Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival

This article is divided up under the following sub headings – jump to any section from the links below.

Introduction

1. Biblical Discernment

2. What has been prophesied about Todd?

3. What is BiblicalRevival?

4. What is the place of angels?

5. Should we talk about ‘it’?

6. Getting ‘it’.

7. Are all ‘miracles’ automatically of God?

8. Todd’s Response

9. Conclusion

10. Links to Further Articles

Introduction

Every day we are being asked about the current ‘revival’ in Florida and although in mid-July Todd took a rest, the meetings continued and it is now reported he will return on July 18 and the live broadcasts on God TV will also continue. There is as yet no sign that these enquiries will decrease but the heart of the ‘revival’ seems to be waning because as of August 3 they have moved back to Ignite Church where it began. Todd says in his latest letter (August 1) that this is due to “venue costs and other practical matters”. Indeed, we do not know what will happen now as Todd will no longer be part of the meetings because sadly he is filing for separation from his wife.

“Evangelist Todd Bentley, who led a Pentecostal revival in Lakeland from a modest beginning to near-historic proportions, has filed for separation from his wife, a former spokesperson said Monday, and will not return to the ongoing revival.

“Lynne Breidenbach, a local woman who had been a media liaison for Bentley during the months-long Florida Outpouring Revival, told The Ledger that Bentley announced to his staff Monday afternoon that he and his wife, Shonnah, had separated. The Bentleys have two daughters and a son, and are Canadian citizens. Under Canadian law, separation is a preliminary step in divorce proceedings, lasting nine months. Breidenbach, who resigned as revival spokesperson Monday, called the news of the separation ‘very sad’.”

(See here for full report.)

This seemed positive but tragically there now appears to be another woman involved, although to what level is not clear. Fresh Fire Ministries has made the following slightly ambiguous statement:

“We wish to thank all of our friends and partners for the overwhelming flood of support and compassion we have received as a ministry on behalf of Todd and Shonnah Bentley. The many phone calls and emails of concern from people who genuinely love the Bentleys and Fresh Fire Ministries have been a great encouragement to all of us here during these past few days. In particular, the rallying of support and prayer for Todd and Shonnah by prominent leaders within the Body of Christ has been a beautiful indicator of the maturity and grace the Lord is bringing to his Bride.

“We wish to acknowledge, however, that since our last statement from the Fresh Fire Board of Directors, we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors and to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.”

It still remains to be seen whether this will have a negative effect on what has been happening so far but interest is still there at present as ‘it’ has now been imparted, because it is ‘transferable’, and has reached a number of places in Britain. As an aside we have heard from at least two pastors that when the ‘transference’ was about to take place they MUST STOP praying and this command was repeated several times. Surely, this is against Scripture; is there a verse that tells us to cease praying?

However, the meetings planned for Todd Bentley in Birmingham, England from September 20-23 have been cancelled.

The British Revival Fires website stated:

“We have just learned that it hasn’t been possible to arrange Todd Bentley’s planned visit to the NEC on September 20th – 23rd as the venue became unavailable.. No venue has yet been advertised but earlier he said he wanted to hire the largest stadium available.”

We have read many words already written on these events and do not simply want to add to them, but we do want to encourage Christians to test this out for themselves and not simply accept one side or the other without really knowing why. We can so easily write ‘the other side’ off but there is only one God and I believe there is only one way to test what is happening. That is not by feelings; it is not be how many apparent signs there are; it is not by whether we like Todd Bentley or not but it is according to the Word of God. We move away from this basis at our peril.

I want to make it clear that we are not against supernatural manifestations, nor are we against true revival. Our desire is that what is happening will be tested and only embraced if it is found to be of the Holy Spirit. First we will look at 1 Thessalonians 5 that gives the Biblical basis for testing out what is happening and then we will look at several areas that need testing. We will seek to be objective but it will become clear that our own testing has brought us to a clear conclusion. Please follow the Scriptural path and see if you agree. Please do not simply take my word for it but please do as Scripture encourages us and test it out.

1. Biblical Discernment

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” – I Thessalonians 5:19-21

These verses are put within the context of the work of the Holy Spirit and His gifts. We are not to quench – put out – the Spirit, which of course means that we must test out what is happening to see whether it is of the Spirit. We are then told not to despise – set aside – give no weight to, prophetic utterances; and again that means we must test the words to see if they are true prophetic utterances.

