I have been sitting on this post for three days. I’ve fiddled with it, wondered whether to publish it, but in the end I’ve decided to go ahead. Feel free to make constructive comments in response.
On Tuesday, Bill Kinnon linked to the latest sign of Todd Bentley’s return to public ministry. He has a new website that is a variation on his old ministry’s name. There is much talk on it of ‘restoration’. To me, it still looks like Bentley is rushing/being rushed (delete as applicable) back into the public arena.
Now I have to say I like the word ‘restoration’ when it comes to church discipline. It is Jesus’ intention. Church discipline is not violent vengeance. The aim is not ultimately to condemn but to bring someone’s life back in order in relation to God and the church. However, if some talk more about discipline than restoration, there is more talk about restoration than discipline on the new site, insofar as I can see. (Do tell me if I am wrong.) Yes, there are passing references to Bentley’s fall and the damage caused, such as in this article. However, it is also peppered with references to Bentley having ‘lingered with the Word Face-to-face’, so he still seems to claim Moses-like stature for his spiritual experiences. And that makes me nervous. Not because I deny the possibility of such experiences, but because it looks like they are being used to validate the spiritual superhero. How can you argue with someone who claims such an experience? It’s the charismatic trump card.
I see the references to having fallen from grace and past mistakes and so on, all on the same page that advertises all sorts of product. Guys I’m sorry, please give me eighteen dollars. What would be ‘fruit in keeping with repentance’, though? Some of it depends on how you weigh the thorny question of divorce and remarriage. I am not an ‘indissolublist’ (one who believes that any subsequent marriage after a divorce while the first spouse is still alive is automatically adulterous, because all marriages last for life whatever happens). I believe that the New Testament exemptions for divorce under certain circumstances only make sense if they end the marriage and leave the wronged partner free. Indeed, that was the position of my own wife when we first met. (See this sermon for an exposition of a relevant passage.)
But to me, I struggle to see how such exemptions could be relevant to someone like Bentley, although if I am right they would be true for his ex-wife Shonnah. From what I know (and I have to acknowledge there may be more that is rightly being kept from the public eye for the sake of Bentley’s children and ex-wife), I would normally expect that the Christian thing for Bentley to do would be to remain celibate. Sex is not a right; it is a gift. The same is true of ministry.
(By the way, I am not alleging that Bentley caused marital breakdown by actual adultery. I do not know, and I do not wish to pry. But what is undisputed is that it was the emotional involvement with another woman, and that has led to a new bond that should not have been made.)
There is an issue of public scandal to be addressed for the sake of public witness. For example, I have seen churches act decisively when scandal has rocked their congregations and their witness in the community. That such churches took action was respected by those non-Christians who had wondered about the standards of the church. Had the church not done so, there would have been a legitimate charge of hypocrisy. I don’t see an equivalent action in this case. Yes, Bentley had to step down from Lakeland immediately. But in only a few months he’s back back back. Is that right?
I am also aware that the ‘mainstream’ Christian Church has not always acted with integrity in this area. I know of an instance where a minister left his wife for another woman, whom he then married, and he was allowed to remain in the ministry. What message that sends to his ex-wife is deeply troubling.
And there is also then everybody else’s situation. None of us is without sin. Who can cast the first stone? If I am not perfect, what sin am I entertaining? How do we distinguish between the struggles we all have and outright flaunting of God’s word? Are there different degrees of sin? These for me are the most difficult questions of all. However, they cannot be used to disallow any possibility of discipline. The same Gospel – Matthew – that says ‘Judge not’ also has the clearest passages on church discipline. People have been clearly wronged. Relationships have been damaged. Injustice has happened here. The Gospel has been brought into disrepute. That must be addressed.
And if I am so imperfect, why even write about this? (I could even be writing for poor motives – like getting more hits for my blog.) That is because this whole sorry saga has unfolded in public and in the light of the massive public claims Bentley and others made about the Lakeland movement and the like, all of which were discredited by the actions of certain ‘apostles’ and Bentley himself. Following that, the restoration process is being played out like a reality TV show on the web. And as I’ve said before, you don’t do pastoral care like that. Right now, you still have to wonder what the motives are for getting Bentley back on platforms so soon. I continue to have some very cynical ideas about why, and I wish I didn’t.
UPDATE, 26th June, 2:00 pm: Maggi Dawn has a post here and she ends with some prescient words:
Rick Joyner’s voice welcomes you to the website, bigging it up with “God mobilising”, at this “strategic time”, “miracle power”, etc etc. There are links galore to Bentley’s teaching, and you can buy his books, and invite him to minister. OK, so allegedly he isn’t actually taking UP any invitations right now, as he is still in a period of “restoration”… still, you don’t launch a new website when you aren’t planning your comeback, do you?
