Dignify and Deploy 5: Masters of Integration, Part 1
John Wimber and Karol Wojtyla possessed sharp creative minds that joined together disparate ideas. The resulting wholeness became a love song for the Church. Though both men integrated many ideas as a gift to her, I will focus on each one.
Wimber loved the enlivening power of the Holy Spirit. What troubled him was the misuse and neglect of the Spirit throughout American evangelicalism. Many Pentecostals loved the Spirit but tended toward unnecessary drama in whooping and falling under His power; further, spiritual ‘gifts’ were often misunderstood as the domain of ‘Pastor’ or ‘Prophet’, not springing up from the body. This led to clericalism (not just a Catholic problem!) and its abuses. It kept members childish, leader-centric rather than focused on Jesus.
More heady evangelicals either believed that the Spirit’s power to heal and deliver had passed (dispensationalism) or if not, He usually didn’t. Safe in Scripture, wary of following the Spirit’s lead (risky), most evangelicals opted to study the Gospels and Acts rather than to live them. An unspoken rule: signs and wonders need not follow the proclamation of God’s Kingdom.
Wimber believed differently. He gained much from a New Testament scholar—George Eldon Ladd—who surmised that the Kingdom of God was the best interpretive key for understanding the Gospels. Jesus manifested God’s rule and reign significantly through healing and deliverance. That was tomorrow’s victory over sin and death today. And that breakthrough still applies to all who believe Jesus to do the ‘greater works’ through them.
Wimber applied Ladd’s Kingdom theology in a practical way for all Christians who wanted to live out the Spirit of the Gospels and Acts. He united us in the biblically sound, yet always risky business of stepping out in faith to do what Jesus would have done. John’s approach was lowkey (turn down the drama), matter-of-fact, and invited us onto the water, over and over.
Wimber’s streamlined application of the Kingdom centered on the Spirit as the only One who has the corner on spiritual gifts. That took miracles out of the hands of a chosen few and into the spirit of all who follow His lead. Wimber helps the Church integrate the work of the Spirit in a humane, Heaven-on-earth way.
“Thank You God for Your Spirit. Forgive us for misusing and neglecting the third member of the Trinity. May we welcome the Spirit’s invitation to do what Jesus wants to do through us. Awaken us through Wimber’s gift to the Church.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others to do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”