Proud to be a Montanist and a Jim West heretic

TertullianJim West writes about me:

he loves being a Montanist, a heretic.

Yes, I am proud to identify myself with the Montanists, a much maligned prophetic movement in the early church, but one which was never formally declared heretical. The great Church Father Tertullian joined this movement, while remaining a member of the Catholic church.

I am also proud to join such luminaries as Rick Warren, Rob Bell, Joyce Meyer and, yes, Todd Bentley in the admittedly not very select band of those Jim has publicly called heretics.

But I am confused. Not so long ago (well, it is three years) I wrote that Jim West endorses Todd Bentley, in the following words (but the quote is from Jim’s now deleted old blog):

I had intended to take a break from blogging about Todd Bentley. But I can’t resist this quote, which appears to be genuine, from Jim West:

you can learn as much from benny hinn and todd bentley as you can the ‘fathers’ (with the singular exception of Jerome …)

So Todd’s and Benny’s teaching is as valuable as that of the “Fathers” of the church? Why, I thought I was praising Todd rather highly in comparing him with Jesus and Paul, but I was only saying that he was trying to follow their example. I would never have dared to compare Todd’s teaching with that of any of the respected theologians of the church. But Jim West seems to value Todd and Benny above such towering figures as Tertullian, Origen and Chrysostom. High praise indeed!

Surely Jim can’t have changed his mind about Todd?

But since Jim also calls me “a dilettante of the first order”, why hasn’t he given me a Dilly award?Dilly the Dilettante

7 thoughts on “Proud to be a Montanist and a Jim West heretic

  1. So I’m reading over on a favorite Eastern Orthodox blog (Silouan – former Assembly of God Pastor) about alleged positive correlations between Bible reading and motivations to social justice. I remarked back that the correlations are extremely spurious. Because Bible reading is not always a predictor of social justice but rather often a consequence. Valid scientific sociological criticisms of the book, “More God, Less Crime,” indict this result.

    The danger is religious people and pastors wanting to take more credit for the Bible and more credit for their own vaunted vocations than they deserve.

    I’m not above the same faults. Enmeshed in them. My peers are brutal. Better are the blows of friends.

    Perhaps a properly metricized Todd Bentley would show an ordered correlation with a stochastic overlay (ratio of hits to misses in healings)? Or maybe a stochastic work with an ordered overlay (more misses than hits)? What do I know?

    But the issue really is just that – these overlays.

    So when Jim West apes Scott (ape aping-Voltaire) – and West-apes categorically that Todd Bentley does not know the Holy Spirit (or maybe it’s you who do not know the Holy Spirit) – it takes a dilettante to know a dilettante.

    I’ll take the dilettante award. I’d rather be an amateur. Than a professional (read between the lines!). Than ape aping that anyone categorically does not know the Holy Spirit. King David sexing Bathsheba and murdering her husband in the cruelest treachery. Yet a man after God’s heart (more below on Todd’s repentance).

    But really, Peter, how many – professional – PROFESSIONAL!!! – theologians squatted in their dogmatic-cognitive theology and in Voltaire ala-rule satire really want to do the patient work? – the hard work? – sorting out these ordered-to-stochastic overlays?

    How many? Really?

    I could tell you the advice I gave to some poor people in one of the home churches that I attend, that is, when a few of them asked me whether they should go see Todd Bentley recently in Reno?

    But who really wants to do such – patient – and careful work to discern the Spirit and the spirits differentially in these overlays?



    Diogenes Jim

  2. Jim, thank you for the encouragement. Yes, Jim West is a dilettante himself, a pastor without a PhD, who presumes to judge others as dilettanti. The results of a properly designed investigation into healings through Todd and similar would be interesting, if the ethical issues could be overcome, but it would be very hard to design a good experiment, and people on either side would pick holes in the method if the results didn’t meet their presuppositions.

  3. “ .. if the ethical issues could be overcome.”

    Exactly! Like asking anyone to pray against her/his own convictions. For starters! Even in a double blind. And even when (faux professional theologians) judge that those (wrong) convictions in prayer are asymptotic to the line of the Spirit in the Spirit’s timed-series purposes – in this-case – here and now. Just imagine Bentley’s wrong-praying (please remember my former Chuck Smith example) are still blessed by the Spirit anyway and despite Bentley (worst case scenario) case by case with more healings than all of West’s aping Todd’s Voltaire! Imagine. Ethical issues. Exactly, Peter. ~ Jim

  4. Well, Jim, I wasn’t actually thinking in terms of “asking anyone to pray against her/his own convictions”. It might be as simple as taking a randomly chosen half of a group of terminally sick people to Todd Bentley or similar meetings and keeping the other half away, and comparing how many spontaneously recovered, or even lived a bit longer than expected. That probably wouldn’t cause too many ethical problems if done with volunteers, as it is not too similar to what is done with drug trials. The real problem is that it is hard to stop everyone from praying for loved ones in the control group.

  5. Good points all the way around. That’s my heart. To consider even my own prayers – as trials. If God exists (interactively-responsively), then I’m only blessed to learn of my failures. Your comments about family members praying for each other are excellent. The way you put these questions makes them theoretically observable. Short of clinical trials (with all those iterations), many of us (non-professionals – haha!) live in the world of heuristic-feel-learn-as-we-go. I do, in my prayers. Suffering correction. Only the professionals know better :). ~ Jim.

  6. nb – “Like asking anyone to pray against her/his own convictions.” Peter, what I meant by that was not that you had this in mind, but instead, whether the satires and so-called professional criticisms of Todd (play along) would range so far as to ask Todd to pray against his own convictions. Open question. Not satire on my part. This sensibility is implicit in the criticisms when West says that Todd (or maybe you – his construction is awkward) does not know the Spirit. In other words, how do they really want Todd to pray? Would they have Todd pray consistently with his convictions and then would they be open to seeing the Spirit’s blessings in non-correlated healings (worst case – healings despite, Todd being wrong)? Or would they have Bentley pray against his own convictions and pray just like they pray – and get what results? Where are the vaunted results – of their prayers? What are their results? How would they catechize Todd to pray? That’s what I meant. Not directed at you. Your response was correct anyway. ~ Jim

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