Import jQuery

Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival

"I'm now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he shows up because they have no discernment."

Maybe you've heard about Todd Bentley, the tattooed, unorthodox Evangelical Protestant preacher whose Lakeland, Florida revival has taken the Evangelical sect of Christianity by storm.

Maybe you've heard about their claims of supernatural healings, at least 13 resurrections from the dead, people being delivered from evil. Maybe you've seen it broadcast on GodTV or watched some of his claimed healings on YouTube.

Maybe you've read about the deceptions, the healings that really weren't, or the fake resurrections, the Emma-O angel visitations, or his praising of William Branham (a Christian who was deceived towards the end of his life), or heard about his latest extra-marital affair and divorce, causing him to step down.

I've been hoping for a long time the error in Todd Bentley's movement would be exposed, and it appears that is now happening.

Thank you, Lord, for exposing the falsehoods and the things that were not from you.

I've been hoping and praying the falsehoods would be revealed because a lot of people, including some close Christian friends, got into this and were deceived. I do not take pleasure in seeing Bentley's family torn apart. I do not claim to be on higher moral ground when it comes to sin. I am only happy to see that the error in this claimed revival is being exposed, and that people are repenting of it.

Charisma magazine, one of the large Evangelical Christian magazines, issued a statement on Todd Bentley today, as Bentley recently announced he's stepping down and will be divorcing his wife, Shonnah, due to an extra-marital affair. Charisma magazine asks,

Why did so many people flock to Lakeland from around the world to rally behind an evangelist who had serious credibility issues from the beginning?

Among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. The message was clear: "This is God. Don't question." I blame this lack of discernment, partly, on raw zeal for God. We're spiritually hungry—which can be a good thing. But sometimes, hungry people will eat anything.

Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It's way past time for us to grow up.

Why didn't anyone in Lakeland denounce the favorable comments Bentley made about William Branham?

This one baffles me. Branham embraced horrible deception near the end of his ministry, before he died in 1965. He claimed that he was the reincarnation of Elijah—and his strange doctrines are still embraced by a cultlike following today. When Bentley announced to the world that the same angel that ushered in the 1950s healing revival had come to Lakeland, the entire audience should have run for the exits.
Why didn't anyone correct this error from the pulpit? Godly leaders are supposed to protect the sheep from heresy, not spoon feed deception to them. Only God knows how far this poison traveled from Lakeland to take root elsewhere. May God forgive us for allowing His Word to be so flippantly contaminated.
A prominent Pentecostal evangelist called me this week after Bentley's news hit the fan. He said to me: "I'm now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he shows up because they have no discernment." Ouch. Hopefully we'll learn our lesson this time and apply the necessary caution when an imposter shows up.

Why did God TV tell people that "any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic"?

This ridiculous statement was actually made on one of God TV's pre-shows. In fact, the network's hosts also warned listeners that if they listened to criticism of Bentley, they could lose their healings.
This is cultic manipulation at its worst. The Bible tells us that the Bereans were noble believers because they studied the Scriptures daily "to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11, NASB). Yet in the case of Lakeland, honest intellectual inquiry was viewed as a sign of weakness. People were expected to jump first and then open their eyes.
Just because we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit does not mean we check our brains at the church door. We are commanded to test the spirits. Jesus wants us to love Him with our hearts and our minds.
Because of the Lakeland scandal, there may be large numbers of people who feel they've been burned by Bentley. Some may give up on church and join the growing ranks of bitter, disenfranchised Christians. Others may suffer total spiritual shipwreck. This could have been avoided if leaders had been more vocal about their objections and urged people to evaluate spiritual experiences through the filter of God's Word.

Why did a group of respected ministers lay hands on Bentley on June 23 and publicly ordain him? Did they know of his personal problems?

This controversial ceremony was organized by Peter Wagner, who felt that one of Bentley's greatest needs was proper spiritual covering. He asked California pastors Che Ahn and Bill Johnson, along with Canadian pastor John Arnott, to lay hands on Bentley and bring him under their care.
Bentley certainly needs such covering. No one in ministry today should be out on their own, living in isolation without checks, balances and wise counsel. It was commendable that Wagner reached out to Bentley and that Bentley acknowledged his need for spiritual fathers by agreeing to submit to the process. The question remains, however, whether it was wise to commend Bentley during a televised commissioning service that at times seemed more like a king's coronation.
In hindsight, we can all see that it would have been better to take Bentley into a back room and talk about his personal issues.
The Bible tells us that ordination of a minister is a sober responsibility. Paul wrote: "Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others" (1 Tim. 5:22). We might be tempted to rush the process, but the apostle warned against fast-tracking ordination—and he said that those who commission a minister who is not ready for the job will bear some of the blame for his failures.

