15 August 2008

Prophecy and Signs and Wonders

by Frank Turk

Before we get started here, it behoves me to remind all of you -- and there's no gracious way to say this, so here it comes -- that Dan told you so twice. And what really polishes the apple there is that, as some astute commenters have almost noted, somehow we're the ones who don't claim to be prophets who get a spontaneous word from God, and the folks who are very ardent and urgent to claim "prophets" and "apostles", well, missed it. By a lot.

We'll get to that, because I have a veritable laundry list of stuff I want to get through on this today, but let's start off by being fair: if you type the search "bentley site:charismamag.com", on the second or third page of that search you'll see that in the reader forums at Charisma, many readers there were plainly distancing themselves from Bentley, plainly denouncing him as a fraud. It just seems that the editorial staff of Charisma couldn't find a way to sort of harness the spirit there and find out, one way or the other, if the critics had a foot to stand on -- biblical, pneumatological, podiatrical or otherwise.

So what's to learn from this? I mean, what's the take-away, given the context that I have opened this can of worms by linking Dr. Piper's response to these events?

Here's my first suggestion -- and it's to people like John Piper and C. J. Mahaney for whom, frankly, I have the highest level of respect and from whom I have frankly learned more than I could list: you can't publish essays like this one after the fact, well after the next ridiculous charismatic fraud has exposed himself as a profiteer toward God's Gospel, and not face the question, "How did you not see this coming?"

I wholly affirm what Dr. Piper said here:
Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.
And if anyone asked me -- anyone, at any time, in any circumstance -- whether I thought men like Dr. Piper and C.J. grasped and taught biblical truth, and thereby were broken, humble, repentant, I'd say "yes" with no qualifiers.

Yes, in fact: heroes of the faith. In their way, they have stood up against the trend to remove the cross from the church, seeking to turn the people who bear the name of Jesus toward their God rather than the TV, the movie theater, and the internet. That's what they do.

Somehow the false idol of entertainment can be identified in every other place and spoken against in no uncertain terms, but when a Todd Bentley starts actively deceiving people under the cover of signs and wonders, it seems the credible advocates of the "continualist" view always -- always -- adopt a wait-and-see approach to these quacks who are simply tempting the hurting and the gullible away from the faith and toward a sideshow profit center.


Seriously: how is it possible that "60 Minutes" knew more about Todd Bentley -- and were more willing to get him on the record -- than Charisma magazine? Doesn't Charisma have more to lose by doing what it did -- namely, giving Bentley a free pass for almost 5 years until his ship came in and then crashed into the dock? They had to know -- tracking him as a Canadian Evangelist since at least 2003 -- what he was teaching and how he was developing. How could they not know? And how could they not, frankly, denounce him -- or at least call him to be accountable for what, in hindsight, J. Lee Grady called plainly, "cultic manipulation at its worst".

Dr. Piper is welcome, in my view, to defend his position on the continuation of the gifts as he sees fit (I have a whole other series of post on that matter coming). But, unfortunately, this last article of his glosses over the abuses and overlooks the lack of discernment in those with whom he, apparently, agrees with on this matter for the sake of fronting a minor apologetic on the matter rather than plainly denouncing a fraud.

This does not diminish my admiration for Dr. Piper or Desiring God Ministries. This simply underscores the real lack of engagement by serious people about these matters which require biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds to discern before the name of Christ and the power of His Gospel is denigrated.

Todd Bentley has denigrated the church -- to outsiders and to the many whom he deceived. Nobody needed a dream from an angel to see this one coming -- yet nobody but crackpots like Dan and myself and Phil said anything about it. Unless those who are actually committed to the charismatic/pentecostal vision can themselves discern the wheat from the chaff, that movement will be consistently plagued by this sort of folk revivalism, substantiation of "Elmer Gantry" stereotypes, and the discrediting the most important message in the history of the world.

God be with you this weekend as you go to the Lord's House on the Lord's day to be with the Lord's people. He is with you when you gather and listen to His word and take His ordinances.






97 comments:

LeeC said...

Thanks Cent.

I know this is a bit of a tangent from your narrow point but I think it still pertinant.

Many people have been hurt, the Holy Spirit has been blasphemed against, and the Gospel has been tarnished.

So rather than dissecting what was done perhaps we all should ask ourselves what we should have done? What will we do next time we hear something we really believe, in fact know is error, but to point it out might make waves, or make us look "mean"?

Will we love the person in error enough to confront him/her? Or more importantly if they are in a leadership position will we love the people they are "ministering to" enough to stand like Elijah against the prophets of Baal?

Even more importantly than loving the people they lead astray and harm what of Gods reputation and honour?

Do we love these things enough to stand tall on the truth even when it's uncomfortable or even painful?

And I say this not to say "Hey look at me I'm taking a stand why didn't those guys!?" but to confess all too often I don't love as I should, instead I love my comfort and stand quietly as someone tells me they are delving into something I know is not biblical or glorifying to God.

Just yeaterday I was meditatiingon a friend I care about very much who is sucked into some radical emergent teaching and "contemplative Christianity" and wondering how I can lovingly confront him. Please pray that I would do so before I have to do so in retropsect for some reason.

LeeC said...

Oi, Pardon for my bad typing yet again.

David Milton said...

You're not alone. Justin Peters saw it coming a long time ago as well. Praise God for all you guys.

Charisma Magazine's editors are not unlike the LDS General Authorities. Entrenched worldview, much at stake, blindly hoping against evidence, reason, and Scripture.

dac said...

Just what is Piper's responsiblity to speak out against another pastor?

Hitting Charisma Mag I get - it's their audience, if they are going to run pieces on him, they have a responsiblity to be responsible (assuming they did run articles on him)

But just when does it become Piper's responsiblity to take to task others for which he has no direct knowledge of? Is he just to use press reports and blog posts to determine it is his personal responsiblity to take to task a pastor of which he has no personal information or relationship with?

Requiring pastors/churches to turn their ministry into some type of "fault finder" organization seems to me to be over the edge. It isn't enough for them to just preach the gospel?

Dave .... said...

More enemies of the cross - IN the church. Inside the church anyway. Where were his elders? Or the mature believers. "All we like sheeple". Even "in Christ" we stray. Get used to savage wolves (Acts 19?). They are on the rise. The watchman who does not sound the alarm is to blame. Thank you Frank (and Dan and Phil), for standing on the wall. May we listen!

BJ Irvin said...

Frank, I'm not completely following your point. It could be just because I'm missing some history or other pertinent information.

You said:
"Here's my first suggestion... you can't publish essays like this one after the fact,... and not face the question, "How did you not see this coming?"

Has Piper defended or supported Bentley in the past? Has he just not spoken out against him?

Certainly Bentley and his kind are reprehensible, so I'd be surprised if Piper did not oppose what he did.

It seems to me that Piper did take them to task in his comments.

What am I missing? (Keep in mind I'm one day away from taking my wife on a vacation to Hawaii so just may not be as clear thinking as normal!:) )

Frank Turk said...

dac --

That is actually a great question.

The answer lies in why Dr. Piper needed to speak up after the fact. I know why he did: it was necessary, pastorally, to say publicly that we do not become Christians -- or mature in the faith -- by an experience, but by cherishing God's word.

If that's the pastoral motive for cleaning up after a guy like Bentley, doesn't it make sense that the same pastoral motive should guide men like Dr. Piper and the editors of Charisma to protect the people they are ministering to before the scammers inflict their damage on the church?

LeeC said...

Dac,

No.

We are to proclaim the truth, that by it's very nature puts us at open enemnity to error.

1 Corinthians 5

9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.


Iron sharpening iron is a violent process and thats for amongst believers. Take a look at Galatians five to see how Paul looks at correcting error he sees in church leaders.

And yet he calls us to love there as well, but without compromise.

Recently there has been a rash of thives around here who ask little ladies to help them finsd an item in a grocery store. While the lady kindly shows them their accomplice shatches the ladies purse when she turns away.

Would you just watch that happen Dac? Would that be loving? how much less so when we see something like this and let the weaker brethren be hurt and swindled spiritually.

Who is my brother?

Stan McCullars said...

From the recent Charisma article:

But 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.”

This type of attitude is all too common with many in the Church.

A passage from the Sermon on the Mount that is most appropriate is Matthew 7:15-20:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

candyinsierras said...

