At last, more news about Todd Bentley

It is more than two months since my last serious post about Todd Bentley. That post and my others about him continue to attract quite a bit of traffic to this blog, so people are still interested in him. But there has been no news to report, at least nothing I have seen, until now.

Just two days ago the Board of Directors of Fresh Fire Ministries, the group of which Todd Bentley was the main public face (not the founder, despite some false reports), issued a new statement about Todd. This is a long statement, and I will not attempt to give it an adequate summary here. So please read it for yourselves. I will simply note that they state clearly that Todd has done wrong and has not fully repented of this; they acknowledge their part in this by allowing him to become burned out; and they continue to “say that we know, without a shadow of doubt, that Lakeland was and is an authentic move of God”.

I should add one more thing here: my apologies to Shonnah Bentley for suggesting that she might have initiated a separation. I suggested this on the basis of Todd’s explanation to Rick Joyner, but it seems that that explanation was not the whole truth. Fresh Fire now writes:

It also needs to be clarified that Shonnah has in no way initiated this divorce and has no present intention to do so at any time in the future.

I welcome rational discussion here of this statement, but please remember that I did not write it and am not in a position to defend it. I will not tolerate comments which simply condemn Todd in ways which will not contribute towards his hoped for repentance and restoration.

(I note that Polycarp and Jim West, among a few others, have seen this before me, but I saw their posts only after I wrote this, and they seem to have got completely the wrong end of the stick.)

0 thoughts on “At last, more news about Todd Bentley

  1. Peter,

    How can you still defend this guy and Fresh Fire? Coming from a broken home, I pray for his family, and that the love of God will restore his family properly, but to say that Lakeland was authentic when the man leading it was so simply a fraud is, well, something with in itself.

  2. If God can speak through a donkey, then I think that He can manage to speak through Todd Bentley. While I have some issues/reservations about everything that happened at Lakeland, I can’t help but think that at least SOME of it must have been a real and authentic move of the Lord, regardless of how ‘personally messed up’ Todd is/was.

  3. Just wanted to add this:

    “Alcohol, movies and leisure time spent with a few of the younger, more impressionable members of his staff and road-crew began to replace the hours of soaking in the presence of God in which Todd had engaged during the early days of the Outpouring.”

    The alcohol part is what really gets me, as alcohol is generally seen as a major ‘no no’ among pentecostals here in the US…I can’t believe that he was EVER allowed to get away with drinking with other staff/crew. To me this shows that the problem wasn’t/isn’t simply Todd, but others within Fresh Fire Ministries as a whole. I think that it’s easy for all the blame to go on Todd, as he was in many ways the ‘face’ of the ministry and the outpouring, but certainly he’s not the only one to blame.

  4. Joel,
    Nobody is defending Todd. People are defending the work of God. I personally know Christians of long standing who genuinely received amazing things from God at Lakeland.
    If God needed someone of bold faith, for sure there weren’t many to choose from – Who else was there apart from Todd? When was the last time you or I healed the sick as Jesus commanded us to do? Does God confirm His word with signs following when you or I speak it? If we are so far from biblical obedience and faith, how can we judge someone who gave it his all, even the the point of crashing and burning?
    Todd did what God told him to do, as Moses did at the burning bush. Figuratively, maybe when the angel came after him to kill him, Todd’s Zipporah (Freshfire) failed to see the danger and stop it.
    He and his support organisation were unprepared and unsighted and they over-extended and got cut off (Just as the Normans tricked the Saxons into doing at the battle of hastings) This is not a sign of counterfeit, only of weakness and inexperience.
    Freshfire say that, in the beginning of Lakeland, Todd was as pure as he could be. So there is no reason to suppose that Lakeland was a counterfeit or impure work, nor that Todd embarked on it with impure intentions.

  5. A very sad state of affairs indeed.

    But what do they mean by “alcohol & movies”? Last night I drank two classes of red wine and watched a movie. Would I be thrown out of ministry as well? Clearly drinking and watching movies are not sinful, unless you are a Southern Baptist I guess. Its not very helpful that Freshfire say they won’t go into detail on this point. Was he knocking back a bottle of wine a day, or was he just enjoying a couple of beers every other night? Was he watching porno or just Gone With The Wind? This vague point will surely just leave people speculating and perhaps thinking the worse, which cannot be helpful.

  6. Joel, I am not defending Todd, nor Fresh Fire. But, as confirmed by orthodox Christian teaching (in response to the Donatist controversy), God can and does work through sinful people and even through those who later turn away from the faith. So however sinful Todd was, or became, that does not invalidate God’s work in Lakeland. Rhea and Duncan, you have this right.