This is exactly what Paul tells us to do next, “But examine everything carefully”. Examine what? Examine if what is happening is the work of the Holy Spirit or some other spirit. And whether the words given are a prophetic utterance that we should listen to or something we should ignore. We are never just to accept every word someone says because they add on, “Thus saith the Lord.” We do so at our peril.

We are to examine these things, including what is happening in Lakeland, very carefully. It is not, “touching the Lord’s anointed” – please look at those verses carefully in context – it is doing what we are commanded to do in Scripture and come to a conclusion over its validity. How do we examine these things carefully?

The word for examine is the same one found in 1 John 4:1

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

This is the instruction, that every spirit is to be tested and the test is if they are from God. I would say then according to this definition we should ask the following questions:

1. Is it according to His Word?

2. Is it according to His Character – love, truth, etc?

3. Does it lead to glory and honour for the Lord?

We ask these questions and examine every aspect. Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible, comments on this:

“Subject everything submitted to you to be believed to the proper test. The word here used (dokimazete), is one that is properly applicable to metals, referring to the art of the assayer, by which the true nature and value of the metal is tested… This trial was usually made by fire. The meaning here is, that they were carefully to examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust; to take it on assertion; to believe it because it was urged with vehemence, zeal, or plausibility. In the various opinions and doctrines which were submitted to them for adoption, they were to apply the appropriate tests from reason and the word of God, and what they found to be true they were to embrace; what was false they were to reject. Christianity does not require people to disregard their reason, or to be credulous. It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so. It does not make it a duty to receive as undoubted truth all that synods and councils have decreed; or all that is advanced by the ministers of religion. It is, more than any other form of religion, the friend of free inquiry, and would lead people everywhere to understand the reason of the opinions which they entertain; compare Acts 17:11-12; 1 Peter 3:15.”

We do not accept something as being from God just because something is shouted and much fuss is made of it. We need to know the reasoning behind it. Please also note then we are to “hold fast that which is good”, which clearly means we have rejected what is bad. The process of checking everything has highlighted things that are not according to the Lord’s Word and character and that do not lead to His glory and so we let go of them and do not bring them into our experience. Barnes again comments:

“Which is in accordance with reason and the word of God; which is adapted to promote the salvation of the soul and the welfare of society. This is just as much a duty as it is to “prove all things.” A man who has applied the proper tests, and has found out what is truth, is bound to embrace it and to hold it fast. He is not at liberty to throw it away, as if it were valueless; or to treat truth and falsehood alike. It is a duty which he owes to himself and to God to adhere to it firmly, and to suffer the loss of all things rather than to abandon it. There are few more important rules in the New Testament than the one in this passage. It shows what is the true nature of Christianity, and it is a rule whose practical value cannot but be felt constantly in our lives. Other religions require their votaries to receive everything upon trust; Christianity asks us to examine everything. Error, superstition, bigotry, and fanaticism attempt to repress free discussion, by saying that there are certain things which are too sacred in their nature, or which have been too long held, or which are sanctioned by too many great and holy names, to permit their being subjected to the scrutiny of common eyes, or to be handled by common hands. In opposition to all this, Christianity requires us to examine everything – no matter by whom held; by what councils ordained; by what venerableness of antiquity sustained; or by what sacredness it may be invested. We are to receive no opinion until we are convinced that it is true; we are to be subjected to no pains or penalties for not believing what we do not perceive to be true; we are to be prohibited from examining no opinion which our fellow-men regard as true, and which they seek to make others believe. No popular current in favor of any doctrine; no influence which name and rank and learning can give it, is to commend it to us as certainly worthy of our belief. By whomsoever held, we are to examine it freely before we embrace it; but when we are convinced that it is true, it is to be held, no matter what current of popular opinion or prejudice maybe against it.”

With this clear teaching in mind and our means of testing defined, let us examine our 5 areas.

2. What has been prophesied about Todd?

There are a number of prophecies that you can find on the Internet that seem to confirm that what is happening today was foretold of God. Please remember though we need to weigh these words and only hold fast to it if it passes the test. Several prophecies are mentioned on this website.

First a Wendy Alec prophecy from July 2004. However, when you read this, first, you discover it is very general, “East Coast of America” and so as such does not confirm this outpouring at all. You also notice that many States are mentioned with Florida not particularly indicated as the centre of things; indeed, it would seem to indicate that the outpouring would start in New England where the early settlers were. Does this confirm what is happening in Florida today? Personally I do not see how it can.

Then we have a prophecy given by Pastor Rob DeLuca at the Downpour Conference of the Gold Coast in Australia.

