Eleanor Mumford reviews ‘Power Evangelism’ & ‘Power Healing’ by John Wimber.
When the two seminal books “Power Evangelism” and “Power Healing” were published in the mid-1980’s, Michael Harper wrote that he hoped they would ‘help to reassure the fearful and strengthen the faint-hearted . . . John Wimber is making a major contribution to the Body of Christ.”
Almost thirty years on and given the perspective we now have, it is probably fair to say that this was a hope realized. This pair of remarkable books should be firmly anchored on the bookshelves of any believer who, like Wimber, considers himself to be a conservative evangelical, treasuring the scriptures as his gold standard, but also one who also believes in and seeks to practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is difficult for us now to realise fully quite how ground-breaking was Wimber’s work and ministry as he sought to share with the wider church which he loved deeply, the remarkable things he and the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Anaheim were discovering anew. John was deeply compassionate and had a God-given love for the Body of Christ. There was never any antagonism towards those churches very different from his own and his heart was to share as widely as possible the excitement of the ‘Signs and Wonders’ he was seeing.
These books were one of the main ways in which this was achieved. Not only were they so important for what they taught, they were so engaging because of the personality behind them. John Wimber was incredibly bold in all that he did. He skated further out on the ice of believing and ministering in the power of the Spirit than most had before him, and thereby made it safe for others to follow. He inspired and called us on to risk what we had never dared to believe we could do but made it all seem so possible, so do-able. Many would say that he was able to deliver what was first promised by Martin Luther when he emphasized “the priesthood of all believers.” At last we were all called to play. But John was deeply humble too and honest. Some say his writing about the Kingdom in “Power Healing” and what happens when people aren’t healed was the best explanation ever offered. He never claimed to have all the answers; he acknowledged his own weaknesses and he didn’t exaggerate his successes. He was incredibly impressive and yet totally unintimidating.
John insisted that he owed an enormous debt to British evangelical writers such as Michael Green, Michael Harper and David Watson. But he used to say, with disarming honesty that he felt he was able not only to expound and explain but also to demonstrate the works of the Kingdom. We might go on to add that not only did he demonstrate he also taught others how to pray for the sick or minister to the demonized That was his genius and his ongoing gift to the church at large.
“Power Evangelism” and “Power Healing” are both wonderful books, so pleasing in their handling of the scriptures, encouraging in their challenge to believers to become players, constantly practical and pragmatic, but always presenting in such an engaging way the adventure of Kingdom living.