    As for the alcohol and movies, clearly things got out of hand. The odd glass of wine and “Gone with the Wind” isn’t going to lead to the kind of disaster we have seen, although it might be the beginning of a slippery slope for someone weak and lacking supervision. The problem seems to have been a lack of proper balance, for which Fresh Fire is right to take some of the blame. If Todd had been forced to take a day off each week when he could relax, and if he wanted drink a little wine and watch some movies, that would probably have defused the situation. Moral: make sure your own pastor, or yourself if you are one, has a proper day off each week.

  7. Moral: make sure your own pastor, or yourself if you are one, has a proper day off each week.

    I feel that may be slightly underplaying things Peter.

    I could have a day off a week to “relax”. But if it is to relax with the nanny who lives in my house and not my wife I don’t think it will help.

    Forgive me if that sounds flippant. I just think this statement yet again raises more questions than it answers.

    I just think it plays into the hands of critics who have had much speculation proved true, but in a drip feeding kind of way, so people are unsure what will come out next as it is left fairly open ended. On the other side of the fence it seems to do very little to help those hurting from this.

  8. Blue, you are of course correct that the relaxation needs to be appropriate. But I don’t see why you consider my suggestion flippant. It is of course no guarantee against a pastor getting into an adulterous relationship – but it does significantly reduce the risk of burnout, which probably destroys more pastoral careers than adultery does.

    The difficulty in this case was that Todd was taking an extended ministry break away from his family and so could not spend his time off with them. I know they visited Lakeland at least once, but it may be that the Fresh Fire board was unwise to let him spend so much time away from them. I know that responsible mission agencies try to limit the time their workers spend away from their families, but this is always difficult given the pressures of work and of finances. Of course Todd must take the primary responsibility for his own sin, but it would have been good for his board to take reasonable steps to minimise the danger of such things happening.

  9. Bene, you can read the story here. Fresh Fire started in September 1997, and Todd was asked to join the team in February 1998. But it is not clear when this group was formally organised as “Fresh Fire Ministries”.

  10. Lakeland should be exposed for what it was. And the anti-charismatics & the scoffers along with the die-hard charismatics that were injured in the fallout are better for it. The fake, inflated, hyped, exaggerated, in short, the ‘lies’ have to be addressed. No one should have to wade through all that crap to get to the hidden nugget of the true miraculous. The wild claims, the happy testimony times, the outrageous antics; dispense with them & seek the real, genuine miracles that change individual lives, not a stadium full of signs & wonders seekers.

    No one, and I do mean no one, should cheapen the supernatural by attempting to make of it something it is not. God does not need the PR, or the stage ministries, or GodTV or any other contrivance to be the same Jesus He was when touching lepers or raising the dead or giving sight to the blind. He does not need all the razzle-dazzle of pompous charismania to represent His power & glory to a dark & needy world.

    Lakeland should become a lesson learned of how not to do the kingdom business out in the Court of Gentiles where you can buy books & CDs & DVDs & materials on every contrived supra-spiritual experience claimed by those that will eagerly take your money.

    Lakeland was the epitome of exaggerated consumerist religious stuff. Quick fix, 3rd heaven, angelic contact, unsubstantiated healings & resurrections, power displayed phoniness that God is not about to orchestrate to manifest His pure character. Todd Bentley does not have any special anointment, unction, power or favor from God. He is not supernaturally gifted at anything. He is not the next best thing to Jesus/Paul. He was promoted, elevated, aligned, commissioned, flattered & manipulated like many that bought into the PR. He was groomed, trained & turned loose by those that use the supernatural as a magic tonic to mesmerize the susceptible & those that want to really believe it is God at work.

    Maybe we should all be true closet charismatics & not public ones. Pray in your closet. Pray for healing in private. Be unwilling to seek the praise & platitudes of men. No fanfare. No trumpets blaring to announce your anointment level. No website claims of supernatural ability or commission or authority or whatever. What I do know is this: God is not at all hindered by the excesses of a Lakeland event. And His miraculous power is still at work throughout the world where it is confirming the kingdom & the gospel. And you will not hear the names of those saints proclaimed on a website or some ministry organization or appear in a public setting to solicit finances to pay for their special unction that is now being billed as God’s next great outpouring…

  11. I would venture that more healings take place — by one or two orders of magnitude — out of small groups of believers joining their faith in prayer for friends and relatives they are close to, than happen through the “faith healers” that hold healing revivals.

  12. Joseph, I wondered whether to allow your comment because of its general negativity. I will allow it because the language is fairly temperate and because you make some sensible points. But be warned, Joseph and others commenting here, this is close to the limit of what I will accept.

    I take your point that spiritual gifts should not be paraded for self-promotion. But Paul clearly teaches in 1 Corinthians 14 that the gifts of the Spirit are to be used in the context of Christians meeting together. So your teaching goes against the Bible’s.