This begins:

“Todd, I saw a vision, and it’s concerning 4 revivals that are going to take to place in the world… I saw a human boomerang flying out of Canada and it hit the nation of England, it hit the nation of Australia, it hit the nation of New Zealand, and it came spinning around… I saw Todd Bentley, you’re name on the boomerang, but I knew that it was the Lord showing me that it was you and I saw it fly back around and it came and hit America”

Did the current events happen this way? I do not think so. It should also be noted that this was given on March 7 2008 when the meetings in Lakeland had already been arranged.

A third prophecy that is mentioned is one from Bob Jones on New Year’s Eve 2008. There is a website that has examined this carefully:

“On January 24, 2008, The Elijah List published the following ‘Prophetic Directions for 2008’ from Todd Bentley here. The part from this article that I wish to highlight is this…’With that purpose, recently, I asked my friend Bob Jones (a gifted, mature seer-prophet) about what God was saying to him concerning 2008. In a nutshell Bob said that he had not received a clear directive from the Lord yet. He was still praying about it…’

“OK, got that? That was on January 24th 2008.

“Now on April 23rd 2008, the Elijah List release this, which indicates that both Todd Bentley and Bob Jones are now proclaiming that Bob Jones DID indeed hear clearly from the Lord on New Year’s Eve (twenty five days before the above statement was released saying that Bob Jones had not yet received a clear directive from the Lord yet about 2008.)… To cross-check, I looked up Bob Jones’ published prophecies for 2008, and the Bentley/Lakeland prophecies appearing in the past few days are the first and only this year. The last one published – on his website and the Elijah List – was back in August 2007 – his Shepherd’s Rod predictions for 2008 in two parts (so er… God had apparently spoken to Bob Jones then, in 2007, about 2008 as he writes quite a lot then in his prophecies for 2008!) Can Bob Jones and/or Todd Bentley get their stories straight, I wonder, and why these blatant contradictions? In Bob Jones’ prediction for 2008 is no mention of the ‘third wave’, another Toronto or Pensacola/Brownsville, or Todd Bentley, or any winds in Canada – it is only HIS word after the event which anyone can do.”

Please do check all this out for yourselves. Did God really prophecy these events in Florida or are previous statements being twisted to fit the facts?

3. What is Biblical Revival?

This to me is a very important issue because this is being claimed to be the last great revival that will lead to the second coming of Christ (listen to this interview with Todd Bentley for confirmation of this fact). Is what is happening today in Lakeland the same as what Scripture shows to be revival? God has told Todd Bentley that this is the ‘Third Wave’ or the ‘Last Wave’ that will lead to the return of Christ – is this true?

I first tried to find the word ‘revival’ in the Bible and could not find one instance. I then tried the word ‘revive’ and there were 8 instances in the Old Testament and none in the New. What is common, and obvious, if you think about it, they all have to do with bringing back something that used to be there but has been lost. This is clearly referring to the work of the Lord amongst His people that were once following Him closely but now have allowed other things to become the centre of their lives. The reviving puts God back at the centre. This is also true of times in the Old Testament when God’s Word once again became the focus of people and all idols and other high places were removed. Again it was to do with God’s people getting their lives right before the Lord not seeking miracles of healing. They may have followed but that was not the centre.

Is what is happening in Florida in line with the definition that God has for ‘revive’? Taking this a step further, we need to ask, has God ever said that there will be a worldwide revival that will bring in His Second Coming? I have searched the Scriptures for this and can find nothing – if I have missed one please do let me know. So far all I have found are Scriptures that seem to say the opposite to what Todd Bentley is claiming:

Matthew 24:37 – 39 – what was happening in the days of Noah? Certainly not worldwide revival.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 – apostasy has to come first not revival

Does all this mean we should not seek |God for His blessing and moving in these days? No, of course not. But what it does mean is that we should realise that what will happen will be out of His grace and mercy not out of His promise for worldwide revival.

See also Alan Morrison’s article mentioned under ‘Links’ at the end of this article.

4. What is the place of angels?

In Todd’s preaching in Lakeland and in His writings he makes reference on many occasions to angels and especially to angel Emma. Is his position on this Scriptural and who is Angel Emma. If he is receiving his guidance from this angel then we do need to know who it, (she?) is. We must also determine whether attributes that Todd is giving to angels, the Bible gives to the Holy Spirit, for instance, leading into all truth. An example of the way he talks about angels can be seen from a recent meeting in Florida – watch around 7 minutes in. His full teaching on angels appears here.

