Thursday, August 21, 2008

Todd Bentley's affair? and excessive drinking revealed!

I've withheld my comments on the Todd Bentley scenario this week waiting for more details to come out so as not to be hastily jump to conclusions. The initial statement released by Fresh Fire Ministries last Friday revealed that Todd Bentley had entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with another woman. I highly suspected that it was an actual affair, but didn't comment on it as I did not want to misrepresent the facts. Several sources close to the situation including friends of Bentley as well as both present and former staff members of Fresh Fire have stated that it was indeed an affair- apparently Todd's second in the last three years. In addition to that it has been revealed by John Arnott (pastor of the Toronto Blessing) who is close friends with Todd Bentley and was one of the "apostles" who commissioned him as a revivalist on June 23 that Todd Bentley also has an excessive drinking problem. While I do not rejoice in moral misconduct- it is a blessing to see the truth finally come out about a man that was clearly a false prophet from the beginning.

Now GodTV owes the world an apology for claiming in a commercial repeatedly aired on the network that "any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic." Furthermore those who operate in the prophetic gift must explain why their prophetic gifting did not reveal to them that there was sin in the camp. While some have already acknowledged their error in endorsing Bentley others in the prophetic camp like Rick Joyner- pastor of Morningstar Fellowship Church in Rock Hill, SC continues to defend Bentley as "a greatly anointed man of God." Answering the question of whether or not Bentley's inevitably pending divorce should disqualify him from ministry, Rick Joyner once again manages to twist scripture out of context saying that "Bentley should not be disqualified on grounds that would disqualify God who himself went through a divorce as stated in Jeremiah 3." I am not saying that I think a divorce disqualifies from ministry. I simply point out the statement to show how scripture is being taken out of context in defense of a fallen leader. I pray to God not, but I would not at all be surprised if trends like the past repeat themselves and Bentley is seen back in action by the end of the year.

The following that Todd Bentley assembled around himself is a clear sign that the body of Christ needs to get into the scriptures and get the scriptures into them. Discernment has never been so lacking. Given the fact that Bentley rarely referenced or even mentioned the Bible, the only reason for him to have such a following is that many "Christians" are consumed with the same sign-seeking mentality that 2000 years ago led the Pharisees to reject Jesus as their Messiah and Lord. Sadly it's getting to the point to where someone might even be able to go on stage with a Ouija Board and use it call down the power of the Holy Spirit- and yet people would still follow them.

There is some serious clean up that needs to be done after yet another path of destruction by a clear false teacher and false prophet in Todd Bentley. In response to what I have seen these past four months, I am committed to being a part of the mission to expose the other false prophets as well praying that God will either lead them into the light of truth that is found in Christ Jesus, or that he would tear down the high places that is their ministry. This includes other members of the Prophetic Movement like Rick Joyner, Bob Jones, Mike Bickle, Patricia King etc. as well as teachers in the Word of Faith Movement like Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, etc. The apostle Paul himself took false doctrine very seriously and dealt with it very visciously. We should respond in the same manner. While false prophets will always be entering into our midst, we can not be complacent like we have over the past 50 years for that has allowed Satan to gain a huge foothold on us. I ask you at the very least to pray for me and the others who seek to expose the false teachers while pronouncing the truth of the Gospel.

Monday, August 4, 2008

"Jesus Junkie turned Christ Follower"

As I write this, I am very grateful that some discernment actually does exist within the body of Christ. Seeing Todd Bentley in action is laughable yet at the same time saddening. It's laughable because such embellished stories are what I would expect to see on a sitcom or Saturday Night Live. It's saddening because a multitude of people in full view of an abundance of evidence to the contrary have been blind and stupid enough to continue to believe that this man and his ministry are indeed of God.

Eleven years ago I realized my own stupidity as God awakened to the imbalance of my own faith that resulted from my endorsement and walk becoming heavily dependent upon "The Pensacola Outpouring," which was the counterfeit revival of that time. After seeing a prophecy by Pastor John Kilpatrick proclaim that Hank Hanegraaf's ministry within 90 days would fail and then seeing that that did not take place, it opened my eyes to reading Hanegraaf's Counterfeit Revival which had been published a year prior. While I am constantly reminded of the fact that Kilpatrick did apologize for his prophecy Hanegraaf, I am appalled by the reality that Kilpatrick false prophecy was taken very lightly. That paved the way for tons of false prophecies and false prophets to simply get by with not meeting up to God's standard of a prophet- and allowed room for men like Bob Jones, Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, and Rick Joyner to flourish all the more.

