Todd Bentley was exposed as being in the deception and sin of an inappropriate relationship with a female staff member. The anointed but hard-driving evangelist had fallen prey to the oldest of all sins. It’s a sad story. It’s sad for the church and it’s especially sad for Todd Bentley, whose wife is separating from Him. What is especially interesting is the variety of responses that people have had to his fall.
- Steven Strang and J. Lee Grady of Charisma have used the opportunity to reiterate and vindicate the concerns they had all along with the revival.
- Peter Wagner, who led a team of ministers to go down and bless Todd Bentley has said something to the effect that Lakeland is bigger than Todd, and it’s just moving to a new phase. Here is a statement he made about why he did the commissioning ceremony.
- Dutch Sheets has issued a reformational call to the church.
These three responses I think typify the three major categories of responses in the body. Let me say up front, that I’m turned off by the attitude of those who seem to have the “I told you so” attitude. When something is popular you can’t openly oppose it, or you’ll be marginalized, but once it collapses, you can now say forcefully what you believed all along. Watching the tapes, I just have to believe that God worked in Lakeland. It’s not the time for “I told you so’s.” It’s the time for “I’m sorrys.”
The people who went down there to bless Todd Bentley got a lot of egg on their face, and they’ve had to explain themselves. They are trying to make the distinction of supporting Todd without validating his ministry. Yet, it’s really not that simple. If you watched any of the commissioning service, they had extensive over the top prophecies for him. Which causes one to wonder what spirit are we in? If something of this nature is going on, and a bunch of major leaders come down there and prophesy something akin to the second coming, not the second meltdown, it doesn’t seem very prophetic.
Moreover, the point of having that service was for these men to put their names on the line for revival. I agree with Dutch Sheets that those who signed their name on the dotted line in any oversight capacity for Todd or the revival have a responsibility here. If you put your imprimitur on something and it turns out to be something to be problematic, then you had a failure of due diligence or an error of judgement. Either of which requires an open acknowledgement. To go on and mince out why did what you did and how it wasn’t a validation, etc, is not acceptable.
There seems to be a certain group of Charismatics who are unable or unwilling to see anything that presents itself as “spiritual” with a critical lens on. I was visiting a church like this during the peak of the revival, and they talked a lot about how if you are bothered by something like barking and howling you are being “religious.” The problem with that is it’s a universal free pass. If you don’t like this post you’re religious. Convenient, isn’t it? Does anything done in the name of the Lord go? So here we have this huge embarrassment to the church, and all we can say is “it wasn’t about Todd anyway?” Maybe you’re right. Maybe it was really about another opportunity to validate the strange practices that have come to be part and parcel of being Charismatic. “It’s going to continue without him” Apparently it will. It will continue in spite of any evidence presented that there might be some house cleaning needed in the Lord’s church.
I believe that it’s a “Joke’s on us” moment in the church. This uncritical camp thought that they were going to have Toronto Part II. Look in the audience at one of these meetings and you’ll notice that the crowd is surprisingly old for such a young evangelist. It was a group that had come up through charismatic experiences of a different era that was attracted to this. The new generation might not have been so impressed. Toronto was a significant move of God, but it also had problems. I don’t believe God wants to repeat it, I believe He wants to take the next step forward in History. Lakeland was an event that may separate and reshape the Charismatic movement. Those who want to go on doing the Charismatic “thing” will apparently continue no matter what happens. For others, it’s a gut check. It says, “Hey, we missed something big. It’s time to reform and reexamine” We’re losing like one Charismatic giant every two years. Paul Cain, Ted Haggard, Todd Bentley.
We need a reformation. And we don’t need a bunch of arm-chair quarterbacks. We need people who are willing to realize that all of us who participated in a validated this kind of approach are part of this thing. We need to become something different so God can do something different among us.