Wednesday, December 29, 2004

People! Primary Sources, Please!

A recent conversation between Wendy & a neighbour on our street:
The neighbour begins, "Oh, you've been involved in the Vineyard, eh? Wow, there are some serious problems with the Vineyard. I can't believe you'd get taken in by them." She goes on to recount the various false teachings and abberant practices of the Vineyard that disturb her.

Wendy, my beautiful and sagacious spouse, responds, "Holy dis-information, Batman! Where did you get such twisted opinions? The Vineyard doesn't teach or practice any of those things."

Wendy suddenly finds herself on the receiving end of a look that is simultaneously pitying, condescending, and suspicious. "Wendy, you're just so wrong. I read all about the problems with the Vineyard on the Internet..."
On the Internet? You actually believe whatever you read on the Internet?!?

Hello, Gullible's Travels...

It reminds me of something I read in Bill Jackson's "Quest for the Radical Middle: A History of the Vineyard":
"In August of 1986, Christianity Today appeared with a weird caricature of Wimber on the cover and a lead article by Tim Stafford entitled 'Testing the Wine from John Wimber's Vineyard'." (page 152)
I've realized, after all these years, that many of the people who have problems with the Vineyard are reacting to a caricature of the Vineyard, not the Vineyard as it really is. Some authors (like John MacArthur) have written books that claim the Vineyard had no doctrinal statement, which is a lie. But nobody realizes it because, like good cessationist lemmings, they never read anything written by the Vineyard, they only read attacks on the Vineyard from "trusted" leaders (meaning leaders who already agree with them).

My history teacher in high school almost pulled his hair out at times over some of the unfounded opinions which students would offer as "fact". He was ranting before ranting became a spectator event online:
"Primary sources, people! Primary sources!" he would insist, obviously spiking his blood pressure to dangerous levels in his passion. "Don't read what others say about history, read what those who were there wrote!"
I could echo the same thing to critics of the Vineyard, like our neighbour: "Primary sources, people! Primary sources! Read Power Evangelism by John Wimber or Quest for the Radical Middle by Bill Jackson. If you have a problem with what they've written, then let's talk about that. Don't believe everything you read on the 'Net!"

I don't mind if people don't agree or aren't comfortable with everything in the Vineyard, but please, let's get our facts straight, okay?

Okay, Robby, you can relax now. Breathe, breathe...

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