    Also I hope you are consistent in your condemnation of Christian marketing in refusing to buy Christian books, CDs, DVDs etc from any source, church, bookstore or online. Why should Lakeland be singled out from all the other people who are commercialising Christian merchandise today?

  13. Peter: You are absolutely correct in pointing out the crass commercialism of much of what passes off as Christian ‘stuff’, i.e. books, gadgets, bumper stickers, etc. that are peddled in Christian Bookstores both here & the UK today.

    And every writer that wishes to get their book out or offers some special insight or whatever is going to be with us to the end I suppose. Can’t say that simply claiming to be a ‘Christian author’ gives an automatic divine stamp of approval to its contents. As in the secular world it is a ‘buyer beware’ environment we also live in within the Christian community.

    Regarding the gifts: I happen to believe these are given to the church, not to bring attention to individuals. The gift of healing or of miracles is just that, a gift. Not a calling. Not a ministry. Not a talent. Not even a guarantee. It is not a verification of anything other than the mercy & grace of God. They are given or distributed as the Spirit wills, not as any organization website or individual claims. With any claim of dramatic supernatural feats the onus squarely on the ones making the lavish claims. Seems funny that nobody dramatically healed at Lakeland came forth in Todd’s defense. No resurrected saint making their appearance with morgue certificate & toe tag in hand going to the major TV networks to supply the requested documentation Todd himself promised to supply. He didn’t though. He didn’t provide the documentation of dramatic miracles to the investigative reporters that requested it. Makes him a liar by the simple definition. He is a charlatan. Maybe he really believes his own press. Is delusional at best, deceived at worst. Caught up in the wildly unregulated arena of faith healing, uber-prophecy & supra-natural manifestations.

    There is a simple notion of being of sound character with impeccable integrity in any expression we do for the King. When it is passed off as a “dog-and-pony-show” of charismatic proportions one has to be cautious about attributing God’s seal of approval to such events.

    Maybe I am the jaded skeptic in this consideration. I cannot accept that some ‘sincere’ (not being sarcastic here) Christian would really go to great lengths to represent God & the kingdom & the heritage of the saints as it was promoted by the Strader family & Bentley & GodTV (Rory & Wendy Alec). I am embarrassed as both a believer & post-charismatic because this is what was overly promoted as the current move of God. How irresponsible is that!? And nobody making any reasonable attempt at repentance/ownership/humility/confession? No wonder the world thinks such shenanigans the silly game those crazy charismatic Christians play. And this advances the cause of the kingdom how?

  14. Fresh Fire Ministries registered with Revenue Canada January 1, 1999 and filed it’s first return in 2000.

    The four directors listed then were:

    TODD BENTLEY PRES SPEAKER
    2 VAL ANDRES VICE PRES OFF MAN
    3 CLIFTON ROBERTSON DIR COMP GRAPHICS
    4 SHONNAH BENTLEY DIR

    Fresh Fire was probably seen as a street outreach/extension/satellite of the Global Harvest Abbotsford Church, but was not incorporated.

    If you go into the Wayback Machine, initial claims were Bentley was a founder.

    By the time the first Charisma article came out the organization claimed 18 employees.

    Did it happen the way it currently is reported on the FF site? Maybe.
    The earliest I found Patersons name on reports at FF was 2005. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t an employee prior to that.
    http://www.wiziq.com/tutor-profile/72539-kevin-english-teacher

    Global Harvest Centre registered in 1979 according to Revenue Canada,
    and one of their donations was from Fresh Fire from Ontario (2000, earliest you can do an online search)

    I don’t think saying Bentley is a founder is incorrect, Bentley says he was a founnder the early FF entries also say he is.
    Bentley was (is?) called an apostle of Global Harvest Centre Abbotsford.

  15. Peter, you seem a little harsh in your comment to Joseph. Naturally you are free to do what you like in your own blog. But Joseph brings an important critique to the hyper-charismatic / charismania movement. Yes, he sounds bitter and dissapointed. So are many who have felt betrayed by Lakeland. The level of hype regarding Lakeland was absurd. A personal friend of mine who was caught up with it all told me that Bentley was ushering in the final end times, such was the annointing on his ministry. What complete tosh, in retrospect. Bentley only ushered in his own “end times”, nothing more. The point is that many are hurting now. One minute Bentley was the Messiah’s right-hand man, the next minute he has essentially denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim 5:8).

    I strongly believe that unless the charimatic church can learn to mature, and quickly, its days are truly numbered, at least in formats such as Lakeland. I would be the first to lament the loss of a branch of the church that has brought back an appreciation for the presence and power of God. Its in our own interests to learn from Lakeland, and for those that were complicit in its failures, to repent and move on.

