An era is ending at the Vineyard—the Anaheim, California, church and the worldwide movement. John Wimber, charismatic founder and leader of the movement, is retiring from pastoring the church (though he will continue as international director).
Wimber's influence spreads far beyond the Vineyard's 500 churches. His ministry has combined lively charismatic practice with Reformed-flavored theology, making a bridge between traditional evangelical Christianity and the independent charismatic and Pentecostal movements. That bridging of unfamiliar elements continues to create controversy on both sides of the bridge.
Christianity Today sent senior writer Tim Stafford and Ontario Theological Seminary professor Jim Beverley to talk with Wimber about his perspective after 30 years of ministry.
You've had your share of critics over the years. What have you learned about the way a minister of the gospel should respond?
I try to take personal criticism without response. I never write back. But I try to take criticism of doctrine seriously. I've spent days answering questions that I thought were fair-minded.
At the same time, I've known from the outset that what I was going to do would not be popular. It's never wise to wake up sleeping people. However tenacious I've tried to be in showing my appreciation, at the end of the day Christian leaders come back with, "Well, do you think my Christian experience is inadequate, incomplete, not right?"
Walt Kaiser asked me that. He said, "Do you think that because I don't heal the sick and speak in tongues that I'm somehow inadequate?" I said, "Walter, under your leadership we have one of the finest educational institutions in America [then at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School]. You've contributed ...1