Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lakeland's Recycled Revival

TODD BENTLEY’S CONNECTION TO THE LATTER RAIN MOVEMENT

A Pastor Reports on Todd Bentley's "Revival" in Lakeland, Florida

By Pastor Gary Osborne



My first real concern with these crusades revolves around the issue of who Todd Bentley looks up to and who he considers spiritual leaders. He frequently mentions, and even has up on stage with him from time to time, members of the "Kansas City Prophets." And the KC "prophets" are, in many ways, an extension of the Latter Rain movement that really found its legs through the ministry of a man named William Branham.

Although Branham didn’t found the movement, he was instrumental in popularizing many aspects of it. This article will not go into detail concerning Branham and his ministry except to say that he was a preacher who ministered primarily in the 40’s and 50’s. He was a forerunner to many of the “healing evangelists” of today in that he would call out words of knowledge concerning the private lives of audience members, as well as pray for the sick to be healed, all with astonishing results. Interestingly, he would often tell the audience wherever he was ministering that he had to wait for his angel to appear before he could give any “words” or work any healings. This will be an important point that surfaces later in our discussion. But let’s stop right here and ask the question: Does God ask His people to look to angels or to Himself for any need? He tells us it is by His Spirit, and not angels, that He operates in words of knowledge, gifts of healings, and the like (I Corinthians 12).

In spite of his miraculous signs and wonders, Branham was a false prophet according to the standards of the Word of God. Why do I say that? Well, read the exhortation from the Lord to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy.

  • Dt 13:1-3 – “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. “

I believe the Pentecostal Church in Branham’s day failed the Deuteronomy 13 test because while he did perform signs and wonders, he also counseled people to turn from the God of the Bible through his spurious teachings. He taught there was no Trinity (he was “Oneness Pentecostal”); that he was literally the prophet Elijah come back; that the world would end in 1977; that Jesus was “created” and not the Eternal Word as John 1:1 declares; that he was a “god” (and this is where the Manifest Sons of God movement got it’s name and teaching); that he could decree things just like God; that Eve had sexual relations with the serpent in the Garden of Eden; that the Zodiac and the Pyramids were equal with the Bible as the Word of God; and that there would be no eternal Hell.[1]

As you can clearly see, the man was way off in his teaching about God. So the question must be asked, “What criteria do we use to determine if a person is a true prophet or a false prophet?” If you look only to the signs and wonders a person does, and not to their teaching, then you fail the Deuteronomy 13 test. It is NOT the miracles that count. They are only used to CONFIRM the message. It is the teaching coming from the “prophet” that counts the most, according to the Bible. And Branham fails the test miserably. Even today, if one were to visit his gravesite they would see a tombstone shaped like a pyramid!

William Branham helped popularize an entire movement called the “Latter Rain” that has continued to teach differing heresies down through the decades. In the 1980’s a group of men, including Mike Bickle, Paul Cain, Bob Jones, Rick Joyner, and John Paul Jackson formed an alliance of sorts and became known as the “Kansas City Prophets.” Time does not allow me to discuss these men in detail, but it is important to know that these men took some of their cues from William Branham. Two of the main leaders, Paul Cain and Bob Jones, have both been guilty of grievous sexual sin while “ministering” as prophets. Cain has been revealed to be an alcoholic and a practicing homosexual, while Jones admitted to having women undress in front of him to experience the glory of God.[2]

In spite of many doctrinal heresies, this movement continued in one form or another. Whether it be the Toronto Blessing, the ministry of Rodney Howard-Browne (“laughter”) or Brownsville Assembly, it can all be traced back to Branham and to the Latter Rain movement that he helped spread. And so it should come as no shock to anyone that Todd Bentley is connected to all these men. And he is. Paul Cain has shared the stage with Bentley in Lakeland.[3] Bob Jones and many of the others have been mentioned in a favorable light on more than one occasion during the revival.