  16. I agree in some respects with Joseph’s contentions but there seems some husk to pare away: Agreed: God’s model for human spiritual relationships is family. OT families shared God round the fire at night and just went up to the Temple for occasions. Synagogues were a human construct intriduced during the 400 silent years and the apostate NT church reverted to this model, which we still have. So, clearly God’s preferred model for healing and all other works of grace is in the context of normal relationships, family, friendships and especially when eating together.
    However, the pattern we see with jesus is that he reached a point when God commissioned him into nationwide ministry and did miracles on a scale guaranteed to cause the sick and oppressed to flock to him. This was God’s plan. Jesus tried to play it down but it was impossible, and God knew what he was doing. People were healed by Peter’s shadow – how do you downplay that? Miracles are a mark of the ministry of apostle, the “worker of miracles”, the evangelist etc. Lakeland went global primarily because there was a quantity of genuine healings that many felt had not been seen in the USA since the 1950’s. As Todd’s was a faith ministry and, like even Jesus, relied on producing faith in people (“Jesus could do no miracles among them {Nazareth} because of their unbelief”)When does encouraging people to believe become hype? It only becomes hype when it becomes dishonest and most of the “hype” from the platform seemed to be testimonies from apparently genuine people. Being English, I dislike the American style or repeating everything slowly in a loud voice but it’s just style, not sin or hype. If we are to be entrusted with the genuine Ephesians 4 ministries in their New Testament fullness, I think that we must learn to allow God to “showboat”, with whoever he wants, as he did with Jesus and Peter, that the building of faith has a place, and that people do things in culturally different ways that may be offensive to us out of sincere motives.

  17. Bene, I accept that Todd Bentley was officially a founder (not the founder) of the officially incorporated body “Fresh Fire Ministries”. But he was clearly not one of the founders of the originally unincorporated ministry called “Fresh Fire” which was later officially incorporated. I hope this has cleared up any confusion.

    Alastair, I allowed Joseph’s negative comment, despite warning that I would not allow such comments, precisely because he “brings an important critique”. As for the hype you mention, where was it coming from? Who was officially saying things like “Bentley was ushering in the final end times”? Immature people like your friend, but almost certainly no one at Fresh Fire, Ignited Church or God TV (I have just reviewed what God TV was writing from May to July – no mention of the end times), the main promoters of Lakeland. They can’t be blamed for the rubbish put out by people thinking like your friend. Yes, people like this need to mature a lot, and ministries like Fresh Fire also need to mature.

    Duncan, I agree that the modern system of local churches is not entirely biblical. But the biblical model is also much more than families and friends eating together. 1 Corinthians clearly paints a picture, approved in principle by Paul, of believers meeting together for worship and mutual edification using the gifts of the Spirit. So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. But the latter part of your comment is very sensible, thank you.

  18. Joseph, sorry that your second comment was held for moderation, I don’t know why. I could have rejected it for calling Todd a liar and a charlatan, but again I will allow it because you also make good points.

    You are right that gifts do not guarantee the moral character of the person using them. That is why it was possible for Todd to genuinely heal and even (supposedly) raise the dead and yet so quickly to go “off the rails” into adultery.

    But I differ from you in continuing to believe that Lakeland was “the current move of God”, a move which was frustrated by Todd’s sin and no doubt the failings of others. But God’s work will not be stopped so it will continue in other places and directions. No, I can’t prove this, but I believe it.

  19. In introductory shows prior to screening Lakeland the GodTV hosts are reported to have said “any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic”, and warned people against listening to criticism in case they lost their healings.

    It would seem to me that that counts as hype – albeit indirectly.

  20. It is amazing how slow we Christians are to learn the basics of the Gospel. Also, how we feel we need more than the quiet everyday strength to resist sin, live a holy life and honour God, looking for ‘awesome miracles’ and such. It is as if Jesus is somehow not enough for some of us.

    I would strongly disagree with being overly private in our spiritual lives, including things like prayer. Yet Jesus Himself tells us to be careful about anything we do, making sure that it is for God and not seeking the attention or praise of people, who are fickle.

    As for ‘charismania’ or such other created terms, they will always let people down iif people put their trust in them (hence ‘mega-revivals’). Only Christ can satisfy us all. Imagine a time where known not for their loud ministry claims but for their love, pure, selfless, ever-giving, sacrificial, holy love borne out of lives transformed by grace, not razzamataz or doctrine. Imagine Christian people aware of their own fallenness, their own weakness, their own redemption, restoration and salvation, ministering to other people as equals in God’s sight. Imagine Christians leaving judgement to God, quick to love and help a fallen brother or sister, not heaping condemnation and judgement on them.

    Imagine a Church governed by Divine Grace received, and characterised by Divine Love realised. Let us learn (or relearn, to be more accurate) how to love as God has loved (and continues to love) us.

