Well, what do I say now? Evidently I’ve not yet said “all I have to say about that,” even though I did say that I had. I should have known. Of course, there’s more to the story, as it slowly seeps out, releasing its acrid odour into the air as to waft along on the breeze to assault the senses of a sleepy town like on those days that the prevailing winds are from the general direction of the hog processing plant.
The wind from the blogosphere in the last few days is all about Todd Bentley and the Lakeland …uh, whatever. And amid the fray are a few that are casting a glance at a much broader scope. Are Christians gullible? Lee Grady says so, and
Ed Stetzer backs up the question. I think this may be one of those, “I’m sorry, but if you have to ask…” questions. I almost inadvertently said something about this gullibility last week when I commented on what is one of Ed’s examples in his post.
Two of the biggest questions out there are why and how did this happen? Honestly, this caught everyone by surprise — so much so that God apparently didn’t know about it when he spoke through the card-carrying apostles who recently “aligned” Mr. Bentley. And more to the point, why did it take so long for this to come out? Consider that Bentley’s board members evidently knew he was “a pathological liar” and that he’d been lying to them all along. They knew that they couldn’t verify all these resurrections, but when they approached Todd, he increased rather than decreased the number claimed. They knew that Bently had claimed to have heard from God concerning a fundraising effort when he admitted he had not. But did they put their foot down? No. They waited, and they covered up.
And then Todd filed to separate from his wife. Now they’re “supportively distancing” themselves, talking about having known things weren’t right. So why now? I’m sorry, you don’t gain points by saying later that you had known earlier. Either you didn’t know or you’re partly to blame for the fallout. Either you were duped or you participated in the deception. So which is it?
Now, if you claim you were duped, why did you prophesy and support what went on? If you did see it, why did you prophesy and support what went on? Why didn’t you speak up and put a stop to it? I’ve been reading Clay Shirkey’s book, Here Comes Everybody, and in one part he talks about the sexual abuse cases against the Catholic church, and the way they were dealt with in a “localized” fashion by moving around the offending priests from one parish to another while (I guess) they hoped that “things would be different this time.” The local parishes might be scandalized for a time, but “major synchronized outrage” was averted. Shirky then makes a very insightful statement: “This was a strategy not for ending the abuse but for managing the fallout.” (p.147) Of course he’s right, and it’s the same thing that happened in Lakeland. Once the other leaders became aware of what we’ll politely call “improprieties” (at least for now), fallout was inevitable. The choice to be made was whether on the one hand, the leaders would accept the fallout themselves, withdraw their acts to hide it and make every effort to put right what’s been wrong, or on the other hand to keep it quiet and attempt to deal with it internally, continuing to hide it so that it doesn’t become a public scandal. The problem is in the the restated comparisons… are they concerned for God’s name, or their own? Are they concerned for difficult fallout in the lives of the people who come to Lakeland, or in their own lives?
And I wouldn’t let Peter Wagner and his card-carrying ilk off that easily either. Same questions to them as well… if, as Wagner says, they became involved in order to address improprieties, then why start by prophesying, condoning, and commissioning? Talk about improprieties, and they get laid at the feet of those who are supposed to be (by their claims) the apostles over all the church. I think that Barb’s assessment of what will be said about the events and how they’ll be interpreted is quite accurate. Unfortunately.
A quick Google search brought up a blog that I’m not familiar with, but it looks like one of those heresy-hunting sites of which I’m so un-fond. But this time I found myself agreeing with a good amount of what was being said about Stacey Campbell and Patricia King. With Patricia King it sounds like there may be finger-pointing going on… by her account, those Christians who have spoken against Todd Bentley and the Lakeland revival have unleashed a curse against him. I guess it’s not his fault, then… and it was all God up to the point where this stuff all came out? I think not. Ms. King, by the way, is the reinvented Pat Cocking, who changed her name based on some prophetic word about being a child of the King. Earlier she had said it had something to do with her name being… well, you figure it out. I don’t know, I just got it second-hand… but when you title your ministry “Extreme Prophetic,” I think something’s generally amiss.
As for Ms. Campbell, you’ll know her name from the “ecstatic prophecy” she’s been doing ever since the Toronto Blessing days. Her ‘word’ for Todd at the “alignment” is on YouTube, and one would somewhat suspect that either the word was wrong or God was taken totally by surprise. Of course, it may be that the prophetic promises are still a future thing for Todd, and they were given now in order to help sustain him through the ordeal that lies ahead. At least, that’s what I would have said when I was on the defense team — and I can’t entirely say that it’s not accurate. What I can say is that if this is the case, the words should have been given privately to encourage Todd and not publicly to confuse the body. You’d think God would have mentioned that when he gave these ‘words’, in case the card-carrying apostles weren’t wise and discerning enough to just know that.
Now, I believe in the prophetic ministry, I really do. I’ve seen stuff, heard stuff, and said stuff… enough to know that you don’t have to have your ducks all beak-to-tail in order to hear and give a prophetic word… but seriously, all this is just a huge mess at the moment. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: the only way to salvage whatever was going on is to shut it right down and go back to square one, and just wait on God to see what happens and why, and ask again what to do about it if he does pour something out akin to revival. God knows we need it — what we don’t need are counterfeits or mishandling of the real thing to the point where we can’t tell the difference.
And having said all that, there was a time when I was on the defense team, speaking positively about the Toronto Blessing. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. (I mean literally, it’s still in my drawer.) I found the weirdest of the folk in Toronto hanging around the back and had conversations about all the barking and what it meant. I went up front, fell down, got up, fell down… did the whole thing. Then I came home and did the whole praying for people so that they could come up, fall down, get up, and fall down again. And I remember when I decided things had gone too far. It was precisely when I heard that Stacey Campbell and some others had started with this “ecstatic prophecy” thing, and I heard people defend it. Yes folks, it really is in the Bible. But what nobody seemed to notice despite my saying so at the time was that whenever it occurred in the Bible (no more than twice, if memory serves), it was always with disobedient people being humbled, even humiliated in the act. There was more going on than just the prophecy, which evidently wasn’t worth writing down — just the manner in which they were humbled by the Holy Spirit falling on them. You can see Stacey prophesy in the video, and decide whether “the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet” only when they need to turn pages and read from the Bible, or at all times.
The pullquote on Grady’s article is rather telling: “Among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. The message was clear: ‘This is God. Don’t question.'” Chilling, isn’t it? And Jared Wilson goes a step farther, telling the Lakeland supporters, “You Got the Hero You Deserved.” While he’s correct in much of his post, I think I’d stop short of that conclusion… people can easily get swept up in it all, especially if they truly are gullible.
For my money, we’re just beginning (and some have started writing about) the recognized need for a sweeping Charismatic reform. It goes in cycles, and it’s been a while since we’ve seen a good house-cleaning…. someone already mentioned hearing the sound of whips cracking and tables being overturned. I don’t doubt it: Jesus is back in the House, and the Post-Charismatic experience is coming of age.
And that’s all I have to say about that — in this post, at least.