Forgotten Word Ministries
LEARN TO DISCERN GOOD FROM EVIL
By Marsha West
July 22, 2008
“But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” -- Hebrews 5:14 ”
There’s a rumor going around that dead folks are coming to life again, the blind see, the sick are getting healed, amputees are even growing new limbs, all due to the supernatural healing powers of Canadian faith-evangelist Todd Bentley. Some believe there’s a “Holy Spirit breakout” going on at the “Lakeland Outpouring.” Fresh Fire Ministries is behind the so-called revival. The burning question for the Fresh Fire team is, where’s the flesh? Doubting Thomas’s would like to hear a couple of the prior dead stand up and give their testimonies. One verifiable testimony would help.
Here’s another question: Why hasn’t Oprah invited one of the 30 plus people Bentley claims have passed over to the other side, then suddenly reentered their bodies due to his “God-given” healing powers, onto her daytime show. Her audience would eat it up!
My final question is for the Christian who believes Todd Bentley hung the moon and stars: Are you serious?
Unfortunately untold thousands of professing Christians are unaware of the Apostle Paul’s warning to the church at Thessalonica regarding “counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.” (The King James translation says “power and signs and lying wonders.”) Something shady was going on in Paul’s day or he wouldn’t have thought it necessary to bring it up. Many of the “miracles” were not from God, but from a very cunning source: the Prince of Darkness.
Jesus himself used harsh words for those who dine with the devil:
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
The Bible records true miraculous signs and wonders in both the Old and New Testaments. For example, Jesus physically fed a hungry crowd of 5,000 with barely 5 loaves and 2 fish -- and there were leftovers! (John 6:1-14) The apostles, on the other hand, fed people the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Another example is recorded in Acts 14:3:
“So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.”
Note that legitimate miracles confirm the message of God’s grace. What was the message Barnabas and Paul brought? (My comments in brackets.)
"We aare bringing you good news [of salvation through Jesus Christ], telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them” (Acts 14:15).
Further, Luke writes in Acts 14:21-22 that Barnabas and Paul, “preached the good news [of salvation through Jesus Christ] in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.”
This theme runs through the entire New Testament. Christians must go through many hardships to get to heaven. Yet you won’t hear this sort of “negativity” from those who preach the “prosperity gospel.” Perhaps someone should mention this passage to Joel Osteen who has been criticized for preaching “Christianity lite.” (The Word of Faith movement is out of the scope of this commentary. For more on the damage word-faith teachers have wrought, listen to the host of CrosstalkAmerica.com, Ingrid Schlueter, interview evangelist Justin Peters. You will hear actual sound bites featuring Creflo Dollar, who believes that Christians are little ‘gods’; Gloria Copeland, who claims that Christians can control the weather; and Benny Hinn, who believes that it is as easy to receive healing as it is to receive forgiveness for sin.”)
In my commentary “Bam! Bam! Bam! said the false prophet” I exposed Todd Bentley as a fool and a fraud. Not surprisingly I received a large number of email from Christians who accused me of judging him. Several emailers claimed they’ve been to the Lakeland Outpouring, thus they feel they’re experts on what’s happening there. Because I haven’t “experienced” the “move of the Holy Spirit” first hand, I have no business “judging” Bentley. Which is like saying that those who haven’t been to Afghanistan or Iraq shouldn’t express their opinion on the war. That’s ridiculous! The greater a Christian leader’s responsibility, the greater his/her accountability. Judging is not only permissible, it is every Christian’s duty. But that fact has not stopped some “protectors of the prophet” from being put out with me. And so I received this dire warning: “Touch not the Lord’s anointed!” What do they mean by that threat? Critics must keep their hands off word-faith teachers. Which is ludicrous on its face since it’s scriptural to expose false teachers and abusive pastors.
Mike Oppenheimer, Let Us Reason Ministries, says the word touch means physical harm, and what it does not mean is stating something about a person that’s true.
