God’s Love is Like a Punch in the Gut?

Wow! I know this may be old news for many of you but my wife just told me about this guy, Todd Bentley.

Bentley is supposedly some sort of Canadian charismatic faith-healing preacher with a rather sordid past (not that his past should matter much – some of the world’s best teachers carried pretty heavy baggage). Like a typical snowbird, Bentley flew down to Florida last spring to guest preach at “Ignited Church” in Lakeland.

Apparently he must have done a good job because he stayed over the summer and over 300,000 people have come to attend what has been called the “Lakeland Revival”. There has been some controversy around Bentley and the Revival and recently his home organization,“Fresh Fire Ministries”, has decided to let him go for an alleged marital indiscretion.

What blows me away is that they hadn’t booted him out already for acting like a violent nut. This seems to be Bentley’s preferred method of ‘laying on hands’: (Sorry about the editorial captions – I couldn’t find video without it.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

My wife asked “What is wrong with these people? Why do they keep coming back?”. I don’t have a good answer. But I will remember this image the next time a Christians speaks condescendingly of the violent religious ‘fanatics’ of other faiths or how the Saints and Witnesses (and Catholics!) are just ‘cults’.



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  1. #1 by logiopath on August 23, 2008 - 6:23 pm

    What more can we say? I have seen first hand (and for a while believed) in the power these prosperity/healing preachers have over the church.

    Why is this surprising? It is the same Yadda, Yadda, Yadda preached by Tony Robbins (and his magnificent jaws) as well as Oprah Winfrey (do you have your Self-Fulfillment Board, or whatevr she calls it? You too can tell the Universe to bid your wishes).

    Why would we, as Christians, want to be left out of the loop on this?

  2. #2 by Doulos Christou on August 24, 2008 - 9:30 am

    The perceptive question your wife asked, “Why do they keep coming back” has parallels into society at large. People who had been attracted to Bentley were so desperate for the touch of the Holy Spirit that, in many cases, they were willing to suspend their critical faculties and discernment just for the possibility of knowing God’s presence. Unfortunately, what they got was a kick in the gut from a charlatan, further eroding any confidence in the true presence of the spirit.

    In the larger (outside of church) world, we look on elected leaders not from our own states and districts and wonder, “who votes for these people?” The answer is often the same as above. People who are desperate for the promises that these men and women make to them.

    We can do a better job on both counts.

  3. #3 by Christian Beyer on August 24, 2008 - 10:38 am

    Bruce – I know realize you are being sarcastic here. But so accurate.

    Doulos -A senses of despair coupled with a hope in promises – you’re right – this often seems to describe our citizenry as well as members of the church. I can see uncomfortable parallels with the people crowding the arenas of the prosperity evangelists and those who line up every day at convenience stores to play their ‘numbers’. I’ve even heard (and used to agree with) some sermons in which Jesus is compared to the prince in a fairy tale.

    We generate this mindset where so many are doing nothing but just ‘waiting’ for things to be made right – getting to ‘heaven’, expecting the rapture and Jesus’ second coming, winning that Powerball lottery….

  4. #4 by netprophet on August 24, 2008 - 4:23 pm

    It seems they forgot the part about not everyone who cries Lord Lord will enter His Kingdom, but those who keep His commandments. He only gave us two and one is to love our neighbor as our self. Some might spend a lot longer than three days in the belly of the whale looking for another sign or easier way home. Good luck, I hope they have really good numbers!

  5. #5 by raffi shahinian on August 25, 2008 - 10:47 am

    I read your piece with a great deal of interest. I’ve also done a piece about Bentley, miracles and healings in general today. Thought you might be interested, especially when it comes to Christians using the issue to call other Christians “nuts” or “cults.”

    Grace and Peace,
    Parables of a Prodigal World

  6. #6 by Christian Beyer on August 25, 2008 - 11:37 am

    Welcome Raffi. I enjoyed your very well written and thoughtful post. As a comment on what you said there, I have no problem with the idea that miracles do take place (with the biblical caveat that God uses them to make a point about something) but with the way in which folks like Bentley seem to make a mockery of God. He may not be a ‘nut’ but he certainly acts like one. (Unless kneeing someone in a cancerous gut is really just a good example of ‘acting out on faith’ and let’s say I am VERY skeptical of these ‘healings’ ) Calling someone a nut may not be charitable, true. But just because they call themselves “Christian” doesn’t make them somehow immune from criticism.

    Of course, this type of extravagant, sensationalist, if not violent, behavior on the part of “spokespeople” for the Church is nothing new and my next post will focus on some of these.

  7. #7 by Doulos Christou on August 25, 2008 - 6:15 pm

    Raffi – I’ll second Christian’s compliment on your post. Though unity is our first priority, on occasion we must identify those who threaten that unity by hijacking the faith for their own benefit. I haven’t invested the time to delve into Bentley’s theology but if it veers from the core beliefs of the Church then we are right to label him cultic. “Nuts”, well I’m not known for holding my tongue sometimes and I might well call him that as well.

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