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Archive for June, 2008

I decided to take a break today from discussing Todd Bentley and the “Florida Outpouring” so that I could bring you documented proof of the sort of greed for money that we encountered during our time at Living Word Church (a pseudonym).

I’ve described before, in a post entitled Asking For It, just how Pastor Smith (another pseudonym) and his family grubbed for money for themselves. 

Here, for your viewing pleasure (click on the link), is an actual image of the letter we received about ten days ago:

birthday3

Something to note:  Although this letter is ostensibly signed from the church “staff,” the truth of the matter is that Pastor Smith and the rest of the Smith family are in absolute, total control of everything that the church does.  As someone who occasionally used to volunteer in the church office, I know firsthand how NOTHING – not even a postcard advertising Vacation Bible School – was sent out from the church without Pastor Smith’s final approval.  Therefore, to say that this birthday card shower is a “surprise” is an absolute, total lie. 

The only surprise for the Smiths would be if the congregation did NOT celebrate their birthdays! 

My husband and I were joking the other day that they probably plan vacations and major purchases around these “love offerings,” seeing as how a conservative estimate of their “haul” is somewhere in the $10,000 range, quite possibly a whole lot more.

I wonder what the tax laws are when it comes to not-for-profit organizations using their postage meters to solicit personal gifts?  The staff members who wrote, printed, folded, stuffed, and mailed these letters, all while on the church’s time clock – how does that factor into the tax code?  Do the Smiths report this major source of income?

Just wonderin’…

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From the Herescope website, here is Part 2 of the series about Lakeland:

The Practice of “Revival”

A Pastor Reports on Todd Bentley’s “Revival” in Lakeland, Florida

 

By Pastor Gary Osborne

[Note: This is the 2nd article in a weeklong series. See the Introduction posted yesterday.]


WHAT I OBSERVED IN THE SERVICES

The first night I personally attended was Thursday, May 8th. Mr. Todd 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 GodTV 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. The worship leader, if you could call him that, sang a song whose lyrics include the following:

“I am Free to Run, I am Free to Run”
“I am Free to Dance, I am Free to Dance”

And boy how the people responded to that. There were people dancing everywhere. And by dancing I’m talking some of the same stuff you’d see at a secular concert. Even some men and women dancing together!

I realize that the first portion of this article is dealing somewhat with my own subjective thoughts on the meetings. I will get to some objective points about what is taught in these meetings later in the article, but please bear with me because it’s important for you, the reader, to have an idea of what goes on at these meetings and what the general atmosphere is like.

There was a very sensual spirit in the meeting. Much inappropriate dress as well. And everyone was caught up in their own euphoria. After nearly 45 minutes of upbeat music, things finally slowed down. People were still standing everywhere, but the music was now slower and more hypnotic. The same songs were being played over and over and over. People seemed to be in a trance all around me. If the worship leader said, “raise your hands” everyone did so immediately. If he said, “drop to your knees” they did so immediately. In my humble opinion what I observed that night was nothing more than mass hypnotism. The music had the people mesmerized. Oh, and I didn’t know one song they sang the entire night. Not one!

At about 8:30 PM, with music still being played and Todd Bentley still standing with the other leaders on stage, the music leader says, “I’m feeling drunk.” He then tells the people to say to God, “Intoxicate me, Lord” – “Inebriate me, Lord.” I am disgusted at this point. We will deal with the so-called “drunk in the Spirit” phenomenon later in the article. The music continues and picks up again. Now the people are getting truly wild and the leader says, “Scream!!!” and the people let out a yell that shakes the entire building. Finally the worship leader falls to the floor himself, but the back up singers continue. This continued until nearly 9:00 PM and I had seen enough for my first night. I left amidst the shouts of thousands.

Talk of angels was prevalent throughout the night as well. This seems to be a key point with this particular “revival” and we will discuss it more later in this article.

THE SECOND SERVICE

I came back the following Thursday, May 15th, which was the 44th day of the revival, determined to stay and hear Todd Bentley (if the music leader would allow). This time I entered the Civic Center and noticed that people were much more subdued. Why? Because the band was not practicing and instead much softer music was being played on a CD throughout the auditorium. There was only one person with a flag/banner raised this time, as opposed to the 10 or more I saw the first night. Things stayed calm until the MC came out and once again pumped up the audience with a countdown to going live on TV. As soon as that happened the people were the same as before – shouting, jumping, dancing, etc.

Two men, one looking like the bearded guy from ZZ Top, give each other a high-five near the back of the auditorium and both “fall under the power” immediately. The music is going fast and furious and the same emotions and actions that were in the first meeting are in this one as well. There also continues to be much talk of angels in the songs.

After almost an hour and a half of singing the MC comes back to the center of the stage and declares, “I feel the ‘sauce’ tonight.” He then introduces Todd Bentley who comes out wearing a t-shirt that reads, “Jesus Gave Me My Tattoos.” He tells everyone that he “felt like the Holy Spirit was massaging his body” tonight. He then talks about the transferable anointing that comes in like a mist. He claims that God told him he could “feel the anointing just like Moses did” in the book of Exodus! Of course God never told Moses that he could “feel” the anointing. God did say He would “show” Moses His glory, but He never mentioned “feeling” the glory. Yet Bentley continues to emphasize feelings. This is a huge part of his entire teaching. He talks of not only seeing a mist but says that in some of his previous meetings he has been able to smell incense, concluding that this is the glory of God manifest. He then invites people to come to the altar and screams, “Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire!” which is a trademark signature of his.

