Saturday, April 09, 2011

Thanks to Todd Bentley: "Am I secretly becoming an atheist?"

[Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On July 7, 2010]

If you were wondering as you read the headline--I'm not quoting myself. Rather I am quoting a blogger who writes that he used to be on staff at Todd Bentley's old church.

According to Todd Bentley's Twitter feed today, things are going well with him. The days of allegedly "local ministry" are now over:

He who wins souls is wise!!! Dreaming of the Harvest. Crusade plans in the works? Africa, Haiti and return to India.
about 10 hours ago via Twitterrific

Todd Bentley

Not going anyplace where they heard of the sad end of the Lakeland revival? Exactly so.

With his purported deal with Discovery, things would seem to be going well for Bentley. Not as such for two people who shared their concerns on the Internet.

But then, Todd Bentley has never been one for good pastoral care, as a blogger and a Tweeter notes.

If the anoymous blogger is who he says he is, his blog might be explosive. Such as apparent confirmation that Todd Bentley had an extramarital affair long before Lakeland. But I'll be quoting from him at length on the continuation of this post.

The blog, "Lost My Faith In You" is only a few months old. I will be concentrating on the post "My Story" from a few days ago.

The author calls himself "TheDon", writes that he has a wife and 5 kids and is almost 33, if not presently that age.

Do we know that what he writes is true? Not absolutely, but what he writes makes a great deal of sense, and tallies with what I have heard behind the scenes. So, for the purpose of this post, I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt. (I will be quoting a bit from what he writes, in case the blog disappears.)

What may make TheDon a critical witness is that for many years he worked at various tasks on the staff of Todd Bentley and his starter family's church in Abbotsford B.C., Global Harvest Centre. His blog has a "behind the scenes" feel.

TheDon writes that he grew up in a Pentecostal, charismatic church. He appears to have lived most of his life in British Columbia. While courting his now-wife, he lived for a couple years in Burns Lake B.C.. Around that time, he sat "under the teaching of Patricia King, then Pat Cocking" He was gradually becoming affacted by the more extreme parts of the charismatic movement.

He then moved to Abbotsford B.C. roughly around 2003, and started to attend Global Harvest Centre. TheDon writes that after the birth of one of his sons, who was sickly at birth. (I'll be adding my own emphasis as I quote from his blog):

Over the next couple of months, I took my parental leave from the mill that I worked at. I sat under Todd Bentley's teaching; soaking and waiting on God, hoping for an encounter. I never had one, but I ended up working for the church, steeping in as a new graphic designer. The church had recently undergone a new name change, as well as a new vision, under the authority of Todd. They needed someone to put a new face on the church. Over the next several years, I came to see some things about church that I never knew before. Politics and meetings. I have never been to so many meetings. The leaders were always in meetings. I was shafted on several occasions because they had meetings to attend. The business of church made them too busy for me. I understood that they had duties to attend too, but it seemed like if you weren't in the inner circle then you didn't matter.

It's interesting that Todd was apparently the "900 pound gorilla" of the church. There's some evidence that he was, because apparently, as far as I know, he was not disfellowshipped by Global Harvest Centre when the following happened...

Todd Bentley's first extramarital affair?

There has been much talk that Todd Bentley's celebrated "dark night of the soul" in 2005 and 2006 was due to an extramarital affair. Bentley, instead of burning out, had pulled himself off the road to save his marriage to Shonnah Bentley. I have even heard a partial name of the alleged lady, which I chose not to report until I have more confirmation.

When the mention of Bentley dumping Shonnah Bentley for his former intern and nanny--the present Jessa Bentley--came out, there was talk by charismatic figures such as John Arnott, Robert Ricciardelli and C. Peter Wagner that Bentley had had grave marital problems before.

C.Peter Wagner, as quoted in the summer of 2008, was the most forthcoming. He wrote at the time:

....Their marriage has been torn for years by his emotional attachment with at least one other female whose physical contact went beyond hugging and kissing and holding hands. Enough said-maybe more details will be revealed later-but it was clearly immoral. All of this was skillfully concealed by lying and by swearing close associates who had observed his behavior to secrecy. Stephen Strader, for example, knew nothing of this before June 23. Apparently some of his board members did, but they did not have the ability to deal with it....

