Now I am worried: the excellent Brian Jones has a disturbing YouTube clip of our friend Todd Bentley giving one example after another about how the Holy Spirit led him to perform violent acts upon people in order that they might be healed. He kicks an old lady in the nose with his biker boot; he chokes a man; he drop-kicks a pastor. Watch it yourself if you don't believe me. And watch audience members laughing as if it's a comedy routine.
For me, this goes beyond the weird and unusual methods in Scripture. It's way beyond Jesus using spittle in healing a blind person. It's even beyond God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, because in some of these instances, Bentley brazenly admits that he engages in the particular violent acts. In Abraham's case, it was a test and God restrained him at the end.
Not only that, I have known the odd pastor who would have taken this as justification for their own aggressive behaviour in church. I think I have alluded before to having been one of a group of charismatic church leaders who put pressure on another pastor to resign over his behaviour. In that man's case, it was the unholy triad of money, sex and power. The power came out in violence. Some of it was towards his wife and was witnessed by members of the church youth group. I wouldn't want that guy hearing Bentley.
As I said in a comment on yesterday's Bentley post, I've been trying to believe the best about people and hence I have tried to post in a measured and cautious manner. But I watched this video with an increasingly churning stomach and such a sense of revulsion. It's only two minutes long, but that was more than enough. Yes, God in his grace and mercy may be blessing and healing people in this 'revival', but I just can't square Bentley's unashamed methods here with the Jesus I read about in the Gospels.
And while I'm at the keyboard, let me raise one other question that's been bugging me. It seems minor, compared with what I've just written about, but some of the issues around the falling under the power of the Spirit still bug me, and I don't have any clear answers. My experience in the past of that phenomenon (both personal and witnessing others and hearing their stories) is that if the sense of the Holy Spirit is so powerful, it's difficult to get back on your feet quickly. However, people are getting back upright before very long in Bentley's meetings. I watched some again last night, and noticed how the stage is littered with bodies, but a few minutes later it isn't. Sometimes you see the people up and walking behind him in the camera shot. Peter Kirk also gave his account of just a brief amount of 'carpet time' at Dudley:
Of course it was bound to take a long time to anoint over a thousand
people. How they handled it was to line people up across the front of
the hall facing the stage, with space behind them. Trevor walked across
the line touching each forehead briefly with the cloth; I reckon he was
taking less than two seconds per person. At the touch most people fell
over, and were caught by “catchers” and lay on the floor- but only
briefly. For, as Trevor had warned would happen, after only about five
seconds each person was encouraged by the catcher to stand up
immediately and move away, so that a new line could be ready as soon as
Trevor finished the old one. It was a bit like serving communion at my
church, but faster.
Eventually, just before midnight, I got my place in a line. Despite
this conveyor belt approach, necessary simply because of the numbers,
this was a profound experience. The cloth touched my forehead with a
slight pressure but nothing like enough to push me over. But as it did
I felt the power of the Holy Spirit come on me and nudge me over. This
is not the first time this has happened to me, and sometimes I have
fallen over, although at other times for various reasons I have chosen
to stay on my feet. Last night I let myself fall over, and was caught
gently and laid on the floor. I felt God’s anointing on me, the
anointing which had arrived from Lakeland only that morning. I could
gladly have lain there and soaked in God’s presence. I wasn’t allowed
to, but getting up and going back to my seat didn’t take away the
I'm simply puzzled. If anyone has thoughtful explanations, I'd be interested. Please post a comment.
But right now my biggest questions are about the video clip and the unashamed uses of violence in connection with blessing, and the attribution of it to the Holy Spirit. Your thoughts are most welcome.