Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church/
The Vineyard

003white  Section 10A .. The Contemporary Church     >     The  Vineyard


 The Association of Vineyard Churches
( The Vineyard Movement)

The Association of Vineyard Churches was founded by John Wimber in 1982, and has been called one of the fastest growing church movements of our time because church planting is said to be one of their highest priorities [a]. They add “The Vineyard is growing and we’re just getting started! [b]Today there are 600+ Vineyard congregations in the US, 2,400+ Vineyards in 95 countries internationally, and approximately 300,000+ people world-wide who consider a Vineyard their church.

 All of which begs the question.. What are the Vineyard churches about? What doctrine do they espouse? What are their beliefs?

John Wimber & The Vineyard
It is written, A good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor can an evil tree produce good fruit. As The Vineyard USA site says ”John Wimber was a founding leader of the Vineyard. His influence profoundly shaped the theology and practice of Vineyard churches from their earliest days until his death in November 1997”.  Therefore an accurate evaluation of the Vineyard churches, one of the main roots of the Toronto Blessing Phenomena, has to begin with John Wimber.

John Wimber’s Role In The Spread of Dominionism (below)
One man, with little or no Biblical discernment, was almost single handedly responsible for the spread of one of the most dangerous movements in the church today... The Latter Rain. This small movement that began in Canada, eventually became the cornerstone for various offshoots, the most prominent of which are (or were) Joel’s Army, First-Fruits, Identity, Manifest Sons of God, Restoration, Reconstruction, Kingdom Message, Elijah Company, Overcomers, etc.


    John Wimber’s Role In The Spread of Dominionism
    Both the articles on the page John Wimber and The Vineyard mention John Wimber’s fascination with the Kansas City Prophets, which resulted in him calling on Vineyard pastors to receive their ministry. However this is just one piece of the story which, in it’s entirety, has had serious repercussions in the Christian world. Here is how the actions of one man, who exercised so little Biblical discernment, helped birth one of the most dangerous movements in the church… And how he helped the Latter Rain, a small movement that began in Canada, to eventually become what it did... the cornerstone for various offshoots, the most prominent of which are (or were) Joel’s Army, First-Fruits, Identity, Manifest Sons of God, Restoration, Reconstruction, Kingdom Message, Elijah Company, Overcomers, etc.

    So who are all these groups and what do they believe?

    The initial influence of these groups was largely confined to Pentecostal and Charismatic churches but, through various counterfeit revivals, have spread their leaven far into the evangelical world, finding wide acceptance among members of a different Christian denominations. Although the teachings of the assorted groups diverge from each other in details, they are yet similar enough to be classified under the broad banner of  Dominion or Kingdom Theology, sharing a post-millennial vision in which the kingdom of God will be established on earth through political and (in some cases) even military means.

    Dominion or Kingdom Theology is a militant Biblicism… holy war theology under the guise of Christianity. The Dominionist doctrine is a volatile cocktail of outright error mixed in with authentic truth... “evil men and impostors” have borrowed terminology and concepts from the occult, endeavored to white wash them with a veneer of Christianity in the form of a few out of context Bible verses, and present the resulting swill to a Biblically illiterate church… along with some very murderous intentions. However the strength of their delusions make these people potentially very dangerous. This movement, gathering momentum by the week, could very well bring about the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 10:21, which means that every Christian should be aware of who these people are and what it is they profess to believe. See   Dominion Theology... The Stench And Foul Smell Of Joel’s Army

    C Peter Wagner
    founder of Global Harvest Ministries, overall leader of the International Coalition of Apostles and one of the main driving forces behind the Dominionist movement, says [Emphasis Added]

      God’s will being accomplished on earth as it is in heaven depends on His people becoming empowered by the Holy Spirit and moving into action. [1]

    Quite obviously, it only makes sense for those that subscribe to this creed to attempt to change society, although not all adherents to Kingdom Now (Dominion) theology are in agreement on the methods to accomplish that end. While there is however concurrence on the major principle - that the Church has dominion over the “forces of evil”, and that every enemy of Christ must be subdued before He can return as King, the more moderate factions advocate political control, social action and the revising of laws, while others are far more militant, willing to use force if necessary.

    Peter Wagner is one example of the second category…

      The Church is expected to war… Apostles are designated to lead the Church into war because it takes a government to overthrow a government. [2]

    In an unprecedented display of delusions of grandeur, the dominionist leadership believes they, the Manifest Sons Of God, are the last-day apostles and prophets… that they are a company of overcomers who when the mantle of Elijah falls on them, will be transfigured just as Jesus was transfigured. This will not only make them and their cohorts greater than Elijah, Elisha and all the prophets of the Old Testament, but their glory will actually exceed that of Jesus on the Mount. They also believe that they hold the key to Jesus’ return.

    In fact, the last few decades have seen an exponential increase in the numbers of those brazen enough not only use the title of Apostle, but deluded enough to believe they are building the foundations of the Kingdom. Those bold enough to claim the mantle of modern apostleship are, in effect, claiming an unparalleled authority, with the words “government” and “submission” being used with increasing regularity. [See More About C. Peter Wagner]

    From Saskatchewan To Kansas:
    Although many Christians caught up in the Restoration/Dominion movement would deny any involvement with Latter Rain teachings (some of them have probably never even heard of the Movement), the truth is that Kingdom Theology, in all it’s forms, originated with the Latter Rain Movement which was born in 1948 in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in Canada when several leaders of Sharon Orphanage were inspired to look for a deeper dimension of Christianity after attending a meeting held by William Branham. They fasted and prayed from many weeks and believed that God answered them when, on February 12, 1948, the Holy Spirit supposedly fell with “great power”.

