The Donatists, GAFCON, and the Todd Bentley critics

The Donatists were a schismatic group in the early church, mainly in North Africa, who, to put things simply, broke away from the mainstream church because they rejected the authority of leaders, such as bishops, who had sinned. The specific problem was with Christian leaders who had compromised during a period of persecution:

The Donatists refused to accept the sacraments and spiritual authority of the priests and bishops who had fallen away from the faith during the persecution.

They refused to accept the repentance of these traditors and held that sacraments performed by them were invalid.

This is known as: ex opere operantis — Latin for from the work of the one doing the working, that is, that the validity of the sacrament depends upon the worthiness and holiness of the minister confecting it. The Catholic position was (and is): ex opere operato — from the work having been worked, in other words, that the validity of the sacrament depends upon the holiness of God, the minister being a mere instrument of God’s work, so that any priest or bishop, even one in a state of mortal sin, who speaks the formula of the sacrament with valid matter and the intent of causing the sacrament to occur acts validly.

At the Reformation, although some of the radicals may have taken the Donatist position, the majority continued to hold that it was wrong. Article XXVI of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England condemns Donatism, and extends the ex opere operato principle to preaching as well as sacraments:

Although in the visible Church the evil be ever mingled with the good, and sometimes the evil have chief authority in the Ministration of the Word and Sacraments, yet forasmuch as they do not the same in their own name, but in Christ’s, and do minister by his commission and authority, we may use their ministry, both in hearing the Word of God, and in receiving of the Sacraments. Neither is the effect of Christ’s ordinance taken away by their wickedness, nor the grace of God’s gifts diminished from such as by faith and rightly do receive the Sacraments ministered unto them; which be effectual, because of Christ’s institution and promise, although they be ministered by evil men.

Doug Chaplin calls this The least believed article, and he may be right. It certainly seems to be the least believed by the GAFCON participants, who in their Final Statement, the same one I reported and commented on here, write:

4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

How do they reconcile their affirmation of Article XXVI with the following part of their statement?:

13. We reject the authority of those churches and leaders who have denied the orthodox faith in word or deed.

It seems that Donatism is still alive and well in Africa, and the other homes of the GAFCON participants.

Another place where Donatism seems to be alive and well is among the critics of Todd Bentley. The Internet, including comments on this blog, is full of savage statements which imply that because Todd allegedly did something wrong, or which might be understood as wrong, this invalidates his whole ministry. It does not. The accusations brought range from his pre-conversion criminal offence, through his tattoos, some questionable teaching about angels several years ago and his occasional use of violent methods while ministering, to his allegedly wrong fundraising methods at Lakeland. Now to those who reject Donatism these charges are of little relevance. Even if all are true and about genuine wrongdoing, this does not invalidate Todd’s preaching except when explicitly in error, nor his other ministry at least to the extent that it is sacramental. And I would hold that Todd’s ministry of healing and of impartation is genuinely sacramental, an outward sign performed by Todd of an inward work which is of the Holy Spirit.

But then could all these Donatists have it right? The anti-Donatist position clearly opens the dangerous way to the church leadership being taken over by those who compromise their faith. Indeed this happened within a generation or so of the original rejection of the Donatist position, as the anti-Donatists quickly made friends with the secular powers led by the new emperor Constantine, leading to an age in which the secular powers had authority over the church. So, if Donatism is rejected, is there any safeguard against the church lapsing into compromise?

On this point, in my opinion, the safest principle to follow is that of the wise Jewish leader Gamaliel, who advised:

Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.

Acts 5:38-39 (TNIV)

In other words, let the bad churches and ministries grow alongside the good ones, without trying to root them out, and let God provide the vindication of those which are good and the judgment on those which are not.

It should be clear how to apply this to Todd Bentley, but perhaps not to the situation GAFCON is addressing. Here in the Church of England there is room for a variety of local congregations and for the Gamaliel principle to be used to separate the good from the bad – although this is threatened by the way in which successful congregations are in effect taxed, through the Parish Share system, to subsidise those which are failing. The real problem is in North America, where Anglican church authorities are making life very difficult for orthodox congregations. My own solution to that kind of situation would not be to set up a new structure, but instead for each orthodox congregation to branch out on its own – if necessary leaving behind the assets which are now being legally disputed, and which can be a burden rather than a help to a faithful congregation. If the Anglican authorities in a certain area do not allow the faithful preaching of the Word of God, then faithful believers should wash their hands of Anglicanism and minister in other structures.

0 thoughts on “The Donatists, GAFCON, and the Todd Bentley critics

  1. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Primates and Packer live from All Souls

  2. “some questionable teaching about angels several years ago”

    More accurately, repeated, recent aberrational or heretical teaching about angels. Please bear in mind that Todd has declared from the Lakeland pulpit that God has not commissioned him to preach Jesus, in whom “the people already believe,” but instead to encourage people to “believe in the angel.” This claim recaps a similar claim by heretic William Branham, whom Todd frequently cites with unqualified approval. How is one to understand such statements, which appear to be deliberately provocative, other than as profound theological error?

  3. Pingback: Threads from Henry’s Web » Todd Bentley Obedient to the Lord?

  4. Chairos Seeker, the only teaching I have seen which even approximately matches your caricature is in a video from some years ago and an article which is also several years old. Also I see you are one of those who believe that it is wrong to teach Christians anything other than the basics about Jesus, and so reject the biblical author’s intention in Hebrews 6:1-3.

  5. Peter, thanks for you reply. You can view the Lakeland clip to which I referred yourself. I will paste a transcript at the end of this comment.

    In context, Heb. 6 does not encourage leaving behind the proclamation of Jesus, as Todd Bentley proposes. Instead it encourages leaving behind the elementary things concerning Jesus. Jesus was, is, and will be the focus of God’s revelation. To propose any other focus is to deny Him glory that is due Him. He alone is worthy. Moreover, Todd Bentley does not merely shift focus from Jesus but claims that God has told him to do so. This claim is patently false and demonstrates a serious lack of discernment.

    Recently, the Pew Forum recently released a survey showing that only 57% of people within Evangelical churches believe that Jesus is the way rather than one way among many. It is erroneous to claim, as Todd Bentley claims God did, that the people “already believe in Jesus” even within the church.

    I urge you to become more familiar not only with Todd Bentley’s old teaching but his new teaching. He calls for a “reformation” of the church. Isn’t it important to know exactly what sort of reformation he has in mind?

    Transcript follows:

    Todd: “This thing’s gonna break out, now just wait up here in Shreveport, I’m releasing it back, to where it all started in 1948, I’m releasing it back.

    “Now for some of you who are here, it doesn’t really matter to you, all that stuff, all you care about is that God’s moving, and you know what? That’s all that really matters. So if you’re not big on prophetic, supernatural, and angels, I’m sorry. It’s my testimony, but if you want to know why God’s moving, I’m sorry, I have to tell you the whole story. If you don’t believe the story, well – sorry.

    “You know, I told the Lord, “Why can’t I just move in healing and forget talking about all that…other stuff?”

    “He said, “Because, Todd, you gotta get the people to believe in the angel.”

    “I said, “God, why do I want people to believe in the angel, isn’t it about getting the people to believe in Jesus?”

    “He said, “The people already believe in Jesus, but the church doesn’t believe in the supernatural.”

