| Greetings in Christ Jesus, |
Shortly after the first Be Alert! was published and sent regarding the so-called revival taking place in Lakeland, Florida an email was generated from Ignited Church, the church hosting the nightly meetings with Todd Bentley. This email (first article below) asks one to visit an apologetic regarding the "Florida Outpouring" to answer questions and criticisms one might have. "The Truth" is the name that appeared in the subject line of this email.
I do believe although I am not certain for sure, that other ministries that have spoken out against the unscriptural practices taking place in Lakeland have received this same email response.
Todd Bentley had also sent out his own apologetic to defend himself in these matters.
Although not reproduced in this alert, provided are the corresponding links to these two articles below.
"I did not send these prophets,
But they ran.
I did not speak to them,
But they prophesied.
"But if they had stood in My council,
Then they would have announced My words to My people,
And would have turned them back from their evil way
And from the evil of their deeds.
"I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy falsely in My name, saying, `I had a dream, I had a dream!' "How long? Is there anything in the hearts of the prophets who prophesy falsehood, even these prophets of the deception of their own heart, who intend to make My people forget My name by their dreams which they relate to one another, just as their fathers forgot My name because of Baal? "The prophet who has a dream may relate his dream, but let him who has My word speak My word in truth. What does straw have in common with grain?" declares the LORD.
"Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
2 Peter 2:1-3
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
|The Truth [?] |
Email - Florida Outpouring - email@example.com - Received June 17, 2008
Ed Note: Inclusion of this response from the Florida Outpouring is in no way a endorsement or change in view on the practices taking place in Lakeland or those of the same kind. This is only included to give context to the articles contained in this alert. Please note that even though the name of the email received from the Florida Outpouring is "The Truth" it is not that, but a deception of a very high order.
You might want to vist freshfire.ca and click on: Lifting Jesus High, Bringing Biblical Light to your Questions about the Florida Outpouring and Todd Bentley. It includes a PDF download of a booklet by Dr. Gary S. Greig, PhD., a former Associate Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Regent University School of Divinity, and Senior Editor, Theology and Acquisitions for the Regal Publishing Group. In his letter, this biblical scholar and theologian shared that the Lord had healed him of sleep apnea while entering into worship while watching a telecast of the Lakeland Outpouring. He wrote an independent theological witness to help as many leaders and believers as possible understand that the Lakeland outpouring is from God. That by writing this theological response to questions and criticisms in: Biblical Reasons to Receive God's Glory and Give it Away in Power Evangelism, that as many as possible would receive "biblical permission" to get on board and fully commit to receiving the Lord's glory and anointing, and to give it away in power evangelism. This biblical based booket responds to most issues mentioned in your e-mail for a biblical perspective.
Lifting Jesus High!
Bringing Biblical Light to Your Questions
about the Lakeland Outpouring & Todd Bentley
By Todd Bentley - See Here
A Theological Response to Criticism of the Lakeland Outpouring and Todd Bentley
BIBLICAL REASONS TO RECEIVE GOD'S GLORY AND GIVE IT AWAY IN POWER EVANGELISM
Dr. Gary S. Greig, PhD - See PDF doc here
| A REVIEW OF GARY S. GREIG'S PSEUDO-SCHOLARLY APOLOGETIC |
FOR THE UNBIBLICAL ANTICS OF TODD BENLEY AND THE LAKELAND, FLORIDA SEQUEL TO THE FAILED REVIVALS OF KANSAS CITY, TORONTO, AND PENSACOLA
J. JACOB PRASCH
Faculty of Hebrew, Judaism and Judeo Christian Hermeneutics
Midland Bible College and Divinity School, University of Wales, UK
Jacob Prasch is the author of several books and holds a non-cessationist pneumatology. He believes in the ongoing operation of charismatic gifts as defined and practiced biblically, but firmly rejects the alleged "revivals" of Lakeland, Toronto, Brownsville, and Pensacola as carnal and demonically-influenced counterfeits of biblical charismata.
SCHOLARSHIP AND REALITY
Although my initial academic background was in science, I entered the world of theology at Cambridge University and London Bible College/London School of Theology. This was after serving a number of years as a lay missionary in Israel prior to ordination. In the theological jungle of undergraduate and postgraduate theological and divinity studies and research I learned much about what is indeed a virtual game and how the game is played.
High academic theology undertaken from a conservative evangelical perspective was oriented toward the refutation of liberal higher critical presuppositions which were in essence preconceived conjecture treated as fact by the liberal dominated academic establishment. These ranged from Wellhausen's theory of Penteteuchal sources, to a priori Bultmarian dismissal of the supernatural, to imaginative speculations of Deutero and Trito Isaiah. It was, in truth, largely 19th-century German rationalism predicated on a Hegelian dialectic worldview (often published in German, which I somewhat coped with through my knowledge of Yiddish and scientific German from university).
As an American-born Israeli, I discovered that a good British honors degree in theology had little to do with theology in any doctrinal sense. It was, in fact, a credential in history and literature where Sitz im Leben and Heilsgischichte would be studied in the original Greek and Hebrew languages (in which I would be additionally helped by my ability to speak modern Hebrew). These were viewed through the prism of commentary by German scholars and the later German, British, and American scholars who endlessly debated the merits and flaws of one hypothesis after another. The tirades were relentless. A hypothesis was treated as a postulate, and a postulate as a factual maxim. Coming into theology from a mission field, the second thing I discovered was a discontinuum between the realities of missiological praxis and the semi-ethereal sphere of an academic theology detached from the actual challenges and needs of the ministry. It was not, "Feed my sheep," but rather the practice of certain academics writing journal articles addressed to each other that filtered down to the average Christian in the pew as irrelevant. Seminaries and divinity faculties were fantastic at answering questions no one was asking.
It was enlightening to arrive at the conclusion of how many successful theological scholars were in fact merely failed preachers, fulfilling the old adage, "those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Those who cannot deliver the goods in the pulpit seek justification for their failed professional existence in the lecture theatre.
