Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
We're pleased to announce that we have developed an Amazon storefront for The Informed Evangelist. We've featured some books which have been influential and helpful in sharpening our minds when it comes to Biblical evangelism.
The storefront gives us a percentage on each book that you purchase while shopping from that site, so we obviously hope that you will visit often and check out what titles we've added there for your perusal. We know that our readers are an astute bunch, so we have tried to include the best in books on evangelism, theology, church history and book collecting. We'll be adding more titles as we either become aware of them or we remember to put them there.
Please check out the store here.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
At any rate, this week, as the Lord would have it, we were in 1 Kings 20-22; 2 Chronicles 17-20. This text covers part of the life of Ahab (Northern Kingdom) and Jehoshaphat (Southern Kingdom). But the main characters aren't really the kings; they are the prophets, true and false, that the Lord raised up in this passage to Sovereignly guide the fate of these kings and kingdoms.
What I found to be interesting is the fact that in spite of his 400 false prophets guaranteeing victory against the Arameans in what would be his third battle campaign against them, Ahab hears from one true prophet named Micaiah. Micaiah makes it crystal clear that Ahab (and Jehoshaphat) will be defeated and that Ahab will die. Now this takes guts by itself. But on top of that, Micaiah tells Ahab that he had a look behind the scenes prophetically and that the LORD Himself sent out a deceiving spirit to the false prophets so that Ahab would be lured into battle and be defeated. This is not problematic since the book of Job teaches us that Satan himself is on a short leash and is controlled by God to accomplish His purposes, even with those who are His people (such as blameless Job). So how much more can He use the forces of evil to accomplish His purposes in the lives of those who are His enemies?
This act of God via deceiving spirits is not the only time in Scripture that this happens. Zechariah 13:2 records another instance. It says here that an "unclean spirit" is connected with false prophets. Some Bible scholars connect this incident in 1 Kings 22 with the deceiving spirit with Romans 1:22, 24, 26 where it states that God "gave them over" to reprobate minds.
Now I find this incredibly interesting. Especially in the light of our recent visit to the Todd Bentley "revival" when it came to Denton a few weeks ago. As we tried to speak to people there about the Gospel there was a tangible blindness evident. Over the last four years I have spoken with many about the Gospel, both admittedly unsaved and professing Christians, but I have never seen blindness on anyone like I did that night. At the time, I could not understand it. They were both blind and deaf to the Word of God. Whether you agree with this assessment or not, I know what I (and the others on our ministry team) saw that night.
In these passages of Scripture, I think we have a way to understand this blindness. Many (not all) may be following Bentley because the Lord has given them over to their own selfish desires for health and wealth. He has allowed demonic forces to blind professing believers to the truth. Whether they are or are not true Christians is not for me to say. We are all supposed to "examine ourselves" (2 Cor. 13:5). Since Todd Bentley is of the "spirit of Antichrist" it's not really surprising that in a similar manner his "lying wonders" work together with the "strong delusion" sent by God Himself (2 Thess. 2:9-12) for the purpose of giving his followers what they claim they really want; a spectacular, charismatic (in personality) leader who promises them health and wealth.
On Sunday our church was blessed to have Justin Peters do part of his "A Call to Discernment" seminar. This seminar exposes the Word of Faith movement for their unbiblical teachings. Justin also wrote his doctoral thesis on Benny Hinn's ministry. He is uniquely qualified to teach this seminar. Not only has he studied the movement thoroughly, but he has cerebral palsy and followed the Word of Faith movement for a couple of years as he sought to be healed.
After Justin finished his seminar on Sunday night, I had a chance to speak with him for just a few moments about this theory regarding Todd Bentley. I asked him if he thought this might be the case; that the Lord has sent a strong delusion amongst the Word of Faith followers and that He has "given them over" to reprobate minds. He agreed and added that he thought that this teaching and its spread is a judgment from God on our nation.
This was an aspect I had not thought about, but just some consideration shows it to have some merit. Considering the fact that the judgment by God on Ahab via his false prophets was not simply a judgment on Ahab alone, but on the entire nation of Israel (Northern Kingdom), there is some Biblical weight to this. Our nation has pursued pleasure from its inception, claiming we have the "inalienable right" to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This founding document of the Declaration of Independence, as one recent book has it in its title, is practically "American Scripture".
Now, I don't think the founding fathers had Todd Bentley or the Word of Faith movement in mind when they signed this document. Many of them were godly men. But it is not debatable that the United States is driven by covetousness and consumerism to a degree that no other nation of the world is. Our economy is absolutely driven on violating the Tenth Commandment. Anyone who denies it has never been overseas. To the degree that they are driven by consumerism is due mainly to America's influence.
