In my previous post, I noted how the spiritual discipline of discernment typically requires a descent into darkness. I wasn’t quite prepared for the wide-ranging and emotion-wracking mix of reactions that surfaced during the 25-plus hours it took to prepare this current post. Sadness. Outrage. Surprise. Disdain. Shock. Relief. Gladness. Hope …
Frankly, it was agonizing to review such a confusing array of accounts about flaws and failures, accusations and acclamations, compassionate acts and condemnations, refusals and rebuttals. But again, I understand that this is part of the cost of being called to this particular task – and don’t think I escape scrutiny because I am scrutinizing others! This process also meant examining my own life for integrity leakage, failures to show compassion or to challenge, and other ways I fall short of the mark or otherwise exceed the boundaries God has set. I have work to do in my own life …
Still, I realize some people will be angered that I am even taking an in-depth look at others and what happened with the “Lakeland Outpouring,” to determine what lapses in leadership surround the events there. If I didn’t care about the standing, state, and status of the Kingdom, I certainly wouldn’t bother with this or any other situation. But I do, so I am doing this series as a way to bring hope about a more healthy and sustainable future to those who would receive it.
This reminds me of the doctors I’ve known who specialize in diagnostic medicine. A large part of their initial work involves gathering evidence, looking for clues, perceiving the patterns. Then comes the inevitable delivering of a “news sandwich.” Good news is that there’s a diagnosis. Bad news is that the illness has already done damage, some of which may be irreparable or that will forever leave scars. Good news is that, since we now know the issues, we can work on moving toward the best condition possible.
I should feel no more guilty for finding and then delivering the reality news sandwich about Kingdom leadership after Lakeland than diagnostic specialists should feel guilty about delivering medical test information to their patients … but that doesn’t make the relational element any easier. There are real people involved, with our own motivations to be “MRI-ed” by God, with our own flaws and follies – whether we “own” them or not, with our own set of hopes and fears for the protection of others. It’s complex. But, I trust, the work of considering the sources will prove worth it.
I will share some of my diagnostics, diagnoses, and reparatives in future posts of this series.
DO-IT-YOURSELF ON DISCERNMENT
The discipline of discernment is a sort of spiritual investigative reporting. We must do a lot of work to accomplish it. But it’s not all up to us. In biblical discernment, we rely on the Spirit to give us insight continually as we gather facts and make observations, analyze the material and develop tentative perspectives, and pray and process with others and refine our interpretations.
Did you catch the phrase that said, “process with others”? If we consider discernment as a communal practice instead of simply an individual procedure, I think we will come up with better insights, fewer gaps in our perspective, and a more balanced and timely approach to our responses. And, since the events of the Lakeland have occurred in the public arena, they give us an opportunity to consider this as a “case study in community discernment.”
Originally, I had set this second post in the series to give my conclusions about lapses in leadership regarding Lakeland – especially concerning issues of discernment – followed by a do-it-yourself section where you can read the original materials for yourself. But, after spending pretty much the entire day yesterday going through new and reviewed sources, something didn’t sit right with my plans. So, I waited til this morning to see what to do. And it became more clear that at least some readers will want/need an opportunity to go through sources for themselves and reflect on the evidences instead of jumping right into my conclusions.
So, here’s what I plan to do. I’m turning this post into a futuristguy Do-It-Yourself guided tour to consider the sources about Lakeland. I’ll go chronologically through what I think are key materials, with links for original (primary) sources from a list of key people directly involved in leadership roles regarding Lakeland. I’ve also selected some secondary sources (i.e., from people not directly involved, but at least indirectly affected) for a range of reactions, responses, critiques, and comments within the Christian community.
If you are intent on studying the events and aftermath of Lakeland because something deeply bothers you about it, this selection range of posts will give you primary sources and secondary/analytical-interpretive sources to bring the issues forward. (If you’re only doing this because you’ve been mesmerized by the theatre and gawk-appeal of it all, I’d suggest you just google it and leave me behind. You’ll find plenty of other sources in your search.) Hopefully, the combination of sources from Lakeland leadership insiders and outsiders, and from Charismatic and non-Charismatic points of view, approximate a communal process of discernment. Maybe you’ll want to extend that approach by finding some other people to dialog with about these readings …
Let me suggest the following plans to adapt to some aspects of your learning styles:
- “Forest First.” If you are the kind of person who needs to see the big picture and the overall flow of events before trying to tackle the details, read the OVERVIEW/SUMMARY READINGS section first. I’ve chosen two news-analysis-editorial articles, one from a Charismatic author and another from a Baptist author. This should help give an overall framework for filling in details. Then read the DETAIL READINGS section. If you tend to find details overwhelming, I’ve selected some key posts and marked the date, author, and title in boldface italic type.
