Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Todd Bentley Fallout

I was first given an MP3 of one of Todd Bentley's teachings about this time last year just as the Lakeland Revival was getting started. For those of you who don't know what that is, the Lakeland Revival was a series of revival meetings led by Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley in Lakeland Florida. What started out as a 5 day conference in April 2008 turned into 6 months of revival with as many as 10,000 people descending on the meetings every night.

Although there were many people whose lives were changed, healed, and impacted through the ministry, things began to sour when the married Bentley abruptly left the revival citing an "inappropriate relationship with a ministry staffer" as well as "crossing the line" in alcohol consumption.

Bently has since divorced his wife and has married the woman with whom he had the relationship and is now soliciting funding to relaunch his ministry.

I truly believe in God's forgiveness and that we can, when we repent, be eventually restored to any position including Christian ministry; but to be even discussing involvement in ministry less than a year after committing adultery, leaving your wife and kids, and marrying a co-worker is a mockery.

J. Lee Grady in his recent article sums it up when he says,
Many Christians today have rejected biblical discipline and adopted a sweet, spineless love that cannot correct. Our grace is greasy. No matter what an offending brother does, we coddle him and nurse his wounds while we ignore the people he wounded. No matter how heinous his sin, we offer comforting platitudes because, after all, who are we to judge?

When the apostle Paul learned that a member of the Corinthian church was in an immoral relationship with his father’s wife, he did not rush to comfort the man. He told the Corinthians: “You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst” (1 Cor. 5:2, NASB). Sometimes genuine healing requires a ruthless, exacting love.

Most Christians though today reject any form of church discipline despite many Biblical edicts which require it.

As a pastor, I am constantly amazed at the response many Christians have towards correction. When we first moved to Colorado I was the Community Pastor at a small church plant outside Denver. One of the guitarists on the worship team took a trip to Las Vegas with his girl friend and admitted that they shared a room together. The senior pastor of the church addressed the issue with him and essentially said that he could not do that type of thing and continue in a visible ministry position. The guy agreed but then snuck off and did it again. When he was confronted with it, rather than repent, he got angry and left the church.

It used to be that when you caught Christians in their sin, they would be cut to the heart and repent. Now they often just get upset, cry "Who are you to judge", and then go on to another church where their sin can remain hidden. I could go on with the stories. I had one guy I had to deal with who thought it was OK to sleep with any girl he wanted and take drugs with them as long as he ended the time together by "sharing the Gospel." I'm not kidding!!

A pastor / mentor friend a few years back told me, "Steve, it would be great if the giftings of God and a person's character were on a 1 to 1 ratio, but we can see from even the Bible, that is not always the case." Particularly in the Charismatic stream of Christianity, where the giftings of God take a higher profile, there has been a horrible track record of putting people's gifts before their character.

Gone, it seems, are the days when a man of God lived in obscurity while character issues were hammered out. Moses was called to be the deliverer of God's people, but he spent years in the desert before confronting Pharaoh. Paul the Apostle saw Jesus Christ himself call him into service; and then he spent 14 years in Arabia without any visible ministry, preparing (I believe) his heart for "the things he would suffer" in the cause of Christ.

1 Timothy 4:16 says: Watch your life and teachings closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourselves, and your hearers.

I pray for Todd Bentley. He is a brother in Christ who like myself is in desperate need of savior. But church leaders need to have a higher level of accountability. The more visible the ministry, the greater need for transparency, if for no other reason than to protect the speaker and those that would listen.

Time and time again I have heard pastors and ministry leaders falling in areas of sin but had no one to turn to because they were afraid of the response they would get. What if the door had been opened for a apostolic father to draw alongside Todd during the intense revival time and said, "Hey friend, How is the marriage? How are the kids? Do you need to take a break and take the wife to a beach somewhere?

I don't know what the answer would have been, but it's possible the both a marriage AND a ministry could have been saved.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I don't think it is Grace that causes people to shrug or turn a blind eye as much as gullibility.

It is true that this stuff happens more at the charismatic end of the spectrum. I think they tend to celebritize their leaders more, and I think that any group that does that is laying the ground work for the same scenario.

I am leary of anyone who wants to lead, and feels that is their gifting. Moses avoided it, Paul got recruited, Lewis considered himself the most reluctant convert in all England.

I wonder what would happen to Christianity if we all skipped church for a year....

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