Forgotten Word Ministries
A Review by Jacob Prasch
|A Review Of Gary S Greig's Pseudo Scholarly Apologetic
For The Unbiblical Antics Of Todd Bentley And The Lakeland, Florida
Sequel To The Failed Revivals Of Kansas City, Toronto, and Pensacola
by James Jacob Prasch
(Jacob Prasch is the author of several books and holds a non-cessationist pneumatology believing in an ongoing operation of charismatic gifts as defined and practiced biblically, but firmly rejects Lakeland, Toronto, and Pensacola as carnal and demonically influenced counterfeits of biblical charismata.)
Scholarship and Reality
While my own academic background is science, after serving a number of years as a lay missionary in Israel prior to ordination, I entered the world of academic theology at Cambridge University and London Bible College / London School of Theology. In the theological jungle of undergraduate and post-graduate theological and divinity studies, I learned much of what is indeed a virtual game and how the game is played.
Studying high academic theology from a conservative Evangelical perspective oriented me towards the refutation of liberal higher criticism, which treated preconceived conjecture as fact in the liberal dominated academic establishment. These ranged from Wellhausen’s theory of Penteteuchal sources to a priori Bultmarian dismissal of the supernatural to imaginative speculations of Deutero and Trito Isaiah. It was based largely on 19th century German rationalism predicated on a Hegalian dialectic worldview.
As an American born Israeli, I discovered that a good British honors degree in theology had little to do with theology in any doctrinal sense, but was in fact a credential in history and literature where Sitz im Leben and Heilsgischichte would be studied in the original Greek and Hebrew languages (where I would be additionally helped by my ability to speak modern Hebrew) through the prism of commentary by German scholars and the later German, British, and American scholars who endlessly debated their merits and flaws of one hypothesis after another. The tirades were relentless. A hypothesis was treated as a postulate and a postulate as a factual maxim. Coming into theology from a mission field, the second thing I discovered was dis-continuum between the realities of missiological praxis and the semi ethereal sphere of an academic theology detached from the actual challenges and needs of the ministry. It was not ‘feed my sheep’ but rather academics writing journal articles addressed to each other that only filtered down to the average Christian in the pew as something irrelevant. Seminaries and divinity faculties were fantastic at answering questions no one was asking.
It was enlightening to observe how many successful theological scholars were in fact merely failed preachers, fulfilling the old adage “those who can’t do – teach”. Those who can not deliver the goods in the pulpit, seek justification for their professionally failed existence in the lecture hall.
Against this there were those like Francis Schaeffer, Peter Cotterel, C. S. Lewis, Walter Kaiser, John Walvoord, Michael Griffiths, George Beasley Murray, I. Howard Marshal, D. A. Carson and others who could bridge the gap between the academic world and the real one. Unfortunately, an absurd alternative emerged with the church growth movement out of Fuller Seminary where the ideas of Donald McGavran were altered by C. Peter Wagner and the late John Wimber. Here mission became a matter of programmatics with Wagner and theology became experiential with Wimber. Scripture is reinterpreted not exegetically but eisegetically to fit one’s presuppositions and market research determines the way in which the gospel is packaged as a consumer durable or product for a post modern consumerist society. Many of the techniques pioneered by Wagner were not even logically consistent. He would observe the large church growth in Latin American Pentecostalism and attempt to replicate it in the developed world, ignoring the fact that in Latin America growth was dominated by a massive exodus out of Roman Catholicism while Wagner and Wimber were ultra ecumenical accepting Roman Catholicism as biblically Christian. The result of these approaches has largely been transfer growth, not genuine growth in terms of salvation and discipleship.
Fuller moreover was at the forefront of transforming Christianity by psychologizing it into a hybrid of contradicting biblical and non quantitative pseudo science of secular psychology based world views. This artificially harmonized the two by re-labeling pure psychology with Christian jargon while redefining biblical terminology as pure psychology.