After reading Counterfeit Revival, I realized the imbalance in my faith. It was eyeopening but also disheartening as I pondered the thought of thinking that if these men who claimed to be servants of God had deceived me, how do I know that God himself is not a great deceiver. That led me into a season of 10 months of anger, depression, and disillusionment. At times, I literally wanted to just walk away and forget about my Christian walk altogether. When God finally got my attention to the fact that he was not the one responsible for my deception, my feet became planted in the study of His word. Yet it was a trial because at that time my church was trying to produce its own carbon copy of the Pensacola Outpouring, a carbon copy that would lead to backbiting and superspirituality that would lead to my departure in 1999 and further towards a huge church split in 2003. God has drawn me back to that place and I thank God for a wonderful pastor who preaches the Word in a way I've heard it preached by few. But there are still those people who assert that the "Pensacola Outpouring" was indeed a great move of God.

In 1998 when I first started to express my views after God had awakened me to the deception, I seemed like the idiot in the matter. At that time, the "revival" was at its peak, and so I seemed and I looked stupid for saying the long term effects would bear forth more bad fruit than good. Looking at the state of where it all took place at Brownsville Assembly of God years later, my statement has been validated. A 2006 article by J. Lee Grady in Charisma Magazine pointed out that the church was in tons of debt and very lucky to have even 400 people in attendance on a Sunday morning. It all started coming apart with a split between Brownsville Revival School of Ministry President Michael L. Brown and Senior Pastor John Kilpatrick.

Looking back on at all I laugh at how big of a fool I was then. I was young but I should have known better than to think that signs and wonders were absolutely necessary in order to draw the lost so that they may hear the gospel. If I had a better understanding of scripture, I would have realized then that there is no greater spirit of religion than that which leads us to believe we need any more of a miracle, sign, or wonder than what Christ has already given us in His resurrection from the dead. But like most others who swam in the Brownsville River, I was too caught up in the thought of sustaining myself as I embraced absurdity and obscured reality in a manner of a "quick fix" to keep me from getting real with the brokenness that was present in my life. I was a Jesus Junkie when I needed to be a Christ follower.

While I am aware that for many the issue of whether or not the Pensacola Outpouring was of God is still being debated, I think we need to examine the longterm fruits of the revival more carefully. I contend that even in the midst of the revival there was much bad fruit as people got focused more on escpaing reality than dealing with the problems God was calling them to deal with in their lives. Yet this is never going to be advertised in the midst of a so-called "revival" movement." Years later as we look at the state of the church there and as we consider the multitudes that have fallen out of the back doors of the church as a whole into the kingdom of the cults and false religions- we need to be reminded of the importance of holding steadfast to the word of God- that that is our supreme authority for faith and practice and that the best way to experience God is by living out the principles set forth in His word.

When the body of Christ does that we will experience true revival. We will move from being "Jesus Junkies" to becoming Christ followers. And we will realize the danger of false teachers like Todd Bentley and the other people in the Prophetic Movement and the New Apostolic Reformation Movement both of which he is affiliated with. In reality, they are the Latter Rain heresy of the 1940's invading the church under the guise of a new name. As I have said before, while I was disheartened, depressed, and disillusioned in the midst of realizing how I had been deceived, what made it worse was the fact that I had led others into my deceit with me. I am continually grieved by the fact that some of those that I led into the deceit are still therein entangled. But all I can do is expose the error and leave the rest up to the Holy Spirit.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Greater things than these!

One of the most frequently used verses to validate the style of ministry practiced by faith healers like Todd Bentley is John 14:12 where Jesus tells his disciples, "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father" (NLT). I have often heard this verse quoted but until recently did not take the time to truly look into the context and meaning of that verse. However, in light of the way the verse quoted to support Bentley and others of this apostolic/prophetic movement that claims the apostles and prophets today in the "END TIMES" are of greater status than those in the first century, I felt it imperative to dig deeper.