“How do we know this?” Mike asks. “Because that's exactly what David did about Saul. It was David who said he would not harm God’s anointed, who was King Saul at the time but He spoke out publicly about him.” In speaking out against Saul’s disobedience, Samuel also ‘touched God's anointed.’
“God told Saul to ‘Smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not...’ (1 Sam. 15:3). But instead, he spoke a half truth and ‘spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the Lord...’ (v.15). Samuel said it was rebellion like witchcraft and idolatry (v.24). Because he did not obey the Word of the Lord he would be removed being king. Saul admitted he feared the people and obeyed their voice. What a crucial thing to learn of Saul who was God's anointed.”
I responded to my critics by saying that my marching orders come from the King! As such, I will continue speaking publicly about Todd Bentley’s unscriptural theology. My mission is to expose Christian liberalism and the influential “Christians” who are leading the undiscerning into neo paganism. Ever wonder why professing Christians say they’re “spiritual” instead of religious? It’s because they’ve strayed from the straight and narrow path and are following the path of the mystics! In other words, they’ve strayed from historic orthodox Christianity and now embrace beliefs acquired from Eastern mysticism! As a result of the Progressive Christianity movement, liberalism and occult practices have made their way into mainline churches. Two examples are “Christian yoga” and contemplative prayer. The trouble with progressives is that they claim to know God yet they deny one or more of the fundamental doctrines of the faith, thus making them apostates!
Pastors are commanded to preach the “whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27) Church orthodoxy must hold it’s preachers accountable for preaching the entire Bible, including the doctrine of hell. Pastors today preach what people like to hear, so as not to offend anyone. Why are their words and teaching not being examined and grievous errors brought to light? And by the way, it is scriptural to scrutinize the teaching of public figures and those in Church leadership, especially pastors and Bible teachers. The Bereans were paid a high compliment for checking on Paul’s teaching:
“Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).
For those who haven’t read my commentary, I included a number of video clips that show Bentley’s disgusting stage show. After seeing his ungodly behavior and hearing his wacky stories people can decide for themselves if Todd Bentley is (a) spirit-filled, (b) a huckster, (c) demon possessed.
It’s not like Christians haven’t been warned about hucksters. The Apostle Peter said of these people:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them?bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow theiir shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2 Peter 2:1-3).
It’s true that I didn’t attend the Lakeland Outpouring. However, many other credible people can bear witness to what’s going on -- and the videos don’t lie! There’s one story I found particularly heart wrenching. Probably because the man involved is a strong proponent of Intelligent Design and has been marginalized and persecuted for opposing Darwinian evolution. He was even fired from Baylor College for “endangering Baylor's scholarly reputation.” The irony is, Baylor’s a Christian college!
William A. Dembski is research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is also a senior fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture as well as the executive director of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design. Recently Bill Dembski took his wife and three children on the 130-mile drive to Todd Bentley's "impartation service" in Denton, Texas. Dembski has twin 7-year-old boys, one of whom is autistic. His friends urged him to attend the meeting for the boy’s “miraculous healing.” If God wanted to use Todd Bentley, the Dembski’s were open to it.
Following is Bill Dembski’s story from an article he wrote about his experience in Denton, “Faith & healing -- Where's the evidence?” (All Dembski quotes are from this article.)
The Dembski family arrived at the arena in Denton at 7 p.m., just in time to watch Keith Miller, the chief organizer of Stand Firm World Ministries, kick things off:
“After prompting the audience to perform ritualistic acts of worship (stand up, raise your hands, say after me ...), he passed the baton to a young woman singer and her backup band. The sound system was terrible -- sounds were loud and distorted. The music was repetitive in the extreme. In almost two hours of this "music ministry," only a handful of songs were sung, and many of them seemed to consist of only one or two phrases.”
