The music is a driving beat – strong, loud, and almost mesmerizing. Some in the audience faint or laugh hysterically as emotional fervor is driven to a fever pitch. The unconventional preacher is covered in tattoos. Sometimes he wears a t-shirt that states, “JESUS GAVE ME MY TATTOOS.” He wears earrings, eyebrow rings, and a ring in his chin. He often wears a WWE wrestler t-shirt and can name many of the WWE wrestlers. He appears to be very pleased with his persona and, in fact, draws attention to it.
This is a minister who has no difficulty blurring the lines between the sacred and the secular. He declares that the spiritual source of power in his ministry comes from an angel who is standing next to him on the stage. He once wrote that when he was having financial difficulties, “I don’t just pray and ask God for my financial breakthrough. I go into intercession and become a partner with the angels by petitioning the Father for the angels that are assigned to getting me money: ‘Father, give me the angels in heaven right now that are assigned to get me money and wealth. And let those angels be released on my behalf. Let them go into the four corners of the earth and gather me money.’” His money gathering angel is called Emma. Our visionary evangelist first met Emma in North Dakota. She carried bags filled with gold dust. As she glided up and down the aisles, she sprinkled the gold dust on people. Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that Emma is a demonic spirit. Angels are created by God and the Bible does not reference any female angels.
Todd Bentley is certainly making headlines with his claims of supernatural powers and faith healing in a revival located in Lakeland, Florida. According to Bentley, even the dead have been raised. Bentley also believes that God tells him to hit, choke, and kick people. He has done this on several occasions to initiate their cures. Bentley’s miracles have yet to be verified by a reputable source. Bentley claims he has been transported into the future. He claims to have healed a man in such a manner as to enable him to see using a glass eye. Another person he prayed for, Bentley claims grew a new eyeball. Hank Hanegraaff, of the popular “Bible Answer Man” radio program, called Bentley “an absolute false prophet.” He calls what’s going on in Lakeland a “counterfeit revival:”
“Unfortunately today people are looking for God in all the wrong places,” Hanegraaff wrote on his website. “They’re going to hear in Lakeland all kinds of things, from people being resurrected from the dead — not true, no details, no descriptions — to supposedly people being pickled and marinated in the Spirit…. In fact, they’re going to hear about vibrating in the Spirit now. This guy is an absolute phony. Unfortunately people are falling for his ruse.”
Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has stated:
“Every few years here comes another fraudulent, scandal-riddled ‘faith healer,’” Moore said. “That’s, sadly, no surprise. I am not dubious about healing. I believe that God heals today…. We all know, however, that there are those who will use the power of God to peddle a product. “What’s most tragic about this cycle, though, is the fact that there’s always a constituency for guys like this. I fear that it’s more than just P.T. Barnum’s famous old maxim about the gullibility of the American public. I fear that there’s something missing in our churches that drives even some of our people to charlatans. Might there be less of a demand for these traveling health-and-wealth revivalists if our churches spent more time on our knees in prayer for sick and hurting people?”
Bentley also tends to suggest that attendees will not receive a blessing unless they give generously when the offering is taken. He notes that people want to be stingy but, at the same time, want a generous blessing. In his personal testimony, Bentley claims he heard the Gospel from the Bible many times but could not believe without a supernatural experience. He says he was saved only when God spoke audibly to him in his drug dealer’s trailer. God told him it would be his last chance to make a decision for Christ. According to Bentley, he received his calling in 1998 when a “glory liquid honey cloud” came and rested over his head. This “manifest tangible presence of God” did not leave his life for three months. Throughout this time, he was constantly “slain in the Spirit” and had many visions. He says Jesus appeared to him at the end of the three months and told him he would never do secular work again.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)