Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 146:584 (Oct 1989)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Signs and Wonders and Evangelicals. Edited by Robert Doyle. Hornebush West, N.S.W., Australia: Lancer Books, 1987. 130 pp. Paper, $6.50.

This careful, well-reasoned evangelical response to the Signs and Wonders movement is the product of four members of the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion in Sydney, Australia. John Woodhouse is chairman of Old Testament, and Robert Doyle is lecturer in church history and systematic theology, both at Moore Theological College. Paul Barnett is lecturer in New Testament at Macquarie University, and John Reid is bishop of South Sydney.

The book, designed to reply to John Wimber’s writings and visits to Australia, is divided into three sections and a conclusion. Part I relates Wimber’s thinking to evangelical ministry. Part II examines the role of the miraculous in Pauline theology. Part III provides a historical perspective on the Signs and Wonders movement.

One of the most important insights in the work concerns the technical usage of “signs and wonders” in Scripture. In the Old Testament “the signs and wonders that matter for faith in God are not contemporary miracles but the signs and wonders that accomplished the historical act of redemption” (p. 22, italics theirs). Similarly in the New Testament, “the desire for further signs and wonders” is interpreted as “sinful and unbelieving” (p. 23). Another important distinction regards the proper object of saving faith, which cannot be found “in any contemporary miracle, no matter how marvelous, but only in the death of Christ on the cross” (p. 26).

The concept of power evangelism is weighed in the balances and found wanting. The real power in power evangelism is the gospel itself. But in Wimber’s view “the finished work of Christ proclaimed in the gospel message is not sufficient for the best evangelism” or “for fully confident Christian faith” (pp. 42-43, italics theirs). The notion of power evangelism, according to the authors, is rooted in the contemporary preoccupation with power, whether military, political, economic, or technological. Thus in his very

critique of the secularization of the West, Wimber himself is attracted to a secular view of power.

The basis for power evangelism comes from Wimber’s belief “that the apostolic period was the norm for Christian experience” (p. 34). In contrast, the authors of the text assert that the signs and wonders of the New Testament authenticated the apostles in their unique foundational role, implying that signs and wonders, being historically conditioned, have passed away. Interestingly these four Anglicans are writing ...

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