Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Lakeland Revival

I've been putting off commenting on the revival meetings in Lakeland, FL under evangelist Todd Bentley. I wanted some time to think and wait for fruit to be revealed, good of bad. Video of the daily meetings is all over the web and Christian television, and there is a lot of buzz on the internet, pro and con (mostly con).

Jared Wilson at Gospel Driven Church is quite negative. He writes:
I'll start being fair when this stuff produces: a) prophetic pronouncements with 100% accuracy and quantifiable results, not loud animal sounds and crippled people falling down because you yelled "Bam!", b) an understanding of the Holy Spirit as a comforter and healer who evokes awe and wonder because he is God, not as a magical pixie dust you can throw around on people like Rip Taylor's confetti, and c) actual, reformational revival in the land, not arenas full of people whooping and hollering. That's not revival. That's . . . well, I don't know what that is, but it's not revival.

So yeah. That's my opinion of the goings on in Florida.
Bob at "In the Clearing" writes:
I've been wondering if I should say something here about the "revival" going on down in Lakeland. Some of my friends are just way excited about this stuff. Me, I don't want to be a wet blanket or something, so I've been operating under the Grandma rule: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

Well, but the problem with that is, people sometimes mistake a smiling reticence for approval. Furthermore, I just read Jared's post on the same subject, and I just want to say, Yeah. Me too.

I've watched a little of the video, listened to and watched some of the impresario's preaching, and read a few pro and con bloggers, etc. All I can tell you is, if feelings are worth anything at all, this guy gives me the creeps. This whole thing give me the creeps.

That's all. I just had to get it out.
Michael Davis at Charismatica is positive:
Can’t help but wonder if this is the beginning of the ‘big one’ or only a ‘foreshock’. I live in earthquake country and every time a large earthquake hits (5.0 or above) we wonder if it is the main event or only a large foreshock of the ‘big one’ to come latter. What ever it is it is God and it is good. Lord, let it spread across the whole country from shore to shore. Amen.
J. Lee Grady at Charisma Magazine supports the revival but after visiting the meetings and weeks of prayerful consideration he offers cautions and warnings here:
But I would be dishonest if I told you that I wholeheartedly embraced what I saw in Lakeland. Something disturbed me, but I kept my mouth shut for three weeks while I prayed, got counsel from respected ministry leaders and searched my heart to make sure I was not harboring a religious spirit. The last thing we need today is more mean-spirited heresy hunters blasting other Christians.

I am not a heresy hunter, and I support what is happening in Lakeland because I know God uses imperfect people (like me and you) to reach others for Jesus. At the same time, I believe my questions are honest and my concerns are real.
Grady's cautionary warnings include "Beware of bizarre manifestations," "Beware of hype and exaggeration," and "Beware of strange fire" (specifically referring to Bentley's teachings about angels). His comments are very well thought out and I recommend that interested parties read the whole thing. Grady concludes.
I am rejoicing over all the reported healings at the Lakeland meetings. Miracles are awesome. Crowds are great. But miracles and crowds alone don’t guarantee a revival. Multitudes followed Jesus during His ministry on earth, but many of the people who saw the dead raised or ate food that was supernaturally multiplied later crucified the Son of God.

It was the few disciples who followed Jesus after Calvary who ushered in a true revival—one that was bathed in the fear of God, confirmed by signs and wonders, tempered by persecution and evidenced by thousands of conversions, new churches and the transformation of society. We should expect nothing less.
I'll post my thoughts and comments tomorrow.