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"BAM! BAM! BAM!" SAID THE FALSE PROPHET

 

By Marsha West

June 17, 2008

NewsWithViews.com

Faith evangelist Todd Bentley has drawn hundreds of thousands to his Florida Healing Revival to "soak in the glory and spread the fire." Before you pack up the car or purchase an airline ticket and head to Lakeland Florida, here's a word of warning: Christians who play with fire will get burned.

All the controversy over the Lakeland Outpouring is causing deep division within the Church. Some Christians believe Bentley is bringing a long overdue revival. They argue that since people are getting healed it's a move of God. But a growing number of believers say he's a fraud. So which is it? Is Todd Bentley a prophet of God, or just another huckster? Let's examine the evidence to find out if a genuine revival is going on in Lakeland.

There's a plethora of video clips online that show Bentley in all his raging glory, stalking the stage. In one clip I watched, he's bragging about "grounding and pounding" people who have come to him for healing. In another clip he declares that God told him to batter a woman's legs with a baseball bat. He then boasts how he has applied choking moves on sick people who come to him for help. Then there's the story of the "Chinese guy" he "hit so hard that a tooth popped out of his mouth." Bentley's "healing" is often so brutal that some witnesses compare it to WWF Smackdown! The man may be a wrestling aficionado, but he's definitely not a prophet of God. No offense, but he is as phony as most professional wrestlers. But don't take my word for it. Watch the video clips in this article and you'll discover that I'm not making any of this up. Here's the first clip.

What struck me about this clip is that people in the audience, most of whom are professing Christians, laughed and applauded as Bentley blamed God for telling him to inflict pain on people! The Apostles never behaved in such an appalling manner. Would Paul kick a senior citizen in the head, even with lightweight sandals on his feet? Peter may have been hotheaded, still he would never have resorted to grounding and pounding the sick in order to heal them. Now, imagine John choking someone and saying that God told him to do it! What I have just described is Todd Bentley's WWF style of healing.

Many of Bentley's "healings" are not instantaneous, by the way. For example, a man claimed partial restoration of his hearing on Wednesday and on Thursday he claimed his hearing was completely restored. Both Jesus and the Apostle's healings were instantaneous, and that's because they were authentic. People were restored to full health. Not in Lakeland, though, where they experience "miracles in progress."

Something I found odd is how Bentley feigns wide-eyed surprise at some of his "miracle healings." Since he's allegedly healed masses of people for a number of years, why does he look so amazed when people are healed? The answer is obvious. He plays the audience! And he's oh so effective at "priming the pump" to keep their minds engaged.

Restoring someone's missing eye or severed hand is an outward healing. Todd Bentley's "healings" are inward. Glaringly absent are restored body parts. Several video clips show people allegedly healed of cancer, heart problems, tumors, diabetes, deafness, asthma, fibromialgia, broken bones, and so on. Again, Bentley's healings are not outward like the genuine healings of Jesus and the Apostles. Moreover, he claims to have raised people from the dead!

The obvious question is if miraculous healings like the sort Jesus performed are actually taking place in Lakeland, where's the proof? Photos and videos of people with restored limbs and missing body parts would be splashed all over national TV and the Internet, especially on Christian news sites. Where are the "before" and "after" pictures of burn victims, kids with cleft pallots and other obvious birth defects? Absent are stories from Alzheimer's sufferers who miraculously regained their memories. One blogger made this astute comment:

" Bentley's close friend and mentor, Bob Jones is sick with kidney problems and is obese. Todd Bentley is overweight and balding and had a recent heart attack. Quite a few of Todd Bentley's musicians and singers, as others have remarked, are also very big so there is no miraculous weight loss anointing or healing baldness anointing or any healing anointing working among them -- and Todd claims the anointing drops pounds off fat people and puts hair on heads. James Goll's wife is seriously ill with cancer. Get my drift?"
[1]

In the next clip an eleven-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsey who cannot walk without a walker has a dream of running around the baseball diamond. The boy sincerely believes he's been healed. (This one brought me to tears.) He struggles to speak as he relays his "healing" experience to the crowd. All the while his mother holds onto his shaky body to keep him from falling. The boy cannot stand alone, let alone run. Yet he's told by Bentley that he's a "healing in progress." Then before the boy knows what hit him, BAM! he's "slain in the spirit" (pushed to the floor). Watch it and weep.

What did Jesus do?

