Two articles here. The first is from someone steeped in the pentecostal movement. The second is a general overview of Bentley. It seems my initial skepticism and concern was correct. Gotta trust that intuition!

Lakeland Revival: The “Apostles” Were Wrong, But Moses Was Right

Posted by brothermel on August 3, 2008

The Lakeland “Revival” bubble has burst.  And the melt-down has left prominent “Apostles” and “Prophets” with egg on their faces.

For those of you that are unaware of recent developments, the story is as follows.  An evangelist named Todd Bentley began holding a revival April 2 as a guest speaker at Igniter Church in Lakeland Florida.  The meetings grew in size and intensity until it became necessary to move to much larger accommodations.  Astonishing reports emerged from the revival of angelic visitations, Heavenly encounters, countless healings, multiplied miracles, and even numerous people being raised from the dead.

Todd claimed that the same angel who appeared to William Branham years ago in Branham’s prophetic ministry was appearing regularly to him, along with a female angel named Emma, and they were guiding him and revealing deep truths to him.  Seasoned Charismatic leaders questioned the extremes of Todd’s methods which included slapping, kicking, punching, and “drop-kicking” people in prayer lines.  One old woman was kicked in the face.  A man had a tooth knocked out.  They warned of the danger of following any angel who claimed to have personally led William Branham into deep error.  All their cautions and warnings were roundly shouted down as being “anti-revival,” and “stuck in the past.”

In the midst of the arguing and hysteria, C. Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner, and Chuck Pierce suddenly flew down to Lakeland and gave to Bentley their unqualified endorsement.  Charisma reports:

Wagner said to Bentley on the platform: “This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world.  With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, your authority will increase, your favor will increase, your influence will increase, your revelation will increase.

“I also decree that a new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry.  A new life force will penetrate this move of God.  Government will be established to set things in their proper order.  God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error.  New relationships will surface to open the gates to the future.”
Source:  http://www.charismamag.com/cms/news/archives/0624082.php
Wagner stated “God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error.”  Would to God some of that “discernment to distinguish truth from error” had been present among the assembled ministers on the stage that night.  The “Apostles” and “Prophets” were themselves endorsing a lie, and standing in the midst of a charade which was beginning to unravel privately, even as they endorsed the Lakeland Revival publicly.  Strangely however, they “discerned” nothing amiss.

Behind the scenes, the truth was being uncovered by Robert Ricciardelli.  Robert is the founder and president of Vision Advancement Strategies, a Spirit-filled ministry that endeavors, among other things, to promote respect between differing ministries, and to draw the various branches of Charismatic Christianity together in unity.  Robert is a spiritual bridge-builder between ministries and is closely associated with J. Lee Grady, Editor of Charisma Magazine.  As a matter of disclosure, I will let my readers know that I have had some private communications with Robert over the last year or so.  Our communications centered mostly around him asking me to make CD copies for him of some of the rare recordings on my site, and I did so.  However, we have never met.

Robert’s Eye Witness Accounts and Conclusions:

Robert has said in a radio interview, in comments on blogs, and in other formats, “Truth is there are very few people being healed in Lakeland.  I have worked with Charisma Magazine editor Lee Grady in discovering how many false reports have been released as facts.”

Concerning Bentley’s claims that 20 or more people had been raised from the dead in his meetings or as a result of them, Robert comments “ . . . Charisma reporters and a few others like myself have tried to get these verified and cannot. . .  We actually had offered to help, because any news of a resurrection in my opinion is world news if it can be validated.  But then when the totals continued to mount which led to hype and embellishment, they began to ask us to stop asking questions.”

Robert adds, “Friday night, Todd said that God said there were 1000 people that were to give $1000, and they were to receive a 1000-fold blessing.  The one hour drama on this giving subject was so deceptively evident that it was embarrassing to watch.  On top of that, those that would give that money were able to come to the platform to be recognized.”

“We have investigated the 20 plus “raised from the dead” claims as we want to report them to the media, and they cannot be verified, but were only called in, or sent in from an email.   This is not responsible reporting, and leaves many questions, which also adds to the claims of hype and embellishment.”

“I am praying for Todd, because he really is an evangelist, and he is a gifted evangelist.  But he cannot go on embellishing, speaking untruths, hyping, manipulating, shoving, kicking, slapping, leg dropping, and bamming his way on the pulpit without consequences.  God will not be mocked, and Todd and others must answer to Him for everyone led astray.”

