The controversial Tood Bentley who spearheaded the "Lakeland Revival" last summer has divorced his first wife, Shonnah, and married "the other woman," Jessa.
Wife number one is overweight, suffers after-effects from bouts of cancer, and is the mother of Bentley's three children. Wife number two has been called, perhaps unkindly, a "trophy wife." Both Todd and Jessa say that their relationship was not the cause of the marriage breakup and that they only began a relationship after Tood knew his first marriage was irreparably broken. They also say that they know the relationship was "premature." I do not intend to comment on that in this post.
I wrote about Bentley, and other concerns, in the post, "Stop the (Charismatic) Insanity." My friend much2ponder kindly commented that my post needed wider distribution--and I replied that this little forum is all I have. Some of what I wrote in that post applies to this one, so I will try not to simply repeat it.
I believe we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. I believe God uses flawed, imperfect, and broken people for his Kingdom and His glory (thank the Lord, or we could all just give up right now). I believe that grace is amazing, unfathomable, unthinkable and perhaps the greatest mystery of all mysteries. I believe Christian people should pray for Todd Bentley, for Jessa, and for Shonnah and the children.
I believe in restoration.
A side note: Speaking of "restoration," I admire Jim Bakker who has long since repented of his errors and labored in relative obscurity.
Restoration can and does happen. So why am I writing this post in my little forum? Here is why.
The circumstances of the divorce and remarriage, while troubling, do not concern me as much as Bentley's time behind bars for sexually abusing a seven year old boy, beating his mother, and involovement in the occult. These things, Bentley admits, occurred during his teen years. While I do not think anyone should be barred from ministry because of things done as kids, these things should not be forgotten--especially in light of the bizarre goings on in Lakeland. Among other aberrant behavior, Bentley's methods included kicking a man with stage four colon cander in the stomach as well as other violent means of "praying for the sick."
This morning I read a comment, written yesterday, to an internet post elsewhere that said Todd Bentley was clearly "kind" and "a man of God." Huh? What makes it clear to that commenter?
My concerns are these:
Those involved in the restoration were either directly involved in or closely allied with the group who commissioned Todd on the platform of Ignited Church and "prophisied" about him. Here is some of what was reported in Charisma in June last year.
California pastors Ché Ahn and Bill Johnson, along with Canadian pastor John Arnott, laid hands on the 32-year-old Bentley while Peter Wagner, leader of the International Coalition of Apostles, read a statement...Other prominent leaders from the apostolic and prophetic movements stood on the platform to show their support for Bentley and to endorse the revival, which began in early April and is now in its 83rd day of continuous meetings....[the ceremony] took place after some charismatic leaders raised questions about Bentley’s claims, methods and theology [not every charismatic leader is blind and deaf]...Participating leaders at the ceremony included...Wagner; Ché Ahn... John Arnott...Bill Johnson...and Rick Joyner...
Here is part of what C. Peter Wagner said, "I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, your authority will increase, your favor will increase, your influence will increase, your revelation will increase...I decree that a new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry. A new life force will penetrate this move of God.... God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error. New relationships will surface to open the gates to the future.”
I have books by Rick Joyner and Peter Wagner on my bookshelf. I am not saying that these men are not my brothers in Christ, nor that everything they have said or done is wrong. I am saying that it could not be more clear that this commissioning ceremony was a gross error and the "prophecy" was misguided (I am being charitable).
And since when does anyone get to "decree" what God will do? The arrogance is astounding.
An additional concern is that the focus seems to be on Bentley's marriage failure. This is only the tip of an enormous spiritual iceberg. The focus should be on his faulty theology, his manipulation of vulnerable and often sick people, his false claims of special favor, his acohol abuse, his questionable history, his antics (dare I call them disgusting?) Is anyone going to address the mess he has made? The discredit he has brought to the Church?
I hope so, but I cannot help but wonder, since it appears that Bentley may not have been the only one who was arrogant, foolish, or misguided, however well-intentioned.
Are there others like me out there who believe in all of the spiritual gifts, who believe in the present-day power of the Holy Spirit, and who believer that God does give prophetic giftings and leadership abilites, etc. but who wish we could just never hear the words "apostolic" or "prophetic"or "divine impartation" again? (I am speaking tongue in cheek here.)
I have read testimonies of some people who were changed in a positive way, or who were healed, or who found new strength or direction, during the so-called "Lakeland Outpouring." I believe them. I believe them because I believe that God will meet those who seek. God is loving and gracious and merciful and it is about GOD, not the messenger. These people need not deny what God did for them.
Here is the biggest concern of all. Why is there already provision made to donate funds to Fresh Fire Ministries? Why is there already talk of restoring Todd Bentley to "ministry" and to "leadership?"
Can there be restoration of something that was seriously flawed to begain with?
Post Script to Pentecostals: Here is a link to several interviews with Andrew Strom who has written a book "True and False Revival" (I have not read it, but I will be doing so.) I have not listened to all of these interviews. I am in the process. However, so far they provide a fascinating and disturbing look at the "prophetic movement" from one who was involved for over 10 years. His beliefs have not changed, but he does not like to refer to himself as Pentecostal or Charismatic, calling those terms "tainted." He speaks about how the emphasis of the "prophetic movement" changed over time, why he was involved and why he left.