Grady answers this question on his blog: Why did a group of respected ministers lay hands on Bentley on June 23 and publicly ordain him? Did they know of his personal problems?

This controversial ceremony was organized by Peter Wagner, who felt that one of Bentley’s greatest needs was proper spiritual covering. He asked California pastors Che Ahn and Bill Johnson, along with Canadian pastor John Arnott, to lay hands on Bentley and bring him under their care.

Bentley certainly needs such covering. No one in ministry today should be out on their own, living in isolation without checks, balances and wise counsel. It was commendable that Wagner reached out to Bentley and that Bentley acknowledged his need for spiritual fathers by agreeing to submit to the process. The question remains, however, whether it was wise to commend Bentley during a televised commissioning service that at times seemed more like a king’s coronation.


It is sad that so many times, these issues are dealt with in hindsight. We wonder why some of the charismatic leaders did not deal with this right away. I watched a video about recent "signs and wonders" and can easily see why concerns are not addressed. Many eyes are on gold dust, jewels dropping from the sky, orbs floating around rooms and other such phenomena and tossing away the Word of God. Go where the glitter is.

We visited an old friend on our way to visit a ministry earlier this summer. He mentioned how his charismatic service might look, and I warned him that I might walk out. He took his camera with him to photograph angel orbs. I could describe a lot more, but won't. He is the one who wanted to show us the video.

Discernment fled these leaders long ago, and it is only the embarrasment of Bentley's personal life that has cast a pall on the movement. The next thing that rolls in will probably get the same fanfare. What gets me is Grady's comment that Bentley needed "spiritual fathers" to provide "checks, balances, and wise council". Nobody provided that to Bentley as long as he could rake in money, attention, and crowds. Watch as these same leaders all flounder around trying to defend themselves by coughing up concerns they may have stated in the past.

Another thing that gets me is that the men who prayed over him were supposed to be "apostles".

Maybe the good that will come out of all this, is that more people will get disgusted at the mess and wade out of the muck and mire and actually read the Word for their sustenence.

Frank Turk said...

BJ:

You can check dg.org for yourself. Dr. Piper's essay from yesterday is his first word on this subject. So my complaint, if I can be bold enough to make it in one sentence, is that it's too late to close the barn door -- and that Dr. Piper's remarks are, at best, a half-hearted rejection of what happened there.

Anyone can see from hindsight that Bentley was a fraud. How is that discernment? The sad truth about the world is that discernment is not only affirming what is right but also rejecting what is wrong. That's Titus 1 -- the job of the elder is to teach faithfully and rebuke those in error.

What that -doesn't- mean is that I think DGM should become a watchblogging website, uncovering all the minor frauds that appear all over the evangelical/charismatic/pentecostal landscape. Bentley was not a guy with a tent deecving 30 people at a time with snake-handling tricks: he was a collosal fraud, bringing in 10,000 people a night.

My suggestion is that if the conservative, careful continualists cannot find it in them to reproach the magnificent frauds like Bentley until the frauds have duped thousands out of millions, then there's no way to reproach the smaller frauds who travel in RVs and set up tents in vacant lots -- no basis for repudiating them.

Bentley was a high-value target, and rebuking him, and saving people from his schemes, could have lent credibility to the so-called "spirit-filled" quarters of conservative faith. But they had nothing -- nothing! -- until Bentley was simply through with so many people because it was impossible to maintain the charade.

All kinds of people get deceived. But this kind of deception has one root only -- and Lee Grady may be one of a few who realizes that if they really believe what they believe, they are going to have to start telling the difference between that work of God and the fraudulent works of the devil which, frankly, are rampant and ruining the church's ability to be taken seriously.

BJ Irvin said...

Frank

I guess I took Piper's comments as a guide or rebuke of Charismatics in general and Bentley's followers in particular. I haven't read Piper's blogs nor searched his sermons or material enough to know that he hasn't commented on him directly before but I don't think a post-mortem is a sign of a failure.

Matt said...

Cent,

thank you for the post. A post like this is helpful for me as I continue to struggle with the continualist/cessationist issue. Practically speaking, I've always been a cessationist, and yet I've never wanted to get struck by a lightning bolt for definitively saying "God would never do..."

The fact that there's good, godly men (Grudem, Piper, Mahaney) who firmly believe in the continualist position, I have a hard time being too firm a cessationist. These kind of maudlin side-shows make it easier, however.

I'm still pondering whether you've been too tough on Dr. Piper, though. It's clear that you (and I) have much respect for the man, and yet I too am wondering why it was his responsibility to call Bentley out by name.

Piper's article isn't too different from MacArthurs series on the works of the Holy Spirit in Pulpit magazine a few weeks ago. MacArthur worked through Jonathan Edwards, but stayed away from singling out Bentley or Lakeland. Is it not appropriate for Piper to do likewise?

Or is Piper's association with the continualist side too strong for him to stick to generic principles when specific situations like this one arise?

Frank Turk said...

BJ:

You are welcome to your opinion about this. I think your opinion needs to investigate the reasons a pastor would do a "post mortem" on an event like this more carefully.

Jugulum said...

Frank,

Hmm... I was wondering the same thing as dac. You gave a very good answer.

The same pastoral need to speak up now was present at the beginning. It's good to pose the question to Piper & Mahaney: If they didn't you speak up on this earlier, why not?

Whether they were actually adopting a "wait-and-see" attitude, or avoiding it for some other reason--wasn't there a real pastoral need to talk about it?

To those objecting to Frank criticizing Piper: At the very least, it's a fair question to ask. Right?

Matt said...

Cent, I had trouble posting, and you more or less answered my question while my comment was in blogger purgatory. Feel free to not answer too in-depth.

I'd still like to know your reason for choosing Dr. Piper specifically.

dac said...

leec

I think your missing my point.

Bentley is, nothing, to Piper. Not a member of his church. Not on his staff. Not part of his denomination. Not even an acquaintance (i believe). For a person to be your neighbor requires at least some point of contact - you have to know the person/situation.

Just when does this become Piper's problem that demands he deal with it? I would suggest that the passage you cite in 1 Cor. is not in any way direct instruction to Piper in this specific situation.

Frank Turk said...

Matt asked:

[QUOTE]
I'm still pondering whether you've been too tough on Dr. Piper, though. It's clear that you (and I) have much respect for the man, and yet I too am wondering why it was his responsibility to call Bentley out by name.
[/QUOTE]

I'm going to answer Matt's question as specifically as possible here and refer all future commenters on this subject to this answer.

I would begin to answer that question by saying, "Dr. Piper was entirely -right- to offer his guidance -after- Bently became discredited."

Now, think about that: after the fact, Dr. Piper was justified to look at Bentley, and the events at lakeland, and join Lee Grady in denouncing what happened there.

Why? Why was this activity justified? Why was it right to do so?

There is only one answer which matters: because it is the duty of the elder to rebuke and not merely teach.

The parallel situation is Dr. MacArthur's long-standing objections to "Free Grace" theology. The cornerstone of Dr. MacArthur's ministry is the truth of the Gospel, and for those who have shreaded it by rejecting that Jesus is Lord -- as if He could be Christ without being Lord -- ought to be refuted and rebuked. Period.

One of the cornerstones of Dr. Piper's ministry is the active work of the spirit in the body of Christ. He believes in prophecy, healing by laying on of hands, etc. And let's be honest: I believe that God can and does answer prayer, heal the sick, give us gifts of wisdom and so on. What I don't believe is that God is using men the way he used Peter and Paul, who had the gift to -command- healing and it was done.

But Dr. Piper believes these gifts live in the church today, and I respect his right to be, um, in a different camp than I am.

But if in his camp people start sprouting up and leveraging "prophecy" and "healing" into an allegedly-spiritual event which, frankly, starts generating a ridiculously-deep revenue stream, I think Dr. Piper has the same responsibility Dr. MacArthur has to reject those who are allegedly in his own camp who are denigrating the message of God in Christ.

If he is justified after the fact to say, "let's not be gullible the next time," I think he is not just justified but, in fact, is called up by his role as an elder to disambiguate for all of us the difference between what a man like Todd Bentley practice and what a man like C.J. Mahaney practice.

