And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. - 2Peter 2: 3 (KJV)
Sometimes I must admit that I just do not get it. I do not understand how charlatans and snake oil salesmen can peddle God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit in such a blatantly false manner without having dread rule in their heart. How they can come out day after day and lie to people about God. Speak for Him when He has not spoken to them. I guess there is always the possibility that they themselves are so steeped in deception that they cannot tell God from Satan. The Bible does warn us that will happen when we are in these end times:
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. - 2Timothy 3: 12-13 (ESV)
So we see the grand plan of deception from the enemy. Those being deceived and those doing the deceiving will continue to worsen as the time wears on. Short of that however, the only other explanation is not only are these wolves not from God but they must not even believe He exists. To have no abject fear of the Lord is essentially the definition of a fool. This week we will look at two such fools. Two men from seemingly opposite sides of the theological spectrum yet both claiming things about the Holy Spirit that are simply untrue. Above are two links. The first is a video advertisement for Todd Bentley's new "School of Revival" and the second is an article and video regarding the recent interview Mark Driscoll gave at the Hillsong Conference. Let's start with Bentley, the lower hanging fruit if you will.
Todd Bentley is a former biker turned false teacher. In April 2008 he started what is commonly referred to as the Lakeland Revival, in Lakeland Florida. By May 29, Bentley's ministry estimated that over 140,000 people from over 40 nations had visited, while 1.2 million had watched via the Internet. By June 30, those numbers swelled to over 400,000 people from over 100 nations. Covered in tattoos and bristling with borderline insane doctrine, Bentley went from unknown to Pentecostal darling virtually overnight. The success is not the issue however. The ministry was. Todd Bentley would routinely claim to provide healing by punching and kicking people, claiming the Holy Spirit told him to. So lying about the Holy Spirit was his shtick from the beginning. In one session he sucker punched a man suffering from stage four pancreatic cancer in the sternum. That earned him the praise of fellow false teacher Rick Joyner who claimed the man was healed from the punch. In another story, Bentley gleefully recounts a story about how the Holy Spirit instructed him to kick a little old lady in the front row and I quote, "As my steel tipped boot connected with her jaw, spirit was loosed!" Bentley was also a huge propagator of being drunk and stoned in the spirit. He would routinely fall down laughing in the middle of preaching, claiming the spirit inside him was the cause. His ministry constantly made false claims of healings and even 30 instances of raising people from the dead. And the people ate it up with a spoon.
So did the false prophets in Kansas City and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Seeing the potential gold mine in Bentley, they descended on Lakewood to anoint Bentley a prophet. These were not some ordinary false teachers but the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me. We are talking the heretic Bill Johnson from Bethel Church, John Arnott from the false Toronto Revival, the mega false prophet Rick Joyner and even the found of the NAR, C Peter Wagner. As this cabal of Satan laid hands on Bentley, Wagner "prayed:"
"This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world. With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, your authority will increase, your favor will increase, your influence will increase, your revelation will increase."
A month later Todd Bentley would step down from ministry having been caught in an affair. God had waited just long enough to expose the whole NAR and Bill Johnson for the liars they were before bringing to light what Bentley was doing in the dark. Having invested so much, the band of false prophets decided to oversee his "restoration." Just a few months later he remarried. One year later, Joyner declared that Bentley was "restored." After all, there was money to make. By this time however Bentley was banned from entering several countries, including England who said he was not conducive to the public good. Nevertheless, Todd Bentley is back and ready to make merchandise of you once again, as the key Scripture today warns. Taking a cue from Bill Johnson, who runs a School for the Supernatural in California, Bentley has unveiled his latest heresy; the School of Revival. According to Rick Joyner, among the many topics you can be taught include but are not limited to The Anointing, Miracles, Prophetic ministry, Gifts of the Spirit, Kingdom, Supernatural, Impartation, Identity, and Revival Ministry. For a whole 90-days, including being taught by Bentley himself occasionally, the price tag is a meager $1500. Never has falseness cost so little! Of course beloved this is beyond silly. Just like Johnson, Bentley now claims he can teach the gifts of spirit even though the Bible says otherwise:
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. - 1Corinthians 12: 11 (ESV)
You cannot teach what the Spirit wills of His own accord. There is also no such thing as "the anointing" or "impartation." These are clever catch phrases that unlearned and undisciplined Christians fall for. Teaching a prophetic ministry? What does that even mean? You can't teach the gift of prophecy nor the office of Prophet. It is simply making a mockery of God and His Word and charging an exorbitant amount of money for doing so. In the promo video Bentley says that for 90 days he felt like he was in a "glory liquid honey cloud." Say what? Beloved, the Satanic influence is so strong in this that I fear for the salvation of anyone so easily fooled. There is nothing of God involved in this school, this ministry or this man. Yet he not only feels emboldened to lie about the Holy Spirit but he created an entire school that lies about Him. It is so sad to me that pagan nations have figured out that he is not conducive to the public good yet people who call themselves Christians cannot tell how bad he is for their own spiritual good.
That brings us to liar number two, Mark Driscoll. We have to travel across the theological spectrum to go from Bentley to Driscoll and I am sure this might be the first time they have ever been compared. That is because Driscoll is not quite the low hanging fruit that Bentley is. Driscoll was once the bad boy of reformed theology. He was a rock star of quasi-biblical proportions. I say quasi because while he often gets credit for being sound theologically he really never was. He had radical views about the role of women, grossly misinterpreted the Song of Solomon and often used the Bible to portray himself in the best light possible. Nevertheless, he had built an empire in Seattle at Mars Hill Church; that is until it all started falling apart.
For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sounddoctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. - Titus 1: 7-9 (ESV)
On nearly every count Mark disqualified himself as a pastor. He was caught stealing over $200,000 in tithe monies to self promote his new book. He used that money to hire a marketing firm to game the system and cheat the NY Times Best Seller list. He was caught plagiarizing every book he had ever written. As the years wore on he grew a reputation as being merciless as leader, often mocking those that disagree with him and casting them out of Mars Hill. He once famously preached from the pulpit that there was a "pile of dead bodies behind the Mars Hill bus and by God's grace it would be a mountain by the time he was done." Those dead bodies were people who disagreed with him. Mercy was for suckers. Grace was a catch phrase to package and market. As he put it, quoting his mentor Rick Warren, he was all about "blessed subtraction." This mean subtracting anyone from the sheepfold who did not agree with the direction its vision casting leader was bringing the church. Entire subcultures and groups of hurt ex members started forming and soon Driscoll found himself under tremendous pressure. The Acts 29 Church network, which Driscoll founded, soon severed all ties with him. As his board was set to announce a public rebuke for his many transgressions, Driscoll adeptly avoided it by stepping down from Mars Hill.
So arrogant? Yes indeed Driscoll was. Quick tempered and greedy for gain? You betchya. Was he hospitable, self controlled, upright, holy and disciplined? No, he was not. Ironically he was known for sound doctrine and even rebuked those who were not, such as the case with Joel Osteen. That was until this Hillsong interview when he "repented" to Pastor Joel. The link above however reveals that Driscoll now will stop at no untruth to reestablish himself on the mega church circuit. In this teary interview, Driscoll would have us believe that he intended to return to the church he founded and grew to over 15,000 people as a volunteer. As if that was not a brazen enough lie, he then revealed that God Himself audibly told both him and his wife separately to not do so. His wife then chucks the mars Hill leadership under the bus by claiming the Lord told her that a trap had been set against them. How disgustingly transparent.