Monday, June 02, 2008

lakeland

I've resisted posting on the topic of Todd Bentley and the Lakeland revival. There is plenty on the internet about it and you will easily find people on extremes (pro and con) and from time to time find folks in the middle. I was tempted to link to these but that would bring the added weight of discerning what others say in addition to what I see in the Lakeland events. One thing at a time is more than enough for me.

I'll start by saying that I have never been to Lakeland, never read or listened to a full book/sermon/whatever by Bentley, etc.. There is no need. The thoughts I want to share are generic and can be applied to this outpouring as well as any other.

Here's what I know ... I love the Bereans, they exemplify Christian living in terms of being eager and teachable. Here comes a new guy, Paul, proclaiming and doing all kinds of strange things (to them) yet as far as we can tell they were not judgmental, critical, nit-picky, etc.. They loved God and wanted all that He might be doing. At the same time they were not gullible and did not mindlessly accept all that was thrown at them. They were guided by Scripture (and presumably the Holy Spirit speaking through that) rather than by Paul's speaking skill or accompanying signs and wonders.

Some however still want to know whether or not the Holy Spirit is at work in Lakeland. I'm not sure why that is important for me sitting in Cincinnati but here's my guess. Yes and no. I think God is at work everywhere and I'm confident that He has at least a little to do with what is going on there. I understand from some that the Name of Jesus has been and is being lifted up. That's always God. However the presence and power of His Spirit does not necessarily mean He has given His seal of approval on the anointed one or everything that flows from that person's lips (Balaam's donkey, Balaam himself, Samson, Saul, etc.).

Others seem to need to understand if the miracles are real or not. As above, I'm sure some are and I'm sure some are not. I'm not an old man, only 47, but I've been around long enough to know that mixture is likely the case. I think it is foolishness to deny as some do any possibility of the power of God. On the other hand, some number of verifiable anythings does not prove a thing about the rest - but that holds true both ways. Some are eager to show some real miracle as if the proves the rest must be. Even more seem eager to expose a fake or false claim as if this proves all the rest are not real ... or worse, as if that teaches us something about the heart of all of those involved in that thing. I have to say, people mixed up in this kind of analysis expose more about themselves than they do about the thing they are railing on.

What I find interesting about this real or not real point is that I'm unclear what it proves. If a miracle(s) was real, what would that mean? It's interesting that those set on finding false miracles are those that do not believe in them anyway. They think Charismatics are whack because theology is somehow swayed by the presence of God showing up. Frankly, that is what is whack! It is not true and secondly, what do these people say when they cannot prove all of the proclaimed activity is false? I don't get it. And conversely, what if the majority were real and only some false? What does that mean? Does either position change what I think of the great and awesome God that created all the universe? Again, this hunt speaks more about the hunter than the prey.

That leaves us with Bentley's theology. Come on ... really? Are we really going to go there? Read his statement of faith, it is full of excellent stuff. Let me tell you, the devil isn't promoting those beliefs. On the other hand, it isn't the Bible and guess what? There are things in the statement that I completely disagree with. Does that make Bentley a messenger of the enemy? Moreover, I'm sure the things I disagree with are not the same things some others disagree with. So what does this prove? Bentley is clearly not one of the great Bible teachers of our time. So what?

Unfortunately, one doesn't have to wander too far from the statement of faith to begin finding some things that are more than a little arguable (Hebrews co-written by Abraham, partnering with angel of finance, etc.). Bottom line, there's enough that isn't aligned with Scripture that I could safely say, "steer clear" if you are going to this guy for spiritual growth. Does that make him a heretic? An agent of Satan? A deceiver? I don't think so. I'm not willing to say that about cessationists or Arminians so I'm not willing to say that here. But I can say I am not recommending his teaching to others ... in fact I would steer you away from this guy.

A final word; in my nearly 30 years of growing in christlikeness, I have found a few constants. One constant is that while I encourage people to go to conferences, it is inevitable that regardless of the nature of the conference, they will come back excited reporting that the local church needs to adapt what they saw at this other place. When they say that I know that they, like me, have still not reached maturity.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. ~ 1 The 5.19-22

5 comments:

Randy (no blog) said...

Good analysis. I'm also glad to see that you don't classify me as "a heretic, an agent of Satan, or a deceiver"

Caron said...

Thanks, Rick.

Please see "A Call for Discernment" by going to http://www.justinpeters.org. Justin is an evangelist and in addition to expository preaching, also holds seminars on the "Word of Faith" movement. He has cerebral palsy and concurs with the apostle Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee."

To God be the glory!

Caron
Los Angeles

PuritanReformed said...

Rick,

may we know then when Bentley talks about the "faith of God", that he was demon-possessed after his conversion, and of his 'healing' antics (kicking a women in the face, leg-drop a pastor etc.) etc., what is your opinions on these things?

rick said...

Daniel - good to hear from you again.

As noted in the post, I think Bentley is not a good Bible teacher and I would not turn to him for such. But then you and others probably wouldn't choose me as a source of Bible teaching (at least on some topics).

:-)

Regarding the specifics:

"faith of God" - I don't understand what he means when he says that phrase and I don't want to invest energy in trying to understand.

Christians being "demon-possessed" - in my theology, not possible. But that could be a terminology issue since I would allow for "demon-oppressed" or "influenced by a demon(s)".

"kicking, leg-drop, etc." - possibly from God? I'd say "yes". Probably from God? I'd say "no" and in context of all else here, I'd say even more likely "no".

PuritanReformed said...

Rick:

>But then you and others probably wouldn't choose me as a source of Bible teaching

Haha. So true, unfortunately.

>"faith of God" - I don't understand what he means when he says that phrase and I don't want to invest energy in trying to understand.

Well, as long as you don't mix around with the word-faith crowd, I guess that's fine (Yes, it is word-faith jargon)

>Christians being "demon-possessed" - in my theology, not possible. But that could be a terminology issue since I would allow for "demon-oppressed" or "influenced by a demon(s)".

Well, probably. But from the video that was uploaded of him speaking his demon-possesstion, highly unlikely it is a terminology issue.

>"kicking, leg-drop, etc." - possibly from God? I'd say "yes". Probably from God? I'd say "no" and in context of all else here, I'd say even more likely "no".

Is there any difference between "possibly" and "probably" in this instance?

reftagger