That’s rather how I feel about the invitation/not taking up invitations issue.
No knowledge of the situation apart from the blogosphere, but I think, from what I have read that you have put a very gracious response up without ducking hard issues.
I’m stuck between ‘let him/her who is without sin cast the first stone’ (and we are so good at that aren’t we) and one result from that which is to brush everything under the carpet and not mention anything. Another pole is Jesus’ next words, which are not often quoted ‘I do not condemn you, now go and sin no more’….. that’s the rub isn’t it…..what does ‘go and sin no more’ mean?- back off from a context where you have fallen, put yourself under an accountability group etc etc (which seems to be where the British Methodist Church is with it’s report on those who are on the sex offenders register).
I’ll go back to lurking…
Thanks, Graham, you’re welcome commenting as well as lurking.
Nice post Dave.
In the article you link to Todd writes “I have lingered with the Word Face-to-face, and receive power moment-by-moment to live a holy and acceptable life today thus gaining the courage to flow and traverse with God and within His will into the places of tomorrow.”
My concern is that he claimed something very similar last time and then it turned out that just as he was making these claims who linger with God and receive power he was in fact in an inappropriate relationship with the lady he has now married.
I think it is fair to ask “What has changed?”
Yes, the comment reminded me very much of his previous claims to trips into the heavenly places.
Excellent post Dave, I agree with you that restoration is important, but get a sense of a real papering over the cracks job going on here…..
If that is so then the cracks will show through in no time…
Restoration, true restoration takes time, as you say… Read more
“. The aim is not ultimately to condemn but to bring someone’s life back in order in relation to God and the church. ”
This needs care and thought, or the individual and all concerned will be hurt again.
Yes, I’m worried too about the papering over of the cracks.
You left this sentence incomplete. What are you claiming to be undisputed? If you intended to add “caused the marital breakdown”, that is by no means undisputed. Unless things have changed recently (and I haven’t been following the latest updates) Todd’s version of the story is that his relationship with Jessa became inappropriate only after Shonnah had left him.
I don’t claim that Todd was guiltless. But I really think that only someone who knows the facts, rather than the Internet rumours, should make any attempt to label one party rather than the other as the guilty one.
Graham, Todd has put himself under an accountability group, in a very public way announced on the new website, with Rick Joyner, Jack Deere and Bill Johnson. It is Rick’s voice which we hear on the new website and he speaks of how Todd is still going through a process of restoration.
DaveW, I wonder who should be asking “What has changed?” Todd, yes. Rick Joyner, yes. Us, probably not as Todd is not accountable to us. Anyway, Todd is not yet ministering publicly, and is not accepting invitations to do so, as on this page:
So there is no sign that he is being rushed back into ministry. He will almost certainly be out of public ministry for more than a year, as the year will be up in August and they are not looking to arrange anything in a hurry. In practice we may well be talking about the New Year even if they move ahead quickly. I’m not saying that justifies anything, but it seems to me that they have decided to take their time – not decades, but years.
Thanks Peter – although it seems utterly bizarre to put up a section of the website called ‘Invite Todd’ in such circumstances. And if he’s not ministering, why sell his books? What’s the difference? And Joyner’s video on the home page stokes up the excitement to my mind – what do you think?
A gracious post. More gracious than I am prepared to be.
The Lakeland “outpouring” led by then freshly-inked Todd claimed thousands healed, hundreds raised from the dead. The vast majority of these claims, if not all of them, in fact, were myths. This was deception on a rather massive scale that provided false hope to thousands of people – including friends of mine.
Now, it would be easy to write off my comments as simply a “hater” of things charismatic. Or to say, “you’re not on the inside so you don’t know what’s happening.” That would be easy but it would not deal with reality.
One of the men who was supposed to be at the infamous Bentley commissioning service, and had been at Lakeland numerous times, was the man who ordained me years ago. We worked together until 2004.
I’ve been deep inside the belly of this beast, heard thousands of false prophecies and seen lives destroyed by them. I’ve seen people who have claimed healing only to die months later. I’ve watched people chase the Christian “gurus” from town to town in vain hope of “getting some of the stuff.” I’ve witnessed first hand the lavish lifestyles and expectations of kingly treatment from people who claim to follow the One who gave up everything and lived in poverty for our sakes.
This IS another gospel.
