Monday, July 21, 2008

The Dangers of Todd Bentley Theology

I was just talking to a friend of mine, Gerry James, who once was a Mr. California who, as a long drive champion, he's quite a physical specimen. We've been friends for a long time. He told me that he had just returned from a Todd Bentley healing extravaganza in Lakeland.

He said that he had gone to lend moral support to his sister Angela, who had taken what little she had and arranged for a long trip from Michigan to Florida. This was at great financial cost to her. She did it because like thousands of others she was just plain desperate. The Christian grapevine, from Charisma to God TV has certainly provided the hype. "Thousands have experienced miraculous healings. Some are even being raised from the dead." And so with faith and expectation she loaded up her wheelchaired daughter and headed off to Lakeland. For two and a half hours she sang and swayed along with thousands of desperate people. And then came the testimonies.

A visiting speaker, Dr. Malone, elevated expectations with stories of dramatic healings. He said that that hundreds of Hindus who had poured into his meetings in India had been miraculously healed. In fact, he described the palpable sounds of hundreds of tumors exploding. He talked about the exuberant shouts of the lame as they walked away from their crutches and the cries of paraplegics who were leaving their wheelchairs behind. He said that in sharp contrast to the healings of the Hindus, none of the Muslims in the meeting experienced the miraculous. That is, he said, until a Muslim woman stepped forward and surrendered her child to the Christians on stage. While still in a quandary over why God had healed the Hindus and not the Muslims, the Spirit of the Almighty God allegedly spoke to Malone and demanded that the child be thrown to the ground. Incredibly, says Malone, the child was healed in mid-air and subsequently the Muslims in the meeting experienced miraculous healings - every one of them.

Of course these kinds of stories elevated expectations to fever pitch, and so with tears streaming down her face Angela wheeled the most precious of her possessions towards the stage. This was her moment. This was the culmination of all her hopes and dreams. Within moments the paralysis of her daughter would be but a distant memory.

Suddenly, however, an agony beyond the burden that she carried in her heart for all these years cascaded down upon her and in that moment her dreams were dashed. You see, an usher blocked her entrance to the stage, saying that only the healed had entry to the healer. Angela ended up leaving dejected and discouraged.

Ironically, Gerry's son Taylor, who suffers from epilepsy, left feeling that he had experienced the miraculous. Had Taylor been interviewed that very moment he would have testified to complete and total healing. Gerry, however, left in a quandary. He said that the healer was a fraud. He risked damaging the faith of his son. If he threw away his meds his son would experience a grand mal seizure.

I was thinking about that experience when I got a letter from a lady who said:

"I catch your show every now and then on the air. I know you love God and are committed to serving Him, but I've noticed that you come against other Christian teachers on your show. Mr. Hanegraaff, a house divided against itself cannot stand. God sent many different types of preachers into the world who have different styles and different audiences. Not everyone is going to use your approach. You give sound bites of other preachers' sermons, and they may be off a little bit and erroneous. As smart as you are, I find it frustrating that you don't see that you're causing more harm than good. As long as the other preachers pass the "Jesus is Lord" test I wish you would trust the Holy Spirit to take care of the rest. He doesn't need any help, sir! Don't you get it? When we all get to heaven we'll see who really had the anointing and who really was led by the Spirit to do what. Until then, love covers a multitude of sins."

This is by a lady named Heather. So on the one hand I have Gerry talking about the experience he had at one of the Todd Bentley events, the aftermath of discouragement and dejection, not knowing if God loves you or if you had enough faith. On the other hand, I have a lady named Heather who tells me I should butt out. I'm bringing more harm than good by bringing these things up on the air.

This raises the question: Should Christians judge the teachings of their leaders?

Not only is judging permissible - it is a responsibility. Nobody's teachings are above sound judgment. Especially those who have influence and power. Biblically, authority and accountability go hand in hand. The greater the responsibility, the greater the accountability. The precedent for making right judgments comes from the Bible. In the Old Testament the Israelites were commanded to practice sound judgment. They were told to thoroughly test the teachings of their leaders. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul commands the Thessalonians to test all things and to hold fast to that which is good. Paul lauds the Bereans for doing just that, for testing his teachings.

