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Lakeland revival: A post-Bentley analysis

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When I first wrote this blog, I believe my perspective was off.  I joined the crowd rushing to judgment of not only Todd Bentley, but the Lakeland Revival.  So, I apologize for not spending more time praying about it before posting.  Call me a flip-flopper, but I’ve modified my vie…
By Seth Barnes
When I first wrote this blog, I believe my perspective was off.  I joined the crowd rushing to judgment of not only Todd Bentley, but the Lakeland Revival.  So, I apologize for not spending more time praying about it before posting.  Call me a flip-flopper, but I’ve modified my views and edited the blog.  I still believe we followers of Jesus made many mistakes in our zeal and therefore have much to learn, but I also don’t want to miss God and all he has been doing as I review this.  He has been working through the Lakeland Revival.  So, if you read the blog yesterday, please give it another look today and see if we don’t come closer to the truth with this effort.  I appreciate all the blog comments that helped me to modify my perspective. They appear below. I have left the original blog intact as it appeared yesterday if you’d like to compare the two.
They recently closed the doors on Todd Bentley’s involvement with the Lakeland revival after  Bentley’s announcement that his marriage was on the rocks. It was the kind of ignominious end that many critics had predicted.114308%5B1%5D

If you look at the comments on the blog I wrote about the Lakeland revival, you can see that people had strong opinions.  Many focused their criticisms on Bentley himself.  His flaws were an offense to them.  And, while you can’t fault the hunger for God that many who traveled to Lakeland had, Bentley himself said and did things that were beyond the pale.  His theology and methods were at times wacky and his character couldn’t support the worldwide attention. 

In the wake of this announcement, it’s important that we take a closer look at what happened and ask what can be learned. And in doing so, it’s important to take stock of the many thousands of lives that were impacted.
I had a number of friends who went down to Lakeland to check it out.  They reported good fruit. One of them reported witnessing a dramatic healing. Another experienced what he termed “holy rain” – water inexplicably appearing on him. Others were greatly encouraged and are now growing by leaps and bounds spiritually because of what they experienced.
Still, there was excess.  And to be fair, revivals are often that way – when you make pots on a pottery wheel, a lot of excess clay is going to fly off the wheel.  God doesn’t order up tidy ceremonies when he’s dealing with affairs of the heart. He often seems to be more concerned with our healing than he is with our theology.
With all the positive testimonies, it’s a shame to see it come to such an abrupt end.  We do well to learn from what happened. My initial opinion was more strongly focused around Bentley’s flaws, but since then I’ve moderated my perspective with the understanding that God doesn’t have servants who have fixed their sin issue, so he uses the flawed servants who are available and hungry.  I’ll take a closer look at that issue in tomorrow’s blog.
Whatever else he was, Bentley was hungry and available.  The issue is not, “Did God show up and change lives through what Bentley ignited in Lakeland?”  The answer to that question is “yes.”  You can look at the many testimonies of people who have commented on this or other blogs, or you can talk to those whom you may know personally and you’ll see that their lives have been changed.  I’ve talked to four sets of friends who have been down there and all of them say, “God is in it and it impacted me.  I met God there.”  All of them say that the revival is much bigger than Bentley and to dismiss the revival because of his involvement is to miss the point.  If you’re a critic, I invite you to talk to some of the people whose lives have been impacted before you dismiss the whole thing.
Any criticism of Bentley’s involvement with the Lakeland revival should be focused along the lines of “What can we learn from this so as to better steward something comparable in the future?” To do otherwise is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Initially in answering this question, I quoted liberally from Charisma Magazine editor, J. Lee Grady’s recent column in which he made these three points:
1. Among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. I blame this lack of discernment, partly, on raw zeal for God. We’re spiritual hungry-which can be a good thing. But sometimes, hungry people will eat anything.
2. When Bentley announced to the world that the same angel that ushered in the 1950s healing revival had come to Lakeland, the entire audience should have run for the exits.

Why didn’t anyone correct this error from the pulpit? Godly leaders are supposed to protect the sheep from heresy, not spoon feed deception to them.
3. God TV told people that “any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic.”  The network’s hosts also warned listeners that if they listened to criticism of Bentley, they could lose their healings. This is cultic manipulation at its worst. The Bible tells us that the
Bereans were noble believers because they studied the Scriptures daily
“to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11, NASB). Yet in the
case of Lakeland, honest intellectual inquiry was viewed as a sign of
Just because we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit does not mean we check our brains at the church door.

Grady is right. More accountability would have kept people from discounting the way God has been moving in people’s lives in Lakeland.  And the efforts at bringing accountability and covering may have been half-steps.  Still, we must be careful in reviewing what God has clearly not been doing (the points Grady makes) to simultaneously not discount what he has been doing.  The revival has been quick and it’s been messy, but it’s also been fruitful.
In summary, let me suggest that anyone who wants to join the legions who are ready to bring correction to Todd Bentley in their review of the Lakeland Revival (and in writing this blog, I am in that number) be prepared to also consider the good fruit that he has produced there. To do otherwise is to risk missing God.
Tomorrow’s blog takes this a step further – How God feels about our criticism.
Read Grady’s blog in it’s entirety here.  Read more about Bentley’s recent announcement here.

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