Much of the unscriptural deception in the contemporary church from the Purpose Driven agenda of Rick Warren, to the Willow Creek marketing of Bill Hybels, to the New Age post modernism masquerading as Christianity in the Emergent Church of Brian MacLaren and Dan Kimball, is rooted in unbiblical and often illogical models of mission born out of the matrix of Fuller Seminary and C. Peter Wagner. It is therefore without surprise that it is also here that the supposedly scholarly defender of the Lakeland fiasco, Gary S. Greig, (former associate professor at Regents University School of Divinity), is a promoter of C. Peter Wagner.
Indeed, as the predecessor counterfeit revivals of Kansas City (Mike Bickel, Paul Cain, Bob Jones), Toronto (John Arnott, Rodney Howard-Browne, Randy Clark), and Pensacola (John Kilpatrick, Michael Brown) failed to result in any actual revivals in the biblical and historical sense (characterized by a resulting massive growth in numbers saved), that these scams falsely promised, the Lakeland, Florida clone is more of the same. In short, it is simply transfer growth where the freaks who have merely disposed of their bibles, their discernment, and their brains flock to the next freak show.
Coming into theology from quantitative science, the final thing I discovered in popular academic theology was that despite its scientific pretenses, it was not popularly scientific in its methodology. It was non scientists pretending to be scientific; very much like Darwinists – refusing to weigh evidence contrary to their presuppositions or even allowing the admission of such evidence into their forums or symposiums.
With the collapse of the Hegalian Dialectic Materialism that under-girded Sovietism when the Iron Curtain collapsed under the pressure of its own economic implausibility, that ramifications of Qumran and other archaeological discoveries such as the Theisson fragment, and the erosion of late date gospel authorship arguments by scholarship demonstrating an acute familiarity with Second Temple Period Judaism, old liberal higher critical presupposition is increasingly a corpse kept alive by the artificial life support of academic politics.
As Don Cupid admits – “the only choice in the future will be between what he derogatorily denounces as “fundamentalism” and post modernism. Unfortunately, we see ostensible Evangelicals such as the theocratic hooligans of the Emergent church and supposed scholars like Gary S. Greig going the way of post modernism.
The Way The Game Is Played
Academic theology is in essence a game and always has been. As with any game it has rules. Rugby, or football may be utterly chaotic when a ball is in play. Yet as long as the disorganized chaos, tactical or strategic mistakes on the playing field, and pandemonium all transpire within the parameters of the rules, it is still regarded as a valid game.
When one comprehends the Judaic background of the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 7:28-29, Jesus cut through the nuances and manmade protocols of such rules in His day which functioned within the chalakik framework of Pilpul, a complex style of legalistic rabbinic argumentation that actually exists among ultra orthodox Jews to this day. Jesus achieved this by interpreting the letter of the Torah in light of the spirit of the Torah.
In Umberto’s Ecco’s epic ‘The Name of the Rose’, the Aristotelian rules of theological discourse in the Dark Ages are brilliantly demonstrated by the author.
The rules may change. But the game is the same. In essence, however absurd, the format and not the substance is presented as justification of the credibility of the argument. It is not the plausibility of the thesis itself that necessarily determines its academic viability, but rather if it is published in a well footnoted format with a text that is focused on the Hebrew and/or grammatical syntax of the biblical textual citations, and an interaction with other scholarly and patristic opinion supportive of the author’s case. The cited opinion may be selective and not comprehensive, as long as it is properly formatted, documented, and footnoted.
It then befalls a rival academic opinion to challenge the thesis on the basis of other citations. If one is not trained in academic theology (or even if they are but realize how futile and irrelevant 85% of the critiqued article may be), one is overwhelmed by it. It is much the same as a legal contract is worded and formatted to be incomprehensible in all of its detailed implications to the signatory. One must have their own attorneys scrutinize the documents. If one is not a lawyer, s/he would by design be overwhelmed and intimidated by the content.
This is the game in academia, and this is the game that Gary S. Greig plays.
Greig endeavors to ascribe a credence to something with no credibility by packaging his defense in an elongated semi-academic apologetic for the ludicrous and biblically untenable in a scholarly format, even though the non comprehensive core of his case shows it in substance to be void of substance.
Greig avoids the central issues and engages in a series of polemics in opposition to Lakeland’s critics derived from convoluted distortions of biblical texts and misrepresentations of the source reasons for their actual objections.