As I once heard preached at Millmead Baptist Church in Guildford (back in 1987), the only sign of the operation of the Gifts of the Spirit is the Fruit of the Spirit. What is the fruit of Bentley’s ministry? A broken marriage, children separated from their father, an adulterous relationship, thousands mislead, lies too many to enumerate, and the list goes on and on.
To suggest that Todd’s restoration is still in process and he’s not quite ready for prime time again is to wilfully ignore the website that is busy promoting his 2nd Coming. To which I would respond, Give Me a Break!
Thanks Bill, I don’t have your connections but I respect your experience. I’ve just updated the post with some comments from Maggi Dawn that seem highly appropriate. If Bentley isn’t taking up invitations, why the website and why the selling of ‘product’ (I hate that word)? I want to believe the best of people, but – once again – this website is really pushing it for me.
Last year, I spent a fair amount of time watching the Lakeland Outpouring over the internet. In fact, I spent one month, each evening from 7:00 to 11:00, in front of my PC just watching. Two-three months after I quit watching, Todd announced his marriage was over and everything ended. Here’s what I saw then – and since:
– Todd Bentley doesn’t do something because he believes it is the Lord’s will; he says an angel comes to him and commands him
– He doesn’t say that the Lord is blessing his ministry; he says he’s raising the dead and mightly miracles are being wrought
– He doesn’t just feel the presence of the Lord; he carried into the third heaven into God’s very presence
– Todd isn’t refreshed by the Lord; he lingers “with the Word Face-to-face”
– He doesn’t get a small tattoo in a discrete place; he covers himself in them.
I’d like to think that his restoration has addressed the spiritual root of this inordinate drive for attention/affirmation, but I can’t help but notice that it’s being carried out publicly (where his ‘journey’ is the center of attention)…
BTW, a very gracious post
Thanks – the regularity and consistency of the ‘larger than life’ (if I can call them that) claims was not something I had thought about. Thanks too for being kind about the post. If you were able to identify yourself publicly rather than just calling yourself ‘Some Guy’, I’d find that helpful, though – unless you have strong reasons for anonymity? (If the latter, then do feel free to email me privately; you can find contact details on my ‘Contact’ page.
I may not be as learned as some of the other people replying but I would like to say thank you for your post on a difficult subject. my gut reaction to the the whole sorry Todd Bentley affair is that he should not be allowed to come back into ministry so soon if at all.
I had misgivings about his ministry before the affair was revealed the shire scale of his ministry, can anyone continue without a break for such long hours. Jesus retreated from the crowds to have time with his father surely this is a requirement of us all that we have the right spirtual guidence and quiet times. Some proper balance is needed.
I believe Todd Bentley has hurt a lot of people and dented the reputation of the church by his behaviour and should not return into the public arena so so soon.
One has to wonder why he worked so long without a break. Who wanted that: him? The Lakeland leadership? Was it a weak reaction to public demand? We’ll never know. But before being too self righteous, I ought to admit it’s a temptation for many in ministry.
Thanks for commenting, Carole – good to hear from you.
“One has to wonder … We’ll never know.” Why not? Todd and the others around him have said quite a lot in public about why Lakeland continued as it did and Todd didn’t take many breaks. This includes some regrets expressed. Of course we can’t be sure that the whole story has been told. But your comment seems to suggest that there is some conspiracy to keep such things secret when in fact a lot has been made public, or else that you have decided in advance not to believe a word of what you are told. Surely before commenting like this you should at least find out what the parties have said, then you can reasonably comment on whether you think that is the whole story.
No, Peter, it was just a genuine ‘don’t know’. I’m not implying conspiracies.
I fail to see what this has to do – really – with divorce and remarriage.
The real question is: what standards are demanded for Christian leaders.
I am reminded of Profumo, who retired from public life and spent the rest of his time helping the homeless.
Frankly, I find even Church Colson’s “rehabilitation” pretentious – helping prisoners is no apology for
undermining US democracy.
But in this case, there is absolutely no mitigating circumstances. Do we really believe that God is unable
to use anyone else at all in the whole world? Todd’s personal and private life should remain personal
and private. But he has forfeited any position of Christian leadership in perpetuity.
I’m puzzled by your comments. If personal and private matters are just that, on what grounds has Todd Bentley ‘forfeited any position of Christian leadership in perpetuity’?
Also, I’d be grateful if you’d explain (privately to me if necessary) why you have hidden behind a pseudonym. You are the second person on this post to do so, and I’m beginning to wonder whether I should have a blog policy on this. If you (or anyone else reading) have any comments that would inform me in making a decision, I’d be appreciative.
While I believe in restoration, I suggest we would be wise to FOCUS on God.. Too much time can be spent on other matters that simply distract us from His message.