While our Lord cautioned followers not to judge self-righteously, He also counseled them to make judgments based on right standards, and in the contest of oft-quoted commands by Jesus such as "Judge not or you too will be judged," Jesus also exhorted us to judge false prophets whose teachings and whose behavior lead people to abject misery. Thus, while we're commanded not to judge hypocritically, we are, nevertheless, called to judge.

Common sense should be sufficient to alert us to the importance of making public as well as private judgments regarding false doctrine. Remember the infamous Tylenol scare in 1982? Public warnings were issued by the media as well as by the medical community regarding the physical danger of ingesting Tylenol capsules that had been laced with cyanide. I think this is an apt illustration because spiritual cyanide is being dispensed within the Christian community, and therefore we are duty-bound to warn the public. We have a biblical precedent for this. Paul publicly rebuked Hymenaeus and Philetus for teaching which was false and was spreading like gangrene. Today we are in much the same condition.

We have the gangrene of Todd Bentley spreading like a plague, and we have Charisma Magazine, God TV and God knows what other media outlets hyping these guys to the extreme. And essentially, just like Heather, they're saying "Look, let's just see if this turns out to be a wonderful move of God and let's not judge!" Well, my friends, if no one sounds the alarm there are going to continue to be thousands and thousands - dare I say millions - of disillusioned people that don't know what to believe or who to trust. People like my friend Gerry. People like his sister Angela. Their kids. Sometime in the future I'm going to tell you the story of William Dembski. He's one of the brightest guys on the planet. He just experienced the same thing. You want to cry when you think about it.

These people end up thinking God doesn't care for them, they don't know what to believe or who to trust. Many of them are shipwrecked in their faith. This is a gangrene, a cancer, a distortion of truth in our midst, and it needs to be called out for what it is because people are losing their ability to discern. A lot of you reading this blog right now are rational and coherent, but after three hours of singing one song over and over again, or a few lyrics, you are in an altered state of consciousness, you're willing to believe virtually anything that enters your mind, no matter how mundane or outlandish.

Well, if nobody else is willing to say it - and I don't care how many Heathers stop supporting this ministry - I'm going to continue saying what I'm saying. Todd Bentley is a spiritual fraud. He's communicating spiritual cyanide by the megadose. His messages are merely stories. They're the figment of his own fertile imagination. When he talks about tens of resurrections from the dead he doesn't give you any details. Why no details? Why wouldn't he give us any kind of indication who these people are? For example, according to Bentley one man, unembalmed, was dead for 48 hours in a coffin. When the family gathered around it in a funeral home the man knocked from inside the coffin and asked to be let out. Conspicuous by their absence, however, are names, death certificates, addresses, phone numbers and eyewitness testimony. Imagine if this is how we testified to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We would be, as Peter put it, communicating cleverly invented stories. But Peter said "No, we didn't. We told you the truth. We looked at Him we saw Him, we touched Him, we handled Him. We know He's the Word of Life." They gave evidence. Bentley does not.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Comfort of Christ's Resurrection

I was thinking today about Tim Russert from NBC's "Meet the Press," a guy in the prime of his life, at the top of the mountain, and suddenly at age 58 - and this really hits home for me - found dead in his office in the midst of his work.

How do you deal with that if you're an atheist looking at the death of a guy in the prime of his life? Atheists believe that death is the cessation of being. So in their view humans are merely bodies and brains. But from the perspective of logic we can demonstrate that the mind is not identical to the brain. We can prove that the mind and brain have different properties, as I do in my book Resurrection.

Not only so, but if human beings were merely material they couldn't be held accountable this year for a crime they committed last year because physical identity changes over time. Every day we lose multiplied millions of microscopic particles. In fact every seven years virtually every part of our material anatomy changes. Therefore, from a purely material perspective the person who previously committed a crime is presently not the same person. Of course a criminal that attempts to use that kind of reasoning as a defense wouldn't get very far. From an intuitive perspective we recognize the sameness of soul that establishes personal identity over time.

If I am merely material there is another problem - my choices are merely a function of factors like genetic makeup and brain chemistry. So my decisions are really not free. They're fatalistically determined.

The implications of these kinds of notions are profound. In a worldview that embraces fatalistic determinism I cannot be held morally accountable for my actions because reward and punishment make sense only if we have freedom of the will.