In order to truly understand this verse, we must ask ourselves several questions- questions that must be asked in order to understand the proper context of any verse in scripture. First, we ask the question of who is the author and what is his intent in writing. The author is John, and his clear intent in writing the Gospel of John is so that people may know that the gift of eternal life is available through Christ Jesus our Lord, the Son of God. Therefore everything that John writes is used to emphasize the point of eternal life.

While that in and of itself gives us a good starting point, we must look at it further. Though John is writing with the intent of emphasizing eternal life- this is an actual quote made by Jesus himself. It is Jesus himself who says that we shall do greater works than He. Scriptures that are unclear must always be interpreted in light of what we understand and know by the scriptures that are clear. The unifying theme of all of scripture is God's unfolding plan of redemption. Thus, the greatest work performed by Christ is that of his death on the cross in which he paid the once for all sacrifice for our sins- and his resurrection in which he conquered death, hell, and the grave, so that through trusting in His sacrifice we may inherit the gift of eternal life. So if we are going to do greater works than those which Christ has done, what could possibly be greater than his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection?

The answer to that is quite simple- we are called to take part in the task of reaching the world with the gospel message of Jesus Christ. For while Christ did indeed pay the once for all sacrifice, and conquer death, hell, and the grave- he has called us to share the gospel and make disciples of all men. While miracles do take place in scripture- the underlying theme of scripture is not about miracles- but rather the unfolding plan of redemption. Thus, the thing we can do greater than that which Christ has done is lead others to Him.

Further analysis of the context of John 14 shows that this statement by Jesus appears right before he promises to give the Holy Spirit. That is crucial to note for we can do nothing apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we can have the love of Christ in our hearts enough that we do indeed share the gospel with people. Thus, while we do get to partner with God in the work of leading others to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord- we only do so by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sadly, counterfeit revivalists like Todd Bentley and the Prophetic Movement (or as I like to call it the PATHETIC Movement) with which he is aligned have taken this passage out of context to justify their belief that there will be a great end time army that will do miracles greater than those performed by Christ in the Gospel. A close look into the ministry of Bentley reveals that he barely even mentions the Gospel. The presentation of the Gospel when I heard him live was very skewed- to the degree that he used his presentation to justify his frequent claims of angelic encounters and to further validate his alleged "healing ministry," which by now has been clearly demonstrated by a couple of news outlets and Christian researchers as having virtually no credibility.

In the live of the disciples after Christ, miracles are present. They can not be denied throughout the book of Acts. But they always take a back seat to the presentation of the gospel.. I am not at all opposed to the thought that miracles, signs, and wonders take place today as well. But they must always be secondary to the prcolamation of the gospel and they are not needed among us today to confirm the gospel.

While people like Todd Bentley, Benny Hinn, Rick Joyner, Bob Jones etc often accuse their critics of having a spirit of religion- there in truth is no greater spirit of religion than to believe that we need any more of a miracle, sign, or wonder than what Christ has already given us in his death, burial, and resurrection. We would do well to remember the words of Jesus in Luke 11 and Luke 16 in reference to people looking for signs.

Finally, looking at the context of the words of Jesus and the underlying topic of John 14- we find that the disciples are disheartened because they know that Jesus is leaving them to go and be with the Father. That is the underlying significance of the passage is that though Jesus is going to be with the Father, the Holy Spirit is being sent to them as a guide and as their comforter. What is emphasized more than anything else in the context of this passage is the importance of obedience to God through the keeping of his commands.

So in saying that we shall do things as great as He, Jesus was saying that the Holy Spirit would empower to live out His commands for our lives. In saying that we will do even greater things than He did- He was referring to our role as His ambassadors to the world called to draw people to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit guiding us. Take special note of the fact that in this very passage- miracles, signs, and wonders are nowhere mentioned. What is mentioned is obedience through the keeping of God's commands by the enabling of the Holy Spirit. The most important command of all is love- for it is love that is the driving force which will lead us to share our faith with others so that we may offer to them through Christ the gift of eternal life.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My attendance at a Todd Bentley Impartation Service!

