When Wagner’s Prophecy Fails

Neo-Pentecostal leader C. Peter Wagner, June 2008:

“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.”

Well, one “new relationship” certainly did “surface”: Todd Bentley’s website, 15 August 2008:

From the Board of Directors

…we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors and to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.

Divorce is also pending.

Stephen Strang, editor of Charisma magazine, adds some commentary:

Many of us who long for revival saw the hungry people coming to Lakeland and witnessed the powerful anointing. We recognize that God can use flawed people (because He uses us!), yet we had major questions about Bentley. But rather than censoring him, we wanted to help correct the problems.

Now is the time for Bentley to be corrected. But it would also be good for Arnott, Ahn and Johnson, as well as other leaders such as Wagner, to issue a statement to the body of Christ to help the tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands who were affected by the outpouring understand what is going on spiritually.

Because all of these men endorsed the revival, it might even be appropriate for them to issue an apology. Some of Bentley’s critics say an apology is necessary.

In fact, Strang was also quite enthusiastic, and his “major questions” seemed more like minor concerns at the time:

I’m concerned when I hear references in Lakeland to the “healing revivals” of the 1940s and 1950s– especially with A.A. Allen and William Branham. That’s because those revivals did not really touch the mainstream of America and in those two instances the ministers fell into disrepute before they died.

The focus of any revival or ministry must be on Jesus and on changed lives, not on revival itself or on the ministries involved. I was glad to hear an emphasis on Jesus when I was in Lakeland. My spirit sensed that there was a genuine flow of the Spirit in the services.

However, criticisms are beginning to come about the revival—not so much from the secular media, but from leaders in the body of Christ who are unwilling to publicly criticize but who feel there are extremes (from their perspective) that could derail the revival.

(Hat tip: Ed Brayton)

Swedish Cowboy Church Accused of Abusive Practices

The Swedish Local reports on a controversial religious group:

A southern Swedish religious congregation based at a cowboy-themed conference centre has been accused of harbouring a violent and extreme religious sect.

…A show aired on Tuesday by public service broadcaster SVT contained interviews with former Kingdom Center members who accuse the group of being a sect, guilty of performing violent exorcism ceremonies and using child labour, Expressen reports.

…The cowboy-theme park may look like a line-dancing paradise, but according to defectors, life under parish pastor Christer Segerliv is far from heavenly.

Segerliv denies the claims, and in fairness it should be noted that there is often some hostility towards American-style Christian groups in Sweden (noted in Simon Coleman’s study of Ulf Ekman, The Globalisation of Charismatic Christianity). And Kingdom Center certainly is American-style, looking more like a Tex-Mex restaurant than a church and with Segerliv apparently known as “the Sheriff of Lone Star”. The Center’s website has some background:

Pastor Christer Segerliv is under the covering of Pastor Sunday Adelaja, pastor of the Embassy of the blessed Kingdom of God in Kiev, Ukraine and travels with him frequently around the globe. Kingdom Center is also connected to the emerging Cowboy Church movement in America, one of the leaders in this movement is Pastor Coy Huffman (Kingdom Cowboys).

The Associated Baptist Press reported on “Cowboy Churches” just a few weeks ago:

…boots placed at the back of the worship space as receptacles sometimes replace collection plates and offertories. Baptisms often take place in horse troughs. And, of course, country/Western, Southern gospel and bluegrass music often feature prominently in worship services.

…The cowboy-church movement has its roots in Pentecostal ministries from the middle of the 20th century, but has spread significantly among evangelicals — and especially Southern Baptists in rural areas — in the last 10 years.

…Cowboy-church leaders from other states have, with Texas leaders’ help, recently organized an American Fellowship of Cowboy Churches…There are also cowboy churches popping up under the Cowboy Church Network of North America, which was started in 2004. It became affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board in 2005.

The reporter seemed surprised that the movement had reached Canada, let alone Sweden.

Sunday Adelaja, meanwhile, was featured on this blog here. Adelaja, a Nigerian immigrant who has been phenomenally successful in Ukraine, apparently has hundreds of Ukrainian pastors under him, and he enjoys some support from politicians. During the “Orange Revolution” he and Ted Haggard collaborated on a CD on the subject which was distributed in the USA by Focus on the Family.

Segerliv also founded a school, which in July won an appeal against a decision to close it down.

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)