God TV defends Todd Bentley broadcasts

In many of the recent discussions of Todd Bentley and the Lakeland outpouring there has been criticism of the role that God TV played in this. For example, Rupert Ward has written the following:

Lakeland, on the other hand, was virtually instantaneous, screened live by God TV and on the internet.  In my opinion, God TV have a lot to answer for, as they effectively became the ones who proclaimed this from the rooftops: this is God – jump in.  It didn’t allow time for people, or for questions, or for process.  They were forcing people to make a choice: are you for this or not?

I can’t imagine the pressures that suddenly hit Todd Bentley and his Fresh Fire ministry.  In the matter of a few days, he was catapulted from a somewhat known itinerant preacher to global superstar in the Christian world. …

In the end, the failing of Todd to live faithfully to his wife, has had a greater impact on the body of Christ due to the prominence he had ‘achieved’ over the last few months.  If Lakeland hadn’t happened, I doubt it would have registered a hit on Christian radar.

For that, I think that GodTV do have real responsibility.  Not for Todd choices.  But for the pressure that he was put under.  For not allowing Lakeland to grow slowly or fizzle out.  For promoting something, and then not taking responsibility for the leadership they brought to the worldwide body of Christ.

To an extent I agree with Rupert. The decision of God TV to broadcast the Lakeland meetings certainly put Todd under massive pressure. This may well have contributed to the breakdown of his marriage. It certainly increased public awareness of his moral lapse. But does this in itself make God TV to blame?

Today I have received by e-mail, also available online and featured on their UK home page, a statement from Rory and Wendy Alec, the founders of God TV, defending their decision to broadcast from Lakeland. Here are some extracts from what they write:

we believe that the Lord instructed us to broadcast the Outpouring services at Lakeland with Todd Bentley.

It was not a mistake.
It was not by mistake.
We believe it was a clear instruction from the Lord.

Over the past twelve years, but especially since our launch in America, we have in obedience to the Lord searched through the earth for those events and anointings that the Lord has laid on our hearts – to amplify their message and anointing to the Body of Christ in this crucial endtime hour that we live in.

The Lakeland Outpouring with Todd Bentley was one of those events. We received over 45 000 e-mails many, many of these heart rending, powerful testimonies from viewers across the earth of their bodies or their families bodies healed, their lives transformed and their hearts revived.

None of us have ever seen such significant fruit in all the years of broadcast.

Far more profound than that were the desperate cries for help. I (Wendy), would go through the live inbox and see the desperate cries from mothers, wives, sons and daughters, so many with TERMINALLY ILL husbands, wives, children, sometimes babies in arms – sensing HOPE in their situation that for so long had been without hope.

Just reading these prayer requests would bring one to tears –

We are often so cloistered from the agony of peoples day by day real life agonies – and their agonies were written there. …

The enemy had heard of the great honoring of the Lamb and was determined to destroy it – BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE AND AT ANY COST.

And the cost was Todd Bentley.

Was it because Todd was vulnerable and certain areas of his life were not surrendered wholly – Yes – like so many of us – in all probability.

Was it because the character of Christ was not yet formed in him in the equivalent measure to his gifting? Yes – like so many of us – in all probability.

Could it be the case that there by the grace of God go YOU AND I… Yes – In all probability. …

On the June 23rd, Todd actually spoke openly and with great vulnerability of his and Shonnah’s previous marriage challenges and how they had faced those challenges and the Lord had begun His work. He did not try to hide their struggle but shared their ongoing journey.

As Rick Joyner so wisely put it –
In marriage, I have learned there are those who admit they have been through times when they wondered if their marriage would make it, and then there are liars. …” …

The Lord also shared with us that someone can be deceived in an AREA of sin but it does not necessarily mean that in every area of his or her life or ministry, they were walking in deception as some critics of the revival may lean to believe.

And who is to judge that the Lord does not hold the violent unleashing of criticism and faultfinding and tearing down and divisiveness of the heresy hunters, as severe a sin as separation in a marriage? …

So beloved friend –

Do we at GOD TV refute the Outpouring? NO.