Can anything good come out of this?

That depends on how people respond. If the men assigned to oversee Bentley offer loving but firm correction, and if Bentley responds humbly to the process by stepping out of ministry for a season of rehabilitation, we could witness a healthy case of church discipline play out the way it is supposed to. If all those who were so eager to promote Bentley now rush just as fast to repent for their errors in judgment, then the rest of us could breathe a huge sigh of relief—and the credibility of our movement could be restored.
I still believe that God desires to visit our nation in supernatural power. I know He wants to heal multitudes, and I will continue praying for a healing revival to sweep across the United States. But we must contend for the genuine, not an imitation. True revival will be accompanied by brokenness, humility, reverence and repentance—not the arrogance, showmanship and empty hype that often was on display in Lakeland.
We are weathering an unprecedented season of moral failure and spiritual compromise in our nation today. I urge everyone in the charismatic world to pray for Bentley; his wife, Shonnah; his three young children; Bentley's ministry staff; and the men and women who serve as his counselors and advisers. Let's pray that God will turn this embarrassing debacle into an opportunity for miraculous restoration.

I have stated my belief that much of Christianity won't recognize the radical Jewish Messiah when he comes. Messiah's Jewish, pro-Torah nature will be so foreign to gentile Christianity, many will discard him, just as the religious leaders of Yeshua's time discarded him. Many Christians expect the pacifist lamb of the nations, but will receive the triumphant King of Israel.

If that weren't enough, the Evangelical thirst for signs and wonders and the ease at which millions have been deceived is more concerning. How much more easily will we be deceived when the anti-Messiah who in all likelihood will go by the anglicized name of Jesus, performs all kinds of signs and wonders and set himself up as God in what will be the 3rd Temple?

Paul's vision of the great apostasy seems ever more likely. Paul warned us through his letter to the Thessalonians,

Don't let anyone deceive you in any way.

For the Day will not come until after the Apostasy has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom. He will oppose himself to everything that people call a god or make an object of worship; he will put himself above them all, so that he will sit in the Temple of God and proclaim that he himself is God.

Don't you remember that when I was still with you, I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is restraining, so that he may be revealed in his own time. For already this separating from Torah is at work secretly, but it will be secretly only until he who is restraining is out of the way.

Then the one who embodies separation from Torah will be revealed, the one whom the Master Yeshua will slay with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the glory of his coming.

When this man who avoids Torah comes, the Adversary will give him the power to work all kinds of false miracles, signs and wonders. He will enable him to deceive, in all kinds of wicked ways, those who are headed for destruction because they would not receive the love of the truth that could have saved them. This is why God is causing them to go astray, so that they will believe the Lie. The result will be that all who have not believed the truth, but have taken their pleasure in wickedness, will be condemned.

Todd Bentley's Lakeland Outpouring was just a tiny example of false signs and wonders, and yet it deceived millions.

How much easier and how many more will the "man of lawlessness" deceive and lead astray?


  1. Thank you for addressing this issue. It has been an embarrassment and a concern to me. I agree with your comments and conclusions. The Christian Church has no spiritual discernment and doesn't seem to want it. We are prideful and arrogant because of whoever we think we are. The Church is immature. So sad. We'll keep praying for the Lord to be glorified and for His body to be purified.


  2. Thanks for stopping by and posting your comment, net2merc.

    I think God will use this masterfully for good and to bring more glory to him, just as he has used other evil things in history.

  3. Judah, be careful not to forget Sha'ul: Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. (Gal 6:1) - JMW

  4. Judah,

    I know I am old and out of it because I don't know anything about Tod Bently. I do know that when someone starts pointing to themselves as 'somebody' and says that you should not question what they say because to do so is equivalent to questioning God then it is time to leave the room.

    People fall for this because they are hungry, even starving, for the touch of God. Churches, on the whole, are either legalistic or licentious, worshiping in hyperstructure tradition and boring, or super entertaining and shallow. In come the charlatans to fill the void.

  5. I really only have one comment with regards to the criticism of Todd Bentley. Did God reject David when he fell, or did God restore him once he repented?

    Hmm. It seams that too many throw out everything once one thing goes wrong. That in itself is neither biblical nor Godly.

  6. Lou,

    My close Christian friends were down there for 4 weeks. They came back on fire for Jesus.

