As I’ve been on the topic recently on the different models of healing, I’d like to share some insight on Vineyard’s vs. John G. Lake’s healing model by Bruce Latshaw. I got to know Bruce through his website when searching more on John G. Lake. Bruce is the senior pastor of Vineyard Christian Fellowship at the Barn and the founder of two healing rooms. He also conducts a seminar on The Healing Secrets of John G. Lake.
Many people (including myself) have learned a great deal on healing from Curry Blake, the prophesied successor of John G. Lake and General Overseer of the John G. Lake Ministries. Bruce Latshaw seems to be another person who has studied John G. Lake’s writings, life and healing ministry extensively and so I thought I could definitely learn much from him about healing in general and the healing beliefs and practices of John G. Lake in particular. I’m a big believer in learning from as many people and as many views and traditions as possible, believing that most/all traditions and perspectives have something to teach us. Of course, ultimately we go back to the Word of God. Even as I’m currently formulating my own beliefs and practices regarding healing, people like Curry Blake, Joseph Prince, Andrew Wommack, Bill Johnson, Roger Sapp and Mike Endicott have greatly influenced me. Bruce Latshaw intrigued me not only because he’s studied John G Lake and healing extensively, but also because he’s a Vineyard pastor and familiar with the Vineyard perspective on healing. This is interesting to me because I have a great respect for the Vineyard church association and John Wimber and his vision of every Christian (not just great men of God) being able to “do the stuff”. After all, Wimber and Vineyard have had a huge impact (and I think a pretty positive one) on Charismatic Christianity. Having said that, I’ve also been moving away from the Vineyard’s view on healing as I know it the past 6 months.
I’ve got permission to quote the email exchanges I’ve had with Bruce and so below will be quotes from Bruce interspersed with my questions and some of my comments too.
Our email conversation took off when I responded to his statement that he’s “not sure the teachings of Lake are entirely kosher with Vineyard’s theology of healing but they are almost identical to Wimber’s in Power Healing” by asking him to elaborate on how he thought Vineyard and Lake’s view on healing differed. I like comparing different models because it gives us clarity on what’s at stake and the different perspectives available and all this aids us in formulating our own view. Also, I had already been observing a difference between Vineyard’s model and the model I’ve been learning from Curry and some others so I was interested to hear his perspective. He responded:
My comparison/contrast of Wimber to Lake regarding the current Vineyard view of healing is very preliminary. Wimber himself, at least in statements from his book Power Healing, seems very close to Lake’s. However, in the practice of healing, it does appear to me that Wimber (and Vineyard healing practitioners currently) depended (and depend) primarily on the operation of the Spirit’s gifts of healings to minister healing.
I think something very fundamental we need to understand in our healing ministry is exactly where we go to in Scriptures for the biblical promise to heal. Curry talks about various ways of healing – e.g. our Commission given by Jesus (e.g. Mark 16:18), Holy Communion (1 Cor. 11), gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12-14) and getting the elders to pray (James 5:16). In the above, Bruce seems to be saying that the primary Scripture Vineyard people go to is that on the gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12-14). This seems to line up with some Vineyard and other documents in the past.
In a The Briefing article written in 1990, it was written of John Wimber and his view on healing:
Given the very low percentage of healings, we asked John Wimber if he considered that his healings were like Jesus’ or the Apostles’. He quickly and rightly saw that they were quite radically different. We asked about the claims of his books and his previous teaching that the powerlessness of evangelicals lay in their failure to pray for and claim the Signs and Wonders of the Kingdom, seen in Jesus and the Apostles. He replied that thanks to the advice of Jack Deere, he had come to understand that the current miracles fit into the New Testament not at the point of Jesus and the Apostles and the coming of the Kingdom, but in 1 Corinthians 12-14 and the gifts of healing.
Jack Deere wrote a Vineyard response to the above article, mentioning:
Wimber was trying to explain to the men that he himself did not claim to move in the power of Jesus and the apostles, and that he now recognizes that there is a difference between the ministry of the apostles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given to the whole church. The apostles and a few others walked in an extraordinary realm of power in the Holy Spirit. The quantity, quality, and consistency of miracles in their ministries, according to the New Testament picture, is on a different level than the giftings given to the whole church in the first century. John was trying to explain that he no longer was teaching that the whole church could move in the same quality of miraculous ministry that Jesus and the apostles moved in. However, the whole church could move in the gifts of the Spirit. If the church were to do that, much of the powerlessness and deadness in the church would be remedied. This change of mind, therefore, was not about the cause of the powerlessness of the church today, but rather about the precise way in which that powerlessness is to be remedied.
