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Lakeland revival: Questions & Answers

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.   If you look at the comments on the blog I wrote about the …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
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.
 

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.  To that
end, J. Lee Grady gives us the following assessment in his blog.  I excerpt some of it below:
Why did so many people flock to Lakeland from around the world
to rally behind an evangelist who had serious credibility issues from
the beginning?

 
To put it bluntly, we’re just plain gullible.
 
From the first week of the Lakeland revival, many discerning Christians
raised questions about Bentley’s beliefs and practices. They felt
uneasy when he said he talked to an angel in his hotel room. They
sensed something amiss when he wore a T-shirt with a skeleton on it.
They wondered why a man of God would cover himself with tattoos. They
were horrified when they heard him describe how he tackled a man and
knocked his tooth out during prayer.
 
But 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.
 
Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs
and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with
the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our
adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things.
It’s way past time for us to grow up.
 
Why didn’t anyone in Lakeland denounce the favorable comments Bentley made about William Branham?

 
This one baffles me. 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. Only God knows how far this poison traveled from Lakeland to take
root elsewhere. May God forgive us for allowing His Word to be so
flippantly contaminated.
 
A prominent Pentecostal evangelist called me this week after Bentley’s
news hit the fan. He said to me: “I’m now convinced that a large
segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he
shows up because they have no discernment.” Ouch. Hopefully we’ll learn
our lesson this time and apply the necessary caution when an imposter
shows up.
 
Why did God TV tell people that “any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic”?
 
This ridiculous statement was actually made on one of God TV’s
pre-shows. In fact, 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
weakness. People were expected to jump first and then open their eyes.
 
Just because we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit does not mean
we check our brains at the church door. We are commanded to test the
spirits. Jesus wants us to love Him with our hearts and our minds.
Read Grady’s blog in it’s entirety here.  Read more about Bentley’s recent announcement here.

Comment

  • I can see that you are feeling bad about “judging” the Lakeland revival and Todd Bentley. It is important to be as kind as possible and not to overstate our case. However, was it right to say that God cares more about our healing than our theology? What are you saying? I would rather go to heaven sick than go to hell well. How can healing be more important than believing in God and His Son Jesus? The Bible says that in the last days false prophets will do signs and very real miracles in Jesus’ name and if possible deceive the very elect. So we are to test the spirits (1 John). Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good. I do believe that God heals today and moves in miraculous ways, but it is not necessary to choose healing over the truth of the gospel. God isn’t asking us to make a choice between His truth and His healing. That’s a man-made idea. His truth sets us free.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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