TODD BENTLEY & LAKELAND, FLORIDA -- 2008.07.02
Friends -- Yesterday I mailed a response to an inquirer concerning William Branham. God mightily used him in the healing ministry. As long as he stuck to this calling, God used him. When he slipped out of it into a “teaching” ministry, things went awry.
Some have asked further response from me concerning him. Please look at my suggestion that is on Wikipedia. There Ern Baxter gives a full report on his 6 years with Brother Branham, and answers your questions more adequately than I could.
Following my report on Branham, a number of you have asked if I might give a report on Todd Bentley and the Lakeland, Florida meetings. I have friends on both sides of the camp, as well as some like myself somewhat in the middle. I am enclosing a very positive evaluation by a pastor from Redding, California, who I esteem very highly, and of course take his input very seriously. As he notes, all revivals in history have their pros and cons. Wesley was so disturbed with wildfire in the 1738 Methodist Revival that went on for the next 50 years, that he complained to God about this. God's response was: “If I can put up with some wildfire -- shouldn't you be able to do so also?”
Both Wesley and Finney gave very strong exemplary leadership in their respective revivals. But both experienced a great deal of wildfire in their meetings at the same time. I have been led of the Spirit to make a personal commitment to pray daily for Todd Bentley. I continue to hold God's word to Jeremiah concerning all ministries, including my own: “Therefore thus says Jehovah, If you return, then will I bring you again, that you may stand before me; and if you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as my mouth” (Jeremiah 15:19a, ASV 1901).
Following is the very loving, wise and discerning evaluation by a friend of Todd Bentley:
Church history is loaded with successes and failures. For some reason this is especially true with the activity of revival. In time, all revivalists become heroes of the Church. But they are not always valued in their day by their peers. My grandfather once told me, “Not everyone liked Wigglesworth.” We love Wigglesworth today, but mostly because he is dead. We encounter his offensive ways in books, not in the same meeting we're attending. And when the Church becomes exposed to someone who is different, or even ministers differently, the insecure tend to criticize and reject him. Many of us have determined to change this bad habit. Some of the members of the Revival Alliance went to Lakeland, Florida, to commission revivalist Todd Bentley and welcome him into our network of networks. We refuse to leave our friend alone to face the opposition and criticism that has been leveled at him these past few months.
John Arnott, Che Ahn, and I were involved in the commissioning. Peter Wagner helped to spearhead the event. Peter's involvement was significant because he witnessed the difficulties that John Wimber went through when he helped to initiate a great move of God in the early 80's. Peter then watched John Arnott go through the same opposition some years later. He didn't want to see that same course of action affect another great move of God, or another great man of God.
I rarely make my letters and e-mails known publicly. Actually, this is the only time I remember doing so. But because of the effect sharing has had on our church, it was recommended I pass this on to you. I was asked: “How in God's name can you endorse Todd Bentley?” This is my response:
Have you spent time with Todd? Do you know him? Have you watched him with his wife? Or have you seen how he treats his kids? Have you spent any time with his staff? Have you been to his ministry? Has he been to yours? Have you laid hands on him and prayed? Has he laid hands on you and prayed? Have you grieved over tragedy together? Have you celebrated victory together? Has he sought your counsel? Has he traveled a great distance just to meet with you privately for advice? Have you ever received his counsel? Have you been in the room when God has shown up on him and used him in stunning miracles? Have you seen him operate in the word of knowledge or the prophetic? Have you met with his council of elders? Have you personally benefited from his gift? Has he benefited from your gift and ministry? Has he ever honored you for who you are in God? Has he partnered with you as a friend? Have you sacrificed for his welfare, or that of his family? Have you sought God with him? Have you ever worshiped the Lord with him?
I didn't think so. I have.
And I'll continue to support those who I have walked with in life and ministry. He's my friend. More importantly, God calls him friend. And if you and I were ever friends on that level, and people hated you and turned against you, and started web pages to tear down your ministry, and criticized you to your friends, and wrote against you in Christian magazines, and criticized you on the radio and wrote e-mails to other conference speakers and authors, I'd still be your friend.
By the way - rcriticism in the form of a question is not a question. But to respond to your statement, “How in God's name can you endorse Todd Bentley?” It's easy. I do it in God's name.
Todd is a good friend, but more importantly, he is a friend of God. I've met very few people in my life who are hungrier for God and will take extended periods of time just to seek Him. God has entrusted him with an extraordinary outpouring for a reason - He can trust him to do whatever He says, regardless of the opinions of others. He is bold - amazingly bold. The miracles are legitimate and increasing. The Church of America has asked for a great revival. God wonderfully placed this move in a package that few would have expected, just to see if we're as hungry as we say we are.
Thanks for your loving support of this ministry!
Bill Johnson Ministries <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: July 2008 E-Newsletter