" Then he [Jesus] said to the paralytic, 'Get up, take your mat and go home.' And the man got up and went home" (Mat 9:6-7).

What about Peter?

" As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, a paralytic who had been bedridden for eight years. 'Aeneas,' Peter said to him, 'Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat.' Immediately Aeneas got up. All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord" (Acts 9:32-35).

The obvious question is, does Satan have the power to heal? The answer is that he gives the appearance of healing, but it's a counterfeit. It's true that God performs miraculous signs and wonders. And the apostles performed signs and wonders and miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. Sorcerers perform "miraculous lying signs and wonders" that lead people astray and keep them from the truth. But lying signs and wonders may not be miraculous at all. Satan has the power to deceive, "even the elect—if that were possible." Some faith-healers use social emotional and psychological manipulation to get people to to change their behavior, their attitude, even their morals. In a crowded setting people are more susceptible to manipulation tactics. This is known as peer pressure. Responding to peer pressure is part of human nature.

In his article SOAKING? A spiritual discipline or Eastern Mysticism, Gary Gilley describes psychological manipulation thus:

John Arnott writes [in his book The Father's Blessing]: It is no coincidence that we have seen people prophetically acting like lions, oxen, eagles and even warriors. In Steve Witt's church in St. Johns, New Brunswick, I saw all four of those manifestations happening at the same time -- the ox, the eagle, the lion and the man (warrior). The lion and eagle manifestations accompanied prophesying. The man who was acting out the part of the warrior had both hands gripped together around the hilt of a sword, and he was swinging it. These warrior actions give the observer a real feel of battlefield action. The people who were doing this were mostly credible pastors or leaders. I was astonished but sensed the awesome presence of God.

"One lady who played the keyboard and weighed about 115 pounds was on all fours, snorting and pawing the ground like an angry ox or bull. It was obvious that she was surprised and a bit frightened by what was happening, but at the same time she seemed determined to follow the Spirit's leading (p. 178)."

People who follow the "Spirit's leading" in this way look like they're crazy, drunk or possessed, which is the reason Scripture doesn't support foolish behavior! In this next clip a group of people line up to receive the "anointing." This is actually scary!

Scripture never mentions lying supine on the floor sizzling like bacon in a frying pan as Bentley induces people to do. Nor does it mention crying or laughing hysterically, screaming, shaking all over, clucking, mooing, barking and roaring "in the spirit." This may come as a surprise to some Christians, but being slain in the spirit is not normative in Scripture. Read 1 Cor. 14 to learn what God wants a church service to look like. Paul makes it clear that, "Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."

I find the next clip disturbing on so many levels. Watch what's taking place in the Ashrams of India, the cults, the New Age movement, even inside the church! Popular Word of Faith teacher Kenneth Copeland gets in on the act and comes close to mussing his hair: Watch the mindless mind.

In Galatians 5:22-25 Paul describes the "fruit of the spirit" and how to live a Spirit-filled life. Ponder these verses and decide for yourself if the fruit produced by the Lakeland Outpouring is fresh or rotten. The fruit of the Spirit is "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit"

I wonder, are faith-healers recruited by the U.S. military to heal soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who have sustained horrific injuries, from lost limbs to burns to blindness. Benny is always trapsing around the world to bring healing to the sick. One can't help but wonder how much time he spends bring healing to our brave American soldiers. Our Lord healed the sick in his own backyard:

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you." Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God" (Luke 18:34-43).

Now for more "fire burning heat healings" from Todd Bentley. Only this time he takes credit for a three year-old girl's resurrection from dead.

According to Charisma Magazine, Arnold Palmer Hospital denied the report. A blogger who believes the girl was healed claims that the she died a second time "under mysterious circumstances."
[2]

After watching Bentley in action, any reasonable person would have to conclude that the Florida Healing Outpouring is not a movement of the Holy Spirit as those involved in it believe. This so-called "revival" was birthed in the pit of hell. And speaking of hell, Bentley claims that the audible voice of God told him to pretend to be demon possessed during a Charismatic Catholic meeting. At first he argues with "God" about it, but then caves in and does as the voice tells him. Suddenly he finds himself "writhing around on the floor like a serpent." Then a demonic power commences speaking from his mouth and he starts cursing and using profanity. Fortunately for him a first-rate faith-healer is on the scene to grab the bull by the horns. The "healer" proceeds to cast twenty-five demons out of Bentley's body. Don't take my word for it, watch the next clip.

