June 17, 2008
Defending the Indefensible… Todd Bentley Apologetic
By: Pastor Bill Randles
Recently I received a response to my online article “Todd Bentley…the New Simon Magnus” which directed me to an online paper called “Biblical Reasons to Receive God’s Glory and Give it Away in Power Evangelism”. The paper purports to “give people permission to get on board and fully commit to receiving God’s glory…” to be used in power evangelism. The author, Gary Greig, PHD, is an associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Regent University.
Greig’s paper answers 10 objections to Todd Bentley’s ministry, validating Bentley and the current manifestation of the ‘experienced based Christianity’ that Bentley is a proponent of. In the opening paragraph, Greig admits that he himself was a participant in both the Toronto and Pensacola revival movements.
“Thousands of Christian leaders from almost 40 countries have visited the Lakeland meetings, and millions around the world in 214 nations have watched on live television through God TV and the internet, as multiple lame people have gotten out of their wheelchairs and walked, as blind eyes have received sight, as deaf ears have opened, and as of this writing, up to 20 accounts have been reported of clinically dead people being raised to life through the prayers of people who have visited the Lakeland meetings. The Lakeland meetings not only bear similarities to the Argentine revival of the 1980s-1990s and the Toronto and Brownsville awakenings of the 1990s (each of which I personally witnessed or experienced), the level of God’s power being poured out in the meetings is extraordinary, to say the least. It is clear from the daily broadcasts of the Lakeland meetings that scores of people are putting their faith in Christ and many are being healed from all kinds of diseases and conditions.”
(Greig, Biblical Reasons…pg 2) www.freshfire.ca/UserFiles/File/drGreg_biblicalperspective2008.pdf
Before answering the ten major objections to Bentley, Greig takes the obligatory swipe at “Heresy Hunters” who criticize what they don’t understand. Contrary to appearances, we are assured by professor Greig that,
“Todd Bentley is no fly-by-night Bible teacher, “with an untutored grasp of Christian theology,” as one theology professor erroneously claimed. I beg to differ. I have personally followed Todd’s teachings (on CD’s and on the internet), his books, and his ministry for the last eight years, and I have never found a biblically and theologically untrained evangelist or ministry leader over the past twenty years who accurately interprets and rightly handles the Scriptures as well as Todd Bentley has done in his teachings and writings. “ (ibid)
I won’t point by point answer to all ten of the objections - I don’t necessarily disagree with some of Greig’s assertions. For example his first response is to the objection to miracles, healings, signs and wonders. Are there healings and miracles today? Of course! I am no cessationist! Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!
MANIFESTING AND ‘LOOSING THE SPIRIT’
Objection three in Greg’s paper is listed as:
“The manifestations, shaking, vibrating, laughing, talk of electricity, and weird behavior didn’t happen in the Bible and cannot be from God. Todd Bentley has an obsession with the paranormal.”
Greig answers by correctly pointing out that weirdness in itself isn’t a criterion for rejecting some manifestation as not being of God. He likens Bentley’s countless stories, (of ‘drop kicking’ pastors, being told by God that he has a demon and then manifesting it, being told by God that revival won’t come unless he kicks an old woman in the face as she worships) to Jesus spitting on clay, putting fingers in deaf ears and blowing on faces. Because Jesus, Isaiah and Jeremiah did strange things, this supposedly validates Bentley’s mysticism.
Todd Bentley has been criticized for saying “Bam” or “loosing fireballs” or slapping people or kneeing people, when the Lord leads him to call the power of the Holy Spirit onto people he is praying over, and for displaying otherunusual manifestations like shaking and “vibrating,” when he is under the power of God’s presence.
Why don’t we take the same criticisms to Scripture and test them there: Did Jesus “loose” the power of the Holy Spirit in weird ways? Try rubbing mud spittle on eyeballs (John 9:6), putting fingers in deaf ears (Mark 7:33), spitting on tongues or spitting on eyes (Mark 7:33; 8:23), and breathing or blowing on faces (John 20:22) (Ibid)
But Jesus and the Prophets weren’t doing these things to “Loose the Spirit”- as if the Spirit is bound until the right symbolic actions are performed to “Loose” it. There is no equivalence between Jesus’ signs* and Bentley’s so called “Loosing of the Spirit”- which is basically a pagan concept. The Spirit is none less than God Himself. He cannot be loosed, nor commanded, ”thrown” as a “snowball”- He is not “IT” nor is HE “The Power” or even “The Glory”. He is the Living God.
