Ex-Faith Healer Mark Haville proves the gullibility of Charismatics

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more about “An Ex-Faith Healer Explains The Trick…“, posted with vodpod

 

From Faith in Faith
to Faith in Christ

By: Peter Glover

Mark Haville’s is an extraordinary story. Converted into the Pentecostal/Charismatic church he quickly came under the spell of the Word-Faith teaching of men like Kenneth Copeland. But things did not stay that way for Mark…

Still in his mid-20’s, Mark became an itinerant minister travelling the country earning large sums of money through his ability to perform ‘signs and wonders’. Remarkably, he has renounced his former life, his beliefs, and his practices as a Word-Faith minister and is now speaking out boldly against the beliefs and practices of the current Signs and Wonders movement.

(Note: In the text ‘EN’ refers to Evangelicals Now, and ‘MH’ refers to Mark Haville. ‘PG’ is Peter Glover)

EN: “How did you first get involved with Word Faith teaching?”

MH: I was given lots of tapes and books by Kenneth Copeland which everyone was into at my church in North London. I believed that my Christian experience could validate my faith. It convinced me that what I was in was real. I was impressed by the numbers involved, their interest in the media, publications, the money and the general trappings of success – it bred the belief in me that biggest must be best.

EN: “What was the most appealing aspect of Word Faith teaching for you?”

MH: The Word Faith movement offered me power, what I believed to be a convincing testimony to the reality of God. It gave me support because I could show ‘things’ by preaching and performing. I was given numerous videos, audios and literature. All that I was given appeared glossy and successful.

EN: “How did you use what you saw in this material?”

MH: Basically, I copied it. I learned gradually to do what all these speakers like Copeland, Cerullo, Benny Hinn and others do. They manipulate audiences and individuals simply by the power of suggestion. They call the result ‘signs and wonders’. They are deluded. Gradually, I too had learned the process of controlling meetings and inducing hypnotic techniques through suggestion in churches. I did many of the so-called signs and wonders.

(PG: I was shown a video of a meeting held at a Pentecostal fellowship in Leeds being run by Mark. He explained the staged process of audience manipulation as things progressed. After a long period of singing what Mark described as ‘relaxing’ Spirit-focused songs, he appeared to be able to blow individuals over at will. They then remained on the ground for long periods – what is commonly termed ‘slaying in the spirit’).

THE RIGHT ATMOSPHERE

EN: “You maintain then that you were able to induce an atmosphere that was conducive to hypnotic suggestion?”

MH: Absolutely. The techniques are no different to those used by any practising hypnotist. First, the people in these meetings are already coming with high expectancy – they want it to be God. Second, you need to create the right atmosphere – hence the long periods of singing certain types of songs to make people feel relaxed and warm.

EN: “What kind of praise and worship?”

MH: It is very important to use songs and words that are focused on the Holy Spirit. This creates a far more mystical atmosphere. Songs full of Christian or Biblical doctrine work against people suspending their critical faculties. The effect is to create a mindlessness that will open your audience up to suggestion. Most people have no idea just how powerful suggestion can be. Let me add that all this is not necessarily done wilfully by leaders. This is something many of them have stumbled upon. It works, so they do it and call it “the Holy Spirit”.

EN: “Will it affect everyone at the meeting?”

MH: No, not at all. If you do not believe that it is God that is doing these things in the meeting, there is no way you will fall down. But remember, I am the one running the show. Just like any good hypnotist, I will be ‘working’ the audience. I can tell which ones are the more suggestive by asking certain questions. I can then bring people forward, having gotten them into a very relaxed and accepting state. You have to remember, people who come really want to believe that God is at work. By telling them to stand in a particular place I am strongly influencing their belief that by standing where I have told them – on that exact spot – something is going to happen. By telling them someone will stand behind them, because we wouldn’t want them to get hurt if they fall, it is all heightening the sense of anticipation and suggestiveness. The rest is easy.

EN: “You seemed to find it difficult to watch yourself on screen.”

