Hi, Rawlings… Thanks for your comment. If they truly had confidence in the miraculous happenings, then they would be EAGER to provide corrections and retractions. They would not be comfortable knowing that they are continuing to deceive the crowds that come to see them, and the crowds that watch over the internet. Why are Christians so willing to ignore the inaccuracies? The comments that I made are not in response to just what Todd Bentley has preached in Lakeland, but from the teachings that he has shared over the years.
He along with Patricia King and Bob Jones have put a great amount of emphasis on angelic visitations and their leadings. I have searched my heart and am troubled that there are issues in the church like this today. These miracles always pointed the people to Jesus, I hope that this is what is happening in Lakeland.
I also read a blog from Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma magazine. Although he seems to support the revival, he raises some very interesting questions.
It reads as follows: Lee Grady I support any holy outbreak of revival fervor. God is stirring deep spiritual passion in the hearts of the thousands of people who have traveled to Florida during the last month to experience the Lakeland Healing Revival.
Since these meetings began in a seat church on April 2, the crowd has moved four times to bigger venues, the fervor has intensified and the news has spread worldwide—thanks to God TV and online broadcasting. Within a few weeks, the bandwagon effect was in full swing. It was thrilling to hear the reports of miracles and to watch the crowd grow until a stadium was required to hold everyone.
Thus more strange fire is allowed to spread. Something disturbed me, but I kept my mouth shut for three weeks while I prayed, got counsel from respected ministry leaders and searched my heart to make sure I was not harboring a religious spirit. The last thing we need today is more mean-spirited heresy hunters blasting other Christians. I am not a heresy hunter, and I support what is happening in Lakeland because I know God uses imperfect people like me and you to reach others for Jesus.
At the same time, I believe my questions are honest and my concerns are real. My motive is not to criticize Bentley or the pastor who is sponsoring these meetings, Stephen Strader. No doubt this year-old evangelist needs our prayers now more than ever, especially since he has become the focus of international media attention. I hope everyone understands that these cautions are offered in love: Beware of strange fire. The name of Jesus is being lifted up in the Lakeland revival, and three people came to the altar for salvation the night I attended.
Larger numbers have come to the front of the auditorium to find Christ every night since then. Yet I fear another message is also being preached subtly in Lakeland—a message that cult-watchers would describe as a spiritual counterfeit. Bentley is one of several charismatic ministers who have emphasized angels in the last several years.
He has taught about angels who bring financial breakthroughs or revelations, and he sometimes refers to an angel named Emma who supposedly played a role in initiating a prophetic movement in Kansas City in the s.
Bentley describes Emma as a woman in a flowing white dress who floats a few feet off the floor. All of us who believe the Bible know that angels are real, and that they work on our behalf to protect us and minister to us.
But the apostle Paul, who had encounters with angels himself, issued stern warnings to the Corinthians, the Galatians and the Colossians about angels who preach another gospel or that demand attention. Paul was adamant that preoccupation with angels can lead to serious deception. We need to tread carefully here! And if any revival movement—no matter how exciting or passionate—mixes the gospel of Jesus with this strange fire, the results could be devastating.
Beware of bizarre manifestations. Such manifestations are biblical and we should leave room for them. But where do we draw the line between legitimate experience and fanatical excess?
The apostle Paul had to deal with outrageous charismatic manifestations in the Corinthian church. People were acting like raving lunatics—and turning the church in to a free-for-all of unbridled ecstatic behavior. In other words, Paul was saying that no one under the influence of the Holy Spirit should act out of control. In many recent charismatic revivals, ministers have allowed people to behave like epileptics on stage—and they have attributed their attention-getting antics to the Holy Spirit.
When exotic manifestations are encouraged, people can actually get a religious high from jerking, vibrating, screaming or acting intoxicated.
I have even been around people who writhed as if in pain, or made sexual noises—thinking this was a legitimate spiritual experience. The person who is bucking like an untamed bronco in a church service would benefit more from sitting still and reading the Bible for an hour. When we put bizarre behavior on the platform we imply that it is normative.
Beware of hype and exaggeration. Our hearts are crying out today for a genuine move of God. We want the real deal. The church is in a backslidden state, and our nation has rebelled against God. In our longing for a holy visitation, however, we must be careful not to call the first faint breeze of the Spirit a full-fledged revival. If we do that, we are setting people up for disappointment when they realize it may not be what we blew it up to be. Some of the language used during the Lakeland Revival has created an almost sideshow atmosphere.
Such brash statements cheapen what the Holy Spirit is doing—and they do a disservice to our brothers and sisters who are experiencing New Testament-style revival in countries such as Iran, China and India.
We have a long way to go before we experience their level of revival. I am rejoicing over all the reported healings at the Lakeland meetings. Multitudes followed Jesus during His ministry on earth, but many of the people who saw the dead raised or ate food that was supernaturally multiplied later crucified the Son of God. It was the few disciples who followed Jesus after Calvary who ushered in a true revival—one that was bathed in the fear of God, confirmed by signs and wonders, tempered by persecution and evidenced by thousands of conversions, new churches and the transformation of society.
We should expect nothing less. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma. GF charismania Hey, Clarity… Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that true miracles leave no doubt and always point to Jesus. At least three rather long posts about heavenly visits, angels, and some serious New Age-y sounding stuff have been removed from his website in recent days. I thought it was good and sensible.
And this accountability carries over into modern day claims by Christians who say they speak for God or claim God acted this way or that. These are serious claims and we ought to treat them as such.
The one Karen mentioned above—wanting it to be true and therefore unwilling to investigate. Not all judging is wrong. Finding out the truth of a claim is a kind of judging we must do. As part of church discipline, we are also to judge among believers 1 Cor 5 and correct foolishness and wickedness. And maybe we need to do some thinking about this.
But these revivals and their wild claims are being done in public and it seems reasonable to call them on it in public. Maybe the age of the internet, instant communication, and personal digital recording devices will bring with it some additional accountability.
Blogs like this may be one way that we help keep the revivalists accountable. Perhaps God heard and answered the prayer of her parents or a genuine anonymous intercessor. Or perhaps He was entirely moved with compassion for this little girl. In Charismania especially, usually God gets the glory for miracles only after all the saints pat each other on the back for being the ones with or within the vicinity of the supposed anointing that initiated the miracle.
And they quickly get excited because they too may see a sign or receive a miracle. Chapter 2 of the Gospel of John clearly illustrated this: But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. But He did not commit Himself to them. Because He knew what was in men and had no need that anyone should testify of Him. He was destined for the cross in His life on earth, not stardom!
If only Charismaniac preachers would read and understand these verses! I also think of how Jesus traveled throughout the land and word of His miraculous ministry went far and wide.
People came flocking to Him, not necessarily because He was the Son of God the Way, the Truth, the Life but rather because they wanted a miracle for themselves or someone they loved. Jesus knew what was in the heart of man and yet He was moved with unending grace and compassion to heal — regardless of their motives. Perhaps Charismania is caught up in a misguided fervor, and I in no way condone it; but I know God looks with unending compassion upon all those who seek a real and genuine miracle.
I can just see Jesus walking through a crowd of Charismaniacs, many clamoring for money or some sort of vain blessing, and yet He turns to a cripple and heals the one who truly is in need.