There is, however, and even more profound and persuasive argument demonstrating the reality of life beyond the grave. That argument flows from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through His resurrection Christ not only demonstrated that He does not stand in a line of peers like Abraham or Buddha or Confucius, but also provided compelling evidence for life after death.

Christianity doesn't come along at a time of bereavement and give us some clever cliché or some peaceful way to come to terms with death. What it does, however, is it gives us something far greater: a way to overcome death through the power of Christ's resurrection. We can live today lives of peace and serenity in a world in which we know our tomorrows are not promised for one reason, and one reason alone, and that is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because He lives we know that we too shall live.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Todd Bentley and the Branham Anointing

One of the newest prosperity preachers to hit the big-time is the well-tattooed biker, Todd Bentley. His website, as the leader of the "Lakeland Revival" claims that God has released an increase of the healing anointing into Todd's life to the point where the blind see, the deaf hear, and growths dissolve as Jesus still heals every sickness and disease.

Bentley says that two months after being saved the heavens opened like a bright flash and a white dove materialized out of thin air and flew across the lake to a nearby tree. "Although it was a single dove it sounded like the flapping wings of ten thousand doves. The noise filled the sky and rumbled in my spirit. The sound of ripping, rushing. The mighty wind filled my ears. As a result I'd received not only tongues, but also an imbuement of power from on high for miracles and for signs and for wonders."

Well, the power residing in Todd Bentley is so potent that "when people visited me at my home they'd get zapped by in invisible electric force field in whatever room I was in, and then they'd bounce back." One day as he was merely walking in to his kitchen a visiting friend cried out "Your face is glowing." I guess he was kind of like Moses on the Mount. Predictably, his friend suddenly went down under the power. Like his friend, Bentley does what is called "marinating and pickling in the Holy Spirit." That has led to some amazing encounters with the netherworld. Not only did the tree of life once appear in his living room, but Bentley says "angels also started to appear during my 'soaking times.' They'd come into my bedroom as pillars of shimmering light moving to and fro."

Once he had a twenty foot tall angel in his apartment. On another occasion the presence of an angel knocked him out of his body and he had to wonder "How am I going to get back in my body?" Then he later discovered that he had his own angel. God Himself said "This is your angel, the angel from John 5. Everywhere you go the angel goes. I want you to be part of taking healing revival to the nations. I don't want you to be just having this gift of healing. I want you to be part of what has been prophesied in breaking through and seeing the fulfillment of the ultimate healing revival."

Bentley now says that even warlocks approach him in different services and describe his angel, and people say "Todd, there's an angel that follows you and I believe it's the angel and anointing that was with William Branham." I think that's pretty hilarious on the one hand while it's sad because, unfortunately, William Branham was a false teacher and Todd Bentley claims that the anointing and the mantle and the angel of William Branham are now his! Incredible! This in full view of the fact that William Branham denied the Trinity, fancied himself as the end time angel to the church of Laodicea, and prophesied that by 1977 all denominations would be consumed by the World Council of Churches under the control of the Roman Catholics, the rapture would take place, and the world would be destroyed. Supposedly this is all done now, but mystically he has the angel, the mantle and the anointing of William Branham.

He also claims the anointing of many other counterfeit revivalists. Che Ahn, for example, said "I must decrease so that you can increase."
Todd, I'm just so humbled because of what you went through, all of us have gone
through. When I think of John Arnott being rejected by his brothers in 1995. I
remember I was kicked out of two movements. But it was all part of the
preparation, the breaking for the anointing....and He's prepared you for such a
time as this. There's a Branham anointing on you. There's a double portion of
it. The Lord is raising you up. I feel like I want to just say that I must
decrease, you must increase.

I was watching a YouTube in which I saw Bentley kick a man in the gut with his knee in order to heal him of stage 4 colon cancer. When the man bent over in obvious pain from the assault, Bentley said "I had to be obedience to the Lord, sir, but I believe that colon cancer is coming right out of your body now. Now you're probably feeling a little more pain" - of course he was. He just got kicked in the gut, a guy with cancer - "but we're dealing with cancer. Sometimes it's a spirit and we're going to draw that out."

Like a host of Faith teachers before him, Bentley claims all kinds of resurrections from the dead and yet gives no details whatsoever. For Bentley the devil is in the details, and he has none.