Thank you, ‘Anonymous’, but this is now the third anonymous comment on this post, all from different IP addresses. While there has been nothing troubling in the anonymous comments, I clearly shall have to consider a policy on this as I said earlier. I’m not happy with people hiding like this.
Peter speaks of Todd Bentley in 2 Peter 2:13-22,
13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit” ,and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”
Very tough and true words from Peter concerning false prophets and teachers. Bentley is a false prophet and teacher, a wolf in sheeps clothing. The people that surround him do not hold him to any accountability at all, and probably because they are wolves as well. They do not uphold Scriptures because if they did then Todd Bentley would not be back in the limelight already. This is a joke, but I guess they have to get the cash cow running again huh?
I pray that people would actually READ the Bible, and realize that while God still heals and there are signs and wonders still today, it should not take the focus off of JESUS. When the angels, signs and wonders, tongues, healings, man, or anything is focused on more than Jesus then you have a big problem and you need to repent and turn to Jesus.
Yours are the strongest words of criticism here, and at least you have had the honesty not to hide behind anonymity or a pseudonym. Although I too am critical of the situation, I’m not sure I want to claim as much as you do about those in the accountability process with Bentley, although I remain perturbed about the appearance of this new website.
I’ve only recently read about this, hadn’t heard of Todd till now….followed your link to his new site, and read his “Restorative Dividends” letter…..Now, I try very, very hard not to judge…I believe there is only one judge…..but after reading that, I really felt warning flags in my spirit about this man. I definitely see a focus on miracles, signs, wonders, (one quote struck me…”we need to preach the Gospel of power with signs , wonders, and miracles following…”), and I am personally not comfortable with that….sound a little too much like the end-times false prophets.
I don’t even know much of the details of whatever he did….I just know that what I read sounds like a man who is trying to put across a humble front, but has another agenda.
But I will have to do further reading……
Thank you for your measured comment. I am personally not against ‘signs and wonders’, although the quoting of the ‘signs following’ passages gives me problems, because it is in one of the disputed endings to Mark’s Gospel that is probably not canonical. However, I appreciate your approach and your desire to read more. God bless you.
Just to say I’ve been doing a little bit of Reverse IP digging regarding our three anonymous commenters. One is from Australia, another from New Zealand and the third is so far a little more elusive but I expect to track him/her down. There really is no need to hide identities like this here. I am giving more consideration to the banning of anonymous comments. If any other bloggers have some wisdom, I’d be grateful to hear it.
Why do you care so much about the identity of these people? It’s not as if you know who anyone really is by their use of an avatar or user i.d. Who cares if they are from Australia–apropos of what?
I care because there can be something fishy about hiding your criticisms behind anonymity. There are times when perhaps that is justified for reasons for personal safety, but that clearly wasn’t the issue here, so it aroused my suspicions. It’s nothing to do with Australia per se, I was simply mentioning how much I had managed to find out about them so far.
Okay, now I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading, researching, watching, and I’ve come up with a few conclusions:
From watching the videos of Todd and Rick Joyner about “Todd’s restoration”, and listening to what is said by the two of them….well, apologies were made, and they definitely made all the right noises of Todd re-connecting with God, being in counsel, admitting wrongs, etc….now, of course, there are a multitude of those not believing a word they say. I find myself willing to believe (at least once) that he is trying to be “restored”, based upon their words. The fact that apologies were made and forgiveness was asked is something that I can’t just ignore, personally – only God really knows his heart.
However, two things still bother me.
[Edited by blog owner.] I realize it’s dangerous to presume to know where someone else stands with God…..but I just don’t understand how that one works.
Also, I watched a lot of videos of his ministry, of Todd on stage, doing what he was doing, and a lot of the things he said and a lot of his behaviours really , really bothered me…..one that comes to mind is his calling down angels, telling the angels to release the annointing, release the healing, etc…..and leading the audience in a loud, repetitive chant to this effect.
Another is his use of , “The Father, The Son, And BAM!” for healing…..and then he would repeat “BAM” when “touching” someone for healing. Never, “In the name of Jesus”, or “by the power of the Holy Spirit”…..just “BAM!”
And telling the crowds that God told him to heal people by “banging her leg on the floor like a baseball bat”, or “kicking her in the face with my biker boot”, or tackling someone to the ground”….
Several other things he said and did on stage really lead me to believe that while he was on stage he was not(at least most of the time) under the power of God, and we know what other choice there is…….
I really hope he does re-connect with God, and I really hope his ex-wife and kids are well taken care of and spiritually healthy. I hope he really is seeking repentance and forgiveness, because I know we have a great, merciful God. But I also hope that if he does go back into ministry (which seems likely), it will be a 180 from what I’ve seen, because what I saw did not seem in any way inspired by God.
