Friday, August 01, 2008

How to build a credible argument.
R.I.P. Lakeland

On one hand we have people claiming that Todd Bentley is dealing with Kundalini fire (Serpent-spine power), an aspect of Eastern religions. I've also seen accusations that Bentley's female (now male) angel Emma is really Emma-o, some sort of eastern demon (actually the "King of Hell"). And people trying to see a monkey in the beard of a Tatto of Jesus. Nipple rings in the tatto of "Medusa." And on ad nauseum.

Such arguments represent intellectual laziness. Granted, for many in the non-prophetic church, it is just too tempting to equate Bentley and his followers with eastern religions, because that automatically makes it wrong. Case shut.

But these are not people from without the Church, these are our brothers and sisters being sucked into this deception.

Something signficant is happening with the Lakeland Revival. In case you haven't noticed, it is shutting down (in its present form) on August 3. In recent weeks, Todd Bentley has been absent more than present. Why just a month or two ago, they were talking about this as if it would never end. Paul Cain prophesied that God would move on some individual to fund a permanent center of revival in Lakeland. What happened?

It seems that people within the Charismatic and Pentecostal church- people within the Apostolic movement- have been making a case against Todd Bentley's ministry. And making a case in a way that can be heard.

This has not been easy. The meetings of the "nameless and faceless" revival have looked like a who's who of Charismania.

Who is Speaking

Lee Grady, no foe of revival wrote on May 14 an article entitled Honest Questions About the Lakeland Revival. He said:

"But I would be dishonest if I told you that I wholeheartedly embraced what I saw in Lakeland. Something disturbed me, but I kept my mouth shut for three weeks while I prayed, got counsel from respected ministry leaders and searched my heart to make sure I was not harboring a religious spirit."

You need to read his entire article fully. I'll wait. In summary Grady pointed out problems with the Angels, the manifestations, and the "hype and exaggeration."

Grady's statement was the warning shot across the bow. It was a reversal for Grady and Charisma magazine, that had promoted the "revival" only a few weeks previous.

It was followed by a statement released by George Wood, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God. Ignite Church, the birthplace of the so-called Lakeland Outpouring is an Assemblies of God church. The A/G is a fellowship, not a denomination, and to some it appears to let its churches get about as goofy as they want to- but here's what George Wood had to say:

"...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. "

Read or view full statement here.

Wood, to his credit prophesied "Unless these initiatory events (Jesus exalted, Word preached, repentance occurring) of the Christian life occur, along with the sanctifying work of the Spirit that leads to a holy life, then the miracles, crowds, and enthusiasm will quickly wane. "

Lee Grady has followed up his original article with several more. And some have not liked what he had to say.

"When I wrote an article in mid-May calling for scrutiny of some aspects of the Lakeland Revival, I was labeled a Pharisee and a “religious policeman.” People who said they had been deeply impacted by the Holy Spirit in Lakeland used spiritual threats and harsh terms to tell me that I had become the enemy."

"I refuse to go on the defensive, and if I need to retract any statement I’ve ever made about this revival I will. But what these nasty exchanges have shown me is that a divisive spirit is certainly at work in our midst—and we need urgent prayer to short-circuit what the devil wants to do."


I'm sure by now he has been told to "not touch mine anointed." Well, I'm no Charisma magazine fan, but A close look at all of Grady's articles since April is in order. The archives are listed at the top of all of his columns. Here's a few must-reads:

An Appeal for Unity in a Divisive Season by J. Lee Grady 5-28-2009

Can We Avoid a Charismatic Civil War?by J. Lee Grady 7-9-2008

The guy is not backing off. Grady recently stated "So much of what is passed off as prophecy today resembles what you might find in a daily horoscope. The so-called “prophetic movement” in the contemporary church has been tainted by silly fads and charismatic witchcraft. One prophetic e-mail list sent out a word recently saying that dormant angels were being awakened out of the walls of our churches. (That’s not remotely scriptural.) Another predicted that God would begin to speak to people through the names of candy bars and blue jeans."