There’s a real restlessness in the arena. In fact, I’ve never seen more people coming and going, moving from seat to seat to seat, than I have at these meetings in Lakeland. There’s a tremendous lack of peace amongst the people. No one seems to be able to settle in, and people are walking the aisles and moving constantly.

Suddenly, Bentley says there is “great authority” in the building tonight and he says that people can decree whatever they want, but to be careful what they ask for. It’s obvious that he’s heavily influenced by “Word of Faith” teaching and believes that God has abdicated His throne and given us authority to do anything we want, or better yet have anything we pronounce. In fact, he himself says “I speak creation. I speak new hearts, new livers into existence tonight.” Speaking to the audience in general he tells people to take off their oxygen and he commands tumors to fall off bodies and for cripples to get out of wheelchairs. He continues to declare all types of healings. I watch as several people gather around one wheel-chair bound woman and pray for her. They exhort her to rise, but she cannot.

People now begin to come forward to share their testimonies of healing. Everything is carried out just as it would be in a Benny Hinn or Earnest Angley type service. There are claims of everything from headaches cured to resurrections from the dead, but everything is carefully shared on a first name only basis. I imagine Todd and his crew could claim this is done so that the media or other curious people would not harass the individuals giving the testimonies. But what this effectively does is keep anyone from verifying any of the claims. One severely handicapped girl (physically and mentally) was brought forward in a wheelchair and was lifted out of the wheelchair by Todd and another man and dragged several feet before Todd let her go so she could be “slain in the Spirit.” It was a travesty, in my opinion.

Bentley then claims that this revival was prophesied in 1977 and again in 1989 by none other than Paul Cain, of the Kansas City prophets. We will deal with him more later on, but it’s important that the reader gets an understanding of who Todd Bentley looks up to. He is very much in the same camp as the KC prophets, among others. I decided to leave at this point, as it was approaching 10 PM and I had an hour drive back home.

A THIRD MEETING

Many other events could be documented, but space limits me from going into more detail concerning the two nights I attended. However, there was one other service that I caught on TV, and fortunately taped, that must be mentioned here. On Saturday, May 17th, a service took place unlike any other I have seen yet. During the testimony time some extreme manifestations took place. One young eleven year old girl was brought up and Todd asked her if she would like to feel the “manifest presence of Jesus” and she sheepishly said yes (clearly not understanding what he was talking about). He took her by the hand and blew on her. Nothing happened. He then told her to close her eyes and repeat after him. “Jesus, fill me with your presence” he said. He placed his hand on her head and was clearly exerting some pressure in an attempt to make her fall down. She still didn’t collapse so he focused his attention on her cousin (who he wrongly called her mother – so much for his prophet status) and blew on her. She went straight down as the little girl watched. He then blew on her one more time but she never went down so he turned away.

As Todd went over to the other side of the stage he began to laugh in a deep, scary way. There is no other word I can think of to describe this laughter. After speaking with that person, who was very hyped, he laid hands on her and gave his trademark yell, “Bam!” She went right down. From there he began to laugh more, and the audience went right along with him. He talked about drinking from the river. He instructed everyone to put their head back and open their mouth and drink. More scary laughter occurs as he blows down another 9-year-old girl. He then tells the girl’s mother that he is “drunk in the Holy Ghost” and as his head is shaking strangely he mentions that “it’s [meaning the anointing] leaking out of my eyes.” More laughter and more “bams” occur as he sweeps his hand over the audience and rows of people react.

Todd then shouts “Fire!” and tells the people to say, “Come Holy Ghost, get me.” This continues for several minutes. He tells Jesus to “get them all.” Others on stage are laughing uncontrollably and staggering around, not even able to talk without slurring their words. The laughter from Todd is very much like Rodney Howard-Browne. As he continues to shake Todd asks the people to stand and make a barrel. So they clasp their hands together and act like they are holding a huge rain barrel in their arms. Then he shouts for them to tip this imaginary barrel up as their head is tipped back and “Drink!!!!” He shouts it again, “Drink!!!!” This is some of the most insane stuff I personally have ever seen in my life. I have been in many of these types of meetings, including meetings conducted by Rodney Howard-Browne and John Kilpatrick. Yet I’ve never seen anything as extreme as this.

The next man up to be interviewed is Pontus and he’s clearly led a rough life. His arms are filled with tattoos and to be honest he speaks as if he’s drunk. Todd comments on one of his nice tattoos and shows the man a similar one on his arm. This man is eventually “slain” as well. Todd continues to laugh in an almost demonic way. He continues to exhort the people to receive the anointing. Another lady is brought forward and the man holding the microphone for her says she’s been “bellied up to the bar here drinking quite a bit tonight.” She is of course an easy mark for being slain. Her husband then receives a “big fat drink of the Holy Ghost” as well. Todd goes on to say he’s “feeling drunk” and then he begins to shake his head to the left and right violently and shouts “ohhhhhhhhhh…!” It’s a truly frightening moment as he seems to be controlled by a spirit and my mind immediately went to the story in Mark’s Gospel of the young boy who was often tossed about by demonic spirits attempting to kill him (Mark 9:22).

Todd then asks God to fill everyone with that “drunken, drunken holy glory” that he supposedly is experiencing. He tells people not to get to close to the edge of the stage lest they fall off. More “bams” and laughter occur. Then Todd asks for a “release of the wine.” I could go on and on about the silliness that occurred that night. People were staggering around, not able to speak correctly, and basically acting like drunken sailors. It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed.

