Pentecostal Pioneer Passes On

Dr. Peter Wagner passed away Friday October 21, 2016. Wagner along with John Wimber, Jack Deere, and Donald McGavran, dramatically altered evangelical Christianity during the second half of the 20th century with their church growth teaching model. Along with John Wimber, Wagner was instrumental in teaching the “signs and wonders” courses at Fuller Theological Seminary, which gave impetus to the heretical Vineyard movement. Wagner later championed “the New Apostolic Reformation”—A Pentecostal/Charismatic movement involving the restoration of the offices of apostle and prophet.  Wagner claimed, “The Great Commission has been central to my life … My heart's desire was to help fulfill Jesus' mandate to 'make disciples of all nations.' However, the time came when I had to make a radical shift in the way I interpreted those words of Jesus. Formerly, I thought my task was to go to as many nations of the world as possible and save as many souls as possible and plant as many churches as possible. Now I take the Great Commission more literally when it tell us not to make as many individual disciples as we can but to disciple whole social groups—such as entire nations. This is kingdom theology” (Charisma News, “Apostolic Pioneer C. Peter Wagner Goes on to Glory,” 10-21-16).

The doctrinal and practical confusion, controversy, and catastrophes caused by charismatic leaders like Wagner, Deere, and Wimber has been incalculable. Their false teaching has harmed the cause of Christ and has brought shame and reproach to Christ's church. They have caused divisions and controversies in every place they have been encountered by strong, solid, Bible-believing people. We take no pleasure when such people pass off the scene, but we must not ignore the devastating harm and confusion such leaders have caused for the church. —Gary Freel