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Todd Bentley, in 2008
January 10, 1976 [|
Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada
(? – 2009)
Todd Bentley (born 10 January 1976[not verified in body]) is a Canadian Christian evangelist. He was a key figure of the Lakeland Revival and was in leadership of Fresh Fire Ministries until stepping down in August 2008 after admitting an extramarital affair.
Todd Bentley was born on January 10, 1976 in Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada. He grew up in Gibsons, British Columbia, a small community on the western coast of Canada. As told in his autobiography, his parents divorced while he was a child, and he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.[page needed]
Although the criminal records of juvenile offenders in Canada are normally protected from public disclosure, multiple media outlets have reported on Bentley's conviction, at age 15, of sexually assaulting a much-younger boy when Bentley was 13 years old.[dead link] Bentley later said the original article, which appeared in The Report Newsmagazine, was, in substance, true: "'They were sexual crimes,' Bentley admits. 'I was involved in a sexual assault ring. I turned around and did what happened to me. I was assaulted too.'" At 17, Bentley was hospitalized after an overdose of amphetamines and hallucinogenic pills. At 18, he changed his lifestyle completely, due to his conversion to Christianity. Soon after this, he began his Christian ministry.
Fresh Fire Ministries
In 1998, the Fresh Fire Ministry group asked Bentley to give his testimony at one of their weekly meetings. Soon after, Bentley took over leadership of the group, and it became more of a revival movement. He traveled to India, Africa, and South America taking part in crusades and revivals.
Leadership of Lakeland Revival
Beginning on April 2, 2008, Bentley was invited by Stephen Strader, pastor of Ignited Church, Lakeland, Florida, to lead a one-week revival. The revival quickly attracted up to 10,000 attendees nightly with Bentley as the primary preacher. In addition to showcasing Bentley's evangelism, the revival featured colorful light shows and power-chord Christian rock music. The Ignited Church also took a multimedia approach to publicizing the event, posting webcasts online. The revival streamed live via Ustream and received over 1 million hits in the first five weeks of transmissions. After the initial weeks, GOD TV, a Christian satellite channel, pre-empted its primetime programming and broadcast the Lakeland meetings nightly.
The revival brought in thousands and with that many other revivalists. At one point, Bentley began to pray for and commission many of them to duplicate his model for modern-day revival. Ryan Wyatt was one. Another was Evangelist Hamilton Filmalter, who was commissioned by Bentley to begin the Portland Outpouring.
Faith healing was a major focus of the revivals. Inspired by Biblical New Testament accounts of Jesus healing the sick, the contemporary practice of faith healing is important for Pentecostal and charismatic Christians. Healing testimonies were common at the Lakeland meetings. The hope of supernatural healing explains some of the Lakeland revivals' popularity, as there were many first-person accounts of miracles.[dead link]
Bentley claimed to not only heal the sick—including through so-called "mass healings"—but also to raise the dead. He has claimed to have raised 35 people from the dead, including 3 people in Pakistan as reported by multiple outlets in September 2015, including Morningstar TV (part of Heritage International Ministries, headed by Rick Joyner).
The lack of medical corroboration of claimed healings and "dead-raisings" led to questioning and investigation by the media and many others. A 2008 Nightline report concluded that "not a single miracle could be verified." Bentley was also criticized for occasional violence done to participants of the Lakeland revivals. He was known to forcefully kick, hit, smack, or knock over participants. In one incident, a man was knocked over and lost a tooth. In another, an elderly woman was intentionally kicked in the face. Bentley held that the Holy Spirit led him to such actions, saying that the incidents were taken out of context and adding that miracles were happening simultaneously.
On 9 July 2008, ABC News' Nightline broadcast an investigative report on Bentley, focusing on his faith healing claims, finances, and criminal past. Following the report, Bentley took time off from the revival, but returned on 18 July 2008. Five days later, Bentley and Strader announced that Bentley would be leaving the revival permanently and that his last day would be 23 August 2008.
Bentley announced his separation from his wife, Shonnah, in August 2008, and resigned from the Board of Fresh Fire. A statement released by the remaining Board members said, "Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff," and that he would "refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life."
Some of Bentley's Christian contemporaries called for him to step down in the wake of the scandal, stating that Christian leadership is incompatible with marital unfaithfulness. In response, a committee made up of Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, and Bill Johnson was formed to oversee the process of spiritually restoring Bentley's family. In November 2008, the Board of Fresh Fire announced that Bentley was not submitting to the process. On March 9, 2009, Rick Joyner announced that Bentley had remarried.
A 2009 Charisma magazine interview with Rick Joyner refuted adultery claims while characterizing the relationship as wrong and premature. Joyner told Charisma that the new couple was committed to their marriage and would "continue to serve the Lord in the best way that they can."
Resumption of preaching; UK ban
Around 2010, Rick Joyner declared that Bentley was 'restored,' and Bentley returned to preaching and leading crusades.
Following adverse publicity of an impending visit to the United Kingdom in August 2012, Bentley was made the subject of an exclusion order barring him from entering the country. The UK government's home office stated, "The government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they are not conducive to the public good. Coming here is a privilege that we refuse to extend to those who might seek to undermine our society."