  21. Chris, I would not endorse such a statement, but I don’t really think it counts as hype. I do discern demonic activity behind much of the immoderate criticism of Todd, but in this Todd is special only in the volume of immoderate criticism which matches the level of publicity about him. It seems that whenever a Christian has a high profile demons get to work quickly in stirring up all kind of negativity and unsubstantiated allegations, as well as bringing temptations to sin which is what Todd fell to.

    Jamie, I agree that we shouldn’t put our trust in spiritual gifts. But we are also taught not to despise or reject what the Holy Spirit wants to give us. We may not “need more”, but more is good and is often what God wants to give us. Indeed let the church be “governed by Divine Grace received, and characterised by Divine Love realised”, but that divine grace received should include God’s grace gifts distributed as he wills and accepted as such.

  22. To all, especially Peter: Thanks for allowing my perspective even though my distaste for what I categorize as ‘charismania’ comes thru loud & clear in my posts. I will temper my response in light of the grace granted me so far.

    The following statements are simply my own personal feelings & not a global rebuke or condemnation or repudiation of the Lakeland happenings or Todd Bentley. They are not gospel. My own perspectives subject to the same logs of bias Jesus pointed out in those quick to be critical without looking into as many of the facts as are available to scrutinize. I think the research & investigations into Lakeland indicate little if any authentication of the most dramatic of healings and/or resurrections claimed. From this point the following thought process is my own:

    Not to belabor a point, but have any of you prayed for someone to be healed? If so, & they are indeed healed, was it because you believe you were gifted? Anointed? Empowered? Did you feel healing power flow out of you as Jesus described?

    God is the only source of divine healing as I understand it. And the expression of the miraculous would not be compromised at all if the Bentley’s of the world simply dropped off it. No, I do not believe Todd is gifted. He is clever. He has reaped his public reward. But he may be in for the big surprise of the Matthew 7:22 retort when reviewing his spiritual resume on judgment day. My perspectives here, not a curse or a wish…

    It takes no faith on my part to believe he is not gifted. Any doubt as to the results of Bentley’s methods does not discount God’s divine power, it simply eliminates Bentley as the vessel. Being a paid dispenser of gifts or healings or blessings is no less a perversion than Simon the Sorcerer represented. If I were to think for a minute such an arrangement were ordained of God I would switch vocations in a heart beat!

    Did Simon eventually repent? If so, was he then gifted to heal? Do we have any record of Simon the Healer in Samaria? Any record of those the Apostles healed offering to finance a healing crusade or travelling ministry? No. Bentley’s methodology & those like him are a perversion, not a validation. Those gifts we talk about so much were given to the church to “strengthen, encourage & comfort” (1Cor) not to give special status to individuals. As such being willing to accept the accolades of men a sure sign in my book that they are being perverted & not used as the Good Lord intended.

    But I am not out to dissuade anyone that leaves wiggle room for the Bentley’s & the Hinn’s of this world to be somehow selected by God to represent Him the way they do. God can be controversial I suppose. Totally out to confuse & keep His children second-guessing. Maybe He does ordain such controversy just to see who is paying attention. But I do not leave any room open for such conclusions. I simply do not ‘see’ God as the causal agent. Maybe there is no firm ‘test’ to apply, but I will not blame God for Bentley’s claims. It just not add up. Again, these are my own personal perspectives…

    P.S. Good conversation.

  23. Joseph, thanks for your comment.

    I have prayed for people to be healed, indeed most recently this morning. I have not seen dramatic healings through my prayers, but people have reported feeling significantly better afterwards, and others have recovered but in ways which could also be explained as natural. I have felt God’s power at work but haven’t specifically felt power flow out of me.

    Since you accept that God does heal today through human instruments, and all have sinned, why are you so certain that God has not healed through Todd Bentley? I note that the Apostle Paul said that a labourer for the gospel is worthy of his (or her) hire and so there is nothing wrong with Todd receiving reasonable remuneration for his work for the Lord – and no evidence that he received any more than his reported salary of (from memory) between $40,000 and $80,000 which is hardly excessive for someone with the kinds of responsibilities he had. Or do you consider it wrong for anyone to receive payment for Christian work? If so, all the world’s pastors and missionaries had better abandon their work and take secular jobs immediately.

  24. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Can Christians fall away? The examples of Bentley and Obama

  25. Peter: I am a skeptic. I do admit that. A burned out post-charismatic. What passes off as “healing ministry” today not what I believe the properly understood or correct method to be followed should be.

    Not sure even how the miraculous healings Paul & Peter & John were experienced by them. Seems they were not a regular thing. Not something that they even pursued or prayed for or where known for. They were not billed as ‘healers’. They were Apostles. Had foundational responsibility for establishing the church in Jerusalem & the gentile nations of their time. Seems Paul encouraged those that had the faith to work miracles & healings to do so according to the measure given. Not sure it was a continuous thing like having a talent or knack or ability.

