FURTHER NOTE 7th January 2009: Robert Ricciardelli has denied (in comment 84 here) making comments about Todd Bentley during September 2008. It seems clear that at least some comments made in his name are in fact by an imposter. Because of this I am deleting the comments on this post in his name, and my responses to them. I have also deleted my post “Thoughts on Todd Bentley, healing, and the dead being raised” (dated 20th September 2008) which was primarily a response to the comments on this post in Ricciardelli’s name, and on which several other comments were made in his name.
NOTE 1st January 2009 for those coming here from the link at this post: I wish to entirely dissociate myself from the comments made on this post by Robert Ricciardelli, in which he makes statements for which he refused to reveal his sources and so which cannot be confirmed. See my comments 105993 and 106387 below. See also my latest post about Todd.
There seems to be no real news about Todd Bentley in the last couple of weeks, although not surprisingly there are efforts to link him with the latest hot topic of discussion, Sarah Palin. But there is still plenty of largely negative discussion of Todd on various blogs and in comments on this one, and plenty of traffic coming to this blog from searches on his name – 64 hits yesterday just on “todd bentley”. So I assume some people are interested if I continue to post about him.
My previous post was an extended quotation from Derek Prince (1915-2003), one of the best known charismatic Bible teachers of the late 20th century. I’m not sure if it coincidental, but yesterday in a comment (see also this follow-up) Sheri (ForeverSet) pointed me to an online booklet Protection From Deception: Navigating Through The Minefield Of Signs And Wonders by the same Derek Prince, which she considers relevant to assessing Todd and the Lakeland outpouring. And indeed it is. I have commented twice in response, referring to the first two chapters of the booklet, and promised to comment also on the third and final chapter. But I have decided to bring these comments together as a post, starting with a revised version of the comments I have already made.
In chapter 1 of the booklet Prince, writing in 1996, is apparently referring to the Toronto Blessing, with guarded criticism and without naming it. I don’t really disagree with this chapter, although I think it focuses a bit too much on the negative. He calls what was behind the Toronto Blessing
a mixture of spirits, both the Holy Spirit and unholy spirits.
I expect he would have said something similar about Lakeland, if he was still alive.
Well, it is the nature of all human endeavours to be mixed like this, as nothing human is perfectly holy. But what do we do with such mixtures? Do we reject what the Holy Spirit is doing because there are also unholy spirits at work? No, because if we did the Holy Spirit would be unable to do anything in the world! Instead we have to keep what we do as pure as we can and trust God in prayer to minimise the damage caused by the unholy admixture. If this is not right, then of course God will withdraw his Holy Spirit from the work and it will become obviously entirely evil. I don’t think Lakeland ever got that far, but I suppose it was God’s way of purifying it, although not perfectly, to take Todd out of the way, so that what remains is much more pure.
Concerning chapter 2 of the booklet, I have strong objections to Prince’s apparent claim that it is only the MALE human who is the image of God, contradicting Genesis 1:27 which makes it clear that both males and females are his image. I am also not entirely happy with what he has to say about styles of music – doesn’t he realise that classical music, even Mozart, is also used to call up demons, and that many people sing old hymns with the attitude “Excite me. Thrill me. Satisfy me.”? But these points are irrelevant to this discussion.
But I am prepared to accept that at Lakeland there has been
soulishness: an undiscerned downward slide from a focus on God to a focus on self, from objective scriptural truth to subjective personal experience.
That is, it started well if not perfect and became less good, more man-centred. And God did something about it, removing Todd.
I can also accept Prince’s assessment of five branches of the charismatic movement (including one of which he himself was a leader) which went astray, and of the way that they did so. His insight into Branham is interesting, but note how he is clear that Branham genuinely operated in the Holy Spirit. I suspect he would think similarly of Todd Bentley: genuine powerful ministry but also serious flaws.
Concerning the “Latter Rain” movement, one of these five, Prince wrote:
one of Satan’s tactics is to discredit that which is good by its misuse.
50 years later, here in comments on this blog, people are still using the words “Latter Rain” as a tactic “to discredit that which is good” at Lakeland and elsewhere. Among these people are commenter here Julie Steadman, who wrote just yesterday:
I know because of Todd Bentleys alignment with Branham, Paul Cain who are all into false Latter Rain theology that there is something wrong
– in other words she simply presupposes that Latter Rain theology is entirely false and a touchstone of evil. Now I accept, as Prince does, that some of this theology is wrong, but not all of it – see my response to Julie. But by using “Latter Rain” as a pejorative term in this way these people are, I’m sorry to say, serving Satan. Julie is doing this unwittingly, I have good reason to believe. But I am not so sure about the motives of the people who operate “discernment” websites; some of these sites seem to be dedicated to undermining the work of the Holy Spirit through the charismatic movement, and are prepared to disseminate deliberate misinformation on the basis (which I have seen more or less explicitly stated) that the end justifies the means.
Concerning chapter 3, there is of course a need for all of us, including Todd and his critics, to humble ourselves, love truth, fear the Lord, and keep the cross central. But surely those who “did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10 as quoted by Prince) are not Christians at all? The ones of whom Paul writes “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:11) are those who “did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12), not Spirit-filled Christians who “have an anointing from the Holy One, and … know the truth” (1 John 2:20, TNIV). I’m sorry to say that what Prince is doing here is putting into his Christian readers a fear, not of the Lord but an unhealthy fear, that anything they listen to may delude them “that they all may be condemned” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). This goes totally against the teaching of Paul that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, that nothing in all creation “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1,39, TNIV).
So let us indeed discern carefully what is “soulish” and what is spiritual about charismatic and other movements, manifestations and personalities. But we should not do this in fear that if we soil our hands with any taint of their false teaching we may receive “strong delusion” and lose our salvation. Instead we should recognise and affirm “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8) about such things or people, while being careful not to share in or endorse anything which is wrong. That way, as we Christians build one another up in love, the wrong or “soulish” things will be weakened and the true work of the Holy Spirit will be strengthened, to the glory of God.