Friday, July 02, 2010

Todd Bentley: “...take me or leave me and lot of you have left me. But you’re coming back!”

[Originally posted at Bene Diction Blogs on, Oct. 27, 2009]

Evangelist Todd Bentley, continuing his campaign of working while he is “not working” aired a new webinar on “healing” last Thursday, new wife Jessa featured at its beginning. The Oct. 22 internet broadcast on his website, although not specifically about the scandals that drove him from his work over a year ago now (“Watch the videos,” said Todd Bentley, “We’re not gonna talk about that tonight ‘cause that’s not why we are here.”). There are bits of news relating to the scandals that Todd lets slip accidentally.

A recording of his webinar now is on streaming video on the front page of his website .

The “healing webinar” itself is a cute idea.
Do I believe that God can heal via the Internet?
Do I believe that people can respond to “words of knowledge” over the Internet?
But even Bentley’s friends should admit that this way of going about things is open to possible abuse.

One of the most telling criticisms of the Lakeland revival last year was that reporters found that people were not healed after Todd proclaimed from stage that they were, or died after Todd spread the word of their good news. Reporters could check to see if their healing lasted (which given Christ’s own idea that the ten lepers he healed should be examined by others, is a soundly Biblical idea). But with this webinar, this Biblical check and balance is impossible.
Todd could easily say, in this sort of context, that someone has come back from the dead, say, but he can’t or won’t say who it is.

When we compare this with Christ’s healings in the Bible--which, for one, offered contemporary readers and healers of the accounts enough information that they could often track down those who were healed and resurrected for themselves—Todd allows no room for those checking on him to check his work.
Which, I suspect, given how he was clobbered by the press during and after Lakeland, Todd prefers.

His words of knowledge in the webinar seem precise, but they are phrased in such a way that in any largish Internet audience will have at least two or three who answer to it. There was sure to be a “young teenage girl” with bulimia” or a “lady with an anxiety disorder” or a “Peter” who had suffered a leg injury at work. Todd even gave himself an out by saying that if Peter, say, was a friend of yours, you could tip him off and he could log on to the recording later “and get his healing”.

If you have vague words with an open ended response time, that improves your chances for success.

Another of the ways that the old fashioned in person way is better is that when and if someone is healed, it adds impetus to the preaching of the gospel.
It allows the onlookers to have the majesty and grace of God brought home to them directly. Not so with a recording where you don’t see or hear people getting healed directly.

Why settle for second best…unless you can’t “heal” in the very best way?

The webinar interspersed “words of knowledge” with Bentley answering various reader-submitted questions on healing.

It opened with Jessa and Todd praying together. He opened the floor to her getting “words of knowledge too", but she ducked out after the opening prayer, and he did the rest.

Bentley was sure to attribute anything good that might happen to “the greatness of His [God’s] power”. “Is anything too great for the Lord”, Bentley asked, adding that he was claiming the promise that God would redeem his life from destruction. This is a power which apparently was unable to save Bentley’s first marriage. (I wonder if Bentley is eager to see God really bring “righteousness” and “justice” in his life.)

Bentley adds, shortly after the 15 minute mark, that he had to hold on to the promise that there was life in the midst of destruction and that there would be justice for the oppressed. (Readers recalling what has happened to Shonnah and his kids would see this claiming this as a bit of hubris on his part.)
Late in the video Bentley mentions that he needs money so that they can “go to school” and “have a house to live in”. A commenter at Bene Diction Blogs On has mentioned, on a second or third hand basis, that Shonnah may have had to sell her house. Did Todd’s money go missing in transit?)

The questions tended to address issues of “why haven’t I been healed yet.” Bentley had a CD series that proposed various generic reasons why people are healed and not healed and many of his answers referred to things that he has already taught before.

A question about emotional healing led Bentley to suggest that due to the lateness of the hour in many cases “I believe that we are at a place in the body of Christ where we don’t have five years, ten years ” to do extended emotional or physical healing as a process and therefore God would start to do more instant healings.