    The movement was so called because it was believed that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was the "former rain" that established the Church, but the then current move of the Spirit (speaking in tongues and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit etc.) was the "latter rain" to prepare her for the last “great harvest” at the end of the age, which would sweep millions into the Church. After which, the Church's work being complete, Jesus Christ would return. 

    Although it’s influence gradually waned, perhaps in part because it was thrown out of the Assemblies of God church in the 1940's for heresy, the deception never really died, but went underground to await the day when sound doctrine would be of little concern to the vast majority of church leadership. Then, once again, it raised it’s ugly head.

    A man called Ern Baxter travelled with William Branham many years (from 1947 to about 1953) often doing all of the speaking for him. [3] Also, Baxter's personal secretary, George Warnock, was not only one of the North Battleford brethren, but wrote the Feast of Tabernacles, in 1951, during his four year stint at Sharon Bible College in the capacity of a "deacon". The book, in which Warnock laid out a specific doctrine for the Latter Rain Movement, became very very influential not only for its view of the feasts but for its approach to the Scriptures.

    In 1975, Ern Baxter was a speaker at the Shepherds Conference held in Kansas City and attended by some 40 to 50,000 men. In fact Ern Baxter closed the conference preaching what was possibly his most historic message – “Thy Kingdom Come!” [3]

    It hardly seems a coincidence that very shortly afterwards (in 1982) The Kansas City Fellowship (KCF) was founded by pastor Mike Bickle after he heard an audible voice in Cairo, Egypt described by Bickle as “the internal audible voice”. According to Bickle

      “The Lord simply said, “I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in the earth in one generation”. [4]

    The “Kansas City Prophets” were born… called so because many of their leaders were from the area. 

    To The Vineyard churches:
    owever in January of 1990, a Kansas City pastor named Ernie Gruen (he passed away in June 2009) published a report exposing some of the teachings and practices at Bickle's church [Read]. This report was distributed nationwide and could very well have spelled the end of the movement. However the death knell was averted by a series of events involving Vineyard founder John Wimber..

    Toward the mid to late 1980's, Wimber became enamored by the "The Kansas City Prophets", or now known as the Kansas City Fellowship. Mile Bickle in fact mentions that he “introduced Paul Cain, Bob Jones and the other prophetic ministers to the Vineyard” and was in turn introduced to Richard Foster by John Wimber. [5] At an August 1989 conference in Denver, Colorado, Wimber called on Vineyard pastors to receive the KCP, thus very effectively putting a band aid over the whole affair brought up by pastor Ermine Gruen. The Latter Rain had found not only a very comfortable home in the Vineyard church, but a huge and influential platform from which to spread their canker.

    The "Toronto Blessing"
    Not long after this “ … the Toronto Vineyard church introduced the world to the "Toronto Blessing" with all it's strange phenomena. Bob Jones, a controversial Kansas City prophet, Jim Goll and John Paul Jackson, now Vineyard prophets, endorsed the Toronto phenomenon. Later there was a cross-fertilization (their term) with similar movements linking others with this orbit, including C. Peter Wagner and his apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation, which includes Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, Chuck Pierce, Ted Haggard, and others. [6] See The Toronto Deception   and   C. Peter Wagner

    And how big has this movement become? An article on the Talk to Action web site doesn’t seem to be too far off base (if at all) when they say..

      Some of these Apostles also have hundreds or even thousands in their own networks. There are numerous other interconnected apostolic networks around the world tied to this movement by their common belief system and also interconnected activities, conventions, media, schools, and parachurch ministries. The New Apostolic Reformation is now a distinct entity with its own theology, apostolic networks, schools, school accreditation system, conferences, and media. The Apostolic structure, as defined by Wagner, provides a network of authority or "apostolic covering." Each of Wagner's approximately 500 Apostles has networks of their own, some claiming hundreds or even thousands of ministries under their authority.   [7]

    End Notes
    [1] C Peter Wagner. Dominion!: How Kingdom Action Can Change the World Chosen (February 1, 2008). Page 6

    [2] C Peter Wagner. Dominion!: How Kingdom Action Can Change the World Chosen (February 1, 2008). Page 7

    [3] Life On Wings.. A Tribute to Dr. Ern Baxter.


    [4] Mike Bickle. Growing in the Prophetic. Creation House; New edition (June 1996). Page 30-31

    [5] Mike Bickle. Growing in the Prophetic. Creation House; New edition (June 1996). Page 14

    [6] Orrel Steinkamp. Paul Cain, Latter Rain Prophet of Renown Is Now Discredited, The Plumbline, Volume 9, No. 5, December 2004. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrel19.html

    [7] http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/10/7/54010/1830


    [a] Vineyard USA. History & Legacy. http://www.vineyardusa.org/site/about/vineyard-history

    [b] https://vineyardusa.org/explore/church-planting-multi-sites-missional-communities/


    The Contemporary Church