The silly game he plays is a familiar one. It is the same game played with the same rules used by liberal higher critical theologians, and Barbara Thierring and the Jesus Seminar to portray their fanciful yet bogus speculations as factual.
It is in fact the identical game played by Roman Catholic apologists against all logic, rules of exegesis and Greek grammar, vocabulary, and context to argue for a regal papacy based on Matthew 16.
Not least of all, Greig’s methodology resembles those of FARMS, the Mormon apologetic society (Facility for Ancient Manuscript Research) in their almost hideous efforts to make an academic case for the Book of Mormon with Judeo-Christian scriptures.
In all of these instances, and with Gary Greig, the credibility is not found in the facts (or lack of them), but in the format. As long as the case is made within the parameters of the rules and properly formatted, the content of argument is allowed to stand until and unless it is countered by another academic article irrespective of how groundless the position may in itself be. Moreover, because of the nature of the game, it is almost impossible to bury a faulty argument because it all becomes a matter of “varying scholarly opinion”, even when the flawed thesis is factually debunked.
The manner in which Lakeland is using Greig’s article moreover reveals that they are betting on the fact that it will be mainly read by non academics untrained in biblical languages and academic theological terminology and it will therefore carry scholarly credibility just because it sounds scholarly. However, from an academic perspective the article is not well written, the level of scholarly argumentation is in fact quite poor.
It becomes not a mere game, but a silly one. Having read countless academic articles, monograms, and books, (and having written a number of academic papers myself), it is my opinion that it is a game that Gary S. Greig quite frankly does not play very well (he would be torn to pieces at a formal symposium), but it is none the less the game he plays.
The Facts and the Camouflage
The first pillar of Greig’s apologetic presentation trans-locates what the scripture teaches about ‘fruit’ as a basis of evaluation of something, with what scripture identifies biblical disdeskein (doctrinal teaching) as a basis of evaluating something. Greig deceives others and himself by reversing the two (2 Timothy 3:13).
Biblically, we judge people by their fruit (the fruit of the Holy Spirit) but we judge teaching, revelations and praxis by contrasting them with scriptural dogma. Greig attempts to circumvent evaluation of revelation and praxis by making ‘fruit’ the criteria by which the affect is evaluated. This is low-grade, pseudo, academic fraud that would see Greig demolished in the first round of a properly monitored theological debate in the presence of independent scholarly opinion.
Conversely, Greig attempts to circumvent examining the ‘fruit’ of Todd Bentley’s life personally by elongated semi academic arguments avoiding the fundamental issue that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is EKREITEI or ‘self control’ ( Galatians 5:23, Titus 1:8) and not the lack of it as we observe in the Lakeland clone of Toronto and Pensacola. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is also PRAUTAS or “gentleness” (Galatians 5: 23). Gentleness is not characteristic of Todd Bentley claiming ‘the Lord told him to kick an old woman in the face with his biker boot’ or smash out the teeth of a small Chinese gentleman.
In actual fact, using a rabbinic style of argumentation, Paul instructs the Galatian church to identify what the true ‘karpas’ or fruit of the Holy Spirit is by first defining what it is not and contrasting the two. The heresy (airasei - engendering division on the basis of false doctrine), and drunken style reveling imitated from Toronto & Pensacola (methai komoi) are deeds of the flesh standing in the text of Galatians as mutually exclusive to the genuine fruit of the Spirit as ‘deeds of the flesh’ (erga tas sarkos); those practicing such things will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Galatians 5:21).
Instead of judging Bentley by the fruit of the Holy Spirit (or his lack of it), and judging the doctrinal teachings, claimed revelations, and praxis by scripture, Greig seeks to delude and mislead his readers by rather attempting to persuade them to test the teaching, claimed revelations, and practice of Bentley by a diatribe of lame academic arguments packaged in pseudo scholarly rhetoric not even aimed at the issue, but aimed at avoiding the actual issue. Greig’s boots are on the wrong feet. Bentley does not exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and his doctrines, claimed revelations, and praxis are not scriptural. Greig ignores the genesis of Lakeland the fruit in the lives of Bentley’s claimed mentors, and their doctrines.