The Prophets did weird things also because they acted out the drama of the relationship with God and Israel. We are told in Hebrews that in times past God spoke in type through the prophets but has now spoken plainly through His Son.
Not believing Todd Bentley’s various stories of ‘the miraculous’ doesn’t equate to not believing the signs of Jesus and the prophets.
SUPPORTING SPIRITUAL DRUNKENNESS
In the same section Greig “catalogues” the manifestations of God’s power on the human body. I take exception to the category he calls “intoxicated state of mind”. The Toronto influence is evident here, in that he cites as scriptural support for this category Acts 2, Ephesians 5, I Samuel 1 and I Samuel 19.
*Acts 2 is a rebuttal of drunkenness- “…others, mocking said these men are full of new wine…”(Acts 2:13) something which Peter was quick to refute!
*Ephesians 5:18 teaches us not to be drunken or in excess, but rather to” be being filled with the Spirit”, in other words being Spirit filled is not an alternative drunkenness, but the very antithesis of drunkenness! To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be self possessed, sober minded, thankful and submissive.
* I Samuel 1 is the story of Hannah, who was so desperate for a child, praying in the temple, and yet accused by the backslidden and half blind priest of being drunk. Hardly a support for spiritual drunkenness.
*Finally, his reference to I Samuel 19 is an unfortunate reference to Saul, seeking to murder David, and in the process, arrested by God and made naked, prophesying! Doesn’t look like a blessing, I believe that it is rather a judgment!
These are the same misguided defenses for the phenomenon known as spiritual drunkenness that we saw and heard in the Toronto and Pensacola heresies. Greig uses what the mockers said in Acts 2, misuses Paul’s call to true spirituality in Eph 5, (forbidding drunkenness), as well as the mistaken judgment of a corrupt and backslidden priest in I Samuel 1, Eli, to bolster his defense of this “category of manifestation”. The last reference is to the judgment that fell on a murderous King in I Sam 19. I would hardly call falling down publicly, naked and prophesying to be a blessing.
Be advised, I do believe there is a spiritual drunkenness, as I explained in my book, WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING - Putting the Toronto Blessing in Context. Spiritual drunkenness is real, but it is not the blessing Bentley and friends would have you believe, it is instead a very definite judgment of the Lord!
Isa 29:9-10 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.
In Greig’s rebuttal to objection five, which states that,
“We should not be teaching people to interact with angels. Satan masquerades as an angel of light and people can be deceived by demonic angels like Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, was deceived by the deceptive, demonic angel ‘Moroni.’”
Greig admits that deception by interaction with angels is possible and uses Joseph Smith as an example, as well as the Gnostic angelic emanation worshippers as something to avoid. He also cites the warning of Colossians 2.
Col. 2:18-19-- Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. He has not held fast to the head from whom the whole body, supported and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
So far so good- but he then narrows the scope of the caution to those who worship angels, affirming the scriptural warnings in the Revelation and in Judges.
