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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 09:37:22 +1200
LIFE AFTER LAKELAND: Sorting Out the Confusion
-by J. Lee Grady.

Todd Bentley’s announcement that his marriage is ending has
thrown our movement into a tailspin—and questions need to be answered.

It was not supposed to end like this.

Evangelist Todd Bentley had heralded the Lakeland revival as the
greatest Pentecostal outpouring since Azusa Street. From his
stage in a gigantic tent in Florida, Bentley preached to thousands,
bringing many of them to the stage for prayer. Many claimed to
be healed of deafness, blindness, heart problems, depression and
dozens of other conditions in the Lakeland services, which ran for
more than 100 consecutive nights. Bentley announced confidently
that dozens of people had been raised from the dead during the revival.

But this week, a few days after the Canadian preacher announced
the end of his visits to Lakeland, he told his staff that his marriage
is ending. Without blaming the pace of the revival for Bentley’s
personal problems, his board released a public statement saying
that he and his wife, Shonnah, are separating. The news shocked
Bentley’s adoring fans and saddened those who have questioned
his credibility since the Lakeland movement erupted in early April.

I’m sad. I’m disappointed. And I’m angry. Here are few of my
many, many questions about this fiasco:

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. The message was clear: “This is God. Don’t question.”
So before we could all say, “Sheeka Boomba” (as Bentley often
prayed from his pulpit), many people went home, prayed for people
and shoved them to the floor with reckless abandon, Bentley-style.

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. Branham embraced horrible deception near
the end of his ministry... and his strange doctrines are still
embraced by a cultlike following today...

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.

Because of the Lakeland scandal, there may be large numbers of
people who feel they’ve been burned by Bentley. Some may give
up on church and join the growing ranks of bitter, disenfranchised
Christians. Others may suffer total spiritual shipwreck. This could
have been avoided if leaders had been more vocal about their
objections and urged people to evaluate spiritual experiences
through the filter of God’s Word.

Why did a group of respected ministers lay hands on Bentley on
June 23 and publicly ordain him? Did they know of his personal problems?

This controversial ceremony was organized by Peter Wagner, who
felt that one of Bentley’s greatest needs was proper spiritual
covering. He asked California pastors Che Ahn and Bill Johnson,
along with Canadian pastor John Arnott, to lay hands on Bentley
and bring him under their care.

Bentley certainly needs such covering. No one in ministry today
should be out on their own, living in isolation without checks,
balances and wise counsel. It was commendable that Wagner
reached out to Bentley and that Bentley acknowledged his need
for spiritual fathers by agreeing to submit to the process. The
question remains, however, whether it was wise to commend
Bentley during a televised commissioning service that at times
seemed more like a king’s coronation.

In hindsight, we can all see that it would have been better to take
Bentley into a back room and talk about his personal issues.

The Bible tells us that ordination of a minister is a sober
responsibility. Paul wrote: “Do not lay hands upon anyone too
hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others”
(1 Tim. 5:22). We might be tempted to rush the process, but the
apostle warned against fast-tracking ordination—and he said that
those who commission a minister who is not ready for the job will
bear some of the blame for his failures.

I trust that Wagner, Ahn, Johnson and Arnott didn’t know of
Bentley’s problems before they ordained him. I am sure they are
saddened by the events of this week and are reaching out to
Bentley and his wife to promote healing and restoration. But I
believe that they, along with Bentley and the owners of God TV,
owe the body of Christ a forthright, public apology for thrusting
Bentley’s ministry into the spotlight prematurely. (Perhaps such
an apology should be aired on God TV.)

Can anything good come out of this?

That depends on how people respond. If the men assigned to
oversee Bentley offer loving but firm correction, and if Bentley
responds humbly to the process by stepping out of ministry for a
season of rehabilitation, we could witness a healthy case of church
discipline play out the way it is supposed to. If all those who were
so eager to promote Bentley now rush just as fast to repent for
their errors in judgment, then the rest of us could breathe a huge
sigh of relief—and the credibility of our movement could be restored.

I still believe that God desires to visit our nation in supernatural
power. I know He wants to heal multitudes, and I will continue
praying for a healing revival to sweep across the United States.
But we must contend for the genuine, not an imitation. True revival
will be accompanied by brokenness, humility, reverence and
repentance—not the arrogance, showmanship and empty hype
that often was on display in Lakeland.

We are weathering an unprecedented season of moral failure and
spiritual compromise in our nation today. I urge everyone in the
charismatic world to pray for Bentley; his wife, Shonnah; his three
young children; Bentley’s ministry staff; and the men and women
who serve as his counselors and advisers. Let’s pray that God will
turn this embarrassing debacle into an opportunity for miraculous restoration.

~SOURCE:  http://www.charismanews.com/