MH: Yes, I find it very hard knowing how I unconsciously deceived good people into believing that the Holy Spirit was at work when it was common or garden hypnosis. But at the time I suppose I did believe, however incorrectly, that these things were the activity of God. But the reality is, I learned these techniques by watching others, and anybody can do them given enough training. They are psychological techniques – nothing else.

EN: “What caused you to look again at what you were doing and believed?”

MH: In a nutshell – the Scriptures themselves. I decided that I wanted to learn the Scriptures in the original Greek and I began to realise that what I believed didn’t match up with what the Scriptures actually taught.

A BIG RETHINK

EN: “For instance?”

MH: In 1 Corinthians it didn’t say we would be given spiritual gifts on demand, but as God wills. I had always been taught that, with enough faith, if you were ‘anointed’ and prayed enough, you would manifest the relevant gifts. I could see that God really didn’t work that way.

I could see that my fellow Bible students didn’t change for all their ‘anointing’. I witnessed the lack of basic integrity in fellow students and in my church. The church was in great debt and yet money was spent on unnecessary things like an electronic song board. We owed £200,000! And there were factions in the church. None of it added up. It didn’t fit at all with the health and wealth gospel we had been taught and which we preached. So I left.

EN: “And then?”

MH: Somebody gave me some videos teaching the Jewish exegetical method of learning. These methods would have been employed by the apostles. It really started to give me a much more critical mind. It caused me to ask more questions highlighting more and more areas that were very wrong. My faith started to re-focus again on Jesus and not the ‘outworkings’ such as praying in tongues or signs and wonders.

EN: “At this stage did you think of looking for an appropriate church?”

MH: Just before leaving I had already started the National Prayer Network evangelistic enterprise, producing teaching tapes and evangelistic videos. My energies went into that. Out of that came a group of people who started meeting together as a small church.

VERY DANGEROUS

EN: “What is your view about what is happening on the British church scene today?”

MH: We’re seeing an increase of Word Faith/health and wealth preaching and teaching. It is weakening the witness of the body of Christ by compromising to a world view. It gauges spirituality by success. The most dangerous thing is they are undermining true Christian faith which is based on God’s word alone. As Luther said, “My heart is captive to the word of God.”

EN: “What do you see as the hallmarks of this kind of ‘Christian’ belief?”

MH: Revelry, riotous behaviour, sensual Christianity.

EN: “And the more practical effects?”

MH: It re-directs funds away from legitimate gospel evangelism and real social needs, the orphans and widows and such. Its leaders earn exorbitant amounts of money – where the Bible teaches leaders shouldn’t reap dividends. If you can perform signs and wonders you can earn vast amounts of money. It was not unknown for me to be ‘gifted’ £400 – £500 on occasions. This is nothing to the five-figure sums charged by some modern prophets. Basic Christian truth is being superseded by pseudo-Christianity. We need to return to a Christ-centred gospel which produces a selfless and non-materialistic lifestyle.

EN: “What about the numbers the Faith and signs and wonders movement claim are saved?”

MH: This is self-deluding exaggeration based on faulty theology of conversion. They teach commitment to a message rather than conviction by the gospel. They need figures to validate their ministry for the continued solicitation of funds.

END-TIME ADVICE

EN: “What would you say then to those caught in the current signs and wonders movement?”

MH: Jesus did more signs and wonders than anybody else and at the end of His ministry He only had about 500 followers. Anyone caught up in the current trend towards belief in a great end-time restoration of the Church must first realise that this kind of revival is the opposite of what scripture promises. What Jesus did promise is the falling away of professing Christians, and an influx of false ‘anointed’ ones.

If we are truly living at the imminent return of Christ, where are those things that God promised must take place?

I would say to my brothers and sisters in these movements that you may well not be conscious that what you believe is other people’s opinion on Scripture, as I did. You would do well to heed the words of Martin Luther – ‘Sola Scriptura’.