You can hear him saying not only that angels appear to him, but Jesus Christ appears to him. He is an absolute false prophet, but unfortunately the world is falling for his ruse. If people want to know how to distinguish between counterfeit and genuine revival they need to get my book Counterfeit Revival. They'll discover that, unfortunately today people are looking for God in all the wrong places. They're going to hear in Lakeland all kinds of things, from people being resurrected from the dead - not true, no details, no descriptions - to supposedly people being pickled and marinated in the Spirit, which is the new vib. In fact, they're going to hear about vibrating in the Spirit now. This guy is an absolute phony. Unfortunately people are falling for his ruse.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Our Heavenly Father

Every single morning I begin my prayer time by praying the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name." I was thinking about what I wrote in The Prayer of Jesus with respect to the disciples. The first words of the prayer of Jesus must have been nothing short of scandalous. Of all the things they must have learned about prayer, this was certainly not one of them. They had not even been permitted to say the name of God out loud, let alone refer to Him as "our Father." And yet that is precisely how Jesus taught His disciples to pray. There was, however, a catch, and the Apostle John explains the catch - only those who received Jesus and believed on the name of Jesus have the right to refer to God as "our Father." In fact, Jesus made it clear that there are only two kinds of people in the world: those who should refer to Satan as "our father" and those who can legitimately refer to God as "our Father who art in heaven." There simply is no other option.

In one sense Jesus is the only one who can legitimately address God as Father. He's the unique Son of God and has been so throughout eternity. However, as Paul explains it in Romans 8, those who are led by the Spirit of God are no longer illegitimate children. Instead they too are sons and daughters by adoption through faith in Jesus Christ. Thus they can legitimately refer to God as "our Father."

Let's be ever mindful of our Father in heaven through whom all blessings flow. As we remember our heavenly Father we are remembering the one who spoke and the universe leapt into existence, the one who created us so that we could have fellowship with Him, and the one to whom we should address our prayers each and every day.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Enduring Legacy of a Father

I was thinking today about my father's transition from this world to the next. He took one final breath and entered an unexplored existence just waiting to be experienced. But exactly forty years before taking that final breath my Dad was laying in another hospital room and he was fighting for his life. For all intents and purposes the doctors had given up on him. In fact, my mother had been advised that apart from a miracle Dad was going to die.

Years later my father shared with me how he had pleaded with the Lord to spare his life - not because he was not ready to die, but that he was convinced that he had not yet accomplished the purpose for which he had been created. For years he'd known that God was calling him to be a pastor, and yet he'd never responded to that call. On his death bed he pleaded for just one more chance at life, one more chance to make his life count for time and for eternity. The Lord saw my father's tears and He heard his prayers and He healed him.

Not long after Dad regained his strength he began making changes. He resigned a comfortable position as a design draftsman engineer. He sold his home in a Canadian suburb and he moved his family to an inner-city neighborhood in the United States and then began studying to become a pastor. For the next four decades he served the Lord with purpose and passion. He pastored the hurting, prayed for the sick, he preached from the Scriptures and every day he'd rise early in the morning and he would pray for a son who had little interest in the things of God. Before he died, however, my father realized an answer to those prayers. I surrendered my life to Christ and to His calling and I'll never forget the day that Dad told me how proud he was of what God had done in my life. With a twinkle in his eye he said "I had a part in that." Of course, he did. Not only am I the product of his prayers, but throughout the forty years that God added to my father's life he modeled what it meant to be a fearless defender of the faith.

Not everyone has been called to be a pastor. Everyone, however, has been called to serve the Master. Whatever our calling, we are to invest our time, our talents, our treasures in the things that will last for all eternity. I want to exhort fathers everywhere: it's your prayers, your care, that are so paramount in the lives of your children. Don't be an absentee Dad. Invest your life in your children and you will, indeed, have an enduring legacy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Having an Eternal Perspective

I'd like to say a couple of words about having an eternal perspective, which I think is so critically important for believers. We need to elevate our gaze from mean earthly vanities to eternal verities. To develop an eternal perspective we need to saturate ourselves with Scripture and of course Jesus modeled daily devotion to the Word of God. Because of that so should we. Remember, in the ultimate spiritual battle Jesus took up the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Not only that but we need to begin to view this world with an eye towards eternity by focusing on the needs of others. As Jesus sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world, we need to learn to live selflessly rather than selfishly. At the Judgment those who fed the hungry, who gave drink to the thirsty, who clothed and fed the naked, cared for the sick and visited people in prison are going to be rewarded as if they had done these things for the Lord Himself.