In December 2012, following the death of Croydon MP Malcolm Wicks, Bentley was criticized in the UK press after remarking that the MP's death was "the Lord's justice" for the role Wicks played in barring Bentley from entering the country.
Bentley highlights scriptural passages in his sermons. He emphasizes that spiritual or supernatural encounters in an individual's life are gifts from the Holy Spirit. He has stated that his priority is to help people experience the presence of God. He wants the "Holy Spirit to manifest His glory in such a way that people can't deny the presence of a living God and they have a true born-again experience." He also says: "Miracles and healings are evidence [...] they are signs of the Kingdom, and if we don't have signs then all we have is a bunch of theology."
Bentley's testimony includes an account of visiting Heaven and meeting with Paul the Apostle.[not in citation given] He has also preached about an encounter with an angel he called 'Emma', at an Assemblies of God church in 2001. The female angel gave him a vision of gold coins, and Bentley states this was a sign of his future financial stability.[not in citation given] In response to criticism about the Biblical inspiration of a female angel, Bentley wrote that it was God's choice, and not his own, that an angel appeared to him in that manner. Bentley explained:
You know, I told the Lord, "Why can’t I just move in healing and forget talking about all that… other stuff?" / He said, "Because, Todd, you gotta get the people to believe in the angel." / I said, "God, why do I want people to believe in the angel, isn’t it about getting the people to believe in Jesus?" / He said, "The people already believe in Jesus, but the church doesn’t believe in the supernatural." / The church has no problem believing in Jesus. But what we don’t believe in is the supernatural.
Pastor Strader of Ignited Church who invited Bentley to Lakeland said:
"We watch over everything. Everything that happens on the platform is scriptural [...] The nightly message has been totally 100 percent nothing but Jesus. People are saved, people are healed, and Jesus is being glorified. [...] Even some of my so-called friends are questioning my integrity, but they never come to the services. It's not fair just to watch [them] on TV."
Bentley sponsored an internship program called 'Joel's Army,' in addition to having the words "Joel's Army" tattooed across his sternum with military dog tags, demonstrating a level of commitment to the Latter Rain doctrine of the Manifest Sons of God, (or Man-Child Generation), as preached by William M. Branham.:74f The program's doctrine is associated with an interpretation of Chapter 12 of the New Testament book, Revelation—that in the last age before Jesus returns, there will be a generation of specially endowed Christians who will be able to do many miracles, and will usher in the reign of God.:84 This is in the tradition of Branham and the healing revivals of the 50s, overlapping with Latter Rain Movement theology.:90 Bentley's association with Paul Cain, an associate of Branham and himself a healing evangelist of the 50s, is a further connection to the movement. Joel's Army has been connected to Dominion Theology and Fivefold ministry thinking.
Bentley's physical appearance has been noted as being unconventional for that of an evangelist. He has dozens of tattoos, multiple facial piercings, and a preference for T-shirts over ties.[dead link][dead link] His preaching style is also flamboyant and he is known for mannerisms including shouting 'Bam!' during his delivery.
The following are books published by Bentley:
- —— (2008). The Journey into the Miraculous. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image. ISBN 0768426065. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
- —— (2008). The Reality of the Supernatural World: Exploring Heavenly Realms and Prophetic Experiences. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.[full citation needed][verification needed]
- —— (2008). Kingdom Rising: Making the Kingdom Real in Your Life. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.[full citation needed][verification needed]
- McMullen, Cary (August 12, 2008). "Evangelist Bentley, Wife File for Separation". TheLedger.com. Lakeland, FL: Gatehouse Media. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
- Holley, Galen (June 7, 2008). "Slain in the Spirit". Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- Roach, David (August 19, 2008). "Faith Healer Todd Bentley Separates From Wife, Draws Criticism From Charismatics". Baptist Press. Archived from the original on 2009-01-12. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- Anderson, David (December 3, 2008). "Evangelist Todd Bentley Romantically Involved With Nanny; Seeks Divorce From Wife". Religion News Blog. Amsterdam, NLD: Apologetics Index. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
- Bentley, Todd (2008). The Journey into the Miraculous. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image. ISBN 0768426065. Retrieved December 23, 2016.[page needed]
- [dead link]
- Hiebert, Rick (April 30, 2001). "Does Forgiving Mean Forgetting? A Faith Healer Comes Clean on his Young-Offender Conviction for Child Molestation". The Report Newsmagazine. [Edmonton, CAN: United Western Communications]. Retrieved December 14, 2015 – via High Beam Research. (subscription required (. ))
- Hunt, Stephen (2009). "The Florida 'Outpouring' Revival". PentecoStudies. [Sheffield, GBR: Equinox]. 8 (1): 37–57. doi:10.1558/ptcs.v8i1.37. Retrieved December 24, 2016.
- Chandler, Charles (June 19, 2008). "Tattooed preacher says God heals through him". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- Kofman, Jeffrey; Yiu, Karson & Brennan, Nicholas (July 9, 2008). "Thousands Flock to Revival in Search of Miracles". ABC News. Retrieved July 7, 2008.