On June 19, I did get to hear Todd Bentley live at the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center in Concord close to where I live. From that firsthand experience, I was able to register some observations and thus draw some conclusions.

Bentley did not talk much about angels that night. In fact, he didn't really talk that much at all other than when he was praying for people and talking about the offering. One thing he said that did bother me is that when he first became a Christian- he thought that all Christians had angelic encounters, healed the sick, and performed miracles on a regular basis. If healings, miracles, and angelic encounters are so rare in scripture, why should they be so normal among us today.

The little bit that Bentley did preach was might near a mockery. He went about it with a very nonchalant attitude as if he had to preach from the Bible so that people would not say anything bad about him. When he did preach, he made several references to the angel in the text of John 5. At the time Bentley had toned down his angelic references as Stephen Strader pastor of the church where the revival is taking place had conversed with him about it.

Even prior to Bentley's preachings, the worship was very repetitive. In over an hour and 15 minutes there might have been a total of 3 or 4 songs sung over and over. Singing repetitiously is known to put people in an altered state of consciousness where they obscure reality and enshrine absurdity. In addition to that one of the worship songs had the repeated phrase, "Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings." I am aware that that song is from the New Living Translation of Psalms 29. As that song was being sung, I pondered the question of what it meant by heavenly beings. Are they referring to humans as heavenly beings, or is the song designed to summon the angels? Either way, that brought much theological concern for me.

After preaching, Bentley started praying for healings and miracles. One woman came forward from the overflow outside and said that she was able to walk for the first time in 17 years and that God on top of that had given her a gold tooth. The woman's lack of enthusiasm, however was obvious. I was thinking to myself "if she is able to walk for the first time in 17 years, wouldn't she be more excited."

Later at offering time another woman came forward and said her husband had been healed of a long term medical condition. The woman explained how she had to quit her job to take him to the hospital and they were struggling financially. With the offering already having been announced Todd told his associates to get all her info so he could give her a seed out of the offering and then turned to the crowd and told them to keep that in mind. The few services I have watched of his in Lakeland he has had a promotion gig for the offering each night. I think that's exactly what this was, a promotion gig to increase the offering.

It seemed more to me like Todd Bentley was putting on more of a theatrical sideshow than anything else. In addition to the sideshow there were apparent fabrications such as the claim that he had faxed his documentation of miracles and healings to Geraldo's office and had received a phone call saying Geraldo was impressed. He further said that producers in Hollywood had called his staff to discuss the possibility of doing a reality show on the revival. While much of the rest of the crowd seemed suckered into applause by such comments, I was not drinking the koolaid and I am still not.

Since he was here that one night he has continued to claim resurrections from the dead including the resurrection of an unembalmed man who came out of his casket as the funeral home in which he was scheduled to lie in state turned on the revival. If indeed that did happen, would not the funeral home be freaked out yet at the same time have the story publicized. I know if I were that man, I would let everyone interview me. Not only am I going to be raised from the dead, I'm going to get money from all the magazines for their interviews with me. I would gladly show up a Todd Bentley meeting if that were to happen.

And so opinion is set that Todd Bentley has been putting on nothing more than a theatrical sideshow in Lakeland. The question of why still remains? Jim Jones used a theatrical sideshow to gain a huge following at the People's Temple. In the end it culminated in the death of 918 people in the greatest mass cult suicide in history. What if Todd Bentley is indeed leading his followers down the same path? Even if Bentley is not another Jim Jones, as long as this sideshow is able to sucker people in- it leaves open the possibility that someone like Jim Jones can indeed come along and lead us to a death toll of followers that we could have never imagined- much like Jones himself did in 1978.