In this context, TheDon's comments indicate that the leadership at Todd Bentley's old church, Global Harvest Centre, knew that something was up, at least:

....About a years and a half into my term there, Todd Bentley had a crash in England. The story was that he suffered a breakdown and didn't want to continue on with what he was doing anymore. The leaders stated that he was going to take a break and get re-focused. The word behind the closed doors was that he wanted to have an affair with someone on his staff and that person was paid off to be quiet about it. But I won't speculate about it.

I would say, based on the fact that Bentley pulled himself off the raod for nearly two years, that where there was smoke there was fire. If TheDon, however, heard such talk throughout Global Harvest Centre, we can expect that this is not something cooked up by Todd Bentley's critics. Whatever did happened before 2006 between Todd Bentley and the lady was quite real.

The run up to Lakeland and after

TheDon's spritual "Spidey-sense" continued to operate, as he began to notice that Bentley's calls for offerings were at least a half hour. "And of course, the money came rolling in."

He continues:

Then came Lakeland.

This was huge. Lakeland is a city in Florida and the location for what was going to be the greatest revival that ever happened. The stories that were coming out of Florida were crazy. Our church was getting a lot of attention. The leaders were taking shifts running down to Florida. People were flocking to it like crazy. Honestly, I didn't know what to believe. I never went down because I'm the kind of person that steers clear from the popular things. Besides, we have five children and too many commitments to run off. But all this seemed to be simply amazing.

TheDon, who apparently knows Shonnah Bentley, has some biting words about how Lakeland gravely wounded Global Harvest Centre, Bentley's home church:

Then came post-Lakeland.

When I found out that Todd had fallen into "sin" or "adultery" I was shocked. How could this happen? I knew his wife. She is one of the most kindest, gentlest people. I remember cooking a dinner for her because she was feeling really sick and they needed help after this whole debacle. But then something began to tug at me on the inside. If this man had begun a relationship with another woman, how was it that the other leaders, my pastors didn't see it? They were with him all the time. Then something dawned on me after seeing a photo of Todd at a certain event outside of Lakeland. The day thye made the announcement of Todd's fall, they said that a week previous or something like that, they had found out. But between that time and the time of their announcement, Todd had gone to speak at another engagement. And in the photo of that engagement, I saw one the the pastors. This man, Ken Greter, whom I knew since I was a child, from the church where I gave my life to the Lord, who I thought was a "righteous" man, let this cheating, lying Todd continue to practice his preaching even though they knew his predicament. I was completely baffled. And as time moved on, the leaders just continued to hush things up and sweep them under the carpet.

Of course, Todd came crashing down. The church began to fall apart. I lost my job, along with others and pretty much entered into financial ruin because of decisions that we made just prior to Todd's crash. The crazy thing is, the leaders actually let us make these decisions knowing what was happening. I was a staff member, for pete's sake. Simply stunning.

Of course, we no longer go to that church. And since then, I have found out more garbage about these leaders, including the possibility that Todd fabricated the whole Lakeland revival for monetary gain. But now he seems like he's back in business down in North Carolina or something. And I've found many other stories where Todd and these leaders have destroyed many other lives. It's staggering. I did come to one conclusion: I think they were always blinded by the money. Each one of those leaders were bringing in at least six figures. I guess the allure of cash has hands on even those you would least suspect

The aftereffect of Lakeland in TheDon's own life make sad reading. He writes: "These men preached the Bible and justified their actions by the Bible. Which makes me wonder: How truthful is the Bible? I know man wrote it, supposedly inspired by God. But 'thanks' to you guys and others like you, I am questioning my entire 33 years of faith."

Then TheDon started to watch videos by various debunkers of Christianity and read books. His wife, who continues to bring him to a new church, fears that he might be becoming an atheist. And, he admits, she may be right.