- “Trees First.” If you are the kind of person who digs into details right away and enjoys working the bits and pieces together like a puzzle, I’d recommend reading the DETAIL READINGS section first, and the OVERVIEW/SUMMARY READINGS section at the end as a summary of key details. You might even want to try reading the DETAIL READINGS entries for just one author at a time if you prefer to deal with single perspectives.
(The parallel technical terms here are “global” and “analytic.” If this aspect of learning styles is of interest, check out my post on Concrete Media Systems-The Golden Compass Part 3-Learning Style Accommodations, especially the section on How we understand what we observe.)
Also, if you feel you are fairly well versed on the details, you might want to skip the Forest and Trees sections, but I would still recommend you read the “mini-tutorial on interpretation. You may find new ideas there about interpretation and community-oriented ways of gathering and processing information.
Finally, if you focus better by having questions, consider going to the very end of this post. There you’ll find a series of questions designed to fuel careful consideration about issues of discernment, character, responsibilities, systems, leadership, etc.
TWO FINAL NOTES AND A P.S.
First, these materials focus on issues of leadership systems, theologies, and discernment related to Lakeland, not so much about Todd Bentley himself. It is clear enough from the facts of the situation that Mr. Bentley has some significant personal and interpersonal issues to deal with, and that these currently disqualify him from public ministry. That consequence may prove to be the case long term, but let that be sorted out in due time, along with corrections of faulty theology and any possibility of restoration to public service …
Meanwhile, Mr. Bentley’s issues appear to be deeply rooted, and we ought to have grace and compassion for him – and anyone in such a situation – whether he decides to seek healing or not, and whether he gives a clear public apology or not for his failures. What he has done has brought damage to the Church and to the name of Christ, and yet, we cannot simply discard him like so much damaged goods.
Over the past 20 years, I’ve had numerous occasions to come alongside people with “life-dominating problems,” not all of which involve our own sins, though many do. Life-dominating problems can be such things as surviving domestic violence or spiritual abuse, dealing with gender identity and sexuality issues and addictions, and coping with chronic or terminal illness. There can be transformation, no matter what besets us. (Check 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 for a short list of some such problems that the Apostle Paul says can washed, cleansed, and made right.) There is hope, but transformation and restoration also requires more of us than wishful thinking and/or white-knuckling our way through it. There is as much grace and empowerment for change available to Mr. Bentley as to any/all of us.
Second, I realize some people in the Christian community will have trouble with this post and the next one where I give my conclusions and suggestions for corrective measures. They’ll think I’m judging. My understanding from Scripture is that we are called on to be the equivalent of fruit inspectors. Judging this or that aspect of the fruit and character in our life and others does not demand judgmentalism – condemnation, shaming, guilt-tripping. However, if we do not judge rightly, how can we ever do anything to implement positive changes? We need to be careful not to merge “deconstruction” with “destruction,” or we’ll never get to “(re)construction.” I am taking these steps of evaluating Lakeland and leadership lapses just as cautiously as I know how …
P.S. This post took a very very long time to prepare. Anyway, I have had to change plans for posting the rest of the series. I likely will not be able to finish on Monday September 22 my planned profile of what I believe leadership in emerging cultures needs to look like. However, that day (today!) I will be with several of those whose lives demonstrate this kind of leadership to me, and that will be preparation aplenty – plus a lot of fun, as we will be together at a “party of special magnificence” to celebrate the birthdays of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins at Toyland/Hobbitat, and Andrew Jones will also lead us in a missional conversation.
Alrightee then, onward and upward! …
MINI-TUTORIAL ON INTEPRETATION
I was given an investigative mind. I can’t not see huge puzzles lurking in the corners of my context and I simply feel compelled to figure them out. It’s how I’ve been providentially “wired,” and I trust God has done this for important reasons – even if the pursuit of puzzle-solving sometimes drives me (or my friends who are kind enough to listen to my ravings!) a bit crazy.
Over the years, I’ve attempted to hone down my research process to three major procedures: observe, analyze, and interpret. Of course, there are many other directions to go in, once I’ve gotten enough material collected to get to and through the interpretation stage. And although I find the research process is really fun in itself, it really amps up when I am able to move from the “what” research/interpretation stage, through the “so what” foresight/implication stage, and into the “now what” action/implementation stage. I can move with concern and creativity through the earlier processes, but I especially enjoy working with teams of people at the action stage.