In the above, it’s clearly seen that Wimber changed his mind after talking to Jack Deere (a theologian). Rather than going to say the Commission passages by Jesus (e.g. Mark 16), he now (or then) went to the 1 Corinthians 12-14 passages on the gifts of the Spirit. It’s interesting that it seems that one of the reasons for his change of mind is because the quantity, quality and consistency of miracles and healings he sees doesn’t seem to be up to the level of the Apostles – and supposedly this lower level of miracles seems to fit in well instead with the spiritual gifts passages. I think this is extremely significant. I don’t know if this belief is still held by Vineyard today, but I think it really matters where you go to in Scriptures to find your belief in healing for today.
I would disagree with Wimber here. I don’t want to allow my experience to inform my interpretation on Scripture. If we don’t see much consistency in the miraculous today as compared to the Apostles’ ministry, the solution isn’t to justify that by going instead to the spiritual gifts passages (which he sees as justifying the lower quantity and quality of miracles). A consequence of going solely to the spiritual gifts passages (and saying the Commission in a sense doesn’t apply to us anymore) is that you’ll lower your expectation and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Is our miracle healing ministry at the same level of Jesus or the Apostles? No, definitely not. But this just pushes me to want to see that Scripture becomes a reality here and now. It makes me want to see our experiences live up to that of Scripture, rather than causing me to allow our experiences to inform our interpretation of Scripture.
…This is evidenced by the five-step prayer model’s emphasis on “seeing what the Father is doing” and waiting on God for specific leading from the Spirit before one diagnoses or administers healing. During the healing process the Spirit’s other gifts of words of knowledge and discerning of spirits are often utilized as well. Ex-Vineyard pastor Randy Clark’s healing methodology emerged from Wimber’s perspective and depends a great deal on the Spirit’s gifts, specifically words of knowledge.
This is in stark contrast to Lake’s assertion that the healing he moved in and trained others to move in was NOT dependent on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The healing he ministered, he maintained, was based on two “elements”: faith in God’s word, and the power of God released through the healing minister via his/her saturation in the Holy Spirit. (For Lake, fluctuations in healing result were caused by differences in the measures of faith and power released by healing minister(s) in a healing event. For Vineyard, why some people are healed and some are not is explained by absence of the fullness of the coming kingdom of God, not deficiencies in humanly mediated faith and power.) As Wimber and Vineyard healing ministers prayed (and pray) for the sick, they pray and watch what the Spirit is doing as if the Spirit is wholly independent of them – that they are there only to invite the Spirit to come and act apart from the healing minister. Personally I do not think this is what happens when healing occurs in a Vineyard context, but the language used and understandings advanced produce this perspective, in my judgment.
Lake, on the other hand, saw healing virtue flowing directly from the Holy Spirit located in the spirit of the believer, released through the operation of faith in his/her soul, and often using his/her body as a kind of conduit of spiritual power. (Lake’s favorite mode of healing was laying on of hands because he saw his hands as “contact points” between heaven’s “lightning” distributed through his spirit out into the being of the one needing healing.) Rather than occurring apart from him, healing came through the believer, whose spiritual condition and capacity to contain and release the Holy Spirit were vitally important to healings and miracles.
I think one could legitimately summarize Wimber’s perspective as “healing by the spiritual gifts of healing” while Lake’s is “healing by faith in and obedience to the word.” To me both are effective forms of healing that God uses. I move in both as directed by what I sense to be the leading of the Spirit in specific situations. I see the two complementing each other wholistically, two parts of one complete healing ministry.
Also, in seeming reaction to the abuses of the “faith/prosperity” teachers (of which there have been many), Vineyard healing ministers can discount the place of biblical faith in the healing process. I believe in some cases faith for healing is not even considered necessary for the Christian to pray for the sick since the believer’s job is just to invite the Spirit to come and do the healing by Himself. By contrast, Lake was very insistent that faith is, biblically, deeply connected with healing. However, unlike some healers mistakenly taught in his day and still teach today, Lake never required the sick to have faith. (If they did, all the better, and he did want them to develop faith for healing as much as possible). But Lake did require his healing ministers to have faith if they expected to be successful in the healing ministry. In the same way Jesus located the reason his disciples could not bring healing in some cases as their “smallness” of faith. The Greek indicates not that they had no faith but that they had insufficient faith. Could this mean that faith is spiritually quantifiable? That more of it exists in some Christians than in others? And that insufficiency of faith may be at least one real cause of the sick not getting healed?
The modern church does not like to hear this. We prefer to believe that we basically don’t have much at all to do with what God does or does not do on earth because we don’t enjoy being accountably on the hook for anything. Personally I feel this is primarily the result of hyper-Calvinistic theology that over-emphasizes the sovereignty of God while ignoring the co-partnering of God with man–and man’s place of responsibility in that partnership. Vineyard itself, it seems to me, is predominately Calvinistic, not Arminian, in its understanding of the Bible. So the movement suffers, in my view, from passivity stemming from its theological foundations. This has bled over into its theology of healing as well.