Against this there were those like Francis Schaeffer, Peter Cotterell, C.S. Lewis, Walter Kaiser, John Walvoord, Michael Griffiths, George Beasley Murray, I. Howard Marshal, D.A. Carson, and some others who could bridge the gap between the academic world and the real one. Unfortunately, an absurd alternative emerged with the church growth movement out of Fuller Theological Seminary where the ideas of Donald MacGavin were altered by C. Peter Wagner and the late John Wimber. Here, mission became programmatic with Wagner, and theology became experiential with Wimber. Scripture is reinterpreted not exegetically but eisegetically to fit one's presuppositions. Moreover, market research determines the way in which the Gospel is packaged as a consumer product for a postmodern consumerist society. Many of the techniques pioneered by Wagner were not even logically consistent. He would observe the large church growth in Latin American Pentecostalism and attempt to replicate it in the developed world. In so doing, he ignored the fact that in Latin America, growth was dominated by a massive exodus from a Roman Catholicism rejected as heretical, while Wagner and Wimber were ultra-ecumenical, accepting Roman Catholicism as biblically Christian.
The result of these approaches has largely been "transfer growth," rather than genuine growth in terms of salvation and discipleship.
Moreover, Fuller Theological Seminary was at the forefront of transforming Christianity by psychologizing it in a hybrid of contradicting biblical and the non-quantitative pseudo-science of secular psychology-based worldviews. They artificially harmonized the two by relabeling pure psychology with Christian jargon and redefining biblical terminology as pure psychology.
Much of the unscriptural deception in the contemporary churches (from the purpose-driven agenda of Rick Warren, to the Willow Creek marketing of Bill Hybels, to the New Age postmodernism masquerading as Christianity in the Emergent Church of Brian McLaren and Dan Kimball) have major components of their roots in unbiblical and often illogical models of mission born out of the matrix of Fuller Seminary and C. Peter Wagner. It is not surprising, therefore, that the supposed "scholarly" defender of the Lakeland fiasco, Gary S. Greig (former associate professor at Regents University School of Divinity), is from Fuller and is a promoter of C. Peter Wagner.
Indeed, as the preceding counterfeit revivals of Kansas City (Mike Bickel, Paul Cain, Bob Jones), Toronto (John Arnott, Rodney Howard-Browne, Kenneth Copeland), and Pensacola (John Kilpatrick, Michael Brown) failed to result in any actual revivals in the biblical and historical sense, the Lakeland, Florida, clone is more of the same. In short, it is simply transfer growth where those who have disposed of their Bibles, their discernment, and their brains, flock to the next freak show.
Coming into theology from quantitative science, another thing I discovered in popular academic theology was that, despite its scientific pretences, it was not popularly scientific in its methodology. Its proponents are non-scientists pretending to be scientific, very much like Darwinists - refusing to weigh evidence contrary to their presuppositions or even allowing the admission of such evidence into their forums or symposiums.
Like the discrediting of Hegelian Dialectic Materialism that undergirded the Soviet when the Iron Curtain collapsed under the pressure of its own economic implausibility, the ramifications of Qumran and other archaeological discoveries (such as the Theisson fragment, and the erosion of late-date Gospel authorship arguments by scholarship demonstrating an acute familiarity with Second Temple Period Judaism), have resulted in the old liberal higher-critical presupposition increasingly being recognized as a corpse kept alive by the artificial life support of academic politics.
As Don Cupitt admits, the only choice in the future will be between postmodernism and what he derogatorily denounces as "fundamentalism." Unfortunately, we see ostensible Evangelicals such as the theocratic hooligans of the Emergent Church, and supposed scholars like Gary S. Greig, going the way of postmodernism.
THE WAY THE GAME IS PLAYED
Academic theology is in essence a game, and always has been. As with any game, it has rules. Football may seem utterly chaotic when a ball is in play. Yet, as long as the disorganized chaos, tactical mistakes, and pandemonium all transpire within the parameters of the rules, it is still regarded as a valid game.
When one comprehends the Judaic background of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:28-29, one understands that Jesus cut through the nuances and man-made protocols of such rules which functioned within the chalakik framework of Pilpul - a complex style of legalistic rabbinic argumentation that actually exists among ultra-orthodox Jews even today. Jesus achieved this by interpreting the letter of the Torah in light of the spirit of the Torah.
In Umberto Ecco's epic The Name of the Rose, the Aristotelian rules of theological discourse in the Dark Ages are brilliantly demonstrated by the author. The rules may change, but the game is the same. In essence, however absurd, the format and not the substance is presented as justification of the credibility of the argument. It is not the plausibility of the thesis itself that necessarily determines its academic viability. Rather, it must merely be published in a well-footnoted format with a text focused on the Hebrew and/or grammatical syntax of the biblical textual citations, and an interaction with other scholarly and patristic opinion supportive of the author's case. The cited opinion may be selective and not comprehensive, as long as it is properly formatted, documented, and footnoted. It then falls to a rival academic opinion to challenge the thesis on the basis of other citations. If one is not trained in academic theology (or even if one is, but realizes how futile and irrelevant 85% of the critiqued article may be), one is overwhelmed by it. It is much the same as a legal contract worded and formatted to be incomprehensible to the signatory in all of its detailed implications. One must have one's own attorneys scrutinize the documents. If one were not a lawyer, one by design would be overwhelmed and intimidated by the content.
This is the game, and it is the game that Gary S. Greig plays.
Gary Greig endeavors to ascribe credence to something with no credibility. He does so in a scholarly format by packaging his defense in an elongated, semi-academic apologetic supportive of the ludicrous and biblically untenable, even though the non-comprehensive core of his case shows it in substance to be void of substance.
Greig avoids the central issues and engages in a series of polemics in opposition to Lakeland's critics. His tactic is to employ convoluted distortions of biblical texts and misrepresentations of the source reasons for those critics' objections.
