|Prophecy and Signs and Wonders |
by Frank Turk
Before we get started here, it behoves me to remind all of you -- and there's no gracious way to say this, so here it comes -- that Dan told you so twice. And what really polishes the apple there is that, as some astute commenters have almost noted, somehow we're the ones who don't claim to be prophets who get a spontaneous word from God, and the folks who are very ardent and urgent to claim "prophets" and "apostles", well, missed it. By a lot.
We'll get to that, because I have a veritable laundry list of stuff I want to get through on this today, but let's start off by being fair: if you type the search "bentley site:charismamag.com", on the second or third page of that search you'll see that in the reader forums at Charisma, many reders there were plainly distancing themselves from Bentley, plainly denouncing him as a fraud. It just seems that the editorial staff of Charisma couldn't find a way to sort of harness the spirit there and find out, one way or the other, if the critics had a foot to stand on -- biblical, pneumatological, podiatrical or otherwise.
So what's to learn from this? I mean, what's the take-away, given the context that I have opened this can of worms by linking Dr. Piper's response to these events?
Here's my first suggestion -- and it's to people like John Piper and C. J. Mahaney for whom, frankly, I have the highest level of respect and from whom I have frankly learned more than I could list: you can't publish essays like this one after the fact, well after the next ridiculous charismatic fraud has exposed himself as a profiteer toward God's Gospel, and not face the question, "How did you not see this coming?"
I wholly affirm what Dr. Piper said here:
Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.
And if anyone asked me -- anyone, at any time, in any circumstance -- whether I thought men like Dr. Piper and C.J. grasped and taught biblical truth, and thereby were broken, humble, repentant, I'd say "yes" with no qualifiers.
Yes, in fact: heroes of the faith. In their way, they have stood up against the trend to remove the cross from the church, seeking to turn the people who bear the name of Jesus toward their God rather than the TV, the movie theater, and the internet. That's what they do.
Somehow the false idol of entertainment can be identified in every other place and spoken against in no uncertain terms, but when a Todd Bentley starts actively deceiving people under the cover of signs and wonders, it seems the credible advocates of the "continualist" view always -- always -- adopt a wait-and-see approach to these quacks who are simply tempting the hurting and the gullible away from the faith and toward a sideshow profit center.
Seriously: how is it possible that "60 Minutes" knew more about Todd Bentley -- and were more willing to get him on the record -- than Charisma magazine? Doesn't Charisma have more to lose by doing what it did -- namely, giving Bentley a free pass for almost 5 years until his ship came in and then crashed into the dock? They had to know -- tracking him as a Canadian Evangelist since at least 2003 -- what he was teaching and how he was developing. How could they not know? And how could they not, frankly, denounce him -- or at least call him to be accountable for what, in hindsight, J. Lee Grady called plainly, "cultic manipulation at its worst".
Dr. Piper is welcome, in my view, to defend his position on the continuation of the gifts as he sees fit (I have a whole other series of post on that matter coming). But, unfortunately, this last article of his glosses over the abuses and overlooks the lack of discernment in those with whom he, apparently, agrees with on this matter for the sake of fronting a minor apologetic on the matter rather than plainly denouncing a fraud.
This does not diminish my admiration for Dr. Piper or Desiring God Ministries. This simply underscores the real lack of engagement by serious people about these matters which require biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds to discern before the name of Christ and the power of His Gospel is denigrated.
Todd Bentley has denigrated the church -- to outsiders and to the many whom he deceived. Nobody needed a dream from an angel to see this one coming -- yet nobody but crackpots like Dan and myself and Phil said anything about it. Unless those who are actually committed to the charismatic/pentecostal vision can themselves discern the wheat from the chaff, that movement will be consistently plagued by this sort of folk revivalism, substatiation of "elmer Gantry" stereotypes, and the discrediting the most important message in the history of the world.
God be with you this weekend as you go to the Lord's House on the Lord's day to be with the Lord's people. He is with you when you gather and listen to His word and take His ordinances.