The irony is, of course, that when it came to “doin’ the stuff,” Wimber was amazingly activist. There was not a passive bone in his body when it came to healing the sick. He showed incredible perseverance, bold action, and deep, radical faith in the truth of God’s word concerning sick all who are sick. I believe that he exemplified quite well the understanding Lake promoted concerning healing. But the prevailing view of Lake I receive from today’s Vineyard ministers is something like, “He was an early Pentecostal, right? We don’t buy that Pentecostal faith and prosperity stuff and all the hype that goes with it.”
One thing I got from the above is that while it’s good to be led by the Spirit, sometimes that can actually justify us shrugging off our responsibility to have faith (and power) for the healing. By all means be led by the Spirit and operate in the gifts of the Spirit, but the more foundational way to get healing done ought to be by faith (and power), which I elaborated more in my previous post Why you should eat your Curry (Blake) before paying the Bill (Johnson). Related to this is the issue of whether the Spirit operates wholly independently of us (Vineyard’s model) or in a way more dependent on us – i.e. our spiritual condition and faith (Lake’s model). I tend to favor the latter model which I think generally results in a more active faith.
While there may be a negative tendency for those who focus on the role of faith for healing to blame the sick for not having enough faith when they are not healed, this doesn’t mean we avoid speaking of the role of faith for healing. Perhaps this abusive tendency and the primary focus on the Spirit (rather than our faith/authority) to heal has led Vineyard to be a bit more passive and downplay the role of faith in healing. However, emphasizing the active role of faith in healing doesn’t mean we blame the sick if they are not healed for like Curry, Bruce states that Lake would never want to blame the sick for a lack of faith – he’d want to see the person praying to have faith for the sick. A focus on the responsibility to have faith for healing is thus not at odds with a compassionate ministry if we take it upon ourselves to have faith for the sick and never blame the sick person’s faith for not getting healed.
I’ve been reflecting on the hypothesis that there are two ways to get people healed:
- By faith/authority and this comes through renewing our minds with the Word of God. This is something that people like Curry (and Wommack, Sapp, Endicott and the Word of Faith movement generally) seem to emphasize a lot on.
- By the power of the Holy Spirit flowing out from us into the sick body we’re praying for – one may want to call this the anointing or presence of God or whatever. This seems to come through spending time with God and being intimate with Him. This way is something that people like Bill Johnson seem to emphasize a lot on.
So I asked him to comment on my thoughts above and he wrote:
Concerning the combining of the faith and power dimensions in healing, Lake actually taught that faith and power (Holy Spirit power of course) were the two vital “elements” in the healing dynamic. This is why I trust Lake’s writings. I believe that he ministered out from a balanced approach to healing even though he is lumped, unfairly, into the early Pentecostal “faith teachers” like Bosworth and Kenyon.
He seems to be saying that Lake is balanced in seeing both faith and power as vital elements and we shouldn’t separate them and minister by just one of the elements as some may do – I think he’s implying Bosworth and Kenyon (and perhaps also the faith teachers nowadays) focus solely on faith.
I also asked him how we can increase our faith. His response:
I believe we increase our measure of faith by abiding much in the Word, particularly in those passages related to healing – meditating on them, asking the Spirit to reveal truths to us concerning them, and by practicing over and over what we become convinced of. Also I think our faith is increased as we place ourselves into spiritual “atmospheres” of healing, where the faith of a person or a group is strong toward healing and we then witness manifestations of healings, which build our faith. These generally happen in a conference or seminar context, though some churches, like Bethel or some Vineyard churches when Wimber was alive, are steeped in an atmosphere of expectant faith for healing.
What I got from the above: the importance of meditating on passages related to healing (what Roger Sapp does in his good book on healing, Performing Miracles and Healing which can be purchased at his website All Nations Ministries, and what he did for 1-2 years for hours daily before he really flowed in healing). Also, what Bruce talks about above regarding immersing oneself in spiritual “atmospheres” of healing is I think the more corporate version of what occurs when one is mentored by a man of faith and then letting the faith and everything rub off him onto you as you associate yourself with him. One can grow in faith through constantly being in such corporate spiritual atmospheres or through also going alongside a mentor and learning from him and catching his faith and spirit through association.
How about the way we can increase in power, which according to Lake is tangible? Bruce replied:
Lake taught that the Christian could increase the measure of Holy Spirit power in his/her own spirit by 1) cultivating intimacy with God – speaking to and listening to Him – through prayer, and 2) declaring the truth the Word over his/her life – what we would call now “confessing” or affirming the truth of our identity in Christ. Lake also said, “Praying in tongues has been the making of my ministry.” So praying much in tongues was a key for him too. To me personally, prayer is the key to power. Of course there are many biblical kinds of prayer, all of which are edifying. I find that for me prayer that is vocal, declarative, and authoritative is the kind that best builds up and releases God power through my spirit.