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.


Anonymous said...

When I was serving in the army and stationed in Monterey, California I would listen to you and R.C. Sproul almost everyday. At the time I was a false convert. I professed Christ with my tongue, but denied Him in my private life. When I moved I began to drift into the charismatic camp and I began to hear people speak unkindly of you and Dr. Sproul and your teachings. However, a solid year of listening to the two of you prevented me from accepting what they were offering. Even though I was a false believer I had enough discernment to know that they were just wrong on certain crucial points. Now, I am a true sold-out, born-again, bible-believing Christian. He is my Lord and my Savior and He has brought me full circle. I now seek out your teachings and I recognize the positive impact that your program had in my life all those years ago. Don’t let people like Heather discourage you. You are doing more good than you know. Just keep prepping the ground and sowing the seeds, brother.

Matt said...

Hello Hank, my comment has nothing to do with Todd Bentley and I apologize for that, but I could not find another way on your site to ask you a couple of questions relating to free will. At what point in eternity do you believe free will ends? And, if it does not end, how is heaven a perfect place? If you believe that heaven has been, is, and will forever be perfect, then how could Satan have "fallen" because of sin? I am not being contentious, only curious. Thank you for your time and possible response.

Anonymous said...

Hank this is John Edwards in Alabama I have recently left the Word of Faith Movement and have been blogging about it for a few weeks. Your books have been a great help to me and my wife.

Austin said...


I am deeply concerned for you... Over the years I have heard you verbally attack and bash many of God's servants. (Psalm 105:15) states..."Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm." Even David refused to rise up against king Saul even though Saul did evil in the eyes of God. David understood that Saul was still God's anointed and God alone would correct the matter.

When you say things like...

"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." (Hank)

You are verbally attacking and rising up against God's anointed. That concerns me! You could justify you actions by saying... "He is not anointed by God!" But is that our place to judge?

Please repent and ask God to forgive you.

By the way I attended the Lakeland Revival for a few nights and heard Todd Bentley speak. What kind of a spiritual fraud takes an offering at 11:30 p.m. after more than 5,000- 6,000 people left the stadium? And what kind of fraud preaches Good News of Salvation and healing? I saw first hand the revival in Lakeland and that is why I am concerned for you Hank Hanegraff.

P.S. My Dad was miraculously healed of a totally destroyed rotator cuff while watching the lakeland revival on GOD TV in Pennsylvania. I would like to see you tell him that Todd Bentley is a spiritual fraud.

Anonymous said...

In response to the last comment - psychology explains why taking an offering at 11:30pm is better than earlier in a service. Even with the a significant loss of numbers, an offering would likely rake in more at the later hour. First, how many of those who left before the end of the service would likely be enthusiastic supporters? And second, without all the "healings" and the emotion, would people likely give as much?
Now, I did say psychology supported a later offering. When the mind needs to concentrate it exhausts itself - and decision making is effected. Think about how long people at a revival service concentrate singing over the same lyrics repetitively and try to focus their minds and energies on God. That is a taxing event. For further reading on decision making and brain fatigue you can visit Scientific Mind America for more information. Obviously the below article has no bias to the Todd Bentley debate.

LionHeart said...

If you get five thousand people together in a corporate setting and all are believing for healing you will see supernatural healing. It has got nothing to do with the "healer" Todd Bentley. It is the "prayer of Faith" being prayed by a mass of believing people that moves God to act on His Word. This is more of the same old from Hank. Over the years I have not heard one credible testimony of supernatural healing on the program BAM . I have persoanlly met dozens of people who have been healed of all kinds of ailments. This deliberate omission is a very cunning attempt to take out the supernatural element of Christianity. It will continue to fail and be shown for what it is. God is showing forth His Glory in the Healing of the sick and no one is going to stop it. I am stepping up my prayers for the sick .....

Matt said...

Lionheart, and anyone else believing that they hold the power and authority to change the outcome of an ALMIGHTY GOD'S PLAN. (whether it be concerning healing or not) Lets say that there is an outdoor convention this weekend in a town of Tennessee, and there are 100 "righteous" christians who are praying that God will keep the rain away. While at the same time, and in the same town, there are 100 "righteous" farmers who are diligently praying for rain that they have not seen in months. Who's prayer will God answer? Who did not pray hard enough? Or pray correctly? Or long enough?Is this really how you believe an almighty sovereign Lord "orchestrates" His plan and purpose? By seeing who can come up with the most people to pray? Not only is that ridiculous, it is unscriptural. If you believe that God has a purpose, and, or a plan, then you have to believe that He is going to accomplish it and there is no decision or praying that you can do to change HIS will. He knows the end from the is already predetermined... from His perspective there is NOTHING that you, or anyone can do to thwart it!! I know that this will hurt many peoples pride but that is a good thing. HE IS SOVEREIGN! HE DESERVES THE GLORY, NOT YOU OR I. (please refer to my earlier question concerning "free will" and respond accordingly) Thank you for your time.