    “The church has no problem believing in Jesus. But what we don’t believe in is the supernatural. We don’t believe in angels, we don’t believe in the prophetic, we don’t believe in some of what’s going on. And I’ll tell you what, we need to have an awakening.”

  6. The concerns that I and many other people have about Todd Bentley do not result from isolated or historic incidents.

    He is currently engaged in (1) promoting unbiblical doctrine, (2) false prophecy, (3) vastly exaggerated claims of healing, (4) prosperity teaching, (5) physical violence, (6) lying, and (7) emotional manipulation. All these have happened repeatedly within the past couple of months.

    The Bible makes it clear that high standards are expected of those in public ministry. It’s my view that Bentley fails to meet those standards to such an extent that he should not be given a platform, in much the same way that we would not permit a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon minister in a christian context.

    The more I learn about the Lakeland “revival”, the more I am convinced that it is a flood of deception from the enemy and should be avoided.

  7. Hi Peter
    I have been following your blog on and off for a while. For introduction, I am a Lay Reader around 50 miles from you. My late mother in law lived and worshipped in a Parish in Chelmsford.

    I would be interested in your take on how the Donatist controversy relates to the position of many orthodox Anglo Catholics on women as Presbyters and Bishops. My understanding is that they required the “Flying Bishops” and are arguing for a sperate provision in the event of the consectration of women bishops, because they consider that bishops sho have ordained/consecrated women have broken the apostolic faith. Known as the theology of taint to some of opposing views. Yet this stance seems to me to contradict the donatist stand Catholics seem to stand by in other respects.

    I am trying to work through this apparent contradiction. your view, and any Forward in Faith supporters who read your blog very welcome. This does come in a spirit of serious and honest enquiry to understand the positions

    Colin

  8. Chairos Seeker, it is indeed scandalous that a majority even in US evangelical churches believe that “Many religions can lead to eternal life”. This says a lot about the state of American evangelicalism, and its need for the kind of thorough revival which Todd Bentley is aiming for. Perhaps he is not quite right in the first part of this quote:

    The church has no problem believing in Jesus. But what we don’t believe in is the supernatural.

    But he is surely right about the second part. The church needs that belief in the supernatural, that there is more to the Christian faith than Jesus being one good teacher among many, that he rose from the dead, that there is real power in the name of Jesus. The church indeed needs an awakening of understanding of this, to regain its confidence in the uniqueness of Jesus. This is the teaching which God asked Todd to preach to a particular congregation on a particular occasion. Do you know better than God and Todd what that congregation needed?

  9. CharismaticSceptic, do you have any evidence for your charges of any of the following:

    (1) promoting unbiblical doctrine, (2) false prophecy, (3) vastly exaggerated claims of healing, (4) prosperity teaching, (5) physical violence, (6) lying, and (7) emotional manipulation.

    Yes, I have seen him knee a few people in the stomach, not causing lasting pain. The others are all a matter of interpretation, very probably misinterpretation.

  10. Colin, thank you for commenting on the Anglican issue here. Yes, this rejection of bishops who have ordained women does sound like Donatism, for that is what this “theology of taint” amounts to. Actually so does opposition to ordination of women, because it implies that ordination is invalidated by some quality of the candidate. I don’t personally take a stand on the Catholic anti-Donatist position, but any who do need to be careful to avoid inconsistency.

    Meanwhile I am working on another post comparing the opponents of women bishops to another group of heretics. Keep reading!

  11. Peter

    Thanks for your thoughts. When I first read about the donatist controversy – during my training for Reader Ministry – I had begun to feel uncomfortable with the Flying bishop solution, Resolution C etc of Act of Synod and what has been flowing from that viewpoint since. Good to see someone else has had the same uneasiness.

    And then follows how we understand the roles of men and women in the church, and the provision which we should or should not make for those who cannot accept women in ordained roles ( and I know Anglo Catholics and Evangelicals who don’t) On that little lot I await your anticipated post with great interest. I will hold back until then!

    Colin

  12. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Caesaropapism, a dangerous path for the Church of England

  13. Peter – The comparison doesn’t work. The problem with the Donatists was that they didn’t accept the authority of the traditors *AFTER THEY HAD REPENTED*

    The principle is not one of *AUTHORITYit’s one of *GRACE*. Because by denying their repentence they were in effect denying the sufficiency of Christ to forgive.

  14. Additionally, your usage of Gamaliel’s quote is misleading. Firstly, even if it were prescriptive rather than merely descriptive it would have to be taken along with Paul’s commendation of the Berean’s attitude, his words on the qualifications of elders and teachers, and his encouragement of the use of discernment.

    The existence of the final judgement of God on all things (the part of Gamaliel’s statement that is true) does not remove our responsibility to judge all things against Scripture in the mean time.

  15. Chris, the original traditors rejected by the Donatists may have repented, but the Donatists seem to have rejected the genuineness of their repentance.

    This has clear parallels in the case of Todd Bentley because people try to slur him by association with Paul Cain and Bob Jones, Christian leaders who have sinned and repented, but some choose not to accept their repentance. Indeed some go further and bring up Todd’s criminal past even though this was before he ever became a Christian. So for these critics it is a matter of grace, which they seem to deny to Todd and his associates.

    I accept that the situation in the Anglican Communion is a little different because there is no repentance. Nevertheless Article XXVI is not dependent on repentance, and that is the principle which the GAFCON leaders have embraced.

  16. Chris, concerning your second comment, where do you find Paul condemning teachers for minor errors or commending those who do so? He only condemned those who denied central teachings of the faith. The Bereans are commended for studying the Scriptures, not for judging Paul and Silas.

  17. Peter: “This is the teaching which God asked Todd to preach to a particular congregation on a particular occasion.”

    Apparently you have misunderstood. Todd Bentley did not claim a commission merely for the particular occasion. He claimed it at least for all of Lakeland and perhaps for his entire ministry.

    You seem to insist on the same false dichotomy between Jesus and the supernatural that Todd Bentley presents. Please consider: Jesus, being God, is a supernatural being. Thus there is no dichotomy between Jesus and the supernatural. Moreover, the true proclamation of Jesus is the proper context–the only proper context–for the proclamation of the supernatural.

    Peter: “Do you know better than God and Todd what that congregation needed?”

    You seem to be confusing the views of God and Todd Bentley. Do you seriously entertain the notion that God would command teaching, whether on one occasion or many, that subordinates Jesus to “the angel”? Or that God would want people to “believe in”–that is, to place their trust in–an angel?

    Please take a step back, review the video and transcript, and reconsider the meaning and significance of Todd’s claim. You can perhaps reasonably argue that Todd accidentally misspoke. But, I cannot believe that any true follower of Jesus would actually approve Todd’s claim.

    You are right that much criticism of Todd Bentley is unwarranted and unkind. But, please don’t let that fact distract you or your readers from considering more substantive claims of error. I have many similar examples of recent, erroneous teaching by Todd Bentley. Frankly, the pertinent issue isn’t whether valid criticisms exist. The pertinent issue is what should be done to address them.

  18. “Chris, concerning your second comment, where do you find Paul condemning teachers for minor errors or commending those who do so? He only condemned those who denied central teachings of the faith.

    Peter – I think there’s certainly a case for concern when anything is elevated in importance above Christ. Charismatics certainly don’t need yet more teaching that is focused largely on supernatural and only secondarily on Jesus, there are too many of them out there already who chase the latest manifestation to the exclusion of everything else. Emphasis does matter – there are genuine revivals going on out there, they are happening in places where the Gospel is being faithfully preached.

