Florida newspaper The Ledger has posted a number of articles about controversial preacher Todd Bentley, most of them written by religion editor Cary McCullen, who also blogs about religion in the news on his Scriptorium: A Religion Panorama.
Today he reports that Todd Bentley will be leaving the Lakeland, Florida, ‘revival.’
Revival Evangelist to Fold His Lakeland Tent
LAKELAND | Evangelist Todd Bentley, whose unorthodox appearance and methods have attracted worldwide attention, will leave the long-running revival he has led here, it was announced Monday, although the local pastor who brought Bentley to Lakeland vows the revival will continue.
Bentley’s last day leading the Florida Outpouring revival will be Aug. 23, said Lynne Breidenbach, revival spokesperson. The enormous white tents on the grounds of Sun n’ Fun Fly-in, where the revival has been held since early June, will be taken down after that night’s service.
The Florida Outpouring began at Ignited Church of Lakeland on April 2, with Bentley, a 32-year-old Canadian, as a guest evangelist. Bentley was originally scheduled to lead services for a week, but when large crowds began flocking to the church, he agreed to stay on, and the revival has continued every day since then.
During the past several weeks, Bentley occasionally has been absent from the evening services, turning them over to guest evangelists or associates of his evangelistic ministry. He will return to lead the services tonight, but he already has scheduled appearances at revivals in Los Angeles; Louisville, Ky.; and Spokane, Wash., before Aug. 23.
“He’s going to be here regularly, just not seven nights a week,” Breidenbach said.
After leaving the Florida Outpouring, Bentley will conduct revivals overseas, including in the United Kingdom and Sudan, according to his ministry’s Web site.
The Rev. Stephen Strader, pastor of Ignited Church, said Bentley made the decision to relinquish leadership of the revival last week.
“He and I had both been praying about what God wants us to do,” Strader said. “There have been all sorts of rumors, but everything is OK. This has nothing to do with anything else.”
Bentley, covered with tattoos and employing antics borrowed from professional wrestling, has proved controversial. The revival has drawn attention for its claims of numerous miraculous healings of serious illnesses. Bentley has also claimed that more than two dozen people have been raised from the dead as a result of prayers offered at the revival.
Even some fellow Pentecostals have questioned whether Bentley’s revivals have placed enough emphasis on preaching and calls for repentance. A recent set of guidelines from the Assemblies of God, the largest predominantly white Pentecostal denomination in the United States, seemed to question the Florida Outpouring’s emphasis on miracles. Local pastors have expressed skepticism about exaggerated claims.
After a negative ABC Nightline report on Todd Bentley, earlier this month ABC News added the following statement to its online report:
UPDATE: After this story aired on “Nightline,” Fresh Fire Ministries released a statement announcing that preacher Todd Bentley would be taking time off “to refresh and to rest” after having spent four months in Lakeland, Fla., leading revival meetings. In the meantime their Lakeland broadcasts on GOD TV are put on hold.
Later in the month, that update was augmented as follows:
UPDATE: After this story aired on “Nightline,” Fresh Fire Ministries released a statement announcing that preacher Todd Bentley would be taking time off “to refresh and to rest” after having spent four months in Lakeland, Fla., leading revival meetings. Their Lakeland broadcasts on GOD TV were put on hold. Bentley returned on July 18 and has resumed broadcasting from Lakeland.
Our comments regarding Todd Bentley following this article.
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