The sick come from all over the world to receive healing and end up spending hours enduring ritualistic worship and having to listen to loud and distorted music? I think I know why. Some revivalist preachers use music to get people into an altered state of consciousness. New Ager and professional hypnotist, Dick Sutphen, has studied hypnosis for over 30 years and has become so skilled at his trade that he trains other hypnotists. (I do not endorse Sutphen’s books or recommend his website.) Here’s what he says about how some revivalist preachers work:
“Go to the church or tent early and sit in the rear, about three-quarters of the way back. Most likely repetitive music will be played while the people come in for the service. A repetitive beat, ideally ranging from 45 to 72 beats per minute (a rhythm close to the beat of the human heart), is very hypnotic and can generate an eyes-open altered state of consciousness in a very high percentage of people. And, once you are in an alpha state, you are at least 25 times as suggestible as you would be in full beta consciousness. The music is probably the same for every service, or incorporates the same beat, and many of the people will go into an altered state almost immediately upon entering the sanctuary. Subconsciously, they recall their state of mind from previous services and respond according to the post-hypnotic programming.”
Sadly, some revivalist preachers are well aware of the physiological results.
More from Bill Dembski:
“Finally, around 9 p.m. Bentley began to speak. He devoted much of his message to the visions he has received and the miracles he claims have happened in his ministry. Then, almost as an afterthought, he spent a few minutes preaching from the Bible (John 5). In fact, he admitted that he was having us open the Bible simply so that it couldn't be said that he didn't preach from the Bible. So much for reverencing the Scriptures.”
It is evident that Bentley does not hold a high view of Scripture. Listen to enough of his bizarre stories and you will see that he has little regard for Church doctrine. One such proof is the alleged angelic visitations he speaks of so often. Not only are his stories unscriptural, the man instructs his audience in blatant occultism! His angelic visitors allegedly give him advice about all sorts of things, from finances to healing. Does he offer a biblical precedent for what he passes off as coming from God’s servants? No! And that’s because he would be hard pressed to find anything close to what he asserts in regards to his so-called angelic visitations. The fact is that very little is known about angels simply because God wants it that way.
Due to Bentley’s unscriptural interaction with angels a brief lesson in Angelology 101 is essential. From Scripture we learn that there are elect holy angels and fallen angels. In either case they are powerful supernatural spirit beings without gender, but on occasion they manifest in human form -- every time as males, never as females. Some elect holy angels are messengers of God. The class of angel called Seraphim, or seraph, minister to Almighty God and proclaim His glory. (Isaiah 6:1-7) Cherubim, or cherub, are the second highest rank, below the Seraphim, who guarded the east side of the Garden of Eden with "a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen.3:24). Also mentioned is Michael the Archangel who is the commander and leads celestial armies. Michael is considered to be the champion of God’s people and a fighter against heresies. But by far the most notorious angel is Lucifer, called Satan after the fall. Satan is the commander of the fallen angels, or demons. The Bible says of Satan:
“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10).
Satan and his demons have the power to deceive people by counterfeiting miracles. Only those who refuse to love the truth will be deceived. Do not be deceived!
“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow” (Colossians 2:18-19).
For a biblical analysis on angels read my commentary “Beware of Angels From The Dark Side.”
Many in the Body of Christ are biblically illiterate; hence they lack spiritual discernment, which is why preachers like Todd Bentley get away with teaching rank heresy! Christians are commanded to practice sound judgment. But how is that possible when they are woefully ignorant of what the Bible teaches? There is only one way to know if someone’s teaching is true or false: Study the Bible!
Progressives have mounted an all out assault on the validity of the Bible. Why? They want to remove the only source of real truth. Who’s behind it? Our adversary the devil! His goal is to rid the world of the Book that conveys God’s redemptive plan to fallen humanity. Listen to what Paul says about the Bible:
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16).
God-breathed means “given by inspiration of God.” The Bible is the foundation of truth for faith and practice. Moreover, it is a training tool for Christians -- the only valid training manual!
