Todd Bentley: Meet the Man Who Met Saint Paul

The Florida Ledger reports on a neo-Pentecostal faith-healing revival known as the “Florida Outpouring”:

The Pentecostal revival, which began April 2 at Ignited Church in Lakeland, draws an average of 30,000 or more people each week, according to its leaders, with about 50 percent of those from outside the state. In fact, it has become an international phenomenon, and almost a third of the crowds come from outside the United States, leaders estimate. At this particular evening service, flags from eight nations waved above the crowd, which numbered at least 4,000.

…The revival may have few precedents for its length coupled with the explosiveness of its popularity, which observers say has been fueled by the Internet, over which the services are streamed live twice a day.

The revival is being led by Canadian Todd Bentley, and apparently it began as a planned five-day session. Bentley has gained an imprimatur from Steven Strang, editor of the influential Charisma magazine (and a close ally of John Hagee):

I’m glad to see “revival” breaking out. It is wonderful to hear the testimonies of healing and even stories about people being raised from the dead. I hope the revival continues because I believe that it is a fresh move of God.

The Florida revival has also inspired spin-off events in other countries, such as the “Dudley Outpouring” in the West Midlands of England (for some reason the Dudley Outpouring official website features a prominent graphic of a nuclear explosion), and a significant role is being played by GOD TV; according to the station’s UK and Ireland Regional Director, Chris Cole (FRSA), Bentley and GOD TV are part of a supernatural plan for the Last Days:

when I took over the role of GOD TV’s UK and Ireland Regional Director I announced from David’s Citadel on October 1st, 2005 that God had given me a word in 1986 by Prophets from Jerusalem about being used to help establish the ‘Tabernacle of David’. These are the spiritual times of a new reformation and a new apostolic age and GOD TV will play a major role in this end time strategy.

…thousands of people at these events are beginning to be healed of terminal illnesses which are being medically authenticated. Also thousands of people are being healed by just watching GOD TV.

Bentley (aged 32) turned from a life of crime to religion, and he has been an evangelist for a few years. He has held similar revivals in Canada, and he has preached in Africa; a book by Bill Nugent mentions “the report of the notable miracles which occurred through the ministry of Todd Bentley as he ministered with Heidi Baker in Mozambique” (1).

Bentley claims all kinds of supernatural encounters, including cosy chats with Biblical figures; Biblical scholars may be interested to learn that Bentley has solved the problem of the authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews with some inside knowledge from Saint Paul himself, whom he met while visiting the Third Heaven:

Back to Paul! I discovered while conversing with Paul that it wasn’t only Jesus Christ who taught him in heaven. I say this because Paul told me: “Abraham taught me, in heaven, and that’s how and why I wrote the book of Hebrews. What I heard was from the lips of Abraham himself.”

Bentley has also received guidance from various angels, including one named “Emma”, and helpful assistance from the “angel of finance”:

In this regard, on three occasions over the past couple of years I’ve had a visitation from the Lord in which I’ve seen the angel of finance. Every time this happens (in our meetings) there is an incredible financial breakthrough—something is opened up in heaven, it invades the earth, and people respond by giving generously.

Healings and resurrections also figure prominently, including tales of tumours dropping off the sick (this is a familiar Pentecostal claim; I’ve often wondered what happens to these tumours after the event). And while Bentley’s claims to have raised the dead have been met with some scepticism, he has certainly succeeded in one resurrection: that of the career of Paul Cain, the “Kansas City Prophet” and neo-Pentecostal Dominionist leader whose high-profile ministry ended Haggard-like in a gay sex and alcohol scandal a few years ago. Bentley and Cain have endorsed each other, and Bentley is keen to take on the mantle of “Latter Rain” Pentecostal teachers such as William Branham.

However, despite these connections, some Christians are concerned by Bentley and his teaching: the angelic encounters – particularly with “Emma” – sound more New Age than orthodox Christian, and his healing methods have apparently included kicking people in the face. His heavily-tattooed appearance has also raised suspicions.

(1) Bill Nugent (2006), Lawful or Legalistic, p. 20

UPDATE: C. Peter Wagner gives his endorsement.