Many of us "recovering charismatics" have been saying the same thing for the last several years. It's almost as if there has been an awakening of others within the movement. Grady, by the way, is a member of Peter Wagner's International Coalition of Apostles (ICA), many of the the same group, along with Peter Wagner, performed the "coronation" of Bentley back in May. Thank you, Lee Grady.

Let's hear it from the Apostles

More significant, some of the other leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) are now speaking out. I guess Dutch Sheets started the avalanche, with his sermon on Lakeland back in May. And one observer said "He stated the obvious, that most of those he sees come forward really aren't being healed. And that Todd and his team need to be much more guarded in how they approach these folks and stop all the hype." Let me make it clear that I'm not aligning myself with Dutch Sheets- the point is that he is a leader in the same movement as Bentley.

Most outspoken has been Robert Ricciardelli. States Ricciardelli, who has spent much time in Lakeland, "Truth is there are very few people being healed in Lakeland." He has other concerns as well.

"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."

His conclusion about Bentley:

"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.."

Ricciardelli appeared on a recent radio talkshow and the interveiw is well worth the time. You also may want to reveiw an email sent out by Andrew Strom with statements from Ricciardelli.

Pastor David Cannistraci of GateWay city church in Los Angeles has released a rather stunning statement on Bentley. In it he states:

"The lack of a Scriptural basis for Todd’s “revelations” and exotic experiences is by far my biggest apprehension. The message seems to be “experience trumps Scripture.” There is dangerously small ratio of Bible teaching to controversial experiences."

"There are some pretty obvious and wild exaggerations of resurrections, healings, the significance of the meetings, and the overall results of Todd’s ministry. Hype undermines Todd’s credibility, but also the credibility of all who believe in the power of God. The power of the Holy Spirit needs no embellishment. Our exaggerations may be fooling immature Christians, but they are not fooling the media or the public."

He goes on in his letter to talk about prophetic mysticism in general. He mentions angels, necromancy, claiming mantles of past fallen leaders, and "a culture of weirdness."

Most recently the annual campmeeting was held at John Kilpatrick's church with speakers Steve Hill. Dutch Sheets, John Paul Jackson and others. Apparently ALL of the sermons prepared independently were warning about discerning truth from error. Kilpatrick and Hill, or Brownsville fame, had visited Lakeland and prayed a blessing over Bentley. Many viewed that as an endorsement although my take on it was that they were put on the spot when Bentley asked for an impartation. In response, Kilpatrick stated "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." I've yet to hear the sermons, but will be ordering the 14 CD set very soon.

Where am I going with this? Well it seems that all the rabbit trails concerning Emma-O, and Kundalini fire really have done nothing. But when leaders from within start raising issues about doctrine and character, people are listening. Indeed this madness has been around a long time. Bentley's model for ministry was Benny Hinn, and it shows. We do not have to chase rabbit trails when there are obvious doctrinal errors staring us on the face. And Todd Bentley makes it easy. Recently Bentley even came out and stated that he was teaching Manifested Sons of God doctrine. I'll be blogging on that soon.

What has been the effect?

Since July 4th Todd Bentley has been at Lakeland a total of 3 nights (as of July 24). The crowds are dwindling, and basically confirming the notion that this revival was not about God, it was all about Todd Bentley. Even his biggest supporters are noticing this.

"If you go back and view the earlier meetings which are archived on the GOD TV website you can feel the difference in the 'atmosphere' compared to what is happening today." Regarding this contagious anointing: "As for taking the 'ark' and moving somewhere else, if last weekend in Los Angeles is an example of what to expect, I am afraid this revival has been killed before it got out of the starting gate. Los Angeles was just another conference!" This misguided person blames the demise on the need for verification of the healings and states that they should not have to be verified. Funny thing about how TRUTH always gets in the way.