We are presently planning to broadcast other offshoots of Lakeland in both the United Kingdom and America, including revival meetings in Dudley, England. …

Remember: this was never about Todd Bentley. It was always about the Holy Spirit and the fact that God loved you and I. It was GOD who touched our lives. …

Remember also, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Let’s turn our eyes toward Him and away from our trust in man.

He who sent His only begotten Son.

The Great Father of Compassions.

To Him alone we bow.

Personally we believe that the best is yet to come.

For our King and His Kingdom

Rory and Wendy Alec

Rory and Wendy don’t admit to making any mistakes in their coverage. I regret that because I suspect that they did. For example, it seems likely, although I can’t prove it, that Todd returned to Lakeland sooner than expected after his break in July because of pressure from God TV, who had doubtless seen their Lakeland viewing figures plummet in his absence. In fact the blame for that should be mainly with the viewers who were more interested in watching a man than in experiencing God at work. But if God TV did put pressure on Todd they were wrong to do so. I hope that they are at least privately recognising that not everything is perfect in their world and doing something to put it right.

Nevertheless I accept that God TV is a genuine Christian ministry whose leaders are truly wanting to see God glotified, and who in this case did what they really believed God was calling them to do. It is all too easy to say that they were wrong, especially with the benefit of hindsight. But even with that hindsight we must realise that the damage caused by the way this ended is probably far less than the benefit gained by millions of viewers worldwide who saw God in action in Lakeland, many of whom were touched in their own bodies. Anyway, it is before God and their own accountability partners that Rory and Wendy should be giving account, and so it is not for me or any other outsiders to judge them.

As for the wider role of Christian TV, I understand Rupert’s concerns, but for the reasons I gave in my first comment on his post I don’t think it should be stopped. My conclusion there can also serve to conclude this post:

For all my ambivalence about God TV I do at least believe that Rory and Wendy Alec’s hearts are in the right place, not looking for personal gain or spreading false teaching but genuinely (to quote from their website) “taking the message of the Gospel and the heart of God to the nations of the world”. I hope they are learning lessons from Lakeland.

How would Derek Prince have reacted to Todd Bentley?

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.

Message from Trevor Baker about Todd Bentley

I found today on the Revival Fires website the following message from Trevor Baker, who has worked closely with Todd Bentley and leads the Dudley outpouring meetings:

Open Response in regards to the Florida Outpouring

I know many of you will have heard of the breakdown of Todd and Shonnah Bentley’s marriage and that they have separated. This is very tragic in the light of all that Todd and Shonnah have given into the Outpouring.

It is now time to pour into their lives and their family, the grace and love that we all so eagerly desire.

Todd has withdrawn from public ministry while he seeks counsel and help from those he is accountable to. A meeting with Bill Johnson is planned when he returns from Australia. This will take place on 30-31 August. Do pray for the Holy Spirit to give clear counsel during this time.

There are areas of Todd’s life that have resulted in the breakdown of his marriage that he is willing to address. We now have both opportunity and responsibility to steward the Outpouring and see it increase. Bobby Conner prophesied that the further from the source we take this, the greater the flow would become.

Now it is time for us all to maintain the Outpouring and see it increase in our personal lives, our family, churches and communities where we minister.

I have been truly transformed by my association with the Outpouring and have seen an increase in healings, salvations in Dudley and a deepening of my dependence on Jesus to manifest His glory.

May we all continue to seek the grace and mercy for our own lives and also for Todd, Shonnah and their family, and the Fresh Fires Ministry.

I personally will uphold Todd through the difficulties he is encountering in his personal life. He remains a dear friend in ministry and I will continue to pray for his full restoration.

I believe the best days of the Outpouring are still ahead of us.

Blessings abundantly

Trevor Baker

Amen! It is good to hear that Todd is prepared to address at least some of the issues, and that he will be able to address them with the wise pastor Bill Johnson quite soon.

Certainly the Outpouring will continue in some way, in various places round the world, but we need to wait and see in what form. Meanwhile meetings continue in Dudley four nights a week, with various special events planned including a visit from the same Bill Johnson.

PS: Rupert Ward has posted some very perceptive comments about Todd and Shonnah:

They are the victims in this.  Willing, co-conspiring victims maybe.  But victims none-the-less.

Victims of the hype of the church; the tendency of the Body of Christ to idolise human beings.  The longing for God to move, which tragically means the Church lurches from one thing to the next, looking for the next big thing that God is doing.  I applaud the hunger, but not always the response to that hunger.

