Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bentley's visions and experiences

In this post, I intend to give you a list of some of the experiences Bentley is claiming. I don't have many comments of my own to add, because really the experiences should speak for themselves. Either he really has had these experiences and they are from God and we should receive him as someone of great authority, or he is deluded and deceiving and we should seek to expose him as such. Read these stories and let me know what you think!

When he was in Redding, California Jesus literally appeared to him in the flesh. He had eyes just like Bambi and he placed his hands upon Todd's shoulder.

Shortly after his conversion he was knocked out of his body by an angel and had to fight with the angel in order to find his way back into his body. As he did so, he discovered that this was his own angel.

Also shortly after his conversion he saw the tree of life about 20 foot tall literally in his apartmet living room.

In one of his third heaven experiences Bentley had a conversation with the apostle Paul who gave him the answer to the 2000 year old debate on who actually authored Hebrews, informing Bentley that he (Paul) himself was in the third heaven conversing with Abraham who helped him write the epistle and that is why it has long been debated.

In another trip to the third heaven Todd found himself on an operating table where angels were cutting him open and putting boxes into him. These boxes represented God supernaturally placing in him the character that it takes 40 years for most Christians to obtain in their struggle with their flesh. God did this because he lost track of time and with the notion of time which he himself created working against him- he had to find a "quick fix" to make up that lost time.

The angel that guides Bentley's ministry is the same angel that guided the ministry of William Branham- who denied the Trinity, taught that Eve had sexual relations with the serpent and conceived Cain by means of that union, believed that he was the second coming of Elijah the prophet, taught that he was the angel to the latter day church of Laodicea, and furthermore that by 1977 all denominations would be consumed into the World Council of Churches at which time the rapture would take place.

Bentley's spirit one time left his body and he found himself in the Himalayan mountains conversing with Indian Christian mystic Sadhu Sundhar Singh, who he learned the practice of contemplative prayer from. This same Singh believe in universalism, that no matter what people believe in the end all will be in heaven with out any eternal consequence for their sins.

Bentley's spirit once left his body and went to a prison cell where it proclaimed the gospel to prisoners.As I have said before, there are many stories that could be told about Bentley's claims but they are so numerous that if we were to write about all of them there would not be enough room in the world to contain the books that would be written.

If I may be sarcastic for a moment, if after reading all this you believe that Bentley did have all these experiences and that they are of God- I have some beach front property in Arkansas I am trying to sell- I will even give you a discount on it. Perhaps Bentley really does believe he had all these experiences and that they are indeed of God. If so, then that is only more cause to be concerned.

I would much rather think of him simply be a conartist deceiving the masses to make a big buck- then someone who sincerely believes all that he claims. However, the same mistake was made by people with Jim Jones in the 1970's. There are many who simply thought of him as a conartist manipulating people to make a big buck. Anyone who had friends and family who died in the greatest mass cult suicide in our history now regrets that they did not give a little more serious attention to the thought that Jim Jones might indeed believe what he said to the extent that he would get people to end their lives in death by drinking of the cyanide poison.

In full view of that fact, I can not and will not in good conscience treat Bentley as simply being a conartist. We really need to consider the question of whether or not we have another Jim Jones on our hand. If we do, we need to be bold and speak out like never before until we bring an end to this great demonic deception and see it sent straight back to the "pits of hell" where it came from.

In my next post, I will talk about Bentley's connection to the prophetic movement which was birthed in the 1980's. The post will contain the raw facts on leaders like Paul Cain and Bentley's mentor,Bob Jones who both have been allowed to minister in Lakeland in full view of acts of indecency that both men have committed. I will also talk about Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries and the conference he had earlier this year in which he honored the leaders of the Voice of healing revival in the 1940's and 1950's- in full view of the fact of the very dangerous heresies of some of these men honored- like William Branham.

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.

Quenching Discernment!

I agree that we should be careful not to quench the spirit of God. However let us not be so worried about quenching the spirit of God moving in extraordinary ways, that we quench the Spirit's call for us to use discernment and sound judgment when evaluating the teachings, stories and practices of leaders like Todd Bentley.

If we believe all that Bentley has said, then he has had more encounters with angels, Biblical saints, and God himself than anyone in the history of the Christian church. Either all these experiences are true, or some if not all are just cleverly invented stories used to put the stamp of authority on his ministry and his teachings. If these stories did indeed occur in their entirety, we should accept Todd Bentley as someone sent on a mission from God with great authority. If the stories did not occur in their entirety, then we have no choice but to recognize him as deluded and deceitful and seek to expose him as such.

Some people will say that my belief and proclamation that he is the latter of those two makes me guilty of the unforgiveable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, but what if in reality- those who support his ministry are the ones themselves who are blaspheming the Holy Spirit by not answering His call to discernment. Others will say that I am consumed with a Spirit of Religion that makes me skeptical of the miracles, signs, and wonders that are said to take place in Bentley's meetings. Let me make clear that I believe very firmly in the operation of spiritual gifts including miracles, signs, and wonders among us today, but there is no greater spirit of religion that consumes man than to believe that we need any more of a miracle, sign, or wonder to confirm the gospel than what Christ himself gave us in His resurrection from the dead.

This is a very tender subject for me, because in 1997- I started to awaken to the fact that I had been sorely deceived by a movement much like the one Bentley is apart of. That began a journey that was long, hard, and depressing which at times made me feel alone and abandoned by God. In reality I was the cause of my suffering because I lived my faith based more on the emotions of the moment than I did on the commitment of a lifetime.It is a miracle that I am even in relationship with God today, because it would have been much easier for me to bail out spiritually. In the process of this journey, I almost did bail out literally as I contemplated the thought of suicide. Thank God for resources that opened my eyes to the truth and God my feet planted firmly on the right foundation.

In Ephesians 5:13 Paul writes "But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light." That's an amazing concept that God shines a light on our darkest places so that we can become a light to others and lead them out of those darkest of places. That is why I am going to contribute to this post. My prayer is that those of you who may be sarcastically deemed as the "Todd Bentley KGB" will read my testimony with an open mind and an open heart and allow God to speak to you through it. If your thoughts on Bentley are accurate- they will stand up in light of having an open mind and an open heart to discern the truth. I ask you to begin by considering that Bentley might not be sent from God, that he indeed may very well be a counterfeit enough that you will search the scriptures and put this to the test in the same way that the Bereans tested Paul.

In closing let me say that while I was so angry at myself for buying into the counterfeit like I had up until 1997, I was more angry at myself for misleading others along with me. The only thing more tragic than being deceived by a counterfeit is leading others into that deceit with you. So I pray that your mind will be open to read my testimony and to discern the spirits present in this so-called "move of God ."