Notes:

1.
Word-Faith preaches a gospel of personal wealth which can be obtained through the ‘force of faith’. Spiritual power is thus generated through ‘faith’. God’s sovereign will is effectively overridden by this ‘force of faith’, effecting eternal spiritual laws to which God Himself is subject. PG.

2.
Research carried out in 1994 amongst a number of Christians from many different backgrounds revealed that almost 100% believed the ‘Word-Faith’ message is merely the gospel plus healing and prosperity on demand. None of those surveyed had any idea of the depth of heresy and extent of error in this movement. (Extract from ‘The Faith Movement May Be Prospering But Is It Healthy?’, by Stuart St. John: 95 pence booklet available from Reachout Trust, 24 Ormond Road, Richmond, England).

The above article was first published by Evangelicals Now, March 1996, and is reprinted by kind permission.

http://www.christiandoctrine.net/doctrine/articles/article_00086_from_faith_in_faith_to_faith_in_christ_web.htm

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Mark Haville is also the host and a producer of this must see video!!!

Signs And Wonders Movement Exposed: THE VIDEO SERIES THAT EVERY CHRISTIAN MUST SEE!!!!!!!

http://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2009/04/14/signs-and-wonders-movment-exposed/

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Satans Generals of The Full Gospel

 The leaders of a false faith and strange fire

 

GOD’S GENERALS: The Legacy (includes Todd Bentley, Jim Goll, Benny Hinn, Roberts Liardon, and more)

GOD’S GENERALS: The Legacy (includes Todd Bentley, Jim Goll, Benny Hinn, Roberts Liardon, and more)

 

Pentecostalism and Freemasonry

Charles Fox Parham and Freemasonry

Parham was probably a member of the Freemasons at some time in his life.[14] The 1930 biography on Parham (page 32) says “Mr. Parham belonged to a lodge and carried an insurance on his life. He felt now that he should give this up also.”[5] The question is one of timing, the extent of his involvement, and how much of their teachings became merged with his theology. From his wife’s comments, it appears he was originally involved because of the good deeds they did in looking after their fellow man (something he did not feel the churches did a good job of doing), not because of their beliefs. Because many in the Pentecostal movement oppose the Freemasons so bitterly, some have said that he left the organization when he started his “Full Gospel” ministry. This would fit with the comment in the biography. What is clear is that, at the peak of his ministry (between 1900 and mid-1907) he had little time for involvement in any organizations. His bible school and his preaching were an all consuming task. Even his active later ministry left little free time for activities like lodges. Some feel there is evidence that Parham was still a member of the Freemasons in 1928 (they feel he “appeared to still have Masonic tendencies”), but source documents for this are not quoted. They may be drawing an inference from a letter that Parham wrote back home from his Palestine trip where he said “I am going to bring a gavel home with me … I am going to present it to the Masonic lodge in Baxter Springs with my respects.”(p373)[5] Yet if he had been a member then, it is likely that his wife’s earlier comment in the same book, where it tells of Parham’s decision to leave the lodge, would have been different. She said “I had been taught in the Friend’s church not to believe in secret organizations, and was very glad for his decision” [i.e. to leave the lodge].(p32)[5] It is just as likely that the gavel was simply a present for friends he had known since his original involvement. If Parham was involved in Freemasonry, the ultimate question is what the level of his involvement was, when he was involved, and if there are any indications of these beliefs in his ministry, especially during the period of his highest influence in the early pentecostal movement (from 1900 to 1907). Lower level involvement in smaller communities can be more of a social involvement than a belief in or an understanding of their principles (as it appears was the situation with Parham’s early involvement with the lodge).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Parham

MY FIRST BLOGPOST ENTRY INTO ERIC’S AND CORAMDEO’S CESSATIONISM DEBATE (a preface)

Here is Eric’s post entitled  why I have a problem with cessationism which I will be scrutinizing in a blogpost after I give my prefacing blogpost.

Here is the preceding post between Eric and Coramdeo in chronological order. CD=CoramDeo, E=Eric, *** = the post I commented on in the comments section, ### = my comment that is my most important.