One more point, and that is we develop an eternal perspective by withdrawing from the invasive sounds of the world so that we can hear the sounds of another place, and maybe more importantly, another voice. Doctor Luke tells us that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. He wasn't like the religious leaders of the day. He didn't pray to be seen by men. He prayed because He treasured fellowship with His Heavenly Father. If you too wish to develop that kind of perspective, a perspective that leads to abundant living now and for all eternity, go into your room, close the door, said Jesus, and pray to your Father who is unseen and then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. It's not about having palaces in this life. It's about having a relationship with Christ for time and for eternity.

Remember, we're looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. No more death, mourning, crying or pain, because the old order of things will have passed away. All things become new. That eventuality is right around the corner. I can say that as I am now 57 years of age and I think about the fact that my dad died when he was 74. I think of the span between 57 and 74 and it's not a long period of time. You start realizing how mortal we are and how important it is to leave it all on the field, as it were, to live our life for things that really matter, the souls of people.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Importance of Church Attendance

There seems to be an alarming exodus from the church where a lot of people have had bad experiences with unhealthy churches and so they've developed a Lone Ranger mentality. I want to urge people who have had this experience to find healthy, well-balanced churches because the Scriptures, from first to last, teach that the Christian life is to be lived within the context of a family of faith. The Bible knows nothing of Lone Ranger Christians. Far from being born again as some kind of rugged individualist, we're born into a body of believers, of which the Lord Jesus Christ is the head. Hebrews tells us that we should not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing.

Spiritual growth is simply impossible apart from membership in a healthy, well-balanced church. It's the church through which we receive the Word and the sacraments as a means of grace, and therefore it's crucial that we emulate the early Christians who devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

While it is in the church that we enter into worship, experience fellowship and are equipped to witness, church membership itself, of course, does not save us. Walking into a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than walking into a garage makes you a car. We're rescued from God's wrath, forgiven of all our sins and declared righteous before God solely by grace through faith on account of Jesus Christ alone.

I'm not urging you to go to church so that you can become a Christian, but as a Christian you want to be part of a healthy, well-balanced church because God has ordained this as the vehicle through which we could worship Him, through which we could experience oneness with one another, and through which we can be equipped to go out and impact the world.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Truth Vs. Pantheistic Monism

Over the past several days I have been deeply troubled by Oprah's promotion of hypnosis as well as pantheistic monism in a broadcast titled "Remembering Past Lives." Here is how she interviews Brian Weise. He's a psychiatrist and the author of Many Lives, Many Masters and he's answering a question by Oprah on how hypnosis can be used to access past lives.

Oprah: How does hypnosis help one access the past lives?

Brian Weise:
It gives a direct line in because hypnosis - I was explaining to the audience - it’s just focusing your concentration while your body is relaxed. So it stops the clutter, the everyday mind, from getting in the way, and you go right to the subconscious. You can go right to where memories are. You’re still here. You’re safe. You don’t go anywhere. It’s not what you see in the movies.

Dong, dong, dong, dong, dong. Yeah.

Brian Weise:
No. It's not safe at all. In fact, when you are worked into an altered state of consciousness you become hypersuggestible, willing to believe whatever enters your mind, no matter how mundane or outlandish.

Oprah not only is promoting this past life regression, but she's also promoting and underscoring and giving credence to pantheistic monism.

Oprah: I think the biggest question that everybody has is where is God in all of
this? Your answer is?

Brian Weise:
I find God everywhere in this. I was meditating on this one day, and had a metaphor of ice cubes like people. Ice cubes they’re solid, they have sides, but if you melt them with heat energy, they just disappear into water, they become water. So if ice cubes are floating in water, and you heat the water, everything is water, the individuality has disappeared. And if you keep adding heat energy, even the water disappears and it all become steam. Invisible but it’s still the H20 molecule vibrating rapidly. It’s still there. And I think people are like the ice cubes. We're the
solid part, the condensed part — we think we are separate from everybody else. We’re not, because if you heat us with love energy, not heat energy, but love energy, we melt into a spiritual sea. Spirit and water has always been equated. And if you keep heating with love, you find God. God is the steam, God is beyond the steam, the organizing Wisdom that’s in every atom of our being, as well as every atom of this chair. This is who we are. God is in all of us. And so were not so separate, so distinct, we're not different from each other. We’re all souls, and souls are all connected.

