Friday, June 13, 2008

Understanding Lakeland

I, John Kilpatrick, went down to Todd Bentley’s meetings, the Florida Outpouring, and gave my blessing to revival. I made it clear that I didn’t know Todd, his doctrinal belief nor who he is affiliated with, if anyone. To me, doctrine is very important. It always has been and it always will be. It is the infrastructure that a move of God runs on. You can not separate a man from his doctrine.

There you have it- to Pastor Kilpatrick, doctrine “is the infrastructure that a move of God runs on.”

This is encouraging to those of us that have long been saying that there are some very wrong things being taught in Lakeland. To wit:

  • Angelology. Calling for your personal angels to “go into the four corners of the earth and gather me money..” is heretical. Bentley has more “named angels” than are mentioned in the entire Bible.

  • Constant talk of regular third-heaven experiences, chats with the dead, and spirit travel. Bizarre stories of operating rooms in heaven.

  • Affiliation with William Branham, his angels, and his heretical “Latter Rain” beliefs. Bentley himself, in the Lakeland meetings, has stated “We do not have to age” and has claimed that he is not a man when he is under the anointing.

  • Claiming Apostolic Authority which places Bentley’s revelations gained through encounters with Jesus on the same level (or higher) than the Word of God.

A well known theologian concerned with revival issues has suggested a four-prong test in evaluating a move of God:

So, here are my guidelines for evaluating a spiritual movement, very similar to the guidelines established by Jonathan Edwards:
1) Is it exalting Jesus? Does He have the preeminence and are people being drawn to Him and His centrality?
2) Is there an increasing hunger for the Word of God and an increasing desire to submit to the Word of God?
3) Are people repenting of sin and turning to holiness by God’s grace and power?
4) Is there an increasing burden to touch and save the lost?

A cursory review of the Lakeland meetings suggests that there is an extreme focus on the meetings themselves. Even the previously mentioned Charisma magazine article picked up on the hype and exaggeration. I’m not certain you could even say that sermons are being preached, but during such times certainly there is more emphasis on charismatic encounters of the odd-kind than the preaching or teaching of the word of God. References to repentance, sin and hell are far and few between. Instead, the message, in their own words, is “Come and Get Some.”

George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, has offered a similar “test” for revival.

1) Is Jesus Christ exalted?
2) Is the Word of God proclaimed?
3) Are persons repenting of sin, and being baptized in water and the Holy Spirit?

Speaking of Wood, and the Assemblies of God, on June 6, 2008, they issued a Statement on Revival Obviously, the “mother ship” in Springfield has been flooded with inquiries.

Here are a few highlights:

The focus for any lasting revival always must be on Jesus. The Holy Spirit has not come to glorify Himself, or any human or angelic personality. A doctrinal test for any revival is whether the content of the preaching is the same as Jesus and the apostles. Miraculous manifestations are never the test of a true revival - fidelity to God's Word is the test. In summary, the message must always be examined. If the message and the messenger line up with God's Word, then the revival is on safe Biblical ground and it should and must be embraced. If not, then even though miracles and manifestations occur, it should be avoided. This raises the question of how can healings and miracles occur if the message and/or messenger are not consistent with Scripture. The attribution for the healings and miracles is the grace of God and his mercy for hurting people.

Take time to listen, or read, Wood’s entire address. It is highly unusual, maybe unprecedented, for the A/G to make such a statement outside of the position-paper format. I’m a straight-forward type of guy. While I would have preferred that the A/G leadership would just go ahead and say it, the timing of this statement pretty much says it all.

In the coming weeks we will be giving you point-for-point illustrations – from the mouth of Todd Bentley – that reveal problems with “the infrastructure that (this) move of God runs on.” Even before this recent outbreak, I have been discussing with others the need to bring to light some of the dangerous doctrinal problems being promoted by the Apostolic/Prophetic movement.

In the immortal words of Sgt Phil Esterhouse (of Hill Street Blues) "Lets be careful out there" ...

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