Well, I started out with some prognostication, and then I got distracted, and got back on track regarding my thoughts on The Decade Ahead for the Emerging Church. As I set up my thoughts and predictions (scary word) in that post, I asked three pairs of questions, the last of which was, “where is the world outside the church in all of this? Do they benefit at all, or are they worse off?” And then I pretty much didn’t answer that one, just the other two. This set of questions is fundamentally different because they have to do with the church’s interaction with the world, and are therefore the most important (certainly to the missional crowd, at least). For these reasons, I felt a separate post was warranted.
Sometimes I’ll jot down notes and ideas on a 3×5 card or a scrap of paper. The paper eventually finds its way into a pile on my desk, and someday, sometimes, I’ll retrieve it, or find it by chance. The trick then is to remember what I was thinking about when I wrote the note and how it’s relevant — or if it still is. The note I found today was about discipleship, and I wrote it about a month ago while I was thinking about the pilgrimages people had been making to places like Lakeland, Florida… and to Pensacola before that, and to Toronto before that, and… well, you get the idea. People flock to stuff like this, to get a blessing, to hear the “latest word,” or to get some kind of healing.
Yesterday I began reviewing some of what’s been wrong in the Charismatic movement over time. Although present discussions going on all around are sparked by the Todd Bentley / Lakeland revelations of the recent weeks, this is not my prime concern here except insofar as the issues there fall into a pattern which should have been avoidable based on past experience. In essence, I am suggesting that there are certain weaknesses in the charismatic movement which make it susceptible to the kinds of abuse and excess which have caused the downfall of leaders and confusion or injury to some of the followers in the movement.
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.
I wrote about BentleyLand the other day in a post that really seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people, and I mentioned the apostolic collision… collusion? collapse? Wagner called it an “alignment”, so now I know that the job of an apostle is to be some kind of hierarchical spiritual chiropractor. Grace calls Wagner on the reversal of his rhetoric concerning Bentley, who is is now distancing himself from. Little wonder, but as I said, he should have checked the guy out further before endorsifying him. Or whatever it is he says he did now. Turns out a lot more people are having their eyes opened… along the lines of what I wrote. A pro-Lakeland church leader quotes one of the “apostles” in Wagner’s network:
Well, I’ve already written a little about this whole Lakeland Revival mess. But it just wouldn’t go away. Todd Bentley announced he’d be leaving Lakeland later this August, then the date got moved up a couple of times by my count, and still it just won’t go away. Now today there’s more news. I don’t think this is going to go away any time soon. *sigh.* The news isn’t good this time either, as Bentley has filed for separation from his wife Shonnah due to “significant friction in their relationship.”
Yesterday it seems we had something of an impromptu synchroblog going as we offered responses to the
antics ministries of John Crowder and Todd Bentley, with the labels of revival that have been tossed around. My thoughts as well as those of Robbymac, Kingdom Grace, and Bill Kinnon were born of an email conversation we had struck up following the thoughts of others, including Andrew Jones (see my earlier post for additional links). I love the graphic that Rob made up, and even Bill’s pic is a good one — he even looks thoughtful. The image on Grace’s post says a lot, and had me thinking about some years back when we were praying for a pastor for the church plant we were undertaking. A friend of mine on the team was famed for saying he’d even follow a donkey, as long as it was God’s donkey. Good line, but as I looked at the circus image, I was struck by the fact that following God’s donkey is alright, but you have to exercise discernment to make sure you don’t end up following the wrong ass. Just a general observation of course, not a characterization of anyone in particular.
The buzz of the day is around the old hyper-charismatic mess. Steve Knight opines on John Crowder who’s big on “Tokin’ the Ghost.” Yes, sadly, you read that right. I don’t know if it’s Todd Bentley-ish or what. Uh-huh. Here’s a few words to the wise should you get to watching the YouTube videos at the ends of those links. (1) When someone claims to have been through a “dark night of the soul” that ends with “spiritual power”, there’s a 99% likelihood they’ve never read St. John of the Cross. (2) When anyone starts using the phrase “whole new dimension” or “whole new level”, run away. (3) When you’re being told to ignore all that you know and believe only in the transrational “greater reality”, it’s time to exercise some sharp discernment… and use your brain. Seriously, claims of “bi-location” where one person appears in two places at the same time? What’s up with that? Did a simpler explanation never occur to anyone, or is it supposed to be a sign of faith to run to the most outlandish explanation? So I guess they’ve got this “revival” thing going on in Lakeland, FL. My email is abuzz this morning, and I’m thinking of Robbymac’s Post-Charismatic? book (link to Amazon.ca).