Friday, June 01, 2012

Todd Bentley is completely recommended to minister. Birds fly! Fish swim!

{Posted at Bene Diction Blogs on Aug 17, 2011] I wasn't surprised to learn this afternoon that Todd Bentley has been given an unconditional "recommendation" to minster by evangelist and minister Bill Johnson. It's presumably with the blessing of the Revival Alliance, the group which went to Lakeland to bring Todd Bentley under their "covering" immediately before the Lakeland Revival crashed and burned. I have been expecting this--in related news, "birds fly!", "fish swim!". But as you will guess from my ongoing blogging about Todd Bentley, I am sceptical. Bill Johnson says the right things, but I'll try to explain a few quick points where things jump out at me. I'll reproduce Johnson's statement-- which was sent out by e-mail by Todd's ministry-- in full as the first comment, so you can give it a critical eye too. Also, in case it disappears. To begin at the beginning, it would seem that the Revival Alliance may have had Todd under its wings for a long time. During the first time that Todd was pulled off the road in 2005-06, due to Todd's involvement with a woman who was not his wife, Johnson flew to Todd's ministry base and tried to "Help him in the broken areas of his marriage." Not exactly a "dark night of the sou", as was mentioned at the time by Fresh Fire. It's nice that Johnson is stepping forward and being honest on Bentley's behalf. You would figure that as part of a full restoration that Johnson would be asking for Bentley to fess up, but that seems not to be the case. In regards to whatever relationship that Revival Alliance has had with Todd Bentley, Johnson, a member of the Revival Alliance, describes it as an "informal partnership" I would argue that that changed at Lakeland. Fortunately, the videos in which Bentley received an "apostolic and prophetic commissioning remain online here. Also remaining online is a post that I wrote in April 2009, as Bentley was beginning to be restored. "The art of the non-apologetic apology" explained how Peter Wagner's group., at Lakeland, used all sorts of language which stated that Todd Bentley was coming under the authority of the Revival Alliance. I noted several direct quotes, if you are interested. Todd's response though, is worth noting again now. Bentley was speaking in a "restoration video" of Rick Joyner's from April 18, 2009. I linked to the video on my home blog post and there, as I write now, it still plays. I noted, back then (emphasis below is mine as of now):
Mr. Bentley then goes on to try to argue that he was still trying to reconcile with his first wife when the Revival Alliance came to Lakeland, so therefore they weren't blessing anything untoward. Shortly after the 5:18 mark of the video, he says, "Shonnah and I were hoping and working at that things were gonna work even when that ordination took place..." He makes a further reference to "ordination" a few seconds later. Mr. Bentley, however, goes on to say that the Revival Alliance members were, in his opinion, coming to give God a pat on the back for doing good things, and to give him a "buffer" against attacks on the meetings. At the 7;13 mark of the video, he adds, "I saw it as a simple--not that they were responsible, not that I was coming under any government or organization, as if there was a political structure now, but I saw it simply that there was a bunch of guys that loved revival were all getting together to say 'Yay, God'..."
Let's fast forward to just over two years later. In his letter of this afternoon, Johnson writes of what happened immediately after Lakeland. Johnson reveals that he was commissioned by the Revival Alliance to act on their behalf. And If we believe what Johnson says in his letter, both Rick Joyner and Todd Bentley, at the very time, or shortly after that Todd Bentley said on a video that nothing special happened at Lakeland, they both were acting as if the Revival Alliance did have authority to step in. Emphasis mine. Johnson writes:
Immediate prayers were offered up for all of the above. Repentance would be needed. Deep repentance. The Revival Alliance team felt it best that I be the one to represent them because of my history with Todd and my involvement with the marriage issues. .... Over the last three years, I have met with Todd on several occasions, as well as with Rick and Todd together. Rick and I have also talked privately, as he has worked hard to include me on critical issues. It's not been a lot. But they have both worked to keep me in touch. But it needs to be clear Rick and his team are the spear point of this process. .... I have been involved since day one...