    “The Bereans are commended for studying the Scriptures, not for judging Paul and Silas.”

    The Bereans were commended for studying the Scriptures in order to judge whether what Paul and Silas was teaching was true. The issue is not one of ‘judging Todd Bentley’ that’s for God alone. We are certainly called to judge his teaching (and past errors, never repented for or recognised do matter – they tell us something about the character of an individual).

  19. I would just add to Chris’s statement by saying that Todd’s shortcomings are multiple, substantial, current, and repeated.

    It’s also worth noting that the concerns with Todd are not just about doctrinal matters, but also about his behaviour and methods.

    None of us are looking to criticise anyone for occasional mistakes – we are all imperfect (but forgiven) and we all say things we later regret.

    But what Todd says and does is so far removed from Biblical Christianity that I have (sadly) to regard him as a false teacher. I’m not judging his salvation (that’s a matter for God), just saying that we should not be promoting him, flocking to his meetings, or inviting him to the UK (as Trevor Baker has done). He’s not the sort of person we should be paying attention to, in much the same way that you wouldn’t want Gene Robinson preaching in your church (forgive me if you would!).

  20. Chairos Seeker, please get your facts right. This “video”, in fact an audio recording with some unrelated visuals added, is not from Lakeland 2008 but from a meeting in Shreveport (as is clear from the transcript) of an unknown date. The poor quality single guitar backing suggests that this is a small meeting and so probably early in Todd’s ministry. It is entirely unclear whether “the people” here refers only to a particular congregation or more widely.

    I do not suggest any dichotomy between Jesus and the supernatural. It is the liberal church which does this, believing in Jesus but not in his uniqueness which is based in his supernatural nature. And it is precisely this error which Todd is trying to correct by teaching about the supernatural.

    Chairos, I believe that God tells any preacher who will listen, including Todd, what they should preach on any particular occasion. And I believe that he will sometimes, in fact often, tell speakers to teach deeper things of the faith and not simply about Jesus. As for subordinating Jesus to the angel, Todd would consider this blasphemous just as you and I do. He does not expect people to put their trust in the angel, just to believe in its existence. To show this, note these words from your transcript:

    We don’t believe in angels, we don’t believe in the prophetic, we don’t believe in some of what’s going on.

    Here “believe in” clearly means “believe in the existence and validity of”, not “put one’s trust in”. Don’t put words into Todd’s mouth.

    Chris, indeed “there’s certainly a case for concern when anything is elevated in importance above Christ”. Todd does not do that. Maybe some people elevate him too high, but that is not really his problem. The Bereans were right to test whether the teaching was true, but would have been wrong if they had judged it false and stirred up public opinion against Paul and Silas on that basis – which was what the Thessalonians had done.

    CharismaticSceptic, I don’t currently have the hours required to do the research you suggest. But I have already spent days researching the kinds of claims you link to. I will see if there is anything more I need to read.


  21. “The Bereans were right to test whether the teaching was true, but would have been wrong if they had judged it false and stirred up public opinion against Paul and Silas on that basis – which was what the Thessalonians had done.”

    They would certainly have been at fault if they had responded like the Thessalonians had done. But your usage of the quote by Gamaliel is a prescription for doing nothing whatsoever, neither judging or responding, any sort of critical response is wrong, according to your framework.

    IMHO, One of the best posts on the entire subject came from Dan Edelen, Dan’s a charismatic himself:

    http://ceruleansanctum.com/2008/05/discernment-revivals-and-godly-common-sense.html

  22. Well, Chris, Gamaliel’s advice was hardly to do nothing to the apostles. Note that they were flogged and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus, Acts 5:40. But if the Bereans had found Paul and Silas’ teaching wanting, their “noble” response would surely have been to ignore them, as they must have done countless other religious charlatans who infested their world as well as ours. After all criticism tends to feed such people; there is truth in the adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

    Much of what Dan Edelen writes is good advice. But he is quite wrong to attribute guilt by association to a whole movement on the basis of some unspecified errors of the Kansas City Prophets. He is also quite wrong to say that there is little talk about angels in the Bible; some parts of it, especially Revelation, are full of them, and as he says “The whole counsel of Scripture matters”. As for his claim that God

    doesn’t have His servants dance jigs around someone they’re praying for, doesn’t have His people wave their arms and act like bad magicians.

    – I will say again what I have said before, that no human has the right to say what God can or cannot do.

    Actually Dan’s real error seems to be that he assumes a kind of premillennialism, and that the return of Christ will come soon, which leaves no room for genuine revival in this time. This is, I have long been convinced, a false teaching. But I don’t have time to go into this issue now.

  23. Jesus is THE central point of Christianity. If anything else is there, it ain’t Christianity. Without Him there is nothing, except Judaism and the expectation of the Messiah. But He Is! Jesus must shape our thinking, praying, evangelism, mission, outreach, pastoral care, understanding, eating, sleeping… you get the picture. In the whole Bible there are four Gospels – four accounts of Jesus’ earthly life. They stand together (regardless of what some might say) and show us Jesus as he Was (and Is). The rest of the Bible is built around the Godhead, but all we need about Jesus Himself is contained in those passages.

    Remember, the disciples had no Bible, only Torah and the rest of what we call the Old Testament. But they KNEW JESUS, and that was not only enough, but the end of the matter for them. Even Paul, who (most probably) did not meet Jesus says that knowing Him is his one desire. (I’d quote verse etc but a) ain’t got the time and b) you all know it anyway… lol). Forget the ‘supernatural’ – if we seek the supernatural we’ll find something or other. But if we seek Jesus, we will find life (and that in abundance). Let’s not, for one second, even consider anything that does not exalt Jesus Christ as God’s only Way and Saviour of mankind for all who would call on him and repent.

    We already have enough for what is needed.

  24. Jamie, to “Jesus is THE central point of Christianity”, Amen and Amen! And I’m quite sure Todd would agree. But there is more to the Bible than four gospels, and so there is more to Christian teaching than Jesus. So it is wrong to say “Forget XXX” when XXX is an important part of biblical teaching. Of course this XXX must always be taught in the kind of context that Todd teaches everything in, a context which “exalt[s] Jesus Christ as God’s only Way and Saviour of [hu]mankind”.

  25. I think it should be noted that Scripture presents the so-called “Gamaliel Principle” as the best stab at spiritual discernment outside of Christ. In this respect it is an example of a non-Christian non-revelatory, rather than a Christian and Biblical, approach to discernment. Scripture doesn’t present the “Gamaliel Principle” as exemplary; it merely reports it as having happened historically. If the Gamaliel Principle was a vaildly Christian means of discernment – which it isn’t – we would have to say that Islam, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses and host of other heresies are ‘of God’ simply because they’ve lasted.

  26. “Well, Chris, Gamaliel’s advice was hardly to do nothing to the apostles. Note that they were flogged and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus”

    With all due respect, you appear to be conflating three things. There is a, Gamaliel’s advice to the Sanhedrin (he does in fact advise that nothing should be done with them and that they should be released). b, the actions taken by the Sanhedrin with respect to the apostles (which was the flogging etc. which would seem to be against what Gamaliel advised). c, your initial conclusion that because of what Gamaliel said the default option that Christians should adopt was a do-nothing one.