Bentley has a demon alright -- the demon of heresy! (Naming demons is not biblical, by the way, nor is "binding demons." But that's another article.) How can a born again Christian be possessed by demons when the Bible says, "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1John 4:4). The Holy Spirit indwells true Christians. Moreover, the New Testament does not mention that believers should be concerned with becoming demon possessed. So let's set the "demons can possess believers" myth to rest once and for all. It can't happen. Oppressed, yes, possessed, never!

Not surprisingly, Todd Bentley is obsessed with angels. Many of his followers have heard his tall tale of how a 14-foot angel "towers in the apartment," where he lived. Seven days after the "visitation" he went into ministry. Listen to him "telling the honest truth" about a "visitation from heaven" and how it led to his healing ministry in Albany, Oregon.

It matters not to Bentley's followers that his angel encounters are unbiblical. He has received "visitations" from the "Winds of Change" and his money gathering angel, Emma. On money matters Bentley offers this advice in his article, Angels and the Florida Healing Revival:

"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.'"

Where do I begin? First, and most importantly, Bentley's understanding of angels is unbiblical. God does not instruct humans to partner with angels, nor are we to pray to an angel. The word "angel" means "messenger." God sends messengers to humans via elect-holy angels. Humans are to pray directly to the Father in heaven. Nowhere in the bible are believers instructed to elicit the help of an angel to accumulate wealth! Hence, the "angels" Bentley prays to could not possibly be messengers from God. If you believe that he's "telling the honest truth" about his "visitations," understand that the advice he receives is from fallen angels, AKA demons. Had Todd Bentley taken the time to study the Bible to find out what it says about the host of heaven, he'd know that his "visitations" are from the dark side! (Angelology is out of the scope of this article. If you wish to find out what the Bible says about angels, visit NewsWithViews.com and read my articles on angels.
[3] )

Todd Bentley says he has conversations with God. He continually spouts, "the Lord told me…" and passes along to the audience what the Lord supposedly said. But would God really instruct him to kick a woman in the face with a biker boot? First of all, if he actually "obeyed" the voice, he'd have been arrested for battery! Or sued!

What's up with the people Bentley employs? There are a number of them on stage with him at all times. Apparently they stood idly by when he assaulted helpless sick people, even knocked a man's tooth out! The question Bentley's devotees must ask themselves is does this sickening behavior in any way glorify the Holy Trinity?

I'm inclined to believe the "voice" Todd Bentley says he hears is not God at all. Either he's hearing from demons or it's a figment of his imagination. It is not in God's character to lie, nor would the Almighty honor someone who blatantly twists Scripture.

Following is an excerpt from an article I wrote, Found: God's Will:

"God speaks to us through the pages of Scripture. 'For all our talk about sola Scriptura,' says Greg Koukl, 'many also hold that God speaks to them on a regular basis giving true information about Himself and specific directions for their lives. Their claim is, essentially, "I believe the Bible is a bona fide source of information and the Spirit also gives private information directly to me." The second step frequently follows the first: The personal, subjective sense of what a person thinks God is telling him trumps the objective Scripture.'

" Koukl makes an important point. Should what we hear in our mind take precedence over what Scripture says? Christians will often toss out the phrase, 'God told me' that they should do this or that. Or 'I felt led,' or 'I sensed that God wanted me to___' You fill in the blank. Televangelists, who pretend to have a direct pipeline to God, prance around in front of the TV camera, claiming to hear a 'word from the Lord.' At the risk of sounding negative or divisive, most televangelists teach outright heresy (I can prove it), so why would God speak to them at all? Frauds should not expect to hear from God; they should expect to be rebuked by God."
[4]

And by the way, it's blasphemous to blame God for giving you instructions that goes against the teaching of Scripture!

Bud Press made this insightful comment about Bentley:

" Bentley has a desire for power and experience, which has become the ruin of many before him. If one takes Bentley's view as realistic and tries to make it normative for today, then maybe we should continue to write Scripture and add it to the Bible. Because that is exactly what Bentley is doing."
[5]

In their book Overrun By Demons: The Churches New Preoccupation With The Demonic, the authors explain the working of the Holy Spirit:

" The Holy Spirit is the One who works in us and leads us, while the Word of God is the means that He uses to bring this about. They are best friends and never travel alone. In addition, they never have an argument; they always agree. After all, the Holy Spirit is the agent used by the Father to write the Scriptures, so He knows them quite well! Therefore the Holy Spirit would never lead anyone to do anything which conflicts with the written Word of God, no matter how convincing the circumstances or intense the experience."
[6]

Satan's counterfeit signs and wonders have one purpose: To destroy the work of Christ. For those who are all caught up in the "sings and wonders" movement here are a few scriptures to ponder:

" Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD." (Jer 13:16)

" A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah." Jesus then left them and went away" (Mat 16:4).

" Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:30-31).

" Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Gal 5:7-8).

" The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved" (2 Thes 2:9-10).

" For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Tim 4.3-4).

There are other verses that support this point, but you get the idea. Video clips exposing the Lakeland Outpouring abound. Some of them are far worse than those few I have selected. Most who watch Todd Bentley in action conclude that the man is a false prophet. In my opinion he's deeply troubled and in dire need of prayer.

Over the years I've corresponded with a number of charismatics who have accused me of "quenching the Holy Spirit." What I've found is that if you don't share their experiences, you're considered "outside." In other words, if you don't buy into the apostate "signs and wonders" movement you lack "divine revelation." Since when does "experience" override Sola Scriptura? "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching [Scripture], you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'" (John 8: 31-32).

This is why committed Christians must be in the Word' so that they will know the truth! Knowing Scripture is the only way to become spiritually attuned enough to spot a counterfeit. False teachers are thriving! But in the end they will lose all they have gained here on earth. In Mat 7:21 our Lord gives this stern warning: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

So when a "miracle" takes place, test what the person is teaching! "Do not believe every spirit," warned John, "but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1-2).

Now, I don't claim to know Todd Bentley's motives, only God knows what he's up to, but I can certainly judge his words and actions. His words are lies and his actions are dishonoring to God. Thousands are streaming into Lakeland to receive the false anointing. Visitors are treated to a magical mystical experience and a bizarre floorshow – literally! Countless people have found themselves on the floor "sizzling in the spirit." This is not an authentic revival it is a counterfeit! True revival accompanies preaching about sin, sanctification, and salvation. The unsaved leave Lakeland with no concept of sin and repentance. They have not heard the true gospel from Bentley. "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain" (1 Cor 15:1-2).

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After watching Bentley's performance, I'm convinced this is not a move of God; it's a move of the Adversary. I'm also convinced that the charismatic revival, hailed as another Great Awakening, is a lying sign and a false revival. I realize that some lost souls are coming to Christ in Lakeland but they're being saved in spite Todd Bentley, not because of him! This has all come about because of a lack of spiritual depth and transformation among those who claim to be committed Christians.

One last comment. Any pastor who advises his/her flock to visit the Lakeland Outpouring cannot be trusted for the simple reason that he/she is sorely lacking in spiritual discernment. Consider looking for a new church!

Footnotes:

1, End Times Prophetic, Prophecy, Visions, Dreams, Revelation, Christian Blog
2, Miracles part 3
3, Articles By Marsha West (A slew of angel verses in Additional Reading below)
4, For a biblical understanding of angles, read Unbiblical Ideas About Angels, By Marsha West
5, An Open Heaven- Todd Bentley's Highway to Heaven, By Bud Press
6, Overrun by Demons: The Churches New Preoccupation With The Demonic, By Thomas Ice and Robert Dean, Jr., page 88, Harvest House Publishers

Additional Reading:

1, What Is True Revival? Originally published August, 1989, By Charles Woodruff
2, Scriptures on angels from Sola Scriptura Project website
3, Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and Love for God, By Mike Ratliff
4, Holy Laughter or Strong Delusion, By Warren Smith
5, Other Todd Bentley "healings" on YouTube

© 2008 Marsha West - All Rights Reserved

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Marsha West is the Founder and Editor of the E-Mail Brigade News Report, an online news report for conservative people of faith. Marsha is a freelance writer specializing in Christian worldview. She is a regular contributor to NewsWithViews.com, Alainsnewsletter.com, CapitolHillCoffeeHouse.com, plus her commentaries appear in MichNews.com and bibleteacher.org.

Marsha is also designer and webmaster of a Christian apologetics website, On Solid Rock Resources. She is currently writing a series of children's books for homeschoolers. Marsha and her husband reside in historic Jacksonville Oregon.

E-mail: EMbrigade@aol.com

 


 

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What struck me about this clip is that people in the audience, most of whom are professing Christians, laughed and applauded as Bentley blamed God for telling him to inflict pain on people! The Apostles never behaved in such an appalling manner.