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Power praying: an evaluation of prayer ministry in the teaching of John Wimber and the Vineyard movement

Neve, E. Mary (2012)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

Prayer ministry evolved from John Wimber’s five-step model for healing prayer. The one-to-one encounter practised in ministry time was the third part of the threefold structure in a Wimber Vineyard event.

Wimber’s personal history included conversion in his late twenties, church leadership, and knowledge of church growth. He drew on colleagues to build a theology of worldviews, the kingdom of God, phenomena and experiences, and the supernatural. This thesis argues that using his undoubted charisma he profoundly influenced Wimber Vineyard communities, who take every opportunity to engage in prayer ministry. Wimber, often using his characteristic rhetoric taught that observable signs, phenomena and manifestations occurring during prayer ministry could be understood by the participants to signify the presence, activity and power of God.

Combining the research methods of participant observer and discourse analysis, I argue that Wimber’s charismatic leadership style obscured the strong possibility that the power of God and the Holy Spirit, can become indistinguishable from human power. The analysis reveals that Wimber could be uncertain about conveying this model to all, and that he could seem to own personally the ability to heal. Drawing on insights from professional counselling, this research proposes that a greater awareness of the significant difference between prayer ministry (Gods power) and power praying (human power) should be recognised and acknowledged by current Vineyard leaders and an appropriate response made.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Wilson, Kenneth and Slee, Nicola Mary and Hood, Adam and Hammersley, Peter
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion
Subjects:BL Religion
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:3725
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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