Yeah, and I was just saying to the producers people get hung up on the word “masters” because people say there’s only one Master, and the truth is, yeah, we are all one. So you can all call them angels. I said, “You can call them angels. You can call them masters. You can call them Winnie the Pooh. It doesn’t matter.” The question we need to ask ourselves is "Do I have the ability to listen to this and discern between wheat and chaff, heat and light? Can I spot the error or does this simply wash over me as though it has little consequence?"

If pantheistic monism is true it has a very direct relationship to how lives are lived for this world and the next. Oprahfication of the culture is one thing, but I'm equally exorcised over Barack Obama's theological dictum that, in his words, "There are many paths to the same place" as well as Obama's denunciation of Christians who hold that those who haven't embraced Jesus Christ as their personal Savior are going to hell. I certainly believe that because God is not a cosmic rapist. He's not going to force people who reject Him in this life to be dragged into His loving presence for all eternity. If He were to do that, heaven wouldn't be heaven. Heaven would be hell. The righteous would inherit a counterfeit heaven and the unrighteous would be incarcerated in heaven against their will, which is a torment worse than death. In fact, I would say it could legitimately be called an eternal cosmic rape.

What did Jesus say? He said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me." While Obama's obfuscation - and he said "I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die" - might be politically correct, it's puzzling in the face of the box top of Scripture, the words of the Apostle John who said "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

I'm equally troubled by this liberation theology of the man Obama called his mentor. For Pastor Jeremiah Wright liberation theology and its horizontal, materialistic vision for humanity is king. His emphasis is not so much on liberation from the wrath of God through faith in Jesus Christ, but on liberation from what he describes as the government of the United States of White America, a government that he says has unleashed the AIDS virus on African-Americans, a government that victimizes victims, a government that oppresses the oppressed. In the end Wright's message is liberation through class struggle rather than liberation through Christ's sacrifice. Those who sit under the mentorship of men like Wright should carefully consider whether anger, disregard for truth, victimization theories are the path to victory, or whether it's the Gospel that sets us free to be all that God created us to be no matter what condition we find ourselves in.

It's truly remarkable that thousands of congregants applaud a man who openly garnered support for Louis Farrakhan who, of course, is the notorious leader of the Nation of Islam, a man who is blatantly anti-Semitic and subscribes to the notion that the White race was grafted into existence 6,000 years ago by a scientist named Dr. Yakub who allegedly created the white beast to be inherently deceptive and murderous. A man who has openly referred to Jews as "bloodsuckers" and Judaism as a "gutter religion," and Hitler as "a very great man," a man who characterizes Christianity as a White man's religion. A man who denies the afterlife and, as such, denies eternal consequences for the atrocities of despots and dictators. We've come a long way, baby. The question is, are we headed in the right direction.

So often it's easy for us to set up a we/they siege mentality against these kinds of philosophies which are now being openly espoused by leaders in the political realm, and pundits on television. But the truth of the matter is the culture is where it is not because of Obama and Oprah. They reflect the culture. The culture is where it is because Christians are unable, ill-equipped what they believe and then give answers, always ready to give an answer or reason for the hope that lies within them with gentleness and with respect. If we don't give a clear sound, who's going to follow? If we aren't those who can communicate the credibility of the words of Jesus Christ, who can answer obfuscation, who's going to do it?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Todd Bentley's Violent Outbursts

As I was walking into the studio the other day I received an audio clip of Todd Bentley, who is supposedly running a revival in Lakeland, Florida. We've played some clips of Todd Bentley on the radio already where he's talking about Jesus appearing to him looking like Bambi with big brown eyes. We've played clips of him instituting a new aspect of revival which has to do with vibrations in the Spirit. But now I get a clip in which Todd Bentley - and I thought this was a joke, quite frankly - in which he is saying that God wants him - in fact, instructed him - to grab a lady's crippled legs and to start banging them up and down on the platform like a baseball bat; in which God told him, supposedly, to kick a woman in the face. When I was given this clip I had to question my research staff as to whether this was real, because I simply couldn't believe it! This is so out there, folks! I wrote a book called Counterfeit Revival and never in my wildest dreams ever thought it would get to this. Here is what he said:

The woman was standing in the back of the room when the faith of God hit the meeting and her tumor exploded out of her right leg, slid down her leg onto the floor. I said "God, I prayed for like a 100 crippled people. Not one?" He said "That's because I want you to grab that lady's crippled legs and bang them up and down on the platform like a baseball bat." I walked up and I grabbed her legs and I started going BAM. I started banging them up and down on the platform. She got healed. And I'm thinking God, "Why is not the power of God moving?" He said "Because you haven't kicked that woman in the face." And there was this older lady worshipping right in front of the platform. And the Holy Spirit spoke to me. The gift of faith came on me. He said "Kick her in the face - with your biker boot!" I inched closer and I went like this. BAM. And just as my boot made contact with her nose she fell under the power of God. And I saw him and the gift of faith came on me and I said "What do I do, God" and God told me to just run him down. So I jumped up in the air and I went BAM and I hit him to the ground, jumped on to him and got into a full mount. Ground and pound. I jumped on him and I was in a full mount and something came over me and instead of punching him I grabbed him by the neck and started choking him and I said "Come out of him, devil! Come out of him, devil!" And I was at another meeting one time and I called out this Chinese gentleman and all of a sudden I went running down the aisle and I hit this guy so hard it drove him back several feet. He hit the ground and his tooth popped right out of his mouth. The pastor was lying on the floor and I was standing up on the platform and I said "God, I want revival" and He said these words to me: "Leg drop the pastor!" I said "What?" He said "Leg drop the pastor!"

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. This is a metamorphosis of counterfeit revival such as I have never anticipated in my life. I have seen these kinds of things and certainly read about them happening in the ashrams of cults, but now this is happening in front of the altars of churches and people are completely unaware of crowd dynamics. People in crowds are more easily influenced than people taken by themselves. The effect of suggestion on crowds seems virtually without limit. It can make black appear white, obscure reality, enshrines absurdity, and then it gets to the point where you have crowds here laughing, full of anticipation as he talks about the Holy Spirit instructing him to kick a lady in the face, to choke someone, to sit on someone and violate them to the extent that, as he said, a tooth popped out of the person's mouth. And to leg drop a pastor.

Once epidemic suggestion contaminates a movement human beings can behave like beasts or idiots and be proud of it, and no one is immune to the force of mass suggestion. Once this kind of hysteria is in full force it strikes intellectuals as well as morons, rich and poor alike. As has well been said and documented in Counterfeit Revival, Robert Marks said "Once an epidemic of hysteria is in full force it is contagious and the wellsprings are subconscious and biological, not rational."

This is just another example of demonic deception and it's happening in churches because people set aside their ability to think rationally and critically. They even set aside their ability to exercise their wills because they become hypersuggestible, which means that they are likely to accept any spiritual truth that enters their craniums, and they are primed by people like Todd Bentley in what is being touted as revival in major Christian magazines and by major Christian leaders. They are primed for mystical experiences and they are attaching spiritual significance to virtually anything that enters their minds.

This is an abomination. This is why Jeremiah once warned ancient Israel "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you. They fill you with false hopes, they speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. Do not listen to those prophets." Some of you ought to get your Bibles out and read Jeremiah 23. I took the time to memorize it, but it is worth reading because it is a warning against false prophets who do not benefit the body of Christ in the least.

We've come to a place in the Christian church where we lack discernment to the extent that thousands and thousands of people - now, millions - are being swept up in these kinds of revivals, all under the guise of spirituality. People are not only being damaged in the process, but they are dragging Christ's name through the mud. Make no mistake about that because the world looks on and says "these people are gullible fools." You and I need to understand how this process works. In fact I just finished writing a little booklet on that. We're going to offer it to people in the coming months so that people understand how we are now aping the practices of pagan spirituality, all under the guise of God and the Holy Spirit.

Don't think that this guy is simply rambling. He is standing with Bible in hand in front of an altar in front of a church, in a convention center, in an auditorium. Somewhere he is saying that the Holy Spirit told him, that God instructed him. When you say God did something He didn't do or the Holy Spirit told you something He didn't tell you, that's blasphemous.