TOMMOROW: Todd Bentley’s Connection to the Latter Rain Movement[For interesting historical background information on this “revival,” see this report. Also, read the 6-part in-depth report on the “Laughing Phenomena: Its History & Possible Effect on the Church” by Ed Tarkowski, which begins here and continues here, here, here, here, and here.]
“Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.” (Isaiah 29:9)

 

The Truth:

 

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From the Herescope site comes an excellent series of articles about the Lakeland “Outpouring.”  Here is the introduction to the series:

 

A Pastor Reports on Todd Bentley’s “Revival” in Lakeland, Florida

 

By Pastor Gary Osborne

[Note to reader: this article begins a week-long series of posts, an in-depth eyewitness report from a pastor who attended and observed this “revival” as it unfolded.]

A couple of weeks ago I began to receive phone calls and emails asking me if I knew anything about a “revival” that was going on in Lakeland, Florida. Since that town is less than an hour away from me I decided it was important to find out what was happening in my own “back yard,” so to speak. I did some checking and found out that sure enough, revival meetings were taking place in Lakeland under the ministry of Todd Bentley. In fact, the services were being broadcast live on God TV. Therefore, after watching several services, I decided to attend a couple myself, and the following article deals with what I found out firsthand and the conclusions I have come to.

There is no doubt in my mind that the “Lakeland Outpouring,” as it is now being called, is nothing more than a recycling of previous movements that stretch back decades. Whether it was meetings held by people like William Branham, Kathryn Kuhlman, Benny Hinn, Rodney Howard-Browne, Steve Hill, or any of the so-called Kansas City Prophets, the spirit and basic doctrine are the same. There’s a common thread of specific heresies that go back a long way. That’s why I call it recycled revival. It’s nothing new at its core. In addition, this revival and ones similar to it promote ideas that are contrary to what the Bible tells us about the end times.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT THE LAST DAYS

At the outset I’d like to say that I’m very much a Pentecostal Christian. I believe that the gifts of the Spirit are for today and that God still baptizes people in the Holy Ghost. I also believe in revival. I’ve read the Bible through dozens of times and seen enough genuine moves of God to know beyond any doubt that the Lord still pours out His Spirit on hungry hearts. With the Lord’s help I’ve made a careful study of authentic revivals down through history and the characteristics are always the same: strong preaching against sin; deep repentance; an emphasis on the cross of Christ; an emphasis on the world to come as opposed to this world; and an emphasis on the Bible. I believe we need genuine revival. We need it because of our [the Church in general] apathy. We need it because of our ungodliness. And we need it specifically because we are in the Last Days. But there’s a distinction between praying for God to pour out His Spirit on a person or church and believing that there will be an end times revival that will sweep the world and “Christianize” the nations. There’s a huge difference between those two things and what you believe concerning this point will affect the way you pray and it will affect the way you look at things as we draw closer to the return of Christ.

What does the Bible say about the end times? It’s important that we establish this point before we move on to discuss the happenings in Lakeland, Florida. Let’s examine a few Scriptures. In Matthew 24 Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the end times. They have asked Him to tell them what the signs will be for His return and the end of the age (vs. 3). The first thing Jesus says is what? That we are to expect a great end times revival? That we are to accept what anyone says simply because they claim to be a servant of Jesus? NO! The first thing Jesus says is “See to it that no one leads you astray” (vs. 4).

It’s interesting that Jesus would begin a discussion about the last days with that admonition. He then goes on to say (Matt. 24:11). In Mark’s gospel, He adds to this and says,“many false prophets will arise and will mislead many” “false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect” (Mark 13:22). So Jesus tells us that one of the primary marks of the last days will be deception. In fact take note that while He says the gospel will be preached to the world He does not say the world will accept the message. Nowhere does He tell us to expect great, worldwide revivals just before He returns.

The Apostles also had much to say about the last days.

  • 2Th 2:1-3 – “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first.”

Note that Paul did not say Christ will not come unless a great worldwide revival comes first. He said “apostasy” which is a falling away. So Paul lines right up with Jesus on what we should be looking for in these Last Days. Paul also tells us in I Timothy chapter 4 “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” Again I’d like to point out that no where in this or any other passage does Paul tell us to expect an end times revival that will bring in millions or billions and Christianize the world.

Peter echoes this same thing when he states that “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed” (II Pet. 2:1-2).

It should be obvious to any student of the Scriptures that the last days will be perilous times (II Tim. 3), and Christians must pray for discernment. This is in compliance with I John 4:1, an extremely important Scripture for our discussion.

  • “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 what I will be doing in this article. I’m not judging anyone. I’m not condemning anyone. I don’t have a “Pharisee” spirit (as one man accused me of recently). I’m simply obeying the biblical command to test the spirits. Remember too that one of the nine gifts of the Spirit mentioned in I Corinthians 12 is the discerning of spirits. There are three basic “spirits” that information or teaching can come from: the Spirit of God, the spirit of man, and demonic spirits. We must understand that just because a person claims to be a Christian and claims to be operating under the anointing of God it doesn’t mean they really are. They could be operating in their own fleshly spirit, or worse yet they could be operating under seducing spirits posing as angels of light (II Cor. 11:14). We must know the Word of God, and know it well, in order to be discerning Christians who can rightly divide the Word of Truth and not be led astray.

Once more, let me emphasize at the outset that we do need genuine revival in the land today. Apathy in the Body of Christ is at an all time high, and I can fully understand people wanting to draw closer to the Lord. That’s a worthy aspiration. In no way is this article judging the intentions or motives of those that go to these meetings. I’m sure that many, if not most, of the people that attend do so because they are somewhat desperate for more of God. But we must never put discernment and the Word of God on the backburner because we feel spiritually dry. In fact, it’s often during those times when we are thirsty that we need to be extra careful about what source we drink from. A desperate man, lost in the desert, may drink from the first pool of water that he comes to, but it may be poison. So let us be careful to diligently seek God when it comes to purported moves of the Spirit in certain churches or services.

