Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Look Out For Lakeland (and Heresy Hunters)

Charisma''s Lee Grady is expressing some concerns about the Lakeland Revival with Todd Bentley. Here is an excerpt (click here):

I’m a cheerleader for the charismatic movement, so I rejoiced when I heard the news about revivalist Todd Bentley’s extended visit to Ignited Church. It was thrilling to hear the reports of miracles and to watch the crowd grow until a stadium was required to hold everyone. When I visited a service on April 15, I was blessed by Heather Clark’s music and the audience’s exuberant worship. And I laughed with everyone else as I watched Bentley shout his trademarked “Bam! Bam! Bam!” as he prayed for the sick and flailed his tattooed arms over the crowd. Hey, Jesus didn’t pray for people according to the Pharisees’ rulebook, so I’m open to unconventional methods.

But I would be dishonest if I told you that I wholeheartedly embraced what I saw in Lakeland. Something disturbed me, but I kept my mouth shut for three weeks while I prayed, got counsel from respected ministry leaders and searched my heart to make sure I was not harboring a religious spirit. The last thing we need today is more mean-spirited heresy hunters blasting other Christians. I am not a heresy hunter, and I support what is happening in Lakeland because I know God uses imperfect people (like me and you) to reach others for Jesus. At the same time, I believe my questions are honest and my concerns are real.

...Yet I fear another message is also being preached subtly in Lakeland—a message that cult-watchers would describe as a spiritual counterfeit. Bentley is one of several charismatic ministers who have emphasized angels in the last several years. He has taught about angels who bring financial breakthroughs or revelations, and he sometimes refers to an angel named Emma who supposedly played a role in initiating a prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. Bentley describes Emma as a woman in a flowing white dress who floats a few feet off the floor.

...When the Holy Spirit’s power comes on people they may feel weak or even fall. The Spirit’s power can also cause people to tremble, shake, laugh or cry. Such manifestations are biblical and we should leave room for them. But where do we draw the line between legitimate experience and fanatical excess? The apostle Paul had to deal with outrageous charismatic manifestations in the Corinthian church. People were acting like raving lunatics—and turning the church in to a free-for-all of unbridled ecstatic behavior. Paul called for discipline and order, and he reminded early Christians that “the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32). In other words, Paul was saying that no one under the influence of the Holy Spirit should act out of control. In many recent charismatic revivals, ministers have allowed people to behave like epileptics on stage—and they have attributed their attention-getting antics to the Holy Spirit. We may think it’s all in fun (you know, we’re just “acting crazy” for God) but we should be more concerned that such behavior feeds carnality and grieves the Spirit.

...Some of the language used during the Lakeland Revival has created an almost sideshow atmosphere. People are invited to “Come and get some.” Miracles are supposedly “popping like popcorn.” Organizers tout it as the greatest revival in history. Such brash statements cheapen what the Holy Spirit is doing—and they do a disservice to our brothers and sisters who are experiencing New Testament-style revival in countries such as Iran, China and India. We have a long way to go before we experience their level of revival. Let’s stay humble and broken before the Lord.
It appears that Grady thinks that heresy hunters are, by definition, mean-spirited people who speaking out against error. However, using the word "cult-watchers" is okay. Since he's expressing concern I guess he isn't a heresy hunter, but a cult-watcher. If he wants to call people who expose error heresy hunters, fine, but at least he's expressing concern about this movement regardless of what label he wants use. Certainly took him long enough to recognize what the rest of us knew immediately, though.

Incidentally, I call my blog Heresy Hunter for two reasons - one, the obvious twist on my name, and secondly, the fact that anyone who criticizes the teachings of the Word Faith teachers is automatically labeled a heresy hunter.

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At May 19, 2008 3:13 PM, Blogger Jon Sharp - said...

Thought you might like to send some readers my way...
Todd Bentley has apparently become ashamed of his "angel" Emma!

Slice of Laodicea has linked a note about it to me...

If you would do the same we can put some more doubt in more peoples minds about this false prophet/teacher.

In Christ,

Jon Sharp


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