“The biggest thing about Lakeland is the lack of the fear of our Awesome God, lack of repentance and humility.  Many have exchanged the truth for a lie and chosen experience over content.  Angels, trances, and 3rd heaven focus has replaced the gospel as a focus . . . Lord do what only you can do to bring your divine alignment to all of us in Jesus name . . . “
“It is my opinion that it was man-orchestrated and demonically influenced from the very beginning.   The worship has been good and Roy Fields is an awesome worship leader, so many in the worship and even watching from afar can sense God in the worship of His people.  The truth is God has been engaged in the worship and has touched and healed some.  This is why it has been so confusing to some.  I have heard that Roy Fields has stated a few times that when the worship ends, God’s presence leaves the platform, and then Todd Bentley operates void of His presence.  That is why most all of what they have claimed cannot be verified, because it just is not happening.

“We have heard a few people getting well, being touched and so on.  There is a church here in North Carolina that brought 27 sick down there for a week.  Some with cancer, leukemia, diabetes and such.  None got healed and most were worse when they came back.  The emperor is not wearing any clothes and the truth must be known.  Many are claiming that Todd is the new thing that God is doing.   The fact is he is still operating in the old thing, and operating with less integrity and character than the previous one man shows.

“God is about nameless and faceless people who are operating without any agenda but the Lord’s.  Preaching about the King and His Kingdom, and moving supernaturally after Him, and as they do, signs and wonders follow.  The problem in Charismania is that they seek the sign, they seek the thrill, they seek the craft supply quality gold dust, feathers and gems.  They may get the chills and frills, but leave with nothing more than goose bumps and really little spiritual change.  When they seek the King, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, you begin to see transformation take place at the heart level.  This is God’s way and always has been… Bentley is just a product of the Charismatic/ apostolic/ prophetic trending away from Plumb line truth.  At the same time the fact is, none of us amount to much, no not one.  But in Him and dying to self and living His agenda, we can move mountains… The church is getting there, I wrote an article for Charisma that everything that can be shaken is being shaken, and this is what is happening in a great way right now…”

So Robert and numerous other individuals who have taken a close look at Lakeland, hoping to witness the true blessings of Heaven raining down on men, have discovered instead to their deep disappointment only more hype. . . untruths . . . orchestrations of men . . . demonic influence . . . phony claims of resurrections . . . unverifiable healings . . . genuinely sick people not healed . . . 1000-fold blessings promised in return for large offerings . . . combined with the Gospel being replaced by Angels and trances.

Ministers present and fully endorsing this “man-orchestrated and demonically influenced” situation reads like a Who’s Who of the modern Prophetic Movement.  Charisma reports:
Participating  leaders at the ceremony included Wagner; Ché Ahn, pastor of  Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif.; John Arnott of Toronto Airport  Christian Fellowship in Canada; Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in  Redding, Calif.; and Rick Joyner, of MorningStar Ministries in Charlotte, N.C.
How is it that these Apostles and Prophets, if indeed that is what they truly are, could not recognize hype and “demonic influence” when they were standing in the midst of it?

I asked a similar question nearly ten years ago when a major “Prophetic” church announced that sin had been discovered in their leadership.  It came to light that one of the “prophets” of their church had prophesied false prophecies in their church services for years in order to gain money and in pursuit of sexual favors.  How is it that they could have false prophecy spewing from the mouth of a false prophet in their midst for years, and no one recognized false prophecy when they heard it?  How is it that the leading “prophets” of the Prophetic Movement came and went from that church countless times, and could not recognize a false prophet as he “prophesied” right under their noses?  I believe the only answer then and now that explains their blindness is that many of these “prophets” are not prophets at all.  In spite of the numerous “How to” books they have written about prophecy, and regardless of the “Prophetic Conferences” and “Prophetic Networks” they have organized, I believe that many of these individuals  do not recognize false prophecy because they have actually had very little exposure themselves to genuine prophetic ministry.
How Can These Things Be?

People may ask me, “But Brother Mel, I went there!  I was blessed!  It was God!  It had to be.”

I think Robert’s observation explains a lot.  He has commented, “The worship has been good and Roy Fields is an awesome worship leader, so many in the worship and even watching from afar can sense God in the worship of His people.  The truth is God has been engaged in the worship and has touched and healed some.  This is why it has been so confusing to some.”  Just because God’s presence is in a service is no indicator of God endorsing all that is going on.  You have to understand the nature of God.  The Lord is merciful and full of grace.  He is not looking for ways to keep people out of His kingdom.  He is looking for every opening possible through which to draw people to His kingdom.  In accordance with His nature of mercy, love, and grace, God will move to a certain extent in numerous church situations.  He will even move strongly sometimes, for a season, in meetings that are full  of error.  But if men refuse to see to it that sound doctrine is preached, integrity is maintained, and all things are done decently and in order, the error and phoniness will eventually far outweigh God’s activity in the meetings.
Why Did God Allow Believers To Be So Deceived?