Listen: I loved Dr. Piper's book directed at N.T. Wright. Great book -- urgent message, clear exhortation to truth. But the problem is that far fewer people are being ruined by N.T. Wright than are being ruined by TBN and the phony pentecostal side-show barkers who call out their claims to people who ought to know better, but don't.

For the same reason that it was right to denounce Bentley after the fact, and the same reason it is right to write a book about N.T. Wright's errors, it would be right to intervene before 100,000 people a week get roped into a charismatic shell game.

alhbible said...

Frank: GREAT post. You ask a loaded question - "So what's to learn from this? I mean, what's the take-away...?" I'd like to take a stab at this, if you'll let me.

What's to learn from this is that we as pastors, elders, teachers, and leaders in America are failing in our duties to which we have been called - to the extent that we have neglected teaching doctrine from our pulpits and from our classes. We need to be in the business of feeding and tending sheep.

Whenever we abandon the teachings of faith and instead, at its expense, instead devote ourselves to:

* the latest flash-in-the-pan passing movement;
* pragmatic how-to topics such as parenting and marriage, personal finances, and recycling;
* community service, social action, and "social justice" issues;
* entertainment to make the church more pleasant or attractive to the world and to the uncommitted in the pews;

then we are abdicating our jobs. Some of those things, in their place, are good, but genuine doctrine is foundational. Often, we find ourselves trying to promote the benefits of the faith without the foundation on which those benefits have to be based.

It is because we neglect to teach solid doctrine that we wind up with church members who also follow their horoscopes, believe in past lives, devote themselves to "The Secret," and fall for the glitter and glamour of the showing "miracle ministries," along with three dozen other ways of leaving the reservation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for churches standing for teaching how to have a good marriage and raising great kinds and the like - heck, my Bible says a lot on those subjects! But without the foundations of solid doctrine firmly taught, and calling people to the obedience of discipleship, it's like trying to build a home without a foundation, or assemble a Pontiac without a chassis.

Yes, yes, I know - common believers are allowed to own and read Bibles for themselves, and draw before God in prayer without a holy man being present, and sure, they're responsible and all that; but that whole Heb. 13:17 thing about us having to give account for the souls over whom we are keeping watch should remind us what an awesome responsibility we have, and make us take it seriously.

candyinsierras said...

Actually Piper did address the issue as related to discernment, but not directly related to Bentley, in this article in May called Signs and Wonders, Heresy, and the Love of God.

dac said...

Frank

Do you think that Piper and Charisma Mag have different responsibilities in this situation?

I do. I think the culpability is different for each of them. I would not hold each of them to the same standard.

to answer Jug, yes, I think this is fair game for discussion

to all (and Frank), I think that all pastors have the responsibility to teach discernment. I am not comfortable stating in this particular situation that Piper had a responsibility to speak out on this specific situation.

Frank's view on if it is right to do it after the fact, so why not address it before the fact, I think has merit. As I think more on the subject I am becoming more convinced he is correct.

I remain concerned however in anyone making decision/public proclamations on a specific individual/event when you only have press clippings and blog posts to go on, and not direct knowledge.

dac said...

Frank said:

There is only one answer which matters: because it is the duty of the elder to rebuke and not merely teach.

I have to disagree that the above truth applies in this situation. I think elders are responsible for those in their care. If the local church means anything, it means that elders are responsible for those that they know - that are within their flock.

I disagree that an elder in any specific congregation is responsible to correct others that he does not know. And you cannot know someone via press reports and blog postings.

~Mark said...

I tend to find myself caught in some sort of theological limbo on the issue of gifts. I have not seen evidence enough to convince me that the gifts like healings and such have ceased, yet it's painfully obvious that the VAST majority of instances where the sign gifts are claimed are lies.

Do I think there are people with the giftedness of the Apostles walking around healing left and right and raising the dead? Certainly not in the media covered portion of the world. (Meaning that I haven't seen enough to convince me it has been ended entirely, but that if it is happening it sure doesn't seem to be in the televised eye.)

Yet I do believe God still does miraculous healings because I have known those first hand. Most shockingly was the case of a couple who refused to abort their baby even though from the 2nd month all the way through the 8th month he had no skull covering his brain and no abdominal tissue covering his abdominal cavity, and his organs were floating free.

They are a theologically conservative couple and while they knew their hopes COULD be dashed on the rocks, they knew they couldn't kill their child and so just prayed fervently along with many others that God would heal their child or make them capable of handling what other route He chose.

Amazingly, a scan just two weeks before her due date and only 3 weeks since her her previous scan showed a completely normal, perfectly formed child. He was born not long after in complete health and is (if memory serves) about 4 years old now.

I know of this because my best friend managed the doctor's office and (with the couple's permission) shared with us the sonograms that showed what happened.

Yet, I know that if a thing doesn't line up with the word of God, it's a lie no matter what's going on. I belong to a conservative church and yet this is the place where I first saw God do healings. They don't happen all the time of course, and there have been plenty of times when we've prayed while sweating bullets for beloved members of the church only to see them still called home or going through disaster after disaster outside of their control.

This doesn't make me stop believing in miracles though, and until I see convincing Scriptural evidence that the sign gifts have ended, I have no reason to believe that they have.

Yet I will always hold any example against the light of Scripture to see if it holds water.

Few do.

LeeC said...

Dac,

I hear you.
I don't think it is an issue of if or when though, but to what degree. And I mean that for all of us, not just Dr. Piper.

This "Revival" was big news, for a very long time. My circle is small. If I hear someone mentioning it I feel I am beholden to tell them it is false and in error and why. Not to puff myself up, but to save them from the grief such a thing can cause them, and for the glory of God and keeping His name held high.

The level and degree I do that is exponential to those whose lives I have the ability to impact. And I do think to a degree it is something we all must ascertain for ourselves.

I don't think anyone could argue that you needed to go to one of his revivals to know what was going on there was wrong.

The Enforcer said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lawrence said...

I'm just confused as to why this back and forth over whether Frank Turk is justified in critisizing John Piper (or whatever it is he's doing) matters. Like Lebron James and DeShawn Stevenson, I don't think Piper cares :-). And I don't see how Piper and/or CJ giving a reasoned, biblical reason why people shouldn't go "watch" Todd Bentley was going to have any impact on those who were going. They're churches, they're flocks, weren't the ones being duped by Bentley.

Of course I could totally wrong.

Frank Turk said...

enforcer:

You should ask my Sunday school class what I am. They could clear it up for you.

As to the rest, I think your concerns don't apply to Dr. Piper. I don't think he's looking for an experience which is not the experience of God speaking to us in scripture.

If you think otherwise, I'd listen to your evidence before making fun of you.

um, I mean, before reasoning with you.

Strong Tower said...

There arises the question why we are so reticent when it come to criticizing our own, or even those who are not but appear at least somewhat familial. Do we need a review of Paul and Peter, Nathan and David? Some how we need to learn to ego-detach and humbly receive criticism because if we shelter ourselves we are far less likely to uncover our neighbor because we will de facto grant them the same right. A man is tested by the praise he receives and also a man who isolates himself cuts himself of from all wise counsel. We then should learn that it is either what we do or what we believe that is under scrutiny and not ourselves. I know someone will say that as a man thinks so he speaks... and I agree... but the distinction that I am drawing is between what is in the hand and the hand in which it is. If we are unable to make that distinction we will neither be able to give counsel, speaking the truth in love, nor will we be able to receive correction, reproof and training in righteousness. To love our neighbor as ourselves is not to not judge, it is rather to judge ourselves so that we to not fall into judgement and doing so we must submit to the judgement of others if indeed we are to judge them with equal measure.

Church discipline hangs upon this and an unregenerate church is perpetuated by recalcitrance and incorrigiblility. What church is it that rebells against sound instruction? Surely, it cannot be the church of Christ, can it? Unwillingness to speak out, even when we are wrong, simply means that we do not believe what we say we do.

leec- We need to do it all. There was no love in letting Todd go on so long without the church sounding the alarm and the fact that the unrighteous recognized and criticized him while the church which above all should hold rigteous judgement lagged behind speaks volumes as to the state of evangelicalism. There is no love in withholding truth from those whose spiritual health is being affect by such men. What we cannot do is fear rejection, loss of relationships, and especially, we cannot exempt ourselves from equal balances. We cannot take Phelps approach and many others who call down fire, but as Phil said there is no compassion in withholding the truth when another's life depends upon what we have in our possession to give. A man who knows the right things to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. We unavoidably make ourselves partakers if we do not oppose what we know to be wrong. There is no neutrality.

