When the Gospel is not the focus...

Hopefully, this will be my last post on the sad situation resulting from the so-called "revival" in Lakeland, FL. A few days ago, Grady at FireinmyBones.com released a harsh look at the Charismatic response to Todd Bentley.

"It was not supposed to end like this" laments Grady in a blog post entitled "Life After Lakeland: Sorting Out the Confusion." (HT: Heidelblog)

Among the questions Grady seeks answers for are the following:
Why did so many people flock to Lakeland from around the world to rally behind an evangelist who had serious credibility issues from the beginning?

Why didn’t anyone in Lakeland denounce the favorable comments Bentley made about William Branham?

Why did God TV tell people that “any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic”?

Why did a group of respected ministers lay hands on Bentley on June 23 and publicly ordain him? Did they know of his personal problems?

Can anything good come out of this?
To the last question, I answer that this is an example of what happens when we do not uphold the preaching of the Gospel. In what is an odd quirk of nature, we can talk all day of God and His power (as Bentley was apparently doing in these meetings) but fail to preach in a life-changing, God-honoring way. This is why it is so dangerous to preach ideas and topics rather than the Bible -- people will not meet God as He wants to meet them.

Indeed, many of those who claimed to meet God in Lakeland lack the evidence to prove so.

Of course, there is a euphoria when praising and worshiping God in a corporate setting, surrounded by other believers. I would not deny that some of the sensations felt by people at the worship services were spiritual in origin.

However, human emotions can be manipulated as well, and much euphoria in these kinds of meetings comes from hours of repetitious singing, repetitious drum beats, and repetitious chords played on instruments. This explains why folks of the many false religions of the world claim similar experiences with the divine.

When in such a naturally conjured state of ecstasy, the faith healer is able to pull all manner of stunts to convince folks of "healings." This is because all mental defenses have long-since fallen, leaving the subjects open to suggestion. It is no wonder that practitioners of voodoo, shamanism, and other forms of religious ceremony from the various non-Christian faiths of the world utilize similar techniques at their "faith-healing" services.

And, it is no wonder Jesus tells us to love God with all our mind (Mt 22:37) and to worship Him in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23).

Thus, the result of non-Gospel preaching is fraudulent worship, a strange fire being offered before the Lord. Further, in this case, broken hearts lay in the wake of "revival." In a recent article, Christianity Today reports:
Recent news reports have been unable to verify any of the claims of healing, although revival officials say they have been barred from releasing complete information about the identities and conditions of people claiming to be healed due to privacy concerns and laws forbidding the release of medical records.
How many people came seeking a miracle walked away empty-handed? As such, they came to meet God, thought they had, and God denied them the desire of their hearts. Todd Bentley's theological system does not allow for the preacher's error -- it was the lack of faith of those who thought they experienced God in the revival meeting.

How sad.

The biblical and circumstantial evidence speaks of a different reality, however. They did not meet God in the way He designed for them in His Word. They tried to meet God through the gyrations, ideas, words, and messages of Todd Bentley.

They met with a source of emotional manipulation, not with the source of the Good News to the world.

While I am cautious to say that God could not use even this to save a lost soul, there is a much better way. True love, power, and worship is not found in a preacher "going on in detail about visions" (Col 2:18), but in the Gospel message that God has made Christ "our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption" (1 Cor 1:30).

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