I believe God’s actions at Lakeland are reflected in His actions described by Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy:
“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”—Deut. 13:1-3.

Notice my friends that in the example Moses gave, the “sign or a wonder” did actually come to pass.  There was a genuine spiritual manifestation which would seem to indicate the presence of God.  However, the deciding factor as to whether it was truly of God or not was the message the prophet attached to it.  The false prophet said, “Let us go after other gods. . .”  Todd Bentley said, “See all these manifestations?  See the falling, see the laughing?  Feel the presence?  Well, that is proof that my message is from God.  Now, listen to what this angel has told me . . .” and the message and the methods degenerated down to slapping and kicking people and attaching God’s presence to sickening appeals for $1,000 offerings with promises of 1000-fold returns.
I believe the Bible shows us that God allows experiences like Lakeland to occur in order to identify to us the idolatry of our own hearts.  The question presented to us in questionable ministry situations like Lakeland is:

“Which do you love more, God’s Word or His Spirit?”

That’s a trick question because you see, you can never choose between the two.  They always go together.  If what is manifesting in a service is truly the Holy Spirit, then integrity, truth, and solid scriptural preaching from the Bible will be right there alongside Him.  The Word and the Spirit go together, and in that order.  The Bible always comes first.

I believe many failed the test at Lakeland.  God provided the presence of His Spirit in praise and worship.  However, what felt like the presence of God was attached to error, exaggeration, ridiculous behavior, and flat-out lies.  All of this going out on live TV.  To some people attending the meetings, it “felt” like God.  So instead of sitting in the meetings with their eyes and Bibles open, Christians closed their eyes and figuratively threw their Bibles and common sense right out the window, along with integrity and truth.

So what did this test prove?

It proved, as Moses said it would, “ . . . whether you love the Lord with all your heart and soul.”  Well, many Christians loved manifestations and hype so much that when given the opportunity they chose lies over the truth, hype over reality, and
error over truth.  They loved spiritual manifestations more than they actually loved God.

My friends, we all long for a genuine move of God.  We are intensely praying for it and looking for it.  But what we need to realize is that God offers a genuine Revival only as a package deal, giving it to us on a take-it-all or leave-it-all basis.  When the real thing comes, there will be first of all, solid preaching of God’s word.  It will contain sound doctrine.  It will focus people’s attention on the Cross at Calvary, not on a man yelling “bam! Bam! Bam!”  The manifestations will be genuine ones consistent with scriptural principles and with Church history.  If it clucks like a chicken, then it IS a chicken—it is not the Holy Ghost.  So go chase chickens if you want to.  When I want chicken, I go to the Colonel’s.  When I go to church, I want God.

Genuine revival, when it comes,  will be saturated with humility.  It won’t be ruled by an attitude of “don’t tell me what to do!  Don’t tell me anything!   Shut up!  You are stuck in the past.  So what if what is being preached here is not supported by the Bible!  I’ll believe and do whatever I want!”  Lastly, it won’t have to be propped up by the appearance of ministry mega-stars exercising their so-called “apostolic authority.”  When you see too many high-profile ministers show up all at once, excusing away error and nonsense, RUN–do not walk-TO THE NEAREST EXIT.  Don’t give such services a second thought, and don’t look back over your shoulder as you leave.  Remember Lot’s wife.

My Attitude Up To Now

Numerous people have e-mailed me, asking my opinion of Lakeland.  I’ve been far too busy to give this revival much of my attention.  I’ve watched some of the videos on U-Tube, and I’ve asked the opinions of individuals who have gone there.  One friend called me with an exciting testimony.  She had not visited Lakeland, but her church leadership and several from her congregation had gone there.  They took with them a woman my friend had known for years who was confined to a wheelchair, twisted up with Cerebal Palsy.  The Church leadership called my friend and told her that the crippled woman had gotten up out of her wheelchair and walked in front of everyone, perfectly healed.  However, when she saw the woman at her church several days later, she was still in the wheelchair.  She asked her pastor, “I thought you said she was healed.  Why is she in this wheelchair?”  The leadership told her, “Well we never said she was actually healed.  [Yes they did.]  We’re just saying that through the eye of faith, we see her up out of her wheelchair and walking right in front of everyone!”  So the only report I had heard of Lakeland from someone I know turned out to be just another grievous exaggeration.
Could This Revial Be Rescued Yet?