There is a certain Mark whose abuses have been called to account, yet, he is defended by many who otherwise would not themselves allow, use or endorse his tactics. Here then is another problem: "Requiring pastors/churches to turn their ministry into some type of "fault finder" organization seems to me to be over the edge. It isn't enough for them to just preach the gospel?"

Which is answered by: "Watch out for false prophets." It is not then merely a matter of preaching the Gospel or teaching discernment, the church has a direct responsibility to the whole body of Christ to sound the trumpet, with clear voice so that the notes make a distinct sound. But, as I said, this requires openness, self-examination and the willingness to be examined. Why? Well the world will know us by our love for one another. Reproof, correction and training in righteousness is not biting and devouring one another. To the contrary, without this, the church is unhealthy and such lack of love does not teach the world God's righteous requirements of love. What we then do is make the world prey to the wiles of the enemy. How are they to know and give glory to God except that they see such good. Will crass confusion elucidate the Gospel? Think again, it is a false teaching that says the world sees us fighting and doubts. That is as far from the truth as saying Jesus did not come to bring a sword to cause division. It is precise definition that we pursue such that some go out. Indeed, it is necessary that there are divisions so that those who are approved can be recognized.

Closing the door afterwards surely doesn't work and it does not work to shelter dissputes among us from the world in the beginning. The opposite is true, by not calling one another to account, even across the local church or denomination barriers, only serves to perpetuate error and add to the world's confusion (the pew's too). It does not to clarifiy. Refusing to acknowledge that the lump is rising can never aid in purging out the cause, no matter how much we know about leaven.

Frank Turk said...

Lawrence:

Why would you read Desiring God? Why would anyone?

That answer should give you a clearer picture of the problem and the solution.

Frank Turk said...

Candy -- that's a great link. It was posted months before Bentley started bringing them in by the 10,000's.

And I'll have to re-read that link, but I thin from it I may owe the Enforcer an apology.

Frank Turk said...

BTW, my silence for the next few hours will be because I am eating and working. Please take no offense.

stratagem said...

The really frustrating part is, there are many people who will continue to naively believe that the Todd Bentley thang, was a move of God. If charismaniacs haven't been able to see that Benny Hinn is a fraud despite years of proof, what chance is there that they'll see through Bentley? Not much. I have a lot of experience with them, and they are as naive as people come.

The Spokesman said...

Candy's quote of Grady: Why did a group of respected ministers lay hands on Bentley on June 23 and publicly ordain him? Did they know of his personal problems?

Grady was already way off the mark for the credentials for proper ordination in the first place. Those men may not have known of Bentley's personal problems but should have known of his doctrine to see and know whether or not he was of God. They should have known from God's Word that those who take their stand on "the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God" (Colossians 2:18-19) are not from God and are not to be ordained into the ministry.

Grady: It was commendable that Wagner reached out to Bentley and that Bentley acknowledged his need for spiritual fathers by agreeing to submit to the process. The question remains, however, whether it was wise to commend Bentley during a televised commissioning service that at times seemed more like a king’s coronation.

Again the biblical mark is missed by miles. The question is not the wisdom of it being televised or not but in its being done at all - "Do not lay hands on anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself from sin" (1 Timothy 5:22). There is to be a testing period for both pastors and deacons before they are ordained (see 1 Timothy 3:1-10). Here is where the wait and see aspect comes into play and it is to happen before ordination to maintain purity and truth in the body of Christ.

However, since many will not follow God's Word in this area and since many false prophets have gone out into the world, there is not to be a wait and see aspect in determining whether or not a man is from God or not (see 1 John 4:1-6). Even if Bentley had never failed in his "personal problems" determining his origin and his heresy is still very attainable through what God has revealed in His Word.

Seven Meditations said...

“Requiring pastors/churches to turn their ministry into some type of "fault finder" organization seems to me to be over the edge. It isn't enough for them to just preach the gospel?”

This is a good point. Even those terribly bold and blunt saints of old did not typically call out other errant pastors by name. Spurgeon comes to mind here as one, who like Piper today, often railed against the abuses of particular churches and pastors but only rarely did he mention by name. And when Spurgeon did mention by name, it was done with extreme humility. Those here will also note that Paul did not call out the sexual immoral man in 1 Cor. 5 by name, though it was obvious to the Corinthians as to whom he was addressing.

“This does not diminish my admiration for Dr. Piper or Desiring God Ministries. This simply underscores the real lack of engagement by serious people about these matters which require biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds to discern before the name of Christ and the power of His Gospel is denigrated.”

This smacks as being terribly presumptuous. How for instance, do any of us know what John has said privately to those whom so many here seem so fervent to excoriate publically? Part of engaging “biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds” includes all of it – including those passages that instruct us to first address brother-to-brother issues privately in love and with respect. That said, I don’t think any of us can accuse DGM as shirking the Gospel when it comes to railing against the kind of ills that are brought up here. It seems the real the issue here over the dissatisfaction with the level of force that DGM is using and yet that too should be guided and tempered by the Word.

lawrence said...

I'm not sure if I totally understand the point of your question. Are you saying that people wouldn't go if Piper said he was quack simply because he's John Piper?

If so, then I would say I see your point. However, that only applies to people who respect Piper, no? I live in Florida. Trust me, and I'll say this as kindly as possible; most, um, I don't know, discerning? Normal? people (in other words people that respect Piper) knew that a lot, most, almost all of what went on there was hokey, to say the least. My sister went to one of the events, and she went for the same reason you would go see a snake-handler, or a train wreck, or Spiderman.

That's not to say everything that went on at those revivals was of the devil. There seemed to be geniune miracles being done, and one guest speaker (when Bentley wasn't there) actually preached a gospel-centered sermon (imagine that.) But these events were the types of meetings that were appealing to fairly theologically sound people, even crazy, Mahaney-loving charismatics like myself :-).

I just don't know if Piper has sway over the people who went to these revivals, or at least over the people who thought these revivals were biblical and God-honoring.

Frank Turk said...

Seven:

So was Piper over-reacting in naming N.T. Wright in his recent book?

Frank Turk said...

Lawrence:

Why would anyone read Desiring God? Put another way, what if no one did? Would it have been a waste of pastoral time to write it? Or was there a pastoral reason to write it whether it was read and followed or not?

Frank Turk said...

Man, I love my iPod.

Wireless. squee!

Seven Meditations said...

"So was Piper over-reacting in naming N.T. Wright in his recent book?"

Sorry, I'm not familiar with the quote you're referrencing, which book are you referring to? I've read many but haven't read all John's books.

Dorian said...

It seems to me that you are putting a lot of pressure on Dr. Piper that simply cannot be worked out consistently. Does Dr. Piper have a responsibilty to speak out against all pentecostal type heretics? I don't believe he's ever mentioned Jesse Duplantis, Paula White, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Gloria Copeland, Paul Crouch, Jan Crouch, Benny Hinn specifically either, and it simply isn't right to expect him to have to label and classify heretics-with-which-he-has-something-in-common in a glass box with pins. If Piper does have the responsibilty you say he does, does MacArthur have the responsibilty to speak out against all heretics with some notion of Calvinism blended with their heresy? Has he warned us about any dangerous hyper-Calvinists recently? I hope you don't see this as breaking the rule concerning your friends, but as drawing on a previously mentioned analogy.

David Rudd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Frank Turk said...

John Piper wrote a whole book called The Future of Justification: a response to N.T. Wright.

Was he over-reacting by writing a whole book refuting the errors of Bishop N.T. Wright, naming him by name on the cover and on almost every page?

Seven Meditations said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Turk said...

Dorian: re-read this comment from me and then ask your question again if your concern is not addressed.

Seven Meditations said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorian said...

Maybe it's my browser, but the link doesn't bring me to a comment, just back to the original post. What's the time on the comment?

Frank Turk said...

Seven:

I think you are trying to escape your original point. You originally said:

[QUOTE]
How for instance, do any of us know what John has said privately to those whom so many here seem so fervent to excoriate publically?
[/QUOTE]

We know because he has done what I would call a completely-superior job of refuting Wright publicly and by name, but have never done any such thing with any person who has abused the so-called charismatic "gifts".