The silly game Greig plays is a familiar one. It is the same game played with the same rules used by liberal higher critical theologians (including Barbara Thiering and the Jesus Seminar) to portray their fanciful yet bogus speculations as factual. It is in fact the identical game played by apologists for Roman Catholicism who are driven against context, logic, rules of exegesis, and Greek grammar and vocabulary to argue for a regal papacy based on Matthew 16.
Not least of all, Greig's methodology resembles those of FARMS (Facility for Ancient Manuscript Research), the Mormon apologetic society, in its hideous efforts to make an academic case for the Book of Mormon as equal with the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.
In all these instances, and with Gary Greig, credibility is not found in the facts (or lack of them), but in the format. As long as the case is made within the parameters of the rules and properly formatted, the content of argument is allowed to stand until and unless it is countered by another academic article irrespective of how groundless the position may be in itself. Moreover, because of the nature of the game, it is almost impossible to bury a faulty argument; it all becomes a matter of "varying scholarly opinion," even when the flawed thesis is factually debunked.
The manner in which the leaders at Lakeland are using Gary Greig's article reveals that they are betting on its being read mainly by non-academics untrained in biblical languages and academic theology - not to say unversed in Scripture itself. It will therefore carry scholarly credibility just because it employs the rules of scholarship. In fact, however, from an academic perspective, the article is not well written; the level of scholarly argumentation is quite poor.
Thus, Greig's ploy becomes not only a mere game, but also a silly one at that. Having read countless academic articles, monograms, and books (and having written a number of academic papers myself), it is my opinion that it is a game that Greig frankly does not play very well (he would be torn to pieces at a formal symposium). But it is nonetheless the game he plays.
THE FACTS AND THE CAMOUFLAGE
The first pillar of Gary Greig's apologetic reverses what the Scriptures teach about "fruit" as the basis of evaluating whether one is of God or not, with what Scripture identifies as disdeskein (doctrinal teaching) as a basis of evaluation. He deceives others and himself by reversing the two (2 Timothy 3:13).
Biblically, we judge people by their fruit (the fruit of the Holy Spirit) but we judge teaching, revelations, and praxis by contrasting them with scriptural dogma.
Greig attempts to circumvent evaluation of revelation and praxis by making "fruit" the criterion by which the effect is evaluated. This is low-grade, pseudo-academic fraud that would see Greig demolished in the first round of a properly monitored theological debate in the presence of independent scholarly opinion.
Conversely, Greig attempts to circumvent examining the "fruit" of Todd Bentley's personal life by elongated, semi-academic arguments avoiding the fundamental issue that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is ekreitei, or "self-control" (Galatians 5:23; Titus 1:8), and not the lack of it as observed in the Lakeland clone of Toronto and Pensacola. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is also prautas, or "gentleness" (Galatians 5: 23). Gentleness is not evident in Todd Bentley's claim that the Lord told him to beat a woman's legs on the ground like a baseball bat, or his knocking out a small Chinese gentleman's teeth.
Using a rabbinic style of argumentation, Paul instructs the Galatian brethren to identify what the true karpas, or "fruit" of the Holy Spirit is by first defining what it is not, and then contrasting the two. The heresy (airasei - engendering division on the basis of false doctrine) and drunken-style revelling (methai komoi) imitated at Toronto and Pensacola are deeds of the flesh (erga tas sarkos) revealed in Galatians as mutually exclusive to the genuine fruit of the Spirit. Those practicing such things will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Galatians 5:21).
Instead of judging Bentley by the fruit of the Spirit (or his lack of it), and instead of judging by Scripture the doctrinal teachings, alleged revelations, and praxis, Greig attempts rather to mislead his readers by persuading them to test these things by a diatribe of lame academic arguments packaged in pseudo-scholarly rhetoric aimed, not at the actual issue, but at avoidance of the issue. His boots are on the wrong feet. Bentley does not exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit, nor are his doctrines, alleged revelations, and praxis scriptural.
Greig ignores the genesis of Lakeland, the fruit in the lives of Bentley's claimed mentors, and those mentors' doctrines.
For example, Todd Bentley is a convicted homosexual pedophile imprisoned for molesting a seven-year-old boy, who now professes to have been "born again." He claims to have had physical visitations from Jesus personally, as well as from a female angel named "Emma." After supposedly becoming a Christian, he had his body covered with a gross array of tattoos. Apart from his criminal history as a convicted homosexual child molester in the days before he says he was a Christian, the histories of sexual immorality and sexual perversion by his mentors are in no sense "pre-Christian."
Bob Jones was found to be a sexual predator with vulnerable women whom he would have strip naked and sexually fondle them, and then would "prophesy over them." Paul Cain is an alcoholic and homosexual. This deranged soul, described by his pastor Mike Bickel and the late John Wimber, as "the best wine saved for last," has never been anything other than a drunken, homosexual pervert. Yet, these publicly proven sexually immoral perverts are Todd Bentley's extolled heroes and role models.
Greig also preaches regularly at Jack Hayford's Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, home congregation of TBN founder Paul Crouch. Crouch was exposed three days running on the front page of the Los Angeles Times for paying $425,000 in hush money in a wrongful dismissal settlement with a secrecy clause containing allegations of Crouch's homosexuality. The public question remains: Who would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in hush money in a legal settlement involving untrue charges of sexual perversion?
Given his heretical doctrine, unbiblical practices, and the massive collection of tattoos (suggested by many as demonic) with which he covered himself after becoming a Christian, it is not clear to many believers if Todd Bentley is, or ever was, a regenerate Christian. Particularly since, he lacks the fruit of the Spirit, but demonstrates abundant deeds of the flesh. What is legally documented and beyond any dispute, however, is that he is a criminally convicted homosexual child molester imprisoned for unnatural acts with a small boy. Even if Bentley did indeed become a saved Christian at a later point and his homosexual sex crimes against a seven-year-old happened before he became a Christian, the sexual immorality and perversion of his mentors from Kansas City are certainly not. Rather, they are perversions practiced by supposedly Christian "prophets."
