UBC Community, Partners, and Alumni Publications

Neo-Charismatic Movement : Third Wave Charismatic Movement Womack, Nathan


Pentecostal and Charismatic practices of speaking in tongues through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit had become accepted within many mainline Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church by the 1960s and 1970s. However, many evangelical traditions and churches continued to resist charismatic renewal practices and theologies during the rise of the Second Wave Charismatic Renewal Movement. Charismatics were viewed with suspicion and their practices were critiqued and mocked within evangelical circles. Yet, evangelicalism was not immune to change during the 1960s and 1970s. The hippie-led Jesus People Movement took hold in the United States during this time. Young barefoot preachers would encourage their peers to turn away from drugs, accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and join a new type of church that emphasized a come-as-you-are vibe with casual dress and provided rock and roll as part of their worship liturgy. In addition, many of the new hippie converts were interested in Charismatic practices of healing and witnessing through signs and wonders. The Jesus People Movement led to the formation of new independent evangelical churches that identified as nondenominational and some of these churches embraced Charismatic theology and practices. One of the church movements that emerged in the late 1970s was the Vineyard Church in Southern California. The Vineyard was a collection of churches that broke away from Calvary Chapel due to the Vineyard’s desire to emphasize Charismatic practices and theology. On Mother’s Day in 1980, Pastor John Wimber of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Orange County, CA and invited a former Calvary Chapel pastor and the face of the Jesus People Movement, Lonnie Frisbee, to preach. Frisbee’s message on healing and the subsequent ministry of healing that took place that morning launched the start of the Vineyard Movement and subsequent Neo-Charismatic movement. This new Neo-Charismatic movement blended evangelical theology with charismatic practices of healing, supernatural prayer languages, and an emphasis on miraculous signs and wonders as a component of evangelism. John Wimber began to teach at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA and was influenced by C. Peter Wagner’s research on church growth as well as George Ladd’s Kingdom of God theology. Wimber was able to influence numerous people to start their own independent charismatic churches and ministries as a faculty member and through his conferences that he hosted where he taught on how to minister using supernatural signs and wonder. Wimber developed the concept of “power evangelism” where adherents evangelized using signs and wonders rather than Bible tracts that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1990s, new independent churches and movements that were evangelical and charismatic were rapidly emerging throughout North America. These included the Toronto Blessing Movement began in 1994 at the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church. Bethel Church in Redding, CA installed Pastor Bill Johnson as their senior pastor in 1996. The International House of Prayer Kansas City was founded in 1999. These Neo- Charismatic churches and others have become popular and controversial for their encouragement of the miraculous, their non-formal style of liturgy, and theological stances on healing, anointing, and supernatural power. C. Peter Wagner coined the term “Third Wave” charismatic movement to describe these new churches and ministries. Their emphasis on power evangelism, charismatic forms of worship, healing, prayer languages, operating in signs and wonders, and their emphasis on anointing leaders as apostles and prophets made them distinct from traditional Pentecostal churches and Charismatic Renewalists within mainline traditions.

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