Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jim Jones and Todd Bentley

Any time I deal with exposing what I believe to be false teachers and false prophets, people always ask me, "Why Chad are you so concerned about this area? Can you not just let God be the judge." Today I am going to tell you a very tragic story that will answer why I can not and will not just sit back and let things run their course. Its full culmination came in the very year of my birth as 918 people were led into the greatest mass suicide in our history.The leader of this group, The People's Temple, was Jim Jones. You have probably heard of him, as your parents and others that were living at that time remember the story all too well. My mother describes it to this day saying "It seems like it was just yesterday that I saw the news." How did a man like Jim Jones gain such a following? Let's look at his background.

He started as a Methodist Youth Pastor in 1952 served in that role for three years before accepting a position as Associate Pastor at an Assemblies of God Church in Indiana. After that, he relocated to Redwood Valley in California where he would found The People's Temple and thus be ordained as a minister with the Disciples of Christ. To those of you who argue that all you need to look for is whether a person says "Jesus is Lord" and that "he came in the flesh," in order for them to be validated- let me ask you do you think Jim Jones would have ever been allowed to serve with either of the three legitimate Christian dominations above if he did not at least say that he believed "Jesus was Lord" and that He did indeed come "In the flesh." Allow me to also point out that if you limit the test to those two criteria, then the Mormon church (Church of Jesus Christ LDS) would have to be accepted as a legitimate Christian denomination. Anyone can give lip service that they don't mean with their spirit, the Pharisees were masters of that in scripture.

In 1955, Jones attended a Latter Rain Pentecostal Conference where Rev. O.L. Jaggers laid hands on him and pronounced over him that he had a very special prophetic calling on his life. It was at that conference that Jones saw Pentecostalism as a perfect opportunity to draw the masses in. He would go on to hold many faith healing services where there were dramatic resurrections from the dead, people would come up out of their wheelchairs, and others would have tumors pulled from their bodies. We know from history Jones used sleight of hand to trick his followers into believing that these miracles and resurrections from the dead were actually taking place.

Much like Todd Bentley, he had no details and no clear documentation of any healings. All people saw were the dramatic enactments taking place on stage. Jones was clever in the enactments. For example, he had chicken gizzards that he pulled out from up his sleeve to make it look as if he was pulling tumors from people's bodies. I have no doubt that even in the meetings of Jones some probably did get healed, as I'm sure there are some in Bentley's that have as well but it has everything to do with Jesus and nothing to with Bentley or Jones or the atmosphere around them. The Holy Spirit works in accordance with his own will, in his own time, and he doesn't need any man to touch you in order for you to be healed. Though I believe in the gift of healing as described in I Corinthians 12- I don't believe you need to be touched by any person in order to be healed.

At one time, Jones' church had 8000 members. As tragic as the Jonestown incident was- thank God that it was only 918 and not 8000 people who were deceived into taking cyanide poison. As I think back, I wonder how many people were there in those days who if they had not been silent could have saved some lives.It may be premature to say that Bentley is another Jim Jones, but I think we should consider that possibility.

What I am confident in saying is that Bentley is definitely a false prophet and I am praying continually that his ministry is sent straight back to the "pits of hell" where it came from. Bentley has encouraged others to seek angelic experiences as if they are normal. For the record, angels are only even mentioned in less than 1% of all the scriptures and people actually having encounters with them is only mentioned in less than one tenth of a percent of all the scriptures. Yet Bentley is trying to say that angelic encounters are normal in scripture. And Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries in defense of Bentley says that "Biblically, the lack of encounters with angels should be more of a concern than having encounters with them."

Still in its infancy, the meetings in Lakeland have all the signs of a cult. Bentley is a very totalitarian leader with a strong charismatic persona infiltrating his followers with an us vs. them mentality. He is claiming more visions and dreams in which he has come into contact with the Almighty God and other Biblical saints, which if true he has more experiences of the kind than anyone in the history of the Christian Church.

What I can not speak for is his sincerity, but sincerity alone can not be judged as criteria for this man and his ministry being of God- for there are plenty throughout history that have been sincerely wrong. Eleven years ago, Marshall Applewhite sincerely believed that the UFO's were orbiting around the planet when he saw Haley's Comet, and his sincere belief led him and 38 followers to commit suicide in order that their spirits may jump on the UFO ship and they thus would go to the next planet where they would reach a higher stage of evolution.

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