Possibly, but it is doubtful.  You can’t build a level house on a slanted foundation.  The foundation of this has never been Jesus Christ and his Gospel.  It has been about men, hype, ego, ignorance, and hysteria.  Anything not built on Christ and on his word shall surely fall.  But if those involved in this thing would humble themselves before God, seek His face, allow other balanced ministers to bring in some wise counsel, and return the focus from angels and nonsense to preaching the clear-cut truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it might be transformed into a genuine revival.  Clearly God wants to move.  He has demonstrated that already.  If those in Lakeland would go outside the tent, pick back up their Bibles and the common sense they previously threw out, repent of their arrogance, ego, and error, God might return in great power.  I hope this is the path they pursue.

In the absence however of taking these steps, I would urge people to realize that this wasn’t the real thing.  It is time to return to praying and earnestly seeking God until the real thing comes.

As a closing thought I would like to add that these “prophets” and “apostles” who joined with Todd Bentley in leading people into this “demonically influenced” deception, owe everyone an explanation.  Were they so blind that they couldn’t recognize Satan and the flesh as each pranced around them on the platform?  Or were they so seduced by money or the flattery of men that they just didn’t care what was God and what was not?

To read more Reformation articles by Brother Mel and to listen to rare early Pentecostal recordings by download for free, please visit:

www.brothermel.com
© 2008  Rev. Mel C. Montgomery All Rights Reserved.  Article may be copied and shared with others as long as it is done so without charge, in entirety, and attribution is given.

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This is an even overview, without derisive invective. I think the tattoo issue this author mentions is a whole other issue…but the rest of it is pretty decent.

An Evaluation of the “Florida Healing Outpouring”

by Dr. David R. Reagan

Todd Bentley

Todd Bentley is a 32 year old evangelist from Canada who heads up an independent Charismatic ministry called Fresh Fire Ministries. In April of 2008 he was invited to hold a one week revival at the Ignited Church of Lakeland, Florida.1

The “revival” quickly became a religious and media phenomenon. One of the main reasons it rapidly attracted so much attention was because of the flamboyant personality and mannerisms of Todd Bentley. The other reason is because the services have been broadcast live each evening over the GodTube website, making them available to all the world.2 The extended meeting has now grown to the point that it had to be moved to a large tent-type structure that accommodates close to 10,000 people, many of whom are arriving daily from foreign nations.

A Strange “Revival”

This is a “revival” with very little teaching and preaching. In fact, Todd Bentley seldom brings a Bible to the pulpit with him. The services begin with an intense and lengthy period of worship. One pastor described the worship as “hypnotic music” that utilizes “rhythmic sound” with “repetitious words.”3 I checked this description by going to the Fresh Fire Ministries website and watching a service. I found the description to be accurate. Nearly all the songs consist of chants of short phrases that are repeated over and over and over — phrases like, “Lord set us free,” “Fire fall down on me,” and “It’s raining; it’s pouring; Your rivers are flowing.” The music seemed designed to whip the audience into a frenzy. Here’s how a Florida pastor named Gary Osborne described a service he attended:4

The phrase, “stir yourselves up” was used repeatedly… A woman led in prayer for the service and… told the people to “roar like a lion!”… People everywhere shouted at the top of their lungs… This same lady was jerking and twitching… There was also much talk of “birthing” and “signs and wonders.” There was a very sensual spirit… People seemed to be in a trance all around me… The music had the people mesmerized…

At about 8:30 p.m… the music leader says, “I’m feeling drunk.” He then tells the people to say to God, “Intoxicate me, Lord!”… Now the people are getting truly wild, and the leader says, “Scream!” and the people let out a yell… Finally the worship leader falls to the floor himself…

Bentley’s Antics

In this carnival-like atmosphere, people are exhorted to “come and get some” of the miracles that are “popping like popcorn.”5 Bentley strides about the stage in a frenzy screaming into his microphone, keeping the audience on their feet cheering. He comes across as a carnival barker or a Holy Ghost cheerleader.

When Bentley lays his hands on people seeking healing, he yells, “Bam! Bam!” They usually fall on the ground and begin to contort wildly, like they are having an epileptic seizure. Sometimes Bentley becomes violent. He has kicked a lady in the face, choked a man, banged on a woman’s legs, and hit a man so hard that he knocked out a tooth!

Bentley is so bizarre that it is difficult to describe his behavior in words. To get a real feel for the man, I suggest you go to either YouTube.com or GodTube.com and just type his name in the search engine on these sites. I think you will be astonished and repulsed. You might also try Bentley’s website at FreshFire.ca. Numerous videos of his services are posted on this site.