Let me make clear that I do believe in miracles and healing, however I believe they are up to the will of God our Father. I'm always going to be skeptical of faith healing services but if I see one where the healings and miracles are being verified, and the doctrine and preaching lines up with scripture I'll gladly speak of it as a great move of God. Minus the fact that Bentley is without a doubt one of the most extreme heretics/false prophets that we have seen in our lifetime, the healings and miracles that he is claiming are not being verified. I hope that Christians wake up to the importance of testing the spirits and quit quenching the discernment of the Holy Spirit before a tragedy like that of Jim Jones hits us again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Holy Spirit Breakout or Pagan Invasion

While Jim Jones was successful in gaining a following around his Socialist/Marxist ideals, Todd Bentley has been successful in introducing a very pagan form of spirituality. However, many say that the manifestations you would see in a Todd Bentley meeting are the work of the "Holy Spirit." These manifestations include being "drunk in the Spirit," Shaking uncontorllably, Holy Laughter, "Slain in the Spirit," Vibrating, Gold Teeth, Gold Dust, Angel Feathers, Barking in the Spirit, Clucking Like a chicken in the Spirit, etc.

Being drunk in the Spirit is often validated by a misuse of Acts 2 where the apostles speak in tongues and everyone thinks they are drunk with wine because they are speaking languages they do not know. Sadly, this passage has been misused to support acting drunk and stumbling around in church inebriated with the Spirit. A clear look at the context of the passage reveals that the men were thought to be drunk because they were speaking a language they had no prior knowledge of.

Shaking uncontrollably is mentioned in the book of Daniel when Daniel responds out of fear in one of the rare encounters of anyone in scripture with an angel. I believe it may occur as a response to conviction. However, modern day revivalists encourage it as a means of getting in touch with the Spirit- letting the joy of the Spirit consume you. That is no different than a mind-body cultivation that you would find in a pagan religious setting.

There are several references in scripture which may be used to justify to slain in the Spirit. I personally believe that sometimes the power of God can come on a person so strong that they are not able to stand. However, it is a practice that is very rare in scripture and not meant to be normal among us today. It is entirely up to God and we don't need to have any evangelist touch us in order to experience that. Seeking the experience is very unhealthy- for God wants us to experience him first and foremost by getting into the scriptures and getting the scriptures into us.

Holy laughter also finds its origins in Eastern/New Age religions. It was first introduced to America by South African Evangelist Rodney Howard-Browne. It too would have to be classified as more of a pagan min-body cultivation, as would vibrating, barking in the Spirit, and clucking like a chicken in the Spirit.

Other manifestations such as Gold dust, gold teeth, oil from heaven, and angel feathers falling from the ceiling all have their origin in the kingdom of the cults and the occult. I am not sure if there is a planned delivery of them in such services or if it is the work of demons. It is a very dangerous practice as it fuels a gospel of National Enquirer Sensationalism. It is like we are trying to give people a sign to get them to believe, when in reality Jesus gave us the only sign we need in His resurrection from the dead.

So how do these experiences occur? What inspires them if they are not the work of the Holy Spirit? When I first came out of my delusion in 1997, I attributed most of the experiences to the work of demons. At that time I thought that the work of a hypnotists was also demonic. Scientific studies have revealed the reality of how people get worked into "an altered state of consciousness" where they are fully aware of their surroundings yet they are hypersuggestible to the point that they are willing to believe virtually anything that enters their minds. It is at that point that they become subjects to mind control. People may be worked into an altered state of consciousness by chanting things repeatedly singing a song over and over again, etc. When they are worked to that level, they become like puppets and you can get them to do anything.

This was a tactic Hitler used in getting the hatred of the Jews to spread leading up to the Holocaust. He was so charismatic that he started an "I hate Jews" chant. The crowd followed and even the Jews among the crowd got so caught up in the moment that they participated in the chant. In one of my college classes, I had the privelege of meeting a Jew who was there when Hitler gave that speech in Germany, and he admits that he himself was screaming with enthusiasm "I Hate Jews."

I don't think that all the revivalists that use these techniques are fully aware that that is what is happening. I think that some are. These techniques if they get into the wrong hands can lead to a danger like Hitler's Holocaust, or Jim Jones People's Temple. I must admit that even though I am aware he is nothing more than a spiritual fraud, the theatrics of Todd Bentley are very entertaining in much the same way that Jim Jones' tactics were in the 1960's and '70's. I just pray that Bentley does not take those tactics to the extreme in the same way Jones did by leading 918 people to drink koolaid laced with cyanide in the greatest mass cult suicide in history.

