Friday, June 01, 2012

Revile those who revile and persecute you?

[Posted at Bene Diction blogs on Oct 18, 2011] It's tough to be a friend of evangelist Todd Bentley. Until you unleash your security guards and rhetorical castigations, anyways. Recently, a protestor came to a meeting where Bill Johnson was meeting. I'm guessing that this was recently, about a month ago. As you might expect it went badly for the protestor, as he was grabbed by security and removed from the meeting, much along the lines of what happened to the Operation Save America activists at a Todd Bentley meeting in February 2010. Not my style, and not something I would choose to do, as I noted at the time. But I want to be respectful in reporting on what the protestor chose to do. I do think however, that I can guarantee that I'll be more respectful towards this protestor than Bill Johnson, the target of his protest, who should certainly know better. Bill Johnson has been a friend of Todd Bentley's for quite some time. He is known for responding to critics Of Bentley that he can forgive and support Todd "in God's name". Johnson is tied to C. Peter Wagner's Revival Alliance and it turns out, contrary to what Todd said after Lakeland, that Bentley was submitting to their direction and leadership during his restoration process. At least that's what Johnson implied when he wrote back in August that Todd, in his opinion, was cleared to minister wherever he wished to. I wonder if this letter might have prompted the protestor's action. A fellow who says that he was the protestor has posted the exchange on YouTube, along with what he said. The gist is that he assails Todd Bentley for being, in his opinion, a liar and an adulterer, and castigates Bill Johnson for supporting him. Not what I would do--blogging will do for me--but I can understand why the protestor may feel that trying to talk in a normal, respectful way to Bentley and his friends might seem futile. Things that stand out to me.... I hope that the Christians in the audience weren't actually cheering as the protestor is, as he puts it, "strong armed' by two men out of the building? If so, just wait until you are on the other side of the question, you silly audience members, and you're frog-marched out of somewhere for thinking and acting the wrong way. What Bill Johnson says in response is interesting. Emphasis mine. After asking the audience to clap for Jesus, he says at 1:32: "You know, a powerless church has nothing worth counterfeiting. The Devil doesn't even need to bother with it. Nothing worth imitating. People are so concerned about running into the devil--if you don't run into him, you might be walking the same direction [as he is]." Not a good response. I'll explain why. Blessed are you, Jesus said, when people 'revile and persecute you" for His name's sake. The same passage also records him as saying that the "merciful" and "peacemakers" are blessed too. Where is the mercy in Mr. Johnson's remark? Where is the peacemaking? One would hope that a prominent figure such as he would know that leaving his remarks to a "May God bless you. Let's move on..." would make his point. But, in the actions of his security and the twist of the knife of his remarks, Mr. Johnson gives up the high ground in this exchange. That is his right, but in giving back as he believes got, he is conceding that the protestor's tactics are acceptable and that the only things that separates the two is that Bill Johnson has control of the mike and thousands of audience members on his side. Hinting that the protestor is doing the work of Satan should be beneath Mr. Johnson. You'll note, also, that Johnson does not say, "Todd Bentley is a truthful man", or "Todd Bentley is not an adulterer." directly responding to what the man said. As Johnson notes in his letter, mentioned in my August post, he helped Todd Bentley to return from his first "dark night of the soul" in 2005 and 2006, which was caused by marital problems. The protestor could have been thinking of this, or even Todd Bentley being caught lying to the readers of the Report newsmagazine 10 years ago. But why does Bill Johnson think of ministry in relation to being a "liar", as demonstrated by his remarks? Why does he feel the need the defend the validity of the type of Todd Bentley's ministry activities when confronted with the word "liar"? Why would the "liar" charge make Johnson think that the protestor is talking about a ministry that is "counterfeit" rather than an evangelist is who is untruthful in his personal life? Is he sensitive about something? Worried about running into the devil might be something that someone who believes in testing all things and holding fast to what is good might be concerned about. Bill Johnson offers a Hobson's choice. I would like to think that you could "press towards the mark" while exhibiting great grace and mercy towards people, but I fear that Johnson's offhand remarks may merely be a sign of throwing up his hands. And if the protestor is bang on about his criticism of Todd Bentley's ministry--and for Bill Johnson for supporting it--if we are seeing any kind of "*Shrug* well, what are ya gonna do about it" type of attitude, it would certainly merit a response cry of "Repent!"