Bentley’s Claims

Bentley claims to have healed innumerable people. He also claims to have raised many people from the dead. In one video clip I watched, he prayed for a man with a glass eye and then proclaimed that the man could see out of the eye!

On another occasion, he called up two women from Holland who claimed that as a result of the anointing they had experienced at his service the night before, they had awakened the next morning with gold teeth in their mouths! Bentley had them open their mouths, and after examining each one, he shouted, “Yes! Yes! Each lady has a big fat gold tooth!” He proclaimed this to be a “miracle.”

Evaluating Bentley

So, how valid is the “Florida Healing Outpouring,” as it has come to be called? Is Bentley a true miracle working evangelist under the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Or is he just another shyster selling snake oil?

I cannot judge his motives because I do not know his heart. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt by assuming that he is very sincere in what he is doing. But if that is the case, I think I can say without doubt that he is sincerely deceived and that he is deceiving many others, and I think I can prove that.

His Appearance and Mannerisms

First, let’s consider Bentley’s appearance. Now, I am aware of the old saying, “You cannot judge by appearance,” and that is correct to a certain extent. Even the Bible says that “Satan can appear as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

But it would be more accurate to say that “You cannot judge by appearance alone.” Appearance is not irrelevant. Would you be willing to listen to a sermon from a person wearing a Nazi uniform? Appearance can provide valuable clues as to what a person believes. In this regard, I always think of the 60-year old hippies I see each time I visit Taos, New Mexico. They come down out of the mountains driving beat-up old Volkswagen buses painted with flowers. They wear tie-dyed shirts with garlands around their necks. They seem caught in a time warp. Based on their appearance alone, I can pretty well guess what their value system is.

Todd Bentley is sensational and even bizarre in appearance. His body is plastered with tattoos, and his face bears multiple piercings. Now, it would be one thing if all this bodily disfigurement and mutilation had taken place before he claims to have become a Christian. And it would certainly be forgivable if he had repented of it. But Bentley claims that God told him to get the tattoos and piercings. In fact, he often appears on stage wearing a T-shirt that says, “Jesus Gave Me My Tattoos.”

Todd Bentley Tattoos

Those are unbiblical claims. The Bible says we are not to disfigure our bodies with tattoos or mutilate them with cuttings (Leviticus 19:28). I have actually had some professing Christians dismiss these prohibitions because “they are Old Testament.” Do you really think God changed His mind about bodily disfigurement and mutilation when He gave us the New Testament?

Doesn’t the New Testament say that for those of us who are believers, our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? (1 Corinthians 3:26-27 and 6:19-20). Don’t you think the Holy Spirit would be grieved to reside in the body of an unrepentant self-mutilator like Todd Bentley?

Bentley’s mannerisms should also be a cause for concern. Where in the Word of God do you find a representative of the Lord behaving like a carnival barker or a professional wrestler? Where do you find examples of people praying “Bam! Bam!”? Where do you find examples of violent attacks on those seeking healing? Where do you find any exhortation for believers to surrender their mental processes to emotional frenzies?

Bentley Praying

Bentley’s Defense

Bentley and his followers respond to criticism by stating that “miracles and healings are evidence” of his anointing by the Holy Spirit.6 But that is not necessarily true. Satan can deceive through signs and wonders. In 1 Thessalonians 2:8-12 we are told that the activity of Satan can be manifested “with all power and signs and false wonders” and with deception for those who take pleasure in unrighteousness. Further, Jesus specifically warned that in the end times, “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

As examples of these warnings, I would urge you to take a look at the healing ministries of Marjoe Gortner and Peter Popoff. You can find video clips featuring the ministries of both of these men on YouTube.com. Both were flamboyant faith healers. Both used the same techniques Bentley is using. Both got the same results — people falling to the floor, others going hysterical, and many claiming to be healed.

Yet, Gortner finally revealed that he was a total imposter who didn’t even believe in God. And Peter Popoff was exposed as a shyster when it was revealed that his wife was feeding him information about audience members through a wireless radio hookup in one of his ears. It turned out that Popoff’s staff was interviewing audience members before the services began, getting personal information that would then be fed to him by radio, but which he claimed to be “a word from the Lord.”

The bottom line is that Christians are often very naive and thus willing to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone operating in the name of Jesus, despite Jesus’ warning (Matthew 7:21-23):

21) Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.

22) Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”

23) And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”

The Validity of the “Miracles”

Another problem with Todd Bentley’s miracle defense is the validity of his miracles. He has been challenged repeatedly to provide proof of his healings. He usually promises to do so, but then he either ignores the promise or else he sends vague records that no one could document. When the Associated Press asked for evidence, they were sent a file containing the names of 15 people who had been healed. The file contained medical verification of 12 of the healings.

Yet, two phone numbers given out by the ministry were wrong, six people did not return telephone messages, and only two of the remainder… said they had medical records as proof of their miracle cure. However, one woman would not make her physician available to confirm the findings, and the other’s doctor did not return calls despite the patient’s authorization.7

I saw a TV special about Bentley recently on the program, Nightline. It was an even-handed investigation. They requested proof of three miracles. He promised it but never delivered. Meanwhile, they followed-up on people who supposedly had been healed, including a boy with cerebral palsy. None had been healed. Some claimed they believed they had been healed, but their healing had “not yet manifested itself.”8

Testing Bentley by the Word of God

The most important test of any preacher or evangelist must be the Bible. Are his teachings based on the Word of God and do they line up with it? This is a test that Bentley fails miserably.

First of all, he does very little teaching or preaching. That’s because he is basically a showman. But when he does attempt to teach, he seems obsessed with angels and his experiences with them. This is cause for serious concern. Anytime a preacher starts substituting experiences for the Word of God, alarm bells should go off.

Bentley’s Obsession with Angels

In a teaching entitled, “Angelic Hosts,” Bentley tells story after story about special angels the Lord sends to help him with his ministry.9 The first was the Angel of Healing who came to him in December of 2005. Bentley says this angel suddenly appeared inside the church building where he was speaking and that he had a “body going through the ceiling of the church.”10 “Wherever this angel shows up,” says Bentley, “the miracles go off the charts!”

Bentley then makes the incredible claim that God revealed to him that this was the same angel who empowered the ministry of William Branham! It is astonishing that Bentley would want to have his ministry associated with this man.

Branham was a healing evangelist of the 1940s and 50s who denied the Trinity and who claimed the Zodiac and the Egyptian pyramids were on equal authority with the Bible. He also taught the “Serpent Seed” heresy that is popular with various neo-Nazi and Christian identity cults — that Cain was produced through a sexual union between Eve and the Serpent in the Garden of Eden.11 Branham also claimed to have been personally present with Moses and John the Baptist during their ministries!12 And Branham believed in the Manifest Sons of God heresy and claimed to be “a god manifested in the flesh.”13

More Angels

Getting back to Bentley’s teachings about angels, he claims the second angel sent to him by God was one named Revelation. He says this angel always appears as an innocent little child but is possessed with great power. It is this angel who gives Bentley visions and prophetic experiences.14

Evidently this angel is not all that powerful because there are many video examples on the Internet of Bentley trying to exercise words of knowledge through supernatural revelation, and he usually ends up making a fool of himself through all his wrong guesses about people. One expert on this phenomenon, which is called “cold reading,” has said that if Bentley was a parapsychologist doing public readings before a secular audience, he would be laughed off the stage!15

Bentley claims in his teachings that on occasion God sends the Cherubim and Seraphim from His heavenly throne room to energize his meetings. He says they appeared at a meeting he was conducting at a church in Iowa and that they manifested themselves by sending lightening bolts back and forth across the sanctuary for two and a half hours! He says “people began to scream… and the meeting became pandemonium.”16

Another angel Bentley claims to have on his ministry team is one called Promise. When he shows up, people experience spiritual breakthroughs in the form of answered prayers.17

And, of course, there are special angels who release finances. Bentley says that when he needs a financial breakthrough, “I don’t just pray and ask God.” Rather, he petitions the Father to send His money angels to help him. He says he prays:

Father, give me the angels in heaven right now that are assigned to get me money and wealth. Let those angels be released on my behalf. Let them go into the four corners of the earth and gather me money… loose the Devil from the money assigned to me. I call in that money in the name of Jesus.18

A Very Unbiblical Angel

The most troubling angel Bentley describes in his teachings is a female one named Emma. (Keep in mind that the Bible never mentions female angels!) Amazingly, he states that he was introduced to this very special angel by none other than Bob Jones, one of the infamous “prophets” of the Kansas City Movement in the 1980s. I say, “amazingly,” because Bob Jones has been thoroughly discredited, not only because of numerous false prophecies he has made, but also for serious moral failures which he has publicly admitted.

