Updated: Dec 26, 2022
The Association of Vineyard Churches was started by John Wimber, and all the associated churches follow his teaching and practices.
They promote radical ecumenism and charismatic-style experience orientation among evangelicals who do not claim to be charismatic. A large part of this experience derives from the use of powerful rock music to help create a sensual worship experience. The Vineyard music has gone around the world and is very influential in the contemporary praise and worship movement.
Because of their vast influence and dangerous doctrine and practices, it is critical to expose them. Consider some of the heresies of John Wimber, some important reasons to stay clear from these heretical churches.
1. Wimber conducted “signs and wonders” conferences in various parts of the world, teaching the heresy that effective evangelism requires the working of apostolic-style sign miracles. Up until 1995, Wimber pursued a worldwide ministry of healing through large convention meetings, receiving "words of knowledge" (revelations allegedly from God) in which he saw the illnesses of various people present in the audience before praying for their healing. He then "called down" the Holy Spirit and ordered Him around with language that was nothing short of blasphemy.
Everything about this counterfeit “miraculous healing” is unscriptural: it discredits the person of Christ, it undermines the complete and only authority and sufficiency of the Word of God, it deceives professing Christians and breeds a race of simple-minded (gullible) false “Christians,” increases the agony of suffering, perverts the true Christian comfort, and rejects the true testimony of true Christians. Wimber listed raising of the dead as one of the basic elements of the healing ministry (Power Healing, pp. 38, 62).
2. Wimber claimed that signs and wonders were the essential ingredient for success in first century church evangelism (a claim which is not supported anywhere in the Book of Acts) and that for today, so the only way to get people to believe the Gospel is to startle them into believing through healing, prophecy, and the casting out of demons — Wimber called this "power evangelism." This is completely unBiblical, heretical and evil and revealing that he was clearly a false prophet, deceitful worker, strongly deluded and mimicking the work of the devil, the Antichrist (2 Th. 2:9-12; Matt. 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:12-15).
3. Wimber's approach to healing was not the mere laying on of hands accompanied by fervent prayer (Jam. 5), but the incorporation of an unholy mixture of Jungian psychology and Agnes Sanford's "inner healing" techniques (Theophostic counselling, which is the counselling methods of John Regier and George Froese), both of which have their roots in the occult, but have become popularized in our day through the New Age movement (Albert James Dager, Vengeance Is Ours, p. 155). "There is every indication that the Vineyard movement, chasing after signs and wonders, has become caught up in a mystical [New Age] mindset that will lead inevitably to a greater religious deception to which the vast majority of the world's populace will succumb" (Dager, p. 156).
4. Wimber spread great confusion by allowing for extra-biblical revelation, even while claiming to be committed to Scripture alone. He claimed to be convicted that God began to speak to him in a direct and authoritative manner, and that God told him to use his authority to cast out demons and illnesses from people. God only speaks through one medium, and that is His Holy Word, the Bible; "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom 10:17).
5. Wimber embraced a mystical view of spiritual warfare that came dangerously close to spiritism, culminating in the belief that even Christians can be demon-possessed. This in itself is a demonic teaching and revealing of unsaved heretics.
6. Experience, not Scripture, was what Wimber depended upon. He would accept occult/new age practices in "Christian" forms, such as aura reading and manipulation, and the teaching of "inner healing," astral projection, contact with familiar spirits, and psychological and occult methodologies. He learned pragmatism from his close associate, the heretic Peter Wagner.
7. The heretical and ecumenical Promise Keepers movement was founded by men involved in the Vineyard, which included founder Bill McCartney and its leaders were Vineyard men.
8. Though Wimber was not Pentecostal (by name), he accepted and popularized many unscriptural Pentecostal-type practices, including “slaying in the Spirit,” “prophecy,” “words of knowledge,” and Pentecostal-style faith healing, all of which are manifestations of the devil, NOT God. He claimed to call down the Holy Spirit which then produced holy laughter and spirit slaying and all sorts of charismatic heresy and wickedness. It was a indeed a spirit that he called down, an unclean and evil spirit.
