others). Other authors talk about there being a third or fourth aspect (the application or interpretation), but I’m not sure if that’s starting to split hairs or not.
It’s very possible that someone could have something that God lays on their heart and then they mess it up. It’s also possible that someone young and inexperienced took a step of faith and just needs more opportunities to grow. There are many variables. However, if someone is part of a “ministry team,” I would assume some of those variables are less likely. Hence, my previous concerns about processing and discernment and testing is still quite relevant. Do you have any thoughts on that? How can we do a better job of encouraging that?
(5) When people share testimonies about someone being “healed” and they haven’t been “healed,” I do not think God is being glorified. I think that’s lying. And it’s bad.
I also think we need to keep remembering that our kingdom theology is both “already” and “not yet” and that people aren’t always going to be healed and that must be a part of our foundational theological assumption.
And sometimes people are healed… which is awesome.
(6) I’m in agreement with your final assessment related to how any movement is going to have people that don’t best represent it and that there are certain ideas or practices “lingering” in the Vineyard that need to be addressed and worked through. Some of that may come from Frisbee and some may be from the influences of ministries that are around today (e.g., Bethel or IHOP).
Anyway, a lot of my concern with out we understand or represent any movement is in whether or not we represent or understand it properly. I like how you clarify that there’s a difference between “official” and “unofficial” (for lack of a better word). That’s both the beauty and chaos of a Center-set ecclesiology. There’s a lot of diversity and a lot of different influences… which is very, very, very good in certain cases! Yet it also leaves the door open for some less than helpful people/ideas.
What do you think some of the solutions to these concerns are?
Luke, thanks for the pastoring me through this. I did not expect a soft cover book for an answer 🙂
(1) Have you had a chance to discuss this with the pastors/leaders. Yes, I have discussed it with some of the church members and an elder. Different opinions from all. Unfortunately our pastor was away (hence the guest sermon). He is back this week and I hope to get to speak him.
(2) The discussions we had in our cell group also flagged this as weird (language, intention, etc.). The reason this stood out to all of us is because everyone remembers this specific event (I tried to get the recording of the evening but apparently the recording equipment failed and thus we could not go back and listen to it again). The same team is back this Sunday in a guest spot and to be honest, I am looking forward to it. Mainly because I then can ask these questions directly to the guy who said it (At this point I am not looking forward to his message because of my tainted perception of his theology. I am praying about it and examining my attitude). When the Spirit ministers (in ANY environment) it will never contradict scripture. However, we are human and we err as we are all sinners. I shudder when I think of the things I have said to people before I got saved and I can only thank God for my salvation.
(3) “…no emphasis is given on “testing.”’ I really strongly agree. The term “prophesy” should also be explained to the church from the correct context and how it is to be interpreted and implemented.
Extrapolating from prophesy to all the other Spirit filled gifts…
Many many books have been written about the various gifts given to believers from virtually all religious and secular viewpoints and one can spend his whole life reading it. Problem is that you will only gain knowledge and collect questions longer than the reference lists.
As believers we have something much more powerful working in us: the person of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is working powerfully in us for the sanctification of our faith and through that sanctification we glorify God. We glorify God in true worship and thankfulness for the redeeming work on the Cross. We, as the saved, do not “need” to display outward unusual (unusual – maybe outside of normal Christian duty – due to the lack of a better word at this moment. Sorry) manifestations. Not to say that the Spirit will not or does not want to use such a vehicle to glorify the Trinity, but in the average believer, the Spirit, that is given to you at salvation, shall most definitely have His will with you in whichever way He chooses. And it will always be to the glory of His wonderful name.
E.g. Eph 5:18-21 where drunkenness (referring to the old pagan worship of drunken chaotic spirit/idol worship) is contrasted to something more practical: which consists of speaking to each other in worship to God; giving thanks to God and serving each other (and the rest of ch5 and 6 explains the service in detail). This is (to me) a good illustration of what a spirit filled life will do: worship, thanks giving and service.
I think we are limiting the Spirit if we can only list 18 or 23 ways to manifest Him (this statement is an oversimplification but stands in the context of the above).
You most eloquently explained the above in your post; thank you for your patience in reading my rehash.
“And what would really help people like you (and me!) would to know the process and to be encouraged to test and pray and seek God for confirmation and things like that. What is the process? How can we be more discerning? What should we do with the obscure and weird things that people tell us?” These questions are very GOOD questions! Challenge accepted! I have no idea what the answers are but I think this will be a good journey through the Word to find the answers to these questions.