Academic technique demands not a selective, but a comprehensive defense in a scholarly apologetic. As there is no defense, Gary S. Greig simply avoids the issue. He pretends to have published a scholarly apologetic when, in fact, he has not. His non-comprehensive defense of Todd Bentley is a conspicuously failed effort to offer a preposterous brand of circumlocution that no real academic would ever swallow in a scholarly forum, no matter what format he published it.
AN ACADEMIC FRAUD
An authentic scholarly approach to any issue requires an abandonment of ad homonym literary strategies seeking to circumvent an issue by character assault on the personality. Greig, however, does not play by the accepted rules of academic procedure. We note his unfortunate (dare we say, "idiotic") misapplication of the term, "heresy hunters" - a term without doubt borrowed from his colleague Jack Hayford, the pastor of TBN's Jan and Paul Crouch. The Crouches and TBN have given vent to every heretical money preacher prostituting the Word of God, and virtually every pseudo-Christian false prophet imaginable.
In an article defending the Crouches and figures like Oral Roberts (who, in 1987 announced that God told him he would "call him home" unless he raised $8 million by that March), Hayford absurdly slandered as "witch hunters" the critics of such debauchery and religious con artistry. In truth, these money preachers have invaded millions of homes through prime-time TV, discrediting the Gospel and the Body of Christ in the eyes of the fallen secular world. In addition, no such "hunt" ever took place. When money-grubbing apostasy broadcast internationally on the open-air waves, no one needs to hunt for the wolves; they are openly manifested. It is ludicrous to suggest otherwise.
Even when responding to an ostensibly scholarly paper, I prefer to eschew cheap polemics designed to evade issues by targeting personalities. Greig, however, does not. Hence, I will respond on his terms employing his rules.
Whether Hayford is a liar or a moron is a judgment we will leave to God, but Greig is an academic who in theory ought to know better. On this basis alone, there will be those who may find him both a moron and a liar. Given his flawed technique, I personally regard him as an academic fraud.
Most ludicrous in Greig's postulated defense of Todd Bentley is the huge amount of pointless space he devotes to a seemingly scholarly/biblical defense of charismatic and Pentecostal phenomena a la Lakeland. Here he goes on, paragraph-after-paragraph, with patristic citations of Greek texts in an attempt to create the illusion that opposition to Todd Bentley and Lakeland is mere cessationist pneumatology and an anti-charismata or anti-Pentecostal reaction. There is no euphemism for the hideous. This can be only rank dishonesty, pure idiocy, or a hybrid of the two.
Many, if not a majority, of the most outspoken critics of Bentley and Lakeland are themselves recognized Pentecostals and charismatics, including Michael Oppenheimer, Philip Powell (former General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, Australia), Asian Pentecostal evangelist to Hindus, Tom Chacko (who warns of the demonic Hinduistic nature of Toronto, Pensacola, and Lakeland manifestations), and a wide host of others. In fact, at least one Assemblies of God executive has issued a very thinly-veiled caveat concerning Lakeland. Thus, the largest portion of Greig's paper is too silly to warrant serious comment, given its ridiculously superfluous nature.
Other features in Greig's paper are the sources found in his footnote/endnote citations. Lacking any biblical or even patristic support for a female angel, Greig makes reference to Rambam (Rabbi Moses Maimonides). Rambam is the Middle-Ages sage who Aristotelianized Judaism, rejected the miraculous nature of Old Testament supernatural events as logically explicable, and reversed the meaning of the Hebrew terms 'achad' and 'yachid' in order to dissuade Jewry from belief in a divine tri-unity and divine Messiah.
I write as a Hebrew-speaking evangelist to the Jews, coming from a Jewish Israeli family and possessing an academic knowledge of Judaism certified by Cambridge University. I matriculated at Hebrew University before Bible College, seminary, and post-graduate studies in Judaism. As such, I find it odd that Greig would lack a better reference than a rabbi who held to an anti supernaturalist, rationalist religious philosophy. This, in order to lend credence to contemporary events at Lakeland which Greig wishes to validate as supernatural. Rambam did not even believe in divine intervention in human affairs.
One "Christian" scholar to whom Greig refers is JDG Dunn, a liberal Evangelical (which his many conservative Evangelical opponents see as a contradiction in terms) popularly recognized among Evangelical scholars as holding heterodox views outside the parameters of biblical orthodoxy.
All this demonstrates that Greig's position fundamentally lacks support from mainstream Evangelical scholarship.
Lakeland promotes itself as the third-wave sequel to the nearly identical experiences that surfaced in Toronto and Pensacola. Once again, in his incomprehensive attempt to defend Todd Bentley and Lakeland, Greig continues his essential practice: if you can't defend it, ignore it and launch into a prolonged treatise on tangent, or even irrelevant, issues. Predictably, Greig takes no note of the fact that the Toronto and Pensacola predecessors of Lakeland categorically failed to deliver the promised revival. Large numbers of souls saved and discipled, a radical return to Scripture, the powers of darkness being thrown back - all of which have characterized past historical revivals - failed to emerge from the fiascos in Toronto and Pensacola. The former fizzled; the latter ended in a split preceded by financial scandal.
Such failed results were not only predictable, but also unavoidable, given that biblically and historically every revival has commenced with people weeping; none has ever been the result of people laughing. Lakeland is no different, and will be no different. Biblically, nissim v'niflaot - signs and wonders follow the preaching of repentance; they are never the focus. Jesus warned us that it is instead a "wicked and an adulterous generation" that seeks a sign. It is just such wickedness and spiritual adultery (James 4:4) condemned by Christ that Greig seeks to defend. Even if the fact that the Arnold Palmer Hospital firmly denied the alleged resurrections at Lakeland, and the preponderance of documented, independent medical evidence against the alleged healings are ignored, the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:22-23 cannot be ignored.
If Lakeland is the sequel to the demonstrably failed counterfeit revivals of Toronto and Pensacola (with the same manner of massive hype and big talk), Kansas City was its prequel.