Thanks for listening.
Thanks for coming back and commenting again. The general tenor of what you say is similar to what a lot of people have said over the last year.
Thank you for this. You have made me realise I accidentally let something through that I should not have done. Whatever my criticisms of Bentley, I think you are absolutely right here. I have edited the offending comment from Owen’s comment and removed the quotation from yours, too.
Peter Kirk- Todd Bentley’s own board issued a statement that Bentley had an “unhealthy relationship” with a female staff member. While that does not mean he had a physical relationship with his staff member, it does mean that he commited adultery. Why are you so blind to Scriptures?
Jesus says in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Jesus also says in Matthew 19:9, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
So, according to Scriptures, according to Jesus, Todd Bentley has FULLY committed adultery. Now I understand that many people, many Christians, do both of these on a daily basis and they should repent and also be held accountable. But Todd Bentley is a teacher, a preacher, someone called to a higher standard!! I understand that everyone is capable of any and every sin, and he may have apologized for this sin of adultery, and he should. But he should not be back in the limelight already, he should not be preaching, teaching, speaking, asking for money, ministering to people, or on a new website showing his face and getting right back in the swing of ministry. What he should be doing (if he were truly a man of God and not a wolf in sheep’s clothing) is falling face down before God, not showing himself on a new website. Those that are reportedly a part of this so-called “restoration” process are either just as much a wolf as he is, or they are blinded for some odd reason, maybe because they don’t hold to Scripture either. Or God is hardening their hearts as He did to Pharaoh.
I was near Lakeland when Todd Bentley came to Ignited Church. I visited this church and saw what was going on there. While I did not see Todd Bentley in person, I saw his staff, and the people that supported him, that lifted him up to rock n roll status and I can assure you that while God was moving and using some people, Todd Bentley and most that have lifted him up and support him are false teachers and prophets. You should read what 2Peter 2:13-22 has to say about them.
I pray that your heart is opened to what is going on here Peter Kirk. I know that you (for some reason) have supported Bentley with complete disregard for what Scripture actually says. I pray this changes.
I take your point about biblical understandings of adultery, but due to the way words are understood and interpreted in the world (and especially in the courts) I think I was right to edit Owen’s comment in the light of Peter’s complaint.
I’m sorry, Mike, but when I read the word “adultery” in an English language text I am naive enough to think that the author might actually mean what that word means according to every English dictionary. After all, Jesus didn’t speak English and so was not able in Matthew 5:28 to redefine the meaning of an English word. Furthermore, Jesus’ words as translated refer to “adultery in his heart”, and that qualification “in his heart” was not included in the deleted qualification, thus making it impossible to construe Owen’s words as referring to what Jesus was referring to. Anyway, an “unhealthy relationship” is not the same thing as “looking at a woman with lustful intent”.
As for your reference to Matthew 19:9, I explicitly wrote “while he was still married to Shonnah”, i.e. before he was divorced, which was the time Owen was referring to.
You’re right, I have no evidence of “physical” adultery. And based on what Dave mentioned about how that word is understood in the world and the courts, I can agree with that part of my comment being construed as libel. But I was thinking of it under the biblical understanding.
Peter- You really do like to dance around the issue don’t you?
Todd Bentley had an unhealthy emotional relationship (adultery) with a staff member (not his wife). According to Fresh Fire Ministries, “Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position…and to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.” Bentley then leaves ministry to seek “counseling” and from that couseling he decides to divorce his wife and marry the staff member. What kind of Biblical couseling is that?!?
Since his wife was not unfaithful and he divorced her and then married another (staff member), Todd Bentley commited adultery. Now he is back with a new website and is back in ministry in less than one year. That is a joke, but we should not be surprised at all by this from Bentley and the other wolves that are “restoring” or “counseling” him. And it will be no surprise when they fall once again as most false teachers and prophets do…
8Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
I agree with you that divorcing a spouse without biblical grounds and then remarrying constitutes adultery in Christian terms, but I’m a bit concerned when you automatically label Bentley’s ‘unhealthy emotional relationship … with a staff member’ as adultery. I may have missed something, but I’m not sure we know what the nature of the initial emotional relationship between him and Jessa was. Someone else may be able to cast light on that, and if they can do so on the grounds of clear evidence (such as a statement from somebody involved) rather than hearsay, such comments would be welcome. But I hope you understand my hesitation and wanting to put a caution by that particular statement you have made. I still stand by my basic position, though, that the setting up of the new ministry website is a disturbing development that in my opinion indicates all sorts of things wrong behind the scenes.
