Those who have been following the misadventures of Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley may be interested to know that he remarried a few days ago.
Mr. Bentley has married the former Jessa Hasbrook, a former intern for his ministry. Last summer, his internationally famous revival campaign in Lakeland, Florida collapsed when it was revelead that he and Jessa had begun an "emotional affair". Charismatic leaders C. Peter Wagner and Robert Ricciardelli, however, have reported that the affair was apparently sexual. Mr. Ricciardelli, furthermore, has indicated that this affair, whatever type it was, began in January of last year, which would place it well before Mr. Bentley announced that he was separating from his wife Shonnah. This is also well before Mr. Bentley brought Shonnah Bentley and his kids to Lakeland to show them to an international T.V. audience. Shonnah Bentley even preached in a local church to promote her husband's revival.
(Even non-contested divorces in British Columbia take at least two to five months to process. If we work backwards, it appears that Todd and Jessa Bentley could have wound up marrying as quickly as the day after Todd Bentley's divorce paperwork arrived in the mail from Canada. A five month delay until now would place the start of everything back around last November, which, interestingly, was around the same time that Shonnah Bentley and her mom Val Andres, in control of the remnant of the Fresh Fire board, issued the statement on behalf of the board that Todd was committing "adultery", and castigated the evangelist at some length.)
Readers may recall that I reported on The Shotgun last fall that Shonnah Bentley has a lifelong disability after suffering cancer as a teen:
Mr. Bentley must realize that if, he divorces his current wife in favor of a trophy wife, there will be speculation in the minds of some of his Internet and Christian media critics that one of the reasons that he is getting rid of Shonnah is because her disability embarrasses him—and moreover, that his theology does not work with a wife hobbling along at his side.
There are several pictures and videos of Jessa on the Internet now. With all due respect to Shonnah Bentley (as I do not like to make such comparisons in print), the new Jessa Bentley is certainly a "trophy wife" for the evangelist. She is significantly younger than Todd Bentley, pretty, and by all indications, completely able bodied. I do not think that Mr. Bentley was thinking of Jessa's spiritual gifts, skills, training or knowledge, when he asked for her hand. To my knowledge, Jessa has never preached, ministered in faith-healing as Mr. Bentley has, or done anything to indicate that she can significantly help her new husband in his work. (Shonnah Bentley has. Not that it matters to Mr. Bentley now, though.)
Watch for the Christian press, if they are on the ball, to point this out. Hopefully, with side-by-side photos of both Mrs. Bentleys.
This is a fait accompli presented to Rick Joyner, the U.S. Christian evangelist who has yet to begin "restoring" Mr. Bentley to ministry. Mr. Bentley is saying to Mr. Joyner. "Look, buddy, I'm marrying this woman, and whatever advice you may have to the contrary based on the Bible or your educated wisdom, is beside the point." Very conservative Christians (which include some charismatics) believe that remarriage while one's first spouse in alive is proscribed by the Bible, so it will be interesting to see what kind of arguments that Joyner and Mr. Bentley can advance here. I don't think that arguing something like "I no longer love my first wife, but I love this prettier, able-bodied and younger woman who doesn't have the maturity (spiritually or emotionally) to hold me accountable to God's standards (as a husband and evangelist) in the same way that Shonnah can. So, that's why I married Jessa." will work well for Mr. Bentley. Nevertheless he will try.
Readers of Mr. Bentley's autobiography, Journey Into the Miraculous, will also recall a vision that Mr. Bentley had before his marriage that I've discussed in the Shotgun before. You may recall that he claims in his autobiography that he received a special message from the Lord that he was to marry Shonnah Andres...which he did. He wrote:
“…the Lord had actually shown me an open vision of Shonnah. It was my first open-eyed vision. I was in my living room and my fireplace opened up, kind of like a TV screen, and I saw us embracing in a wheat field that was ready for harvest. We were both weeping and I was wearing a tux and she was wearing a wedding dress. As the vision unfolded, her friend Roswetta (who was now my friend) was talking with me in the living room about Shonnah. I described the open vision to her as it happened. The presence of the Lord fell and we both wept. Roswetta said, ‘I can’t see it but I can feel goose bumps.’ During this vision, I also received an anointing of creativity, poetry and writing. In fact, I even received a three-page prophetic poem that I read at our wedding. I still write prophetic poems for my wife to this day.”
Todd Bentley lied. He lied to get Shonnah Bentley to marry him. Otherwise, if he believed that heard from God, in the same way that he "hears from God" on behalf of people wanting a healing touch or a message from the Lord, he would have moved heaven and earth to stay with his first wife. Sadly, that is the point of view on this that makes the most sense now.
Jessa Bentley--if Todd told you anything about a vision that he had where Jesus told him to marry you, please save yourself some heartbreak and take it with the biggest grain of salt that you can find.
This poses an interesting question for Mr. Bentley's U.S. publisher Destiny Image Publishers. Are there any whoppers in Mr. Bentley's three books? What will happen to Todd's account of his vision about marrying Shonnah in future editions of his autobiography? Will it disappear in the same way that officials who displeased Stalin started disappearing from pictures and photos as they were taken to the Gulag?
Sad, very sad. I wonder what Mr. Bentley can say when he fields inquiries from the press again.