When Todd Bentley's Branhamite father figures (the sexually-perverted Kansas City false prophets) came to London in August of 1990, they issued incredible predictions of Latter Rain/Manifest Sons-style revival for October of that year. Their biblical pretext was a solidly Gnostic reinterpretation of Joel's Army from the Book of Joel. In its exegetical context, the locust army was the Babylonian invasions of Nebuchadnezzar, pre-figurative of the demon cohorts of hell to be unleashed eschatologically in Revelation 9. The text of Joel states unequivocally that this army is to be destroyed by YHWH (Joel 2:2). Yet led by Mike Bickel and John Wimber, the Kansas City false prophets (to whom Todd Bentley looks as role models) taught their cheering devotees from Holy Trinity Brompton, the Elim movement, and the Restoration movement, that this was the "Triumphant Church." In truth, it was a warped amalgam of post-millennial Reconstructionist mayhem combined with lunatic fringe charismania.
As in Toronto and Pensacola, the promised revival never came.
Since the sexually perverted Kansas City false prophets wreaked their havoc in Britain in 1990, more mosques than churches have been built there. As well, the Mormon cult has become the fastest growing "Christian" sect, and the avalanche of immorality has spiraled out of control. The Church of England alone has consistently lost 1,000 attendees per week and is now performing same-sex marriages by and for its homosexual clergy.
After the freak shows in Kansas City, Toronto, and Pensacola were over, no promised revival ever transpired. For the precise same reasons, we may rest absolutely assured that the same will prove true of Lakeland. It is just not scriptural. Therefore it is demonstrably not of God. Gary Greig's supposed scholarly defense of what Pentecostal Pastor Bill Randles calls, "the indefensible," will not, and cannot, alter that reality.
Guy Chevreau, an apologist for the Toronto experience, became so desperate in his effort to write an apologetic defense of that failed revival when he authored Catch the Fire he visibly lied. Misquoting from Daniel Roland's book, The Great Revival, Chevreau sought to validate the Toronto drunken-style hysterics by citing similar effects of John Wesley's Methodist Revivals. A mere reading of the reference on the cited page, however, shows that Wesley condemned and outlawed such displays as demonic. At war against truth, apologists for error are inevitably compelled to lie.
Gary S. Grieg is far from the first academic to attempt a scholarly defense of such lunacy. Jack Deere, a former Dallas Seminary professor, issued what he admitted was a problematic defense of the Gnostic hermeneutics of the Kansas City false prophets' outlandish distortion of "Joel's Army." The sexual perversion of Bob Jones and the homosexuality and alcoholism of Paul Cain eventually became matters of public record.
In his attempted defense of Promise Keepers, former Dallas Seminary professor Robert Hicks authored his Masculine Journey, portraying Jesus Christ as the quintessential phallic male tempted to have sex with other men. Hicks taught a "right of passage" wherein Christian parents should "shake their children's hand and congratulate the next generation for being human" when they become drunk, stoned on drugs, or have lost their virginity outside of holy wedlock.
Michael Brown, a Hebrew linguist (who cannot even speak Hebrew, I discovered when I confronted him by telephone), wrote his Let No One Deceive You defense of the failed "revival" at Brownsville Assemblies of God in Pensacola. After the financial scandals published in newspapers, the church experienced an ugly split with Brown leaving on very hostile terms. Of course, the revival Brown promised never transpired.
Chevreau aside, all of these were academics - supposedly scholarly figures who published what were claimed to be credible defenses of what, in each case, proved to be a failed revival that never came about. None of them was ever vindicated. Rather, each has been indicted by history for their failure in attempting to defend the indefensible.
Gary S. Greig is nothing more than more of the same. He is the next crony for the spirit of error that has resided in the character of his would-be academic predecessors. Their efforts have become nothing more than a sorry saga of serial stupidity in a debunked charade masquerading as charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity.
Lakeland is not biblically charismatic, not biblically Pentecostal, and not biblically Christian. Neither is Gary S. Greig's "scholarly" defense of what cannot be either biblically or even rationally defended.
|Defending the Indefensible. . . Todd Bentley Apologetic |
BELIEVERS IN GRACE MINISTRIES - By Pastor Bill Randles
Recently I received a response to my online article "Todd Bentley --- the New Simon Magnus" which directed me to an online paper called "Biblical Reasons to Receive God's Glory and Give it Away in Power Evangelism". The paper purports to "give people permission to get on board and fully commit to receiving God's glory --- " to be used in power evangelism. The author, Gary Greig, PHD, is an associate professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Regent University.
Greig's paper answers 10 objections to Todd Bentley's ministry, validating Bentley and the current manifestation of the 'experienced based Christianity' that Bentley is a proponent of. In the opening paragraph, Greig admits that he himself was a participant in both the Toronto and Pensacola revival movements.
"Thousands of Christian leaders from almost 40 countries have visited the Lakeland meetings, and millions around the world in 214 nations have watched on live television through God TV and the internet, as multiple lame people have gotten out of their wheelchairs and walked, as blind eyes have received sight, as deaf ears have opened, and as of this writing, up to 20 accounts have been reported of clinically dead people being raised to life through the prayers of people who have visited the Lakeland meetings. The Lakeland meetings not only bear similarities to the Argentine revival of the 1980s-1990s and the Toronto and Brownsville awakenings of the 1990s (each of which I personally witnessed or experienced), the level of God's power being poured out in the meetings is extraordinary, to say the least. It is clear from the daily broadcasts of the Lakeland meetings that scores of people are putting their faith in Christ and many are being healed from all kinds of diseases and conditions."