I will leave you to check out much of what is said there as to whether it is Biblical or not but I want to just check on the one part regarding Emma:

“Now let me talk about an angelic experience with Emma. Twice Bob Jones asked me about this angel that was in Kansas City in 1980: “Todd, have you ever seen the angel by the name of Emma?” He asked me as if he expected that this angel was appearing to me. Surprised, I said, “Bob, who is Emma?” He told me that Emma was the angel that helped birth and start the whole prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. She was a mothering-type angel that helped nurture the prophetic as it broke out. Within a few weeks of Bob asking me about Emma, I was in a service in Beulah, North Dakota. In the middle of the service I was in conversation with Ivan and another person when in walks Emma. As I stared at the angel with open eyes, the Lord said, “Here’s Emma.” I’m not kidding. She floated a couple of inches off the floor. It was almost like Kathryn Khulman in those old videos when she wore a white dress and looked like she was gliding across the platform. Emma appeared beautiful and young-about 22 years old-but she was old at the same time. She seemed to carry the wisdom, virtue and grace of Proverbs 31 on her life.

“She glided into the room, emitting brilliant light and colors. Emma carried these bags and began pulling gold out of them. Then, as she walked up and down the aisles of the church, she began putting gold dust on people. “God, what is happening?” I asked. The Lord answered: “She is releasing the gold, which is both the revelation and the financial breakthrough that I am bringing into this church. I want you to prophecy that Emma showed up in this service – the same angel that appeared in Kansas City – as a sign that I am endorsing and releasing a prophetic spirit in the church.” See, when angels come, they always come for a reason; we need to actually ask God what the purpose is. Within three weeks of that visitation, the church had given me the biggest offering I had ever received to that point in my ministry. Thousands of dollars! Thousands! Even though the entire community consisted of only three thousand people, weeks after I left the church the pastor testified that the church offerings had either doubled or tripled.

“During this visitation the pastor’s wife (it was an AOG church) got totally whacked by the Holy Ghost- she began running around barking like a dog or squawking like a chicken as a powerful prophetic spirit came on her. Also, as this prophetic anointing came on her, she started getting phone numbers of complete strangers and calling them up on the telephone and prophesying over them. She would tell them that God gave her their telephone number and then would give them words of knowledge. Complete strangers. Then angels started showing up in the church.

“I believe Emma released a financial and prophetic anointing in that place. That was the first angel that I have ever seen in the form of a woman. Some angels I’ve seen seemed like they were neither male nor female. However, Emma appeared as a woman who was like a Deborah, like a mother in Zion. When she came, she began to mentor, nurture and opened up a prophetic well. The people in the church began having trances and visions and the pastor began getting words of knowledge and moving in healing. That congregation also saw more financial breakthrough than they had ever seen before.”

Is there anywhere in Scripture that names angels except three archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Lucifer. Is there anywhere in Scripture that indicates that angels bring such blessings and do such work? Read the accounts of angels in the New Testament Church and you will find that they did bring messages from God and gave instruction but never got involved with the blessing of the people and the releasing of gold etc. More importantly, where are we encouraged to pray that God will release the ministry of angels? We are told to seek the Lord to move by His Holy Spirit. Angels are the messengers of God, He commands them, we are not to seek the ‘serving soldiers’ in the army but the commander of the army to move as he desires. At best therefore we are in danger from getting off centre from God’s Word and at worst, we have to remember that 2 Corinthians 11:14, which we will talk about in a minute, does say that Satan can come as an angel of light.

5. Should we talk about ‘it’?

I do not want to make a big issue of this but it is a personal gripe of mine when people talk about the work of the Holy Spirit and the blessing of the Lord as, ‘it’. Over and over again I hear Todd saying, “Here ‘it’ comes” or “Seek God for ‘it'”. If this work is genuine there is nothing ‘it’ about the events they are from Him. This may just be terminology but along with a number of other issues I wonder if it shows that the centre of this ‘revival’ is not the PERSON of God?

What are the other things?

The many hours of sharing and praying where the Bible is not opened or quoted. Yes, I am aware that not everything is on YouTube and I have spoken to some who have been to the meetings (for and against) and it is a fact that Todd doesn’t relate all that happens to Scripture.

Then there are the weird manifestations and encouragements to ‘let loose’ into such things. So many find the constant need to twitch or bend over in pain, believing this is the Holy Spirit but what does it achieve? The following are some personal thoughts taken from an article in the Sentinel by Gary Osborne, after he visited the meetings:

“The first night I personally attended was Thursday, May 8th. Mr. Bentley and his crew were now holding services in the Lakeland Civic Center, which can seat approximately 7,000 people. The doors opened at 6:00 PM to the blowing of a shofar from people waiting to get in. The first thing I noticed as I took a seat in the very back of the auditorium was that the music being played was the loudest I have ever encountered in any ‘Christian’ service I have ever attended. It was blaring loud as the worship team practiced a few songs in anticipation of the 7:00 PM Service. I was immediately struck by how many people had banners or flags waving, and how many were jumping up and down like Mexican jumping beans.