We know becuase we can see the evidence. Piper has excoriated the prosperity Gospel. Piper has excoriated those who denigrate the attributeds of God. Piper has gone to bat over American Consumerism.

Charismatic shysters? Hasn't come up in 30 years -- but he's willing to deflect criticism of the movement (as he did in this essay I linked to) as a problem endemic to christian life rather than one which is particularly a problem among the "spirit-filled".

I suggest that if we make a list of the pastors who got rich falsely convincing people of the truth of God's election and sovereignty on one page, and a list of people who got rich rooking people with false miracles, the second page would be longer. It seems the second page would require more than a passing comment every now and again.

It seems that way to me -- it seems Wright's errors (while serious) are esoteric and really incomprehensible to the avergae pastor or layman. The problem with a Todd Bentley is that his errors may also be incomprehenisble to the layman, but ther are relatively straight-forward to unravel.

What's it take for Charisma magazine or DGM to say publicly when someone like this pops up that what they are doing is dangerous and unbiblical? Would that really be a full-time job?

I think it's part of doing what they are professing to be doing, and they cannot bring themselves to do it because of the issues involved.

I'll say more after I finish my lunch.

Seven Meditations said...

"Was he over-reacting by writing a whole book refuting the errors of Bishop N.T. Wright, naming him by name on the cover and on almost every page?"

No, I don't think so. Just as I don't think that John makes a habit of calling out other pastors as he called out N.T. Wright.

Pastor Phil said...

I am a pentecostal. A pentecostal pastor. I have consistently said since the Lakeland meetings first began to appear on the airwaves that Bentley's version of spiritually (can't bring myself to say Christianity) is aligned with the occult. That the folk who follow him are gullible because they WANT to be (Jer 5:31). That there is gross deriliction of duty amongst prominent charismatic leaders. But then again most of these "leaders" don't have the Scriptural qualification to be deacons in the church, let alone the titles they claim (apostles. prophets, etc).

Having said all that, the ridiculous extremes that we have witnessed (1) cannot be generalized as "Pentecostalism" (all MY friends are as aghast as anyone), and (2) do NOT prove cessation of gifts at all.

If I were to take the views of certain church groups who believe the doctrines of grace are license for sin and reason to not evangelize, and then say THAT is Reformed theology I have no doubt many would scream blue murder - and rightly so.

It is bad form to include any mention of cessationism alongside a discussion of Bentley and hope that the mud will stick and somehow add weight to your argument. The one has nothing to do with the other.

Phil

Jugulum said...

Frank,
And I'll have to re-read that link, but I thin from it I may owe the Enforcer an apology.

Hmm... His last paragraph does seem a tad iffy--in his precise articulation, at the very least.

"But understanding is not enough. Love for God is both the aim of God’s testing and the means by which his tests are passed. Understanding awakens us to our need to love him. But love for God sees through deceptive signs and wonders to the falsehood they support and flees to Christ. Love for God sees through the heresy and holds fast to him. May God deepen our love to him so that it has this kind of penetrating, protecting power."

I do think he made a good exegetical point about the connection of love for God with passing the test. But saying "Understanding is not enough" is an odd way of putting it, with potential problems. I would prefer to say that true understanding is united with love for God. He also could have done better by saying that a true love for God requires knowing about the God whom we love, or causes us to thirst to know about Him more--and that the truths taught in Scripture by the Spirit are what tell us, "This heresy is not from the God I love."

Love for God involves thirst for the truth about Him, and zeal to preserve it.

(I suspect that when he said "understanding is not enough", he may have something like this in mind. And he may have been warning against a "zeal for truth" of the false, immature variety--knowledge for knowledge's sake, or theology not rooted in love for God.)

Jugulum said...

Or love for the flock, for that matter.

Seven Meditations said...

Frank,

"It seems that way to me -- it seems Wright's errors (while serious) are esoteric and really incomprehensible to the avergae pastor or layman. The problem with a Todd Bentley is that his errors may also be incomprehenisble to the layman, but ther are relatively straight-forward to unravel."

Though I think you're dead on in saying that many a "pastor or layman" would find Piper's concerns with N.T. Wright as esoteric or incomprehensible, I find that given Wright's influence, his degradation of the very heart of the Gospel is far more troubling than Bentley or his ilk.

So are you willing to go so far to say what you seem to be inferring: Piper is just being slyly hyocritical?

bro Rod said...

I do also get a lot of great encouragement and thinking from your blog and recommend it to others - although I do not believe in cessationism I do believe that there is obviously nothing like the number of miracles to be seen now as there was in Jesus' or the Apostles day. Having said that - you were not alone in your warnings - from my own vantage point of leaving a church heading towards the maelstrom of "Third Wave" weirdness I have a passion for many in these movements who are leading many astray! Check out my thoughts if you will at http://deceivedtoyourliking.blogspot.com/2008/06/milestone-for-movement.html

Those of us who still hold to the completed revelation as given in the Scriptures must with honest dialogue still stick together and contend earnestly more than ever I believe!

Thanks for the great work you all do - God Bless
Rod Page - Redding CA
rod.page@gmail.com

Jugulum said...

And perhaps another aspect of the concern is being a being a hearer (or speaker) of the word, but not a doer, and so deceiving ourselves.

Solameanie said...

One general reaction we often get from charismatics when one of these "revivals" get questioned is . . . "We mustn't judge. If it is of man, it will fall and if it is of God, it will stand."

That kind of dodge always irritates me. If someone is doing patently unbiblical things in the course of their ministry, it ought to be fairly obvious that it's not of God.

Jugulum said...

dac,

I have to disagree that the above truth applies in this situation. I think elders are responsible for those in their care. If the local church means anything, it means that elders are responsible for those that they know - that are within their flock.

I agree that elders are responsible for those in their flock, and they are not responsible to correct & rebuke those outside their flock.

But the first sometimes requires the second.

If any pastor believes that his flock is likely to be led astray by or to have question about a movement or teaching, then responding & rebuking & teaching about it is their responsibility.

Also, whatever pastoral concerns led Piper to write this new article were also present in the early days of the Lakeland revival.

It is the responsibility of any elder to ensure that his flock is equipped with what they need to exercise discernment in matters like Lakeland.

Frank Turk said...

seven:

I would never call Dr. Piper a hypocrite. I would never intentionally imply such a thing.

What I am saying is that being reactive to a problem as endemic to "charismatic" culture as men like Todd Bentley are is failing to put the porblem in its right place.

Let me try this to see if you can follow me. We Calvinists are a cagey lot, and we take our theology seriously. But from time to time some fall off the apple cart into hypercalvinism. Even sound thinkers occationally veer into that theological ditch.

All serious calvinists abhor hypercalvinism and repudiate it when they see it.

Let me say frankly that what "continualism" is to Calvinism, "pentecostal enthusiasm" is to hyper-calvinism. And the "careful" charismatics ought to be more precise and clear-throated about what they repudiate about those who are falling off their apple cart.

I am certain that the reason they don't doesn't have anything to do with "hypocrasy": it has everything to do with a sense that they are repudiating the work of the Holy Spirit by calling false prophets false before it is a certainty that these men are charletans.

I think if they removed their subjective biases in that regard from their considerations of this topic, they would be more willing to reproach those who are getting it wrong with the same love and zeal with which they reproach those who get the Gospel itself wrong.

donsands said...

Bentley looks like a mixture of the "Power Team" & Benny the Hinn.
Actually, I think the Power Team has dissolved. But they were into the smackdown kind of preaching like Bentley, who was kicking women in the face with his boots. If he really did it?

He's the second worse phoney, next to big Bob Tilton, whose latest book is titled, "How to Have Everything You Have Always Wanted".

I also watched Paul Young be interviewed by James Robison the other night. Another human-centered theology I'm afriad to say.

The Church needs a good cleaning out. Or a good shakin' & bakin'.

Seven Meditations said...

"If someone is doing patently unbiblical things in the course of their ministry, it ought to be fairly obvious that it's not of God."

So if it's so obvious, and I agree with you that it is, should we continue to beat a drum that is so obvious to all?