Many months ago, I posted tutorials on observation and analysis. This was in the series on Taxonomies of Emergence. I expect I’ll go back to that series sometime and finish up with thoughts that have been incubating on where the current layers of old and new paradigms are going, along with various movements within the layers dealing with emerging cultures.
Meanwhile, I have worked toward a post that shares a full tutorial on interpretation, but it isn’t finished yet. Since interpretation is really about discernment, and this series on Kingdom Leadership After Lakeland is about discernment, this seems a strategic time to share at least the core of that material. So, here are two key aspects on interpretation: constant recalibration, and communal practices in interpretation.
INTERPRETATION AS CONSTANT RECALIBRATION
Interpretation is something that incubates, morphs, refigures itself, breathes – expands and contracts. I think I first realized this in my courses on linguistics. We were being trained in skills to enter a group where the language had never been written, listen carefully, transcribe what we heard, connect the sounds to the meanings of words, and “crack the code” of how word parts were glued together. In short, we were there to write a dictionary and grammar for a previously unwritten language.
The grammar part was more complex. The point of a grammar is to figure out the set of rules that governs the ways that word parts go together to form words, and how words go together to form sentences, and how sentences go together to form “discourses.” If linguists do their work well, two things happen:
- They create the smallest number of rules that describes the largest amount of the language. There are typically exceptions to the rules, but a good rule set is “elegant.”
- Their rule set works well to predict and explain new occurrences of language. It is comprehensive.
Sometimes, something happens that shows that the rule set was missing an important feature that must be added, or that it took in too much and something needs to be changed or subtracted. If we hold our interpretations lightly, not tightly, we’ll be ready to recalculate our theory to accommodate the new information. We will be flexible enough to expand or contract the rules for speaking or writing when there is good reason to do so.
Sometimes, one simple piece of missing information can radically change the entire interpretation. For instance, the story is told of some Bible translators who worked in a tribal culture that had no written language yet. The translator team had a hard time finding “language informants” who could spend time talking with them, teaching them the language, and checking their pronunciations and sentence production and meanings. Finally, they struck up a friendship with the one person who had enough time to spend with them – a man who was a beggar. The team spent hours upon hours with the man, learning this new-to-them language as best they could. Eventually they were ready to beta-test some of their first translations with the rest of the tribe. On the momentous day, they stood up and read aloud some samples of their work. Their language coach was quite pleased, but the rest of the tribe listened politely, but it was obviously not making sense. At last, one of the tribe members laughed and with an “ah-ha!” look, said, “Our friend you listened to has no teeth!”
The team immediately realized the basic flaw that had affected all their interpretation work. Fortunately, it was a problem that could be corrected with relative easy by shifting the pronunciations so they wouldn’t sound like mumbling.
Could discernment have been the “missing teeth” that caused such misspeakings and mistakes in the Lakeland situation?
If we choose to recalibrate our ministry and ecclesiology practices with far more discernment in the picture, how might that change our future prospects in working together in the Kingdom?
COMMUNAL PRACTICES IN INTERPRETATION
The Traditional and Pragmatic Paradigms in the Western church typically turn on the concept of a visionary individual leader. These paradigms also support a class distinction between clergy and laity. Together these can create systems where visioning, discerning, and leading are pretty much left in the hands of one person. (Use the search function on “Webber” for posts that explain these paradigms, from Robert Webber’s book, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World.)
However, the Holistic Paradigm is now in ascendancy worldwide with this era of global shifts in culture and paradigms. The weight of responsibility for interpretation and discernment and leading are tipping toward the community, and away from the visionary leader. As one who functions from a more Holistic Paradigm, I can affirm that I/we definitely tend to value the realities of collaboration in researching, strategizing, and implementing. I/we also expect that all who learn are leaders, and leaders must be learners. Approaches I/we favor are not the same as those non-Western cultures that function with a traditional structure where elders dictate the activities of the family, tribe, or society. That is more an eldership oligarchy – rule by a few in the oldest generations – and does not fit the kinds of intercultural, intergenerational collaboration we seek.
I suspect we will find some significant role models in other kinds of tribal cultures. Here are some illustrations of practices I believe fit the style of collaborative discernment/interpretation and integration we who are Holistic Paradigm people long for. I have not posted about these in part because I have not been able to document yet some of the sources. However, since this seems to be the time to list these, regardless, please know that I will continue fact verification and source finding on these when I am able.