- McMullen, Cary (May 15, 2008). "Florida Outpouring: Internet Draws Thousands to Lakeland Revival". The Ledger. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- Lake, Thomas (June 30, 2008). "Todd Bentley's Revival in Lakeland Draws 400,000 and Counting". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- Reed, Travis (July 10, 2008). "Religion Today". Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011.
- "Fuse Church - Knoxville TN". Abidingglory.com. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
- "private video". YouTube.(registration required)
- McMullen, Cary (June 22, 2008). "Florida Outpouring Revival Concerns Pentecostal Leaders". TheLedger.com. Lakeland, FL: Gatehouse Media. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- [dead link]
- Reed, Travis (July 28, 2008). "Florida Revival Drawing Criticism—And Thousands of Followers". The Pantagraph. Bloomington, IL. Associated Press. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- Kyle Mantyla (September 29, 2015). "Todd Bentley Claims To Have Brought 35 People Back From The Dead". rightwingwatch.org. Retrieved 2015-12-14.
- MorningStar Ministries (September 28, 2015). "Three People Raised from the Dead in Pakistan - Todd Bentley". Retrieved 2015-12-14.(released short excerpt of full video)
- Todd Bentley; et al. (September 25, 2015). "Three People Raised From the Dead in Pakistan". morningstartv.org. Retrieved 2015-12-14.(Subscription required.)
- [dead link]
- Williamson, Didi (2008-06-20). "Healer or Heretic?". The Good News [of South Florida]. Coral Springs, FL: Good News Publications. Archived from the original on 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2016-12-23.
- Synan, Vinson (2010). An Eyewitness Remembers the Century of the Holy Spirit. Chosen Books. p. 167.
- McMullen, Cary (July 23, 2008). "Revival Evangelist to Fold His Lakeland Tent". The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida). Retrieved December 13, 2015.(3 free articles allowed before subscription required)
- TFFM Board of Directors (August 15, 2008). "From the Board of Directors". Abbotsford, BC, CAN: The Fresh Fire Ministries (TFFM). Archived from the original on August 20, 2008.
- Martin, Albie (August 19, 2008). "Evangelist Bentley Stepping Down". OneNewsNow. Archived from the original on September 17, 2009.
- TFFM Board of Directors (August 16, 2008). "From the Board of Directors, The Fresh Fire Ministries (TFFM) [email]". Retrieved December 23, 2016 – via OakTree.org.uk.
- Strang, Steve (2008-08-13). "It's Time for Spiritual Fathers". Archived from the original on July 16, 2011.
- Revival Alliance. "Public Statement on Todd Bentley from Revival Alliance". Archived from the original on November 21, 2008.
- Gaines, Adrienne S. (March 10, 2009). "Todd Bentley Remarries, Begins Restoration Process". Archived from the original on March 14, 2009. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
- Joyner, Rick (2009). "Todd Bentley Begins Restoration Process" (Special Bulletins). MorningStar Ministries. Morningstarministries.org. Retrieved December 23, 2016.
- Grady, Lee (March 11, 2009). "The Tragic Scandal of Greasy Grace". Archived from the original on January 2, 2010.
- Lizzy Davies (2012-08-21). "Revivalist preacher Todd Bentley refused entry to UK | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- "Outrage as banned preacher calls Malcolm Wicks' death "the Lord's justice"". croydonguardian.co.uk. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- Rhee, Alice (May 29, 2008). "Revivalist Claims Hundreds of Healings". MSNBC. Archived from the original on June 1, 2008.
- Chandler, Charles (June 18, 2008). "Q&A with preacher Todd Bentley". The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
- Bentley, Todd and the Fresh Fire team (June 8, 2008). "Bringing Biblical Light to Your Questions about the Lakeland Outpouring [and] Todd Bentley". Abbotsford, BC, CAN: The Fresh Fire Ministries (TFFM). Retrieved December 23, 2016 – via Christian Crunch.
- "Transcript of Todd Bentley's remarks about the importance of believing in "The Angel"". wordpress.com. 6 June 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- McMullen, Cary (2008). "Leaving Lakeland". Christianity Today. 52 (9; September).
- Bentley, Todd. "Joels Army Internship —Battle for the Lost Multitudes with Love and the Raw Power of God!". Fresh Fire Ministries. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008.
- Sanchez, Casey (August 29, 2008). "Todd Bentley's Militant Joel's Army Gains Followers in Florida". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved December 13, 2015.
- McAlpine, Rob (2008). Post Charismatic?: Where Are We Now? Where Have We Come From? Where Are We Going?. Elgin, IL/Eastbourne: David C. Cook/Kingsway. ISBN 1842913506.
- Ghiringhelli, Paul Steven. "Paul Cain 'Totally Misunderstood' at Lakeland Revival". charismanews.com. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- [dead link]
- Strand, Paul (May 31, 2008). "Lakeland Outpouring Coming to Your City?". CBN News. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
- [dead link]
- Hunt, Stephen (2009). "The Florida 'Outpouring' Revival". PentecoStudies. Sheffield, GBR: Equinox. 8 (1): 37–57. doi:10.1558/ptcs.v8i1.37.