This article will be divided up into two distinct sections. In the first section I will give detailed accounts of what I personally witnessed at two of the meetings I attended in Lakeland, and I will also detail a portion of a third meeting I watched and taped off television. This first section will obviously include subjectivity from my vantage point. The second portion of this article will deal with 7 issues that need to be addressed concerning this “Revival” and will include some of the more salient teachings of Todd Bentley.

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The other day, I was poking around on youtube, and I stumbled across a series of videos recently released by our former church’s music department. Pastor Smith’s (not their real last name) son (an excellent pianist but a horrifically tone-deaf singer) put out a new CD this past spring, and the church had obviously poured a bunch of money into producing some pretty professional looking DVDs of the key songs.

[Random aside:  I couldn’t help but wonder, as I watched the choir and backup singers, many of whom are amazingly talented, if Tommy Smith was giving any of these singers and musicians a cut of the money he raked in from selling his CD and DVD.  I highly doubt it.  Yet without those singers and musicians, people would be forced to listen to the pastor’s son sing alone, and he’d be a mere shadow of what he’s now able to think he is as he hides behind those who can actually carry a tune.]

Anyway, I bring up those youtube videos because one of the new songs Tommy had written contained lyrics that focused on how all we as Christians need is “just a moment” with God.

It is actually a very pretty song, one that tugged at my heartstrings as I listened to the emotive harmonies, the whispered, worshipful “hallelujahs” in the background. And a part of it was quite nice, singing about a moment in the Lord’s presence, and how wonderful this could be.

Matter of fact, the majority of the songs Tommy Smith has written are along these same lines, always celebrating God’s presence…with the insinuation being, of course, that it (God’s presence) is found within the four walls of our former church. I’ve been struck by this observation before, but as I listened to this new song, pretty though it was, it yet again occurred to me that the people at our old church really believe that “receiving a touch from God” is what a successful Christian life is all about.  Have a problem?  Get the pastor to lay hands on you.  Need a breakthrough?  Hope and pray that the pastor will give you a prophetic word.  Need to make progress in your Christian life?  Well, the specifics of Godly character were rarely discussed – not even simple things, like being nice to one another in the church parking lot, instead of cutting people off and giving them dirty looks as you fought for your turn to exit after the service. 

We would never hear basic, practical teachings from the Bible.  But we were relentlessly hammered with the idea that “being in God’s presence” – which was defined as falling down on the ground, weeping before the Lord, praying in church – was what was needed to make one holy.  If you wanted to be a victorious Christian, you needed to be where God’s presence was.

Of course, there’s a nugget of truth buried in there somewhere.  But it only takes “a little leaven” to ruin the whole thing, right? 

People at our former church never seemed to be taught that the keys to Christian living were right there in their hands – the Bible, and the indwelling Holy Spirit Who already resides in them as believers.  People were never taught that they should look to the Holy Spirit to help them become more Christlike, in such areas as being more honest (we met more pathological liars at our former church than I’d met in my entire lifetime prior to becoming members).  Aside from being told to give money sacrificially to the church, people were never taught anything about “dying to self.”  Instead, we were told week after week that God was going to make us people of great destiny, that we were going to be favored, that we were going to be prosperous…as long as we remained at Living Word Church (for the record, a pseudonym) and under the “covering” of Pastor Smith’s “anointing” – which, when you got right down to it, was always defined as the power that flowed through him when he preached, prophesied, and laid hands on people.

So, Tommy Smith’s new song is pretty good at summing up what the Christian faith is at our former church – it really is about “moments in time,” where one “feels” God’s presence…with the insinuation being that it happens at church, through the pastor or his appointed guest speakers.

I think more than a bit of that mentality is at work in the Lakeland meetings, too.  “Come and get some” means what?  What, exactly, is going to be the fruit produced by “some” of whatever “it” is?  I guess time will tell…how many of those people will shake and tremble and twitch and roll, “drunk,” all the way back home, and actually exhibit more Christ-like character?

I hope it’s all of them, but from our own experience, I’d be surprised if it were very many at all.  I knew far too many people who did lots of “carpet time” at our old church, only to get up and go and lie and cheat and just be generally wacky flakes the rest of the 167 hours left in the week.

Yet they thought – because we were constantly fed this notion – that they had a superior handle on Christian living since they had access to Pastor Smith’s “anointing.”  They’d enjoyed many memorable moments in “God’s presence” at church.  And since that’s all it takes, they had it all together.

This “moment in time” type of Christianity feels good, and it sounds appealing because it’s easy.  But since its fruit bears so little resemblance to the “fruits of the Spirit” (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control), I do not believe that it’s healthy for us to reduce our life in Christ to distinct occasions where we “feel” something that has been dispensed to us through “the anointing” of another human being.

Try as I might, I just can’t find this concept anywhere in my Bible.

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Saturday night, an alert commenter (thanks, Jan!) posted that Geraldo was going to be interviewing Todd Bentley on Fox News.  We decided to stay up to watch that segment.  It was a bit disappointing to have to wait until the last ten minutes of the show…especially since the piece was essentially more of the same – Todd Bentley proclaiming the great miracles to the world, with talk of “all kinds of documentation,” but no actual interviews with attending physicians of all the dead people who are now supposedly raised to life or anything like that.

I also thought it was…interesting, and extremely convenient, to say the least, the way that Todd’s sound feed seemed to cut out at the crucial moment of Geraldo’s only tough question.  But hey, judge for yourself.  Here’s the video:

 

 

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I can hardly keep track any longer, but I think Todd Bentley and his Lakeland “Revival” (or “Outpouring”) are claiming that so far, something like 22 people have been raised from the dead.