    You started off with c, and are now claiming that a and b are equivalent. Though presumably you aren’t telling us that Gamaliel’s advice means that we should flog Todd Bentley and order him not to speak the name of Jesus 🙂

    “their “noble” response would surely have been to ignore them”

    The example of the Bereans clearly teaches us what we must do in order to ascertain what the truth is. However, I believe there is plenty of warrant for speaking out against false teaching, otherwise Galatians would read considerably differently and Corinthians wouldn’t contain any references (and fairly sarcastic ones at that) to super apostles.

    “He is also quite wrong to say that there is little talk about angels in the Bible; some parts of it, especially Revelation”

    There is however, no advocation of large scale and near constant interaction with angels. Revelation is very much a spiritual peeling back of reality, rather than a prescriptive description of how the church operates (it would be very hard to see how you would get a prescriptive teaching about angel interactions from the book). Where angels are present in the epistles and the pastorals, their appearance is always a suprise rather than something solicited.

    “I will say again what I have said before, that no human has the right to say what God can or cannot do.”

    No, but I think we can say with confidence that God will act in congruence with his revealed Word – both scripture and the incarnate Christ.

    I’m curious – if you really believe that statement, what is your basis for any sort of discernment whatsoever?

  27. Daron, I see your point. But at least the Gamaliel principle gets us away from thinking that it is our responsibility to do God’s work for him. If God chooses to allow some weeds to grow up among the wheat until the final harvest, then let them be.

    Chris, Paul had an apostolic authority to judge others which ordinary Christians do not have. He had authority over the Corinthian and Galatian churches. That makes a difference. What Todd has to say about angels is also “a spiritual peeling back of reality, rather than a prescriptive description of how the church operates”. Yes, God will act in congruence with his revealed word, but what word forbids dancing jigs and waving arms? Discernment is primarily a spiritual gift, but with some guidelines to help e.g. Matthew 7:16-20 and 1 John 4:1-3. The last part of Dan’s post, the one you linked to, contradicts your claim that he is amillennial.

  28. Peter
    Some of the comments posted around and after the time of my own have been illuminating about the issue of Flying Bishops and the theology of taint which was the basis of my original post

    Much seems to hang on the question of repentance of the minister “in error”. How dependent on such repntance was the “ex opere operato” principle in the donatist solution.? It has to be accepted that my own Diocesan and Suffragen Bishops continue to gladly ordain women (personally I am glad they do). So they cannot be said to be repentant. On that basis there seems to be some logic behind the insistance on Bishops who have keept totally apart from this action.

    If repentance was not an essentail part of the solution, and Article 26 suggests to me that the Cof E accepts that the value of ministry is in no way at risk by the possibly unknown sinfulness of the minister, then alternative oversight in some guise seems to me very difficult to justify. Unless of course you reject the 39 Articles, in which case should a minister remain under their authority, (subject for another postI fear).

    I also suggest that any Evangelical wanting alternative oversight also needs to refelct on these implications. What I could accept is that for Reform and the Church Society who consider that scripture itself does not recognise women in certain leadership roles, that on its own might not go against the Donatist solution. Like other theological constructs such as those from Augustine and Calvin, Pelagius and Arminius, it is a construct of fallibe man. Ultimately it must be submitted to the authority of (your understanding of) Scripture. And my own spiritual life has shpown me that there is as awide a range of understanding in the evangelical camp never mind any others, as the exchanges related to Todd Bentley clearly show.

  29. eter,

    The parable of the wheat and tares rests upon an accurate act of prior discernment. The point of the parable is that the patient response of the landowner is unexpected. However, that does not mean that wheat and tares are equally good and welcome in the field, Neither does it mean that the church must desist from calling tares tares and wheat wheat. The church is most definitely called to distinguish between bad and good, false and true, wheat and tare. Scripture is full of examples where the church is called to distinguish between falsehood and error. I think the point of the is not that distinction should not be made but that the act of distinction should not lead to premature judgement. Vengeance against falsehood belongs to God but discernment of falsehood has been given to us.

  30. Colin, it seems to me that whatever the situation with the Donatists the ex opere operato principle, and its expression in Article XXVI, cannot depend on repentance.

    I agree that evangelicals, and others, considering asking for alternative oversight need to consider this issue. It is a real issue for me, and the reason why just I will not immediately sign up to the Jerusalem Declaration.

  31. Peter, I believe you’re right about the video. I had previously seen what I now understand to be merely excerpts from the video, which were explicitly attributed to the Lakeland meeting. In locating the instance that I did, I have found a more complete version. My best guess is that it is from the “Voice of Healing” conference held in 2001 in Shreveport. But, that is merely a guess. Thanks for the correction.

    I’m glad that we agree concerning the serious error that would be inherent in Todd Bentley’s claim as I interpret it. The remaining issue is whether my interpretation is correct. I continue to believe that it is.

    Peter: “He does not expect people to put their trust in the angel, just to believe in its existence. To show this, note these words from your transcript:

    We don’t believe in angels, we don’t believe in the prophetic, we don’t believe in some of what’s going on.

    Here “believe in” clearly means “believe in the existence and validity of”, not “put one’s trust in”.”

    In the near context, Todd Bentley also uses the phrase “believe in Jesus.” It seems reasonable to understand all his uses of the phrase “believe in” in this same context to bear the same meaning.

    Do you take him as meaning the people merely “believe in the existence of Jesus” rather than “put trust in Jesus”? If so, it follows that proclaiming Jesus should be paramount, as I’ve argued.

    If, on the other hand, you take him as meaning that the people do “trust in Jesus” then it’s reasonable to conclude that he also means he wants people to “trust in the angel” [note: not merely trust in angels but in a particular angel], which you and I agree would be serious error.

    Given this additional evidence, I trust that you can see that this analysis isn’t arbitrarily putting words in Todd Bentley’s mouth, as you suggest. Instead, I interpret his speech according to reasonable, established principles of exegesis.

  32. Chairos Seeker, I see your point, but I would suggest that Todd is using some kind of word play here. Preachers do that, you know, and don’t expect their every word to be dissected by literalists. I can accept that Todd’s exact wording in this extract may be unfortunate. But I am quite sure that he was not teaching and never has (since his conversion) taught anyone to put their trust in any angel rather than in Jesus.

  33. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Wheat or weed?

  34. “Paul had an apostolic authority to judge others which ordinary Christians do not have.”

    Peter, we have a description of what Paul said, and a description of what Gamaliel said. You take the actions of the former as merely descriptive and the latter as prescriptive, yet who is the believer here? Furthermore why wouldn’t be the place of any Christian in Paul’s position to say what he does in verse 14 of chapter 2. His argument is not along the lines of authority but based on what he discerned to be a contradiction of the truth of the gospel (much like Luther did in his own situation).

    “Yes, God will act in congruence with his revealed word”

    That was a response to your statement that ‘that no human has the right to say what God can or cannot do.’ Which would seem to allow a free pass to wilder claims e.g a ‘Third Heaven Experience’ – which is certainly more prescriptive than descriptive, which is contrary to scripture, and which has never been repented of or disclaimed.

    “The last part of Dan’s post, the one you linked to, contradicts your claim that he is amillennial.

