Charismatic Dominionists Endorse Bentley
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Jun 29, 2008 at 05:27:52 AM EST
A few days ago I wrote a piece on Todd Bentley's faith-healing revival in Florida, noting support for Bentley from Steven Strang, the influential editor of Charisma, and from Paul Cain, the neo-Pentecostal revivalist who is now described as a "restored prophet" following past Ted Haggard-like indiscretions. Bentley's revival has been going on since the beginning of April, and now after some debate all the "Third Wave" big-hitters have decided to jump on the bandwagon. Peter C Wagner joined Bentley on stage to offer a remarkable endorsement which shows us as much about his own self-importance as his views about Bentley:
"This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world. With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me and I decree to Todd Bentley, your power will increase, your authority will increase, your favor will increase, your influence will increase, your revelation will increase.

"I also decree that a new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry. A new life force will penetrate this move of God. Government will be established to set things in their proper order. God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error. New relationships will surface to open the gates to the future."

Bentley responded in self-effacing kind:

"I am no church historian, but I do not know of any other time in history, since the book of Acts, have so many different apostles and so many different prophets and movements and leaders [been represented]," Bentley said of the capacity crowd. "This is so much bigger than [anything else] ever before. The devil is shaking in his boots because the apostles are gathering and the prophets are gathering."

Joining Wagner on stage were the following high-profile ministers:

Ché Ahn, pastor of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, Calif.; John Arnott of Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in Canada; Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif.; and Rick Joyner, founder of MorningStar Ministries in Charlotte, N.C.

Peter Wagner is most famous for his theories about spiritual warfare and the demonic, and he was particularly influential in the 1980s and early 1990s. Wagner sees Christians in battle against demons of particular vices that seek to control aspects of one's personality at an individual level, and against "territorial demons" that control the politics and society of whole countries. Christian prayer is weapon against Satan, to be deployed strategically: Charisma's Lee J. Grady compares Wagner's World Prayer Center to a kind of spiritual Pentagon. Eventually, Christians will take dominion over society, and certain leaders will have their authority confirmed through supernatual abilities. As we can see from Wagner's rhetoric, the emphasis is on God as a source of power: notions of Christian humility and quiet self-examination do not appear to figure very strongly.

However, despite the crowds flocking to Florida to receive Bentley's blessing and healing powers, he remains a controversial figure among conservative evangelicals: a bit of Googling quickly reveals dozens of sites which dispute his theology and his claims from a conservative Christian perspective, and even many of the Freepers appear sceptical. Although Wagner waited a while before calculating whether to hitch his wagon to Bentley's star (or rather, God waited a while before telling Wagner to do it), it's by no means clear yet that this will result in a general revival of Wanger's exuberantly supernaturalist "Third Wave" theology.




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