Todd Bentley speaks out

No time at the moment to post about anything else, but this one needs a mention:

Thanks to my commenter Rhea for the link to a new article about Todd Bentley, which reports both the statement by Fresh Fire Ministries which I reported last week, and a response to it from Todd himself. Todd denies several things stated by Fresh Fire. Specifically he denies leaving his wife Shonnah to be with his former nanny. Here is part of the new article:

On Tuesday, Bentley said there had been no sexual immorality between him and the former nanny. He claimed that for two years no “spark or interest” in the former staff member existed, and that the two developed only an emotional relationship several weeks after July 1, when Bentley filed for divorce.

He admitted, however, that the budding relationship was “absolutely” bad timing.

“I would call it an inappropriate relationship, in the sense that it was too soon, too quick, and should’ve never happened the way that it happened,” Bentley said. “Emotionally, she had stepped in to comfort me as a friend would.

“But I never left my wife to be with another woman,” he said. “There was nothing premeditated or inappropriate in my heart. I had never even entertained the idea that I liked this girl. It never went there.”

Claiming to have gone through years of counseling with his wife, Bentley said he is divorcing her over “irreconcilable differences.”

He denied disconnecting from his children and told Charisma he is in constant phone contact with them and plans to see them as soon as he sorts out issues with his visa.

Meanwhile Rick Joyner

did express disappointment with FFM’s recent statement about Bentley and said he tried to persuade them not to send the letter in its current form.

“There is almost always another side to a story, as there is to many of the things they presented in this letter,” Joyner said. “Sometimes the truth is found somewhere between the two sides, but if we’re going to ever get to real healing and reconciliation I don’t think this kind of thing helps.”

Indeed. The truth must lie somewhere between what Todd says and what the Fresh Fire board has written. I hope that this frank exchange of views helps rather than hinders the process of restoration and healing for Todd, Shonnah and all involved.

As with my last post about Todd, I welcome rational discussion here. I will not tolerate comments which simply condemn Todd in ways which will not contribute towards his hoped for repentance and restoration.

18 thoughts on “Todd Bentley speaks out

  1. Lakeland has of course generated a lot of heat and a bit less light. The Heresy Hunters and the Charismatic KGB have accused or implied those who feel differently of many things.

    Sites such as yours, Peter, have at least managed to explore and interpret events on a calmer and more rational basis. I would admit that my own stance may be closer to that implied last June/July by your neighbour, David Faulkner, than your own. In other words I have been very wary of something which to me has seemed to contain far too much hype – nameley “exaggerated publicity or promotion” -, too much of the world. As I think it was Jasper on the earlier thread suggested, this is in part cultural – the characature American tendency. Of course the renowned British reserve is not without its own risks and shortcomings either. And I am not a bad example of that!

    From your last post, I was full of admiration that Todd’s wife was not the initiator, though arguably there would be Biblical precedent to support her doing so. Similarly I was saddened that Todd came over as taking the initiative, although he had to date come across as the main driver of events. What we now have is a version of events from Todd which is in contradiction to much of what we have seen so far. You rightly suggest that the truth probably contains elements of both. We are not in a position to know, so must not judge. Is Todd in a stage of denial? And is FFM?. Indeed one lesson which comes over to me is the need for leadership to be far more discerning before pushing newish christians with a such a horrendously difficult background to the front too quickly. We must learn from the likes of Moses, David, Paul who were some time in the making. Has the church adopted the world’s “must do it, have it now” philosophy?

    Those who are trying to work with Todd to bring him through have a big job to do. We need to pray for them to know God’s wisdom and for Todd to know God’s touch showing him where he needs to repent. My personal feeling is that for as long as the marriage exists, we should be praying for its restoration. To me that seems far more important than bringing him back to front line ministry, though in time that may indeed be possible. I have seen nothing to make me feel he has committed the “unforgivable sin”.