    It only contradicts post-millenialism. There is nothing in amill. belief that rules out an intensification of persecution towards the end, or indeed rules out a belief in an imminent end.

  35. Peter: “I would suggest that Todd is using some kind of word play here.”

    That is possible, though I don’t find him given to making word plays. And, there’s the problem of the similar angelic commission alleged by Wm. Branham, whom Tood Bentley regularly cites in approving terms, in which “believe in” clearly refers to placement of trust: “If you will be sincere, and can get the people to believe in you, nothing shall stand before your prayer, not even cancer.”

    But, let’s put that one aside. Consider instead Todd Bentley’s teaching, offered at Lakeland [this time I’m sure of it 😉 ] that the anointing is “a substance.” Orthodox doctrine associates the anointing with the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t his teaching confuse the creation (substance) with the Creator?

  36. Chris, I don’t take Gamaliel’s example as prescriptive, just as a wise one to follow in cases where one does not have proper authority in the situation. Paul’s example is also a wise one, and arguably prescriptive, for how to deal with churches for which one has responsibility.

    Yes, Galatians 2:14 (if you mean that verse and not 1 Corinthians 2:14 which may also be relevant) is significant in this context. But it is also an example and not prescriptive. Paul had concerns that Peter was compromising the fundamentals of the gospel, and he took them to Peter – he did not broadcast them to the world including unbelievers.

    I would suggest the same response in those who have issues with Todd. Of course he is not going to listen much to ordinary people without credentials, and especially if they use the kind of immoderate language which I have seen so much of in this debate. But I am sure that church leaders he knows and respects have voiced their concerns, and that Todd has done something about it. For example, he has posted a clarification of his position on several issues including the angel Emma, which I reported a few weeks ago. It is sad that people continue to look to his teaching from many years ago rather than to what he has most recently written.

  37. Chris, you say a “Third Heaven Experience” is contrary to Scripture? What about 2 Corinthians 12:1-5? Maybe Todd would have been wiser to be as restrained in reporting his experiences as Paul was, but that is hardly a sin.

    Thanks for clarifying the point about Dan’s eschatology. I suppose you can have a tribulation without a millennium, but this seems an oddly mixed teaching.

  38. Chairos Seeker, where did you find the teaching that the anointing is a substance? Anyway, the Holy Spirit is a “substance” in the sense that in orthodox Trinitarian thinking he, like Jesus, is of one substance with the Father. So if the anointing is a substance, it is the very substance or nature of God imparted to his people.

  39. ‘But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.’

    Acts 5:39 (TNIV)

    Yes, but remember of whom it was that Gamaliel spoke. We are not judging the ministry of the apostles here, we are judging the ministry of Todd Bentley – a ‘self-acclaimed’ apostle. If we fail to judge the conduct of others, then we fail to exercise any sense of pastoral care.

    The ‘Donatist’ label does not stick.

  40. Norman, Gamaliel and the rest of the Sanhedrin did not recognise Peter and John as prophets any more than you recognise Todd. So his principle applies. If the Lakeland outpouring is from God, as I believe, then what Gamaliel says is true of it as of the early church. If you are correct, that Lakeland is simply a matter of human enthusiasm, then we can safely leave it in God’s hands to deal with.

  41. Peter, you can view two discourses on the anointing given by Bentley at these URLs:

    JESUS IS NOT… http://www.ustream.tv/swf/3/viewer.131.swf?&loc=/&vid=451517 (at 1:17 mark)
    JESUS IS… http://www.ustream.tv/swf/3/viewer.131.swf?&loc=/&vid=456770 (at 3:25 mark)

    The first of these clips is the one in which Bentley teaches that the anointing is a substance. There, he also teaches that the anointing is “not Jesus.” In the second of these clips he contradicts himself by teaching that the anointing “is Jesus.”

    I realize that the Nicene Creed is sometimes translated using the “substance” for the Greek word “ousia,” rather than the more accurate word “essence.” The word “substance” generally denotes a created thing. Putting that aside and accepting for sake of argument your understanding of Bentley’s use of “substance,” aren’t you troubled by his contradictory teaching that on the one hand, “the anointing is not Jesus” and on the other hand, “the anointing is Jesus”? How is one to interpret contradictory remarks concerning basic Christian doctrine as anything other than serious error?

    BTW, many of Bentley’s old teachings that even his fans tend to deprecate are repeated in his recently published book. I have just started reading the book and will soon be able to document that (1) he has not rejected patently erroneous past teachings and (2) he has altered his accounts of previously related experiences in ways inconsistent with truthful, accurate reporting. For instance, the angel Emma has become a “he” but continues to be described as having the virtues of Prov. 31, which paints a picture of an “excellent wife.”

  42. OK, Chairos Seeker, Todd is not 100% consistent in his teaching. He simplifies it a little when speaking to a small child. Is that really so bad? I’m sure that if you trawled through hundreds of hours of any preacher’s words you could find similar technical inconsistencies. But the main teaching is completely consistent. You may not like it, but it is consistent.

  43. Peter, thanks for your patient reply. Okay, so we’re agreed (at least for sake of argument) that Todd Bentley oversimplifies his explanation to the child; that is, despite his statement to the child he actually believes that the anointing “is not Jesus” just as he claims in the first clip.

    In that case, we do have a serious theological problem. If by “substance” Todd Bentley means what I would prefer to call the “divine essence” (“ousia”), then the substance really is the Holy Spirit. But, Todd Bentley denies this fact and also claims that the “substance” is not the Father or Son. What, then, is the “substance”?

    Clearly, Todd Bentley thinks that the substance is something other than the divine essence and, apparently, it is a created thing. This, as I initially claimed, is a confusion of creation with the Creator, a serious error.

  44. Interesting. I really don’t care about many of the issues about Bentley and his homosexual past, or his tattoes, as much as I do about his propensity to lie and his rather bad doctrine.

    And this becomes problematic when he claims a high level of revelation (via his 3rd heaven visits with Jesus and Paul) and then stands on the stage and proclaims things like (The Lord Says) “Jesus is coming in person tommorrow night.”

    Of course, he weaseled out of that one quickly.

    And so, while I don’t feel his character issues would prevent him from serving communion, I think it unwise to receive teaching or prophetic words from him.

  45. Chairos Seeker, as I have not seen any evidence for your suggestion that Todd thinks of the anointing as a substance, and of the context in which he may have said that or something like it, I cannot comment on what he might mean by that.

    Bill, this is the first I have heard about a homosexual past. And although I have heard other allegations about his propensity to lie I have seen no evidence of deliberate lying. Also I am quite sure he has not said anything at all like “Jesus is coming in person tomorrow night”. I can’t help wondering if you are confusing Todd with someone else.

  46. Peter: “Chairos Seeker, as I have not seen any evidence for your suggestion that Todd thinks of the anointing as a substance, and of the context in which he may have said that or something like it, I cannot comment on what he might mean by that.”

    The remarks are available in full context in the Lakeland video clips at the URLs I gave above. For your convenience, here is the summary of the pertinent portion of the remarks, as provided in Stephen Strader’s report for Day 59:

    The anointing is not the Holy Spirit. The anointing is not the Father. The anointing is not Jesus in the sense that Jesus (the Bible declares in Acts 10:38) was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power.

    The Holy Spirit brings the anointing. Father God pours out the anointing.

    Christ Jesus is the anointed one. But the anointing is a substance and it is very real.”

