The secular world is seeking not only political and military power but spiritual or psychic power. Sadly, the same could be said of much of the evangelical church. John Wimber’s book Power Evangelism set the tone for a movement that is sweeping the world called the “Third Wave.” A new vocabulary was invented for what has more recently come to be known as “the post-denominational church.”
In his new book Confronting the Powers, Fuller Theological Seminary professor C. Peter Wagner seeks to explain and justify this movement. Wagner calls Wimber “my mentor.” He introduces terms that were unknown only a few years ago: territorial spirits, spiritual mapping, Spiritual Warfare Network, A.D. 2000 Movement, ground-level spiritual warfare, praise marches, prayer walking, prayer journeys, praying through windows, etc. Wagner says that these new concepts and practices (of which Jesus, Paul, and the early church said nothing) hold the key to spiritual breakthrough and worldwide revival. We will examine that claim.
Similarly, and in agreement with Wagner and Wimber, Christian TV and radio and bestselling books persuasively argue that we are in the midst of the greatest revival of Christianity in the history of the world. This revival is characterized, once again, by power: power to prophesy, to speak in tongues, to heal the sick, to confront evil spirits, and even to raise the dead. At least that is what we are being told. And there is plenty of apparent evidence of “revival” spreading rapidly throughout the world from such places as the former Toronto Vineyard, the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida, Benny Hinn’s church in Orland, Florida, and his huge televised crusades. We will carefully examine this evidence as well.
As we will see in more detail later, power is the key word involved with the generic “spirituality” in both secular and religious contexts. Nicky Gumbel, the curate of Holy Spirit Brompton Anglican Church in England, was swept into this new “move of the Spirit” by John Wimber. Gumbel testifies that he felt “something like 10,000 volts” of electricity going through his body when Wimber prayed for him. Prayed for what? Prayed for power. Said Gumbel approvingly on a teaching tape later:
“The American [Wimber]…just said, “More power….” It was the only thing he ever prayed. I can’t remember him ever praying anything else….”