The Antics of Todd Bentley and Righteous Judgment

This was originally posted at my old blog, July 19, 2008, "We Need to Correct Our Bent:"

We just came back from vacation in Florida, visiting the kin folk. Overall, it was a wonderful visit. Some stories I began to hear, however, made me quite uneasy.

For instance, my ears perked up while visiting our home church when a gal began praising the Lakeland Revival -- to the approval of the pastor and congregation. I was told by others that several people from the church had gone to the visit the supposed outpouring. Having only recently heard of Todd Bentley, and the reports were unsavory from a biblical perspective, I looked for videos on our pal, YouTube. Here are some of the search results:

  1. Todd Bentley hears the "audible voice of God" and discovers he was demon possessed [EDIT: at a Charismatic Catholic mass!] after his profession of faith (video).
  2. Bentley announces the physical appearing of Jesus Christ in Lakeland, FL. He then equivocates quite a bit, suggesting the visitation may be spiritual and unseen (while still saying Jesus can appear from time to time physically!), but then announces the Lord will appear in His glory. Every time the Glory appears in the Bible, it is physically visible, thus making it seem that Bentley believes Christ will appear again (and may have already appeared) before the event called the Second Coming. The latter half of the video has Bentley calling down angels to do things the Bible does not attribute to the host of heaven (video [EDIT: since there's a copyright claim on that video, here's another video).
  3. Bentley describes some of the ways he has "healed" people (video):
    1. he banged a crippled woman's legs up and down like baseball bats,
    2. he kicked an elderly woman in the face (!),
    3. he chest thrusts people to the ground,
    4. the "ground and pound" technique,
    5. choking (while commanding a demon to come out),
    6. a running punch that resulted in a lost tooth (was the tooth healed later?)
    7. leg dropping a pastor (to bring revival - that pastor must have made God mad!)
  4. Bentley strikes a stage-four cancer patient in the gut to heal him and to drive out any demons that might be there. Hey, maybe that is the technique the disciples were trying in Mark 9:28-29, when Jesus said they should have been praying (video)!
  5. Todd beats a woman in the stomach until she throws up. He takes it to be evidence that he exorcised a "demon" of cancer (video [EDIT: video has been removed, which is probably for the best]).
  6. Finally, here is a Nightline report covering the revival. This line sums up the whole ministry for me: "not a single miracle claim of Bentley's could be verified" (Part 1: video) (Part 2: video)

We only look like Pharisees...
There are many videos covering the revival, but these are probably the most revealing. Based on these alone, it seems clear that the Lakeland Revival is a textbook example (the textbook being Scripture, of course) of false teachers and counterfeit spirits.

Now, Scripture has clear words for us:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.
-- Rm 16:17-19
What I find it odd is that certain Christians will focus on the phrase "watch for those who cause divisions" and apply it to the watchmen! Browse the comments left on the videos I embedded in this post for innumerable examples of Christians defending those who teach "contrary to the doctrine" of the disciples. Consider this comment:
God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the "wise". Feeling confounded about the man of God? God can do anything He wants. He doesnt need anyones approval, permission, or agreement. Dont forget that. Miracles and men of God who do them will never be the norm. They called
Jesus crazy too. Who did? THE RELIGOUS PEOPLE.
In this instance, (presumably) a Christian does not like the fact that another Christian is comparing Todd Bentley's means and message to the Bible. The latter Christian's methodology of seeking truth in God's revealed Word makes him the "wise" man God confounds. The commenter apparently had 1 Corinthians 1:27 in mind when writing this, even though that passage is about those who lean on the wisdom of the world and self rather than the Word of God to discern.

Further, we are told by this commenter that God can do "anything He wants" without our "approval, permission, or agreement." I wonder how consistent that person would be in other arenas (would God save a person who says, "No, I will not worship you?"). However, this is not a question of man's acquiescence, but a question of whether God restricts Himself in some way. There are plenty of things God cannot do -- such as lie or sin -- and there are things God will not do (such as flood the earth with water again).

The commenter must realize this and admit searching the Scripture to know more about how God operates is not tantamount to saying "God does not _________ because our greatest theologians says He does not."

Nor is it tantamount to Pharisaism. It is neither legalistic nor hypocritical to know what the Bible teaches and then say, "Something is off with what that man is doing." How else can we believe the Gospel, for instance, if we do not know what the Bible has to say about sin and salvation and how to avoid psuedo-Gospels (cf. Gal 1:6)?

What are the effects of not obeying Romans 16:17-19?
Some well-meaning Christians would, for the sake of Christian harmony and peace, discourage pointing out the errors in false teachers. They are placing the burden of harmony on the wrong people, however. In the contest of the passage, Paul is blaming the false teacher as being one who would "cause divisions." It is the Todd Bentley's of Christendom genuine believers should seek out and lovingly admonish.

I posted an interview on YouTube that I heard on the radio concerning Bentley's revival. It attracted an atheist who probably expresses the world's view of Christianity as a result of such sensationalism:
The classifications of people who are "faith healed" 1 ) those who were never sick in the first place 2 ) those who 'don't have enough faith' and are still sick 3 ) those who have already died of their illnesses. If there really was a deity, scams like this one would not exist.
And we want to allow revivals such as we have had in Lakeland, Toronto, and other places to continue for the sake of Christian unity?

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