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By Marsha West
August 30, 2008
The Holy Spirit is on the move. He's working in the minds and mouths of the false prophets. BAM! They've fallen and they can't get up.
On June 23rd God moved a mountain -- figuratively speaking -- and the Charismatic church has been in chaos ever since. That day several of the New Apostolic Reformation leaders met in Lakeland, Florida for Todd Bentley's "apostolic alignment commissioning service." What happened was mind-blowing. I'm not talking about miraculous signs and wonders. There was no gold dust, no oil soaked hands, no angels with shimmering clothes and bright blue eyes hovering on stage. There was none of that -- but there was a whole lot of shakin' goin' on!
Such notables as C. Peter Wagner, leader of the International Coalition of Apostles, his wife, Doris, ChÃƒÂ© Ahn, John Arnott, Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner and several others came to the 10,000-seat tent to support what Todd Bentley and Fresh Fire were doing and to commission him as an evangelist. There was only one problem. The leaders failed to put Bentley through a proper vetting process to find out if he was deserving of their high honor. Turns out he wasn’t. Now they have egg on their collective faces and everyone knows it.
As a result, many in the Charismatic church are furious with them -- but it’s too late. The damage is already done and cannot be undone. What’s worse, thousands of people believed there was a "revival" going on and traveled from all over the globe to be a part of it. Some went hoping to be healed. They weren’t. Now they realize they were duped and have fallen into despair. People are wondering if they are even saved! (For those who doubt their salvation, remember that anyone who comes to faith in the real Jesus Christ is saved.)
This article is not about false prophet Todd Bentley; it’s about the esteemed leaders and role models who helped create the Lakeland disaster.
Before I proceed, let’s unpack the "latter rain" movement. Without getting too far afield, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement holds that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle. The founder of the movement is C. Peter Wagner. (More on Wagner in a moment.) The Prophets and Apostles are said to be given:
""¦power and authority by God to lead by serving, as described in the biblical letter of the apostle Paul to the Ephesians. As such, they believe in the 5-fold offices of the Church first popularized in Charismatic groups; of which the prophet and apostle has been absent from the Church for the last 2000 years, and are now being restored." :"(New Apostolic Reformation)":
People in this movement believe that the Apostles and Prophets have authority over the Church. Even though they hold a high office, the "apostles" and "prophets" don’t see eye to eye on everything. It has now come to light that some of the "apostles" were concerned about the possible dangers of commissioning Todd Bentley and warned other "apostles" but they were rebuffed "“ and they’re not taking it lying down. They wrote letters to apologize for the bad judgment of those who disagreed with them, thus bringing outsiders into the squabble. The letters are posted on their websites for the entire world to read.
Returning to the Lakeland disaster, according to The Voice Magazine:
"Discerning Christians recognized the tell tale signs of a disaster in the making at the Lakeland Revival. We’ve seen these sorts of tragedies occur time and time again in the Body of Christ over the decades. We all hoped to see a different outcome here, but the fruit of Bentley’s personal life reveals he was not ready for the level of public ministry he received and that he should never have been commissioned in an internationally televised "˜apostolic alignment commissioning service.’ Stepping down is an appropriate move in the right direction. Our concern is not only for the Bentleys, but the thousands of people around the world who are questioning everything they saw on God TV from the meetings at the Lakeland Revival. A lot of healing is going to be needed in the days ahead and many questions answered." :"(The Voice Magazine)":
We are already receiving answers to our questions. Charismatic pastor Dutch Sheets said the following in his official statement on Lakeland, which he deems an apology: (All Dutch Sheets’ quotes are from his apology :"(An Apology from Dutch Sheets on behalf of the Charismatic church leaders to the Body of Christ)": )
"But looking past some of the immediate and positive results, I, like many, also looked ahead to the possible fruit from questionable doctrine and experiences, exaggeration and hype, youthful pride, character issues and the frightening potential of a 32 year "˜young’ man leading a movement that could shape the future of the Church.
"These things were frightening, very frightening, to others and me. When something has the potential of setting precedent, birthing a movement and being reproduced as a prototype, we are no longer simply endorsing good brothers, good intentions and miracles.
"Doctrine and foundations will be built on these events. Teachings and paradigms for future ministries will be formed "“ in short, the next generation of the church and the move of God in the earth could be greatly impacted. This is why I stopped short of endorsing everything at Lakeland."