    Could be God does bless the faith of the faithful. Could be faith healers can do certain gestures or say certain words that causes expectation in those wanting a miracle. Can’t say that I understand just what God does when allowing healing to be dispensed from one individual to another. I too have prayed for healing for others & amazingly they were healed. No big dramatic claims, but results none-the-less. I assume God was using the opportunity to bless the person thru the simple prayer & genuine concern I had for them. Certainly I did not feel any electricity or heat or power flow from me to them. Can’t say then that I was a ‘healer’ or had a healing ministry either. It was a gift. Not for me though, but for the person that was the recipient. So, can God heal through the actions & words of Todd Bentley?

    God can do so if I accept Him to be Sovereign & unencumbered & not at all obligated to the wishes or whims of men. I do believe God wants to be a healing God. I also believe He wants to be rightly represented by those that claim to be His children/followers.

    If God can heal through Todd Bentley, is it also possible to believe He does it in spite of Todd Bentley? Todd acting like he has the anointing or unction or power, but really does not? Says some Christian-type words & invokes the name of Jesus. Lays hands on people, speaks in tongues & does some other unconventional things that he claims were directed by God or Emma or some other supernatural being? Maybe the faith of those healed the actual reason they were healed while Todd was only an outside influence? Sorta like the 7 Sons of Sceva?

    I think there are enough examples of healings & power manifestations recorded for us in scripture to point out that not all that appears to be of divine origin necessarily is. There is human soulish power & influence & demonic power & influence & I suppose admixtures of both that must be rightly discerned from the truly divine. Maybe it is not for us to ever know for sure. I, for one, choose to err on the side of caution rather than endorse Todd’s claims or those of any other high profile faith healer or miracle worker.

    I do this for my own protection. I had been involved in the renewal/prophetic stuff. Saw much of the abuse of so-called gifts & strange manifestations all claimed to be Holy Spirit sourced. It could not all be from God. Any great miracle of course would be bring God glory & be worth reporting to believer & non-believer alike. No need to be embarrassed or intimidated by letting the world know. No need to embellish or inflate or exaggerate the claims either. And documenting the miracle not an act of disbelief or doubt. If God can & does amazing things today, then checking out the facts the best witness to a doubting world.

    I am not a fan of high-profile ministries. I do not like the up-on-stage promotions that are billed as God’s work. I do not like the self-named prophets or healers or apostles that expect the place of honor at every event that are invited to. Don’t like the way the concept of the paid minister has been distorted by the Word of Faith types & the supra-charismatic types that request money as if it were God doing the asking. It is, in my opinion, an abomination of the Western church model & a recent development in Pentecostal/charismatic ministries. The excesses & abuses make me cringe. Of course any godly principle or church tradition used to fleece the sheep of God or line one’s coffer the worst of abuses. And when it is implied that ‘seeding’ into a healer’s ministry is needed to release a miracle, the worst of kingdom misrepresentations has occurred.

    Anyway, I appreciate the dialogue. Thanks for the chance to air my concerns & for your response.

  26. Joseph, I understand your struggles to understand Todd’s ministry. I too was a burned out more-or-less-post-charismatic not all that long ago. But through the patience of God and Christian friends I came to a renewed understanding and experience of God and of the work of the Holy Spirit.

    I suppose where I differ from you is that I accept the genuineness of “anointing” whereas you seem to reject it, reject any idea that any person can have a continuing ministry in a particular spiritual gift. I understand your doubts given the record of some who have claimed such ministries. But there is clear biblical warrant for the five continuing ministries of Ephesians 4:11. Todd Bentley considers himself primarily an evangelist, one of those ministries. And New Testament evangelism included healing ministry, as we see from many examples. So I think we must allow that evangelists like Todd can have an ongoing healing ministry. There is at least nothing clearly unbiblical about such a claim. And, sadly, even in the NT there were people with ministries like this who fell into sin – many are listed in 2 Timothy. So I see no reason to doubt my claim that Todd had a genuine ongoing healing ministry. Very likely there was also hype about unverified claims, especially towards the end when Todd was falling into sin.

    I understand your caution in not endorsing Todd. I am not asking anyone to at this stage. But I think you also need to exercise caution, and love for a Christian brother, about condemning him, about making definite statements that he is a fraud as you have done. Can’t you just leave this at “there was a mixture of God at work and human hype”, or simply “I don’t know”?

    As for your last main paragraph, I entirely agree. But I don’t think it is really fair to accuse Todd of this. I don’t entirely endorse his approach to money but he is much less guilty on this than so many others.

  27. but I find him hyper-critical in reading into Trevor Baker’s statement a claim that every single church has been affected.

    Peter – I know Trevor Baker is not saying every single Church in the UK.