Bentley is a convicted homosexual pedophile sex criminal who was imprisoned for molesting a 7 year old little boy, who now professes to have been ‘Born Again’ and to have had physical visitations from Jesus personally, as well as a female angel ‘Emma’, and then had his body covered with a gross array of tattoos after supposedly becoming a saved Christian. Apart from his sex pervert criminal history as a convicted homosexual child molester from before he says he was a Christian, the histories of sexual immorality and sexual perversion of his mentors are in no sense “pre-Christian”.
One of his mentors, former Kansas City Prophet Bob Jones, was found to be sexual predator with vulnerable women whom he would have strip naked in order to sexually fondle them, and “prophesy over them”. Another KC prophet Paul Cain is an alcoholic and homosexual. This deranged soul described by the late John Wimber and his pastor Mike Bickel as ‘the best wine saved for last’ has never been anything other than a drunken homosexual sex pervert. Yet these publicly proven sexually immoral perverts are Todd Bentley’s extolled heroes and role models.
Greig also preaches regularly at Jack Hayford’s ‘Church On The Way’, home congregation of Paul Crouch, exposed three days running on the front page of ‘the Los Angeles Times’ for paying $425,000 in hush money in a wrongful dismissal settlement with a secrecy clause of allegations of Crouch’s homosexuality. The public question remains, who would pay hundreds of thousands in hush money in a legal settlement involving charges of sexual perversion that were not true?
Given his heretical doctrine, contra biblical practices, and the massive collection of tattoos and body piercings that he covered himself with after becoming a Christian that many suggest is demonic, it is not clear to many believers if Todd Bentley is or ever was a regenerate Christian as he lacks the fruit of the Spirit, but demonstrates abundant deeds of the flesh. What is well legally documented and beyond any dispute however is that he is a criminally convicted homosexual child molester imprisoned for unnatural acts with a small boy. Even if Bentley did indeed become a saved Christian at a later point and his homosexual sex crimes against a 7-year-old were before becoming a Christian, the sexual immorality and perversion of his mentors from Kansas City are certainly not, but are rather perversions practiced supposedly as Christian ‘prophets”.
Academic technique demands a comprehensive and not a selective defense in a scholarly apologetic. As there is no defense, Gary S. Greig simply avoids the issue yet pretends to have published a scholarly apologetic, when in fact he has not. His non-comprehensive defense of Bentley is in fact a conspicuously failed effort to offer a preposterous brand of circumlocution that no real academic would ever swallow in a scholarly forum, no matter what format he published it in.
An authentic scholarly approach to any issue requires an abandonment of ad homonym literary strategies seeking to circumvent an issue by character assault on the personality . Gary Greig however does play by the accepted rules of academic procedure.
We note Greig’s unfortunate, and we dare say idiotic, misapplication of the term ‘heresy hunters’, a term without doubt borrowed from his colleague Jack Hayford, the pastor of TBN’s Jan & Paul Crouch. The Crouches and TBN have given a platform to every heretical money preacher prostituting the Word of God and every pseudo-Christian false prophet imaginable.
In an article defending the Crouches and figures like Oral Roberts, after Roberts claimed a 900 foot tall Jesus Christ appeared to him telling him to build a hospital that would find the cure for cancer (that later failed) or later God demanding he come up with 8 million dollars by the end of the year or God would kill him, Hayford absurdly sought to defame the critics of such debauchery and religious con artistry as ‘Witch Hunters’. In fact these money preachers have invaded millions of homes on prime time TV, discrediting the Gospel message and Body of Christ in the eyes of the fallen secular world. When money grubbing apostasy is broadcast internationally on the open airwaves, no one needs to hunt to find the wolves.
While in responding to even an ostensibly scholarly paper, I would prefer to avoid cheap brands of polemics designed to evade issues by targeting personalities. Greig however does not, hence I will respond on his terms employing his rules.
Whether Hayford is a liar or a moron is a judgement we will leave to others, but Greig is an academic who in theory ought to know better. Hence on this basis there will be those who find him both a moron and a liar. Given his flawed technique, I personally however would certainly regard him as an academic fraud.