“The worship of angels, involving human prayers and expressions of praise to angels, was a real problem in first century AD popular Judaism. The kind of person Paul is describing here not only worships angels but he is also proud (“puffed up), fleshly, judgmental, and he has lost his focus on Jesus (“he has not held fast to the head”). So it is a mix of pride, judgmentalism, fleshliness, and a lack of focus on Jesus the head, that is associated in this passage with one being deceived by false, demonic angels." (Biblical Reasons…)
Herein lies the problem, I haven’t heard anyone criticize this movement for praying to or praising angels. I believe he misses the point of the criticism and caution. It is the interaction with angels, “Emma”, the angel of the 1940’s healing revival, the angel who “Gifted “ William Branham, these are what are troubling to critics of Bentley and this movement. Assuring us that you don’t worship angels is beside the point. Greig cites discredited and false prophet Bob Jones as a source to validate his position on openness to angelic interaction,
I am convinced that Todd Bentley, Bob Jones, and Rick Joyner, and other leaders in the prophetic movement would agree entirely with theologians like Karl Barth and Calvin, who said that biblically believers must take seriously the fact of angelic presence with believers.42 The Reformer, John Calvin urges us “not to deny that angels were created according to God’s likeness, inasmuch as our highest perfection, as Christ testifies, will be to become like them [Matt. 22:30].”43 And I am convinced that these prophetic leaders also agree with Barth and Calvin, cautioning against giving angels attention for their own sake without focusing on Jesus, “for there is no ‘special, autonomous or abstract experience of angels in and for themselves,’”44 and because, as Cambridge University astronomer and evangelical theologian, Dr. Lawrence Osborn, says, true Christian encounter with an angel will always “direct us to God”45 rather than directing us to focus on angels, on saints, on self, or on man. (Ibid)
Once again, I am no cessationist, I have no problem with angels, I believe in them and their activity. Furthermore I also believe that no man should worship or pray to angels and that if an angelic encounter occurs, a holy angel would direct people to the only True God. But why do we have to believe in Emma? Why should we traffic with William Branham’s angel? A man who taught that the “doctrine of the Trinity was of the Devil”, that Satan and Eve had sex, and Cain was the literal result? When Branham was asked if he did his miracles by the Holy Spirit, he denied it , saying “I do them by my Angel”. (Kurt Koch, Occult Bondage and Deliverance, p. 54 Kregel )
This is from Mike Oppenheimer of “Let us Reason” ministries article entitled” When the Angel Came” -
Bentley says: “Then on December 5, 2000 an angel appeared to me and said he was the angel that appeared to me in April 1998 (before the Lord Jesus Christ came to me in the kitchen). He said that the day he came to me in 1998 was the day he was assigned to me. This time (on December 5th) the angel said, “I am the angel that has been assigned to your life. I am a healing angel . . . You are going to take miracles, signs and wonders around the world.”
“I was with William Branham” (the Voice of Healing movement), the angel said. He told me about William Branham’s angelic encounter in 1946. Two years later the Voice of Healing was born there was a revival.”
Why would an evangelist be told to preach angels, rather than Jesus? Let Bentley explain it in his own words…
“I’m releasing it back to where it all started in 1948 I’m releasing it back.” Y’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 got to get the people to believe in the angel. I said, God why do I want the people to believe in the angel instead 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 what we don’t believe in is the supernatural we don’t believe in angels, we don’t believe in the prophetic.” healtheland.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/todd-bentley-jesus-christ-is-not-supernatural-but-angels-are/
THE REAL OBJECTIONS GO UNANSWERED
My biggest problems with Todd Bentley have to do with who his own self-confessed influences are. William Branham, Bob Jones and Paul Cain among others. How could someone who emulates Branham be anything but false? This isn’t about whether or not there are miracles, or angels, or whether or not people “believe in the power of God”. Bentley in no way distances himself from Branham, he actually believes He is being visited by the angelic author of the 1940’s healing revival.
Bob Jones, Bentley’s elder prophet mentor, is a huge problem. This false prophet taught that there would come a holy bloodline of miracle workers -
I have called the best of every bloodline in earth unto this generation... I have elected to bring them forth in this generation... the elect generation... even the bloodline of Paul... of David... of Peter, James and John... They will even be superior to them in heart, stature and love for me'...Your children will possess the spirit without measure... They will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before... coming into the divine nature of Jesus Christ... a Church that has reached the full maturity of the Godman! This generation... is going to see the beginning of this world wide new order.
Bob Jones, Vineyard Prophecy Conference, 1989, as cited in "The New Order," Jewel van der Merwe, p.7.
This is just one of his many false teachings and prophesies. Jones had to leave the ministry after a scandal involving fondling woman who came to him for prophetic counseling! Todd Bentley ministers with Jones and regards him as a “father in the faith”. These are the fruits we should judge by, not to mention the roots of this false ministry. He was reinstated after a “Word” from another false prophet and Bentley associate, Rick Joyner.
For these reasons alone, may no one be taken in by this apologetic, regardless of the obvious credentials and experience of professor Grieg. Of course there are those who are indeed looking for “permission to jump on board” this heretical movement, but I am assured that all who are really “of the Truth will hear Jesus’ voice”. Grace and Peace!
*(Which pointed to ultimate realities- i.e. healing of blindness pointing to Israel’s need of sight, leprosy to her need of cleansing, making clay to the fact that Jesus is the creator-etc.)