The big tent in Lakeland shuts down on August 3. Before we throw the last shovel of dirt on the Lakeland "Outpouring" let us not forget that our contending for the truth should always include truth, not vain imaginations. Let us study the Word and know what truth is, so was can point out the difference between truth and darkness the next time this arises. And it will.

17 comments:

  1. William,

    This is a brilliant post. I'll be tracking back to it from my site. Thanks for your practical logic!

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  2. Excellent post Bill. Well done.

    Doctrine and character is where it's at.

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  3. I agree Bill, I read the post about that guy blaming people wanting medical verification as one of the reasons that the revival is dying. It is like saying people wanted the truth so or deception is crumbling. Nice post I enjoyed reading it.

    -Daniel

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  4. I have read a lot about Bentley and Lakeland over the past 3 months and this is, by far, the best summary and critique. Thank you for your work on this. - Erik

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  5. Bill,
    I too have been watching since beginning. I am a AG minister, something is fishy, I sense it trying to be neatly disposed of by those too embarresed or unsure how to handle it all. It has saddened me. good news it the conterfiet usually arrises before the authentic. Look up for our redemption draws near! kd

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  6. Andrew Strom on video talks about Todd Bentley over here http://danlirette.com/archives/27

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  7. (Note:)

    This comment went on the wrong thread originally. You can delete the other comment. Sorry for the ooops. Ever heard of the dyslexic that believed in Dog?

    Margaret
    ***********************************************

    Bill,

    Excellent article! I think it is the complete lack of addressing doctrinal accountability that has amazed me in the silence of many pulpits and other valid religious venues - at least until this thing got so big that like the elephant in the living room it couldn't be ignored.

    I do believe the folks that are bringing out the kundalini and other occult connections have a valid point though.

    I think the real question that bothers me most is "Why is it necessary to use any method that is similar to any questionable practice, occult or secular, if indeed the power of the Holy Spirit is present and it is a real move of God?"
    By Margaret, at 3:39 PM

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  8. On one hand we have people claiming that Todd Bentley is dealing with Kundalini fire (Serpent-spine power), an aspect of Eastern religions. I've also seen accusations that Bentley's female (now male) angel Emma is really Emma-o, some sort of eastern demon (actually the "King of Hell").

    I think this just proves that "When all you have is a Spiritual Discernment hammer, Everything looks like a Demonic nail."

    Other comments on Tatted Todd (by End Time Prophecy fanboys) tie Lakeland into some sort of Great Apostaty heralding the Great Tribulation and The Antichrist. Guess it also proves that "When all you have is an End Time Prophecy Hammer, Everything looks like a Fulfillment nail."

    And both of these are subject to the same corollary: "If at first you don't succeed, Get A Bigger Hammer".

    P.S. The name is "Emma Dai-o", judge of the dead and King of Hell in Chinese and Japanese Buddhism. It's a language-drift variant of "Yama", the original King of Hell in Indian & Tibetan Buddhism.

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  9. Anon,

    I can agree with your statement to a certain extent:

    "I think this just proves that "When all you have is a Spiritual Discernment hammer, Everything looks like a Demonic nail."

    However, we can't dismiss the connections as easily as that, because there are indeed similarities, deliberate or not.

    I, for one, am far more concerned with the lack of comments and/or correction from valid ministries in the charismatic branch, until they heard so much about the excesses they couldn't ignore it.

    What's up with that? Do the sheep have to shepherd the shepherds now in the church or what? Do we bloggers have to be the ones that expose these things? I think the shepherds, especially in this day and time, need to be much more alert to the danger of the wolves in our midst.

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  10. Anon,

    Emma Dai-o, Emma-O, you say Tomatoe...

    I'm not sure what you mean by a Spiritual Discernment hammer, because the way you used it, it implies that discernment is a bad thing. Actually, the body of Christ needs far much more discernment these days, so that we can "discern the times."