“There was a lot of ‘cheerleading’ from the stage as microphone checks were being done. Another thing that really stood out were certain buzz words that were used repeatedly. The phrase ‘stir yourselves up’ was used repeatedly, as was the concept of a ‘transferable anointing.’ A woman led in prayer for the service and said, ‘sound waves carry your [God] presence and anointing’ and then told the people to ‘roar like a lion!’ At that request, people everywhere shouted at the top of their lungs and blew the shofars. This same lady was jerking and twitching in a similar way to what has happened in meetings in Toronto and Brownsville in the past. She went on to tell the people to look at one another and say, ‘You are pregnant – with the Holy Spirit and fire!’ There was also much talk of ‘birthing’ and ‘signs and wonders.’

“The ‘MC’ (that’s the best word to describe him) for the meetings then came up and told the audience to get ready because we were going live on God TV in just a couple of minutes. He had a young man stand behind him and gave the audience instructions to look at this man as he held up his hands for a countdown. Everyone was to make as much noise as possible when the services went live, and believe me they did. It was very orchestrated. There was also talk of being ‘drunk in the Spirit’ during this lead up time to going live on TV.

“The service began with loud, loud rock style music. By the way, I am not an old fuddy-dud who doesn’t like up-tempo music. I’m a Pentecostal and don’t at all mind exuberant worship. So my comments are not coming from some prejudice in that vein. I love to praise the Lord, and to do so with a full heart. I clap, shout, and have even been known to jump up and down every now and then. But what I saw and heard at the beginning of this service was unlike anything I had ever witnessed in a Christian service before (and I’ve attended my fair share of ‘off the wall’ services in the past). This was different. It had a secular, rock concert feel to it. People were swaying and dancing to the music constantly, and along with the unsupported claims, I feel it is an indication that what is happening is not connected with a Holy God who is bringing people into a closer relationship with Him but of man-made manifestations that desire people to want more of ‘it’. I leave that to you to consider if this is just me or whether there is something deeper here.”

I would also just like to mention here, amongst the other things, the tattoos! Many words have been written on this aspect and there is much confusion which as yet I have not been able to clearly sort out. Let me say first of all, that I do not like the tattoos and do not think they glorify the Lord. However, that in itself neither makes Todd Bentley true of false but the ‘mystery’ surrounding this does need clarification and I would suggest unless it can be shown exactly what happened and exactly what the tattoos represent we leave the issue aside. However, Todd does not help this issue by wearing a T-Shirt claiming that Jesus gave him the tattoos.

But what are the conflicting stories going around?

1. Are these tattoos a left over from Todd’s ‘biker days’ or did Jesus tell him to get tattoos. If, as from the quotes sent to me so far, some statements seem to be contradictory then there may be a truth issue here. If Todd says one thing and the facts show something else we need to be aware of the truth. So far I have not got to the bottom of that and so if anyone has clear documented and dated evidence I would like to see it.

2. What do the tattoos signify? There are pictures going round the Internet of the tattoos and underneath it says there are Satanic symbols etc – I have to say I cannot see them. If they are not there we should not say they are and less there is clear evidence I would leave that issue alone.

6. Getting ‘it’?

Some recently released footage of the current meetings in Florida give me real cause for concern. They are of Todd Bentley claiming that the Holy Spirit tells him to, “punch” or “kick” or “knee” people in order for them to receive the ‘blessing’. If anything shows me that this is not the work of the God that I know it is these very testimonies from Todd’s own mouth.

I list below the links to hear first hand for yourself; please also listen to the testimony on the first one where an angel rips outs Stefan Driess’ “guts”, throws them on the floor and they turn to gold!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX9xdw6aT9c

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exb53K2v4pk

7. Are all ‘miracles’ automatically of God?

One of the statements I have heard that prove that what is happening is of God is that there are miracles happening. There have been claims for healings and even people being raised from the dead. I would like to make it clear that Scripture does not show that this means it is automatically of God. It is not that a miracle happens but where the root of that miracle is from. I would like to suggest the following points:

1. There can be many claims of healing on the night but people can just be caught up with the atmosphere. Where the healing is just from the ‘hype’ we need some clear testimonies from at least a couple of weeks after the event. Anecdotal evidence is not enough; there have been a number of claims that people have been raised from the dead but I have seen no evidence of this.