Although I suspect the seeds of this situation were sown in their marriage long before April this year, the pressure of nightly meetings, the criticism and scrutiny of the world (both Christian and non-Christian) and the internal battle form being in that kind of prominence and position that undoubtedly would have been raging within Bentley, must have stretched his family to breaking point.  I wonder how many marriages would survive?

I wouldn’t want to test mine in that cauldron of pressure and public glare.  My stones are firmly being left on the ground.

So tonight, as I write, fan or not, I feel God’s compassion towards Bentley, his family, and no-doubt the many people who will be disillusioned and hurt by another prominent failure of a Christian leader.  I feel God’s sadness that this has happened at all; that it was all so avoidable.  Not because Bentley didn’t have the right safeguards, or accountability.  But because the church doesn’t have to put that kind of pressure on people, to chase after the next big thing in the way we do, to set people up on pedestals that they can only fall from.

Todd Bentley and Broccoli

I have no time to write much tonight about Todd Bentley or anything else. So I will give little more than a couple of links.

Dan Curant writes about the Broccoli Revival. His main point is simple: broccoli grows better when the first sprout in the plant is cut off. Similarly, he predicts that the “fall” of Todd will lead to even greater outpouring worldwide. He concludes:

The number one lesson might be, Don’t be offended, find the good, and keep on keeping on pursuing Him.

It’s only going to get better!

Richard Steel writes that the Florida healing outpouring revival is for global evangelism. Certainly it should be, and he correctly writes:

It is important to remember that this has been a sovereign move of God, and not about any one person.

Todd Bentley to move on from Lakeland

Perhaps my posts about Todd Bentley are like buses: none for ages and then two come along together. But following the news about the change of plans for Todd’s visit to England there is now news about what is happening in Lakeland, Florida. While reports of the death of Lakeland have been exaggerated, changes are on the way.

There have been nightly outpouring meetings in Lakeland since this whole thing started in April. In the early days Todd himself led all the meetings, leading to accusations that the outpouring was centred on one man rather than on God. No doubt it has also left Todd rather tired. He took a break in mid-July, then returned more quickly than many expected. Now Todd has made an announcement on his Fresh Fire Ministries front page:


Dear Friends:

Testimonies continue to come in at our offices both in Lakeland and our headquarters in Abbotsford from different points all over the world, of people gloriously on fire for the Lord! With reports of revival fires beginning to break out, we’re determined to take God’s healing revival—the “moving ark of His glory”—into the heart of 38 cities after August 23rd.

In my last update I said, “more exciting details will be forthcoming!” That said, our Board of Directors, ministry leadership, and spiritual advisors have considered and prayed into several key factors relating to good management and good stewardship of the revival. With venue costs and other practical matters in sight, a decision has been made to change the venue back to Ignited Church effective Sunday, Aug.3. Fresh Fire Ministries will continue to lead the revival meetings until August 23rd and after that, for the time being, the meetings will be under the direction of Pastor Stephen Strader and Ignited Church. Meetings will continue at the same time: 10AM and 7PM each day. Check the Fresh Fire website www.freshfire.ca for Ignited Church’s address.

There is no doubt that the Outpouring’s revival-momentum will continue!—we welcome everyone to come to Lakeland to be immersed in the glorious healing pool that’s been established there! If you can make it to Florida, now is certainly the time to do so! In the meantime, or if it’s not possible to come, storm the gates of heaven for your area or region. Watch where the Ark of God’s glory is going and if possible make plans to visit one of those 38 cities. We’ll be posting relevant schedule-information on our website: www.freshfire.ca in the coming days.

This is the church’s God-given hour of opportunity. Thank you for praying for the outpouring in Lakeland, as well as for us, as we carry God’s priceless healing presence in the Ark of His glory into the harvest fields.

For His glory,

Todd Bentley

In other words, Todd will still be in charge, although not necessarily present in person, for the next three weeks of meetings at Ignited Church, and then he is handing the reins back to Stephen Strader, that church’s pastor. It is right that continuing meetings in Lakeland are under the authority of a local church rather than of a foreign (Canadian) mission, an important principle in the USA as in the Third World.

