Violence and the Kingdom – and Todd Bentley again

Roger Mugs writes about How I long to be a violent man, based on Matthew 11:12:

This is such a great verse just because it’s so strange. But the more I read it, the clearer to me it becomes that I am called to be a violent man taking hold the kingdom of heaven.

If this really is THE battle for the kingdom, through powers and such that we cannot see, then how passive of a role am I playing? Every time I come across this verse I’m reminded just how weak my prayer life is, and how forceful it should be. I want to be a violent man, a forceful man, I want the Lord’s enemies to be freaked out when I enter into battle with them. …

Wake us up to our wimpyness. Lord make us violent fighters taking hold of your kingdom by force.

Indeed! At first this post seemed so strange that I wondered if Roger was being satirical, but on closer reading I realise that he is both sincere and correct.

Now I don’t think Roger had Todd Bentley in mind when he wrote this a few days ago. But I was immediately reminded of the criticism that has been levelled at Todd that he uses violent methods in healing. In this comment CharismaticSceptic was the first of several people to send me a link to this video in which Todd tells of occasions when he used forceful methods in healing. On this CharismaticSceptic comments:

I’m sorry, but I cannot accept that this is how a minister of the gospel should behave, and have to seriously question if the voice Todd is hearing is that of the Lord.

Well, at the time I didn’t think of quoting Matthew 11:12 in response, but because C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian was in the news (I haven’t seen the film yet) I offered this quote from the book (pp. 133-134 of my copy):

Aslan pounced. Have you ever seen a very young kitten being carried in the mother cat’s mouth? It was like that. The Dwarf, hunched up in a little, miserable ball, hung from Aslan’s mouth. The Lion gave him one shake and all his armour rattled like a tinker’s pack and then – hey-presto – the Dwarf flew up in the air. He was as safe as if he had been in bed, though he did not feel so. As he came down the huge velvety paws caught him as gently as a mother’s arms and set him (right way up, too) on the ground.

It seems that C.S. Lewis’ conception of God allowed him to do apparently violent things to demonstrate that he is real. And from Matthew 11:12, at least as interpreted by Roger (and I know that there are other interpretations), it seems that Jesus also endorsed the use of violence in advancing the kingdom of God.

Now the world in the 21st century insists on wrapping everyone in cotton wool and treating violence against anyone (unless there is some rumour totally without evidence that they might somehow be linked indirectly with someone who has contemplated something which just might be considered terrorism) as the ultimate moral evil. And it seems that the critics of Todd Bentley have bought into the world’s thinking on this. But these are not the values of the Kingdom of God.

32 thoughts on “Violence and the Kingdom – and Todd Bentley again

  1. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Wisdom about Todd Bentley

  2. Hey Peter… I’m glad you did end up posting on this…

    my response in the comments over on my blog are:

    when God ‘tells you to do something’ its a problem for 2 reasons….

    1 – No one can say it’s not God, or stand in your way because it would be denying something the Lord is doing..

    2 – sometimes He actually does tell us to do such things and it’s hard to believe it’s Him.

    but i’m talking more about violence through prayer… that said, you should definitely post on this…. i’m always curious.

    Again, I was thinking more along the lines of prayer than physical violence, but I dont disagree with you. I dont know what I think about Todd Bentley as I’m no where near whats happening, but I know that sometimes the Lord uses some pretty strange methods.

  3. I think some more analysis of the Mattew 11 verse might help here.

    Whereas the text is clear that the kingdom of God is forcefully advancing, the violent men who lay hold of at are, here, likened to those who imprisoned (and later killed) John the Baptist. That’s the essence of what Jesus is saying.

    And Jesus is providing a contrast between those two kingdoms, one of physical violence (those who killed John) and the kingdom marked by the forceful power of agape love.

    The problem lies a little with the NIV’s unhelpful translation; “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it”

    Clearly those translators new there was an issue here, becuase hte more recent Today’s NIV has changed the text to this: “From the days of john the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.”

    The NASB renders it thus “And from the day of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force”

    The Holman CSB has it better “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been suffering violence, and the violent have been seizing it by force.”

    Hope this helps some reflection before we all decide God’s calling us to be violent in anything but our rejection of violence.

  4. Thanks, Roger. I realised you were not saying quite the same as Todd, but the similarity was interesting!

    Yes, it is of course difficult to know whether God is really speaking to someone else. In such cases, at least when you are not personally affected, the best approach is generally that of Romans 14:4: leave the matter between the person involved, the pastor or whoever they are personally accountable to, and God. Maybe it is a bit different with a public figure like Todd Bentley, but I still think it is wrong to condemn him based on one’s ill-informed opinions of whether or not it is from God.