Don't get me wrong. I don't think that Thomas Jefferson had the right to be greedy in mind when he penned the Declaration. However, as time has passed, that is exactly how we have applied it, especially since the end of World War Two. Interestingly enough, that is when the Word of Faith movement began to be popularized. Meanwhile, evangelical Christianity moved away from the true Gospel and embraced the "Modern Gospel" which states that Jesus will fix all of your problems and give you happiness in spades. The stage was effectively set to make the Gospel completely man-centered. As Americans flocked after it in droves as well as the pursuit of their own personal wealth, is it possible that the Lord sent out a deceiving spirit to give us what we claim we wanted? Is it possible that He has given us over to our reprobate minds, sending a strong delusion on American Christianity, as a judgment on this nation? The case seems pretty strong that He has done exactly that.
If we want true revival and not this smoke in mirrors show that Bentley is doing in Lakeland, we must repent of our covetousness. Turn from our materialism and turn towards the One who did not have a place to lay His head. Turn from the Super Bowl commercials and turn towards the One who said that it's easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Turn from the malls and big-box stores (and churches) and turn to the One who said that if anyone wants to come after Him, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him.
Oh Lord, have mercy on us. In Your wrath, remember mercy.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Todd Bentley! Yes folks, it’s awfully hard these days to narrow it down to just one heretic when there are so many to choose from in American churchianity. What, with the plethora of apostates in the Word of Faith, seeker-sensitive, emergent church and easy believism proponents abounding, it is increasingly difficult to decide who “takes the cake” for the coveted ‘Informed Evangelist” false prophet award, but Bentley wins it going away.
Bentley brought his traveling freak show to the University of North Texas’ (Denton) Coliseum on Thursday night for “one night only” (praise God for small mercies). A team from The Lost Cause Ministries went out primarily to share the Gospel with those who are deluded by Bentley’s brand of false teaching. This was no easy task. Even though we were two hours early, the die-hard Word of Faith followers could not stop long enough for even a five minute interview because (they said with panicked expressions), “I need to get inside and get a seat. I might miss something!” Their demeanor was very similar to that of hardcore crack cocaine addicts who “joneses” without their quick fix. Fortunately admission was free and we got inside and passed out several hundred Gospel tracts and did some one-to-ones with a few Bentley fans.
Several of our team had to leave for another pre-scheduled venue, but a few of us stayed. Because of fortuitous circumstances, we ended up seated about four rows from the front, on the ground level. We were able to catch some of the service on video tape and audio recorded the entirety of Bentley’s “sermon”. What follows is a review of his message with some observations of things we personally witnessed at this event.
Bentley’s message ran a total of 75 minutes. A friend asked me before he spoke, “What do you think he will preach about?” I said, “I think Todd will preach about Todd.” Apparently I was moving in the prophetic because that is exactly what he did. Imagine, and I had never even been to
After an hour and a half of being pummeled by worship leaders whose style resembled something like a cross between a squirrel on methamphetamines and whirling dervishes (intended, no doubt, to “let the anointing come” or simply to induce mass hysteria or brain washing), the local heretics (aka “gatekeepers”) welcomed Bentley to Denton\DFW. Chief heretic presiding was Chuck Pierce, of the Glory of Zion Outreach Center in
Keith Miller of Stand Firm World Ministries, who has preached in
The house keeping attended to, and Miller’s physical spine restored, Bentley began his diatribe (it cannot be called “preaching” or a “sermon” by any definition of the word). As already stated, Bentley pontificated about himself and the experiences at
Bentley reviewed the history of his own ministry going back to 1999, when he claims he was transported to Heaven and saw tens of thousands of “healing angels.” He came to understand that he is going to be the agent for the release of at least one hundred “healing revivals” at the same time, across the globe. This special anointing was to be released just prior to the return of Christ. He had the impression that he “has to score the touchdown” (his vision had to do with a Super Bowl-like scenario in a football stadium) and that it’s basically all up to him. Lo and behold, now is the time for the outpouring as evidenced by what is happening at
Bentley states that the unique thing about his healing revival is that it will be sustainable and transferable. In other words, anyone can get it. And those who get it are encouraged and expected to take the “fire” back to their own churches where they can have the same kind of revival (circus?) in their own church. Bentley is democratizing healing ministry. Apparently it will no longer be necessary to go back again and again to the specialist healers like Bentley, Benny Hinn and others. Now, if you can shake your head and yell “fire”, “bam” or “pow”, you “got it.” Imagine the confusion that will exist in so many churches.
At this point, Bentley made a big show of opening his Bible to John 5. He said something to the effect, “I better have you open your Bibles. I wouldn’t want anyone to say that Bentley came to
This attitude is not surprising considering the fact that in a crowd of 10,000 our team saw less than ten Bibles in the arena. There were probably more than that, but it would be generous to say that 10% of the attendees had a Bible with them. One of our team members asked someone in the parking lot why they didn’t have their Bible with them. She said that the last time she came to one of these Word of Faith events that her family had their Bibles stolen. Bentley brags that he does not preach against specific sins, but apparently it wouldn’t hurt his own people if he preached against thievery.
