Yesterday I received the following from God TV, which is also at this web page:
Fresh Fire Ministries announced yesterday that Todd Bentley would be taking some time off to refresh and to rest from the Florida Outpouring after nearly one hundred days of ministry. The Lakeland meetings will continue and Todd will remain the leader of this move of God.
So Todd Bentley is taking a well deserved break. Perhaps his critics will also take a break. Perhaps some of them will conclude that their campaigns against his ministry have been successful, and rejoice. But this would be premature. I suppose that all the criticism has added to the stress which Todd has necessarily been under after keeping up such a heavy schedule for three months. But I’m sure he will be back. Indeed the announcement from God TV suggests that his break will not be a long one, as well as confirming that nightly meetings will continue at Lakeland, although without Todd and without TV coverage:
but until then, you can continue to enjoy the nightly meetings LIVE at www.god.tv/stream
Meanwhile there has been an interesting report about Todd in USA Today. This is generally reasonably sympathetic, considering that this is in the secular mainstream press, but it is unfortunate that Todd’s staff cannot come up with even one convincing authenticated healing for the press to report. Here is an extract:
To those who doubt the healing claims, he asks: If you believe in the Bible’s miracles, why can’t you believe they’re happening today?
“Miracles and healings are evidence,” Bentley said. “They are signs of the Kingdom, and if we don’t have signs then all we have is a bunch of theology. How one individual wants to interpret Scripture and how another individual wants to interpret Scripture.”
At this point I interrupt the quote to note that, despite how Eddie Arthur interprets this, Todd is not saying that miracles and healings are the only signs of the Kingdom. They are clearly the signs which Todd is concentrating on, but he says nothing to invalidate the other kinds of signs which Eddie mention, which are also helpful in getting interested people beyond “a bunch of theology” to an understanding that God is real and at work. I could add that Todd’s eschatology may be over-realised (we should expect victory now), whereas Eddie’s may be under-realised (we should expect suffering now), but that issue needs another long post to do it justice.
The revival is similar to yearslong events in Toronto and Pensacola, on Florida’s Panhandle, in the 1990s, said Vinson Synan, a professor of church history at Regent University and sympathetic expert on Pentecostalism. The difference is Bentley’s focus — more on healing, less on conversion — and appearance, he said.
“What I see is exhortation — encouraging the people to worship and to praise, exhorting people rather than teaching and preaching, in the traditional sense,” Synan said. “I told my class he’s the most unlikely evangelist you can imagine, compared to the curly haired Billy Grahams and Oral Robertses, who were attractive people. This guy’s kind of short, fat and bald, with tattoos on his arms. He looks like a hippie. … In a way it’s a positive, because he’s very much of the common man.”
Meanwhile Richard Steel posts an interesting defence of Todd’s strategy, which he presents as essentially one of evangelism:
I agree with what I’ve heard from Todd Bentley, John Arnott, Mark Stibbe, Jerame Nelson, Charlie Robinson, Trevor Baker, John Laframboise, Patricia King, Bob Jones, Paul Keith Davis, Keith Miller, and many other notable speakers that this revival, this outpouring is for the harvesting of souls. It is to empower the church for harvest. Yes we need God’s love and compassion. But we need something that will show people that Jesus Christ is God, and the only way to Heaven. …
It needs to be emphasised that this move of God is for all the body of Christ. A powerless church is not going to be effective. With so much pornography, violence, and degradation available on the internet, isn’t it time that we as the body of Christ showed people The Kingdom of Heaven invading earth? … Do we want to see outpouring turn into genuine revival? Then let’s seek God and pray fervently, but also take the fire out there with much love and compassion onto the streets, our communities, in our workplace, amongst our family, friends, and neighbours. …
Let’s all be encouraged to take a risk for Jesus. He died for you and me. Let’s give Him everything we have, and remember how valuable every person is to Him. Let’s also love and encourage each other to step into all that God has for each one of us. The Lord is building His Kingdom, and to Him alone be all the glory, the honour, and the praise!