David, I understand your concern. What I am stating is that if Bentley had an emotional relationship with someone other than his wife, he is committing adultery by Christ’s standards. As Peter Kirk correctly stated, Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:28 translated refer to “adultery in his heart”. Whether physical, emotional, mental, it is adultery. According to the Bible, and according to Jesus, if someone married looks at porn, it is adultery. If someone married looks at someone else (other than their spouse) with a lustful heart, it is adultery. If someone married starts to have an unhealthy emotional relationship with someone else (other than their spouse) it is adultery. Things that are done in secret with the opposite sex (other than your spouse) is wrong and with a heart of adultery.
An emotional relationship with someone of the opposite sex is risky enough if you are married, but Fresh Fire Ministries themselves called it an “unhealthy” emotional relationship. What does that tell you?
I agree totally with you that it is disturbing to see Bentley back with a new website and in ministry, but it does not surprise me at all. As I have voiced, Todd Bentley is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a false teacher and false prophet. Most of what he does and says is not Biblical, but sadly people eat it up because they do not know their Bibles, and most are not true Christians anyway.
I appreciate your blog and discussion on this topic. Thanks for allowing me to share!
Fine, I see where you’re coming from Mike, it’s just that I’ve come across other kinds of unhealthy emotional attachments that haven’t necessarily had a sexual component. There can be all sorts of emotional dependency or co-dependency. That’s why I was cautious.
Thanks for your kind words about the blog, and you are very welcome here.
I have some question….
Does anyone here know what Todd Bentley’s backers knew and when they knew it concerning Bentley’s unhealthy relationship?
I mean, IF those who backed Bentley knew that stuff was going on before or during the revival, shouldn’t they have “pulled the plug,” given what was going on, emotional or whatever the level?
And, IF they knew about stuff going on, then what would that say about them IF they knew, but didn’t “pull the plug” on the “revival”?
Thank you for your comment and welcome here. In response to your question, I genuinely don’t know. Perhaps other readers do.
Ray, from what I remember of what was being reported (quite a lot of it has been summarised on my blog, but not recently), Todd’s relationship with Jessa became unhealthy, that is it went beyond what would be considered normal between work colleagues, only in July last year, after Shonnah left Todd, returned to Canada and refused to see him any more. It perhaps took a month for the unhealthiness of the relationship to become clear, and then quick action was taken to remove Todd from public ministry.
Oops, I meant to type “questions,” not “question.” Sorry for the typo.
I don’t think anyone can say for sure what they knew beforehand…..( I suspect Freshfire Ministries won’t be sharing that info…)
And a note to Peter….FreshFire themselves admitted that Todd was in an adulterous relationship..
“Here are the facts:
1. Todd has yet to enter into a clear system of accountability with the leaders he identified that would be involved in such a process. Todd has visited Rick Joyner in Fort Mills, South Carolina, and indicated early on in September that he would be moving there soon to become a part of the community there and to receive counseling from Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, Bill Johnson and others that Rick might feel to bring alongside. Todd is in regular contact with Rick Joyner and has agreed together with Rick that he will move to Fort Mills during the first few months of 2009.
2. Having spoken with Todd in recent days, he is resolute in his intentions to divorce Shonnah, and in his mind, the restoration he is seeking is one which would not include reconciliation with his wife. Todd admits to being 100% responsible for the divorce.
3. It also needs to be clarified that Shonnah has in no way initiated this divorce and has no present intention to do so at any time in the future. She is understandably hurt by Todd’s infidelity, but is not asking or pressing for a divorce. The legal separation from Shonnah was initiated completely by Todd and he has not seen her or the children since the last week in July. To our knowledge, Todd’s relationship with the female staff-member, who was a former intern and also, at his initiative, a live-in nanny in his house for over a year, is still ongoing. We believe that there are currently no biblical grounds for Todd to leave his wife and children. While it has been maintained that no physical contact happened between Todd and the former female intern until after he filed for legal separation from Shonnah, in the Boards’ eyes, the nature of the present relationship between Todd and his former staff member is that of adultery.
Source: Special Prayer Request, Fresh Fire Ministries, Nov. 28, 2008 — Summarized by Religion News Blog
Those may have been the facts last November. The facts now are that Todd has entered into a proper accountability relationship with Rick Joyner and others. The Fresh Fire board were not disputing that the unhealthy relationship between Todd and Jessa started only after Todd filed for separation last July, a legal move to protect his position in response to his wife leaving him and refusing further contact. Note that this statement is not what anyone has “admitted” on behalf of Todd, but an accusation by a group which was speaking for his wife.