    To the critics I mostly say, keep away from Lakeland yourself if you are so sure it is bad (but go there or watch it on TV if you are uncertain), but then keep your opinions to yourself and those you have pastoral responsibility for, rather than rushing into public condemnation. In another comment I quoted Jude 10, which applies well to some of the comments I have read.

  5. Jonathan, thanks for this. I am well aware that there are different interpretations of this verse, and the near parallel in Luke 16:16. In fact I suspect that Roger’s point is better supported by the latter verse, rendered still in TNIV (here almost the same as NIV):

    The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and people are forcing their way into it.

  6. I’ve been reading Hugh Redwood’s “Residue of Days”, which I’d recommend. He mentions that in matters of the Kingdom, no human wisdom can even begin to understand how it operates, because it does not do so according to natural law, but to spiritual ones. (Also, miracles are spiritual law revealed rather than natural ones broken, but that’s something else..).

    As such, the only way to discern ‘right’ from ‘wrong’ in Lakeland, Pensacola, Toronto, Wales, or even in my own church is through the Spirit, incidentally the same way the Bible is meant to be read. Let’s face it, opinion over different Bible verses, translations and such have seperated opinion and even caused new divisions in the Church throughout history. The same happens when we become all analytical and pick things apart.

    This makes things far more anomalous. While we crave a definitive answer – a solid ‘Right’ or ‘Wrong’ – the truth is that God doesn’t work according to how we naturally see things. He works despite human failings (remember Calvary, anyone?) and rebellions, waywardness and stupidity, and so divine grace shines through wherever God has truly been. If it is true that we are known by our fruit, then perhaps it can be known that God has truly been at work because of the marks of Grace left by what the Spirit has been doing.

    Jonathan, thanks for mentioning Matthew 11. Jesus’ own words of testimony to the discouraged and doubting John serve as a good benchmark for Kingdom activity in one sense. There’s so much in that one chapter that could be of relevance here.

    Blessed indeed is anyone who does not fall away on account of Jesus, who doesn’t break a bruised reed or put out a smouldering wick.

  7. Thanks, Jamie. Indeed. This is another side to the contrast between heavenly and worldly wisdom, as in 1 Corinthians chapters 1-3. Too many people think they are wise enough to decree what God can and can’t do, when in fact this is up to the sovereign God whose wisdom far surpasses theirs.

  8. Peter, can I just clarify: you think it’s okay for Todd Bentley to kick ladies in the face, based on a passage that it clearly using ‘violence’ in a different way?

    I can’t help thinking that you have really lost all objectivity on this thing.

    So, Todd, who believes Paul told him that He and Abraham wrote Hebrews together, is to be trusted to kick someone in the face if God tells him? I think I’m more likely to suggest that he’s not the most reliable source for hearing God!

    I really don’t know why you’re defending this man and his ridiculous antics. Even if I agreed that this ‘revival’ was of God, I’d still want to hold onto enough discernment to challenge stuff like this.

  9. Graham, I believe that if God tells Todd to kick a woman in the face, obviously in some very special circumstances which were edited out of the video, then it is not for me or anyone else outside the situation to say that this could not be from God. Even if he was totally wrong, that is a matter between him and God, and of course the lady concerned.

    I do think Todd was probably wrong about the authorship of Hebrews. But then I have never claimed he was perfect.

  10. So, should I have said the same to the guy in our fellowship who used to beat his wife and said God was okay with it, because she needed discipline? Was that between him and God?

  11. Graham, a case like that should be referred to the man’s pastor, if it cannot be dealt with one to one. It is certainly not for a random church member to rebuke another publicly. See also Matthew 18:15-17.

  12. I was the man’s pastor. So, to be consisent, are you saying that it’s between him and God?

    I’m pretty sure that you wouldn’t take this stand on other issues. What happens to leaders – and the body – discerning and judging?

    Can we not question George Bush if he says that God told him to invade Iraq? Or Joseph Smith? What do I do when the cult leader knocks on the door and says that God’s told him to take away and marry one of my daughters? Can I question that?

    And though I think that Matthew 18:15-17 doesn’t strictly apply, it is the body there who discern the matter.

    I have to be honest that your position on this matter strikes me as ridiculous. And I’m fairly sure it’s because you’ve decided to support this ‘revival’. I can’t imagine you applying it across the board.

  13. Well, Sam, I have read it now, but I wish I hadn’t. At least this Michael raises himself above the crowd of critics by praying for Todd at the end rather than being happy for him to rot in hell. I’m also glad that he is encouraging people to watch hundreds of hours of Todd’s preaching and ministry, as typically they will have to watch that much before they chance upon that carefully edited clip “about the people God has told him to kick”. But when it comes down to it, Michael is calling Todd “a criminal … a phony and a con artist” with no evidence at all. That is a libel against one who is preaching the gospel of Christ and one for which Michael will have to answer, possibly before the secular courts (Todd’s current policy seems to be to ignore his critics but no one should take that as a license to libel) and certainly before God.