And it's not as if there aren't umpteen ministries and parachurch organizations out there already yelling from the roof tops about TBN - and that for decades. Must every pastor rail on the evils of TBN, an all too rich target that constantly invites rebuke, in order to pass some sort of litmus test?

BJ Irvin said...

Frank --

I'm not opposed to you critizing Piper or anyone else for that matter. As long as it is done in love and respectfully I think it is healthy. So no argument with doing so.

I just think it is a stretch that because he is one that believes in the continuation of the gifts, which I don't, that he is the one that you point out.

And as others have stated this is not the only guy we could point out that is heretical and fanatical.

Just seemed odd.

Jugulum said...

solameanie,

Agreed, when that happens, it's messed up. People who think that way should pay more attention to 1 Thess. 5:20-21 and 1 Cor. 14:29.

seven,
Must every pastor rail on the evils of TBN, an all too rich target that constantly invites rebuke, in order to pass some sort of litmus test?
Perhaps not. But if I were a pastor of a church in a town that just started receiving TBN for the first time, wouldn't it be pastorally wise for me to discuss the matter?

DJP said...

Well-said, and very important, Frank.

Just landed at our B&B, so I haven't had a chance to go over all the comments. But I'll be interested to see whether our astute readers have links to places where Justin Taylor and others are giving big shout-outs that we were already pointing in the direction of Biblical discernment on this months ago.

There must be quite a few of them by now, I'd expect.

Seven Meditations said...

"Let me try this to see if you can follow me. We Calvinists are a cagey lot, and we take our theology seriously."

Agreed. [i]We Calvinists[/i] do and this Calvinist has your Mr. Johnson to thank for helping shape ‘my conversion’ to the Doctrines of Grace a few years back.

“But from time to time some fall off the apple cart into hypercalvinism. Even sound thinkers occationally veer into that theological ditch. All serious calvinists abhor hypercalvinism and repudiate it when they see it.”

Couldn’t agree with you more, yet I don’t see the logical fall line here between what is essentially an argument from silence. That is to say, I’ve read and reread the blog article you’ve linked to and simply cannot connect the dots you seem to infer are connected.

”I think if they removed their subjective biases in that regard from their considerations of this topic, they would be more willing to reproach those who are getting it wrong with the same love and zeal with which they reproach those who get the Gospel itself wrong.”

That’s a fair criticism (and I now get what you’re driving at)…but I think it sticks only if you can prove that John hasn’t reached out privately. I also seem to recall a few sermons I listened to a few years back where John did rebuke the charismatic movement, though not an individual basis.

Frank Turk said...

Pastor Phil has offered some very useful comments:

| Having said all that, the ridiculous
| extremes that we have witnessed (1)
| cannot be generalized as
| "Pentecostalism" (all MY friends are
| as aghast as anyone), and (2) do NOT
| prove cessation of gifts at all.

I wouldn’t use this to prove or disprove anything – except the dereliction of duty among pastors who take a “wait and see” attitude regarding someone who starts claiming to be a prophet or who is healing people and raking in cash.

But, sadly, Pastor Phil, you guys have to own this – because it’s not traditional Baptist theology that leads to this; it’s not Presbyterian and reformed theology that leads to this; it’s not hardly Lutherans who are seeking a Lakeland revival.

It’s charismatics and Pentecostals. In the same way that hypercalvinists don’t come from Arminian theological roots, and Calvinists have to own the hypercalvinist problem, charismatic/pentecostals have to own the problem these false healer and false prophets allegedly working under the covering of the Holy Spirit.

| If I were to take the views of certain
| church groups who believe the
| doctrines of grace are license for sin
| and reason to not evangelize, and
| then say THAT is Reformed theology I
| have no doubt many would scream
| blue murder - and rightly so.

True: it’s not reformed theology – but should arminians try to sort that one out, or should the Calvinists who are being caricatured by these mistaken (and in some cases, reckless) people set their shoulder to the plow?

It seems to me that for the charismatics to expect people to simply say, “well, Todd Bentley and Benny Hinn are crazy, and Pat Robertson, but the average Pentecostal isn’t like that,” has nothing to stand on – because the continualists don’t engage until after everyone can smell a bad egg to voice their sorrow over another bad egg.

| It is bad form to include any mention
| of cessationism alongside a
| discussion of Bentley and hope that
| the mud will stick and somehow add
| weight to your argument. The one
| has nothing to do with the other.

I disagree completely. I didn’t try to make the case for cessationism here: my concern was clearly that the continualists don’t engage this stuff in a way which turns people away from the excesses evident in the common practice. It’s only after the fact that we ever get a “yeah, well, he wasn’t a good one” and never “we repudiate that kind of behavior – that’s not what God has called the church to be.”

I’d love to see more of the latter. I’d link to it every day. I’d buy Charisma magazine once in a while if they were serious about distinguishing real movements of God from pandering and falsehood.

I’m easy to find, too. E-mail me when this starts and I’ll be a reformed fan-boy of the effort.

Seven Meditations said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Frueh said...

It seems astounding that Todd Bentley's theatrics could even necessitate any deep discernment. Would some have waited when Joseph Smith claimed angelic visitation and private prophetic insight? And what would eventually become the deciding criteria? Numbers? Strong families? Miracles (locusts) so called?

If the most orthodox in the church cannot see a counterfeit like Bentley immediately then we are in big trouble in the coming years. I pray many will repent in the future so as not to be deceived again, however I do not have a "word from the Lord" that will happen.

As one writer here quoted recently - "We don't get fooled again!".

Seven Meditations said...

"Perhaps not. But if I were a pastor of a church in a town that just started receiving TBN for the first time, wouldn't it be pastorally wise for me to discuss the matter?"

Sure it would. I'm not saying we should clam up about TBN. I'm just saying that there is discernment needed in whether we want to continue to play "whack a mole" when there are already so many whacking away.

candyinsierras said...

E-mail me when this starts and I’ll be a reformed fan-boy of the effort.

Don't hold your breath.

Stefan said...

Semi-tangential, but...

How was Ahab, who was far from being a believer and "did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him" (1 Kings 16:30), able to discern better the "prophets" of his day than many godly folks today regarding Todd Bentley?

1 Kings 22 gives one way (a gut-check way, not a biblical way) to discern false prophets:

Ahab (who of course was no saint) didn't trust the roughly 400 "prophets" who said God would give Ramoth-gilead into his hands, precisely because he knew they were only saying what he wanted to hear.

He sent instead for Micaiah, the only prophet he could trust to truly speak for God, because "I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil" (verse 8).

Sure enough, Micaiah prophesied evil concerning Ahab: the Lord would give Ramoth-gilead into his hand, but at the cost of his life. And indeed, the prophecy came true.

The long and the short of it:

Apart from the question of whether the sign gifts have ceased, and apart biblical discernment (both of which are paramount matters), at a gut level, if someone who claims to be anointed makes you feel good because according to him or his supporters, God's going to give you everything you want through him or his "teaching" (materially, spiritually, or health-wise), be very careful....

Terry said...

yet nobody but crackpots like Dan and myself and Phil said anything about it.

That really isn't true. Many people from charismatic and non-charismatic circles have spoken out on the false teachings and antics of TB way before anyone here did. Several people have commented, like Rick Frueh, that it didn't take a whole lot of discernment to see through TB. It was extremely obvious to most everyone. So it's not like you had to do any real research or biblical study to say as much.

But more to the point. Dr. Piper did finally address this issue and what he said was right on the money. So what if it didn't meet with your timing of when he chose to say it? Piper stands for the right things doctrinally on this issue and for that I am thankful. I would think you would want to show a little more humility when unnecessarily challenging the motives of a man of his proven ministry.

But then again, most of us here are not part of your Sunday School class :-). And yes, IMHO, you owe the enforcer an apology - he nailed it.

The Spokesman said...

Stefan: How was Ahab, who was far from being a believer and "did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him" (1 Kings 16:30), able to discern better the "prophets" of his day than many godly folks today regarding Todd Bentley?

1 Kings 22 gives one way (a gut-check way, not a biblical way) to discern false prophets:

Ahab (who of course was no saint) didn't trust the roughly 400 "prophets" who said God would give Ramoth-gilead into his hands, precisely because he knew they were only saying what he wanted to hear.


Ahab didn't have any discernment, instead he was the recipient of a deluding influence because he would not receive the truth! Piper's blog clearly and succinctly says that the only way to have true discernment is through sound doctrine and not some "gut-check-way." Don't let your god be your "belly!"