  2. First Todd says:

    And I don’t want to blame Lakeland.

    then he says

    “In a lot of ways, the ministry has been my mistress,” he said. “That did destroy my marriage. That I have to take responsibility for.”

    So what was it? He says it was not Lakeland, but it was “the ministry”, yet “the ministry” at the time was Lakeland.

    I want to blame a bad marriage.
    Bentley said he is divorcing her over “irreconcilable differences”

    Those are very sad statements. And very odd – considering he is taking 100% responsibility for “the ministry” destroying his marriage.

    What he says contradicts himself and contradicts his oversight team which leaves the whole statement looking very strange indeed.

    If FFM have accused him of something untrue he should get them to remove or update their statement. They have put libellous claims about him in the public domain which need to be rescinded.

    “The truth is somewhere in between” is not a get out clause – because FFM stated clearly

    As fatigue began to set in, significant personal issues in Todd and in his relationship with Shonnah were exacerbated. This, together with his increased familiarity with a female staff member created more tension in the Bentleys’ relationship.

    He was unwilling to put distance between himself and the female staff member and ultimately told Shonnah he wanted a separation.

    Having spoken with Todd in recent days, he is resolute in his intentions to divorce Shonnah, and in his mind, the restoration he is seeking is one which would not include reconciliation with his wife. Todd admits to being 100% responsible for the divorce.

    To our knowledge, Todd’s relationship with the female staff-member, who was a former intern and also, at his initiative, a live-in nanny in his house for over a year, is still ongoing. We believe that there are currently no biblical grounds for Todd to leave his wife and children. While it has been maintained that no physical contact happened between Todd and the former female intern until after he filed for legal separation from Shonnah, in the Boards’ eyes, the nature of the present relationship between Todd and his former staff member is that of adultery.

    Either he has or has not started a physical relationship with this woman while still married to Shonna (even though seperation proceedings have started).

    It all reads a bit strange to me, and does not make anything any clearer.

  3. Colin, thank you for your sensible comments.

    Blue, I see no reason to doubt what Todd has said if understood according to Bill Clinton’s definitions, that he has not committed full physical adultery with his former nanny, and that he did not actually touch her before initiating divorce proceedings. Yet there is clearly a matter here of adultery in the heart, if not technically physically. I suspect that there is an element of denial about how close the friendship was between Todd and the former nanny. This is just speculation, but of a kind which makes sense of both statements.

    I can’t help feeling that the real problem here is that Todd and Shonnah married too young and probably never should have. Sadly that does not give an obvious way ahead.

  4. I can’t help feeling that the real problem here is that Todd and Shonnah married too young and probably never should have.

    That doesn’t tie in with what Todd said though.

    “In a lot of ways, the ministry has been my mistress,” he said. “That did destroy my marriage. That I have to take responsibility for.”

    Days on end working away, living away, travelling away seem to be part of the problem, and would be at any age.

  5. Blue, many people who choose to work away, live away and travel away do so to get away from unhappy home situations. It is obvious that there have been problems in this marriage, requiring counselling, for many years. I can’t help wondering whether in such cases it is better to accept that the marriage is at an end. But I would think that should be done only by agreement, and both parties would need to repent of any part they played in the breakup. I hope that Rick Joyner and the others working with Todd and Shonnah will have the wisdom to know the way ahead.

  6. Joseph who was not “born again” seemed to have a real “fear of God” that many others including Todd Bentley who were supposed to be “born again” and a “new creation” don’t have! Maybe Todd Bentley was never born again?

  7. Genesis 39:9 “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

  8. I don’t think that ministry can ever be the cause of the problem because everyone has work, ministry, or whatever. The fault lies in oneself…in this case Todd Bentley himself. I’m glad he took reponsibility for his neglect at home. We can just pray for him to reconcile with his wife.

  9. Susan, are you suggesting that no man who has divorced his wife is born again? That is a very strange claim to make in the light of history. Many people fail. Some repent, and there is still hope for Todd. If you want an OT example, look at David, who repented and was forgiven for his adultery – and wasn’t even required to put away Bathsheba.