2. The Bible is very clear that what appear to be ‘miracles’, in the eyes of human beings, can happen and not be of God. Please read and test this out for yourself – we cannot automatically say that these prove this is of God.

3. However, we should also be aware that if people have an honest heart and seek God for Himself, He could touch people whether something is wholly of God or not. I would therefore not in any way condemn or deny any true healing stories that come out of this. BUT this in itself does not show this is of God.

Matthew 7:22-23 they did it in the name of the Lord but he did not know them.

2 Corinthians 11:13-14 – they can be mistaken for apostles and so they must outwardly show some authority in what they say and do but they are false. The Lord has warned us that this can happen we must take heed of that warning and see if it is true in this case.

There are also some very revealing clips of Todd ‘in action’ where it is more like a fake cold reading than a prophetic word from God. If you keep talking long enough and spiritualising things then you must at least get some hits!

This said, please be aware that we continue to seek definite medical proof of healings but none, as yet, has arrived. However, it would not surprise me that some people do receive healing because God responds in mercy to those who genuinely seek Him.

What concerns me though is the level of acceptance. The other night a woman come on to the stage and said she was dead and now alive. No corroboration at all and Todd said, “Praise God, the 16th”. He is therefore saying 16 people have been raised from the dead but with only testimonies of ONE witness.

My concerns, and the need to check things out carefully, are given real weight by the following episode – (Please note: we may not agree with the tactics and some of the wording used on the clips but it certainly highlights the problem.)

Someone emailed in a false testimony of a resurrection which Todd presents on God TV as being verified.

You can check it out the incident via YouTube:

Part One the meeting

Part two the explanation

As I write the testimony is still on Todd’s website but it may be removed.

My concerns are that first Todd presents the story as verified. That is not the case. The author was never contacted. Todd either believes that it has been verified or is knows full well that it hasn’t been. Whatever the case someone in the leadership of this organisation is telling lies.

Second, as a result of this, doubt is cast on all the other stories Todd has given – have they been verified?

Third, as you watch the video of the broadcast, you will note that Todd “manifests the glory” as he is about to read the fabricated story. He laughs, grunts, and bends over repeatedly while saying, “I feel the glory”. However, God has nothing to do with this fake testimony, and there’s no glory in a lie. God can’t be tricked. This of course brings into question all the manifestations.

8. Todd’s Response

On June 8 Todd wrote a letter to all his supporters and placed it on his website. What, I believe this letter shows is that he and his team are aware of much criticism that is “causing division and some confusion”, otherwise they would not take the time to write such a long letter. I do not want to dissect the letter and have placed the link above so that you can read it for yourself to see if it does actually answer the criticisms. My feeling is that it does not and would want to underline the following conclusions that Todd arrives at to show why I still feel there are some major Biblical problems.

He starts by making the point:

“Throughout the Old and New Testaments and in every age following, as far as I can determine, the Lord has given His people dreams and visions, signs and wonders, heavenly encounters and divine supernatural experiences that, for the most part, we cannot understand with our intellect.”

Immediately we have the foundation that there are certain things that we do not understand with our minds and so if we allow them to get in the way we will miss what God is doing. On one level I agree with this statement but it does need to be qualified. What he means is explained further by this paragraph:

“Some people desire Scripture for every manifestation of God – for every detail of every God-given, Holy Spirit inspired vision, dream, encounter, or demonstration of the supernatural realm of God manifested on the earth. While I firmly believe that we’re to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I don’t believe we’re to defend divine manifestations of God, because they are proof within themselves of the Gospel, wherever the Word of God is sent forth. Discern yes, but defend, no. Consider that many of the “greater” things that Christ said we would do hadn’t even been done yet and weren’t recorded in the Bible.”

 

This goes to the root of the matter and on the basis here I would agree – it is the outworking that I would have problem with. Everything that is happening in Lakeland, and none of it is new or really fresh because it is a continuing of Toronto, Brownsville, etc., is assumed to be of God and thus we don’t defend but we discern it is right and so we accept it. As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, we are to discern all things, including miracles. This means too that we must discern the power of the man that is being used for these miracles.