Bentley says Jones asked him if he had ever met the angel called Emma. Bentley said he had not and then asked who she was. Jones explained she was the one who empowered him and the other leaders of the Kansas City prophetic movement in the 1980s. He described her as a “mothering-type”angel.19

Bentley states that within a few weeks of this encounter with Jones, Emma suddenly appeared to him during a service in North Dakota. He says she floated into the room a couple of inches off the floor.20 You must read what happened in Bentley’s own words lest you think I am exaggerating:

She [Emma] 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… 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!

During this visitation the pastor’s wife 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 on the telephone and prophesying over them.

In my opinion, this sort of stuff borders on insanity. You have to read it with your own eyes to even believe that someone would say it.

If Bentley saw such a creature at all, it was clearly a demonic apparition. There are no female angels in the Bible. And when angels appear in biblical stories, they appear as normal human beings, not as spirits floating around pell-mell.

Another Bentley Obsession

Bentley speaks very seldom of Jesus or the Holy Spirit. He talks mostly about “the Glory” which he identifies as the Shekinah Glory of God. He says God is manifesting His Shekinah Glory today like a river and is calling Christians to jump in to receive healing, finances, and new revelations.21

There is no biblical basis for this strange teaching. God is present in and among His people today through His Spirit, not His glory. His glory will not be manifested here on earth until Jesus returns to reign in glory and majesty over all the world (Isaiah 24:21-23 and Habakkuk 2:14). Nor is there any need for further revelations from God. The Bible reveals everything we need to know this side of Heaven. As one critic of Bentley has put it so well, “We have no need to grasp after new importations and anointings and visitations because God has already imparted His Spirit and the mystery of His will to His people.”22

The “Glory” Bentley talks about constantly is not the Second Coming of Jesus. It is, instead, the return of Christ within men, bringing about the perfection of believers and producing perfect and immortal sons of God who are invincible. It is the old apostate “Manifest Sons of God” doctrine.23

Astral Projection

In addition to supernatural tales about angels, Bentley likes to talk about astral travel.24 He claims that he makes visits to Heaven. In one of his stories he tells about meeting the Apostle Paul and says that he looked “very Jewish with a short, trimmed white beard.” He had “jolly cheeks” and was “a little pudgy.” He says that Paul took him to his heavenly home and told him to climb a ladder that was in his back yard. Bentley says that as he climbed the ladder, a hole opened in the sky and a green liquid started pouring onto his eyes. He says the next thing he knew, he was standing in God’s throne room.25

What nonsense! What is even more appalling to me is that there are Christians who are gullible enough to swallow this claptrap — hook, line, and sinker.

Special Revelation vs the Bible

This kind of unbiblical nonsense is what happens when a preacher abandons the Word of God as his source of authority. And that is exactly what Todd Bentley has done. In his teaching entitled “Extreme Living in God’s River of Glory,” Bentley asserts:

All I teach is by revelation received by God’s glory falling upon me. It’s a revelation whereby I instantly know certain things.26

Accordingly, Bentley’s sermons are peppered with conversations with God — “I said to God.” and “The Lord said to me.”27 In one of his sermons, Bentley announced the presence of “great authority” in the building and then proceeded to declare, “I speak creation… I speak new hearts, new livers into existence tonight.”28

Can you believe such arrogance? It reminds me of the passage from Isaiah about Satan: “You said in your heart, ‘I will make myself like the Most High.’ Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit” (Isaiah 14:13-15).

The Basic Problem

The success of Tod Bentley’s ministry is a testimony to the famine of God’s Word that exists throughout Christendom today, even among those who call themselves Evangelicals. As a result, the average Christian does not know enough about the Word of God to use it in testing what is being taught.

His ministry is also a testimony to the fact that we are living in the end times when “false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).

The Issue of Judging

For those of you who may disagree with my analysis of Todd Bentley’s ministry, please do not waste your time by writing to admonish me against “touching God’s anointed.” And don’t send me any sermons against judging. There is nothing wrong with judging the biblical teachings of anyone. In fact, we are exhorted to do so. In 1 John 4:1 and Galatians 1:8-9 we are told to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” and we are told to apply that test even to “an angel from heaven” who preaches a gospel contrary to that revealed in the Scriptures.

Paul complimented the brethren in Berea for testing his teachings by the Word (Acts 17:10-11). When Peter was hypocritical in his conduct toward Gentiles, Paul confronted him publicly and rebuked him (Galatians 2:11-14). And Paul also publicly warned the Church about two false teachers named Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Timothy 2:17-18).

When the Bible warns against judging (Matthew 7:1), it is speaking about judging motives — not words and actions. And as for not touching God’s anointed, that warning in the Old Testament is applied to kings. It certainly does not apply to false prophets who have no anointing to begin with.

