Monday, May 12, 2008

BAM! (thunk...)

I've 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 doesn't mean I'm 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 don't 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 Spirit's intervention (Numbers 22-24).

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

A: Some are probably real.
And probably a significant amount won't be, but it will be hard to tell, because a lot of healing-claiming types will say they're healed even when they aren't. Their belief in the necessity of a "positive confession" means they have no choice but to say they're healed, even if there's 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 Spirit's 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 Todd's 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 Paul's 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. Don't take my word for it -- try reading some of Todd's sermon transcripts. Not everything is bogus and "out there", but there's 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.
I've 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 didn't 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 oratorial skills Paul possessed or how many signs and wonders he may have performed in their midst.
So, I guess I could sum up with: don't assume the worst of everything, but don't let "revival fever" affect your brain. Don't be paranoid, but don't 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 Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

10 comments:

  1. Having seen Todd Bentley perform live in S'toon two years ago I would have to agree with what you've layed out here... that there's some God in it and that there's "something else" in it too. And for only $30 a month you can help support the "something else" too! Or, if your slightly more gullible, you can support "something else" for $80 per month! Or if your heart is completely detached from your head, you can support "something else" for $500 per month!
    Unfortunately it will take quite a bit of screwy stuff going on before people figure out that "the "anointing", presence, or power of the Spirit is never a rubber stamp of approval on the people being used by God.. And some people will never figure it out.

    As far as Todd's wacky doctrine goes... whoa, that's waaaaay out there, far beyond normal. And coming from a guy as known as he is means it's much worse that just some loose cannon out in the back 40 somewhere spouting off. You just have to look at a guy like William Branham to see where that stuff ends up.

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  2. In reference to the pic and Bro Maynards blog post, I cannot believe any Christian of any depth whatsoever would refer (or reefer perhaps in this case?)would even attempt to liken experiencing the Holy Spirit to smoking mary jane.

    Where is the awe, honor, and respect of our Lord in that?

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  3. Well said, Rob. You are right not to pass judgment, but don't undervalue your important wisdom in these matters. As you and I both know, theology is not the only thing at stake here. When these dynamics are not understood, people get seriously hurt, sadly in Christ's name. Thanks!

    Peace,
    Jamie

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  4. HA! i just used Baalam's "DONKEY" as an example in a blog response @ Steve K's site... but i used the King James word usage and probably got flagged for it... for it's in "post - pending" file at the moment! But well said Rob and TKS thanks for the link to this site! It's got me thinking on the "power of the tongue" in what we say... and how we respond to things...
    The NOT quelching the Spirit aspect, as well as, the power of life and death is in our mouth thing. How with even our "good intentioned."... analysis of the topic at hand ... has the potential to release Blessings or a curse. I for one have a way to far critical thought process based in some wounds incurred- so i want to keep submitting those places to HIM and allow healing to manifest.

    I can't help from wondering and pondering - that ... that really is the cause of our speculation at times. Not so much the question... "could God function in this capacity"- but more the raised eyebrow filter based upon the human factor/condition.

    I did have an encounter with Holy Spirit on the matter a few years ago, when i was smoking my fair share of the "religious spirit" pipe! I refer to the "religious spirit" from the "pharisaical" standpoint. Where i was "given a word" - prophetic tense- by someone that has done their "fair share" of judging my heart. I was angry (like my first reaction there!)- because this was from a person whom i didn't have that much respect for.... But the "word" was "life on target" (rather than Dead on target)- so i was "kvetching" at God... and clearly ... what i got was this.....
    "Cathryn when you gave ME permission to speak into your life, you also gave Me to speak by Whom and through Whom.. I choose"-

    all that to say... i don't want to limit based upon the power of past experience or the tyranny of the familiar, how God would want to move through and in someone.
    Blessings to the deepest places.
    Aliyah!
    cathryn

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  5. this is very helpful thanks.

    there is apparently an 'outpouring' taking place in our town here in the uk of dudley.

    todd bentley's crowd have been spending time here and he will be here in person shortly.

    i must say we have yet to see a transformation of the town with most people probably not knowing it's even happening

    very helpful to have some wisdom on this issue.

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  6. Sure Balaam's donkey could give testimony, but would he? Donkeys are notoriously stubborn, which may be just as well. It seems plenty of people are talking out of their ass already. :-)

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  7. Mr Mac :)
    about 10 years ago I found myself in the hot seat.Some conserned friends of mine were trying to convince me to 'just come to the front'. I was getting the willies from the visiting minister and it just..didn't feel right. I was presented with the Balaam's donkey arguement when i found myself saying, "sure God can speak through a donkey, but that doesn't mean we get to be an ass the rest of our lives does it?!" (is there such a thing as a divinely inspired tourettes syndrome?)

    In any case, thank you for writing this article, It made me laugh...and think, mostly about grace and mercy...
    cheers!

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  8. What becomes interesting is that we are told in Deut. 13 that signs and wonders are not evidence of the working of Yahweh through the Holy Spirit but points of heart testing. The chapter clearly opens up with stating that supernatural activities can happen outside of the hand of Yahweh and still be real but not true. The teaching of the sign worker is the test not the sign real or imaginary. I can not tell you how many times I have listened to those charismatic types tell a congregation that the bottom line is speaking in tongues and accompanying strange actions of the one now free. Then proceeds to call everyone up for a spiritual fun house of activity. Our hearts are being tested - where is this happening Florida the land of drought and fires??? Do they need to repent and be revived oh yes but the enemy will excite to turn eyes and ears from truth - to a party spirit!
    Pastor Art

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