Are miracles really taking place in Bentley's meetings.. Is Todd Bentley a man with great healing power or not? Or is this just a theatrical sideshow where he gets people worked into an altered state of consciousness where they are willing to believe virtually anything that enters their minds and thus become his puppets? I will answer these questions in my next post as I give my own personal account of the meeting I attended.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Word of Faith and Latter Rain Movements

In addition to the fact that the Voice of Healing Revival provided a theatrical means for Jim Jones to build his following in the People's Temple, it also produced two very dangerous heretical movements which are infiltrating Christianity to this day. These two movements are the Latter Rain Movement and the Word of Faith Movement. Bentley, like Jim Jones has quite obviously been influenced by the theatrical show of the movement- thus taking it to an entirely new level. He has also been influenced by both movements as clearly seen when looking into his preaching!

The Word of Faith Movement gained its popularity through the ministry of Oral Roberts- who had his ministry launched to success through the Voice of Healing Movement in the 1940's. The basic heretical teaching of the movement is that faith is a force which is put into motion by our words. God himself is bound by the force of our words. For example, if I were to say I am a millionaire- God would be bound by the my words to make me a millionaire.

While most churches that would have to be termed Word of Faith do not claim such, their teachings reflect it. One thing the Word of Faith Movement has done effectively is have a statement of faith consistent with church history on the essentials so that they can make it look like they are within the realm of Orthodox Christianity. From an examination of the teachings taught from the actual pulpit- it is apparent that such a statement of faith is nothing more than a means of window-dressing. 2 Peter 2:1 we are warned that there will be false prophets among us that will secretly introduce destructive heresies. Whereas most cults will tell you straight up what they believe in a statement of faith, the Word of Faith Movement sugarcoats it by giving it to you in bits and pieces. Most of the controversial and heretical statements are spoken from the pulpit. Statements like the following: "Satan conquered Jesus on the cross." "Jesus had to pay a ransom to Satan in order to purchase our atonement." "We are little gods." "The Trinity is composed of nine persons." Word of Faith teachers include teleevangelists like Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin (whose movement Bentley is a part of), Robert Tilton, TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, Morrus Cerillo, Creflo Dollar, Paul and Jan Crouch, Jesse Duplantis, Eddie Long, Richard and Oral Roberts, Marilyn Hickey, and David Yonggi Cho among many others too numerous to name. Most of them can be seen on TBN or the Inspiration Network.

While TBN and INSP showcase many Word of Faith teachers, GodTV highlights teachers of the Latter Rain Movement like Rodney Howard-Browne, Patricia King, Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle, Bob Jones etc. Much like the Word of Faith Movement, you will very rarely find a church that actually claims to be Latter Rain. Most churches like Morningstar Ministries in Rock Hill, S.C. have a statement of faith as a means of window-dressing but is contradicted or expanded upon if you take the time to listen to the actual preaching and teaching.

The Latter Rain Movement is not much different than other cult that has existed throughout history. Its teachers claim that the church has been in an apostate state for years and that they are called to restore the church to perfect truth by means of their prophecies and revelations in order to pave the way for the return of Christ who will come once the church is perfected. Though the teaching appears new, like most heresies it actually has its origins in the first few centuries of the church when a heretical teacher named Montanus proclaimed himself as the prophet sent for the End to restore the church to all truth.

The primary heretical teachings of the Latter Rain Movement are the tangible anointing, the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David, and the Manifest Sons of God doctrine. The idea that the anointing is tangible is the driving force behind the success of revivals like the Pensacola Outpouring, the Toronto Blessing, and currently the Florida Healing Outpouring. That is why people feel that they have to go to these places in order to receive a special touch from God. In truth I John 2:20 tells us that the anointing of the Holy Spirit abides withus from the beginning of our salvation and therefore is not something that can be touched or transferred.

The Restoration of the Tabernacle of David teaches that there is a perfect form of worship which will lead us into perfection. In places like Morningstar, Mike Bickle's International House of Prayer, and the Florida Healing revival- this form of worship is used with much repetition of the choruses. In actuality, it is more like a chant than anything else- thus imitating the worship of Eastern/New Age Religions. That is not such a surprise these days since we see someone like Bentley claiming New Age practices under the banner of the Christian faith. The New Age invasion of Christianity has long been attempted but never has it been so successful as with Bentley. In the same way that he Socialist message in America was attempted long before Jim Jones, but was never used to gain such a huge following in the way that he did before he led 918 people to drink koolaid laced with cyanide in the greatest mass cult suicide in history.