Time and time again in the letter we are told that it is right to discern, it is right to test the spirits, but… The letter seems to say yes do check things out but every time there is a ‘but’ and a qualification of how to test and what to test. And in each case we are left with the conclusion if it is in Todd’s meetings it is obviously of God and so why are you testing it. Please see this is wrong and we must test, where is this coming from and where is it leading? A further qualification is made with this statement:

“To apply doctrine to the response of God in our lives is wrong. For someone to assume that something that happens to us isn’t of God because it’s not in his or her doctrine or knowledge of Jesus is, in my opinion, to grieve the precious Holy Spirit.”

This again does not go far enough – where does my doctrine come from? If it is not in my doctrine because the very principle or act is not within the Word of God and indeed is shown by the Word of God to be wrong then I should allow this doctrine to restrict what I do and receive. Please note the Biblical exhortations:

Ephesians 4:14 – don’t be tossed about by every wind of doctrine.

1 Timothy 4:6 – sound doctrine is equated with being a good servant.

1 Timothy 6:3, 4 – don’t listen to anyone who brings a different doctrine

2 Timothy 4:3 – people who do not endure sound doctrine are very shallow.

Titus 1:9 – use sound doctrine to refute those who contradict

Titus 2:1 – speak out sound doctrine

Titus 2:7-10 – be an example by using sound doctrine

“The Bible is full of visions, encounters, signs, wonders, miracles, and manifestations that people have experienced, some of which may be downright hard for many to wrap their minds around, let alone believe it could happen today. Again, it’s all relative to each individual, their experiences, and backgrounds, and with what they have learned through intimacy with Christ Jesus, and what they have received as a love response from God. I spend hours and hours at the feet of Jesus and perhaps the next person doesn’t.”

I agree there are some things that appear weird in Scripture but they never go against the revealed will, character and purpose of God. It is not that things that are happening are weird but they are just not showing forth the character and purpose of God – that is what makes them wrong, not that they may appear weird to my mind

One of the loudest criticisms has been over Angel Emma and of this Todd says:

“Emma appeared to me in angelic form appearing feminine, which is not to say Emma was female or had a gender. This was the first angel I’d ever seen in feminine-like form, in this motherly nurturing type of persona that opened up a well of healings and breakthrough.”

Angels are the servants of God and they cannot do anything on their own initiative. Therefore, if anything happened, it was not the angel that did but God. This type of description and what we noted Bob Jones said early on seems to go against the very nature and work of angels in Scripture. For instance, he mentions Mary in the next paragraph but look at the Scriptures in Luke 1:26-38. The angel did come with a message to her but please note verse 35 – it was the Holy Spirit that brought it to pass. Note, too, what Peter says in Acts 12:11 – it was the Lord that sent forth the angel!

“Mary, Paul, Peter, Jesus, the shepherds, and several disciples, and many Old Testament folk like Abraham, Hagar, Daniel, and others had angelic encounters and some interacted with them in conversation. That doesn’t suppose they worshiped these angelic beings or sought them out for revelation apart from God. I never summon angels directly.”

Yes within the 1000s of years that the Scripture record covers there were a number of angelic visitations – maybe 1 every 250 years? Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that these visitations will increase and that angels will take on a new role that is not identified in Scripture. We are told in Hebrews that we might entertain angels UNAWARES. These visitations are not those, because whether dressed as a man, woman or neutral, Todd KNOWS it is an angel. What then about the other Scripture in Hebrews 1:13-14?

“But to which of the angels has He ever said, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”

First, we need to note that this stamen is placed in the context of the whole of Hebrews 1 which shows that Jesus is greater than the angels, and so there is no question that they are going to take over His responsibilities. Indeed the whole context is that Christ is so much better than the angels and so we should not be centring on them but on Jesus.

Second, please note that this verse does not say that the angels will appear and bring messages but that they will minister to and render service for those who are going to receive the fullness of their salvation. There is nothing in this verse that can allow you to make a special case without looking at the other Scriptures and ministry of angels that we have already mentioned.

“Christ paid the price for our spiritual blessings and access to heavenly things – angels included. Where I would be concerned about angelic revelation as being deceptive or as angels actually being demonic spirits, is where not-yet Christians claim angelic revelation while rejecting the cross of Christ. ”

I am not sure what Todd understands by the first phrase and what access we have to the angelic realms. Christ did die for us and indeed has, “Blessed us with every spiritual blessing” but nowhere that I am aware of does it give a clear promise that we all have access to angels.

We also need to take seriously what we read in 2 Corinthians 11:14 that Satan comes as an “angel of light” and so can pretend to be one thing on the outside and something else on the inside. I would agree that a practical experience of the Cross of Christ is indeed safety but just the fact that we believe in the Cross of Christ with our heads does not keep us safe and so it could be that someone can pay lip service to the cross and have false angelic visions. That does not in itself make it right or wrong, once again we would need to look at what the visitations lead to.