Stefan said...

Frankly, I'm also a bit mystified over why Bentley's bubble has burst over news of his divorce.

If a biblically-faithful, expository pastor were through some shocking lapse to divorce his wife for unbiblical reasons, he would have to resign from his office, repent, and seek reconciliation with his wife. Nevertheless, folks should not in that case go back over his sermons, wondering if everything he said was a crock (although some might, and one might want to analyze carefully passages he'd given on passages pertaining to marriage).

I mean, the impression I'm getting is that folks who were previously enamoured of Bentley are now saying his whole "ministry" was a charade, not because they're suddenly analyzing what he did more critically, but because somehow news of his divorce pulls back the curtain, revealing the Wizard of Oz behind it.

(Does my comment make any sense?)

Stefan said...

Spokesman:

I know. I tried to make that clear several times in my comment—that (a) proper biblical discernment is paramount, and (b) Ahab didn't exercise proper biblical discernment.

Nevertheless, if one is a nominal Christian who judges things the way the world judges things (by how they make one feel), then Ahab was a better judge than many of the folks who hitched their wagon to Todd Bentley's star.

David Rudd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
greglong said...

Stefan, I think Ahab only called for Micaiah because Jehoshaphat persuaded him to call upon a "prophet of the Lord" (v. 7). Otherwise, Ahab would have been perfectly happy listening to the 400 prophets tell him what he wanted to hear.

Mesa Mike said...

Stefen,

Maybe this cold slap on the face pulled them from the mists of Avalon?

Rick Frueh said...

Rule #1:

When a preacher says he gets messages from an angel, move on - there is nothing to see here.

Rule #2:

When a preacher kicks or punches somebody, move on - there is nothing to see here.

Rule #3:

If you were fooled by Todd Bentley for more than 2 seconds memorize rules 1 and 2 and leave the church you now attend and read Spurgeons sermons for 6 months, then search for a church.

Have we learned nothing in 2000 years?

dac said...

jug

I believe we are in agreement.

leec

I agree with you in concept, yet here is the rub.

If I talk or post something about someone that I do not have a reasonable certainty to be true, from either direct observation or a sufficient level of research, how is what I say any different that gossip, or even possibly a lie? Before I blab, do I not have a responsibility to spend enough time to actually try to determine the truth?

Phil Johnson said...

"The enforcer" is clearly a troll. Please do not reply to him. See rule 5.

Also, it's not easy to get banned here, but certain forms of serial misbehavior can result in automatic deletion of all a person's comments. There have been fewer than ten such bans in the history of our blog, but they remain in effect as long as the offender remains unrepentant.

With those things in mind, I have deleted a few posts above. For the record, The fact that "the enforcer" is a troll is obvious from his phony blog. The other individual whose comments were deleted has been under a ban here for some time.

Please don't interact with such commenters. If you cut and paste the comments of a troll or a banned commenter, even in order to reply, you defeat the purpose of the ban. In the future I may delete such replies as well.

Help us out, here.

UncleChicken said...

I guess I'm sort of confused - are you somehow implying that by not speaking out against this 'revival' by name that Piper was lending some sort of credibility to it? That he was waiting to see which way it went and is now, after the fact, aligning himself with the winning side?

Furthermore, would you be writing this article at all if Piper had never said anything? Why are you reacting to his post NOW, rather than encouraging him before the implosion of Bentley to say something.

BTW, I love the blog and am a regular reader - I'm not just a drive by fan-boy :-)

Michelle said...

Rick said: "It seems astounding that Todd Bentley's theatrics could even necessitate any deep discernment."

I agree. I spent time yesterday watching some of this "revival" on the internet and, sensitive to the indwelling Holy Spirit, was quickly sickened at how demonic the whole "show" was. I came away disturbed and angry at the horrible deception of the pathetically gullible, all in the name of our Saviour and His church.

Then I realised that what both the deceivers and the deceived in Lakeland and beyond desperately needed to hear then and desperately need to hear now is this: the gospel - the power of God unto salvation.

John H said...

Nobody needed a dream from an angel to see this one coming -- yet nobody but crackpots like Dan and myself and Phil said anything about it.

To be fair, Dan Edelen has been calling out Bentley for some time.

And so have the denizens of a certain Tavern...

Chad V. said...

rick frueh

Well spoken.

jonny said...

I know it is late in the day... but I thought I would put in my two cents.

Every period in history has its own heresy. Todd Bentley and Joel Osteen are both practitioners of what I believe to be the heresy of our day: the teaching that "Christ alone is not enough." They are both teachers of this false doctrine but each market it in their own way. Osteen says "Christ alone is not enough... you need health, success, and wealth as well." He markets the material side of the heresy. Bently, on the other hand, markets the spiritual or experiential side. His teaching is "Christ alone is not enough... you need a significant supernatural experience as well."
When you boil it all down, this is what you are left with.

As far as Piper is concerned, I think that he has admirably prepared the people under his influence to identify heretics such as these. A preacher who has done his job well doesn't have to identify every falsehood and give specific warning to his followers. If he has done his work well (as Piper has) those under his influence will know truth and easily identify falsehood. Piper (as most of you certainly know) faithfully, frequently, eloquently, and passionately proclaims the truth that CHRIST IS ENOUGH and WE ARE CALLED TO SUFFER... teachings that are Scriptural and totally antithetical to the teachings of Bentley and Osteen.

Gilbert said...

I never thought I'd agree with Rick F. so much, but here goes:

>It seems astounding that Todd
>Bentley's theatrics could even
>necessitate any deep discernment.
>Would some have waited when
>Joseph Smith claimed angelic
>visitation and private prophetic
>insight?

>Rule #1:

>When a preacher says he gets
>messages from an angel, move on -
>there is nothing to see here.

>Rule #2:

>When a preacher kicks or punches
>somebody, move on - there is
>nothing to see here.

Please don't take this comment as self-serving, but Rick is right: This should have been EASY for the true believer to discern that this guy was more than a few needles short of a cactus. And the rub, of course, is the secular media saw it
before those in Mr. Bentley's team saw it.

The damage over the last several decades to the Gospel has been immense, with the wolves being allowed to run free until they loot the henhouse. If the wolves aren't eating the sheep *this very second*, well, why cause a commotion? And one or two lost ones to the wolves aren't going to matter much, right?

I've been to churches ranging from "seeker-sensitive", to hard core reformed to Catholic. One thing I've noticed is that the Gospel diminishes with the credibility of its believers. You say..."duh!". I'll say publicly what I said privately to someone on this meta: I've heard of a church that almost had a split, and a very nasty congregational yell-fest that may not ever heal, because they couldn't agree on the color of the new hymnal covers.

The current generation sees this and other crud, and thus the revolt to what we have now: something even worse, and people are afraid to call a spade a spade. And the sheeple are deveived by the hundreds of thousands...if not millions. God help us.

Sorry for the tangent.

Rose said...

Do I win a prize?!!! I'm a continualist and I still warned a friend about taking some youth to his show about two years ago when he was still up hear in Canada. How about a pyro t-shirt or a mug?

Usually I'm not so quick on the uptake but Bentley is so obviously false. I felt a moment of boasting was justified. :)

Thanks for your putting your time into dispelling error in the church.

Tony Miano said...

Recently, Todd Bentley was at the Galen Center (USC). I, along with a small team, went to the Galen Center and preached the Law and the Gospel to those who were standing in line, waiting for the doors to open.

Here is how the "Christian" audience responded to the proclamation of Word of God and His Gospel.

This link is to the first of six videos covering two open-air sessions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la0qcCCTxsc

Mesa Mike said...

Good on ya, Lawman!

Stefan said...

Greglong:

This is a late reply, but good point. It was actually Jehoshaphat who saw through the soothing words of the 400 "prophets." Thanks for pointing that out—I hadn't noticed that before. It wouldn't make sense that someone such as Ahab would be so disinclined to hear such flattery.

northWord said...

*Hi Tony!*

I listened to that program, and wept with you.. I look forward to the videos! (when it's not so late)
God lift you and bless you as you press on in your ministry, well done, brother.

northWord said...