Some Final Points

Let me make it clear that I believe in all the gifts of the Spirit, and I believe all of them are operative today. I also believe in the miracle working power of God. But our God is a God of order and dignity and holiness. It would be incompatible with His character for Him to operate through a sensual carnival sideshow (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40).

Finally, what is going on in Lakeland, Florida is not a revival. True revival never focuses on healing. The focus, instead, is repentance. When unbelievers start responding to the preaching of the Word by repenting and accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, and when believers start responding in repentance and recommitment, you will know that revival is taking place. Let us all pray for such a true revival to break out in our nation, for the time is short.

Notes

  1. The website address for the Ignited Church in Lakeland, Florida is http://ignitedchurch.com.
  2. The GodTube website address is www.godtube.com.
  3. Gary Osborne, “Todd Bentley’s ‘Revival’ in Lakeland, Florida,”
    http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/08/discernment/6-19-bentley-revival-1.htm, page 2, accessed on July 13, 2008.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Travis Reed, “Florida Event Causes Rift in Charismatic Community,” http://www.onenewsnow.com, page 1, accessed on July 12, 2008.
  6. Ibid., page 3.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Jeffrey Kofman, Karson Yiu and Nicholas Brennan, “Thousands Flock to Revival in Search of Miracles,” Nightline, July 9, 2008,
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/FaithMatters/story?id=5338963&page=1, accessed on July 14, 2008.
  9. Todd Bentley, “Angelic Hosts,” http://www.etpv.org/2003/angho.html, accessed July 13, 2008.
  10. Ibid., page 3.
  11. William M. Alnor, “The Kansas City Prophets,” http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/kcp.html, page 3, accessed on July 13, 2008.
  12. Let Us Reason Ministries, “The Teachings of the ‘Prophet’ William Branham,” http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain4.htm, page 1, accessed on July 14, 2008.
  13. Ibid., page 11.
  14. Todd Bentley, “Angelic Hosts,” page 2.
  15. Miriam Franklin, “Todd Bentley Prophesying and Doing Some Bad Cold Reading,” http://www.endtimespropheticwords.wordpress.com, accessed on July 12, 2008.
  16. Todd Bentley, “Angelic Hosts,” pages 6-7.
  17. Ibid., pages 11-12.
  18. Ibid., page 12.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Ibid., pages 12-13.
  21. Todd Bentley, “Extreme Living in God’s River of Glory,” http://www.etpv.org/2006/eligrog.html, accessed July 13, 2008.
  22. Miriam Franklin, “Todd Bentley and the Shekinah Glory Cloud,” http://www.endtimespropheticwords.wordpress.com, page 3, accessed on July 13, 2008.
  23. Ibid., page 2.
  24. Let Us Reason Ministries, “An Open Heaven — Todd Bentley’s Highway to Heaven,” http://www.letusreason.org/Latrain45.htm, accessed on July 13, 2008.
  25. Joseph Chambers, “Todd Bentley: The Culmination of the False Charismatic Revival,” http://www.pawcreek.org, page 4, accessed on July 13, 2008.
  26. Todd Bentley, “Extreme Living…” page 7.
  27. Miriam Franklin, “Todd Bentley and the Shekinah Glory Cloud,” page 3.
  28. 28) Gary Osborne, “Todd Bentley’s ‘Revival’ in Lakeland, Florida,” page 3.

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2 Responses to “Todd Bentley Overview”

  1. Apostle B Says:

    Christ taught us to beware of the false prophets. If He said this then there must be true prophets. This kind of stuff causes christians to believe the lie that satan a loosed in the body of Christ. That lie is that there are no more signs and wonders, prophets, apostles, baptism in the Holy Ghost and so on. ]30 years ago I would have agree with you totally about some things. Not today. I know that true prophets with gifts of the spirit in operation exist today
    I am writting a book that must address some of the things you have talked about. If I was ever allowed to come to your place of worship to minister you will see and know that prophets do exist that are true prophets and who do
    not manipulate Gods people for filthy lucure. There a litterally hundreds of reliable witness that God works in my life and speaks through me to His people through the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, prophecy, and the discerning of spirits,

    It is so sad and troubling to me that people such as this man would use the people to get gain and at the same time because he is not who he says he is cause so many to disbelieve the power of the Holy Spirit and the supernaturalnees of our God.

    Apostle, prophet, and Teach
    Apostle B.

  2. Arjun Kanuri Says:

    I like it when folks get together and share views.

    Great site, stick with it!

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