I’ve already done a couple of posts about the nebulous nature of these “resurrection” stories.  And I’m still waiting for a genuine documented case of a cadaver in full rigor mortis truly “coming back to life” again.  As much as I believe that God absolutely can do anything He chooses to do, and as much as I believe that it is literally NOTHING for Him to speak merely a word and call forth all the billions of dead people from their graves, even if their ashes had been scattered 200 years ago, I cannot help but be skeptical about these Lakeland stories.

First of all, I think if such things like these purported “resurrections” were truly happening, our secular news media, its anti-Christian bias notwithstanding, would sit up and pay attention. 

But far more telling is how quiet our friends within the CHRISTIAN media have been about these things.  As I’ve said, where is Charisma magaazine in all of this?   Why aren’t they right there, asking the hard questions and TRULY “building people’s faith” by showing the hard facts behind these stories?  These publications have resources, they have reporters, they have people who could ferret out the truth.  If they chose to.

But apparently, they are NOT choosing to.  I find this sad beyond words.

Here is a video of Todd Bentley as he shares the thirteenth “resurrection” story.  Perhaps this video will help to explain why nobody from the news media – secular OR Christian – has had much to say about these many cadavers supposedly “raised from the dead.”

Check it out, and then share your thoughts in a comment below.  Here is my take on this particular “resurrection” story:

First of all, I noticed right off how, when the email writer talked about playing GodTV’s coverage of the revival at the wake, he/she was careful to add that they refused to have the brother embalmed for his funeral.

I thought that was extremely fishy. I mean, if God (and the “anointing” that is supposedly transferred via TV from these meetings) is strong enough to bring a truly dead person back to life, wouldn’t this God be strong enough to restore all the cadaver’s “innards” to their former state?

Why would it matter if the person were enbalmed or not? Why??

One other thing. I find it jarringly disgusting that the email places so much attention on Todd Bentley and seems to give a lot of the credit for this “resurrection” to Todd (i.e., the email writer says, “My brother woke up praising God and Reverend Todd Bentley,” as well as, “He could hear Todd Bentley’s voice calling him out of heaven”).

Obviously, if this email were genuine, Todd would have no control over what the author had written. But he easily could have made sure to distance himself from seeming to take some of the credit for this “miracle”! He could have redirected the crowd to God and His glory. But he did not do so.

And the last line (that he shared) from the email said that after the dead man sat up in his coffin, “All the people at that funeral home began screaming and crying for more fire.”

What??

More fire???

So really, these people are not praising God. They’re praising Todd and “the fire.”

I’m so disgusted.

 

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From the “comments” section of this post, reader Pete made the following observation:

I also find it amazing that these people [Todd Bentley and his fellow “prophets”] are on such casual terms with the Almighty God that they debate and question him so regular yet they critisise anyone who debates or questions their views!

I thought this was an incredibly astute observation.  Something about Todd’s (and other “prophets'”) conversations with “God” has always struck me as a bit “off.”  I couldn’t quite figure it out, but now that I think about this commenter’s words, I realize what it is: 

If these guys were TRULY conversing with the God of the universe – the Holy Almighty God of the Bible, the God Who created the universe, the God Who numbers every hair on our head – they would never be so carefree or bold.  Never.  Instead of questioning and arguing with God, they would experience awe, respect, and fear, uttering with the (true) prophet Isaiah, “Woe is me!” 

At the very least, they ought to be giving “God’s” remarks the same unquestioning respect and acceptance that they are now demanding from their own congregants.

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My fellow blogger over at Endtimes Prophetic Words had this to say today (you can read the original post here):

A number of people have commentated over the past few days about Todd Bentley recently criticizing the critics for ‘bashing’ him re the angel Emma –

“Todd said the other night that critics talking about him saying the angel Emma was there were wrong and totally off. He was disgusted at how people were spreading false stories about him.”

Todd Bentley apparently publically said (thanks Sarah for this transcript):

“And I’ll say this for all the critics out there: WHAT are you talking about Emma and a female angel?!” Then to the audience, “Just had to say that to some people out there in Heresyland.” Then back into the camera, “THERE IS NO FEMALE ANGEL!…directing me.”

And the audience applauded. He continued,

“Emma and all that, that’s just a whole other experience. Don’t tie it into this. It’s not the healing angel I’m talking about. God said, ‘This angel is with you, just like I assigned an angel to William Branham. Not the same angel, an angel like.  Just like the angel that was with John Lake.’”  

He then went on to explain that the thousands of “healing angels” that were in the stands were angels God was ready last night to dispatch to people, cities, churches, ministries, that are ready to accept them.

Obviously Todd Bentley is trying to detract criticism and undermine the critics by lying about the critics and what they are actually saying, and creating a false trail of red herrings – just like he falsely claimed the critics were only ’picking on him’ because of his appearance, education and background, which is similarly not true. Critics criticise him because he is a documented liar and false prophet!

And the trouble is with this latest distortion of his on the red herring trail, is there are no false  stories on this site, or any of the other main watchman sites I am aware of, about angel Emma. All the sites link to his own  testimony, his own prophecies in his own words – that disappeared overnight when he did some houseclearing without retraction on his website [what does this say about his and his ministry’s intergrity. He keeps most of the story but deletes the name ‘Emma’.]. So if he is saying the stories on sites like this about Emma are false, he is saying his own stories  are false, as they are exactly what we quote, word for word – which can be the only conclusion if he says it is a ‘pack of lies’ – which proves our point about him being a liar and false prophet. What does he have to be ‘disgusted ‘about? Himself?

