The Lakeland revival which I blogged on in a previous post is one sad tale from charismania. The story has become every sadder. The board of directors of Fresh Fire Ministries, Todd Bentley’s ministry, released the following statement dated August 15, 2008:
We wish to acknowledge, however, that since our last statement from the Fresh Fire Board of Directors, we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors and to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.
It is a sad tale that has been repeated over and over again from the land of charismania. A Christian leader is apparently filled with God’s Spirit. He (or she) is flamboyant, charismatic both in personal and in theological orientation. They boast of great miracles and the power of some sort of end-time revival. They utilize media and grow in popularity and then…a fall, a moral collapse, sin.
God have mercy on me a sinner.
As I think about Bentley, I am reminded that the arm of temptation is not shortened by prosperity, promise, or popularity. God does not tempt us, but he ordains moments of temptations so we can see who we really are.
“The beginning of all evil temptation lies in a flighty mind and insufficient trust in God. Just as a rudderless ship is buffeted back and forth by the waves, so the negligent and inconstant man is smitten by many temptations. As fire tests iron, so temptation tests the righteous man. Often we are unaware of what we can accomplish; it is through temptation that we discover what we really are.”
Thomas á Kempis
The Imitation of Christ
Book 1, Chapter 13: “How to Resist Temptation”
God have mercy on me the chief of sinners.
I have no stones to cast towards Bentley. I am just as capable of committing similar sins. I am a saint (by God’s grace) and I am a sinner (by my own doing).
I have nothing critical to write concerning Bently, who I assume is my Christian brother. I will reserve my remarks for Christians who willingly remain in charismania, those who remain in a Pentecostal/charismatic subculture that idolizes sensation stories of miracles, large crowds of emotionally-charged worshippers, flamboyant preachers who tantalize your senses for your entertainment. To you I ask how long…
How long will you value charisma over character?
How long will you value spiritual power over spiritual purity?
How long will you ignore your holiness roots?
How long will you allow an obsession with miracles to overtake the pursuit of spiritual transformation?
How long will you allow miracles to define the spirituality of a Christian leader?
How long will you amuse ourselves with sensationalized “gospel” entertainment?
How long will you reject theological reflection as worthless head knowledge?
How long will you ignore the wealth of spiritual truth in clear, compelling Bible teaching?
How long will you ignore other Christian traditions because you think you really are better than they are?
How long will you assume revival must be “big,” noisy, and sensational?
How long will you define fruitfulness in ministry by counting…people, offerings, meetings, reports of miracles?
How long will you continue to define your Christian life by the misplaced values of charismania?