    Does that help?

    BTW, I recall that you have something of a background in linguistics. Would you say that the style of Greek used in the NT Book of Hebrews resembles that of the Apostle Paul? And, do the OT quotations appear to originate in the Masoretic text or the Greek Septuagint? Given your answers, what credibility would you assign to Todd Bentley’s claim that the Book of Hebrews was dictated by Abraham to Paul? Or, has that claim been withdrawn?

  47. Thank you, Chairos Seeker. I had missed this part of the quote. I don’t know quite what Todd meant here, but I don’t think he means that the anointing is a physical substance or part of the created world. I think I would differ from Todd in saying that the anointing is the Holy Spirit. But I have never claimed that Todd’s teaching is 100% correct.

    I am not going to defend what Todd has to say about the authorship of Hebrews.

  48. Peter, since Todd Bentley’s stated purpose at Lakeland is to impart what he calls “the anointing,” isn’t it important to know exactly what the anointing is? If, as Todd Bentley claims, it’s something other than the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t Lakeland participants be especially concerned about its nature?

    Surely we agree that, if the anointing is the Holy Spirit, as you understand it, failing to discern it as such is a most serious error. The nature and attributes of God are not peripheral issues of theology.

  49. Chairos Seeker, this is nothing to do with the nature and attributes of God. Todd has never suggested it is. It was perhaps my mistake to suggest that this was what Todd meant when he used the word “substance”. More likely he meant that it was something real and effective. The point both he and I are trying to get across, but don’t have the vocabulary to express clearly and concisely, is that the anointing is not actually God himself, in any of his persons, but is the power and presence of God working in the lives of his people. Does that make sense? See also 1 John 2:27 for similar biblical teaching about this anointing.

  50. Chris, I don’t take Gamaliel’s example as prescriptive, just as a wise one to follow in cases where one does not have proper authority in the situation

    So in this instance you take it as prescriptive. Incidentally, the episode that Paul describes in Galations takes place in Antioch – as Paul didn’t found the church the Antioch (Acts 11) I am not sure you could claim he had any sort of formal authority here.

    He took them to Peter – he did not broadcast them to the world including unbelievers.

    Though it was hardly a private encounter: “But when I saw that their( conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all”.

    Chris, you say a “Third Heaven Experience” is contrary to Scripture? What about 2 Corinthians 12:1-5?

    I see no indication that Paul sees it as a universal experience that all Christians should seek – in the way that TB advocates it. (As he claims to have met Paul, I presume TB doesn’t think that Deuteronomy 18:9-12 apply here).

    As someone else said in another thread, his ministry has been going for 10 years, his messages are all up on his website. If we are going to judge people by their fruit, let us listen and see.

  51. Chris, actually Paul (Saul) was one of the leadership team of the church at Antioch, Acts 13:1. But I am not claiming he had authority over Peter. Paul’s encounter seems to have been with the group of those in error together, although his words are explicitly to Peter.

    Does Todd claim that all Christians should have third heaven experiences? I agree this is not prescriptive, but if Paul could have one then why not Todd?

    I don’t want to get sidetracked into issues of eschatology here.

  52. Peter: “The point both he and I are trying to get across, but don’t have the vocabulary to express clearly and concisely, is that the anointing is not actually God himself, in any of his persons, but is the power and presence of God working in the lives of his people.”

    Lack of vocabulary? May I suggest using the phrase, “the power and presence of God working in the lives of His people”? That’s a far more orthodox formulation that Todd Bentley’s “substance” and more technically correct, IMO, than “the Holy Spirit.” Surely, that’s not such a difficult phrase, as your use of it demonstrates.

    Re: third-heaven experiences

    Yes, Todd does claim that all Christians can, and should, “focus on the things above” in the sense of having third-heaven experiences. This interpretation of Scripture, of course, is nothing less than violent.

    I obliquely mentioned Todd’s (alleged) third-heaven experience in which he communicated with the Apostle Paul. I understand such communication with the dead to be forbidden. But, since Todd states he did not initiate the encounter, that prohibition may not apply.

    A more troubling (alleged) vision is one in which Todd was told that God plans to release revelation like that given to a certain Sundar Singh. To my knowledge, Todd has not repudiated this vision.

    As it happens, Singh was a universalist. That is, he did not believe in the eternal torment of the condemned. This erroneous position negates the importance and value of the atonement and therefore is properly termed heretical.

    Can Todd reasonably expect the Church to believe that God plans to release revelation negating basic Christian doctrine? Or, that God has revealed to a heretic profound spiritual truth not revealed to others within the Church?

    Todd’s alleged vision is not credible as authentic. Clearly, it arises either from his flesh or the enemy rather than God. IMO, such a serious lack of discernment requires that Todd be barred from teaching until his knowledge and discernment meet at least minimal levels consistent with the high visibility of his ministry.

  53. >I can’t help wondering if you are confusing Todd >with someone else.”

    The antichrist? Just kidding…

    >”Bill, this is the first I have heard about a >homosexual past.

    “In a lengthy feature article published in the September 2002 issue of Charisma, Bentley, 26, acknowledged that at age 14, as a juvenile, he had been arrested for assault. A March 2001 story about him that was published in The Report–a secular, conservative political magazine published in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada– offered a similar report.

    But The Report story backfired when the mother of the victim of the assault read the article and informed the magazine that BENTLEY’S ASSAULT HAD BEEN SEXUAL and that HE HAD MOLESTED HER SON, also a minor, at the time.”

    Charisma Magazine , January 2003

    I thought this was common knowledge.

    > Also I am quite sure he has not said anything at >all like “Jesus is coming in person tomorrow night”.

    Well, indeed he has.

    (Todd Bentley) stands on the stage and proclaims things like (The Lord Says) “Jesus is coming in person tommorrow night.” This was June 7th, 2008, I think.

    Bentley tries to hedge after reading Wendy Alec’s “prophecy.” He says “Though I’m open to ah..the Lord can appear- may I see the Lord. I am not suggesting there is going to be physical flesh Jesus Christ on the platform (that was exactly was she was suggesting) I hope you understand, we’re talking about in atmosphere, we’re talking about in spiritual experience, we’re talking about an impartation.

    Wait a minute. Alec’s prophecy said “Jesus said I AM COMING IN PERSON.” And it goes on “He will come in the clouds in the chariot, surrounded by the great angelic host.” (Which for the biblically illiterate, is a vague refernce to Matthew 24:30-31).

    Todd, of course, is “open to it.” Todd and Wendy have so much prophetic prowess that they are above Matthew 24:36 which says “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. ”

    Someone should tell Bentley that you have tounges and interpetation, not prophecy and interpetation. I’ll credit him with a complete lack of wisdom for reading a stupid prophetic word like that. Actually, I think that he is equally responsible for promoting such careless words.

    When you look at the faces of the audience it is very sad to see some of the audience in estatic joy over the prospect of the Lord’s returning. Blessed Hope deferred, I suppose.

    And then some of the looks of utter dismay on those with a modicum of discernment in the meeting if quite telling.

    Bentley’s weaseling on the word does not negate what he said. “Jesus is coming in person” can only mean one thing; if he was not coming in person, than it would not be so qualified.

    I’m really not into stoning false prophets, I think that Ezekial 13 outlines a far worse fate.