The change of venue is possible because no doubt William Fawcett is correct to observe that “The crowds are dwindling”. There may be all kinds of reasons for this, not least that this is the holiday season, and it must be uncomfortably hot in a tent in Florida. It also seems clear from Todd’s words that there are financial issues here. Todd told USA Today that

the revival … carries a $35,000 daily operating cost.

But I remember reading somewhere that the average donation per person per night was just $5. So there was never any truth to accusations that Todd’s ministry is making massive profits from this. Rather, if the nightly attendance drops below 7,000, as it probably has, the ministry moves into the red. So, like any loss-making venture, it has to cut back on its activities. This may well also be a major reason for the change of Todd’s plans to come to England.

That is not of course the whole story. I doubt if Todd’s mid-July break was enough for him to recover physically and mentally from three months of exhausting nightly meetings. He needs more of a break. He won’t get much of one, as according to Fresh Fire over the next three weeks he has meetings scheduled in Fort Mill SC, Louisville KY and Spokane WA, followed by a tour of Sudan and Uganda from 25th August to 8th September. Meanwhile God TV is scheduling “LA Healing Outpouring Todd Bentley” for 4th and 5th August and back to “Florida Healing Outpouring Todd Bentley” for 6th August.

Todd’s next plan is an ambitious one:

we’re determined to take God’s healing revival … into the heart of 38 cities

I hope these 38 cities will be around the world, not just in North America. In this way this outpouring, which some have criticised for being too much focused on one place, will be taken out around the world. Lakeland may die, but

unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

John 12:24 (TNIV, British edition)

Todd Bentley in England: all change

A little over a month ago I reported that Todd Bentley was planning a visit to England in September. Today I received a comment here which is also confirmed at the Revival Fires website indicating that this visit will now not be going ahead as previously planned. Kelvin Reed (I’m not sure if he is a spokesman for Revival Fires or simply passing on what he has read at their site) writes:

We have just learned that it hasn’t been possible to arrange Todd Bentley’s planned visit to the NEC on September 20th – 23rd as the venue became unavailable. … Our apologies to anyone who has made any arrangements on the basis of the original information …

I must say I find this strange. To be fair, Revival Fires always made it clear that these details were provisional. But surely dates would not have been announced without checking that the NEC would be available on those days. So why would the venue become unavailable?

I can think of two possible reasons: one, that the NEC management has refused to accept Todd Bentley, perhaps because his ministry has been misrepresented to them; or two, that insufficient funds have been raised to make advance payments. As someone who has given to Revival Fires in response to a specific appeal for funds to hire the NEC for Todd, I would like to get some clarification on this issue, and on what Revival Fires will do with the money that has been raised. Of course I can allow them time to make their decision, and I have no objection to a change to a different venue. But I would like to see a clear explanation of what is happening.

Todd Bentley follows Jesus' example

A certain “Doozie”, apparently of Arkansas, USA, who has a private blog (what’s the point of giving me that URL, Doozie?), has commented a few times on this blog in the last day or so. His or her name means “Something extraordinary or bizarre”, and that is a good description also of the content of this comment, which includes the following:

Show me in the NEW Testament where it supports an evangelist/prophet/disciple or anyone else standing in front of large masses conducting themselves as a Leader…….that is focusing only on healing and not repentance. The example of Jesus doesn’t count.

Yes, he or she, apparently a Christian, wrote “The example of Jesus doesn’t count.” I am gobsmacked! Sorry if this doesn’t sound too “Gentle”, but Christian “Wisdom” requires that I correct this amazing error, not because the mysterious Doozie makes it but because this attitude of rejecting Jesus’ example seems to lie behind much of the criticism of Todd Bentley.

In an early post on this blog, nearly two years ago so long before the Lakeland outpouring, I wrote that Jesus is Our Fully Human Example. As I argued in that post, Jesus carried out all of his ministry as a human being filled with the Holy Spirit. That implies that we as Christians should expect to be able to do all the same things that he did – although if we are crucified it won’t have the same significance as Jesus’ crucifixion. We are not perfect and so will not follow Jesus’ example perfectly, but our aim should be perfection according to the model which Jesus taught us (Matthew 5:48).