The Cessationism Debate Has Begun E, Have the Spiritual Gifts Ceased? E***###, Response to “Have the Spiritual Gifts Ceased” CD, The Ceasing of Spiritual Gifts: A Debate (Response #2) E***, Spiritual Gifts Conclusion CD, Why I Have a Problem with Cessationism E***

=============================================

After I give this “up to this point” summary (from my perspective) blogpost of the debate thus far, I will examine Eric’s “why I have a problem with Cessationism” post.

Why the preface blogpost? Well you’ll have to wade through all the comments on Erics last post to determine the truth of that for yourself. But I am doing it because I feel that Eric is being deceptive and precisely sinister in his attempts to muddy the waters of the debate so he can say,,, “the Bible is unclear and undogmatic on the issue. Why are you?”

Not only has he tried to muddy the waters of the debate. But so have others. I believe they intentionally collaborated and “tag teamed” intentional obfuscations (freedictionary.com 1. To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand) to then say exactly what Eric has been saying,,,,,,,,, “the Bible is unclear and undogmatic on the issue. Why are you?”

IN OTHER WORDS for Eric to say,,, MY PP (paraphrase),,,,, ”the bible is not clear on any position so we should just drop this and all get along in love,,, and if you don’t agree to that,,, your being divisive, unloving and unchristian like”.

If you will examine his post,,, he set it up that way from the get go by appealing to the “love chapter”.

=====================================

HERE IS MY FIRST COMMENT,, SINCE THIS DEBATE STARTED. I will post it and tell why I think it is important to re-read first before I go to examining Eric’s blogpost. (sidebar note: I only commented on Eric’s blog because for a long time I was not able to post on CD’s,,, until he made some changes on his blog)

Damon Whitsell Says: April 25, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Nice debate ya’ll. Eric,,,, Thanks for being so different than most who hold to the continuationist position. I did note your statement that your not firmly entrenched in any belief as of yet.
 
I am considering joining in at some point if time permits. I hate to come along and just mess ya’lls world up. I know it is a big claim to make. But I think I have a Monkey Wrench/Achilles Heal for the continuationist position which I will state later. But I hardly think anyone will solidify their beliefs by debating what “that which is perfect” is. I have flipped flopped a couple of times on the exposition, interpretation and application of that verse. I now hold that it is indeed a cessationsit text. But I would never waste my time trying to prove this because I think it is quite unnecessary.
 
SOME PERSPECTIVE
A really brilliant pastor I know said something that disturbed me. He said he was a continuationist and not a cessationist . He said that it was based on the fact that he thinks gifts are still in operation in the church today. I agree,,,,, because he is talking about gifts like preaching, teaching, encouragement, helps ETC ETC. He does not believe in tounges, modern apostles, prophecy, or revelation (rhema) knowledge. So there was an issue of semantics and defining terms. Then he said that he never debates the issue because it centers around 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 and “that which is perfect”. I had to tell him that despite the fact that he knows so much more about the deep things of theology than me,,, he had obviously never studied and struggled with this issue. I have a bibliography with a 17 page list of books that have been written on the cessation/continuation debate. It is way bigger than what my pastor friend thinks and I think there are about 15-20 things in the bible that make debating 1 Corinthians 13 not essential.
 
Some points I think are essential but not the absolute core of the issue.
 
The irrelevance over the semantics of “perfect:” is exemplified in other issues. I think the important place to start it to ask WHY? WHY did we have tounges, prophets, apostles and miraculous signs in the first place? What purpose did they serve?
But I would like to ask,, is it even necessary to debate this? I think not.

I think it is a historical fact that tounges, prophecy/revelation knowledge, apostles, and gifts of healings and gifts of miracles have ceased. Yeh,,, I know Pentecostal/Charismatics have their list of so called proofs of the gifts in question being practiced in history. But they are like the Mormons taking select passages from a Pre-Nicaean church father to make it appear that Eastern Orthodox practices theosis in the same way that the Mormons do. The Mormons will take a select quote out of a paragraph, when the same paragraph later flat out denies their assertion and Mormons reject outright the rest of the church fathers teaching which contradict Mormonism. 