(Greig, Biblical Reasons --- pg 2)
Before answering the ten major objections to Bentley, Greig takes the obligatory swipe at "Heresy Hunters" who criticize what they don't understand. Contrary to appearances, we are assured by professor Greig that,
"Todd Bentley is no fly-by-night Bible teacher, "with an untutored grasp of Christian theology," as one theology professor erroneously claimed. I beg to differ. I have personally followed Todd's teachings (on CD's and on the internet), his books, and his ministry for the last eight years, and I have never found a biblically and theologically untrained evangelist or ministry leader over the past twenty years who accurately interprets and rightly handles the Scriptures as well as Todd Bentley has done in his teachings and writings." (ibid)
I won't point by point answer to all ten of the objections - I don't necessarily disagree with some of Greig's assertions. For example his first response is to the objection to miracles, healings, signs and wonders. Are there healings and miracles today? Of course! I am no cessationist! Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!
MANIFESTING AND 'LOOSING THE SPIRIT'
Objection three in Greg's paper is listed as:
"The manifestations, shaking, vibrating, laughing, talk of electricity, and weird behavior didn't happen in the Bible and cannot be from God. Todd Bentley has an obsession with the paranormal."
Greig answers by correctly pointing out that weirdness in itself isn't a criterion for rejecting some manifestation as not being of God. He likens Bentley's countless stories, (of 'drop kicking' pastors, being told by God that he has a demon and then manifesting it, being told by God that revival won't come unless he kicks an old woman in the face as she worships) to Jesus spitting on clay, putting fingers in deaf ears and blowing on faces. Because Jesus, Isaiah and Jeremiah did strange things, this supposedly validates Bentley's mysticism.
Todd Bentley has been criticized for saying "Bam" or "loosing fireballs" or slapping people or kneeing people, when the Lord leads him to call the power of the Holy Spirit onto people he is praying over, and for displaying otherunusual manifestations like shaking and "vibrating," when he is under the power of God's presence.
Why don't we take the same criticisms to Scripture and test them there: Did Jesus "loose" the power of the Holy Spirit in weird ways? Try rubbing mud spittle on eyeballs (John 9:6), putting fingers in deaf ears (Mark 7:33), spitting on tongues or spitting on eyes (Mark 7:33; 8:23), and breathing or blowing on faces (John 20:22) (Ibid)
But Jesus and the Prophets weren't doing these things to "Loose the Spirit"- as if the Spirit is bound until the right symbolic actions are performed to "Loose" it. There is no equivalence between Jesus' signs* and Bentley's so called "Loosing of the Spirit"- which is basically a pagan concept. The Spirit is none less than God Himself. He cannot be loosed, nor commanded, "thrown" as a "snowball"- He is not "IT" nor is HE "The Power" or even "The Glory". He is the Living God.
The Prophets did weird things also because they acted out the drama of the relationship with God and Israel. We are told in Hebrews that in times past God spoke in type through the prophets but has now spoken plainly through His Son.
Not believing Todd Bentley's various stories of 'the miraculous' doesn't equate to not believing the signs of Jesus and the prophets.
SUPPORTING SPIRITUAL DRUNKENNESS
In the same section Greig "catalogues" the manifestations of God's power on the human body. I take exception to the category he calls "intoxicated state of mind". The Toronto influence is evident here, in that he cites as scriptural support for this category Acts 2, Ephesians 5, I Samuel 1 and I Samuel 19.
*Acts 2 is a rebuttal of drunkenness- " --- others, mocking said these men are full of new wine --- "(Acts 2:13) something which Peter was quick to refute!
*Ephesians 5:18 teaches us not to be drunken or in excess, but rather to" be being filled with the Spirit", in other words being Spirit filled is not an alternative drunkenness, but the very antithesis of drunkenness! To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be self possessed, sober minded, thankful and submissive.
* I Samuel 1 is the story of Hannah, who was so desperate for a child, praying in the temple, and yet accused by the backslidden and half blind priest of being drunk. Hardly a support for spiritual drunkenness.
*Finally, his reference to I Samuel 19 is an unfortunate reference to Saul, seeking to murder David, and in the process, arrested by God and made naked, prophesying! Doesn't look like a blessing, I believe that it is rather a judgment!
These are the same misguided defenses for the phenomenon known as spiritual drunkenness that we saw and heard in the Toronto and Pensacola heresies. Greig uses what the mockers said in Acts 2, misuses Paul's call to true spirituality in Eph 5, (forbidding drunkenness), as well as the mistaken judgment of a corrupt and backslidden priest in I Samuel 1, Eli, to bolster his defense of this "category of manifestation". The last reference is to the judgment that fell on a murderous King in I Sam 19. I would hardly call falling down publicly, naked and prophesying to be a blessing.
Be advised, I do believe there is a spiritual drunkenness, as I explained in my book, WEIGHED AND FOUND WANTING - Putting the Toronto Blessing in Context. Spiritual drunkenness is real, but it is not the blessing Bentley and friends would have you believe, it is instead a very definite judgment of the Lord!
Isa 29:9-10 Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.
In Greig's rebuttal to objection five, which states that,
"We should not be teaching people to interact with angels. Satan masquerades as an angel of light and people can be deceived by demonic angels like Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, was deceived by the deceptive, demonic angel 'Moroni.'"
Greig admits that deception by interaction with angels is possible and uses Joseph Smith as an example, as well as the Gnostic angelic emanation worshippers as something to avoid. He also cites the warning of Colossians 2.
Col. 2:18-19-- Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. He has not held fast to the head from whom the whole body, supported and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
So far so good- but he then narrows the scope of the caution to those who worship angels, affirming the scriptural warnings in the Revelation and in Judges.
"The worship of angels, involving human prayers and expressions of praise to angels, was a real problem in first century AD popular Judaism. The kind of person Paul is describing here not only worships angels but he is also proud ("puffed up), fleshly, judgmental, and he has lost his focus on Jesus ("he has not held fast to the head"). So it is a mix of pride, judgmentalism, fleshliness, and a lack of focus on Jesus the head, that is associated in this passage with one being deceived by false, demonic angels."