Most ludicrous in the body of content of Greig’s postulated defense of Bentley however is the huge amount of pointless space he devotes to a scholarly and biblical defense of charismatic & Pentecostal phenomena generally as an attempted justification of Bentley and Lakeland. Here he goes on paragraph after paragraph of patristic citation and citation of Greek texts attempting to create the illusion that opposition to Bentley & Lakeland is mere cessationist pneumatology and an anti-charismata or anti-Pentecostal reaction.
There is no euphemism for the hideous. This can only be rank dishonesty, pure idiocy, or a hybrid of the two. In fact many, if not a majority of, the most outspoken critics of Bentley & Lakeland are themselves recognized Pentecostals and charismatics including Philip Powell (former General Secretary of the Assemblies of God, Australia), Michael Oppenheimer, (Asian Pentecostal Evangelistic to the Hindus), Tom Chacko (who warns of the demonic Hinduistic nature of Toronto, Pensacola, and Lakeland manifestations), and a wide host of others. In actual fact at least one Assemblies of God executive has issued a very thinly veiled caveat concerning Lakeland as has Lee Grady, editor of Charisma Magazine.
Thus the largest portion of Greig’s paper is too silly to warrant serious comment given its ridiculously superfluous nature.
Another feature in Greig’s paper is the sources found in his footnote/endnote citations. Lacking any biblical or even patristic support for a female angel, Greig makes reference to Rambam, (Rabbi Moses Maimonides). Rambam, is the Middle Ages sage who Aristotelianized Judaism, rejected the miraculous nature of Old Testament supernatural events as logically explicable, and who reversed the meaning of the Hebrew terms ‘achad’ and ‘yachid’ in order to dissuade Jewry from belief in a divine tri-unity and divine Messiah against Christian beliefs.
As a Hebrew-speaking evangelist to the Jews with a Jewish-Israeli family and an academic knowledge of Judaism, certified by Cambridge University, and who matriculated at Hebrew University prior to bible college, seminary, and post graduate studies in Judaism, I find it odd that Greig would, for want of a better reference, point to a rabbi who held to an anti-supernaturalist rationalist religious philosophy in order to lend credence to contemporary events at Lakeland he wishes to uphold as supernatural. Rambam did not even hold to a per se divine intervention in the affairs of humans.
One “Christian’ scholar to whom Greig makes reference is JDG Dunn, a liberal Evangelical (which his many conservative Evangelical opponents see as a contradiction in terms) is popularly recognized among Evangelical scholars to hold heterodox views outside of the parameters of biblical orthodoxy. Greig fundamentally lacks support from mainstream Evangelical scholarship.
Lakeland bills and promotes itself as the third wave sequel to the nearly identical experiences that surfaced in Toronto and Pensacola. Once again, in his no comprehensive attempted defense of Todd Bentley & Lakeland continues his essential practice – if you can’t defend it, ignore it and launch into a prolonged treatise or tangent on irrelevant issues.
Predictably, Greig takes no note of the fact that the Toronto and Pensacola predecessors of Lakeland both categorically failed to deliver the promised revival. Large numbers of souls saved and discipled, a radical return to the Word of God, and powers of darkness being thrown back, have characterized any biblical or historical revival. None of these emerged from the fiascoes in Toronto and Pensacola. The former fizzled; the latter ended in a split preceded by financial scandal.
Such failed results were of course not only predictable but unavoidable, given that biblically and historically every revival has commenced with people weeping, none has ever been the result of people laughing. Lakeland of course is no different and will be no different. Biblically nissim v’niflaot – sign & wonders follow the preaching of repentance, they are never the focus. Jesus rather warned us that it is instead a “wicked and an adulterous generation that seeks a sign”; it is just such wickedness and spiritual adultery (James 4: 4) condemned by Christ that Greig seeks to defend. Even if the fact that the Arnold Palmer Hospital firmly denies the resurrection claim from Lakeland and the general dearth of documented independent medical evidence for the healing claims are left ignored, the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:22 -23 cannot be ignored.
If Lakeland is the sequel to the demonstrably failed counterfeit revivals of Toronto & Pensacola which despite the same identical manner of massive hype and big talk we now see in Lakeland, Kansas City was its prequel.
When Bentley’s Branhamite father figures to whose legacy he actively appeals, the sex pervert Kansas City false prophets - came to London in August of 1990, they issued incredible predictions of Latter Day Rain/ Manifest Sons style revival to take place, they assured, in October of that year.