I have studied this aspect of the historicity of the gifts and it is a very deep subject. It can take a very long time to disprove the allegation of historical occurrences. BUT I think this is where ya’lls debate should be focusing. Did the gifts stop,, in history? I think so. I think it is an open and shut case.  

I submit to ya’ll two articles and a video for ya’ll to review. I hope ya’ll will look at these and see if the information contained within warrants a a redirection of ya’lls debate.

An article more thorough than the video from the same ministry,,”History of the Pentecostal Movement – Proves the cessation of the Spiritual gifts by examining the history of the Pentecostal movement. Their history reveals that their leaders not only began teaching the gifts as a new doctrine in the church, but that they acknowledged that the gifts had ceased and had not been part of the church since Acts chapter 2.” http://www.guidedbytruth.com/pentecostalhistory.php 

Pentecostal History Proves Cessation of Spiritual Gifts VIDEO
 
The ministries counter response to their articles critics. Answering Questions Regarding Pentecostal History – Responding to objections about our History of the Pentecostal Movement video and article which emphasizes not only the accuracy of our current work, but the contradictions such objections raise. http://www.guidedbytruth.com/questionpenthistory.php
 
I ask ya’ll to look at these. Remember the Pentecostal movement was started as the Pentecostal “RESTORATION” movement. BUT now continuist want to say that there have been accounts of the gifts in post apostolic church history. But when you get to looking at it. The Pentecostal movement is also termed neo/Montanianism. That is because the gifts where considered by church fathers to have ceased,, the Montanians where the first so called group that claimed to practice these gifts as a movement. Origen got into the movement but it still was short lived because it was broadly condemned as heresy. You should look into Montanianism. Wikipedia has a good article on them but BB Warfeild has a whole chapter in his classic cessationist text,, Counterfeit Miracles. Get a hold of it if you can.

So I ask ya’ll to look at the video and article I posted and see if ya’ll should be trying to seek the truth about alleged historical accounts of the gifts being practiced. Do the list the continuist give actually prove that the gifts have been practiced in church history? I have looked and I say NO.

The reason I think ya’ll should take this approach is that I have been in a couple of debates about the issue and they never got anywhere. Instead it detoured into semantics, different hermeneutic approaches and clashes of theological systems such as Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism.

Pentecostals and charismatic fall under covenant theology. And most tend to be amillennial. Which from my dispensational eschatological position raises a big concern. If we Pre-mills are correct and there is indeed a man of sin/son of perdition/ Anti-Christ actually coming,,,, then Pentecostals/Charismatics will be easy targets and will be duped by the “Strong Delusion” that God is going to send into the world according to the dispensational position.

I ask ya’ll to look into the historicity of the gifts.

Another thing that I think is important. Why do highly intellectual charismatic men like Gordon Fee, Wayne Grudem and J. Lee Grady essentially concede the cesscationist position by admitting that ,,,(MY PARAPHRASE),,,”yeh the gifts are still in effect,,, but not in the same exact way as in the NT?

Thanks, I look forward to watching ya’lls debate and perhaps getting involved. Damon Whitsell 

Now why do I include my first comment here?

Because as I stated in it,,,,,,

“The reason I think ya’ll should take this approach is that I have been in a couple of debates about the issue and they never got anywhere. Instead it detoured into semantics, different hermeneutic approaches and clashes of theological systems such as Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism.”

I did not also mention that Charismatics/Pentecostals resort to all sorts of dirty tactics and maneuverings,,, thereby muddying the waters and obfuscating the issue,,, just like any cult member do defending their cultic pet false doctrines.