Herein lies the problem, I haven't heard anyone criticize this movement for praying to or praising angels. I believe he misses the point of the criticism and caution. It is the interaction with angels, "Emma", the angel of the 1940's healing revival, the angel who "Gifted " William Branham, these are what are troubling to critics of Bentley and this movement. Assuring us that you don't worship angels is beside the point. Greig cites discredited and false prophet Bob Jones as a source to validate his position on openness to angelic interaction,
I am convinced that Todd Bentley, Bob Jones, and Rick Joyner, and other leaders in the prophetic movement would agree entirely with theologians like Karl Barth and Calvin, who said that biblically believers must take seriously the fact of angelic presence with believers.42 The Reformer, John Calvin urges us "not to deny that angels were created according to God's likeness, inasmuch as our highest perfection, as Christ testifies, will be to become like them [Matt. 22:30]."43 And I am convinced that these prophetic leaders also agree with Barth and Calvin, cautioning against giving angels attention for their own sake without focusing on Jesus, "for there is no 'special, autonomous or abstract experience of angels in and for themselves,'"44 and because, as Cambridge University astronomer and evangelical theologian, Dr. Lawrence Osborn, says, true Christian encounter with an angel will always "direct us to God"45 rather than directing us to focus on angels, on saints, on self, or on man.
Once again, I am no cessationist, I have no problem with angels, I believe in them and their activity. Furthermore I also believe that no man should worship or pray to angels and that if an angelic encounter occurs, a holy angel would direct people to the only True God. But why do we have to believe in Emma? Why should we traffic with William Branham's angel? A man who taught that the "doctrine of the Trinity was of the Devil", that Satan and Eve had sex, and Cain was the literal result? When Branham was asked if he did his miracles by the Holy Spirit, he denied it , saying "I do them by my Angel". (Kurt Koch, Occult Bondage and Deliverance, p. 54 Kregel )
This is from Mike Oppenheimer of "Let us Reason" ministries article entitled" When the Angel Came" -
Bentley says: "Then on December 5, 2000 an angel appeared to me and said he was the angel that appeared to me in April 1998 (before the Lord Jesus Christ came to me in the kitchen). He said that the day he came to me in 1998 was the day he was assigned to me. This time (on December 5th) the angel said, "I am the angel that has been assigned to your life. I am a healing angel. . . You are going to take miracles, signs and wonders around the world." "I was with William Branham" (the Voice of Healing movement), the angel said. He told me about William Branham's angelic encounter in 1946. Two years later the Voice of Healing was born there was a revival."
Why would an evangelist be told to preach angels, rather than Jesus? Let Bentley explain it in his own words---
"I'm releasing it back to where it all started in 1948 I'm releasing it back." Y'know I told the lord why can't I just move in healing and forget talking about all that other stuff, he said because Todd, you got to get the people to believe in the angel. I said, God why do I want the people to believe in the angel instead about getting the people to believe in Jesus, he said the people already believe in Jesus but the church doesn't believe in the supernatural. The church has no problem believing in Jesus what we don't believe in is the supernatural we don't believe in angels, we don't believe in the prophetic."
THE REAL OBJECTIONS GO UNANSWERED
My biggest problems with Todd Bentley have to do with who his own self-confessed influences are. William Branham, Bob Jones and Paul Cain among others. How could someone who emulates Branham be anything but false? This isn't about whether or not there are miracles, or angels, or whether or not people "believe in the power of God". Bentley in no way distances himself from Branham, he actually believes He is being visited by the angelic author of the 1940's healing revival.
Bob Jones, Bentley's elder prophet mentor, is a huge problem. This false prophet taught that there would come a holy bloodline of miracle workers -
I have called the best of every bloodline in earth unto this generation. . . I have elected to bring them forth in this generation. . . the elect generation. . . even the bloodline of Paul. . . of David. . . of Peter, James and John. . . They will even be superior to them in heart, stature and love for me'. . . Your children will possess the spirit without measure. . . They will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before. . . coming into the divine nature of Jesus Christ. . . a Church that has reached the full maturity of the Godman! This generation. . . is going to see the beginning of this world wide new order.
- Bob Jones, Vineyard Prophecy Conference, 1989, as cited in "The New Order," Jewel van der Merwe, p.7.
This is just one of his many false teachings and prophesies. Jones had to leave the ministry after a scandal involving fondling woman who came to him for prophetic counseling! Todd Bentley ministers with Jones and regards him as a "father in the faith". These are the fruits we should judge by, not to mention the roots of this false ministry. He was reinstated after a "Word" from another false prophet and Bentley associate, Rick Joyner.
For these reasons alone, may no one be taken in by this apologetic, regardless of the obvious credentials and experience of professor Grieg. Of course there are those who are indeed looking for "permission to jump on board" this heretical movement, but I am assured that all who are really "of the Truth will hear Jesus' voice". Grace and Peace!
*(Which pointed to ultimate realities- i.e. healing of blindness pointing to Israel's need of sight, leprosy to her need of cleansing, making clay to the fact that Jesus is the creator-etc.)
Original Report Here
OLIVE TREE MINISTRIES > Understanding The Times Weekly eUpdate - By Jan Markell - June 16, 2008 I am writing the "inconvenient truth" today. I have been blitzed with e-mails about the Todd Bentley "revival" in Florida. Before you fall for his stories and "signs and wonders," please allow me to make some comments. I realize this will not be received well by many.
This is a Charismatic happening called the "third wave." The "first wave" was Toronto, and it fizzled out. The "second wave" was Pensacola, and it had the same fate. Now Bentley has brought in the "third wave," and folks are coming from around the world for the "anointing." Even the Charisma Magazine editor Lee Grady says -- sounding a warning -- "My inbox has been full of messages from Charismatic leaders who are concerned about everything from Bentley's tattoos and body piercings to his claim that he once interviewed the apostle Paul in Heaven. When I called for scrutiny of some aspects of the Lakeland Revival, I was labeled a Pharisee and a 'religious policeman.' I had suddenly become the enemy."