“Emma and all that, that’s just a whole other experience. Don’t tie it into this. It’s not the healing angel I’m talking about.”

Stephen Strader has recently said that the angel Emma won’t be mentioned again because Strader is ‘uncomfortable about it’ – eg; read that as: the uproar and rebuke has been embrassing for the ‘revival’. See here for Stephen Strader’s comments re the angel Emma and other of his lies and contradictions here.

Notice too what Todd Bentley is actually saying here. He is not denying belief in Emma, or retracting all his claims about her, he is saying that is a whole ‘other experience’  (from a few years ago and another time, claims Stephen Strader, but this is not true as can be seen later in this article). But so what, even if  it was a few years ago and has not been mentioned since (it has though, I just mention this to humor Todd)? If it was false and ’cause for concern’ then  and makes both him and Bob Jones who introduced Emma to Bentley false prophets then,  it makes them still false prophets NOW  as they have not changed any or changed the spirits they prophesy by – if anything they have gotten much worse.  Bob Jones, the same introductory source for Emma, has allegedly introduced and prophesied many other angels to Todd since, including ‘Winds of Change’ who is frequently referred to at Lakeland. If Emma was false then,  then the source was false, right? And this false source, Bob Jones, still prophesies and introduce pass-me-on angels to many of the new prophetic crowd including Todd Bentley.

Regardless then, even if  angel Emma has not been mentioned in this particular Lakeland ‘revival’ (she HAS but we’ll come to that in a minute) that is really not the point. Because Todd Bentley and Bob Jones and many others in the prophetic movement believe in Emma and have prophesied about her without repentence and retraction for years (only covering up now because of criticism – which is a work of darkness and not the light) and keeping quiet about her and covering her up also contradicts what Todd Bentley said recently at Lakeland (source – from Stephen Strader’s own words from his Lakeland Revival blog): –

“This is the one thing, people hate … when I talk about the Angel …. People say ‘don’t talk about the angel’ but I’m telling you, right now, to deny prophetic destiny and what you’ve received from the Lord is to turn from the Lord; I could not stand before the Lord, and say I saw the angel of lord, if I did not see it; GOD WOULD STRIKE ME DOWN.”

But Stephen Strader ADMITS both Todd Bentley and Bob Jones have agreed not to talk anymore about Emma, and they have also shown this by deleting her from the Fresh Fire website as well as the recent moving away from her which is tantamount to denial and deceptive at that. But err… isn’t this agreeing not to talk about his angels,  in Todd’s own words, thus denying ‘prophetic destiny’,  and is ‘turning from the Lord’  deserving  that ‘God would strike him down’   if he either lied about or denied his angels? He does both and God has not struck him down yet! That one quote alone illustates the continued lack of truth and the continued contradictions in this ‘revival’!

If people rightly have concerns about the biblicalness of the angel Emma, so what if Todd does not think she is behind this revival and other angels by other names are? Emma still shows up Todd to be a false prophet.  Emma is related to false lying visions from false lying prophets that are unrepented of, so THIS is the point to highlight – not how recent the visions have been or which particular revival they are linked to.

“It’s not the healing angel I’m talking about.”

What in this particular instance? So what if you have moved onto angels by other names?   And besides which, it is not just  the angel Emma that is unbiblical. There are plenty of other male angels he claims to see and work with which give EQUAL, if not more cause for concern than Emma, that are equally unbiblical – and they are all introduced from the same false source, ‘prophet’ Bob Jones.

“It’s not the healing angel I’m talking about.”

Bob Jones said at Lakeland on May 13th that Emma means ‘healing’ and she is one of three powerful angels present at Lakeland.

On May 13th 2008 Bob Jones said:

“And an angel appeared to me, told me to get paul keith (here tomorrow) and ken maddock, bobby Connors … HEALING ANGEL, called winds of change appeared to me …. Do you (crowd) believe in angels? …. Yes? ….. well, I saw winds of change said, extreme weather patterns in every form; winds shutting down entire towns from north west; so TODD you are from north west, you need to shut down towns;

And 3 powerful angels are here; Emma, means healing and another called Grace; and Winds of Change.”  

(Source here, there is also another separate testimony by someone else from that night here that Bob Jones said the same thing).

Todd did not contradict or rebuke Bob at all, and by all account agreed with him and lapped up his word. There are also other lies and embellishments on this night I will pull out in another article.

If Emma is to be denied then Bob Jones must be denied. If Emma is not there at Lakeland with them, then that makes Bob Jones a false prophet in Todd Bentley’s book and it means Todd allowed Bob to lie/falsely prophesy to the crowds on May 13th without correction. (However, Todd evidently did not have a problem at the time as he was apparently lapping up Bob’s every word just as he has lapped up all of the other ridiculous things and aberrant Bob Jones claims). Let me make that clear – they cannot have both ways. Either Emma is there, or she is not there, and Bob Jones is a lying false prophet. And if Bob Jones is a lying false prophet, this whole revival is false because it is based on Bob Jones, his prophecies and other directions and is orchestrated behind the scene by him. So what is it to be?

“THERE IS NO FEMALE ANGEL!…directing me”

Emma is not the only female angel prophesied by Bob Jones on stage with Todd Bentley’s agreement being at Lakeland. Others include an angel called ’Grace’. Admittedly, Todd’s main ‘man’ now is a lot more macho ‘Angel of the Lord’, but these angels are still repeatedly mentioned, recently too.

“THERE IS NO FEMALE ANGEL!…directing me”

Although he and his cronies say they are, I actually believe this to be a true statement – one of the few he has made. Because Todd Bentley repeatedly lies about his experiences with angels and makes it up as he goes along. The one directing him seems to be Bob Jones, if anything, as is evident by all the talk on record.