    I don't deny that God can move in individuals. I do believe that Todd Bentley was off in some of his teachings.

    I see no focus on Torah.

    There was a lot of whipping up of the crowds.

    Almost all the focus was on supernatural manifestations.

    There was cursing of anyone who questioned the movement.

    These things raised red flags to me very early on. We can discuss these in more detail if you like.

  7. (And Lou, I don't mean to say God cannot reconcile the situation with Bentley. Not at all. God can reconcile this situation.)

  8. Two of the most disturbing things I've ever seen on youtube had to do with Todd.


    Good article brother.

  9. If you look at the lives of great men in the moves of God, there are those who are rock solid their entire life, others unstable at times, and still others go off on tangents and never recover.

    If you want an example of a man that “walked with God” in our day read up on Wigglesworth. Even he was used by God in miracles that we would look at, especially in this “politically correct” generation, as unusual or offensive. But the man and his teachings were solid.

    My point being that until we are in that place where we are being used by God to perform similar miracles, I choose not to judge others, unless there is some blatant heresy. Let me be clear. I do not believe that interaction with angels a heresy. Every great man of God in scripture has at least one encounter with an angel. As for female angles, see Zec 5:9

    I agree with you 100% about not being Torah focused. Let’s be real, the majority of “Believers” are not Torah focused. That does not mean that God does not use these individuals.

    God uses everyone and everything whenever He wants to. The believer and unbeliever, the righteous and the wicked, the saved and unsaved. In our modern day I’ve heard of the unsaved prophesying. We can find examples of this in scripture.

    Again, I don’t think that we are in disagreement about things, I just choose to chew on the meat and spit out the bones. I’m always looking for God not man. I know Todd to be a Godly man. Do we throw out everything just because we don’t agree with a few things? Isn’t this what the “Church” did to its Jewish roots of faith? Threw out everything Jewish because it didn’t understand.

    We have not been taught to judge, we have only been taught to love. We have only seen the Lamb, not the Lion. Then we will learn how to judge.

    Todd is an offense to the religious spirits in the “Church”. These spirits say “how can God use a man with tattoos” or “God would not use a person like that”.

    Remember this statement because you will find it true “God always offends the mind to get at the heart”.

  10. Gracehead,

    I’m assuming two things from your post.

    One that you don’t believe that we can have a visitation from an angel today.

    Two that you have not experienced anything in the supernatural.

  11. Hey Lou,

    I understand you care for Bentley as you love Messiah and hate to see Bentley's family torn apart.

    In the post I said,

    I do not take pleasure in seeing Bentley's family torn apart. I do not claim to be on higher moral ground when it comes to sin. I am only happy to see that the error in this claimed revival is being exposed.

    I mean that. I hate to see Bentley's family torn apart because of his sin. I don't mean to be his sin-condemner. I've got my own sins to worry about.

    Torah commands that we test the prophets to see if their words come true. We have tested and found there to be errors in this prophet; I mean to expose the error that people may repent.

    Lou, this revival had false claims of resurrections -- we know for certain that some (all?) of the resurrections were not true. For example, we have a documented case where one resurrection letter read by Bentley was a hoax - and the whole time, Bentley and the crowd in Lakeland were saying, "Ohhh! I feel the Spirit!" as they were reading the hoax letter.

    That was an error.

    Regarding angels, the error with Bentley's angel visitations is 2 fold: first, that he claims this is the angel who walked the halls of William Branham's faith healing of the 1950's. William Branham was a man who claimed to be Elijah's reincarnation.

    That was an error.

    Bentley calls the angel Emma or Emmo-O, and Bentley has a likeness of the Buddhist angel of the underworld, Emma-O, tattooed on himself.

    That was an error.

    The raw zeal and thirst for the Lord the people at Lakeland caused them to be caught up with spiritual excitement at the expense of discernment. Charisma was right: We were told, "This is God. Don't question." I blame this lack of discernment, partly, on raw zeal for God. We're spiritually hungry—which can be a good thing. But sometimes, hungry people will eat anything.

    That was an error.

    Even if you ignore all these things, most importantly is the no-focus on Torah. How can a world-wide move of God happen when there is no foundation in Torah? Such a move is not from God, but from Christianity.

    Lou, I've been through a number of Christian preachers and Christian movements. When it's over, when the dust has settled, I've always found my mistake in discernment was their ignorance of Torah. Would God start a world-wide revival where the foundation has no concept of Torah? That's like a man with no knowledge of arithmetic trying to major in Lambda Calculus.