The Iroquois tribe (Native American) has the practice of “seventh generation.” In making decisions, they consider the long-term effects of potential current actions. What will this do in the lives of our children? Of our children’s children? And so on to the seventh generation. This is an ancient but sophisticated, organic form of “futuring” – using what is now called “strategic foresight” to consider the affects of trends toward change, extrapolate plausible directions and implications of those changes, and create a set of stories that embody the possible results of those changes so the decision-makers can select the preferable story to pursue. And isn’t that really what biblical discernment is about, in great part – to work toward a healthy and sustainable future for all parties concerned?
In its days as a migrational tribe, there were separate camps for the men, and the women and children. When considering matters of decision making for the direction of the tribe, whichever group of adults arrived first for the council – the men or the women – waited for their other to arrive. Their understanding was that talk among members of just one group was only half a discussion. The tribe needed the input of both genders in order to achieve a balanced consideration and decision. It takes the entire Council to achieve the best counsel.
In another tribal group’s community meetings, they hold to a practice of allowing anyone to ask questions or make comments about the issue at hand. The person’s statement is then discussed, answered, or otherwise considered as appropriate before going on to the next person. However, they go in order from the youngest person present who wishes to speak, to the oldest. I am particularly fascinated by this notion. At first it seems counterintuitive – shouldn’t those from younger generations learn by listening to the wisdom of the elders first? And yet, by reversing the order, it could train those who are younger to ask questions, seek information, propose solutions, etc. – skills that need to be actively practiced in order for children to grow into wise elders. Also, it helps those who are older identify various kinds of abilities among those who are younger, and that could facilitate better apprenticing. As long as there is no shaming for questions/comments that may be too simple or too complex, but patience with letting all present learn, this approach fosters holistic thinking, innovation, and familial love. Intriguing …
These kinds of communal hermeneutics for interpretation, discernment, and action are certain to become more prominent issues as the mainstream cultures become less individualistic and more community oriented. There are traditions within Christianity that emphasize the plural over the singular. Len Hjalmarson recently posted on Post-Christendom Hermeneutics, and I would highly recommend reading it for a case study in Anabaptist hermeneutics.
Here are some key dates in the unfolding of the Lakeland controversy:
April 3 – arrival of Todd Bentley in Lakeland, Florida, and the beginning of the phenomena that came to be called an outpouring, revival, etc.
June 23 – apostolic council/covering/commissioning/alignment
August 8 – 08-08-08 event (see Rick Joyner/MorningStar Publications and Ministries)
August 12 – Fresh Fire Ministries posts notification that Todd Bentley is stepping down
August 15 – Further details reveal ongoing problem preceded Mr. Bentley’s stepping down.
August 15 – September 7 – After Mr. Bentley stepped down, there was a series of responses and updates posted by those directly involved, mostly during the first 10 days. The last few weeks of August and first week of September also saw a number of blog posts and news articles in reaction to the overall Lakeland situation, and particularly toward the responses, theologies, and actions of leaders directly involved.
UPDATE: Late September – Additional statements are being posted by some of those centrally involved, and there is beginning to be more detail available on a possible restoration process/plan for Mr. Bentley.
Here are two overview articles on the history of the Lakeland events, written sometime during the initial fallout period (mid-August to early September):
Revivalist Todd Bentley Separates From Wife by Paul Steven Shiringhelli. A news summary comes from a Charismatic perspective. It was printed/posted in the October 2008 issue of Charisma Magazine. (Due to print publication deadlines, the date on this may mean it was probably written at least few weeks to a month or more earlier. Details recounted set a probable writing date of very late August or early September.)
Evangelical Gullibility by Ed Stetzer (Baptist), summarizing key doctrinal and accountability issues. It also contains a link to a statement from the Assemblies of God denomination (Pentecostal) on revival.
Here are key people and ministry organizations that have often been associated with some aspect of the Lakeland Outpouring. The list and links are not exhaustive. Even though some of those mentioned are individuals I disagree with or do not much comprehend their actions, I do want to let them speak for themselves and I will try to speak about them respectfully. Also, I’ve done the best I could in the time available to research and double check for accuracy.
Fresh Fire Ministries, Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. This is Todd Bentley’s home-base ministry, and you’ll find a history on their page, How We Began. At this posting, a search of the Fresh Fire Store for materials featuring Mr. Bentley showed a list of 73 items available.