9. Wimber was very ecumenical, including with Roman Catholicism, which is the Babylonian religion of the antichrist, the great whore and mother of all harlots (Rev. 17-18). He frequently appeared on the same platforms with Roman Catholic clergy in ecumenical gatherings, and hosted Catholic "leaders" at his various church growth/healing seminars. Wimber even once wrote an article for the Catholic charismatic publication, New Covenant, entitled "Why I Love Mary," lending credibility to the false doctrines of Mariology. He even invited the antichrist Catholic pope to his church and called the pope's "Evangelization 2000" program, "One of the greatest things that has ever happened" (Feb 1 1991, Calvary Contender). He once "apologized" to the Catholic church on behalf of all Protestants, stating that "the pope, who by the way is very responsive to the charismatic movement, and is himself a born-again evangelical, is preaching the Gospel as clear as anyone in the world today.” (John Wimber, Church Planting Seminar, audio tapes, 5 volumes, unedited, 1981, cited by Pastor John Goodwin). This radical ecumenism is spread through Vineyard music. The Vintage Vineyard Music series is advertised as “Vineyard’s all-time worship classics that continue to be sung cross-denominationally in churches around the world.”
This is blatant and undiscerning heresy and alone proves that Wimber was a wolf in sheep's clothing (2 Cor 6:14-18). Salvation brings separation (2 Cor 6:14-16) so that all of God's children separate themselves from "unbelievers" and the "unrighteousness" and from those serving " Belial" and from "infidels" and from "idols." Roman Catholicism fits all of these things and so does John Wimber and the Vineyard Churches. If you don't separate then you may well be unconverted and God calls you to salvation:
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor 6:17-18).
10. Wimber's teaching was anti-Christian in his abuse of Christ, despising and disregarding His divinity and glory in order to present Him as a 'humanized' example of healing techniques which may be copied in our day. This is one of the blasphemous aspects of false teachers like Wimber, that they are ready and willing to diminish the Lord Jesus Christ in their desperation to find some shred of biblical support for what they do. According to Wimber, Christ did not possess the personal power to read thoughts or to know the outcome of events and reduced Him virtually to the level of an ordinary person. He repeatedly emphasized 'limited' divinity of Jesus as he strived to make Him a person who we can legitimately imitate in every respect, including the receiving of intuitions from God, and the performing of healing works. See Col. 1:15,19; 2:3, 9; Heb. 1:3; Jn. 1:14; 6:64; 16:30 for Biblical refutation of Wimber's abusive and blasphemous theology.
11. The use of relics was engaged by Wimber and the Vineyard movement, which is human remains and objects thought to have supernatural miracle powers by virtue of their being connected with a Saint; the relic may be the whole or a part of a Saint's body, or something a Saint has touched. Obviously, the use of relics of the dead is an utterly pagan concept with no Scriptural justification whatsoever; rather it is associated with necromancy.
12. Wimber was on Renovaré's "Board of Reference" which is an international, New Age, ecumenical organization that emanates from the religious traditions of Quakerism, whose message is that today's Church is missing out on some wonderful spiritual experiences that can only be found by studying and practicing the "meditative" and "contemplative" lifestyle "of early Christianity." In actuality, Renovaré espouses the use of the early pagan traditions of guided imagery and visualization, astral projection, "Zen" prayer techniques for meditation (i.e., Buddhism), and Jungian psychology (i.e., a blend of Eastern mysticism and Roman Catholic mystical spiritual tradition, which nicely fits the New Age model), all as means of obtaining "personal spiritual renewal" in the lives of believers. (For a more detailed analysis of Renovaré and the teachings of its co-directors, psychologist Richard Foster and William Vaswig, see Media Spotlight's Special Report of March, 1992: "Renovaré: Taking Leave of One's Senses.”)
13. Wimbers personal testimony, unsurprisingly, is completely unscriptural and heretical, loaded with stories of signs and wonders and all sorts of supernatural events, while the important truths of the Gospel is missing. Wimber claimed that his Christian conversion occurred in 1962 under the guidance of a Quaker, and by 1970 Wimber was pastoring a mystical-oriented Quaker church.
14. Wimber always placed himself and his ministry above criticism. He rejected reproof and rebuke and Scriptural critique, which is always the cult mentality of the lost.
Most of this information is derived from two articles in the Sept 1990 Media Spotlight Special Report, entitled "Latter-Day Prophets: The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets and the Kansas City-Vineyard Connection;” and "Testing the Fruit of the Vineyard.”
This is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more, some of which may be read here: https://www.wayoflife.org/database/wimber.html. Yet each point here on its own reflects the plain truth that John Wimber was a ravening wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15); yea a minister of Satan who transformed himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:12-15).
But God warns:
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Eph 5:11).