"....It's just that every time someone mentions God or Jesus I get a weird feeling in my head; knowing that I can't trust that answer," he writes, adding in another post, "Am I secretly becoming an atheist??

I am sure that you will join me in hoping and praying that God will reach out to him through his Spirit and Christ-filled Christians.

But, I must ruefully add that if I were hurt badly by--lets be frank--contemptable excuses for "followers of Christ"--I would be wondering too.

And not all of this can be laid at Bentley's feet. The current leadership at the renamed "Transform International" church in Abbotsford has praying and repenting to do too. If Bentley refuses to come back and make amends, his infamies will be laid at their doorstep too.

I know that Christ wants to give answers to TheDon's questions. Let's hope TheDon finds them.

Sadly, Todd Bentley's ability to detroy things extend to churches as well. Will we ever see, on his proposed reality show, scenes of him returning to Abbotsford to do what he can to fix what went wrong there? If Todd truly had a repentant heart, the answer would be "Yes." But you can guess what I am thinking.

I had nothing to do with this, but I am sad about what happened to TheDon and other innocents who were caught up in all this.

Is Todd Bentley sad about what happened to his old church?

Well, his pastoral manner may need repair.

I want to draw attention to this too, back from about a week ago on Todd's Twitter feed:

Please read from the bottom up. Here is the exchange:

SereneBlueSky7 to @IamToddBentley I've studied enough the Bible to see what a mess that book really is. And how the idea of God is so laden with tradition. about 3 hours ago via web

SereneBlueSky7 to @IamToddBentley Thanks, but I guess I lost my faith many years ago.2 yrs ago tried to go back 4 healin just to see that I really don't want. about 3 hours ago via web

IamToddBentley to @SereneBlueSky7 we'll pray for u to find it again about 3 hours ago via Twitterrific

IamToddBentley: Is gonna listen to Bill Johnson tonite. Also check out healing prayers cd now on iTunes. Search Todd Bentley about 3 hours ago via Twitterrific

SereneBlueSky7 to @IamToddBentley At the same time I kinda believe supernatural healings are sometimes possible, but I don't know what their real source is. about 6 hours ago via web

SereneBlueSky7 to @IamToddBentley You weren't there any more. Anyway, I don't believe. I wish there was some magical Being up there, but I don't think so. about 6 hours ago via web

SereneBlueSky7 to @IamToddBentley I was in Lakeland in August 08 trying to catch whatever God had for me,but since then I lost my faith since nothing happened about 6 hours ago via web

SereneBlueSky7 to @IamToddBentley In a way I think you're quite honest and I like your preaching style, but advertizing, embellishing is a part of your style. about 6 hours ago via web

SereneBlueSky7 to @IamToddBentley How can you be sure the revivalist of the old didn't embellish their stories a bit for the sake of their own image? about 15 hours ago via web

Todd's brains trust will appreciate how he managed to get his ad on Twitter. It's even longer that his reponse to the Tweeter who lost their faith in God after being disappointed at Lakeland. But, first things first.

Todd can say all he wants that he is sorry. But will he "do" as if he is sorry? I would suggest that "I am praying for you" is a bit pat.

If the Canadian blogger is right, Todd Bentley left chaos behind him in Abbotsford B.C.. But now, he has a new wife and a new life on the other side of the continent. A repentant heart would want to make amends, but now Todd has a perfect sounding excuse not to clean up the mess that he made. He's back evangelizing. Also trying to make amends for his past failures would merely interfere with the "message" of his proposed new Discovery TV show and use up valuable TV "marketing Todd" time.

I wonder how many people are like these two on the 'net, but have just decided not to speak out.

I also wonder how many people that Todd Bentley will find that he callously hurt on his own judgement day.

In a post on his blog, explaining his growing attraction to atheism, TheDon writes in another context: "The evidence is staring someone in the face, yet they refuse to accept the truth."

I think that this aside might apply to those who think that Todd Bentley is ready to minister worldwide shortly. But, perhaps, that is just me.