===============================

TO BRING SOME PERSPECTIVE on why I suggested what I did in the comment,, I submit parts of my emails from CormDeo about my comment,,,,,,,,,,,

In one email CD said “I read your sources, great stuff.” Then CD stated his “Tactics” and asked me for my opinion of his “Tactics”

I another CD stated,, THIS VERY IMPORTANT POINT,, “Oh also I did watch the video and read the articles, I found them helpful, however, I do not know how easy it is to prove that no gifts have been used throughout history, but I do think it is important to prove that the people teaching it thought it had and started up again.” 

Pentecostal history and the people who started the Pentecostal Movement knew good and well that the gifts had ceased in history. That is why they claimed their “restoration” movement was,,, “The Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements goes on to say: The Apostolic Faith Movement, according to Parham, had a twofold purpose: *******the restoration of “the faith once delivered to the saints”*******, and the promotion of Christian unity.”

The problem is that if the gifts had ceased and had to be “restored” then the faith was not once delivered. They have no verse that says the “faith once delivered” would be twice delivered. 

AND CD’s ASTUTE OBSERVATION OF MY COMMENT,,,, CD SAID,,,,,, What I really like about your post is you make the point I was trying to make, that is that there is much more to this debate than just some verses it truly stems from your Christian world view which can pollute your interpratations. Great stuff thanks for posting it.”

PLEASE READ THAT ONE AGAIN.

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MY SUMMARY CONCLUSION

Not only do the fathers of the “Pentecostal ‘restoration’ movement” testify that it is a historical fact that the gifts have ceased in history. BUT so does history itself.

If you want to know for yourself if the gifts ceased,,, look at the charismatic’s list of so called “historical accounts of the gifts happening”.

You will see three things.

1. They take groups or individuals that are outside the pale of orthodoxy and try to say they are orthodox. This is exemplified in Origin And Tertullian who where both inspired by montanianism and followers of Montanius. Both come from the heretical platonic school of theology in Alexandria. IN OTHER WORDS they did not believe the bible was literal and they got their teachings from their “Spritism” Gurus,,, (ie, prophecy or as they say today “words of knowledge”, or revelation knowledge) ,,,,,,,,, not the bible.

2. They will take orthodox church fathers and quote them out of context. Martin Luther is a great example of this. They try to say he was a continuationist when he clearly states that the gifts had ceased. He goes as far as to say that the small “spiritist” or “spirit filled” group of people in his day where followers of a familiar Spirit. AND HE RIGHTFULLY SMAKED THAT SPIRIT ON THE SNOUT!!!

3. They will tell stories about this miracle happening or that miracle happening. BUT it is all hearsay. In history both sides have examined history. That is why there are many books showing that “Miracles by the hand of a healer or miracle worker”,,, are ALL faked. The best one to read is BB Warfeilds “Counterfeit Miracles”. BUT people like James Randi have investigated and written whole books on the trickery and illusion of men trying to claim “the gift of healing”. Many groups have challenged today’s so called “gifted healers” and they have all been proven to be frauds and tricksters. Off the top of my head,,,, I can think of four. Binny Hinn, Morris Cerullo, Peter Popoff, and Todd Bentley.

HERE IS WHAT IS SAD,,,, Charismatic Christians are merely doing what the Corinthians Christian where doing,,,, APING PAGAN PRACTICES.

That is why I posted this video for ya’ll to see.

Signs And Wonders Movement Exposed: THE VIDEO SERIES THAT EVERY CHRISTIAN MUST SEE!!!!!!! 

 
DID YOU WATCH IT ERIC???????
 
I will have my examination of Eric’s “why I have a problem with Cessationism” post available in two or three days. I am sure most of you know good and well what Eric and Crew have been doing,,,,, but I will dissect Eric’s post (plural) for those whoever might not see exactly what he has to “obscure” in his post.
 
Thanks for your time, Damon Whitsell

Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion by J Lee Grady; Charisma Magazine

Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion

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.

 

“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.’ ”

 

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 spiritually 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, before he died in 1965. He claimed that he was the reincarnation of Elijah—and his strange doctrines are still embraced by a cultlike following today. 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.
 
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.

 

J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. To read Charisma’s news story on Todd Bentley’s recent announcement, click here.

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