Saturday, August 15, 2009

Worth It All

I finished reading Bill Jackson's book "The Quest for the Radical Middle," and soon it will be going back to that library down in Alabama where it was borrowed from. Jackson's book was very interesting. It's one of those books that really should come out in a second edition, since it would be improved with expansion and revision. But I'm not going to write out a review of the book other than picking out what to me represents its signal quotation from the final chapter:
In regard to pneumatology, there are only two choices for an evangelical when reading the Gospels: affirm the "teaching Jesus" but relegate the "power Jesus" to an anomaly of history, or affirm all of Jesus and take literally his commission for his disciples to heal the sick and cast out demons. The former seems to bifurcate Jesus and violate the plain meaning of the text while the latter violates our Western presuppositions. For John Wimber it was a simple choice of who he wanted to offend, God or men. He decided early on that God had called him to become a fool for Christ, and his acceptance of being a spectacle has unveiled a Trinitarian God for many.
I was astonished at what John and Carol went through, especially since I was also reading Carol's memoir at the same time. But I suspect that John would tell me now that it was worth it all.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Mother's Day in Yorba Linda

Besides Bill Jackson's book "The Quest for the Radical Middle," I am also reading Carol Wimber's memoir about her husband John Wimber. It's entitled "The Way It was." Like the Jackson book, I had to obtain it through an interlibrary loan, only this time Carol's book had to come all the way from the Wheaton College library in Illinois. Carol's writing style is simple and direct and conversational. I found it to be very emotionally touching and insightful.

Now everybody has heard of the famous "Mother's Day" service of May 11th in 1980,¹ when Lonnie Frisbee was allowed to speak at John Wimber's church in Yorba Linda, which at the time was still affiliated with Calvary Chapel. But Carol's memoir also adds some other details about the matter, such as recollection that Frisbee had off and on been present at their services for about 2 years prior, ever since they met him at a CC pastors' retreat. Carol also adds this interesting remark:
You know, for the sake of simplicity, it would be easier to say that the power came with Lonnie, but the truth is that the power of the Holy Spirit was breaking out in all the groups, even before Lonnie came to the church. Certainly not on such a widespread scale, though. I think that it was just that he knew what to do when the Spirit was there and most of us didn't. After I met him a few years before at the pastors' retreat, I had gone down to the beach area near Calvary Chapel, just to go to a Bible study he was teaching, but there was no particular presence of God. He ministered in a vague sort of way to a few people, but nothing much was happening then. In reality, he walked into a move of God here in Yorba Linda and had the faith or moxie or know-how to move with it. He could "see" the Spirit on people, but he didn't bring the Holy Spirit with him. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?
I am quoting from Chapter 5 of her memoir. This would be on page 149 of the Hodder & Stoughton paperback, published in the U.K. in 1999 (ISBN 0340735392).


¹ As an indication of how confused the Internet can get, there are odd disagreements about the year this event occurred. Wikipedia has the year as 1988, which is clearly wrong. Other places on the Internet, such as YouTube, have the year as 1980. I don't have Bill Jackson's book in front me, but upon checking the notes I took, Jackson puts the year as 1980 as well. However, at Wheaton College, The Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals has an article about John Wimber which puts the year of the Mother's Day service as 1978. In any case, some people who were there tell me that the correct year was 1980.

[Update, 2017 Jan 05] The second book of Lonnie Frisbee's autobiography definitely sets the date as the evening of May 11th, 1980. Please see this book review for more information.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Radical Middle

Using an interlibrary loan, I obtained a copy of the book "The Quest for the Radical Middle" by Bill Jackson, which concerns the history of the Vineyard movement and John Wimber. My local library had to send all the way to Alabama to find this book.

Recently I became aware of Jackson's book, published back in 1999, and I very much wanted to read it, especially to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge regarding the movements that started in the 1970s. So far I have found Jackson's "Quest" to be very engrossing, one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time.

This particular copy of the book has a sticker pasted inside the front cover saying "in loving memory of Stefanie R. Sharpe (3-13-77 - 11-8-98) by her brother Bryant Sharpe." It's sad to me that Bryant's sister Stefanie died at the young age of 21. There must be a story behind this sticker. Maybe some day I'll find out what it is. Futhermore, for various reasons which I won't elaborate upon, it so happens by a peculiar coincidence that the well-known author Frank Viola had also read this very same copy of Jackson's book.