If we look at Jesus’ ministry, we see a man who started out on his ministry by preaching and teaching (Mark 1:14-15,21-22) and building a team around himself (1:16-20). But he soon found himself healing and casting out demons (1:23-31). Indeed that very first evening of his public ministry he found himself as the focus of a large healing meeting (1:32-34), “standing in front of large masses … as a Leader”. The “Capernaum Outpouring” had begun! But Jesus was concerned to meet a broader need than just in one small town, so he starting a touring ministry of healing – and of asking those who were healed to look for authentication of their healing (1:35-45). Within a few days the crowds had become unmanageably large, but he had also attracted the attention of critics (2:1-12). Soon, despite there being no TV or Internet in those days, his ministry was bringing in international visitors, with people travelling as much as a hundred miles from Idumea, probably on foot, for healing (3:8). At this point he commissioned others in his team, initially 12 and later 70 or 72, to broaden his ministry, and imparted to them the power and authority to heal and cast out demons (3:14-15, Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1-2,6, 10:1,9) – a ministry they continued after Jesus’ death and resurrection (Mark 16:20, Acts 5:12-16).

Few people alive today are following these aspects of Jesus’ example more precisely than Todd Bentley. He started as an evangelist but soon found himself at the centre of crowds seeking healing. And by the power of God he was able to provide this healing, not perfectly as Jesus was because he is imperfect, but enough to convince crowds to come back for more. For years Todd, like Jesus, has travelled from place to place. He stayed in Lakeland for a time as this allowed his message to get worldwide coverage through TV and the Internet. From this base he has commissioned many others to take his message and his healing power throughout the world. But of course he has attracted his critics. Eventually Jesus’ critics had him crucified. I hope and pray that Todd won’t meet a similar fate! But I also hope and pray that he, like Jesus, will remain steadfast in the face of criticism to complete the ministry which God has for him.

Todd, like Jesus, has encouraged those who are healed to get proper evidence of this. And he has provided this evidence to the press, for example in a binder full of medical records which was given to ABC’s “Nightline” programme. It is sad, but understandable in a litigious age, that doctors are reluctant to confirm healings. But as Christians we should not depend on such confirmation, especially when it implies that we trust the non-Christian media more than the reports of our Christian brothers and sisters. In John 20:26-29, whereas Jesus graciously gave Thomas the verification he required of the resurrection, he implicitly rebuked him and blessed those who believe without demanding proof. Similarly, we should not insist on this kind of verification of God’s works. We should rather trust what we believe God is doing, and allow the Holy Spirit to verify its truth to our hearts.

But God does graciously provide some evidence. TC Robinson has posted a testimony of partial healing from a medical professional. Also I found the following in Todd’s book “Christ’s Healing Touch”, volume 1 (Fresh Fire Ministries 2004, ISBN 0-9736387-0-2), pp. 296-297, concerning Todd’s mission to India in 2004:

Doctor Rod Thompson, a medical doctor from the Pacific North West in the USA, was able to check and document the validity of many healing testimonies. If this procedure does not convince the skeptic, nothing will. Again and again, after examining the people the doctor verified Jesus Christ still heals today. Here is part of his report:

“Todd had called out a word of knowledge for a blind 13 or 14-year-old girl. A 13-year-old girl came for prayer. I examined her eyes with an ophthalmoscope and found a dense cataract in the left eye. She reported that she was totally blind in that eye. After Todd prayed for her, she reported partial sight. I re-examined the eye and to my amazement, the cataract looked like it had broken into several pieces. Medically, this does not make sense, but that is what I observed. I believe God was breaking up the cataract and restoring her sight. …”

In the book there is a picture of Dr Thompson examining an Indian woman. Presumably he could be traced and asked for an independent copy of his report.

Jesus also said:

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 your enemies will be the members of your own household.’

37 Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves a son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10:34-39 (TNIV)

In his own day, and indeed ever since, this Jesus who preached peace and reconciliation has been a cause of strife and division, within nations and even families. This was necessary in order to separate the true people of God from those who, while claiming to know him, would not accept the messenger he sent. And it seems that Todd is following this aspect of Jesus’ example as well. He has become a cause for division within the church, the family of God.

