As I’ve demonstrated in the past, it seems that there are some who have no desire to correctly represent the Vineyard Movement in their criticisms. This constant misrepresentation finds expression on the Internet and has even been expressed in conversations I have had over the years with many of my friends as well as random people I run into. On one hand, it’s no different than how people misrepresent and generalize all Baptists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and Pentecostals. On the other hand, some of the misrepresentations are so ridiculously unfounded that it’s hard to take serious.
Full disclosure: I have attended Vineyard churches since I was around 12 years old and have read most, if not all, of the books that would be considered by Vineyard leaders to represent Vineyard theology and praxis. I’m also involved outside of the Vineyard in other organizations and have had no problem speaking in churches that are vastly different than Vineyard churches. My formal theological training has been within non-Vineyard ecclesiological traditions (i.e., the Assemblies of God, Presbyterian, and Baptist institutions). I count that as a privilege and hope that trend continues! Furthermore, I do not believe that the Vineyard is the best or has everything together or that our theology and praxis are always the best, most effective, or most God glorifying. I do, however, believe that it is an important movement/tradition within the Church and that it has a lot to offer both the Body of Christ and the world. The church I serve wouldn’t be adopting into the Vineyard if I didn’t believe so. Yet I’ve found that as our church is adopted into the Vineyard, people do google searches on the words “Vineyard Movement” or “Vineyard Church” in order to learn more about it… and they find some interesting stuff (I use the word “interesting” graciously).
As far as I’m concerned, if a blogger, author, speaker, or anyone else is going to take the time to critique something, they had better take the time to accurately represent their subjects views. You will get zero scholarly respect from me if you aren’t interested in reading the primary sources. What Christian would want to have someone provide criticism of Christianity without actually reading the Bible?!?! Or how could I, as a Protestant, ever give advice on Roman Catholicism without actually consulting the Catholic Catechism or other Catholic writings? It’s simply foolish.
So since I like reading, writing, and feel like it’s important to provide accurate criticisms, I’m going to try and work through a variety of criticisms. I do not write as an official representative of the Vineyard Movement. Instead, I write as someone who has been involved in the Vineyard for a long time and who serves a church that is affiliated with the Vineyard. I’m sure some of this will be relevant to Pentecostals, Charismatics and other Third Wave folks, so feel free to apply accordingly.