Continuing on the subject at around the 28 minute mark, he brought up his “dark night of the soul” when, reportedly, God brought up memories of when he was abused. He can now remember these alleged incidents without suffering the attached emotions for no apparent reason . (That would be great…but easy to experience if these things had never happened.)

I understand “women’s mood swings,” Bentley said “I had a bunch.”

Another question on whether you can induce healings by what you do led Bentley to reminisce about his crusades overseas.

“I had a great worldwide ministry and I ran it right into the ground,” Bentley said. “Boom, I did it.”

In Africa, he claims, often “everything was all wrong” with the equipment, or the weather, or the music, but he was able to heal anyway. He added that he felt pressure as the famous Western evangelist thinking that his audience was thinking “Come on, magic man.”

What he would do, he said, is try what he had done before, in the hopes that it would work again. One person would be healed “and then it’s like dominoes” and others would be healed as well.

Bentley promised to pray over prayer requests that were sent to him. “It’s the reason I’m alive” he said. (So much for him coming off the road if that is what is best for him.)

“….take me or leave me--and a lot of you have left me,” Bentley said. “But you are coming back!”

He counseled that people wanting to be healed stay away from their friends who disagree with you about healing. “Atmosphere has everything to do with healing,” he said “Draw real boundaries up.”

Something that he says shortly after the 55 minute mark, alluding to his future plans, is very interesting. “I’m going to be going out to Baltimore to meet with the Revival Alliance and get into the anointing,” he said. This is C. Peter Wagner’s group.

Remember at the tail end of the Lakeland revival when Wagner and others came to Lakeland to pray for and predict wonderful things for Todd? Todd and Rick Joyner did. Wagner and his friend would later point out that Bentley, with Joyner looking on approvingly, has entered into a formal relationship with the Revival Alliance, where he came under the leadership of Wagner’s informal group. (Stephen Strader explains this in some detail in his book on Lakeland .)

In a “restoration” video, however, Joyner and Bentley tried to lie and say that nothing formal had happened. (In a post from this spring, shortly after the video appeared, I explained this in some detail. It’s a quite a blatant lie and you can read all about it here.

If there is no formal relationship between Bentley and Wagner’s group, as was argued quite forcefully by Bentley and Joyner, why does Bentley need to go to Baltimore to talk to them?

Another viewer asked when it was appropriate to use violence in prayer as Smith Wigglesworth did and Bentley bragged about doing in Lakeland. (The video is which he knees a cancer victim in the stomach is still the most popular “Todd Bentley” video on YouTube.)
He took a night to tell his favorite stories, which was sampled on YouTube and I have read similar stories in his old books and heard them on his old tapes when he tells them.

“That was over a decade of ministry”, he said “I haven’t heard of any instances where anyone was hurt when I prayed in that way.”

“It is like a Smith Wigglesworth it is like a gift of faith” he said, but he was careful to issue a disclaimer, thanks to his lawyer I think, that you shouldn’t do anything like that yourself unless moved to do so by the Holy Spirit.

“It was a gift of healing, and people have died that I have prayed for,” Bentley said.
Bentley knows that people have read the famous World story, where Warren Cole Smith followed up and found that people who had been “healed” according to the bragging of Todd’s old ministry had died of their maladies a year later. Don’t listen for a second, however, and you will miss that acknowledgement.

You can’t answer all the questions about healing in just over an hour, but Bentley ended with a plug for his “healing bundle”—books and CDs that would answer your questions.

He promises a webinar on his website on Tuesday November 17, which will address “the anointing” of God. Wanna bet that he will have an “anointing bundle” to see; answering all the questions of that webinar?

“I’m going to be coming back in phases,” Bentley said. “In one sense, there are things that we are doing now, here locally and with Morningstar”

But, as he predicts “great things in 2010”, a guess that he will be back preaching full tilt early in the new year is probably a good one.