Now I would not want to suggest that Todd’s ministry has the same significance as a cause for division as Jesus’ ministry. But I might suggest that there is a real analogy between the way that many of the Jewish people in Jesus’ time rejected his ministry and the way in which many Christians today reject new ways in which God is working in the world. This situation has been foretold in the Bible:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, … 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

2 Timothy 3:1-2,5,8-9 (TNIV)

Today there are both Bible deists and people who claim to be charismatics who presume to pontificate on what God can and cannot do today. Some of them assert principles such as that God cannot do anything which he isn’t recorded as doing in the Bible. Where did that come from? Not from God, who said

See, I am doing a new thing!

Isaiah 43:19 (TNIV)

– ironically the one thing God did in the Bible which these people don’t allow him to do today – nor from Jesus, who said

Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

John 14:12 (TNIV)

Christian ministers today can do different things, greater things than what is recorded in the Bible, because Jesus is risen and ascended to the Father.

Among Jesus’ critics were those who accused him of ministering by the power of demons (Matthew 12:24). This is part of his response to them:

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Matthew 12:32 (TNIV)

I hope and pray that this will not be the fate of those who reject the working of the Holy Spirit in these days. Instead, I long to bring them back to the truth about what God is doing today, following James’ final exhortation:

My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring them back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the way of error will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

James 5:19-20 (TNIV)

Todd Bentley takes a break

Yesterday I received the following from God TV, which is also at this web page:

Fresh Fire Ministries announced yesterday that Todd Bentley would be taking some time off to refresh and to rest from the Florida Outpouring after nearly one hundred days of ministry. The Lakeland meetings will continue and Todd will remain the leader of this move of God.

So Todd Bentley is taking a well deserved break. Perhaps his critics will also take a break. Perhaps some of them will conclude that their campaigns against his ministry have been successful, and rejoice. But this would be premature. I suppose that all the criticism has added to the stress which Todd has necessarily been under after keeping up such a heavy schedule for three months. But I’m sure he will be back. Indeed the announcement from God TV suggests that his break will not be a long one, as well as confirming that nightly meetings will continue at Lakeland, although without Todd and without TV coverage:

but until then, you can continue to enjoy the nightly meetings LIVE at www.god.tv/stream

Meanwhile there has been an interesting report about Todd in USA Today. This is generally reasonably sympathetic, considering that this is in the secular mainstream press, but it is unfortunate that Todd’s staff cannot come up with even one convincing authenticated healing for the press to report. Here is an extract:

To those who doubt the healing claims, he asks: If you believe in the Bible’s miracles, why can’t you believe they’re happening today?

“Miracles and healings are evidence,” Bentley said. “They are signs of the Kingdom, and if we don’t have signs then all we have is a bunch of theology. How one individual wants to interpret Scripture and how another individual wants to interpret Scripture.”

At this point I interrupt the quote to note that, despite how Eddie Arthur interprets this, Todd is not saying that miracles and healings are the only signs of the Kingdom. They are clearly the signs which Todd is concentrating on, but he says nothing to invalidate the other kinds of signs which Eddie mention, which are also helpful in getting interested people beyond “a bunch of theology” to an understanding that God is real and at work. I could add that Todd’s eschatology may be over-realised (we should expect victory now), whereas Eddie’s may be under-realised (we should expect suffering now), but that issue needs another long post to do it justice.

The revival is similar to yearslong events in Toronto and Pensacola, on Florida’s Panhandle, in the 1990s, said Vinson Synan, a professor of church history at Regent University and sympathetic expert on Pentecostalism. The difference is Bentley’s focus — more on healing, less on conversion — and appearance, he said.

“What I see is exhortation — encouraging the people to worship and to praise, exhorting people rather than teaching and preaching, in the traditional sense,” Synan said. “I told my class he’s the most unlikely evangelist you can imagine, compared to the curly haired Billy Grahams and Oral Robertses, who were attractive people. This guy’s kind of short, fat and bald, with tattoos on his arms. He looks like a hippie. … In a way it’s a positive, because he’s very much of the common man.”