Revival Alliance is an organization for world evangelization that officially launched in March 2008. Among its co-founders are Pastors Che Ahn, Bill Johnson, and John Arnott, all of whom participated in the “apostolic alignment” and commissioning of Todd Bentley on June 23. On August 15, the Revival Alliance website posted a nine-minute video Interview Between Randy Clark (of Global Awakening) and Bill Johnson.
Stephen Strader is Pastor of Ignited Church in Lakeland, Florida, where the “Lakeland Outpouring” began in early April 2008. At this posting, the Ignited Church bookstore sells CDs and DVDs of Todd Bentley’s leading of Lakeland Outpouring sessions, as well as other related materials.
C. Peter Wagner is Presiding Apostle for the International Coalition of Apostles (ICA), and President of Global Harvest Ministries. At this posting, Global Harvest’s bookstore, The Arsenal, sells a book that includes an interview with Todd Bentley, and several books where endorsements by Mr. Bentley are listed. As Presiding Apostle representing the ICA, Mr. Wagner convened the commissioning service for Mr. Bentley on June 23, and issued a Report of the Lakeland Outpouring on June 25. According to this report, “The seventeen apostles involved in this event represented three distinct apostolic streams: ICA (10 were ICA members), Revival Alliance, and Morningstar.” Mr. Wagner later released a report on the Lakeland Apostolic Findings on August 11, the day before Fresh Fire Ministries publicized that Mr. Bentley was stepping down from ministry.
Bill Johnson is Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California, and head of Bill Johnson Ministries. He was a prominent participant in the commissioning service for Todd Bentley. In mid-August, he posted a letter Regarding Todd Bentley, along with a video clip from the church’s August 17 service. Sometime in August, he also posted on his FAQ page, Update: What do you think about Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Revival?
John Arnott is a Founding Pastor of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. At this posting, TACF’s Store sells four products (CDs, DVDs, book) that feature Todd Bentley and two where endorsements by Mr. Bentley are listed. He was a prominent participant in the commissioning service for Mr. Bentley. On August 17, he posted the Lakeland & Todd Bently Update.
Che Ahn is Senior Pastor at Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California. He was a prominent participant in the commissioning service for Todd Bentley. In about mid-August, he posted An Open Letter from Pastor Che Regarding Recent Events.
Rick Joyner is Co-Founder of MorningStar Publications and Ministries. At this posting, Morning Star’s bookstore sells 22 items featuring Todd Bentley, including a two-DVD set of the Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08. (August 8, 2008, was four days before public notification on August 12 that Mr. Bentley had stepped down from ministry.) On August 23, Mr. Joyner posted The History and Future of the Present Revival – Part 9, which talked about recent events with Lakeland and Mr. Bentley. MorningStar associate Leonard Jones, Head of their Worship Department, also posted Todd Bentley “Statements” on August 23, in support of Mr. Joyner’s pastoral response to Mr. Bentley. UPDATE-September 28, 2008: On September 26, the MorningStar Ministries website noted that a Special Bulletin: Statement Regarding Todd Bentley had been posted by Mr. Joyner. In “The History and Future of the Present Revival – Part 10,” he gives an update on the restoration process plans/progress for Mr. Bentley. His statement also includes the text of the recent God TV “Personal Message from Rory & Wendy Concerning Lakeland,” along with some comments.
Rory and Wendy Alec are media pioneers who began God TV in the UK, which is now also in the US. God TV broadcast nightly meetings of the Lakeland Outpouring. UPDATE-September 27, 2008: A “Personal Message from Rory & Wendy Concerning Lakeland” was posted on the God TV website. It appears to have been posted on or before September 25, as it is undated on God TV website and that is the date of the earliest link to it that I could find.
Stacey Campbell is Co-Founder of RevivalNow! Ministries in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She and her husband Wesley also co-founded Praying the Bible International, and Be A Hero. Ms. Campbell was one of the individuals who prayed and prophesied over Todd Bentley at his commissioning service on June 23. She posted a Public Statement Regarding Prophecy to Todd Bentley in August. At this posting, a search of the Hero Resources Bookstore sold two CD or DVD products featuring Mr. Bentley.