“Some people have even ventured to say that my visions and visitations are false. That’s like telling someone who’s just told you about a dream they had in their sleep that they didn’t really dream it. In the case of my encounter with Paul the apostle, just as Paul didn’t know if he was in his body or out of his body when he was taken into the third heaven, I don’t know whether my encounter was in a vision or an actual encounter. I do know that it was not of the adversary. God had reason for this experience and for the revelation that transpired from it. These things I cannot refute. It’s not that far out there when you consider that the apostle Peter beheld Jesus, Moses, and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration and was actually commissioned while in a visionary trance, to preach to the Gentiles (see Matt. 17:9, Acts 10:19). Some may not find my experience doctrinally sound, and liken it to speaking to the dead, and unbiblical, citing the apostle Paul’s warnings in Galatians 1:8, and 2 Corinthians 11:14, of which I’m very aware. My accountability team and I, through careful examination, determined that this vision was not outside of God’s realm. God had a purpose and a plan for the revelation He gave me and it all pointed to Christ.”

I want to make three points concerning the above paragraphs.

1. That Todd really believes he had these visions I have no doubt the question is where do they come from?

2. I do not believe that the Mount of Transfiguration can be used to confirm the conversation that Todd have with Paul. That involved Jesus being on earth and stepping into eternal realms and speaking with Moses and Elijah. Peter did not speak with them and indeed the message at the end was Jesus alone, not the conversation that they had.

3. We are not told by what means the dream was examined and determined as being from God. We also, as far as I know, have no knowledge of this team ever contradicting what Todd has said is from the Lord.

“Please examine the fruit before you pick apart the worker. People are being saved! Certainly this is common ground with every believer – our hearts should always be for the lost. Can we not come together and make this our mission, understanding that our theologies may be different but that we agree on this very important and vital commission. We serve the same God. God is the Father of all of us. We are His children. We are all in the same family. We are all running the same race but at different paces. The Word planted on good soil bears good fruit!”

 

Yes indeed, God’s word received into good soil will produce fruit. If those who come hear the message of salvation and respond they will be saved and we rejoice over that. However, just because this happens that does not mean we must accept everything that is happening through this worker. I would indeed want to say that I understand Todd’s position and I agree that we should not ‘pick apart’ the worker. Several things have been said about Todd’s pre salvation days that I do not think are relevant now. But what Todd proclaims to the nations as the ‘Word of the Lord’ and the ‘Work of the Lord’ we must check out. We do not automatically reject it because Todd has tattoos or because he is a charismatic but we reject it on the basis of whether it goes against the Word of God.

9. Conclusion

I hope this last paragraph makes clear the basis of our discernment. If it can be clearly shown from the Word of God, by the supporters of Todd, that the things we have said are wrong, we will listen. But we will not listen if someone simply says this must be of God – look what is happening – don’t touch the Lord’s anointed – we need correct and Biblical discernment.

I hope too that those who want to make claims about anything to do with Todd’s life that is not relevant to today or is not backed up with Biblical fact, will understand if we do not go down that road. That said, I trust that each one of us can take these issues and honestly seek the Lord and His Word. I have, and the decision that I have come to is that what is happening is certainly not of God and we should not commit ourselves to it.

Will you please take the time before the Lord and His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you. If He leads you via His Word to a different conclusion please will you share those Scriptures with me by email, thank you.

10. Links to Further Articles

Lakeland’s Recycled Revival by Gary Osborne of the Alliance of Biblical Pentecostals.

A detailed Biblical article covering many of the issues mentioned above and raising others such as; what we are to expect in the Last Days, the connection with the latter Rain Movement and a personal account of visits to two of the meetings:

Todd Bentley, Fires of Kundalini and the Demon Samael by Mishel

An in-depth look at Todd Bentley’s article on Angelic Hosts. Quite disturbing – read and decide for yourself, does the writer have a point?

Is Todd Bentley devil possessed?

Is Todd Bentley fully delivered? If he could do all the things he said he did at the beginning and still have 25 demons – is that still happening? Listen and decide for yourself.

True Revival or Apostasy?

A comparison between the modern “Toronto Blessing” style of revivalism and historic revivals by Alan Morrison

The Florida Outpouring – Update

A new discussion examining the Florida Outpouring, now three months down the line. Is it authentic and what are its implications? A rambling, balanced, entertaining and thought-provoking chat from our team.

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