But I digress.
Returning to the Dembski family’s horrific experience at the “impartation service,” Bill reports what happened next:
”Nowhere in Bentley's message did I see an emphasis on the love and compassion of God -- that healing is an expression of God's goodness and care for humanity. Rather, the emphasis throughout was on power -- the power to heal and be healed.
”Bentley told stories of remarkable healings. In fact, he claims that in his ministry 30 people have now been raised from the dead. Are these stories credible? A common pattern in his accounts of healing was an absence of specificity. Bentley claims that one man, unembalmed, had been dead for 48 hours and was in a coffin. When the family gathered around at a funeral home, the man knocked from inside the coffin to be let out.
”But what are the specifics? Who was this man? What's his name? Where's the death certificate? And why not parade the man at Bentley's meetings? If I am ever raised from the dead through anyone's ministry, you can be sure I'll put in a guest appearance. Bentley claims that he is having a team investigate healings performed under his ministry and will soon go public with the evidence. I look forward to seeing it.”
I’m sorry to say that a large number of Christians don’t care to know the specifics. Instead they choose to believe the lie because it’s far easier than digging for the truth -- and who has the time for that?!
What Dembski reports next is profoundly disturbing. He explains that after Bentley “preached,” an offering was taken. During the offering he asked the crowd:
“’How much anointing do you want to receive?’ Thus he linked the blessing we should receive with the amount of money we gave.”
After the money was in the coffer, Bentley said a mass healing prayer. You can almost hear Bill Dembski’s somber tone as he makes mention of all the people who came forward because they believed they were healed. An eyewitness to the event, Bill says he saw “no obvious or dramatic evidence of healing.” He and his wife went to Denton with an open mind, hopeful of receiving healing for their young son, even expecting to see mass healings, yet they saw no obvious evidence of healing through the self-professed faith-healer. Still, they stayed on.
Following the prayer for mass healing, Bentley told the crowd he would pray for the severest cases. What happened next is beyond belief:
”At this point, a friend who was with us urged that she and my wife take our son with autism down for prayer (I stayed with our other son and daughter). Over an hour later my son with autism was still not able to get to the main floor for prayer. Ushers twice prevented that from happening. They noted that he was not in a wheelchair. Wheelchair cases clearly had priority -- presumably they provided better opportunities for the cameras, which filmed everything. They also invoked the fire marshals, who, they claimed, prohibited too many people on the floor of the arena. But earlier in the service, during the worship time, they had packed the floor with people singing and whooping it up.”
Sometime after midnight the discouraged Dembski family exited the arena. Their son was refused prayer twice because “he did not look the part.” But their son’s situation was not unique:
”A man with bone cancer and his wife traveled a long distance, were likewise refused prayer, and left in tears. People with needs were shortchanged. It seemed that power, prestige and money (in that order) were dominating motives behind the meeting. Minimal time was given to healing, though plenty was devoted to assaulting our senses with blaring insipid [hypnotic] music and even to Bentley promoting and selling hi s own products (books and CDs).
”Neither my wife nor I regret going. It was an education. Our kids are resilient. But the ride home raised a question. We found ourselves avoiding talking about the event until the children fell asleep. Then, as they drifted off in the early morning, we talked in hushed tones about how easily religion can be abused, in this case to exploit our family. What do we tell our children? I'm still working on that one.”
How many other people are working on that one?
One last comment. The reason Christianity is in the sorry state it’s in is because Christians fail to accurately handle the Word of Truth. Too often they look for an “experience” and ignore the power of God's Word, which convicts the world of sin, righteousness and impending judgment. For the sincere Christian who wants to know good from evil, the Bible, not man, has the answers. Read it until the pages are dog-eared.
“For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.” - Acts 18:28 What are your thoughts on this article?
Crosstalk America radio broadcast - Ingrid Scchlueter’s interview
with Justin Peters