The great enemy of perception, and thus of accurate predictions, is judgment. People often learn just enough about something to judge it as belonging in this or that category. They observe bizarre conduct and say, “This guy is just crazy.” Judgments are the automatic pigeonholing of a person or situation simply because some characteristic is familiar to the observer (so whatever that characteristic meant before it must mean again now). Familiarity is comfortable, but such judgments drop the curtain, effectively preventing the observer from seeing the rest of the play.
Eclexia was not thinking of Todd Bentley when she quoted this. I don’t think the original writer was thinking of him either. But this quote nicely summarises the attitude of so many people to him and to the Lakeland, Florida outpouring which he is leading. They claim to discern things about his ministry, but in fact the fail to perceive what it is all about because they make snap judgments about Todd.
Mark Cahill, an American evangelist whose qualifications, according to his “About Mark” web page, are “a business degree from Auburn University, where he was an honorable mention Academic All-American in basketball” (!) has written a June 2008 Newsletter entitled Guards Up. This has been quoted more or less in full by bloggers Andy Kinman and Ricky Earle, also in an apparent case of plagiarism passed off by blogger Brian Cranford as his own work. (Brian’s appears to be a genuine blog linked to a genuine Christian ministry, but there has been no reply to my comment of nearly 24 hours ago asking for clarification of the source of this post.) In his newsletter Mark links to my post about Todd Bentley and an angel called Emma, perhaps because I still have posted what Todd originally wrote about this but has now, I am told, had removed from his website. But this post from nearly a month ago is old news, and should be re-read in the light of what Todd has just recently written on this subject, which I posted on before.
Now “Guards Up!” may be good advice in business or basketball, but is it in the Christian life? First let’s look at some of Mark’s claims about Todd.
First, Mark accuses Todd of being a false prophet on the basis of a video, which is clearly some years old because Todd has quite a lot of hair. But I don’t see any false prophecy in this video. I see “words of knowledge”, which are not the same as prophecy, some of which are not immediately confirmed but that does not imply that they are false. But then I don’t think anyone ministering in “words of knowledge” like this claims 100% accuracy.
As for the video of Todd laughing, the style may be strange but that doesn’t make it evil. Is there really a good reason why God cannot make people laugh, shake or fall down? Of course not, because all of these are in the Bible: laughing in a positive sense in Job 8:21 (OK, this is Bildad speaking so should be taken with care), Psalm 126:2 and Luke 6:21, shaking in Job 4:14 (this time Eliphaz is speaking so again should be taken with care) and Matthew 28:4, falling to the ground also in Matthew 28:4 and in Ezekiel 1:28, Revelation 1:17 etc.
There is in fact nothing new in what Mark writes, just a rehash of the same old criticisms I have seen before. The disturbing thing is that Mark claims to know all sorts of things about occult practices but doesn’t know enough about the Bible and Christian practice to realise that there are no new manifestations happening in Lakeland. What is new is the style, the unprecedented power, and the worldwide attention.
Mark also seems to know rather well the Bible verses about false prophets and the need to discern them. But in fact he doesn’t apply these verses properly. The test of a false prophet in Deuteronomy 13 is whether the prophet leads people astray into idolatry. But there is no question that Todd is glorifying Jesus, not any other gods or idols, as he makes very clear in his recent article. So by this standard he is not a false prophet. Nor has he made any specific prophecies which have proved false, the test in Deuteronomy 18. But these Old Testament tests are only part of the picture. Why has Mark made no mention of the New Testament tests of false prophets and false Messiahs? Perhaps this is because in the NT discernment of spirits is a spiritual gift, 1 Corinthians 12:10. Mark makes no claim to this gift, but without it he has no right to make pronouncements on such a matter. Also, there is also an objective test in the NT, in 1 John 4:1-3, and by this it is quite clear that Todd is ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit and not the spirit of the antichrist.
Mark’s basic problem is that he relies on his own understanding in this matter. The guards which he tries to put up are deployed in his own strength. And such guards are powerless against an enemy who is more powerful than he is and quite able to deceive him apart from the leading of the Holy Spirit. People who walk into a spiritual battle without spiritual weapons and armour are likely to be defeated. Instead we all need to rely on the armour and weapons of attack which God provides for us, Ephesians 6:10-17. If we do this we can walk in safety into meetings like Todd’s, confident that we will not be deceived, and allow the Holy Spirit to show us what is his work.
Also, Patsy of Rahab’s Place has gone on the offensive against the critics with her post Great Florida Outpouring – Lying Signs and Wonders, in which she refutes from the Bible the critics’ claims that the healing miracles at Lakeland are the work of the devil. She concludes:
There is a great deal of lying wonders going on regarding the Lakeland Outpouring. The lie is that satan has the power to heal and raise the dead. This lie has been fed to the church and the wonder is that she has accepted it in the light of scriptures.
Patsy has other posts about the “Great Florida Outpouring”, including a link to a TV interview with Todd in which he refers to documented healings, an endorsement from Bill Johnson, and a testimony of healing which is taken straight from Dr Gary Greig’s comment here at Gentle Wisdom. This is the same Dr Greig who has given his own biblical proofs, which I summarised, that what Todd is doing is valid.
So, let’s set aside the critics’ misrepresentations of the Bible, take down our human guards, put on the armour of God, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us into the truth about Todd.