    No-one could ever claim that as they would ALWAYS not be able to include the exclusive brethren!!!

    You seem to have read something in that is not there. I certainly think it is a bold claim, but have not passed judgement on it but rather asked people to describe how it has effected them.

    You have made a vast jump to infer “hyper-criticism” from that. To the point of being “hyper-defensive” 😉

  28. OK, Blue, maybe I am hyper-defensive, but I did read your post as implying that you considered Trevor Baker’s claim exaggerated. It was perhaps the first few comments, including the one from your friend Phil, which led me to infer the argument “It hasn’t affected my church, therefore the claim is just hype”, and that the Dudley outpouring is just “a minority thing” or a “fad”.

  29. Peter: It may indeed be the higher road taken to always give the benefit of the doubt to those up-on-the-stage ministry types that bask in the spotlight of high-tech media feed of GodTV. I can appreciate the ‘gentle nudge’ toward unfounded criticism you encourage me to consider.

    I am convinced the type of ministry expression that Todd practiced in itself is wack. It is a distortion of the gifts, not something to be championed or replicated. Todd was trained. He parroted what he himself was encouraged to imitate. It is the over-the-top antics & demonstrative crap that misrepresents the kingdom. He is not cutting edge. He is not God’s new poster child for any exaggerated outpouring claims. He is a showman in Christian garb. That is his only claim to fame as I see it. Maybe Todd really wanted to be the point man for God in Lakeland. Can’t say his sincerity factor was missing. But I don’t accept Todd’s theological conclusions that launched him into the spotlight. I don’t accept those same conclusions from organizations like Fresh Fire Ministries that put him up on a pedestal. I do believe they are all established on faulty theology, plain & simple. They rely on the flash of the flesh to get the desired attention. They depend on human psychological principles to work up a crowd that may truly want a ‘touch from God’. But I do not see such planned events with its carnival atmosphere anything like the ministry of Jesus or the Apostles practiced.

    I believe the church has been fed a cheap imitation in the form of the high-profile Pentecostal healing types. This is a recent thing in church history. New does not automatically mean it is the way God intended it though. The rise of the new Pentecostal movement in the 20th century may not be the most authentic representation of the kingdom. The high proportion of controversial people within this so-called movement enough to give anyone pause as to the claims that it is God choosing such people to be vessels of divine power from on high. Again, I believe God more concerned with character than power & those that then claim they have the power without the character I can safely state misrepresents God & His kingdom.

    Human ego & human motivation & the desire to equate a move of God with dramatic healings & people in attendance or money given not the measure I believe God uses. Tats & piercings & kicking cancer out of people not the way I envision Jesus touching people. Even if we grant liberal leeway for unconventional methodology I do not need to accept it as a valid godly expression even if some result is claimed. Making the argument that good resulted not the test I would apply. Since I was not an eyewitness to the Lakeland event I am safe in rejecting any of the so-called claims. I would not have gone there in the first place. Would not want Todd praying for me or touching me or punching me or kicking me or prophesying over me or whatever it is that people accept as God’s way of expressing His love & compassion today. Again, the onus squarely on the ones making the claims. They need to be people of integrity & provide the best documentation they can gather to show the world it was truly God at work & not just the people promoting the event.

    Bottom line: I would avoid any Todd Bentley anointings. If, as you may give allowance for, he has been blessed with divine power that can be transferred to others, can he also transfer defilement due to his lack of character & misuse of his gift? If the pro-Bentley group wants to claim that even with all the controversy he really did have a genuine gift of healing then they must also accept the fact that he could transfer defilement through his laying on of hands. Adultery & divorce & lying & spiritual pride could also be his to grant to those that came up for a touch from him. Confusion & lack of discernment could be the result for those gullible Christians naively accepting Todd’s supernatural credentials without any sober review. If it is not a one-sided consideration here then I would say the bad far outweighed any good coming out of Lakeland. And all such events should be avoided by any sober charismatic with any sensitivity to the Spirit. Don’t be too quick to lump all naysayers in the being negative bunch. It was the ex-charismatics & former Pentecostals exercising discernment that spoke out first & loudest about Lakeland. And if you do believe such discernment also Spirit breathed, then it is an important voice addressing error & excess that is worth heeding.

  30. Joseph, I understand your doubts about the theology behind Lakeland, and that because of them you did not go. But I am puzzled by

    Since I was not an eyewitness to the Lakeland event I am safe in rejecting any of the so-called claims.

    No, Joseph, you are not. If you refuse to look at the evidence you can have no idea whether the claims are true or not. You are like a judge who pronounces a defendant guilty without examining any evidence, perhaps simply because he sees tattoos and piercings and assumes that anyone who looks like that must be guilty.