I will explore your links and consider them carefully – the final run in to my younger daughter’s wedding on 18 July means not yet.
I have said on Peter’s Gentle Wisdom that my own feelings about the Lakeland ministry last year sit between Peter’s and those you have expressed, and probably nearer to yours. This developed through time spent watching God TV, listening to others, attending spin off meetings locally, reading blogs of various shades. On the latter I have been dismayed at the level of vitiol, both from Heresy Hunters and Charismatic KGB types. I related it all to my first hand experiences with the Toronto effect in 1994-95. I am also aware that in some ways I may stereotype the British middle class, middle aged male, with the weaknesses and strengths we bring to the party. But the events which unfolded since August 2008 have certainly reinforced and to me justified the general unease I felt. And that in no way denies that the God who spoke though Balaam’s donkey can work through anyone, and was working through Todd and this minsitry, in spite of the failings. How blown up the claims were, I am not in a position to judge.
I will not attempt to add to the claims and counterclaims on what happened and was said, when and who did it. Owen and Peter particularly have pointed us to some material. If there is one lesson which stands out for me it is that the level of accountability and pastoral oversight was seriously lacking. My personal view, and to quote Paul this is of me not the Lord, is that I am disturbed that he went so quickly through a divorce and into remarriage. Like you, I guess, I conclude that Scripture does recognise divorce and remarriage under certain circumstances, but even so there surely needs to be careful self examiniation and prayerful reflection by any divorced party. I have trouble seeing that here. The seriousness of what has happened here, and the highly public arena in which it has happened suggests to me that the restoration process needs to be meticulous and cannot safely be hurried. And because “the fall” happened so publicly, then I fear the restoration must contain a higher level of public exposure than we might normally want.
I will watch developments, and peruse the links.
Good to hear from you again. Thank you for your careful, measured words. Like you, the vitriol has worried me. We’re not a good advert for the kingdom of God at times, are we? It’s one reason among several why I sat on this post for three days before publishing it. I wanted to go through my own thoughts and words to filter out any unhealthy attitudes that might have been there. How successful I was, only you can judge.
Anyway, I hope the final plans for your younger daughter’s wedding go well, that the day itself is joyful, and that she and her husband have many happy years together.
Colin, just in case there is any misunderstanding, I too “am disturbed that [Todd] went so quickly through a divorce and into remarriage”. But if you have watched even some of the many video developments on Rick Joyner’s site, you will realise that your fear, which is really a wish, has been fulfilled: “the restoration must contain a higher level of public exposure than we might normally want”. And it certainly seems to be meticulous. As for it being hurried, I agree it should not be, but I think the timescales should be up to the people doing the restoration who of course know the situation much better than we do.
Owen- Thank you for posting the facts. Most people realize that those are the facts and have been the facts.
Peter- Why do you keep acting as if Bentley’s wife left him and as if it is all on her?!? I am not sure why you always defend a wolf in sheep’s clothing in Todd Bentley and the people that surround him.
Most false teachers/false prophets/wolves/heretics have two things that bring them down: sin with money or sexual sin. Always happens and always with one or both of these sins. Todd Bentley is no exception, and he will surely fall again unless he truly repents and follows Jesus.
Mike, I am prepared to defend a straying sheep who has been libellously called a wolf. Yes, Todd has strayed, and seriously so. We can agree to disagree on some of his doctrine. But even if he is the most ravening wolf in the whole world, sheep’s clothing cast off and jaws dripping with blood, that is no excuse for anyone telling deliberate lies about him. Someone has certainly been telling untruths about how Todd and Shonnah broke up, and I have no reason to think that they have come from either Todd or Shonnah who have told the same basic story although with different interpretations.
WOW, you must be on Fresh Fire Ministries payroll or something. Strayed? No…Todd was a wolf from the beginning. You should learn to identify a wolf when you see one (Scripture would help you with this), or you will end being ravaged by them.
I pray that Todd will repent, and truly come to know and follow Jesus Christ, because if he were to do that and he were to preach from the Bible and preach about Jesus he would be a great force against Satan and against evil.
I’m happy for you to argue your case here, but I can underline Peter Kirk’s point that he has no connection with Fresh Fire. He and I have known each other for a year or two through blogging, and have even met in the flesh – his pastor is an old friend of mine. Peter and I happen to disagree quite strongly on this particular issue, but let me assure you he is a man of integrity.
Mike, I will not add an “Amen” to your prayer because, by all accounts from anyone involved nearly 20 years ago Todd indeed came to know and follow Jesus Christ at that time, and has no need to repeat this. He was a sinner as a teenager who was gloriously converted and called to Christian ministry. Do you deny this? Do you deny the possibility that people from bad backgrounds like Todd’s can come to Christ and be changed, to become sheep in his flock?