Anonymous said...

As you have stated, the theology of Todd Bentley and others like him must be stopped because it spreads like gangrene. Because of people like Todd Bentley, I have seen professing Christian websites such as Elijah List supports his occultic phenomenom of 'astral projection' using various Bible verses. At my university, I am required to read a book put out by Charisma magazine, which supports the modern 'moves of God,' which includes experiences such as 'making animal noises,' Holy Ghost laughter' and 'slaying in the Spirit.' The leaders of my church openly applauded the likes of Todd Bentley and Benny Hinn, which devasted me. While talking about visiting Lakeland, my pastor said that it is 'better felt, than telt.' He then went on to preach an entire message about not trusting your 'feelings' or 'emotions' to discern truth, but the Bible.

As you mentioned in your latest resource, people will rather uphold unreasonable beliefs in professing Christian healers and prophets than admit that they have fallen for spiritual deception. Case in point, I lead and teach a Bible study at my house in hopes to get professing Christians to know and understand the truth, not some sensationalistic myth or theory. Because many of these people that meet at my house every week have been influenced by these false prophets/teachers, it has been difficult to reach them despite the overwhelming evidence that I present from the Bible. I provided three failed prophecies of Benny Hinn last night, which automatically makes him a false prophet according to Deuteronomy 18:22 or Jeremiah 28:1-17. They still had a hard time accepting the answer (don't to mention all the other prosperity teachers). This group of people at my house really had a difficult time when we discussed these so called modern prophets and healers.

In Matthew 7:15-23, Jesus Christ gave us a perfect explanation about the false prophets who were to come. He told us EXACTLY what it would look like: "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not PROPHESY in your name, and in your name DRIVE OUT DEMONS and PERFORM MANY MIRACLES? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!" (Mt 7:22-23, NIV). I like the Old Testament equivalent of this principle for testing false prophets - Deuteronomy 13. False teachers/prophets are trying to get us to 'FOLLOW OTHER GODS' - ones that deny the doctrine of the Trinity (ONE God in THREE distinct persons, not modalism (ONE God in THREE modes or forms - T. D. Jakes - look at the Potter's House Statement of Beliefs) or teach financial prsoperity is the way to godliness. The apostle Paul warns about receiving a different gospel, a different Jesus, and a different spirit (2 Cor. 11:4). "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than what you accepted, LET HIM BE ETERNALLY CONDEMNED!" (Galatians 1:8-9, NIV).
Didn't Todd Bentley receive his call to ministry by an angel named Emma-O? Do you know that Emma-O is the lord of the underworld in Japanese occultism - yes, SATAN.

In reference to these so called healing ministries where all these miraculous signs and wonders are happening, I want to remind you of the warning in Deuteronomy 13:3b: "THE LORD GOD IS TESTING YOU TO FIND OUT WHETHER OR NOT YOU LOVE HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL."

We have the 'MIND OF CHRIST,' meaning we have the Bible to give us knowledge of the truth, so that we won't be deceived by the DEVIL. It is our responsibility to TEST EVERYTHING by it.

Thank you Hank, for not cowering in fear against those that maliciously attack you. Why? Because you tell them the truth. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why Todd Bentley believes that angels are so important now. In scripture there is very little teaching about the supernatural (and how to control or use it). It is clear that we make a difference and participate in the supernatural (look at Job or John 9 with the blind man). We're not aware of everything going on. There is the supernatural, but God's not trying to tell us how to manipulate it. Even when Job was in the middle of it all, God didn't mention to him anything about it. And the Bible never teaches us how to pray for angels, or how to get them to do things for us, or to have them take over our lives... These are definitely false teachings...

Anonymous said...


I apologize for using this forum to ask a question, but I have exhausted all avenues I can think of...Any idea when/if there is going to be a third installment in the Last Disciple Series?


Anonymous said...

I can really relate to the story of the parents taking their disabled children to Bentley's crusade ,and leaving with their spirits crushed.I have a daughter with a form of autism and several mental illnesses.We used to take her,repeatedly,to a famous TV faith healer,here in Ohio.There would be such an emotional buildup,and as a young child,she had absolute faith that she would be healed.She never was,and after the service,on the way would all hit.The anger,the confusion,the doubting God's love for her,the frusration,the disappointment.Finally,I decided,no more.No more,I am not going to put my child through this cruel process again.These "ministers" are not harmless.They cause great harm with their heretical teachings and false promises of healing.

Anonymous said...

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