    Do you realise how stupid your claim is that Fresh Fire trained Todd to parrot something? Although Fresh Fire was not started by Todd, as Bene shows in a comment above by 2000 Todd was its President and the other directors were his wife, an office manager and a computer graphics expert. Todd did his own stuff. Yes, it was wacky, although that doesn’t make it wrong. Yes, he played to the audience. But there is nothing to suggest that he just parroted what others fed him. He was and still is very much his own man, who does what he wants and won’t let anyone else tell him what to do.

    Where is your theological justification for suggesting that defilement can be passed on by laying on of hands? When Jesus touched lepers he proved the opposite, that holiness but not defilement is passed on by laying on of hands. He was holy and was not defiled by the lepers’ touch. We are also holy in him and nothing can defile us, except our own sin.

  31. Peter: Having been involved in the hyper-prophetic movement I can say there were more than just a few of what I call signs & wonders stories that circulated like wild fire by the faithful. Fantastic stories of amazing stuff now shown to be hoaxes. They were in fact more like Christian urban legends; passed around & repeated without any verification or even a desire to be sober minded. So no, I do not need to even begin to accept any of the so-called Lakeland claims without their documentation & verification of supposed miracles. As the old adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

    And yes, if Todd can only transfer ‘good’ spiritual stuff without any hint of defilement, then I will say I simply disagree. There is no guarantee of purity of power source simply by using the catch phrase “in Jesus’ name!”

    Todd’s background & his affiliation with the extreme prophetic types did influence both his theology & his mannerisms. He is a product of AoG/Pentecostal traditions that promote & in some ways exalt strange antics as Holy Spirit birthed. They allow generous room for unconventional behavior and/or manifestations. His claims of angelic guides & third heaven visits to talk to Jesus & Paul the same nonsense Rick Joyner promotes. He has been groomed & affirmed by those that encourage & promote supernatural claims as the ones validating Todd’s ministry credentials. He is the “BAM-O-Matic” minister of dubious anointing. The big event venue the same all the high-profile travelling ministry types use.

    If I were indeed a non-charismatic or anti-charismatic that simply wanted to pooh-pooh the claims of wacky charismatic Christians it could be ignored by those that want to believe in a God that orchestrates Lakeland-like outpourings today. However, if there are many Christians that share my opinion that are now & have been involved in the prophetic & charismatic expressions & sensitive to the things of the Spirit it seems a common perception of gross error occurred.

    Yes, I can be very forceful in my critique, but then the charismatic camp needs a loud wake-up call to expose the excesses & errors within it before becoming a better representation of Jesus to those outside it. Unfortunately there is no self-policing effort within the Pentecostal camps since pointing out flaws in others will be seen as a discrediting of their own methods. No one wants to ‘quench the Spirit’ by making waves of correction others must weather. It is not in their best interests.

    So who will step up to make the needed corrections? It seems only God is up to the task. He exposed Todd’s problems. He allowed much scrutiny & questioning of the entire Lakeland debacle. He brought about the discrediting of the accepted methods Lakeland adapted. I think the Lakeland event the most glaring example of how not to do kingdom business. And I don’t believe God orchestrated it nor was the One behind it in any way shape or form. God did damage control. And he put the divine kibosh on it. Closed it down. Allowed plenty of time for the people behind it to repent & be open & transparent & get themselves right with God before promoting the entire event. By the simple guidelines of qualifications established for elders found in the epistles, Todd failed. He started out unqualified. And if you think it was God that pushed him out of his shaky marriage up onto the Lakeland stage then our understanding of what is considered ‘of God’ will indeed be at odds.

    Could be Todd a likeable sort. Could be I might even enjoy his company if we went out for a beer or two. But I would not expect that he could change the beer into wine or back to water or heal me or whatever. I would not accept his claims of angelic visitations or his heavenly trips. I would be willing to discuss these issues but not as a form of affirmation. I would voice my concerns just like I have done here. And if he could explain his side of the story I might end up being more understanding of his flaws/weaknesses. I think that is what you have hinted at. I have pointed out the problems I have regarding Lakeland. I also know each individual must make up their own mind how to categorize it. Perhaps we will always be without full understanding of the events. I will act upon the measure of faith & understanding & discernment I have at this stage of my journey. Maybe down the road the Lord will soften my stance with His nudging. I will not claim my viewpoint the one all others need to be measured against. I brought up some concerns & explained my position. That is to be commended. Thanks for the opportunity. I will not make any more comments regarding this topic. If you want to ask me a personal question or want to engage in some other related issue I will respond. But I think I have talked the Todd Bentley/Lakeland thing to death as it is. Thanks again.

  32. Rhea, thanks for the link. There is clearly a side to the story other than the one presented in the Fresh Fire statement, as Rick Joyner says. I will blog about this further if I can find time.

  33. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Todd Bentley speaks out

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