The Vineyard — An analysis into a strange cult
From very small beginnings a mere twenty years ago, there are now some 850 Vineyard churches worldwide. They also boast of an international church planting movement, a publishing house and a music production company. But they also employ homosexuals into their midst, they preach and teach against the bible, and their practices as a whole are an abomination on the earth. What are the Vineyard churches about?
Lonnie Frisbee — A Homosexual
Lonnie Frisbee, who many believed was gifted with great power from God after being extraordinarily commissioned and sent. He became influential in the histories of two large church movements – Calvary Chapels and Vineyards, and it is alleged that because he practiced homosexuality and died of AIDS, his part in the formation and growth in these churches has been marginalized and all but written out of history books.
John Wimber — A heretic
Its been said , 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, and not Christ himself. This is wrong.
John Wimber — A spreader of evil
One man, with absolutely no biblical or seminary training at all by any major faith, is 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 Joel’s Army, First-Fruits, Identity, Manifest Sons of God, Restoration, Reconstruction, Kingdom Message, Elijah Company, Overcomers, etc.
Joel’s Army — Todd Bentley, An Adulterer
Todd Bentley has sponsored an internship program called ‘Joel’s Army’ in addition to having the words “Joel’s Army” tattooed across his sternum with military dog tags demonstrating a level of commitment to the Latter Rain doctrine of the Manifest Sons of God, (or Man-Child Generation) as preached by William M. Branham (known heretic and denier of entire sections of the bible) and George Warnock. The program’s doctrine was associated to an interpretation of Revelation 12 that in the last age before Jesus returns, there will be a generation of especially endowed Christians who will be able to do many miracles, and will usher in the reign of God. This is in the tradition of William M. Branham and the healing revivals of the 50s, overlapping with Latter Rain Movement theology. Bentley’s association with Paul Cain (a known homosexual), an associate of Branham and himself a healing evangelist of the 50s, is a further connection to the movement. Joel’s Army has been connected to Dominion Theology and Fivefold ministry thinking, and has been described as a “rapidly growing apocalyptic movement” prophesied to become an “Armageddon-ready military force of young people with a divine mandate to physically impose Christian “dominion” on non-believers. Bentley announced his separation from his wife, Shonnah, in August 2008, and resigned from the Board of Fresh Fire. A statement released by the remaining Board members said “Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff”, and that he would ‘refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life’. Some of Bentley’s Christian contemporaries called for Bentley to step down in the wake of the scandal, stating that Christian leadership is incompatible with marital unfaithfulness. In response, a committee made up of Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, and Bill Johnson was formed to oversee the process of spiritually restoring Bentley’s family. In November 2008, the Board of Fresh Fire announced that Bentley was not submitting to the process. On March 9, 2009, Rick Joyner announced that Bentley had remarried.
Dominionism — A theocracy in the works
Contemporary Dominion Theology arose in the 1970s in religious movements reasserting aspects of Christian nationalism; however, the Dominion concept has existed within mainstream Christianity since the Third Century. Ideas for how to accomplish this vary. Very doctrinaire versions of Dominion Theology are sometimes called “Hard Dominionism” or “Theocratic Dominionism,” because they seek relatively authoritarian theocratic or theonomic forms of government. Aspects like these would make such societies no better than Iran (a known Muslim theocracy). An example of Dominionism in reformed theology is Christian Reconstructionism, which originated with the teachings of R.J. Rushdoony in the 1960s and 1970s. Rushdoony’s theology focuses on theonomy (the rule of the Law of God), a belief that all of society should be ordered according to the laws that governed the Israelites in the Old Testament. His system is strongly Calvinistic, emphasizing the sovereignty of God over human freedom and action, and denying the operation of charismatic gifts in the present day (cessationism); both of these aspects are in direct opposition to Kingdom Now Theology. While acknowledging the small number of actual adherents, authors such as Sara Diamond and Frederick Clarkson have argued that postmillennial Christian Reconstructionism played a major role in pushing the primarily premillennial Christian Right to adopt a more aggressive dominionist stance. According to Diamond, “Reconstructionism is the most intellectually grounded, though esoteric, brand of dominion theology.” Kingdom Now Theology is a branch of Dominion Theology which has had a following within Pentecostalism. It attracted attention in the late 1980s. Kingdom Now Theology states that although Satan has been in control of the world since the Fall, God is looking for people who will help him take back dominion. Those who yield themselves to the authority of God’s apostles and prophets will take control of the kingdoms of this world, being defined as all social institutions, the “kingdom” of education, the “kingdom” of science, the “kingdom” of the arts, etc. Kingdom Now Theology is influenced by the Latter Rain movement, and critics have connected it to the New Apostolic Reformation, “Spiritual Warfare Christianity”, and Fivefold ministry thinking.
The Latter Rain Itself — A strange paradox
The movement itself should be distinguished from those whom it ultimately influenced. Some branches of the movement ultimately led to cult-like groups, some parts of the movement remained orthodox, and other parts of the movement moderated the doctrine and ultimately had positive effects on the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches at large. During the early years, some of the most ardent critics of the Latter Rain and its theology came from within Pentecostalism, particularly the Assemblies of God. In 1949, the General Council of the Assemblies of God, following the leadership of its General Superintendent E. S. Williams, stated that pre-tribulation rapture represented correct eschatology, and it rejected the Latter Rain practice of personal prophecy accompanied by the laying on of hands, as well as the Manifest Sons of God doctrine. One noted Assemblies of God leader, Stanley Frodsham, left the Assemblies in favor of the Latter Rain, noting the experiential similarities with the Azusa Street Revival. The stand of the other Pentecostal denominations ultimately led to the withdrawal, under pressure, of Elim Fellowship founder Ivan Q. Spencer from inter-Pentecostal fellowship. Modern criticism of the Latter Rain, however, is primarily among fundamentalists, as is evidenced by the hosts of websites critical of the movement. Such sites use association with the Latter Rain as a way of discrediting modern Charismatics. Some identify the roots of more recent Charismatic trends such as Kingdom Now theology, the Kansas City Prophets including Paul Cain, and the New Apostolic Reformation including C. Peter Wagner as being rooted in the Latter Rain. While there are some doctrinal parallels, the historical connections have not been well demonstrated. The modern charismatic movement, while clearly influenced by some Latter Rain ideals such as the fivefold ministry and the laying on of hands generally rejects the more extreme elements of Latter Rain theology. A small and controversial offshoot of the Latter Rain is the “Reconciliation” movement, especially those who believe in Manifest Sonship theology. Reconciliation (also called ultimate or universal reconciliation) is a doctrine of Christian Universalism focusing on God’s plan to save the whole world through the atoning sacrifice of Christ. According to this tradition, the manifest Sons of God are expected to reign on earth during a coming millennial age until ultimately every human being will be restored to harmony with God.
The Toronto Blessing — An outgrowth from church to heretical ceremony
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 (a heretic known to burn the statues of Catholic saints) and his apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation, which includes Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, Chuck Pierce, Ted Haggard (a known homosexual), and others. We have discussed previously the Toronto Blessing here and here and here.