I have learned to identify the wolves who have come into the church: those who seek to divide and destroy Christian leaders and ministries. The wolves have done huge damage to Todd and to Fresh Fire, by the way they have responded to this very sad situation and their refusal to recognise and accept genuine repentance. I hope, Mike, that you are not one of those wolves. And I pray that these wolves will repent and turn to doing what builds up the body of Christ.
I have no financial or other connection with Fresh Fire Ministries.
reading this rather late. thank you all for your comments and Dave for getting this discussion underway
There is no doubt that huge mistakes were made in Lakeland – and there is a sense of TB rushing /being rushed back into ministry very fast – so I like what Maggi Dawn wrote. I’m a big fan of hers, so no surprise there
One thing seems clear to me – TB wasn’t healthily accountable to anyone during lakeland – and that should be a lesson to all of us. We need it. We all need it.
We desperately need to put God in our schedule at the #1 slot- not as a tag on or a ‘bless what I am doing’ attitude – rather, we need to seek God and allow our character to be moulded by our relationship with Him. We need a team around us to help us in that.
If TB had had that (rather than being put on a pedestal and falling into the trap of being ‘needed’ /irreplacable) deceptions and heresy would not have crept in, and I believe TB’s marriage would still be intact. There is no room for superheros in ministry or for lone-rangers either. We are called to be IN the body of Christ -healthiy dependent and accountable to one another.
my 2c worth 🙂
Thanks, Lorna. I’m interested particularly in your reference to ‘superheroes’. I think the evangelical world has had a problem with this issue for many years. It is exacerbated by the wider culture’s cult of celebrity, which we seem to ape, being more proud of famous people who are Christians than with everyday disciples – cf. 1 Corinthians 1, ‘Not many of you were rich’ etc. I think it is also affected by the sense of desperation in some circles at a time of church decline: if someone claims to be doing amazing things, then we flock to sit at their feet for the secret that will turn things around for the rest of us (assuming the superhero’s claims are accurate). What do you think?
I have to agree with Lorna’s thoughts on the “superhero” mentality…..it’s far to dangerous, and as she pointed out, not Biblical. And it seemed pretty obvious that Todd was FreshFire’s main man, so one can understand why they’re in a hurry to get him back out there. He was the show, he was the draw.(I know I’ll get some flak for that statement, too.)
I’ve also seen this in the Christian music industry…while I really enjoy a lot of the music, I’ve been to a couple concerts myself where it was hard to see the focus being on Christ, behind the person being touted as “awesome”.It’s always bothered me to hear the radio ads for these concerts…they repeat the stars name over and over in a dramatic voice…
Wasn’t that something like what Paul was upset about in 1 Corinthians 1 : 12-13…
12What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[a]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into[b] the name of Paul?
Perhaps there was somewhat of a “celebrity culture” then, too.
If I’m right, Owen, this is a new and different Fresh Fire organisation. I think the original one disowned Bentley.
But having said that, although here in the UK we don’t get the same level of promotion for the Christian music industry because it’s much smaller, there can be some signs of what you describe.
As for your quote from 1 Corinthians, I suspect you’re spot on.
ah…okay then, I could likely have misunderstood what I read about FreshFire…I thought all they did was change the name.
Well, that’s my belief, given the statements from the original Fresh Fire organisation. The new one is also located in the US, as opposed to Canada, which to me (rightly or wrongly) suggests something to do with those overseeing Todd Bentley’s restoration.
Dave- Yeah that was a bit of sarcasm concerning Peter Kirk and his being on the payroll of FFM.
Peter- I do not deny that people with Bentley’s background can come to know and follow Jesus Christ. I am one of them, coming from a very similar background as Bentley. But when I examine Todd Bentley and others around or like him, I do not see true Biblical teaching, preaching, or fruit. I see false teaching, false prophets, no focus on Jesus, a strong focus on signs and wonders, angels, manifestations, miracles and stuff that is rooted in New age teaching/occult teaching. I call that a wolf in sheep’s clothing and so does Jesus.
15″Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
21″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Thanks for acknowledging that as sarcasm; I felt the need to be serious, because you don’t always know what someone’s tone is when it’s purely in writing.
The one thing I do not see in all these terrible flaws. Is humility. David said my sin is ever before me. He knew who God was he knew who he was” a sinner”. I do not understand the lack of the humility in Todd and I would love to see that fruit in him. Until I see that humility I can not accept restoration.