Dutch also stopped short of expressing his concerns to the Body of Christ, even though he claims he had a "check" in his spirit. He decided to ignore ""¦the uneasiness, the sickening feeling deep in my spirit telling me something else was wrong - terribly wrong - in this situation."
Many Charismatic leaders felt something was terribly wrong at Lakeland as well, but they were not candid about their concerns. Sheets now comes forward and says he knew something was terribly wrong, yet he tried to push Bentley’s "showmanship" out of his mind:
""¦the "˜bams,’ the head butts and kneeing, along with certain experiences and doctrines, all in order to embrace the good. Like many of my friends I tried to be - and believe I was - gracious, accepting, ready to think "˜out of the box’, etc. But try as I may, the uneasiness in my spirit just wouldn’t leave."
It seems it was more important for Rev. Sheets to "think out of the Box" than to warn gullible sheep who were flocking to the "revival." Now that the cat is out of the bag, he owns up to the fact that "mistakes were made" (which is the understatement of the year) and says there is plenty of blame to go around in the Charismatic church. Boy, I’ll say.
"Some of my closest friends endorsed and participated in the Lakeland meetings. "¦ Should they have been more discerning and have listened to the warnings they received? Obviously. Should those who "˜aligned’ Todd with spiritual fathers (which was a good thing and positioned him to receive help if he chooses to accept it) have realized to do so publicly was a mistake and could be interpreted by those watching in no other way than as a complete endorsement? Yes, they should have, especially when the event became a commissioning ceremony, complete with decrees and prophecies of going to higher levels, predictions of Todd’s increasing world-wide influence and leading a world-wide revival, emphatic and prolific endorsements of his character, etc. How could those watching believe the evening was anything but an aligning, endorsing and commissioning ceremony? It was. It really doesn’t matter who laid their hands on Todd - all share responsibility. This was unwise at best, naÃƒÂ¯ve at least and at its worst, foolish."
Please. The commissioning ceremony was anything but "naÃƒÂ¯ve." To me it looks as if their motives were self-serving, that the "apostles" wanted to be in the limelight and what better way than to appear on God TV and YouTube. Don’t tell me they weren’t thrilled that millions of people were watching them anoint Todd Bentley as he lay quivering like a bowl of Jell-O at their feet.
"The shot heard round the world" is a well-known phrase that represents the start of the American Revolution. The voices of the false prophets who pretended to speak for God have been heard round the world, thanks to the ubiquitous video camera. It may not start a revolution. But a battle is brewing among Charismatics and Pentecostals.
I’ve gotten off point.
Going back to Dutch, he complains that the leaders involved realized there was a problem:
"Those of us connected to them relationally, ministerially, and as movements - some even in alignment with them apostolically and as sons and daughters - would feel minimalized, if not betrayed, by the fact that they were in essence taking us onto the stage with them? Yes. These feelings were inevitable, especially when we had such uneasiness and asked them not to."
Harsh words. But he was their equal "“ and they ignored his warning.
"Should there be an acknowledgment of these mistakes to the body of Christ for the sake of accountability and in order to rebuild trust? I believe so, and remain hopeful this will happen."
If these men and women are truly God’s people, it will happen. (They should also acknowledge that the Apostolic movement disregards the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. In other words, it is outside the parameters of orthodoxy.)
As I mentioned earlier, Bill Johnson is one of the "apostles" who participated in the commissioning ceremony, hence he contributed to the Lakeland disaster. Bill pastors Bethel Church and is the founder of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California. Both his statement and sermon on Todd Bentley have been posted on his website. Here’s his reason for going to Lakeland: (All Bill Johnson’s quotes are from his statement :"(Regarding Todd Bentley: A letter from Bill)": )
"I went to Lakeland because of his enemies. The relentless criticism and opposition, coupled with the grueling and sometimes unwise schedule, were bound to take their toll on this young man"”emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. It happened two years ago, and it could happen again. It was my intention to bring a deflection into the mix so that he wouldn't take all the heat by himself. Little did I realize it was too late. He was at the place of burnout again, abandoning his marriage and pulling out of all public ministry."