If it is true as Todd Bentley said in the video that it was not the case that the Revival Alliance--after Lakeland "...were responsible, not that I was coming under any government or organization, as if there was a political structure now"--then why has it been is necessary for Rick Joyner and Todd Bentley to respond to Bill Johnson as if he was someone--a representative of a group--that had to be made happy in some way? And recall that this letter was sent out by Todd Bentley's ministry. If he is not responsible to the Revival Alliance, in some way, why did he not insist that Bill Johnson take out any parts of his letter that implied that when the Revival Alliance plays the fiddle, little Todd must dance? Or could it be that during the restoration process--which Joyner implies that Todd Bentley passed with flying colours--that Todd Bentley looked into a video camera and told a whopper. Todd Bentley continuing to lie? Bill Johnson, assuming he himself is being truthful, might have thrown Todd Bentley under the bus. Poor Todd. He was probably told "You send this out as is, or..." By the Revival Alliance, perhaps, exhibiting their complete lack of oversight over or responsibility for Todd Bentley. Todd Bentley, writes Johnson "as been extremely transparent". Transparency would include an admission that, contrary to what he said on video, he is responsible to the Revival Alliance in some way. Another concern of Bill Johnson is Todd's obligation to his ex-wife and children from his first message. We can guess that this remains a big sticking point with people who can book Bentley intro their churches, on their TV or radio shows and such. Could Johnson have been asked to address this? Johnson writes what you may expect, that Bentley is burdened for his children, and such. The letter uses the underlining, bolding and larger type size that attests that Johnson is telling the truth! Er... The subject jumps out of the letter because it something that I have noticed that Todd Bentley doesn't seem to talk about much himself these days. I hope that Bentley does right by his starter family, but a passage in the letter jumps out at me. It reads:
One of the more important contacts in this process has been with Brent Borthwick. He is Shonnah's pastor. Brent is a trusted personal friend of mine and represents Todd's ex-wife and kids with compassion and wisdom. He has spent time with Todd since his move to Morningstar and has affirmed that from his point of view, Todd is doing well. He also told me he was pleased at how much at peace Todd seemed to be. Brent's perspective is important to me, for obvious reasons. He was also able to verify that Todd has taken care of Shonnah and the kids financially in an honorable way and continues to do so.
It would seem that Shonnah and her kids have switched churches. At the time of Lakeland, what was then Global Harvest Centre was the home church of the Bentley family. I can confirm this as I was in the Global Harvest sanctuary one evening during Lakeland and saw the name cards that the little Bentley's used to put on for their Sunday school tacked to the church wall. As Bene D spotted, Global Harvest has changed it's name to now Transform Central. An old friend of Bentley's, Ken Greter, remains minister there. Mr. Borthwick pastors Windword church in Abbotsford. Perhaps, some may be hoping, Shonnah was burned by Todd's ministry and now--with the kids-- attends a church with a different theology? Perhaps not, according to a 2006 blog post by a Abbotsford B.C. discernment blogger, who noted that local minister Brent Bortwick had gone on a ministry trip to Mexico with Todd Bentley and has snapped some pictures of angels. It's all at the end of this post here. Things that may jump out...Is Pastor Borthwick able to say these things for himself. Why a paraphrase of what he says? And, ever since Lakeland, Shonnah Bentley has chosen to keep a discreet silence. That is her choice, of course, and the compassionate would understand that she may want to be out of the public eye from now on. That said, I do feel obliged to note that the various financial agreements for support that Todd Bentley is living up to may include a clause that asks for Shonnah and perhaps her children's silence about their ongoing relationships with Todd Bentley. The "microwave culture" of the modern church, which hastens to be quick for everything, is reflected in this observation by Johnson in his letter.
How long should it take for someone who has fallen to be restored to ministry? I wish I knew. I had a more absolute answer to that question before I had much experience. After many years now of working with broken people, I no longer know have a set time in mind. Every situation is different. The advice I've heard has ranged from "he should never be in ministry again" to "immediately-once forgiven a person should get back to what they're called to do." I don't like either of those answers. Some have called for extreme punishment. It's been said, "We must make an example out of Todd." But if we're honest, punishment isn't really for the person who sinned. It is really to make the punisher feel better about the situation for which they have no control. As those who work with broken people we have responsibility for Todd and his family but also for the impact on the body of Christ. Whatever we do, it must be redemptive in nature for all of the above.
Would you say that two years and change is too fast for Todd Bentley. Johnson, by his actions, would seem to disagree with you... Johnson ends with this. Bolding is his:
In conclusion, I recommend Todd to you, believing that you will be blessed and encouraged by his ministry. But perhaps even more important is the fact that Todd will be a reminder to us that it is possible to stand after such a great fall. We all live by grace, and only by grace. We desperately need examples of those who have walked in integrity all of their lives. But when there is sin, we need examples of restoration to bring hope to the broken people, many of whom are in our congregations. God will use Todd to be a message of restoration.
From his lips to God's ears I guess. I can only hope that Johnson doesn't wind up meaning that Todd Bentley will have be restored in a major way 10 or 12 times before it finally "sticks." One last point...the bottom of the e-mail has a copyright date: Copyright 2010 Fresh Fire USA Probably a typo...but I do wonder a little if the letter, and this e-mail were prepared a long time ago, and only used now, which would be very interesting.