  14. Graham, since you were the man’s pastor with spiritual authority over him, you have the right and duty to intervene, to the extent of putting him out of the church if he fails to repent, compare 1 Corinthians 5:1-5.

    And if you were Todd Bentley’s pastor or on the board of his ministry, you would have the right to call him to account. I did write this in comment 23697, but did not repeat it in comment 23975 which was perhaps an oversight. But since, I presume, you are not in such a position, you should leave this matter with those who are. Your own involvement should not go beyond drawing it to their attention – but then since the video in question is several years old they are surely aware of it already, and may indeed already have taken appropriate action.

  15. Pingback: Florida Healing Outpouring - Todd Bentley, Violence and the Kingdom of God « Gate Post

  16. On this subject I would like to draw your attention to this new post by Steve Hickey (pingback just received), which explains much more clearly than I can why God can be violent and why violence in ministry can be OK. Most of this post is an extract from a sermon which Steve preached before I wrote my post, so it is coincidental or God’s direction that we have both looked at Matthew 11:12.

  17. On a number of occasions now, Peter, you seem to have got pretty close to saying, “If you think this is great, say so, if you don’t just keep quiet.”

    It almost sounds as if you don’t want people to discern if this is of God, unless they are going to conclude that it is.

  18. I am happy for people to present rational arguments that this is not of God. I am not happy for people to present unreasoned condemnations, typically based on no proper investigation, in a tone of bitterness and hatred.

    But yes, I encourage people to give praise where praise is due, but I think if people have only negative things to say, things which do not build up their Christian brothers and sisters, they should generally keep quiet. See Philippians 4:8.

  19. ‘…but I think if people have only negative things to say, things which do not build up their Christian brothers and sisters, they should generally keep quiet. See Philippians 4:8.’

    How does that fit with Paul’s summons to discernment and even the strength with which he speaks against false teachers?

  20. Graham, Paul could speak out against false teachers because he was the one with apostolic authority in these matters, over the churches to which he was writing. Even so he was very careful about condemning named individuals rather than false teachers in general, aiming for their restoration even in 1 Timothy 1:20.

    Ordinary believers should indeed have discernment, but if they discern something wrong they should share it with the individual and then with their pastor, rather than broadcasting unconfirmed allegations all over the Internet.

  21. i think what people are missing is that this is God. not the president, or a coach, or even a friend. it’s God. THE God. that is… people thought him crazy when he came to this world as Jesus, they’d of thought him crazy when he made mud out of spit and put it on on someone’s eyes. (esp… the messiah making mud on the sabbath), they thought him crazy when he died on a cross…

    God VERY frequently works outside of our comfort zone.

    I’m not endorsing Todd or not… I don’t know anything about it really… all I’m saying is, God is bigger than you. a LOT bigger than you. and if he wants to beat someone to a bloody pulp just to heal a scratch on their knee he can do it. We’d all think it weird… but he’s God… who are you to question his methods?

  22. Job 38-41, briefly summarised by myself (if I dare…)

    “Ahem, hello?

    Hello?

    HELLO!!!!!

    Who d’ya think you are, MORTAL HUMAN?! Take a good look around. Now you try it.”

    When we start second-guessing God watch out! How do we know – the Spirit helps us with that, too. It’s almost too easy.

  23. Read Matt. 11:12; as many times as you desire but it in no way tells New Covenant believers to take anything the Father has chosen to give us by force. Jesus spoke to them of the Old Covenant Prophetic age which ended with the death of John. A time when almost all the true prophetic men performed what to us whould be strange, many times quite violent acts. John himself was an example from another light, John with his camel’s hair garment some scholars say turned bristle side in toward the skin could have been one who by violence against his own flesh tried to obtain the Kingdom, just a thought. But that all changed for those in Christ.

    Graciously, the Father has chosen to give us not only the Holy Spirit but in doing so He gives us the Kingdom of God. Plain and simple God is a Giver, He gives us the Spirit and the Kingdom. We can’t earn them and we definitely can’t take by force what the Father so freely gives those who receive His Son.

    Lk. 12: 31-32 Amplified Text
    31. Only aim at and strive for and seek His kingdom, and all these things shall be supplied to you also.
    32. Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!

    NOTE: We are told here and in Matthew’s Gospel to seek the Kingdom and that the Father’s good pleasure is to give us the Kingdom but where as many teach does Jesus or any other New Testament writer tell us we must take the Kingdom by force? It just ain’t there!