Poor Todd. His grueling schedule took a toll on him. He became so spiritually and emotionally drained that he found solace in the arms of another woman. It was not the first time this has happened, by the way, which is what Bill meant by "it happened two years ago." Nonetheless, he stood by Todd, even counseled the Bentleys through all the turmoil. Which begs the question: Why didn’t he pass what he knew about Todd’s private life on the other "apostles" and "prophets"? In John Arnott’s statement he says he wishes he had known Todd was struggling in his marriage but he wasn’t told. Peter Wagner wasn’t told either. Yet Bill indicates they all knew about Todd’s issues: (My remarks in brackets.)
"And it was thought to all of us involved that the healing had taken place when in fact there were areas [of sin] that just weren’t dealt with. He just drug it into this great outpouring [that turned out to be not so great because they ignored his sin]."
I asked this question of Fresh Fire Ministries in my recent article, Todd Bentley Separates From Wife and Lakeland: "What did they know and when did they know it?" Now I’ll ask the same question of the "apostles" who commissioned Bentley: What did they know and when did they know it?
Johnson calls those who exposed Todd Bentley as a false prophet "sharks." He also says:
"I’ll never blame the opponents [sharks] of this outpouring for Todd’s choices [sin]. However, it had a greater effect on the outcome than any of his critics will likely own up to in this lifetime. History proves this."
So Bentley’s opponents drove him into an "unhealthy relationship" with a woman on his staff? But how can that be when so-called sharks weren’t swimming around Todd Bentley two years ago? He wasn't that popular until April 2008 when he showed up in Lakeland. (Watch Johnson’s sermon video here :"(Ibid.)":Ã‚Â Note: His "shark" remark is 7 minutes into his speech.)
"Apostle" Bill Johnson was one of the leaders who "prophesied" over Todd Bentley during the commissioning. Here’s what he said:
"When David wanted Uriah killed, he sent him into battle and then withdrew from him. As a company of people, we refuse to do that. Many revivals through history have been cut short of their intention, God's destiny and intention over individuals, because of jealousies and fears that get stirred-up in the people of God, and we refuse to do that. We shape the coarse of history by partnering with you, giving honor where it's due. You welcome the glory as well as anybody I've ever seen in my life. I long to learn from you=2 0in that. And I bless you and I pray with the rest of these, that the measure of glory would increase; that Moses would no longer be considered the high-water mark, with the glory shown from his face, but instead the revelation of the goodness of God would change the face of the church, and He would use your voice; He would use your grace, your anointing to alter the face of the church before this world; that the goodness of the Lord will be seen once again. I pray this over you in Jesus' name." :"(Todd Bentley’s Apostolic and Prophet Commissioning)":
Jealousies and fears, huh? I find this disturbing on so many levels. Where to begin"¦ First of all, Bill knew better than anyone that Todd Bentley had deep character flaws. Secondly, he was aware of concerns over: doctrinal error"¦ unverifiable stories"¦ the angel "Emma-O," the money angel "Winds of Change" and other alleged angelic visitations (nowhere in Scripture does it say that we should elevate angels, nor did the apostles point us to angels, our focus is to be on Jesus Christ alone)"¦ exaggerated healings"¦ unsubstantiated claims that people were raised from the dead"¦bizarre and dangerous "healing" practices (assaulting the sick with leg drops, high kicks, head punches, etc.)"¦ excessive drinking. Thirdly, Todd had been unfaithful to his wife and there was a rumor going around that he was at it again! This is the man the "apostles" and "prophets" hoped to "partner with"¦to shape the course of history?" It’s the sort of insanity that goes on in politics -- but not in the Church of Jesus Christ!
May the Lord restore Todd Bentley and heal him.
Returning to Dutch Sheets' apology:
"With such strong statements of disagreement, what is the affirmation toward my friends who led, participated in or endorsed this ceremony (and the meetings in general)? Simply stated, I know their hearts. It is not a contradiction of my criticisms toward some of their actions to, at the same time, defend and endorse their hearts and character. It is completely appropriate - when true - to defend a person’s heart and integrity while disagreeing with their actions."