Dutch Sheets is Senior Pastor of Freedom Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and President/Co-Founder of Dutch Sheets Ministries. On August 21, Pastor Sheets issued A Statement and Appeal Regarding Lakeland, in which he issued both warnings and apologies. He states, “My primary purpose, and I believe my assignment from the Lord, is to identificationally repent on behalf of the leadership of the charismatic body of Christ (see Nehemiah 1:4- 7; Daniel 9:1-19).” The version on his website is posted as an image, and includes a correction on miscommunications at the top. Many other websites such as this one carry text versions, but may or may not have the correction, so at least check his original edition for the way he sought to present it himself.
For secondary sources, I have selected blog posts from four people I find credible, and who have written repeatedly on Lakeland and related subjects. They include two women and two men, all from “post-charismatic” backgrounds (i.e., still adhere to Charismatic theology overall, but have questioned its gaps and excesses):
As far as I can discern, they are all long-time followers of Christ, and demonstrate a level of theological astuteness and personal vulnerability that goes with a significant degree of spiritual maturity. In their blogs, they wrestle openly with necessary questions of personal balance, needed changes to the existing church systems, and doing something that makes a difference for the future.
Their Lakeland post links may go to primary sources, secondary sources from both post-charismatic and non-charismatic bloggers, and comments from those who are clearly pro-Lakeland, anti-Lakeland, or searching. This combination of posts gives you a very large body of evidence to work with in discerning what you perceive as lapses in leadership, related theological issues, and constructive suggestions for changes to the systems of being church in the post-Christendom era.
You will occasionally find these bloggers, or those to whom they link, referring to “CLB.” This is an acronym that stands for Church Left Behind. Each of these four bloggers has had to deal with difficult situations related to churches, leadership, and spiritual abuse.
“Discernment Ministries” apparently is a term that is sometimes used for people who do serious apologetics work, which requires the kind of hardcore academic study and biblical discernment analysis I spoke of in Part 1 of this series. It also appears to be used as an insider euphemism for outsiders call “heresy hunters,” and do these tend to have a more edgy approach and tone – whether they engage in serious apologetics work or just “bare and tear.”
May 13 – Kingdom Grace. Healing Revival (and links to a mini-synchroblog on the subject of revivals and Lakeland).
May 14 – Former Leader. Straw Man Arguments. A listing of seven “Full Gospel Excuses for Error” and some commentary.
May 29 – Former Leader. The Scattering … Prophetic Voices? How God is shaking the institutional church, and wondering if this might be the next big move of God.
June 1 – Former Leader. What If? A continuation of thoughts on whether the current shake-up in institutional church might constitute the Next Big Move of God.
June 30 – Former Leader. On The Selling of Donkeys, Bright Lights and Charismania. What happens when we attempt to replicate an experiential “high.”
August 10 – Former Leader. Disclaimer Needed. The cost of tasting the truth and no longer being able to stomach lies.
August 12 – Brother Maynard. Call it Apostolic Fallout. Reasons for reviewing previous cautionary warnings about dangers in the search for the extraordinary, emotionalism, and lack of validation for claims of miracles.
August 14 – Kingdom Grace. Apostolic Bullshit. Details the before-and-after discrepancies and distancings by C. Peter Wagner, using direct quotes from him.
August 15 – Kingdom Grace. Apostolic Bullshit II. The relationship between contemporary apostolic concepts of covering, alignment, and accountability to the previous, failed, and proven abusive Discipleship and Shepherding Movements.
August 16 – Brother Maynard. Is Bentley Taking the ICA Down With Him? Gives background on the International Coalition of Apostles, and gives investigative report links.
August 17 – Former Leader. A Call for Honesty. This is a must-read, must-see post, including the comments. Former Leader gives a highly informed reading of the situation in the immediate aftermath of Todd Bentley stepping down. She also posts four YouTube videos of the June 23 commissioning service. These include (1) opening statements by C. Peter Wagner, leading to the formal commissioning and offering the right hand of fellowship, and issuing a number of “decrees” about Mr. Bentley and about this movement. Statements from Che Ahn, and then anointing Mr. Bentley with “special oil” sent by Chuck Pierce who could not be present. (2) Prayer by John Arnott and Bill Johnson, and a number of prophecies by various apostles, (3) Stacey Campbell and others pray/prophesy over Mr. Bentley. (4) Laying hands on Todd and his wife Shonnah, and praying for them; Todd speaks for about 2 minutes. The first three videos are 8- to 10-minutes each, and the fourth one is about 4 minutes.
August 18 – Kingdom Grace. Apostolic Bullshit III. The hierarchy of apostolic roles as theologized by C. Peter Wagner, although using a definition of apostle that distinctly falls short of the biblical definition, and appears to promote the pyramid structure of authorities as intermediators of God’s grace.
