Todd Bentley commissioned as an evangelist: a Christian role-playing game

Todd Bentley commissioned as an evangelist

According to a report at the website of Charisma magazine, controversial Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley was on June 23, 2008 “commissioned as an evangelist.”

California pastors Ché Ahn and Bill Johnson, along with Canadian pastor John Arnott, laid hands on the 32-year-old Bentley while Peter Wagner, leader of the International Coalition of Apostles, read a statement about the need for apostolic alignment. Other prominent leaders from the apostolic and prophetic movements stood on the platform to show their support for Bentley and to endorse the revival, which began in early April and is now in its 83rd day of continuous meetings.

The ceremony, held in a 10,000-seat tent, took place after some charismatic leaders raised questions about Bentley’s claims, methods and theology. They asked Wagner to oversee a dialogue, and he responded by organizing Monday evening’s event so that Bentley could have more accountability—or what Wagner calls “apostolic alignment.”

Participating leaders at the ceremony included Wagner; Ché Ahn, pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif.; John Arnott of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Canada; Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif.; and Rick Joyner, founder of MorningStar Ministries in Charlotte, N.C.

Wagner said to Bentley on the platform: “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.

“I also decree that a new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry. A new life force will penetrate this move of God. Government will be established to set things in their proper order. God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error. New relationships will surface to open the gates to the future.”

In a newsletter released earlier this week, Bentley said Wagner was the one who suggested having an official ceremony in which Bentley could be commissioned.

Paul Steven Ghiringhelli, Leaders Commission Todd Bentley at ‘Lakeland Outpouring,’ Charisma, June 24, 2008 [As archived at the WayBackMachine. Loads slowly]. Since publication, Charisma has switched to a different URL structure. The article is now posted here.

The article’s slug-line — a secondary headline, if you will — originally read “The special service was billed by leaders as one of the greatest moments in revival history.” [The secondary headline can still be views in the WayBackMachine version. It is not included in the later version.]

Indeed, Bentley himself appears greatly impressed:

“I am no church historian, but I do not know of any other time in history, since the book of Acts, have so many different apostles and so many different prophets and movements and leaders [been represented],” Bentley said of the capacity crowd. “This is so much bigger than [anything else] ever before. The devil is shaking in his boots because the apostles are gathering and the prophets are gathering.”

Christian role-playing game

The problem is that this gathering included the proverbial ‘usual suspects.’ Among the things that the controversial renewal and revival movements of the past two decades have in common, is the appearance of men and women who refer to themselves (often by way of each other) as ‘apostles’ and ‘prophets.’

These folks endow themselves with titles designed to command spiritual authority — while everything they do and support shows that they have lost the plot a long time ago.

In fact , the vast majority of those who consider each other to be ‘prophets’ and ‘apostles’ sound as if they are taking part in some huge, ‘Christian’ role-playing game. They make spiritual transactions, visit the ‘third heaven’, issue spiritual decrees, are visited by angels, have golden swords, consider themselves to be “God’s Generals,” receive gold dust or sapphire dust or gemstones, have dreams in which an angel or Jesus himself agrees with their peculiar theology, and so on.

It’s as if they are playing a ‘Christian’ version of Dungeons and Dragons.

We think that if, as Bentley claimed, the “devil is shaking in his boots” it is not from fear but from laughter. After all, these gamers manage to snare huge numbers of Christians into following their brand of fantasy ‘Christianity.’

Spiritual tragedy

Hordes of Christians from around the world — many of whom have so little discernment that they see no problem in getting their spiritual input from God TV and the Trinity Broadcasting Network — follow these self-proclaimed prophets and apostles from one extreme to another.

They are always in search of the latest ‘blessing,’ the latest manifestation, and the latest spiritual status symbol. They shake. They bake. They fall (no wonder, since most are physically pushed). They soak. They’ve been known to break out in seemingly uncontrollable laughter, act like chickens, and to squat on the floor where — helped by others — they pretend to ‘give birth’ to something spiritual.

And they prophesy — or think they do. In online forums and real-world meetings they issue grave warnings, command nature, announce predictions and make proclamations.

Many of these ‘words’ — which they feel the Lord has ‘impressed’ on their hearts — sound innocent enough: strings of phrases with a Biblical ring to them declaring that, ‘verily, verily, the Lord thy God loves thee’ (and, given the language employed, apparently feels you’ve been born a few centuries too late). Others are more predictive, for instance talking about the coming fall of the stock market, or the imminence of a natural dissaster — with a built-in safety valve that states these things (signifying God’s wrath) will not occur ‘if my people pray.’ Yet other words are much like those spoken by Peter Wagner to Todd Bentley: “your power will increase, your authority will increase…”

One of the biggest spiritual tragedies of this whole game is how it has hijacked genuine, Biblical Christianity, and turned it into a poor, frequently bizarre substitute.

Another spiritual tragedy is that many leaders (so-called…) allow this thing to fester on.

Charisma writes:

Though the outpouring has enjoyed mostly favorable publicity and is stirring excitement in charismatic congregations worldwide, it has also spawned a debate among leaders dialoguing behind closed doors. These backroom discussions over aspects of Bentley’s teachings were partly what prompted leaders to lay their hands on him last night.

Leaders who have expressed private concerns about Bentley’s ministry turned down Charisma‘s request for public comment.

Say what? You are given the opportunity to publically comment (albeit in Charisma, a publication whose publishers have throughout its history shown a remarkable lack of discernment) and you do not take advantage of it? What a shame!

Then again, the article earlier said that “some charismatic leaders raised questions about Bentley’s claims, methods and theology”, and that they are the ones who asked Peter Wagner to oversee a dialogue which resulted in the meeting. Bentley’s commission provides him with accountability (which in this role-playing game is apperantly referred to as “apostolic alignment.”)

That clearly shows us from which direction the wind blows, so it is no suprise that — in spite of Wagner’s promise to Bentley that “God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error” — such leaders simply add error to error and consider it blessed.


Bentley’s ‘revival’ is being referred to as an ‘outpouring.’ The idea is that God is pouring out blessings — and that Christians should seek after these blessings. Among the blessings are, it is claimed, incidences of healing — physical, spiritual and/or emotional healing.

Time will tell, for while there have been reports of healing miracles most, if not all, are poorly documented. That is pretty much par for the course, and one cannot really expect more from a movement whose followers allegedly get visited by angels, see their teeth replaced by gold replicas, or receive gemstones from heaven.

Is it wrong to desire revival? Of course not. But genuine revival is not a ‘Bless Me’ feast for Christians. Rather, it is a move of God in which countless people accept that Jesus died in their place, for their sins — thus enabling them to make peace with God and to receive eternal life with Him.

Genuine revival results not in Christians sounding like they are playing a Biblical version of Dungeons & Dragons, but rather in Christians doing what the Bible tells them to do. Granted, day-to-day sacrifical serving and living in a way that points others to Jesus may not appear to be as exciting as travelling around the world in search of the latest ‘blessings’ and ‘manifestations.’ Yet it is such living that brings true revival — giving life to those who once were dead in their sins, and in doing so building up treasures in heaven.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday June 29, 2008.
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