  54. Peter. Since you are writing so much, you really should learn a bit more about Todd Bentley.

    >Does Todd claim that all Christians should have third heaven experiences?

    Yes indeed. That’s the point of him sharing about these- he, and Bob Jones and Patricia Cocking/Coking/King all promote 3rd heaven experiences as normative in the daily life of Christians.

    This, of course, is not the case.

    -Bill

  55. Chairos Seeker, if someone who does “not believe in the eternal torment of the condemned” is thereby to be called a heretic, I gladly stand in company with John Stott among many other well known Christian leaders and call myself a heretic. But I also call those who are applying the principles of Donatism to Todd heretics.

    Bill, very many 14-year-olds experiment with gay and/or straight sex, but that does not make them homosexuals. By saying this I don’t condone what Todd did as a non-Christian minor, but it ought to be forgotten. And it seems that Todd read out someone else’s words “Jesus is coming in person” and then disagreed with them, that’s not saying it himself! By saying he is “open to it” he is of course correctly distancing himself from those who say Jesus is definitely not coming tomorrow.

    Chris and Bill, I don’t have time to watch half hour videos plugged in comments, even when both of you link to the same one.

  56. >Bill, very many 14-year-olds experiment with gay and/or straight sex, but that does not make them homosexuals.

    I’m not sure I would call a violent sexual assault on a much physically weaker child “experimentation” but will allow that “homosexual past” was perhaps inaccurate, since I don’t know if he was sexually aroused during the assault or not. Sodomite would perhaps be more accurate.

    And, As I stated, this is not a central issue to me, as I understand the concept of conversion and forgiveness.

    I also understand forgiveness requires repentance.

    So, if we classify this horrible pre-conversion sexual assault as simply “violence” then Todd’s propensity towards violence demonstrates a lack of true repentance. He has not turned and walked away from violence but either continues to assault people, or play-act assault on people, glorifying the very sin that he supposedly walked away from.

    Where is Meekness and Gentleness? And where is compassion? The Young man he assaulted can turn on the TV every evening and watch the very man who assaulted him glorfy violence 3 hours every evening.
    And know that many in the church approve of this horse-hockey.

    As to the Bentley/Jones/Cocking video, if you don’t have the time to watch it, then you will simply have to agree with us that he promotes routine/daily 3rd heaven experiences. our choice- the evidence is there.

    -Bill

  57. Peter, thanks for your reply, as always. Since you’re at least somewhat familiar with Stott’s views, I take it you’re aware that he has offered tentative, exegetical support for annihilationism. That’s not quite the same, as I’m sure you’re also aware, as the wholehearted support for universalism offered by Singh.

    At risk of oversimplification, I suggest that Stott suggests that it’s possible, though not certain, that unrepentant sinners will be afforded mercy in the termination of their existence after a finite time of tormet. Singh, on the other hand, believed definitely that unrepentant sinners could join the elect in heaven.

    Historically, both views–annihilationism and universalism–have been considered heresy. But, clearly, universalism as held by Singh is a considerably more serious error than annihilationism, which to my knowledge Stott has merely defended not actually taught as doctrine. Universalism negates the foundational Protestant doctrine of savation by faith, which must be exercised in this life.

    Surely you don’t hold or even approve universalism! I had presumed that you do not. If you do accept universalism as an orthodox Christian doctrine then it would seem that our presuppositions are sufficiently different to make theological discussion largely unproductive. In that case, I would better understand your tolerance of Todd Bentley’s various suborthodox, unorthodox, and heretical teachings.

  58. Bill, I don’t know how much is public about what Todd did before his conversion, whether it really was “a violent sexual assault on a much physically weaker child” or a case of experimentation between two consenting children which was technically an offence. And I really don’t want to know because this was before his conversion and he has clearly repented of this.

    Are you a consistent pacifist? Have you condemned the US invasion of Iraq since before it started, as I have? If not, take the log out of your own eye before complaining about Todd glorifying violence.

    I note that you write on your blog

    Thank God for grace.
    It’s time to move “Beyond Grace.”

    I couldn’t agree less. You obviously have far too small a picture of God’s grace. If it is something which you can get beyond, if it is something you cannot allow God to give to Todd, then it is not God’s grace at all. Galatians 3:1-6, Ephesians 3:14-21.

  59. Chairos Seeker, my position on annihilationism is similar to Stott’s, also somewhat tentative. I am not a universalist. I don’t know about Singh but I am not prepared to write him off as someone whose vision must be a false one simply because “he did not believe in the eternal torment of the condemned.”

  60. Peter,

    This much is public: Bentley has stated that “I was involved in a sexual-assault ring.”

    “Bentley presents himself as a reformed bad boy who was once jailed for 18 months for ” crimes of an
    assault nature” and breaking-and-entering in his hometown of Gibsons, B.C.

    The truth is, his most serious crime was more heinous: the molestation of a seven-year-old boy. “They were sexual crimes,” Bentley admits. “I was involved in a sexual-assault ring.”

    The Report Newsmagazine
    04-30-2001

    Let me restate my point which you seem to dodge:

    Todd’s propensity towards violence demonstrates a lack of true repentance.

    I agree that Todd’s past as a violent sodomite can be forgiven if he shows repentance – a willingness to put violence behind. Otherwise, given his current propensity to glorfy violence. his past remains an issue.

    >Are you a consistent pacifist? Have you condemned the US invasion of Iraq since before it started, as I have? If not, take the log out of your own eye before complaining about Todd glorifying violence.

    Good try. Let’s stay on topic or I’ll turn that one back on you.

    -Bill

  61. Peter, at least for sake of argument, I am willing to yield the point with respect to annihilationism, especially tentative annihilationist.

    But, as I explained, Signh was not an annihilationist but a universalist. Would you not write off, as I do but Todd Bentley does not, special revelation given to a determined, unrepentant universalist as the sort of revelation God longs to give to the contemporary Church?

  62. Bill, thanks for the additional information. Todd is clearly repentant about his past crimes. He is not continuing anything of a similar nature (at least I hope you are not alleging he is). He has not entirely renounced violence any more than probably 99% of Americans, and us of us Brits, have. I don’t claim to have renounced all violence myself. So it is hypocritical of you to suggest that he should not be forgiven for his past crimes of violence, committed as a minor, unless you consistently refuse to forgive anyone who is not a committed pacifist for any sins involving violence committed before they were Christians. That would probably include not forgiving the Apostle Paul for his pre-conversion violence as he continued to support state use of violence, Romans 13:4, and himself used violence while healing Eutychus, Acts 20:10.

    Chairos Seeker, I would not write off the visions of Singh because of his bad theology any more than I write off the biblical visions of Balaam because of his false teaching.

  63. Peter, if Singh or Todd Bentley had “biblical visions,” neither would I write them off. But, the problem is that, with the exception of a very few of Balaam’s visions, neither they nor Balaam had biblical visions. Given Balaam’s employment by Balak and his means of divination, do you really suppose that a substantial fraction of his visions were godly? More to the point, do you really want to compare the visions of Balaam with those of Singh or Bentley? That would seem to be a comparison more likely proposed by a critic than a fan of Bentley.

  64. Chairos Seeker, I am not comparing Bentley with Balaam, only Singh with Balaam. Balaam’s visions were “biblical” only in the sense that they have been incorporated into the Bible and so, for us who consider the Bible inspired, authenticated. But are you rejecting the authenticity of the visions recorded in Numbers? Read 23:5,16, 24:2, editorial matter which seems to imply that the following words are genuinely from God. My point is of course that ungodly people can have genuine visions from God. And this ties up with my original point about the Donatists.