Finally, the Latter Rain Movement teaches that instead of Christ returning in glory- he is actually waiting for the church to become perfect so that he can literally incarnate his body in the form of the corporate church. This is the manifest Sons of God doctrine. None of these teachings come out directly in a statement of faith but there is clear evidence of them in the reading of the leaders' books and bulletins. In The Final Quest, Rick Joyner for instance states that the whole Christian community is about to be consumed by a bloody Civil War. He uses such a statement to validate that there will be a no way of worship and ministry to replace the old. While methods change throughout history, God's word must remain as supreme authority. In the teachings and practices of the Latter Rain Movement- it clearly has not. As an example to show how Joyner often departs from his window-dressed statement of faith there are a couple of quotes he has made in which he says that Jesus was not a man, but rather a spirit. Such a teaching was the basis of the cult of Gnosticism from which the writings of Nag Hammadi (including the Gospel of Thomas emerged).

Recently in defense of Bentley's frequent experiences with angels, Rick Joyner posted a Q & A bulletin in which he stated "The Bible talks about angels far more than anyone. Having encounters with angels is more normal than not having them. Some people I think are concerned because they are not having encounters themselves. Biblically the lack of encounters with angels should be more of a concern than having encounters with them." In other words according to Joyner, if you are not having encounters with angels- there must be something spiritually wrong with you. I am currently looking into the teachings of Gnosticism as I think that idea is consistent with the teachings of Gnosticism. I will verify as soon as I have more information.

Both of the above movements are a very dangerous shift away from historical Christianity. Looking at them now, I get a good chuckle. I am reminded of a time when I myself had to come out of some of the darkness I have written about here. It is very dangerous. This ideology threatens Christianity's foundation in the same way that Communism/Socialism did 50 years ago. Now a leader like Todd Bentley who holds to the beliefs of these two movements has gained popularity and notoriety with many followers who would die for his cause. In much the same way that many followers were willing to die for the cause of Jim Jones. That is why we must beware and we must warn everyone about this dark and deadly deception.

In my next post, I will write about the manifestations you see in modern day "revival movements." I will talk about what the source of those manifestations is and will tell of how they are now being accepted in the church. I will furthermore expose the origins of these practices tracing their history back to Eastern/New Age religious practice. I will ultimately answer the question is it possible to use pagan practices to draw closer to God as long as our mindset is on the person of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Voice of Healing Movement!

Both Jim Jones and Todd Bentley were influenced by the Latter Rain Movement which sprung forth from the Voice of Healing revival that took place in the 1940's. The leaders of this Voice of Healing revival were William Branham A.A. Allen, Jack Coe, Oral Roberts. There were other leaders like O.L. Jaggers who as mentioned before laid hands upon and pronounced over Jim Jones a very special prophetic ministry. However, the four listed above are the most prominent of the movement.

In Branham (whose mantle and angel Bentley claims), we find very dangerous doctrines like a denial of the Trinity, the teaching that Eve had sex with the serpent and from that union Cain was conceived, further taught that God gave man 3 books (Zodiac, pyramid, and Bible), believed that he was Elijah returned, also the latter day angel to the church of Laoidecea, and prophesied that by 1977 the rapture would take place. Branham was notorious for his ability to discern the details of people's lives. He would call out these details as they came up on stage and he prayed for them. We know that years later Jim Jones had creative ways of learning info about people before services so that he could use the same tactics. I'm not sure if the same was true of Branham. We have seen in recent history in teleevangelist Peter Popoff exposed for having a mic in his ear to assist with his "words of knowledge." After Branham's death in a car accident in 1965, his followers waited by his gravesite for one week convinced that he would rise from the dead. However, it never happened. Yet, today there is a cult built around William Branham called the Branhamites who believe that "He was the greatest prophet that ever lived."