Meanwhile Richard Steel posts an interesting defence of Todd’s strategy, which he presents as essentially one of evangelism:

I agree with what I’ve heard from Todd Bentley, John Arnott, Mark Stibbe, Jerame Nelson, Charlie Robinson, Trevor Baker, John Laframboise, Patricia King, Bob Jones, Paul Keith Davis, Keith Miller, and many other notable speakers that this revival, this outpouring is for the harvesting of souls. It is to empower the church for harvest. Yes we need God’s love and compassion. But we need something that will show people that Jesus Christ is God, and the only way to Heaven. …

It needs to be emphasised that this move of God is for all the body of Christ. A powerless church is not going to be effective. With so much pornography, violence, and degradation available on the internet, isn’t it time that we as the body of Christ showed people The Kingdom of Heaven invading earth? … Do we want to see outpouring turn into genuine revival? Then let’s seek God and pray fervently, but also take the fire out there with much love and compassion onto the streets, our communities, in our workplace, amongst our family, friends, and neighbours. …

Let’s all be encouraged to take a risk for Jesus. He died for you and me. Let’s give Him everything we have, and remember how valuable every person is to Him. Let’s also love and encourage each other to step into all that God has for each one of us. The Lord is building His Kingdom, and to Him alone be all the glory, the honour, and the praise!


The blind see and the dead are raised – here in the UK!

Richard Steel reports on a blind man receiving his sight, on the streets of Dudley, England, this morning. This includes a video interview with the man.

Thanks also to my commenter Rhea for the link to a report of many healings in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where there seems to be a similar outpouring to the Dudley one. The report includes a young man being raised from the dead. Where does this report come from? The BBC website!

Yes, the outpourings in Dudley and Belfast are both linked to Todd Bentley.

Todd Bentley is coming to England in September

UPDATE: This visit has been cancelled or postponed, see here.

This evening (Thursday), for the first time in several weeks, I watched some of Todd Bentley‘s meeting in Lakeland, Florida. I had the chance to do so because I was visiting friends who have God TV. This was in fact a recording of Wednesday night’s meeting. I watched Todd for only about half an hour, as he first spoke about the centrality of Jesus and then prayed for the glory of God to be manifested. And his prayer seemed to be answered, both in the Lakeland tent and in my own heart. He explained that this was not preaching, this was his introduction and prayer time. Nevertheless there was enough teaching to show how untrue are the silly allegations that Todd worships angels rather than Jesus.

I thought I saw Trevor Baker, leader of the Dudley outpouring, on the stage behind Todd. And indeed this seems to have been confirmed by what I have read elsewhere; he has been there at least since last Sunday. Meanwhile, as Richard Steel reports, Jerame Nelson, an associate of Todd’s, is preaching in Trevor’s place in Dudley. At Trevor’s Revival Fires website there is a YouTube video, new on Thursday, of Todd talking to Trevor. I suspect that this was recorded after the Wednesday night meeting I saw part of: both are wearing the same clothes I saw on God TV, and Todd’s words in the video “the glory of God is so thick … you could feel the presence of the Lord in the atmosphere” fit well with what I saw and experienced.

Among other things the video announces the news which is also on the Revival Fires website, that Todd is coming to England in September:

Revival Fires is now working with Todd to arrange a trip to the UK from 20 – 24 Sept 2008 at the NEC, where he will personally release to the UK all that God has been doing in Florida. We hope you will be able to make the trip, and until then please keep checking our website.

In fact the video seems to imply that this is now more definite than suggested by these words. So it looks like we will be seeing Todd here in England quite soon, in the National Exhibition Centre, a 12,000 seater venue on the edge of Birmingham.

Phil Whittall visited Dudley last week, and his report, five parts about one evening, suggested to me that the fires of outpouring in Dudley were burning low. I even wondered if they should be calling a halt to their nightly meetings. Maybe Trevor also felt the fire dying down, and that is why he went back to Lakeland. Now he reports having received a renewed anointing. That, together with Todd’s new endorsement, will no doubt ensure that the Dudley nightly meetings will continue for some time.

Meanwhile my commenter John reports, from his viewing presumably on God TV, that at Lakeland

last weekend 125 people gave their lives to Christ in one night.

We may not all like Todd’s style, and we may have issues with some of his peripheral teachings. But surely, in the spirit of Philippians 1:15-18, we can all rejoice that people are being saved as well as healed at Lakeland, and hope and pray that we will see similar mighty things happening here in England, during Todd’s visit in September, and also before and after it as those who have been touched by this anointing put it into practice around the country.