He knows their hearts? The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jer 17:9)
Furthermore, Sheets' states that:
"I think the blunder of that night was huge and very damaging to the body of Christ, but I also realize that in their hearts, those involved honestly felt they were doing the right things. Again, while not defending the action taken, I would defend the character and integrity of Peter and Doris Wagner as vigorously as anyone I know, and do so with absolute confidence. There are no two people, and I mean that literally, who embody the qualities of humility, integrity, holiness (no compromise!), sacrifice, unselfish kingdom-thinking, the tireless giving of themselves to Christ’s cause and the body of Christ -and do I need to add risk-taking? - as much as Peter and Doris Wagner. It remains my great honor to be associated with them and call them a spiritual father and mother. And again, while not minimizing or "˜sweeping under the rug’ any wrong decisions, I remain steadfast in my belief that similar affirmations could be made of others involved - either directly or indirectly - in the ceremony. And some of them still see their endorsing of Lakeland as an endorsement of revival generally, not of Todd personally."
Spiritual Father Peter Wagner brought the commissioning ceremony to the wide screen and used his "apostolic authority" to endorse Todd Bentley, a man he claims he never met. Now Wagner is back peddling:
"I could easily see that Todd needs deep inner healing and professional-level deliverance he has not yet had the opportunity to receive. One of our critics said that we got it backwards and should have taken him into a back room and ministered to him before the ceremony. We had the luxury of a few minutes with Todd before the evening meeting. We had never met the man before. Was I to say "˜Hey, Todd, you're a mess and need help in the next five minutes?’"
So instead of taking the "mess" into a back room, he commissioned him as an evangelist?
Here is what Peter Wagner said to Todd Bentley when he stepped onto the stage: (All "prophecies" are from the VodPod video of Todd Bentley’s commissioning )
"This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world. With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley:
Your power will increase.
Your authority will increase.
Your favor will increase.
Your influence will increase.
Your revelation will increase.
I also decree that:
A new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry.
A new life force will penetrate this move of God.
Government will be established to set things in their proper order.
God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error.
New relationships will surface to open the gates to the future." :"(Ibid.)":
Wagner admits that he said these words to a man who needs deep inner healing. And by the way, those in the commissioning group hold that "professional-level deliverance" means deliverance from demons!
Here are other "prophecies" uttered by those involved in the commissioning:
"We bless you today, Todd Bentley. You're a friend. You're a man of God. You're a man of prayer. You're a man of the spirit. You love the anointing. And I would say that it's not just the Lakeland revival, but the whole world that goes into revival. And you're leading an amazing charge. And, multitudes are getting in behind you and saying, "˜Come on. I'm gonna go with you.’ And so we bless all of that. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for raising up this young man, to lead such a mighty charge around the world, and to partner with God TV in all that has happened here in the last, uh, several months now, three months almost. We bless it in the name of Jesus, and we stand with you, and we encourage you, and we honor you."
We honor you? Does John Arnott now regret his prophecy over Bentley? Not at all. (Read his statement hereÃ‚Â :"(John Arnott’s August 17, 2008 "Lakeland and Todd Bentley Update")": )
"Recognizing that God has chosen you and appointed you to bear much and lasting fruit in this Lakeland revival, and revival around the world. Recognizing that He has called you as an Ephesians 4 evangelist and a revivalist moving in signs and wonders. Knowing that you have walked in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Jesus in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, and growing in the intimacy and knowledge of God, we as your brothers and your friends, who have a deep love for you, Shonnah, your whole family, we just esteem you. We are here to stand with you, support you. And we are here to commission you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--in the power of His name--with special oil from Chuck Pierce. It's called "˜Revival Oil.’ Chuck could not make it, so he sent this Fed-Ex. Special oil for you. He's in Africa. And so we anoint you and commission you in Jesus' name."
Special "Revival oil"? Oh brother. What Todd needs is truth serum! I watched the "commissioning" on YouTube and got a "check" in my spirit"¦. because I knew from all the research I’ve done on Todd Bentley that these men and women were out of touch with reality. I tested the spirits by the Word of God, and low and behold, what these so-called apostles and prophets prophesied over Bentley was not from God! And if what they prophesied does not come to pass, God himself labels them false prophets, and he will judge them!
Dr. Clarice Fluitt:
"Hallelujah! For the word of the Lord would say, Behold the vanguard. Behold the tugboat that is cutting through the ice of religious traditions--the cruel, hard things. The understanding of the mind of men will now bow to the reality of the revelation of the finished work of Calvary. Behold, sayeth God, you have been equipped with cutting power. You have been equipped to go through those traditions of the mind of man. Yea, sayeth God, and you are pulling the church into the realm of glory. Behind you is a great ship that is laden with healing and deliverance and prosperity. This is the word to you, oh man of God- arise, kill, and eat. No longer; no longer; no longer will men call unclean what I have called clean."