Hello Frank,

um, not that Dr. Piper needs me to defend him, nevertheless.. :)

"So my complaint, if I can be bold enough to make it in one sentence, is that it's too late to close the barn door -- and that Dr. Piper's remarks are, at best, a half-hearted rejection of what happened there."

A "half-hearted" rejection...? That just doesn't sound like the Piper I know..

"But Dr. Piper believes these gifts live in the church today, and I respect his right to be, um, in a different camp than I am."

Frank, I have to say I'm a bit baffled by the strange connects you've peppered throughout your post, both forthcoming and subtle, of John Piper to the extremists/experiential types ministries at all because a): he ascribes to a "continuist" view and b) he didn't provide a much sooner / more suitable (?) disclaimer or article to warn us all(?) - Further, I would say there is a big difference between "Piper's-continualism" and the wackos, kinda like the difference between my Christiandom and the Phelps' "Christiandom".

Even if Dr. Piper had put something out in a perceivably timely manner, I doubt it would've effectively slowed down a train that had been gaining speed long before anyone seriously discerning noticed.

I'm thinking Bentley was hardly a bump in the road, -at least one that Piper (imparticularily) needed to point-out to those following. I'm even surprised that this whole Bentley deal is still affecting those "outside the camp" like this, I expected the murmur would have died away by now while us in the regenerate camp watched and prayed, far from the campfire.

"But, unfortunately, this last article of his glosses over the abuses and overlooks the lack of discernment in those with whom he, apparently, agrees with on this matter for the sake of fronting a minor apologetic on the matter rather than plainly denouncing a fraud."

I think it may have been redundant to denounce a fraud" to the target audience of that article, and I don't believe the article "glossed over the abuses" in the way that you're purporting because that's not (at least what I perceived) the article to be about-the-business-of in the first place.

The article seemed more of an incidental overview after a fallout, with an opportunity to hold up some falsehoods against truth for us to see, and exhort us to "test revival with doctrine".

"Dr. Piper is welcome, in my view, to defend his position on the continuation of the gifts as he sees fit (I have a whole other series of post on that matter coming)."

Actually his position is well documented in his 1990 Are Signs and Wonders for Today? series. I happen to listen to several of these sermons just last week which is why I've taken such interest in your observations, because from what I can tell they just don't square up.

Most notable:Gifts of Healings and Workings of Miracles Why the Gift of Prophecy Is Not the Usual Way of Knowing God's Will
and: Are Signs and Wonders for Today?

Maybe I've misread? I likely have on some account..Please forgive me if I have.

My own thoughts on the whole cessation vs continuation argument are that in the bigger picture that is the Gospel of Jesus and our sanctification this issue is rather moot, no horse in the race for me :)

Grace and Peace~

étrangère said...

I don't know Charisma magazine until it was mentioned on a blog yesterday, but for the sake of accuracy: the editor did address Bentley, etc., before his latest 'after the event' piece, several times, starting most noticeably with this one, following with several once he was getting backlash for that one. He didn't go as far as I'd wish, but it's inaccurate to imply that he didn't speak out before now.

On this side of the pond, I was encouraged that all of those I read speaking good Biblical cautions on it were reformed charismatics - probably partly because it hadn't been heard of by anyone else over here, but also because of their care for their flocks.

Anita Hensley said...

re: how did no one comment about Todd before now-
i saw Todd in 2002. Young man in a suit, no visible tat's, no mention of angels esp not ones named Emma. Saw him a year later, still nice guy, very loving with his wife, no strange stuff.
Saw him on the internet once or twice this year- honestly looked nothing like the same guy. Didn't even talk the same way, not even close- totally different vocabulary and tone. I really couldn't believe it was the same guy.
Sound the alarm on doctrine- OK. But pray for the man- he is a brother and not the first brother to struggle with sin/deception.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Well done, Tony Miano. What a telling moment: "Ma'am, why are you trying to shout down the Word of God?"

dac said...

I think perhaps a correction is in order Frank.

From Etrangere's link, the Editor of Charisma said

We have no business teaching God’s people to commune with angels or to seek revelations from them

Paul called for discipline and order, and he reminded early Christians that “the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32). In other words, Paul was saying that no one under the influence of the Holy Spirit should act out of control.

Some of the language used during the Lakeland Revival has created an almost sideshow atmosphere. People are invited to “Come and get some.” Miracles are supposedly “popping like popcorn.” Organizers tout it as the greatest revival in history.

Such brash statements cheapen what the Holy Spirit is doing—and they do a disservice to our brothers and sisters who are experiencing New Testament-style revival in countries such as Iran, China and India. We have a long way to go before we experience their level of revival. Let’s stay humble and broken before the Lord.


Then if you read the comments on his article, it appears that most by far are agreeing with the editor (Grady) and expressed thier concern.

Frank Turk said...

OK: Last post in this thread, covering a couple of points.

The link to Lee Grady's editorial from may of this year -did- escape me. I admit I am not an avid reader of Charisma, and my google search of their site failed to link me to that essay. So in that respect, I owe at least a mention to Lee Grady that he did sound some warnings about this event early enough to qualify as actual warnings -- and at the same time Dan posted his original thoughts on Lakeland. I'll also offer an apology for missing the essay as it probably could have been found if I dug harder. My research was faulty, and I apologize for any statements I made which were not correct regarding actions of Charisma or Mr. Grady.

My last word here on this subject is in regard to this segment of my post which, I think, most commenters here didn't get to:

[QUOTE]
Somehow the false idol of entertainment can be identified in every other place and spoken against in no uncertain terms, but when a Todd Bentley starts actively deceiving people under the cover of signs and wonders, it seems the credible advocates of the "continualist" view always -- always -- adopt a wait-and-see approach to these quacks who are simply tempting the hurting and the gullible away from the faith and toward a sideshow profit center.
[/QUOTE]

This is really the nub of my complaint, and it's interesting that even the May 2008 article by Lee Grady still gets captured by it.

The problem is this: Lee Grady wanted to endorse the "move of the spirit" at Lakeland while he had clear biblical reasons to reject it. He makes clear affirmations that he witnessed clear scriptural reasons to reject the events at Lakeland but refused to do so in order to escape being called a "heresy hunter".

Listen: that's problematic. When we have the evidence to follow biblical commands to reject something, and we hesitate or water down our rejection of that thing because we are afraid of a label, I think we have lost sight of why the Bible tells us to do things God's way.

One of the key aspects of John Piper's 1990 sermon series on the working of the Spirit was his statement to the effect that the signs and wonders mean nothing if they are not from God -- that, in fact, some will deceive by signs and wonders. I'm not sure I agree completely with the point he was making (coming soon to this blog), but I do agree this far: at some point, biblical discernment has to trump experiential preferences.

At some point, if we believe what Paul teaches us about these things, we have to do what he tells us to do about them. And that means we have to not receive an alleged mixed bag when the critieria for rejecting such a work is present and obvious.

I have a -lot- more to say about Dr. Piper's 1990 sermon series as I have been listening to it for the last few weeks. That's where I'd like to take this discussion from here, and I want to appreciate that, by and large, the comments here have been in a spirit of honest disagreement. That's good work as far as I'm concerned.

The comments are closed.

Phil Johnson said...

Here are those comments I wrongly deeted:

David Rudd (10:56 AM) said...

fyi,

marital difficulties reveal someone to be fallen, and may in some cases disqualify them from ministry. they do not necessarily reveal all their ministry to that point to be fraudulent.

i concur that TB was at best a sincerely deceived man doing his "best", and at worst a charlatan of the worse kind. i would be in the pyro camp on the issue of cessationism vs. continuism (if those are really words...).

however, i would be careful about calling people frauds, using their "fall" from ministry qualification as the evidence which allows you to say, "told you so."

i plan to not disqualify myself from ministry, as i'm sure Piper and macarthur do as well... however, God forbid it ever happen, it will not demonstrate all previous ministry to be fraudulent; only a sad reminder of what could have been.

just a call for balance and compassion in the wake of a tragedy which has consumed many lives.

___________________

David Rudd (1:44 PM) said...

stefan,

I'm also a bit mystified over why Bentley's bubble has burst over news of his divorce.

perfect sense. if i understand correctly what you're saying, i agree.

to all,this post and comment train is starting to look a bit like Dr. Seuss' hawtch-hawtchers bee-watchers (did i ever tell you how lucky you are).