    Paul the great apostolic writer said something in Rom. 14:17 that many of us have not caught. He tells us where the Kingdom is to be found and what is the evidence of the Kingdom in the lives of those who believe. If we grasp what Paul is saying then we’ll not get caught up in so much Kingdom speculation as to the timing or the place of the Kingdom, and we’ll gain a greater understanding of the evidence of Life of the Spirit in the lives of those who believe. Quite simply Life IN the Kingdom is Living Life in the Spirit.

    Rom.14:17 Amplified Text
    17. [After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
    Rom. 14:17 NKJ
    17. For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

  24. Read Matt. 11:12; as many times as you desire but it in no way tells New Covenant believers to take anything the Father has chosen to give us by force. Jesus spoke to them of the Old Covenant Prophetic age which ended with the death of John. A time when almost all the true prophetic men performed what to us whould be strange, many times quite violent acts. John himself was an example from another light, John with his camel’s hair garment some scholars say turned bristle side in toward the skin could have been one who by violence against his own flesh tried to obtain the Kingdom, just a thought. But that all changed for those in Christ.

    Graciously, the Father has chosen to give us not only the Holy Spirit but in doing so He gives us the Kingdom of God. Plain and simple God is a Giver, He gives us the Spirit and the Kingdom. We can’t earn them and we definitely can’t take by force what the Father so freely gives those who receive His Son.

    Lk. 12: 31-32 Amplified Text
    31. Only aim at and strive for and seek His kingdom, and all these things shall be supplied to you also.
    32. Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom!

    NOTE: We are told here and in Matthew’s Gospel to seek the Kingdom and that the Father’s good pleasure is to give us the Kingdom but where as many teach does Jesus or any other New Testament writer tell us we must take the Kingdom by force? It just ain’t there!

    Paul the great apostolic writer said something in Rom. 14:17 that many of us have not caught. He tells us where the Kingdom is to be found and what is the evidence of the Kingdom in the lives of those who believe. If we grasp what Paul is saying then we’ll not get caught up in so much Kingdom speculation as to the timing or the place of the Kingdom, and we’ll gain a greater understanding of the evidence of Life of the Spirit in the lives of those who believe. Quite simply Life IN the Kingdom is Living Life in the Spirit.

    Rom.14:17 Amplified Text
    17. [After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
    Rom. 14:17 NKJ

    17. For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

  25. With all this discussion about violence, who was it who said ‘those who live by the sword will die by the sword’? Isn’t that condemning violence?

  26. Jane, what exactly is it that Jesus is condemning? I suppose use of the sword and other analogous offensive weapons. What Todd does is not real violence but play-acting which doesn’t actually hurt anyone. Where does Jesus condemn that?

  27. Pingback: The Boar’s Head Tavern

  28. […] But signs keep emerging that all is still not well within the ranks of the self-appointed Elder’s of the Charismatic Movement. Robert Ricciardelli (Charsima Magazine Author and card carrying member of the Wagner International Constipation….errr…I mean Coalition of Apostles) recently made an appearance on Jason Clark’s Blog where he left the following comment (Thanks to Dan-O for sleuthing this out): Truth is there are very few people being healed in Lakeland. I have worked with Charisma Magazine editor Lee Grady in discovering how many false reports have been released as facts. These are our brothers and sister involved in this, but this move of God has been a move of men with God still touching some who come to seek Him… Robert Ricciardelli (Jason Clark Blog) “… The reporting of claims are being reported as fact and I am not talking about claims from Lakeland, these are claims from emails and phone calls. None of these claims happened from Lakeland, but there was an ownership of them, because someone sent them in. In some cases the person never even mentioned Lakeland, but wanted to just share what God has done. Charisma reporters and a few others like myself have tried to get these verified and cannot. At one point, I was told that is God’s job and not the ones reporting these invalidated and now some have been found out to be fraudulent claims. We actually had offered to help, because any news of a resurrection in my opinion is world news if it can be validated. But then when the totals continued to mount which led to hype and embellishment, they began to ask us to stop asking questions. Hmmmm? Friday night, Todd said that God said there were 1000 people that were to give $1000, and they were to receive a 1000 fold blessing. The one hour drama on this giving subject was so deceptively evident that it was embarrasing to watch. On top of that, those that would give that money were able to come to the platform to be recognized….” (Robert Ricciadelli: Stevehickey Blog) […]

    Todd Bentley is a False Prophet…

  29. Christian, that verse has many possible interpretations. But who are you to judge what God did or did not tell anyone else to do? Would you agree that he told Joshua to kill all the Canaanites? If he can do that, is it really that impossible that he could ask someone today to punch a person for their own good?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image