Apparently, when they "prophesy" in King James English they’re hoping to convince those listening to them that they are actually speaking for Almighty God. (Try using this tactic on your kids and you’ll see amazing results.)
What really threw me off in Fluitt's "prophetic utterance" was her use of the modern term "tugboat" instead of "ship" or "sailing vessel." That aside, did Todd Bentley pull the church into the realm of glory as the pretend prophetess said he would? Well, not exactly. In fact, he tried to pull the church into the realm of the occult "“ and he would have succeeded if the "demon of lust" hadn’t gotten him off track.
"Todd, the Lord has made you to be a detonator. I see cables going around the world to different nations. I see Great Britain being set ablaze by the power of God. I see even as you go into places that God says you'll go even with the glory even like William Branham, and the Lord says you'll carry a portal anointing. And whatever city you go over, there will be a portal! 'There'll be a portal that will be opened up,' sayeth the Lord! The Lord says you'll detonate, and BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! There'll be a release of glory through the nations, says the Spirit of the Lord!"
Another "prophet" who believes he speaks for God. Yet he cites William Branham, a "Latter Rain" false prophet who denied the doctrine of Trinity. He held to a variation of a second century heresy taught by Sabellius know as Modalistic Monarchianism or Patripassianism. And yet Fowler--and Bentley"”idolize the man. (Bentley acknowledged Branham as the greatest healing evangelist who ever lived! Read about Branham here :"(The Teachings of "the Prophet" William Branham, By Mike Openheimer)": ) The false prophet proclaimed himself an angel of Revelation 3:14 and 10:7. He prophesied:
""¦by1977 all denominations would be consumed by the World Council of Churches under the control of the Roman Catholics, that the Rapture would take place, and that the world would be destroyed. He died in 1965, but many of his followers expected him to be resurrected, some believing him to be God, others believing him to be virgin-born.
Branham's influence has continued in many churches where his prophecies are considered to be divinely inspired. His teaching on the power of the spoken word has been a characteristic of later revivalists." :"(William Branham - Apologetics Index)":
Instead of Fowler’s promised "release of glory," God released (BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!) many of the people who were under the spell of the false teachers.
Isaiah 44:24, 25: "Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself; That frustrateth the tokens of the liars, and maketh diviners mad; that turneth wise men backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish."
Listen to what Gregory Koukl gleaned from 2 Timothy:
"In Paul’s final warning to the church, he does not counsel them to face the challenges of the future by embracing new movements of the Spirit. Instead, he tells them to look backwards, to continue in and guard what has already been revealed.
"This is Paul’s message throughout his entire letter. "˜Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me’ (1:13). "˜Guard...the treasure which has been entrusted to you’ (1:14). "˜And the things which you have heard from me...these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also’ (2:2).
"Paul warns of a time of moral chaos falling on the world and theological chaos falling on the church. The antidote for both is the same: Steady at the helm. Guard what has already been entrusted to you. Continue in the things which you have already learned.
"Everything we need to be fruitful and productive, to be trained in righteousness, to be adequately equipped for every good work, has already been revealed. For Paul, all the old stuff was all the right stuff.
"New movement of the Spirit? Maybe. And maybe not. I don’t have to decide. Instead, I’m taking the safe route by heeding Paul’s advice and focusing on the old movement of the Spirit. And so should you." :"(Revival: You, However, Continue, By Gregory Koukl )":
Some good has come out of the "Lakeland Outpouring." It brought to light the highly unorthodox beliefs of the NAR. Those who are a part of this movement should commit 2 Timothy to memory. Another good thing that came out of it is that the Charismatic church leaders who participated in Todd Bentley’s coronation ceremony have been exposed as false prophets and fools.
The chickens have come home to roost.
Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. -- Jer 14:14
Counterfeit Revival "“ Book By Hank Hanegraaff
The Agony of Deceit/What Some TV Preachers Are Really Teaching -- Book By Michael Horton
Todd Bentley, Fresh Fire Ministries and Lakeland Revival "“ Article By S.E. Ray
New Apostolic Reformation"”Articles on Deception in the Church website
False Prophet statements on Todd Bentley:
Thanks to Bud Press, founder of Christian Research Service, for his critique of this article.
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.
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