“This angel is with you, just like I assigned an angel to William Branham. Not the same angel, an angel like.  Just like the angel that was with John G Lake…”

It is really splitting hairs to say whether it is the same exact angel, or an angel LIKE, as this issue is not really about whether it is the same angel being claimed as anyone else, it is whether the angel is blilical. Rather, the concern is, the nature and deeds of this angel, the over focus on it, and the beliefs concerning the angel and how it is handed on by prophetic introduction. Furthermore, what kind of angel was assigned to William Branham and John G Lake – both notorious fake healers and liars (despite their place in the pentecostal hall of fame)?

However, not only that BUT Todd has claimed it is  the same angel – and frequently too. Not just an angel ‘like’, the same angel. On April 10th, here, Todd said, in Stephen Strader’s own words –

“The same angel that came in 1948 has now come to Florida in 2008.

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One of our commenters posted this link to a snippet of a Todd Bentley sermon.  While this clip has been making the rounds for awhile and has been discussed on other sites, I listened to it again today and had some additional thoughts about what he says.

I was going to just put those thoughts in a comment where the link was posted, but as I got to thinking about it, I realized that although these particular remarks of Todd’s have already been analyzed by many folks, I don’t really remember anyone mentioning a couple of the most burning thoughts that I had about them.

For the sake of accuracy, I decided to transcribe, to the best of my ability, every word that Todd says in this two-minute clip.  Here is the transcript:

This thing’s gonna break out, now just wait up here in Shreveport, I’m releasing it back, to where it all started in 1948, I’m releasing it back.  

Now for some of you who are here, it doesn’t really matter to you, all that stuff, all you care about is that God’s moving, and you know what?  That’s all that really matters.  So if you’re not big on prophetic, supernatural, and angels, I’m sorry.  It’s my testimony, but if you want to know why God’s moving, I’m sorry, I have to tell you the whole story.  If you don’t believe the story, well – sorry.  

You know, I told the Lord, “Why can’t I just move in healing and forget talking about all that…other stuff?” 

He said, “Because, Todd, you gotta get the people to believe in the angel.”  

I said, “God, why do I want people to believe in the angel, isn’t it about getting the people to believe in Jesus?”  

He said, “The people already believe in Jesus, but the church doesn’t believe in the supernatural.” 

The church has no problem believing in Jesus.  But what we don’t believe in is the supernatural.  We don’t believe in angels, we don’t believe in the prophetic, we don’t believe in some of what’s going on.  And I’ll tell you what, we need to have an awakening. 

I said, “Well, God, maybe you wanna give this ministry to somebody else because nobody’s gonna receive it in the package that I come in.”  [CHARISMANIA’S EDITORIAL NOTE:  Uh, then why did Todd keep getting all those tattoos over the past couple of years?  Clips of him preaching as recently as three years ago show him to be pretty mainstream-looking, with curly hair and un-inked skin.  So although he did spend some time in jail as a youth for child molestation, it seems like “the package” that Todd comes in today is increasingly and deliberately MORE “edgy” and controversial than it was before his conversion, not less.  I find this rather bizarre, if Todd is truly concerned that the message God wants him to deliver is not going to be well-received because of his looks.]

I said, “You gotta give me the most controversial testimony?  You gotta visit me with all this supernatural stuff?”  I mean, hey, maybe if I was a little more clean-shaven and polished, people would believe me more.  Or maybe the world is looking for something new.  How many of you believe we need something new!  [Crowd cheers, as the implication of Todd’s tone is clearly that we need “something new.”]

The most striking thing about Todd’s teachings here is, of course, that he is claiming to say that God spoke to him directly and told him that believing in Jesus is not the point – people already believe in Jesus – but that God wants to move so that the church will come to believe in the supernatural, in angels and in the prophetic.

As many others have already pointed out, it is impossible to imagine, by any stretch of the imagination, that the God of the Bible would ever make such a statement like that.  It is utterly contrary to everything everywhere in Scripture. 

But aside from that obvious point, something else struck me about this little conversation that Todd claims to have had with God.

Todd says that God told him, “The church doesn’t believe in the supernatural.”

According to Todd’s understanding of what God meant, people in the church don’t believe in angels and the prophetic.

Well, I would beg to differ.  I don’t think there’s a shred of a problem with churchfolk NOT believing in angels.

Go to any Christian bookstore and take a look around.  You will see lots of angel memorabilia and paraphernalia.  Matter of fact, don’t even bother to make it a Christian shop.  Go to ANY store that sells knick-knacks, and there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to pick up something made in the likeness of an angel or decorated with angels.

The truth of the matter is that most people believe in angels.  I was reading the other day that something like 80% of Americans polled believe that angels are real, and 40% go so far as to believe that they have their own personal guardian angel who plays a part in their lives.

I don’t think the angelic hosts of heaven are getting ripped off in the faith and attention departments!

The second part of what Todd thinks “God” meant when “He” supposedly said that people don’t believe in the supernatural is that, “We don’t believe in the prophetic.”

This is the piece that really got me to thinking.

I would like to ask Todd a question about this one.  My question is simply, “Todd, WHY DO YOU THINK that the church doesn’t believe in the prophetic?”

Isn’t it because the majority of us – even those of us who would count ourselves as NOT being cessationists, those of us who would categorize ourselves as Charismatics – see so few examples of real, genuine, Biblical-quality prophecy?