Who is Todd Bentley? He is an ex-Satanist, a pierced and tattooed signs and wonders guy, and a man who gets messages from angels, particularly one named Emma. He does not open the Bible and preach. When he is "under the anointing" he can cause tumors to "explode," he says. The Holy Spirit told him to kick a lady in the face with his biker boot so he did so. If he tries to deal with someone he thinks might be demonized, he gets nothing short of violent, virtually choking a man he is trying to exorcise. He also gets violent when he uses the word "bam."
As Mike Oppenheimer from Let us Reason says, "Instead of people getting saved, they are getting lost--by listening to a man's experiences of the supernatural that are unbiblical and untrue."
Oppenheimer continues, "This revival has all the spiritual sensations and activities of the other revivals combined: Roaring, groaning, burning sensations in the body, head, and stomach; shaking, jerking, spiritual drunkenness and uncontrollable laughter and then some new manifestations. People have their eyes rolled back in the back of their heads. There are reports of women gyrating and pulsating like they've been ravaged from behind by some unseen force. Holy or un-holy may still be debated by some but to those of us who are knowledgeable of the previous 'revivals' and the power of the occult, the jury is in. The source is not the God of the Bible. This may disturb some but if they will use their Bible, pray, and think it through, they will gain discernment and spiritual understanding."
The shakes, jerks, twitching, frozen stillness, laughter, animal sounds, and more have all been standard in other "revivals." The Florida Revival is nothing new but it is preying on young and new believers who do not know their Bibles. It is also preying on the desperate: Sick people who can find no medical help.
Critic Jacob Prasch says, "The crowds following Bentley are seen being overcome by ugly spirits of drunkenness and stupor. It reflects the faulty theology of those in 'the river' movement popularized by the so-called 'Toronto Blessing.' Song lyrics reflect Kingdom-Now visions of the church taking over all the elements of society and setting up a kingdom on earth before the Lord returns which the Bible contradicts."
Todd himself talks about the mad chaos--totally uncharacteristic of God. He says, "During a visitation, the pastor's wife got totally whacked by the Holy Ghost. She began running around barking like a dog or squawking like a chicken as a powerful prophetic spirit came on her."
The research site "Lighthouse Trails Research Project" reports that, "The following information will show Bentley's spiritual resonance with a man named Sundar Singh (1829-1929). At one point in Bentley's ministry, he had a vision of Sundar Singh. This vision influenced Bentley. According to the biographer of Singh, Singh spent much of his life in deep trance-like states communicating with spiritual beings." Through this he saw the "glories" of the spirit world. He combined East and West in his meditative disciplines. He had long hours of meditation and days of silence.
Bentley talks about himself being possessed by demons, undergoing a deliverance, his past Satanic worship, his mother levitating, and demons writing 666 on his cupboard in his kitchen.
It is hard to tell the difference between the words of Bentley and those of Satan! Todd says: "You see, I want to be fruitful; I want to be far above. I want to be a conqueror; I want to be a mountain of strength; I want to be greatness. You know, we like that word greatness. Well, he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High automatically comes into everything that the Almighty is. It happens." Sounds like Isaiah 14:12 - 14 to me.
Angelology plays a large role here. He talks to an angel named Emma and he says, "So when I need a financial breakthrough, I don't just pray and ask God for my financial breakthrough. I go into intercession and become a partner with the angels by petitioning the Father for the angels that are assigned to getting me money: 'Father, give me the angels in heaven right now that are assigned to get me money and wealth. And let those angels be released on my behalf. Let them go into the four corners of the earth and gather me money.'"
As reported by Jacob Prasch, "Bentley refers to his angel as 'the angel of the Lord' and also waits upon Emma for the signs and wonders to manifest. However, according to Bible scholars, the term 'the angel of the Lord' is an Old Testament reference to the pre-incarnate Christ, also called a Theophany. It seems that Emma is really overstepping her bounds to be referred to as 'the angel of the Lord.'" She is most likely a demon.
Bentley and his close friend, the exposed false prophet Paul Cain, look to disgraced "prophet" William Branham. Pentecostal pastor Bill Randles says, "The only problem was Branham's teaching. He had a few quirks, such as his belief that the doctrine of the Trinity was of the devil, his belief that the zodiac was as valid as the Word of God, and his unfortunate belief that he was the angel of the Church of Laodicea! When he died in a head-on auto crash in 1965, his followers were so obsessed with his 'works of power,' they delayed burying him for several months, hoping that he would be resurrected the following Easter! He was that GREAT!"
We are warned in the Bible that the devil will "transform himself into an angel of light," and that in the last days will come "lying signs and wonders" that will deceive, if possible, the very elect" (II Thess. 2:9). Doesn't the Bible tell us that the devil is capable of the supposed "miracles" at the Bentley meetings? Tragically, many pastors are having hands laid on them to receive this "Florida anointing" and further spread this chaos.
So what started April 2, 2008, at Ignited Church in Lakeland, Florida, is now spreading everywhere. With today's death of discernment, guys like Bentley flourish and prosper. We are in a season of weak gospel-preaching as well. This longing for the signs and wonders of one man is but paving the way for the "man of sin," the "lawless one," the Antichrist. What many believe is the anointing of the Holy Spirit is really nothing but "kundalini power" which in sanskrit means coiled as a snake. You can watch Todd exercising that power at the above link. You can learn much more in Caryl Matrisciana's brilliant film, "Yoga Uncoiled" as well as her film "Supernatural Powers" which deals with God's angels and fallen angels. You can also learn more about "kundalini power" at this link.
It says in II Timothy 3 that in the last days evil will wax worse and worse with men seducing, deceiving, and being deceived. Todd Bentley is a deceiver who is himself deceived. He will likely stand before the Lord some day and say, "But Lord, I did this all in Your Name." But he is exercising serpent-power, not Holy Spirit power.
Pray for Todd and the legions following him and believing every word out of his mouth. Pray that their eyes would be opened before they are further spiritually damaged. We are not trying to demonize Todd; rather, we hope to protect some sheep, which our pastors should be doing but many are not.
Original Report Here