(4) “Do you have any thoughts on that [“prophets” and “hearing from God” and “hearing wrong,”]? How can we do a better job of encouraging that?”
I have a very practical approach to life and my immediate response is that in order for it to be from God I believe that God invented language, God speaks very clearly (no mumbling), God’s will is much stronger than ours. Thus, if it is from God it will be clear, understandable and you will be compelled to pronounce/prophesy it. However, man is sinful, deviant and evil and can distort such a clear message. On the other hand, would an all knowing God use a person that will distort his message ?
Maybe it comes down to the person. If God tells my wife to tell me something I would most probably (because I am human and love my wife) trust her word more than some guy from Somewheres-ville. But my wife is also evil; I have seen her hide my favorite worn t-shirt with the holes in it 🙂
After all this thinking and typing, I have no answer. Maybe it’s just me but I should think a true prophet speaking the true word from God is always 100% right on the money. No margin for error. 98% is not good enough.
A logical problem for me with signs and wonders without discernment and without teaching the church how to discern, and the difference between true prophetic gifts and miraculous gifts are going to be during the end-times. The false prophet is also going to come with major signs and wonders and even deceive true believers. How are we to discern then if we had not learnt (being educated) on how to discern?
(5)” And sometimes people are healed… which is awesome” YES!!! Amen.
I think it’s important to remember that it is God that heals and we can only ask. Even Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing. There is no formula or ritual, only supplication in prayer and then only when it is the will of the Father.
We tend to forget that we are living forever; saved or unsaved. Death is merely a door. So if someone is not healed, it is the will of God and God is glorified. If someone is healed, it is the will of God and God is glorified.
IMHO, the confusion sets in (and I can only speak for my confused self) when it is preached that “you – the person – can heal.” Are there people who can heal like Jesus did (immediately and completely)? I don’t know as I have not met them. Is this criterion (immediately and completely) necessary for the person’s gift of healing? If not, does it not then “reduce” to earnest prayer and supplication to God where God steps in and heals at His own time? Or maybe use the tools (medical) of the day? Why tout it as gift of healing ? Admittedly I have not read or followed up any official Vineyard teaching/material on the healing ministry – thus I cannot claim to understand the ministry of healing from the Vineyard context. These are my questions and opinion(s).
And sometimes people are not healed…which is also awesome. Glory to God for His infinite wisdom and generous provision!!
Your post started as a clarification on some of the issues GotQuestions.org misrepresented about the Vineyard church which you handled and answered eloquently, well balanced and to the point.
We the believers are the church. We are commanded to work together to build and function in the body of Christ. We are also the marketers of the church. We are commanded to go out and make disciples (“disciples” is a very loaded word here) of people. It is a serious and heavy charge. Once you accept the Lord Jesus as your saviour and submit to his authority as your Lord you are under this charge.
What are you going to tell those disciples ? Where are you going to find the information you need to fulfil your mission diligently? What and how are you going to teach them ?
Making disciples is adding to the Body. Thus, if we misrepresent the church we misrepresent our Lord. The image we project to the unbelieving world out there should be as Jesus said “by your love for one another they will know that you are my disciples.” So in a sense, the image of the church is the image of our Lord and that is everything.
Now, if there are people out there that RIGHTLY criticize (I am not saying gotquestions are rightly truthful in their statements as you already refuted their claims in your post) we, as a body, MUST seriously investigate where this is coming from. If we are in error we must humbly ask for forgiveness and repent. If the criticism is from the world and in error we must correct it as we are commanded in 1 Peter 3:13-17.
E.g. the “rogue elements” that are misusing prophesy (e.g. Mr Oral Roberts), misusing healing (Mr Benny Hinn), misusing preaching the word out of context for personal gain (Mr Kennith Kopeland, etc.); we as the Body must let the world know that this is NOT the risen Christ they preach. Even going as far back as the roots of our own Body in Christ. We need to let the world know Toronto is of the past and has no place in today’s Vineyard.
But how will we do this ? And this is what I love about what you said about discernment. It is imperative to teach the Word first which is the basis of all truth and which will give the discernment. 2 Tim 4:1-5.
Thank you for your engaging questions. I have learned a lot on this journey answering and finding new questions on the points you make.
May it be not of the flesh but all to the glory of the wonderful name of Jesus by whom we are saved.
Love in Christ.