I, for one, used to believe wholeheartedly in just about everything that was presented to me as being “Christian prophecy.”  We used to be part of a church where the pastor had the reputation for being “a true prophet.”  I spent much time reading and re-reading transcripts of the personal “words” that had been delivered by our pastor to my husband.  I thoroughly believed that he was speaking on behalf of God.

I also used to be a regular reader of the Elijah List, which is where, incidentally, I first heard of Todd Bentley several years ago.  Although I never did become a subscriber, I would check their website on a regular basis and read through the most recent prophecies.  I never was able to quite get around my gut instinct that some of them sure sounded wacky…while others were so vague that they were more like the horoscopes you read in the newspaper.  But I made a lot of mental effort to set aside the misgivings that the Elijah List provoked in me, and I would listen respectfully when some friends at our church would breathlessly relay the latest “words” from the likes of Kim Clement and Patricia King (who is one of Todd’s main mentors).

But you know what?  It was my regular reading of the ELIJAH LIST, and its prophets’ dismal accuracy record, that finally turned me off on the so-called “prophetic movement.”  THAT is why I personally have a difficult time believing much of what is supposed to be “prophecy” today.

So, Todd…I think you are woefully mistaken in your assessment about people’s belief in angels, and I think you’ve got it totally backward when it comes to a belief in “the prophetic.”  It’s not that the church needs MORE meetings where they are exposed to MORE talk of angels and prophecy.  Nope. 

There’s already enough belief in angels…far more belief in angels, if you ask me, than in the historic crucified and risen Jesus Christ.

And if there’s no belief in prophecies?  Well, give the church what would REALLY fix this problem.  Those of you who are so inaccurate that you make Agnes Nixon from National Enquirer fame look more “anointed” than you – just need to keep your mouths shut.  Quit distributing all your vague stuff that almost always turns out to be either obviously misguided or downright false.

I know that I, for one, would have a much stronger belief in “the prophetic” if I hadn’t seen so much garbage being presented as the “word of the Lord.”

How do you guys live with yourselves, anyway?  Doesn’t this ever keep you up at night, in a cold sweat because of how wrong you’ve been when you were daring to speak in the holy name of the Lord God Almighty?

I’m telling you, it keeps ME awake at night, worrying on your behalf.  May God have mercy.

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I initially put part of this up as a comment, but I thought it would also make a good post on its own:

Here are some things I can’t help but wonder about…

I don’t understand why comparing an evangelist’s teachings to what the Bible says is “having a religious spirit.”

Or why pragmatism – “Todd Bentley’s ways work, people are getting healed, people are getting delivered” – is more important than searching the Scriptures for what God says.  Why is apparent success viewed as God’s stamp of approval?  Aren’t there plenty of false religions with billions of adherents throughout the world that would be considered successful? 

Or why “signs and wonders” are always assumed to be from God, just because they’re happening in a Christian setting.

Or why people assume that when someone uses the name of Jesus, they actually are referring to the historical Jesus of the Bible.

Or why the people who respond to Todd’s rambling yet vague “altar calls,” during which he invites people to “accept Jesus” – with barely a mention of man’s sinful condition, why we need a Savior in the first place, or how we need to repent and turn from our wickedness – are considered “conversions” and therefore further proof of the supposed “good fruit” of this “outpouring.”

Or why the statement, “I watched Todd on GodTV and I felt God’s presence in the broadcast” can be used as proof that everything is A-OK, and yet my statement of, “When I watch him teach, my spirit tells me that he is contradicting God’s Word” cannot be used as proof.  (If you’re going to say that our FEELINGS can be used as validation, then why are my feelings not as valid as yours?)

Or why the pro-Todd folks do not seem in the least concerned about Jesus’ warnings regarding false teachers.  After all, Jesus gave those instructions initially to His DISCIPLES.  These were the guys who had actually SEEN Him in person…and would, shortly after that discourse, SEE Him die, and then, 3 days later, would SEE Him as the risen Savior (hallelujah, by the way!).  If deception were so obvious, would Jesus have found it necessary to warn His disciples?  Do we somehow believe that we are above them in our ability to detect false teachers?

EDITED TO ADD:  Why is there more focus upon people who were “dead” for 45 minutes (or kept alive on life support) being “raised from the dead” than there is on the Jesus and His true resurrection?

Why are the lyrics of many of the Lakeland “worship” songs about angels, the “presence of the Lord,” the PLACE, rather than the Lord Himself?  Even more importantly, why are these people singing a “worship” song about THEMSELVES?  (And yes, I know that there’s a line at the beginning part of the song that talks about “another reason to live,” and then the singer calls out, “His name is Jesus.”  But the chorus and the general focus of the lyrics are nonetheless about the people themselves.  And…is Jesus “another” reason to live, or, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, is He our ONLY reason to live?  I personally vote for “only.”

EDITED, ONCE MORE, TO ADD PERHAPS WHAT I THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION OF THEM ALL:  Why are people convinced that if they “feel the Lord,” it genuinely IS the Lord?  In false religions (all religions that don’t name Jesus as God’s one and only Son, co-equal with God, and our Savior who died for us), people engage in all kind of religious practices that produce intensely good feelings.  Otherwise, why would people be flocking to things like yoga and meditation?  Most people who meditate, no matter what they are meditating upon, eventually hit that state of mind where they “sense God.”  Do some research, and you’ll stumble across all sorts of accounts of feeling and sensing “God’s” wonderful presence…coming upon people engaging in pagan religious practices…a “God” who often speaks utterly contrary, non-Christian messages to them. 

So just because something FEELS good, that does not mean that it IS good.  Or that it is of God.  Why don’t more Christians understand this?

I’m sure I’ll think of other things that make me wonder.  Maybe you have some questions.  Add yours in a comment below, and I’ll do the same.

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