But the kicker to the entire thing is found here, in an interview that Bentley had with BCN (Breaking Christian News) last month. In that interview he said that he “saw an angel he described as carrying the ‘Winds of Change.’ Asking him to describe this angel, Bentley replied that those familiar with the life of William Branham would recognize the angel from being a relevant factor in his healing ministry.”[4] It should be apparent to all that Todd Bentley’s meetings derive from the same spirit as Branham and the rest. It all comes from the same place. Let the reader take serious note of the obvious and continuous bridge between Branham and Bentley.

“FEELINGS, NOTHING MORE THAN FEELINGS”

The second issue I would like to touch on briefly is the emphasis on “feelings” in all these meetings. Don’t get me wrong. We are created beings that do have feelings, and often times those feelings are a part of our worship to the Lord. If I’m going through a mountaintop experience in my life I may very well “feel” great and shout to the Lord. There’s nothing wrong with expressing feelings in this sense. We can clap our hands, jump and sing praises to God when things are going well, and we can cry and lay prostrate on the floor when facing difficult times. But David said, “as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say you are my God.” He understood that regardless of what he was going through, he would not allow his feelings to dictate truth to him. In the same way the point of this passage and many more like it throughout the Psalms is that God’s faithfulness and truth are not conditioned by our feelings. We enjoy it when good feelings accompany our faith, but we must remember that the faithfulness of God is not based on our feelings.

Unfortunately, in the Bentley meetings “feelings” are the big emphasis, to the detriment of the hearers. Why do I say that? Because the Word of God is not preached in these meetings. Rarely does Todd even bring a Bible to the pulpit with him. He actually bragged about bringing more “real Word” to the people than preachers who expound on the Bible week in and week out because he was bringing a living Jesus through the experiences [i.e. “signs and wonders”] he was giving them. I heard this for myself on his Saturday, May 10th God TV telecast from Lakeland. And the people loved it so. No Word of God is ever brought at these meetings. It’s all about the “feelings” they can experience. This type of mindset and philosophy of ministry leads to very shallow Christianity. I fear for most of the people that attend these meetings because when they come down off the “high” they have been on in these emotionally charged services they will probably crash and burn spiritually. I’ve seen it play out too many times in the past to think otherwise.

In the same vein as the “feelings” issue, there’s also a huge stress on what Todd and his crew call the “tangible presence of God.” That phrase, or one similar to it, is used many times in each meeting. People are conditioned to expect some outward, sensual experience with the Holy Spirit. Whether it’s tasting God’s presence, smelling God’s presence, hearing God’s presence, or seeing God’s presence, it’s all a big part of this revival. Todd talks about seeing a mist or cloud. He talks about tasting something similar to honey. He talks about smelling the incense from Heaven. Everything is done on a 5 senses level. Yet no where in the New Testament do we read about the disciples promoting anything like this nonsense. God is Spirit and those that worship Him will do so in spirit and in truth. The more we move from the objective truth of the Bible and more towards these outward manifestations, the more open we are to deception. The Devil can and does work on people’s senses but he cannot get to us if we know and worship God based on His Word. People in other religions have “experiences” but it doesn’t make them godly experiences. So we must be careful not to be pulled into the trap of feelings-oriented or manifestation-oriented theology. Yet this is exactly what Bentley emphasizes.

TOMORROW: Music, Mass Hypnotism and Angels

[For further information, see the following link:
http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_June1990.pdf]



The Truth:


"Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying." (Romans 13:13)

Endnotes:
1. www.letusreason.org/Latrain4.htm
2. www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrel19.html
3.www.charismamag.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2408&start
=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&sid=386e07de8ab0207fdfb34ca594d2b5ea

4. www.freshfire.ca/index.php?Act=read&status=
revival&Id=132&pid=954&bid=923



[Note: links were added to today's post for further explanation and clarification, and to assist the reader in understanding the magnitude of this deception.]