Their biblical pretext was a solidly Gnostic reinterpretation of Joel’s Army from the book of Joel. In its exegetical context, the locust army was the Babylonian invasions of Nebuchadnezzar, pre-figurative of the demon cohorts of hell to be unleashed eschatologically in Revelation chapter 9. The text of Joel states unambiguously that this army is to be destroyed by YHWH (Joel 2:2). Yet led by Mike Bickel and John Wimber, Bentley’s Kansas City false prophet role models taught that their cheering devotees from Holy Trinity Brompton, the Elim Movement, and the Restoration Movement led by Gerald Coates and Terry Virgo, that this was the ‘triumphant church’ in what essentially amounted to a warped amalgam of post millennial reconstructionist mayhem combined with lunatic fringe charismania.
Needless to say, as in Toronto and Pensacola, the promised revival never came.
Since the sex pervert Kansas City false prophets wreaked their havoc in Britain in 1990, more mosques have been built than churches, the Mormon cult has become the fastest growing ‘christian’ sect, the moral avalanche has spiraled out of control, and the Church of England alone has consistently lost 1,000 attendees per week and is now having same sex marriages for its homosexual clergy.
After the freak shows were over no promised
revival ever came from Kansas City, Toronto, or Pensacola . For the
precise same reasons, we may rest absolutely assured the same will prove
true of Lakeland. It is just not scriptural and therefore it is simply
and demonstrably not of God and Gary Greig’s supposed scholarly defense
of what Pentecostal Pastor Bill Randles calls ‘the Indefensible” will
not and can not alter that reality.
So desperate did the apologist for the Toronto Experience Guy Chevreau become in his effort to write an apologetic defense of that failed revival when he authored ‘Catch The Fire’, he visibly lied. Misquoting from Daniel Roland’s book on ‘the Great Revival’ Chevreau sought to promulgate the Toronto drunken style hysterics by citing such affects from the ministry of John Wesley in the Methodist revivals. A mere reading of the reference however on the cited page shows that Wesley condemned and outlawed it as demonic (of the devil). As they are at war with truth, apologists for error inevitably appear compelled at some point to, in effect, ‘ lie’.
Gary S. Grieg is far from the first academic to attempt a scholarly defense of such lunacy. Jack Deere, formerly a Dallas Seminary professor, issued what he admitted was a problematic defense of the Gnostic hermeneutics of the Kansas City false prophets’ outlandish distortion of ‘Joel’s Army’. The sexual perversion of Bob Jones and homosexuality and alcoholism of Paul Cain eventually became a matter of public record.
In his attempted defense of ‘Promise Keepers’, former Dallas Professor Robert Hicks authored his ‘Masculine Journey’ complete with Jesus Christ as the quintessential phallic male tempted to have sex with other men and his ‘right of passage’ teaching where Christian parents should ‘shake their children’s hand and congratulate the next generation for being human’ when they come drunk or intoxicated with narcotics and have lost their virginity outside of holy wedlock.
Michael Brown, a Hebrew linguist (who I discovered cannot even speak Hebrew when I confronted him by telephone) wrote his ‘Let No One Deceive you’ defense of the failed revival at Brownsville Assemblies of God in Pensacola. After the financial scandals were published in newspapers, the church experienced an ugly split with Michael Brown leaving on very hostile terms. Of course, the revival Brown promised never arrived.
All of these (apart from Chevreau) were academics, supposedly scholarly figures who published what in each case was claimed to be a credible defense by a scholarly author of what in each case proved to be a failed revival that never came. None of them was ever vindicated, but each was indicted by the history of failure for what they defended.
Gary S. Greig is absolutely nothing more than more of the same; the next crony for the spirit of error in the character of his would be academic predecessors in what has become nothing more than a sorry saga of serial stupidity in a debunked charade masquerading as charismatic/Pentecostal Christianity.
Lakeland is not biblically charismatic, not biblically Pentecostal, and not biblically Christian. Neither is Gary S. Greig’s ‘scholarly’ defense of what cannot be either biblically or even rationally defended. What are your thoughts on this article?