August 18 – Brother Maynard. Cutting the Crap: A Call for Charismatic Reform. Background on how the world has changed, such that these kinds of public arena unravelings can never again be kept secret, and those who say or do questionable things can never again expect to have that go unquestioned.
August 18 – Bill Kinnon. Particularly Bent – A Week Away from the Blog. A roundup of thoughts from across the missional and post-charismatic wings of the blogosphere, with links to a range of posts with commentary and critiques.
August 19 – Brother Maynard. Charismatic Cleanup on Aisle 6! Brother Maynard pulls out the statements of problems and solutions from Dan Edelen’s series on “Cleansing the Charismatic Crackup,” offering his own comments and critiques on what Dan suggests as how get practical about changing what has gone wrong in Charismatic circles.
August 20 – Brother Maynard. Charismatic Cleanup Part II. A continuation of Brother Maynard’s previous post, this time expounded on the three summary issues he cited at the end of Part I: (1) A lack of humility, coupled with a focus on the man and the miracle. (2) A lack of balanced grounding in Scripture using standard hermeneutic methods. (3) A weak understanding of the work of Christ and the purpose of the church.
August 20 – Kingdom Grace. An Apostolic Tale. Parody of the excesses and fallings-short in the apostolic theology.
August 21 – Kingdom Grace. A Charismatic Quiz. A four-question quiz that embodies the range of responses to the situation at Lakeland.
August 23 – Kingdom Grace. Worth Repeating. Quotes from other posts on true and false authority exhibited by “apostles” and “prophets.”
August 25 – Former Leader. I Did Not Want To Be Right. This is a must-read, must-see post, including the comments. Thoughts in the wake of C. Peter Wagner’s letter explaining his role with, and distancing himself from, Todd Bentley and the Lakeland situation. This is the letter where Mr. Wagner cites his track record on discernment and labels those who failed, including Mr. Bentley, as “losers.”
August 26 – Kingdom Grace. Extreme Charismatic Makeover. Identifies a series of theological concepts where charismatic leaders/teachers frequently espouse by word and deny in deeds.
August 26 – Bill Kinnon. C Peter Run. Alternative title: The Dissembling of the apostles. Additional before-versus-after quotes and transcripts, plus some links to statements by others involved in Lakeland and those critiquing it.
August 27 – Brother Maynard. Reinterpreting the Lakeland Fallout. Summarizing concerns about the larger systems issues involved with leadership structures and the meaning of and standards for apostolic ministry. This was the post which sparked a number of bloggers in spending some concentrated time in September processing and posting their thoughts.
September 1 – Former Leader. Supernatural Words – I’m Sorry, I Was Wrong, Please Forgive Me. The power of apologies.
September 7 – Kingdom Grace. The Charismatic Family Tree. Overviews 100 years of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. Very helpful chronology of key streams within this movement and their impacts on the whole.
September 11 – Kingdom Grace. Latter-Rain Doctrine. Influences of the Latter-Rain movement on the charismatic movement. Includes a number of links to other blogs that are suggesting a need for an “extreme charismatic makeover.”
September 15 – Brother Maynard. Stacy Campbell Apologizes But Doesn’t Own Up. Ms. Campbell was one of the women who prayed and prophesied over Todd Bentley at his commissioning service June 23. From an apology she posted online, it appears she only apologizes for the confusion it may have caused, and not for the substance. Brother Maynard challenges her perspective on the validity and reliability of her prophecy, and calls her to take full responsibility for her actions.
CONCLUSION: QUESTIONS TO PONDER
The following questions relate to leadership, doctrinal, and/or systems concerns raised by the Lakeland Outpouring. Many similar issues or questions are addressed both by proponents and opponents of the Outpouring and/or its aftermath. Some are generic issues, and some relate specifically to the circumstances at Lakeland. Since the issues already exist, and are distributed throughout the Kingdom, consider contributing what you can to the communal discernment process that may lead to a healthier environment for ministers and ministries.
Since we are all imperfect vessels, what right and/or responsibility do we have as individuals, church communities, and movements within the larger Kingdom have to evaluate anyone? If we do have a biblical responsibility, what are the boundaries on this – the minimum levels required, and the maximum levels allowed?
What are biblical requirements as to qualifications for public ministry? What are differences being “unqualified” for public ministry and being “disqualified” from public ministry? What are biblical procedures for mentoring those who are unqualified? What are biblical procedures for addressing issues and potentially restoring to ministry those who are currently disqualified?