  65. Peter,

    I’ve not suggested that he not be forgiven of past crimes. As I’ve stated several times, this whole incident is not a big issue with me. I only went into details because you ignornatly took exception to how I caharterized thos etangential issues.

    Now that we have established the facts of his past, I think it should be left behind.

    Which is why I stated:

    “Interesting. I really don’t care about many of the issues about Bentley and his homosexual past, or his tattoes, as much as I do about his propensity to lie and his rather bad doctrine.”

    and to clarify:

    “And so, while I don’t feel his character issues (propensity to lie) would prevent him from serving communion, I think it unwise to receive teaching or prophetic words from him.”

    But in that discussion, and that on another thread, we have raised the issue of violence.

    I have stated “Todd’s propensity towards violence demonstrates a lack of true repentance.”

    You must admit that Bentley’s ministry exhibits an element of violence: hitting people, choking people and so on, along with the before mentioned gunplay, that is not typical among clergy.

    This has been explained by some a part of the biker culture.

    If it is, then it looks like he hasn’t left all of his violent past (biker culture) behind. There are remnants, and they are more than vestigial.

    I think we are struck in a semantic hole. In much of Christianity, repentance means being sorry and asking for and receiving forgiveness. In the pentecostal tradition, repentance means to turn away from sin.

    If for example, Bentley said he had been involved in (his pre-conversion past) in sodomozing young boys, but had repented, but in his ministry he play-acted anal-sex upon those he was ministering to, one would conclude he had really not repented.

    Or, for example, if Bentley said he had been involved in (his pre-conversion past) in violent assault, but in his ministry he play-acted punching, kicking, kneeing and choking upon those he ministede to, one would also conclude he had really not repented.

    I’m using “repented” in the pentecostal sense, so please forgive me if I’m not speaking the same language.

  66. Bill, I will admit that the style of Todd’s ministry is “not typical among clergy”. That is precisely why I like it! Most of this world is going to hell because of the typical style and attitude of clergy who act like Pharisees and condemn others rather than offer them grace and forgiveness as Jesus did. I don’t know if you are among those clergy but I see that attitude in you.

    However, I don’t see Todd’s “propensity to lie” as “not typical among clergy”. It is normal for preachers of every kind to be less than 100% accurate in the stories they use for illustration of their sermons. Sometimes they simply don’t bother about the inconvenient details. Sometimes they slightly change the story so that it fits better into the sermon. No one expects such stories to be gospel truth. If Todd is being called a liar simply for slight inconsistencies in the details of stories he has told – the only examples I have seen which have any substance – then he is no more guilty than any preacher.

    You seem to presuppose that the violence that Todd demonstrates during his meetings is sinful and needs to be repented of. I do not. That is basically where we differ.

    You also seem to presuppose that play-acting sin is in itself sin and a sign of a failure to repent. I do not. Play-acting is play-acting. I also don’t appreciate you suggesting that Todd might have been involved in anal sex when there has been no suggestion that this is actually true.

  67. I was not suggesting anytyhing. I used that as an example of inappropriate ministry in oder thos who how violence, a cousin of sexual assault, is also not a useful ministry tool.

    My point being that glorfying violence, play-acting or not, when one has a past of violence, is unacceptable. Unless you are one who enjoys this circus, masquerading as a move of God. Apparently you are.

    As to Biker Culture, I’m not referring to the Tats, the T shirts and the piercings. Around here the biker gangs, such as the “Hell’s Angels” and the “Pagans” are known for beating the crap out of people. That’s their culture, and they seem to enjoy it. It is not of God.

    >Sometimes they slightly change the story so that it fits better into the sermon. No one expects such stories to be gospel truth.

    Some of us expect a preacher of the Gospel to tell the Gospel truth. Especially when claiming revelation direct from the throne of God. Especially when that preacher has (accoring to him) had angels insert white boxes in his belly because God desires truth in the inward parts.

    So many of his fantastic angel visitation and hotel burning stories have obvious contradictions and inconsistancies. As I’ve stated elsewhere, “the obvious conclusion is that Todd Bentley just makes it up as he goes.”

    Some have problems believing his fantastic stories – perhaps because of theological reasons – but I think more important is the question: Is he just telling tall tales to gain attention and validation?

    It’s clear that you and I value different things in our walk with the Lord. I’ll admit to that. But once you admit that Bentley may be embellishing his stories it sort of take the “Thus saith the Lord” aspect right out of the picture. In which case, we have to wonder WHO is speaking through this man.

  68. My point being that glorfying violence, play-acting or not, when one has a past of violence, is unacceptable.

    Bill, if you are going to assert this with no biblical or other basis, and I don’t agree, we will simply have to agree to disagree.

  69. Definition 3 Websters 1828
    See last sentance

    repentance
    REPENT’ANCE, n.

    1. Sorrow for any thing done or said; the pain or grief which a person experiences in consequence of the injury or inconvenience produced by his own conduct.

    2. In theology, the pain, regret or affliction which a person feels on account of his past conduct, because it exposes him to punishment. This sorrow proceeding merely from the fear of punishment, is called legal repentance, as being excited by the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life.

    3. Real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life.

    Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God.

    Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. 2Cor. 7. Matt. 3.

    Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that it has offended God.

  70. Bill, Todd has expressed his sorrow for the sexual assault he committed when he was a minor, and has (we can presume) not repeated it. He has certainly amended his life from being a drug addict to being a minister of the gospel. So he has repented. Let’s stop this fruitless discussion.

  71. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Which Carey is spot on?

  72. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 KJV) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.2 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

    Todd Bentley he was ordained by the Revival Alliance, a group made up of prominent charismatic ministers who ordained Bentley the evangelist
    http://www.charismamag.com/cms/news/archives/081208a.php

    but the fact that too many of today’s pastors are ordained, DO have official papers undeniably does not seem to stop 55 percent of the pastors from committing adultery, or 70 percent of the pastors falsely counseling, or practicing divorce and who knows what else?
    gossiping, slandering and I too was really was surprised how many pastors I had personally met at the pastoral fellowships who did did these unacceptable bad things.

    but somehow the preacher who preach one thing themselves too often do the other still too.. I too would rather see a sermon practiced over on merely preached

    Speaking of false prophets, it seems to me that too many of the critics on the net can spot the phones too quickly cause they themselves are phonies… and many others as well..

    WHEN I ENCOUNTER SO MANY bad people who try to abuse me, dominate over me on the net, in churches now too, actually someone they likely do not know and I have rather likely never met ,it says CLEARLY HOW FALSELY THEY THEMSELVES NOW ARE RATHER TO ME.

    and have you all not noticed the void of any Bible references, quotations on the supposedly prominent professing Christian discussions internet sites and is it cause they know they are spiritual phonies, or they really do not know the Bible to be able to discuss it? or what still wrongfully ashamed of it too?

    http://thefocusonthefamily.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/reverend-todd-bentley-versus-republican-mom-sarah-palin/

  73. Pingback: Medieval Heresy – Popular Movements from the Gregorian Reform to the Reformation - God Discussion

  74. Pingback: Should errant Christian leaders be restored? - Gentle Wisdom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image