Yesterday while doing some research, I came across a defense of the Vineyard movement written by Wayne Grudem, which can be found here.
This paper was written as a response to several articles in Power Religion that criticized the Vineyard, and John Wimber in particular. Although I respected Grudem before reading this paper, my appreciation for him has greatly increased. Based on the extensive quotations taken from Power Religion, the authors attacked the Vineyard quite harshly and unfairly. I was surprised at some of the things that D.A. Carson said in particular, as he normally seems to be a more careful guy. For example, on page 116 Carson, speaking of the Vineyard, asks “Or is the Jesus who is praised another Jesus, one largely detached from the gospel?” Grudem responds quite firmly here and in other places. Grudem is friends with Carson and in fact their offices were across from each other at the time. That is why I appreciate this paper so much. Grudem said what needed to be said, but expressed his sadness and shock at having to do so.
I won’t go through the points of the paper as it is relatively brief. Even if you aren’t interested in the Vineyard church per se, there is quite a lot that is relevant to the general Christian. For example, on page 25 Grudem refutes Carson’s attempt to restrict signs and wonders to the apostles, which is a foundational belief of cessationists. It’s very useful for Charismatics to know how to refute this argument.
Grudem concludes the paper admitting that there are areas where the Vineyard needs to be strengthened, particularly in the area of theology, but says
“Yet after Vineyard leaders have read the kind of harsh and misinformed criticisms found in Power Religion, what chance is there that they would ever want to invite Dr. Carson or Dr. Boice to do a series of Bible teachings, or even be able to hear any valid criticisms that they might have to offer? The magnification of alienation that has been accomplished by Power Religion is what saddens me.” (p. 60)
So true. The people most likely to attack the Charismatic movement are the very people who are supposed to be helping them.
I found his comments on Bob Jones, whom Armstrong had linked with the Vineyard to discredit them, interesting:
“Although John Wimber at first gave a public platform to Bob Jones because of his strong prophetic gifts, Armstrong fails to note that after a short time Wimber decided that Bob Jones should not do any more public teaching, and declined to give him a public platform in the Vineyard. So it is inaccurate to take Bob Jones’ statements as representative of what the Vineyard teaches.” (p. 48)
For those of you who haven’t heard of Bob Jones, he is one of the top two or three prophetic voices known to the Western church in the last 50 years. Personally, I didn’t become familiar with the prophetic movement in the church until 2000, and so much of the history is unknown to me. I had heard about a particular Vineyard conference where Bob Jones ministered but didn’t speak, but I didn’t realize this was the Vineyard’s policy. Although to many of my friends this would be shocking, I actually agree with this decision. One of the main issues in the Pentecostal/Charismatic church today is the practice of treating all gifted individuals as if they are teachers. For example, a person with a strong healing gifting fills the role of teacher and the same goes for people with prophetic gifting. The church doesn’t bring these people in for healing or prophetic ministry; they bring them in for hours and hours of teaching. Often these men aren’t teachers and so much of what they say is false. This is extremely damaging to the church. So I applaud this decision by the Vineyard while still loving Bob Jones.