What are differences between biblically restorative consequences in a “discipline” process, versus merely punitive consequences? (In vernacular terms, what makes the difference between a “holy lift up” and a “spiritual smack down”?)
Some church communities use the ordination process as a way to gauge theological knowledge and orthodoxy, and publicly endorse the candidate’s biblical/theological comprehension. In a similar way with personal character, spiritual maturity level, and ministry skills, what are appropriate questions to ask to gauge readiness and qualifications for public ministry before “laying on of hands” to indicate public endorsement?
How do we help one another to prevent “ministry burnout”?
Is there a difference between “demonstrating apostolic ministry” and “being an apostle”? If so, what are the distinguishing marks or aspects of each, and what biblical evidences are there for these distinctive features?
What do you see as problems in the leaders who are related to Lakeland – theological, leadership approaches, and ministry systems?
What do you see as problems in those who responded to the events at Lakeland, and what they saw as lapses in leadership? Did they get anything wrong, and if so, why do you conclude that? Did they miss anything that you think is wrong, and what is your reasoning for that conclusion?
Who has generally acted in a biblical manner of compassion without compromise in this situation? Are there individuals who should be particularly commended for their constructive relationship with Todd Bentley, and why?
What have been costs and/or benefits to the Kingdom of the actions of Todd Bentley? What have been costs and/or benefits to the Kingdom of the actions of leaders related to the Lakeland Outpouring, Mr. Bentley’s commissioning service, and ongoing actions since Mr. Bentley’s withdrawal from ministry? What have been costs and/or benefits to the Kingdom of the reports, commentaries, critiques, and rebuttals that have appeared on websites.
Where do the International Coalition of Apostles’ definition of apostle and C. Peter Wagner’s hierarchy of apostles align with New Testament Scriptures? Where do they fall short of the biblical definition, requirements, and roles of an apostle? Where do they exceed the biblical definition, requirements, and roles of an apostle?
What weight of biblical evidence does the “identificational repentance” doctrine mentioned in Dutch Sheets’ A Statement and Appeal Regarding Lakeland possess? Would you say that it is, overall, definitely biblical, abiblical (some biblical evidence but the concept is more a theological construct than a biblical command), antibiblical (goes against other clear statements or commandments in Old and/or New Testament), or other?
The post C Peter Run/The Dissembling of the apostles contains a link to Spinning Out the Bentley by Phoenix Preacher, which offers some stark commentary and critiques, including this comment from the reader Babylon’s Dread: “Finally, despite what all the leaders say, their actions on June 23 were tantamount to a public endorsement. To deny that is to make public statements meaningless and useless. Therefore, some form of public apology and or repentance is necessary to restore credibility.” What scriptural backing can you see for this conclusion?
Should churches, ministries, and organizations which currently sell materials in which Todd Bentley is ministering/featured remove those items from their product list, not remove them, or it does not matter? And what is your reasoning for your response – what are the ethical issues involved? If someone advocated removing the products, would you interpret that as too severe a consequence?
What could be done in the future to help avoid situations of deception, confusion, and questioning of what the Spirit may or may not be doing?
What should apostolic/prophetic movements do in the future so they do not appear that God is telling them false information?
In the future, what aspects of discernment could/should be done by individuals alone, which in the company of other leaders, and which in the presence of the community?
In general, what can those who are non-Charismatic learn from those who are Charismatic, and vice versa? How could followers of Christ from these two streams work together in ways that would make the entire Kingdom stronger, while still allowing for some core differences in theologies as long as all remain orthodox?
What additional questions or concerns would you suggest should be added to this section on Questions to Ponder?
Series Links ~ Kingdom Leadership After Lakeland
- Part 1: Discernment and the Costly Descent into Darkness
- Part 2: Considering Various Sources …
- Part 3: Seven Critical Lapses in Leadership and an Appeal to Own Our Responsibilities
- Part 3 – Addendum #1: Notes, Quotes, and Questions on Reconstructing Authority
- Part 3 – Addendum #2: Reconstructing Ministry Systems-Six Trends Toward Systems Solutions
- Part 3 – Addendum #3: Reconstructing Ministry Systems-When Churches are Like Leaky Ships, How Do We Fix the Boat?
- Part 3 – Addendum #4: Reconstructing Ministry Systems-How Do We Fix a Leaky Boat, and Who Can Best Lead in Doing So?