While Branham was known for words of knowledge, Jack Coe was known for picking people up out of wheelchairs to try to convince them they were healed. If they fell, he would say that it was because they did not have enough faith. Coe warned there was a coming a day that anyone who went to see a physician would have to take the mark of the beast. However, when he himself came down deathly sick- he would take the mark of the beast and consult a doctor. He died of bolbar polio at 38 years old. When he died, O.L. Jaggers (who would later lay hands on Jim Jones) tried to convince his wife Juanita that he could raise Jack from the dead. Juanita declined to accept Jaggers' offer. Jaggers offered this because he claimed that God had revealed to him the formula for how to attain physical immortality in this world.

A.A. Allen was known as "God's man of faith and healing power." Allen's healing services looked more like a sideshow. He was most known for his "ability" to build the faith of the crowd in order to see someone healed. I watched this personally on the God's Generals video series compiled by Roberts Liardon. Allen taught that God had given him the ability to turn $1 bills into $20 bills. He was of one the first ministers to promise financial blessing to those who gave to his ministry. In 1955, Allen was arrested for drunk driving in Tennessee. After the arrest, he was stripped of his credentials with the Assemblies of God (AoG). After being stripped of his credentials, Allen would play the role of martyr claiming that he was knocked unconscious and framed by men who poured alcohol down his throat. Many followers bought Allen's alibi, and his ministry continued. However he died in 1969 with cirrhosis of the liver, and was found to be drinking yet again on the night that he died as he had a high level of blood alcohol content.

I have yet to watch a video on Jaco Coe. However, I have seen the videos on William Branham and A.A. Allen. Allen's video especially appears to be more of a theatrical sideshow than anything else. I am convinced that that is what he was was nothing than a theatrical sideshow. The video I watched looked too staged for me to believe that it was real. Branham on video appeared humble, but he himself claimed some outrageous stories like a tree talking to him to confirm his calling. I'm not saying that that is impossible, but we must test things in light of scripture. We know that Branham taught dangerous doctrines and therefore we must call into question the claims of his supernatural enccounters. If he did indeed have supernatural encounters, the bad fruit of false doctrine which spread from his ministry must make us question the source of those encounters.

I'm not disputing that some people did get healed in the meetings of the above men. However, healing does not validate a ministry as being from God. Jesus verifies that in Matthew 7:22-23 when he says "There are many who will say to me on that day 'Lord, Lord did we not drive out demons in your name and in your name perform many miracles' and I will say to them 'Away from me, you evildoers, I never knew you.'

The theatrics seen in the Voice of Healing Revival Movement impressed a young 24 year old pastor, Jim Jones, who later used the same theatrics in order to build his following at the People's Temple which as I have mentioned eventually led to the death of 918 people in the greatest mass cult suicide in history. Years later, we see Todd Bentley using the same theatrics and taking them even further than we could have ever imagined. I am hoping the day never comes that he says, "God told me we must all drink koolaid laced with cyanide if we want revival to break out." But given the extent to which he has already gone with his violent ministry claims, it is sadly not that unlikely that he would indeed go that far- and people would still believe him.

The Voice of Healing Movement is also where Oral Roberts got his start in ministry in the 1940's. I do not have much information on his involvement other than the fact that it did launch him to success in ministry. Oral Roberts is a prosperity preacher and one of the main figures in the Word of Faith Movement which sprung forth out of the Voice of Healing Movement. Roberts is notorious for his claim in 1987 that he needed to raise $8 million in three months are God was going to bring an end to his life. I remember watching that as an 8 year old little boy.

As noted, the Word of Faith Movement sprung forth from the Voice of Healing Movement. Most of the preachers on TBN are a part of that movement. The Word of Faith Movement did not seem to miss a beat even in the midst of the controversy of the Voice of Healing leaders. It has dominated our television screens for years. On the other hand, the Latter Rain Movement which also was a product of the Voice of Healing Movement all but vanished for a couple of decades before being revived in the 1980's.

In my next post, I will detail in specific the dangerous doctrines of both the Latter Rain Movement and the Word of Faith Movement as I trace their history from the 1940's to the present. I will also provide a list of ministers currently on your tv screen that hold to the teachings of these movements.