Monday, May 12, 2008

BAM! (thunk...)

Ive been getting a few emails about the revival in Lakeland Florida, under the auspices of Todd Bam Bam Bentley, wondering what my thoughts were on all of it.

A four-way email conversation between myself and some of my blogging friends has resulted in an impromptu synchro-blog: Brother Maynard (But Is It Revival?), Bill Kinnon (Good Grief, Charlie Brown), and Kingdom Grace (Healing Revival).

DISCLAIMER:

I am not a guru on this matter. Yes, I wrote a book about this kind of stuff, but that doesnt mean Im qualified to pass judgment fairly, impartially, and omnisciently on all things Bentley.

With that disclaimer in place, here’s a few thoughts anyways:

Q: Is the Holy Spirit actually at work in these meetings?

A: I dont doubt it for a second.
But the anointing, presence, or power of the Spirit is never a rubber stamp of approval on the people being used by God. Quick examples: Samson (Judges 13-16), King Saul prophesying (naked!) in spite of himself, or Balaam being hired to curse the Israelites yet ended up prophesying blessing because of the Spirits intervention (Numbers 22-24).

As soon as we equate the manifest, powerful presence of the Spirit with approval of theology or even methodology, were already in trouble. Balaams donkey could give testimony to this.
Q: But what about all those healingscould they be true?

A: Some are probably real.
And probably a significant amount wont be, but it will be hard to tell, because a lot of healing-claiming types will say theyre healed even when they arent. Their belief in the necessity of a positive confession means they have no choice but to say theyre healed, even if theres absolutely zero evidence of it. (Wendy, my sagacious wife, wonders where the line between speaking in faith and bald-faced lying might be.)

And, typically but regrettably, some reports of healing will be exaggerated, embellished, or simply proven later to be complete fabrications. I truly wish, as someone who does believe in the Spirits power to provide physical healing (and having witnessed some genuine healings myself), that this were not so, but unfortunately...
Q: Does Todd Bentley have wacky teachings that are of the incredulous forehead-slapping variety?

A: Do bears fart in the woods?
If you spend even a little time wandering through the bowels of Todds website (later sanitized to remove the most obviously outlandish posts; later still, the entire website has been deleted), you can easily find stuff (like partnering with angels of finance, or claiming that St. Paul told Todd during a visit to Pauls cabin in the third heaven that the book of Hebrews was co-written by Paul and Abraham the Patriarch) that ranges from straining credulity to outright laughable. Dont take my word for ittry reading some of Todds sermon transcripts. Not everything is bogus and out there, but theres an abundance that is.
Q: Must I really cast my discernment under the wheels of the revival bus in order to receive what the Spirit may be genuinely doing down there?

A: Only if the Spirit has decided that the Book that He inspired is no longer relevant.
Ive posted on the famous Bereans (Acts 17:11) before, but it should really be said here again:
  1. The Bereans were eager and teachable, not judgmental, critical, or nit-picky. They didnt want to miss what God was doing (as this newcomer named Paul was telling it).

  2. The Bereans were NOT gullible and naively accepting anything that came their way. They kept the Bible as their source and grid for evaluating what they were hearing, regardless of any oratory skills Paul possessed or how many signs and wonders he may have performed in their midst.
So, I guess I could sum up with: dont assume the worst of everything, but dont let revival fever affect your brain. Dont be paranoid, but dont be gullible. You will not quench the Spirit by checking things by the Book that the Spirit co-authored. Or, to quote a more reputable source than yours truly:
Do not put out the Spirits fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)