Nearly five years ago, a revival movement that became known throughout the world via GodTV as the Lakeland Outpouring came to a screeching halt when it was revealed that the revival’s evangelist, Todd Bentley, was overcome by an excessive drinking problem and had entered into an inappropriate relationship with a female member of his staff. With the revelation of Bentley’s marital problems in 2008, it seemed inevitable that his ministry was done. However, through the help of a controversial restoration process, Bentley is back in action in South Africa, leading a revival dubbed by GodTV as a Healing Awakening to the Nations. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a story of redemption, though. Bentley's ministry has always been a publicity-seeking sideshow, not an expression of true Christian faith, and his new program in South Africa is no different.
Long before Bentley’s marital problems and excessive drinking became known to the public, the mention of his name evoked much controversy primarily due to the violent nature of his ministry. Bentley claimed on several occasions that God had told him to revert to violent practices in order to impart miracles and spark revival. These violent practices included but were not limited to kicking people in the face, running people down, and even legdropping the pastor in the style of professional wrestler “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan.
Bentley justified such violent practices by calling attention to his belief that people were indeed healed in his meetings. While some miracles claimed by Bentley seemed to have a degree of believability to them, others seemed to be cleverly invented stories designed to deceive the masses. Such miracles included Bentley laying hands on a man and empowering him to see out of a glass eyeball, revival music (from the Lakeland Outpouring) breathing life into an unembalmed man who popped up out of his casket in a funeral home at 2:19 a.m., and people getting gold teeth from God.
Indeed, it seemed obvious in August 2008 that Todd Bentley was done with ministry for good. Instead, Bentley entered a controversial restoration process that was initiated by self-proclaimed end times prophet Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries in Fort Mill, South Carolina. This restoration process began the very day after Bentley had married the female member of his staff of whom he had developed the unhealthy emotional relationship with. The marriage took place one day after Bentley had succeeded in expediting the process to divorce his first wife, Shonnah.
Much like before the revelation of his marital problems and his excessive drinking problems became known, Todd Bentley’s ministry is still shrouded in much controversy. In August 2012, he had planned to minister in the United Kingdom, but was barred from entering the country due to an exclusion order issued by the home office of the UK government. The following statement was made by the UK government explaining the reason for the exclusion order: “The government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they are not conducive to the public good. Coming here is a privilege we refuse to extend to those who might seek to undermine our society.” Months after being denied entry into the country, Bentley sparked outrage in a local newspaper due to comments he made regarding the death of UK Croydon North Parliament Member Malcolm Wicks.
Bentley claimed that after he was banned from the UK, God spoke to him in a dream that something significant would happen on September 29 (the day Wicks died). Bentley’s remarks were as follows: “On September 29, I was preaching in Ohio when I got a report that the man who led the campaign against us in England had died suddenly of cancer. This was a clear release of God’s presence and power. The fear of the Lord is going to come.”
In April, Todd Bentley carried his ministry to the African continent. Perhaps a fulfillment of a prophecy his wife Jessa had in 2010, his revival meetings there have been highly touted as huge success. Much like the Lakeland Outpouring five years earlier, the Healing Awakening to the Nations is broadcast live on GodTv and proclaims that many miracles have taken place. Much like five years ago when Todd Bentley’s miracles were unable to be verified by ABC News and a handful of proclaimed miracles were proven false by the Christian publication World Magazine, Bentley and his ministry are accomplishing nothing except providing hilarious entertainment with the same old sideshow we have seen other movements bring, masquerading under the name of Christianity.
Needless to say, there is much more that could be written about the unscrupulous antics of Todd Bentley. However, I am faced with the same limitations as those in John 21:25: "If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written."