    With no foundation in Torah, of course there is going to be an abuse of the Spirit.

    You are right about one thing. God can use people with tattoos, people with piercings, people that are different from the average church goer. (Even though tattoos and piercings may arguably be against Torah.)

    However, I am convinced that without Torah, there will be an abuse of the Spirit. There was an abuse of the Spirit of the Lord in Lakeland; of course there was, for they were ignorant of God's righteous instruction in the Torah.

  12. Agreed. Throw out what is not right and hold fast to what is. Again, my main point is don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

    I also wholeheartedly agree, that much error today is caused by lack of Torah in both observation and knowledge. Hey, most “Believers” don’t even have a respect for Torah. That whole “under grace not under law” garbage.

    As for some of the error statements. I can’t give you yeah or neigh as I don’t have first hand experience on the ones you mentioned. But just because there was a hoax and Todd didn’t get it right doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Do you agree?

    Love ya.

  13. Yes, of course. God-acts of healing, raising from the dead, angel visitations, these things can and have happened.

    If we're serious about Scripture being from God, then an honest person must say, "Yes, these things happened and can still happen."

  14. Cool. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.


  15. Judah,

    This is a general comment, not specifically about Bentley, but if the shoe fits he can wear it. God doesn't call people to be "rock stars." Any time it becomes all about you, any time you bring glory to yourself or allow others to give you glory; you are in for a fall. Just recently I heard a news commentator refer to Rick Warren as "the most powerful religious leader in America." It made me cringe. I sincerely hope he doesn't think of himself that way.

    In Christ,

  16. Gary, I'm cannot say that he is indeed glorifying himself; I haven't watched enough of him to be able to discern that.

    I can say that there has been some abuse of the Spirit, as discussed above.

    Shabbat shalom.

  17. Judah,

    I can't either...I had hoped I was clear in making that distinction. I think the temptation is there for each one of us to see God work in some mighty way in our life and sing to ourselves, "How Great I Am" instead of "How Great Thou Art!"

    In Christ,

  18. Isquez,

    """I’m assuming two things from your post.
    One that you don’t believe that we can have a visitation from an angel today.
    Two that you have not experienced anything in the supernatural."""


    I wonder what made you assume that stuff. Oh well, wild guesses can be fun so ...

    Todd tells the audience that God told him to quit trying to get people to believe in Jesus and instead get them to believe in "THE" angel. I could not make that stuff up.

    Why there was anyone left in the audience 60 seconds later simply blows my mind.

    I won't bother with the miracle resume, I'm disinclined to draw attention to sensational stuff anyway.


    PS. The Church Needs More New Testament Miracles

  19. Gracehead,

    My comments were based strictly on the videos themselves. Since I find neither inappropriate or heinous in error. Taking one video and a misstating the word “the” and then throwing out everything else the man has ever said, I find more disturbing than a misstatement.

    I find WAY too many judging others and saying that so and so is of the devil. The same statement was made of Yeshua by the religious leaders. Hey once I have 1 million salvations under my belt, maybe I’ll think otherwise. But until then I choose not to judge.

    Personally I choose, as I have said before, to “chew on the meat and spit out the bones”. Many of Todd’s teachings are sound, but I agree not Torah based, as I have said most of Christianity is not Torah based. But I don’t deny their relationship to God on that one point.

    As for ecstasies, we can find history of these manifestations in both scripture and in the writings of the saints (see St.John of the cross or St.Theresa of Avila).

    Just because we don’t understand a move of God, doesn’t mean it’s not Him. Also to fear a manifestation is to give more power to the enemy of our souls than to God. Remember God is much better at guiding us than the enemy is at deceiving us. Anything else is based in fear not love.

    Where I agree with you is on sensationalism. If you read St.Theresa you’ll find she says the same thing, that spiritual “favors” are to win the heart, but are no more important than the peace and love of God manifest in our lives. I also agree that in some circles far too much emphasis is on manifestations and not the indwelling Spirit of God. However, to deny them as not being “of God” is to be on shaky ground and to create our own definition of who God is. Basically we box God in and create an idol.

    With much love,

  20. 1Th 5:8
    But since we are of the day, let us be sober,

    1Th 5:6
    so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

    1Co 15:34
    Become sober-minded as you ought

    2Ti 4:5
    But you, be sober in all things,

    1Pe 1:13
    Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit

    1Pe 4:7
    The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

    1Pe 5:8
    Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.


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