    Kevin, fair enough, although seldom is a marriage breakup the fault of just one party.

  10. About ‘blaming the ministry’ and ‘the problem is yourself’ there are elements of truth in both. Yet the fundamental issue is within the heart of the person/people involved.

    Ministry is tough. Let’s accept that one, that we have been mulling over for far too long.

    We are here to support our leaders, not judge or bring them down, and good people with whom there is a personal connection should be the ones to rebuke, not us.

    Unforgivable sin? I think not. Yet any of us should beware of allowing ourselves to be deluded that a) we do not sin, b) we are perfect now (although we are holy), c) that ‘we can always repent later’. All sin corrupts and destroys, hence Biblical passages encouraging us to throw it off (Heb 12) and such. But since we are sinners, let’s focus on repentance, grace, forgiveness and the other wonderful things of God.

    As to ‘not saved in the first place’ – who is to judge? It is by our actions (specifically by our love for each other) that anyone is known as Gdod’s people. What we think (particularly as displayed by some people) is not always what God thinks, as he has shown us by his Word.

    Let’s exude grace, not judgement.

  11. I realise that there is an unanswered question here: why did Todd file for divorce on 1st July, in the middle of the pressures of Lakeland? If it was really nothing to do with the former nanny, as Todd claims, what sparked this? Basically Todd had been away from home for a long time, but that would not be a reason for him to take the initiative.

    Just a week earlier, at the commissioning event on 23rd June as reported by God TV

    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.

    So what happened in the last week of June? As it happens during that week was the last time I watched Todd’s broadcast from Lakeland. This was when Todd had just come under a new apostolic oversight team. I can’t help wondering if he consulted with this team before starting divorce proceedings. In August Rick Joyner reported:

    When I was in Lakeland a few months ago, I was told that Todd had been making a real effort to patch things up and heal their relationship, but in June she had left and refused any contact.

    Perhaps in leaving Lakeland in that last week of June, presumably returning to Canada, Shonnah was giving Todd a message that their marriage was over and so precipitated the divorce action. In retrospect she can say that she did not initiate this, perhaps even that she did not intend a final end to the marriage. But Todd clearly understood it differently.

    I can also speculate that Todd took a break from Lakeland in July to try to mend things with Shonnah, but cut this break short when, as reported by Rick Joyner, Shonnah refused contact with Todd (FFM says they last met in the last week of July, but could this be an error for the last week of June?) and put an end to any hopes of reconciliation he may have had. It was perhaps after this that Todd allowed his relationship with the former nanny to become unambiguously “inappropriate”.

  12. It’s all getting a bit ridiculous now…Todd, Peter W and all. We’ve had Hollywood, and Bollywood, and now there is Follywood. Who cares anymore what these actors are doing. Leave them. Come out from among them!! ….and be God’s people who have His concerns and, if you will excuse the vernacular but it’s appropriate, His ability to discern spiritual crap when it’s out there.

  13. I wasn’t judging Todd Bentley. I don’t know what Bentley has been up to or not up to in his family life. If he hasn’t seen his wife for a long time, that’s not good for ministry either. Pastors cannot ignore their family and not suffer for it. That’s what I’m saying.

  14. Well, Kevin, if my reconstruction is correct he didn’t ignore his family, but in July (a bit late) took a break from Lakeland to spend time with them and mend the problems – only to find himself shut out, not allowed to see them. That’s not his fault, although we don’t know quite what led up to it.

  15. I am deleting a comment by “Truth Simply” which consists largely of unsubstantiated gossip about Todd, allegedly based on his private Facebook messages. I am also deleting my reply associating this comment with Robert Ricciardelli, as it is now clear to me that this is nothing to do with Robert.

  16. Pingback: Gentle Wisdom » Apologies to Robert Ricciardelli: it wasn’t him gossipping about Todd Bentley

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