In my previous post I mentioned a paper Biblical Reasons to Receive God’s Glory and Give it Away in Power Evangelism by Dr Gary S. Greig, PhD., a former Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Regent University School of Divinity, and Senior Editor, Theology and Acquisitions for the Regal Publishing Group (free PDF download but donations requested). I have now skim read this paper. In it Dr Greig offers a defence from a generally careful theological standpoint of Todd Bentley‘s ministry and the outpouring in Lakeland, Florida.
Dr Greig deals with ten objections to Todd’s ministry. I will summarise them here:
Objection 1: “The healings aren’t really real” and “People are only working themselves into altered states of consciousness.”
On this point Dr Greig points objectors to the clear evidence that real healings are taking place. He also demonstrates that biblical evangelism included healing ministry. It is unfortunate that he likens the objectors to holocaust deniers, and emotional argument which does not fit well with the scholarly tone of the rest of the paper.
Some people have particular objections to reports of resurrections. Dr Greig mentions that three news channels reported on “an older woman being resurrected after rigor-mortis had set in”, but it is unfortunate that one of the three links is broken, and the other two are both to this news report which indeed reports a remarkable event but makes no mention of Todd or Lakeland.
This is perhaps the weakest part of the paper because it fails to provide any verifiable evidence that genuine lasting healings are taking place clearly linked to Todd and Lakeland. Perhaps Dr Greig is not the person to look for for such evidence. But it would help to answer this objection if someone close to Todd could provide this kind of evidence.
Objection 2: “Many healings are partial or gradual, and some people lose their healing after they claim to have been healed.” “Healings in the New Testament always happened immediately and could not be ‘lost’.”
Dr Greig answers this one by showing that biblical healings were sometimes gradual and arguing that healing could be lost.
Objection 3: “The manifestations, shaking, vibrating, laughing, talk of electricity, and weird behavior didn’t happen in the Bible and cannot be from God. Todd Bentley has an obsession with the paranormal.”
Dr Greig writes:
While I agree—and I have heard Todd Bentley and other leaders of the Lakeland revival agree—that our focus should not be on the miracles and the manifestations, but on Jesus alone, it is simply not true that Todd Bentley has “an obsession with the paranormal” or that the “weird” manifestations are not from God …
He also shows that many biblical miracles are just as “weird” as anything seen at Lakeland. In fact he finds biblical parallels for all the kinds of things which Todd does. He rightly insists that what matters, as a test of genuineness, is not the form of the manifestation but the fruit of it.
Objection 4: “There is no emphasis on repentance and holiness in the Lakeland meetings, as there always has been in classic revivals and awakenings …”
This charge against Todd Bentley and the leaders of the Lakeland outpouring is not true either. Anyone who is attentive and who has watched or visited the meetings in Lakeland can attest to the fact that purity of heart, holiness, and keeping our focus on Jesus, are themes that Todd Bentley and the other leaders have repeatedly emphasized.
Objection 5: “We should not be teaching people to interact with angels. Satan masquerades as an angel of light and people can be deceived by demonic angels…”
On this point Dr Greig makes a clear distinction between worship of and prayer to angels and interaction with them. The former is clearly forbidden, and Todd agrees. But the latter is normal in the Bible and should not be rejected, although any message received apparently from angels should be carefully tested.
Objection 6: “It’s wrong and misguided for us to describe angels in detail or to mention their names. This will get our focus off of Jesus.”
Dr Greig’s simple answer to this is that the biblical authors described angels and mentioned their names. Again he asks the question “What is the fruit of such descriptions?”, and shows that in Todd’s case it has been “to focus people on the Lord Jesus and His plans and power for His people.”
Objection 7: “There is no such thing as angels manifesting themselves as female angels in Scripture. Jesus taught that angels are genderless. So talk of female angels with female names is New Age deception.”
In response to this Dr Greig gives a long argument (which Todd accepts in his recent article) that although angels are genderless in their essential nature they can and do manifest themselves in both male and female forms, as well as in various inanimate ways.
Objection 8: “No Scripture supports the idea that the Holy Spirit bestows healing mantles through His angels. Only the Holy Spirit heals, not angels.”
Dr Greig starts his response with the following, which he proceeds to justify in detail:
These assertions are simply not true on several counts, when examined in the light of Scripture. There are three points that need to be made below: 1) The Holy Spirit manifesting God’s presence and glory is attended by angels throughout the Bible; 2) Healing mantles do exist, and they are just another name for healing and miraculous gifts of the Spirit; and 3) Angels are indeed associated with healing in Scripture.
Objection 9: “Todd Bentley teaching that believers can go up frequently in the Spirit to God’s throne in heaven, is unbiblical and borders on New Age visualization.”
“Once again,” Dr Greig writes, “nothing could be further from the truth in Scripture!”:
the New Testament couldn’t be clearer about a principle than this one that through Christ and His blood we have access now to God’s throne in heaven … We are already there seated in Christ in the heavenly realms
He also shows how this kind of experience is an established part of Christian spirituality.
Objection 10: “Todd Bentley is a false prophet, because he teaches things I cannot find in Scripture.”
Here Dr Greig looks back to his previous responses:
as has been demonstrated above, the fact that the so-called “Bible experts,” critics, and concerned leaders, cannot find in Scripture what Todd Bentley and the leaders of the Lakeland outpouring have been teaching and modeling, is more a testimony to the fact that the critics (as well as the rest of us) need to revisit the Scriptures and study the relevant passages more carefully, bind the enemy from interfering with our thinking (James 4:7-8; compare Peter’s thoughts being influenced by the enemy in Matt. 16:22-23), and consciously ask the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth according to Jesus’ promise in John 16:13-15. …
We, the Body of Christ, need to repent of our being functional atheists—acting as if the supernatural realm, that Scripture clearly portrays, is really not functionally real for us.
Dr Greig then brings his readers back to “Jesus’ criterion for discerning false prophets and false teachers”, which is simply “By their fruit you will recognize them”. He discusses this issue in greater depth, without explicitly applying it to Todd Bentley, and concludes as follows:
The end of the matter: Receive all God wants to give you, and give it away
My prayer is that you will not make the same mistakes I made. I wholeheartedly encourage you to support what God is obviously doing through the Lakeland outpouring. My prayer is that you will be used by the Holy Spirit to empower and equip as many leaders in the next generation as possible to receive the glory and Presence of the Lord and take it to the nations. We need to give ourselves to the Lord and His cause of preaching the gospel with power to all remaining unreached nations and people-groups, to hasten the Day of the Lord, when Jesus will return for His Bride, the worldwide Body of Christ!