Friday, August 15, 2008

The Fall of Todd Bentley



The word is quickly spreading about the recent uproar in Lakeland, Florida, involving the controversial charismatic revival preacher/healer Todd Bentley. According to published reports, Bentley recently announced that he and his wife were separating, bringing his public ministry to a crashing halt.

At his "Desiring God" blog, John Piper has some prescient comments about this whole situation, as I would expect. But what are the charismatics saying about it?

In this blog column, Charisma Magazine editor Lee Grady shares his thoughts. Grady took a lot of heat a few months ago when he raised some questions about this "revival." Far from gloating, Grady is issuing a call for his fellow Pentecostals and charismatics to wise up.

I think "wising up" would be a good thing for ALL Christians to do in this day and age. Non-charismatics aren't immune from deception either.

11 comments:

crownring said...

Sadly, this does not surprise me at all, Sola. I have said for years that the Gift of the Spirit most needed and yet most neglected is the gift of discernment, which is sorely lacking throughout the American church.

As for Bentley and his wife, this is the first time I've heard of them. Even so, I believe Grady is showing Godly wisdom and compassion in asking for prayer for the couple and all those associated with Bentley's ministry.

Lorikate said...

I think for non-charismatics, the biggest deception (right now) is the feeling that we have a right to delight in Todd's failings. I don't agree with what he's done, but I don't sit around wishing harm on him either. But what I can see is the obvious evidence that this "outpouring" is not of God. (And not just because of Todd's separation.)I think the most we can do is pray that God will work a real miracle now, and restore Todd's marriage.

lee n. field said...

Todd Bentley's 15 minutes of fame are (mercifully) just about up.

Somebody, I think it was Chris Roseborogh, pointed out that, post Lakeland, we may have another "burned over district" with people inoculated against sound preaching of the gospel.

"I think "wising up" would be a good thing for ALL Christians to do in this day and age. Non-charismatics aren't immune from deception either. "

Indeed. I can't remember when the last time I heard anything terribly deep from the pulpit was.

Solameanie said...

Lorikate,

For the record, I take no pleasure in any of this. I think there is, however, a tendancy within some fringes of the charismatic movement to circle the wagons when one of their own gets in trouble rather than dealing directly with bad theology or moral failure. Can non-charismatics be guilty of the same? Sure they can.

I think there is a general low level of discernment in the church today.

crownring said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
crownring said...

"I think there is a general low level of discernment in the church today."

Low, Sola? How about non-existent? With the divorce rate in the church at the same level as that of secular society? With pastors being defrocked for having affairs with minors? With scam artists ripping off fellow church members? With pastors' wives carrying on hate campaigns against their husband's former co-workers years after the fact? And that's just for starters! It's only through God's mercy that more sheep haven't been taken by the wolves in our midst!

MadTownGuy said...

Here are some points to ponder regarding the Lakeland stuff and reformed charismatics’ reactions to it. I was initially going to post this on the TeamPyro blog but Centuri0n had to shut down comments on this topic before I could get there. So here goes.

1. J. Lee Grady and Stephen Strang are both card-carrying members of C. Peter Wagner’s International Coalition of Apostles. You can see their names in the ICA directory. My best guess is that initially, they supported the Bentley/Lakeland thing, as Wagner and his ilk clearly did.

2. Grady started out by supporting Bentley but gradually backed away, as is shown by the progression of titles in his editorials:
- “A Holy Ghost Outbreak In Florida"
- “Honest Questions About the Lakeland Revival”
- “Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion”

3. Some reformed charismatics, notably C.J. Mahaney, have given tacit support to the Third Wave movement which if you follow the link, you’ll see was essentially invented by Wagner. While I credit Piper for taking a stand against it now, I think the overall reactive stance (rather than a proactive one) has the potential to allow this insidious movement to hijack otherwise sound churches as it almost did ours. Read the official statement at the Sovereign Grace Ministries site here. In particular, this excerpt from the addendum to their Statement of Faith says, “So, while the Sovereign Grace team has not shifted from its view of the work of the Spirit, it has decided to welcome those who hold a “third wave” view of the Spirit’s work—as long as certain fundamental values about the work of the Spirit are held in common. It is these common values that the modified statement expresses and emphasizes.” [I can’t see how the common values can be upheld so long as the Third Wavers continue to promote the kinds of nonsense that have accompanied pretty much all their efforts at ‘revival.’]

Shouldn't we all be a bit more concerned? I don't think the nonsense will end any time soon. If it's not Bentley it will be some other "anointed" guy...

Solameanie said...

MTG,

I've always been very uncomfortable with Wagner and his apostolic movement. There is indeed a sense of the apostolic today if you restrict it purely to the meaning of the word, which is "messenger." However, to say that a modern day "apostle" has the same power and authority as the original 12 plus Paul, no way. Are we going to allow modern day apostles to begin writing new Scripture?

I think not.

MadTownGuy said...

It gets worse, though, because the "apostolic teams" are making a concerted and coordinated effort to infiltrate and hijack churches. That's why I cringe when I see solidly reformed Christian organizations (like Sovereign Grace) giving place to them.

Here's a revealing comment from one of the pro-lakeland posters on the Charisma blog:

"You don't care about what happened at Lakeland? You should. and every followers of Jesus should care about happened at Lakeland. More importantly you all should care about has happened because of Lakeland. The cover has been ripped off of lazy Sunday and Wednesday Churchianity. The religious spirit choking the Bride of Christ to death here has been fianlly exposed. Todd, an Elijah, John the Baptist style Evangelist shows up and the Religious Spirit throws up! It throws up every pharisaical defense that has ever been seen and a few new types too. All the phonies like Andrew Strom and the mediamites Grady and Strang try digging a grave for a man not dead, not yet even accused, tried or convincted. Did none of you see the classes which equipped over 10,000 fired up evangelists who went into the strreets and did the stuff, did you not witness any of the thousnad of healings and salvations, were you there on the 18th when 3 thousand or so were baptized and set free, did you not see thousands commissioned for the Kingdom work that G-d has called the to. did you not hear any of the testimonies of hundreds and thousand whose lives were impacted by THIS Summer Of Love.

"You Vulture and Jackals just back off - when this baby grows up, and it will, it will break your back!"


Sound extreme? We had similar comments from a few self-appointed 'prophets' who were promoting the NAR nonsense at our church. We were accused of having a 'religious spirit,' a 'Jezebel spirit' and there was some hint that perhaps our building was possessed by Dagon(!).

They don't brook dissent, and they are bent on achieving dominion (not incidentally, the title of Wagner's newest book) over the church, the culture and the creation. Way scary.

Solameanie said...

Thus far, I think the apostolic movement is largely within charismatic and Pentecostal fellowships. I haven't heard of it breaking out in many non-charismatic/evangelical churches.

I have some hopes that at least the mainstream Pentecostals will resist. The Assemblies of God rejected William Branham and the Latter Rain movement as heresy in the 1940s. What their stand is on the current controversy, I am not certain.

MadTownGuy said...

The Assemblies of God have written some cogent position papers on various controversies. Their position on the issue at hand is here. However, it's also roundly ignored by the local AG churches as many of their pastors were sending people from their congregations to "get some."