After his deeply flawed exegesis of John 5, Bentley reverted to his chest thumping. He claims to have the names and contact information of 50,000 people healed in
Bentley claims that there have been thirty resurrections from the dead since April 3rd because of his revival. He covers his own posterior by saying that if at least five of them are real then God is really doing something. He does the same thing with his “healings”, telling the gullible that sometimes it can take as much as a week or two before they “receive” their healing. He also says that people sometimes “lose their healing”. What? I don’t recall the Lord Jesus giving His followers disclaimers when He healed them. Folks, face it. This stuff is not real. It’s the fruit of lousy theology combined with the power of suggestion to a crowd that is desperate for healing and an experience.
After some more self aggrandizement regarding the coming “media revival” where he will be featured on Nightline and other news shows, he rehearsed the history of the
At this point Bentley stated that he does not preach against specific sin. He alluded to Romans 3:10 and Romans 3:23 and said, “Sin is sin and only the blood of Jesus can cleanse it.” These few sentences out of 75 minutes of preaching comprise the only content than can be remotely called a presentation of the Gospel. More on this later.
At this point, Bentley conducted a free will offering which was collected for Keith Miller’s ministry. He used it as an invitation to “plant revival seeds” and reap “one hundredfold”. His disclaimer of “you cannot purchase the anointing” seemed disingenuous considering the emphasis made upon personal blessing if one faithfully gave financially to the ministry. Just because Bentley gave that little disclaimer in no way frees him from the responsibility he bears when he led them to believe that their “harvest of miracles” was directly related to their giving. A charlatan is a charlatan even if he’s raising money for another charlatan.
What’s wrong with Bentley and his message should be obvious to anyone with just a modicum of discernment. Since one cannot use the words “discernment” and “
1. His ridiculous interpretation of Scripture.
Since Bentley didn’t actually use much Scripture, this is an easy place to start. He went to John 5 and read some of the account regarding the pool of
A couple of issues with what little interpretation he actually did: 1) the story about the “angel” does not appear in many manuscripts of John 5. 2) Even if you allow for the story, most Biblical scholars understand that this story has to do with a tradition that is not endorsed by Scripture, simply reported on. In other words, it would be better to say, “It was said that an angel stirred up the pool.” 3) “
This text is NOT proof that Todd Bentley is an anointed messenger of God. It is proof that Jesus Christ is God. Bentley abuses the text to subtly take the eyes of professing believers off of Christ and onto himself. Bentley is guilty of the “spirit of antichrist” (1 Jn. 4:1-3). He is taking Jesus out of the text and adding himself.
2. His Emphasis on Angelic Visions:
Bentley, in an unprecedented way, credits “healing angels” with the revivals he claims. He claims angelic visits, angelic revelations, etc. Apparently Galatians 1:8 is lost on him. Apparently he is not concerned by others who have been deceived by angelic visions, including the Mormon false prophet, Joseph Smith and the Muslim false prophet, Mohammed. Apparently he does not understand the truth of 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 that messengers of Satan disguise themselves as “angels of light.” The cold, hard fact that his claims do not match Scripture do not concern him since the Word of Faith movement allows for additional revelation besides the Bible.
3. His “Proof” of the Veracity of His Experiences:
Bentley stated flatly that the proof of the reality of his experiences is, “the global outpouring happening at
The real proof of Bentley is completely lacking. He is a false teacher. Considering the fact that there are “lying wonders”, even if Bentley’s healings are real the content of his message reveal him as a fraud (2 Thess. 2:9).
During the “healings” in
4. His Refusal to Preach the Gospel:
This is an important issue. Some who have used Way of the Master make a big deal about the fact that a partner ministry of Bentley’s called “Citytakers” trains the people who do street evangelism in Lakeland using some (not all) of Ray Comfort’s material. They miss the facts that: 1) Bentley does not “preach against specific sins”, which is contrary to the principle of using the Law in evangelism, 2) their questionnaires and materials do not teach the concept of false conversion, 3) their questionnaires use modern Gospel techniques to “get decisions”, and 4) their material places a heavier than normal emphasis on baptism, similar to Church of Christ false teachings.
Bentley did NOT preach the Gospel in
There is much, much more that can be said about this dangerous heresy arising out of
What is even worse, is the fact that these folks are deluded by a man who is spreading a false Gospel. They are experiencing something at these events and think that they now know Christ. They have been inoculated by Satan himself against the true Gospel. They will not hear it because they think they already have it, when all they have is a cheap counterfeit. Eventually, these folks will burn out on the hype and will not be found in any church. Meanwhile, the preachers like Bentley and those who support him will continue to make money off of this lie. They will be faithful to their heresy as long as their bank accounts are full. On the day of judgment they will hear those horrible words from our Lord Himself, “Depart from Me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity” (Matt. 7:23).