A lot of people are questioning the so-called Lakeland Revival, and that’s good. It should be questioned, and spirits should be tested. As author Warren Smith (Deceived on Purpose) recently pointed out, people no longer test spirits to see if they are from God, this is a lost art in Christendom today.
But we are told to perform such tests in the Scriptures nevertheless. That there is a testing involved in discernment implies that some will not pass the test; some will fail utterly, and we must acknowledge and if necessary, expose the failures. John tells us to test them (1John 4) because, “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Simply said, there is a spirit of truth and a spirit of error, and anyone who claims to open his mouth for God will espouse one or the other. And in this day of heightened spiritual activity, with so many who claim to speak for God, Christians should be on the alert for deceptions and delusions and have a firm grasp on what constitutes both. We do not ever test the spirits by our emotions, but based on the revealed truths of the Scriptures. Some like to think of Christianity as ‘outcome-based” spirituality, where God grades on a curve and we don’t trash anyone’s self-esteem by telling them their teachings and practices are unbiblical. Christianity is not wired the same as the public school system, but is subject to the laws and commands of the Bible and of a holy God who must be represented properly.
As much as I have been trying to ignore Bentley’s outlandish show that more resembles Wrestlemania than Christendom, I cannot ignore it any longer. I have been around for the Kansas City “Revival”, the Toronto “Blessing” and Brownsville, and it is increasingly difficult to understand why the church needs to be subjected to more and more of the same deception and public humiliation in the name of Christianity. Does anyone else cringe when they see people being duped by so-called apostles and prophets who are simply out to drag Christianity around like a stuffed dog, and separate undiscerning sheep from their money in exchange for a ‘blessing’, ‘revival’, or the promise of apostleship? Outrageous.
Again, the spirits are not tested by emotions. And with all the emoting going on in Lakeland, it’s a sure bet that it follows that spirits are not being tested. After 84 nights of this “revival” there are some who are beginning to question Bentley’s claims and methods, and his doctrine. Now, instead of those who object getting some face time for a dialogue, Bentley’s camp responded by organizing another self-promoting show, for the benefit of whom, I do not know – designed to play a smoke-and-mirrors game of wiggling off the hook and diverting attention away from any criticism.
I guess he thinks he is above any doctrinal inquiries, because they put together a frivolous ceremony and read a statement about the need for “apostolic alignment”. Spiritual chiropractic, or something similar, I am guessing. A group of self-appointed apostles and prophets are claiming that a contingent consisting of Rick Joyner, C Peter Wagner, John Arnott, and others magically made Bentley even more spiritually powerful (just blow off the critics – this will make them happy! They’re easy to appease…) through a commissioning ceremony that supposedly represents “a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world.” Wagner goes on pompously, “I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, you authority…your favor…your influence…your revelation will increase….I also decree that a new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry….a new life force…government will be established to set things in their proper order…” Wagner went on to say that this is the biggest thing to happen to the church in history. How presumptuous on all points. How arrogant. Oh, and that the devil is “shaking in his boots”. Right. More like he is loving every minute of it!
Bentley’s show is one big ego-stroking blow-out. This circus is broadcast all over the globe via GodTV, it is said to go out to over 200 stations, with pictures of him being prayed over and prophesied over night after night. And of course the money flows. “Get out your credit cards…write a check…click on the blue button on the website. ..’you reap what you sow…generosity and teh anointing go hand in hand.’ ”
The St. Petersburg Times reports the following. Test this spirit:
On the 84th night of the revival, the air was charged with collective energy and the floor shook from pounding feet. A spine-tingling roar rose from the crowd. They were calling to God for oil and fire. • Eight thousand people filled the tent. They had come from all around the world, bringing walkers and wheelchairs and chronic pain. They were here for the Florida Outpouring in Lakeland, the hottest thing going in religion these days, and some wore T-shirts that said It’s Hell Without Jesus.
Above them stood their spiritual leader: Todd Bentley, 32, a stout, balding Canadian with flames tattooed on the back of his neck. He was known to boast about healing through violence. He had been videotaped telling stories about kicking a woman in the face, slamming a crippled woman’s legs against the stage and knocking out a man’s tooth. This was done, he claimed, on behalf of the Holy Spirit.
“Kaboom-boom!” he shrieked. “God’s been pouring the gas. And then the match. KABOOM-BOOM!”
Bentley paced the stage as he spoke, head sometimes jiggling like a bobblehead doll. He said his staff was working overtime on a catalog of healings and resurrections, verified by X-ray and blood test.
“The devil is shaking in his boots!” he bellowed, and whatever he said after that was lost in the clamoring of the crowd.
“Your power will increase,” said Peter Wagner, a white-haired minister from Colorado. “Your authority will increase. Your favor will increase.”
Bentley grinned, hands outstretched, head still bobbing, as another pastor anointed him with oil, special revival oil FedExed from Africa, and slew him in the spirit so he fell to the stage.
He was down for nearly 15 minutes. The prophets prophesied: One said Bentley was a tugboat breaking the ice of religious tradition; one spoke of glory issuing forth; one blew wind from her lips and shook her head so fast that her hair was a golden blur.
Bentley twitched as he lay there, occasionally raising his hands in triumph. Early in the fifth hour he stood up and the crowd rushed in to form what resembled a mosh pit. Someone wheeled an old woman on stage and he touched her for a while before she was whisked away.
“Let the wind of your spirit stoke the fire,” Bentley said.
A long-haired man writhed on the stage. When Bentley touched him he began walking like a fiddler crab and nearly knocked the lectern into the pit. Bentley made a wide sweeping motion with both hands, directed toward a thicket of people on stage, and they recoiled. People lined up and he knocked them down, bodies cascading like dominoes. “Bam! Bam! Bam!” He wiped his face with a white cloth. At 11:43 he checked his watch, and then he was gone.
• • •
Fire of God!
Two human walls formed below the stage, and thousands lined up to walk through and be touched by Bentley’s associates. Fire of God! the associates yelled, rubbing heads, pushing shoulders, blowing in faces. People cackled and convulsed.
Ellie Carroll, 45, a breast cancer survivor from Texas, sat and watched. She said the power is real: Sometimes her skin burned, sometimes she felt glued to the floor. Sometimes it seemed as if she was drowning in liquid butterscotch. “When the fire of God comes on you, it is violent,” she said. “It took a while for me to be okay with it.”
———————————————————————————————————————————- Here an opportunity presented itself for this woman (obviously uncomfortable with the god of Todd Bentley) and anyone viewing this meltdown, to test the spirits concerning how God works, how, when and if He heals and whether this clamorous cacophany is genuinely brought to you by the Holy Spirit or perhaps by the author of confusion himself, the devil. Perhaps if more of those getting caught up in the manic and emotional tossing of the masses were to hold all these things up to Scriptures such as John 1, there would be at least some level of discernment going on and this would come to a halt. But I don’t see the Holy Spirit here, I see the flesh. Lots of it.
Something is amiss, and I pray that eyes will be opened before too many sheep are duped and hurt. Next thing you know, there will be more and more people claiming to have been ‘abused’ by the organized church, and we’ll have yet another wave of departure from the faith because of shepherds who have no fear of God.