    However, I hope you picked up on my point - and that is don't go looking for covert (hidden) problems when there are so many overt (visible) problems out there begging to be exposed.

    We can learn from this. Perhaps some people were painting the situation with too broad a brush (to continue the construction metaphor). But they were doing so, I'm sure, because they knew that something was seriously wrong.
    And I'll have to admit, there are some aspects of the tats that I find troubling.

    But let's focus on doctrine and practice. That's what really counts, and that's what will (eventually) break through - like a two-edged sword.

    Quoting George Wood again:

    "...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. "


    Bless you and thanks for commenting.

    -Bill

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  11. George Wood's comments bring a satisfying clarity to an otherwise murky situation. The issue was very clear to me after only 5 minutes of watching youtube videos of Lakeland when I stumbled across the 7 headed voodoo demon resurrection story. This poor girl is paraded on stage, her outrageous fabrication of a "death and resurrection" experience touted as bonafide by the leaders involved. The story is so outrageous that I still sit stunned and amazed that anything could be said to defend lakeland after this. Your comments about the shepherds not guarding the flock, leaving their work to bloggers packs a punch and should give us reason to repent. The wait and see attitude of our leaders has muddied previous clear waters. I hope we have learned a lesson or two for the future on how to best handle these kinds of things. I am truly grateful for the voices, leaders or not, better late than never, that have helped to stall this "move". And may we press into the word of God like never before.

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  12. I really do think that it is possible that the blogs warning against Lakeland are responsible for the demise of the revival. The blogs are showing up in the search engines and people are getting the information and it is helping people discern the Truth. Everyone who blogs and takes the time to research I commend.

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  13. Perhaps that was a big factor, but I ask this question- could God have dealt with it WITHOUT the blogosphere? Of course!

    Interesting, a few months ago some were stating how this "revival" spread because of the internet and God-TV. Well that same technology made all of those horrid clips - lierally hundreds of them on You tube- available to the public.

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  14. I just posted this on the grey coats now I am posting it here because I want to get as much input as possible:

    I actually need some input on something that really shocked me tonight. I have some friends who were following the Lakeland revival and it grieved me because of the the lack of discernment that they showed. I actually found out today that one of those friends applied to Todd Bentley’s Bible School and was accepted. He is leaving I think perhaps at the end of August or September. I feel like I should warn him, but I have a feeling that will end a friendship. Actually it may end several friendships if he tells others. I think perhaps it might be wise to confront his pastor instead whom I do know. It seems like it is really his responsibility to tell this guy not to go. Any input or suggestions would be appreciated.

    peace,

    Daniel

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  15. Bill,

    I think I just found a subtly placed snippet of MSoG theology in an article by rick joyner, tell me what you think. The article is called "The History and Future of the Present Revival - Part 7" found on the Holy Spirit Breakout page of Morningstar website:

    "The last trumpet or message of God in the Book of Revelation is "our God reigns" (see Revelation 19:6), or the gospel of the kingdom. That gospel has not been preached since the first century, and it must be preached throughout the world before the Lord will come. The church is being prepared to preach that gospel and to do it from a position of living in the power of the kingdom. We are being prepared to prepare the way for the Lord."

    Notice he says that the gospel has NOT been preached since the first century. What is he saying is this MSoG theology?

    -Daniel

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  16. I too agree with Margaret, that the occult connection is inescapable. My thought is the average charismatic no longer reads their Bible nor do they question what they are being taught so unless you are a pastor or not the average charismatic, a credible argument based on false teaching won't get you to notice.
    These are discouraging times indeed.

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  17. Although the point remains in my article (overt vs. covert), we found out today that there was a covert angle to this story. Bentley announced Aug 11 that he has initiated divorce proceedings against his wife. Although rumors hit the blogosphere at the end of May, I think most preferred to focus on other things - as they should. I think we all need to digest this for a few days at least - and pray for the casualites of this so-called outpouring.

    Be kind with your posts, please.

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