NOTE: Generally our ministry does not write articles about specific individual teachers / ministries. Rather, we seek to provide biblically based material that helps equip people to evaluate teachers / ministries for themselves. However, Bentley's movement raised so many significant questions, and lingering concerns, that we thought it worthwhile to write an article on this subject specifically. We believe in God's movements and that He could perform miracles today. We are not concerned with Bentley's tattoos, piercings, or odd methods. What we are concerned about is that his claims and actions do not line up with the Bible. Many of his teachings and actions simply are not biblical.
Is Todd Bentley of Fresh Fire Ministries a biblical teacher? Was the Lakeland, Florida revival biblical?
Todd Bentley, born in Canada in 1976, led the Lakeland, Florida "Healing Revival" in 2008, which tens of thousands of people attended, where he performed what he called healings, and where he exhibited what he claimed were movements of the Holy Spirit. He stepped down after a NBC Dateline investigation reported it could not confirm any healings, then he admitted an inappropriate relationship with an intern. Bentley divorced his wife and married the intern several months later.
The Lakeland, Florida revival was supported by "prophet" Bob Jones (no connection with Bob Jones University), William Branham (who promotes a racist-hate doctrine called "serpent seed") and IHOP-KC (a charismatic prayer ministry based in Kansas City).
He claimed he was blessed by the Holy Spirit to manifest sign gifts, produce oil from his palms, and gold dust from his pores. None of those signs are biblical, but he pointed to John 14:12 to explain them. In that verse, Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." This verse is taken out of context. Jesus referred to the breadth of the spread of the gospel, that His followers would take the Good News throughout the world by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Producing gold dust from one's palms is hardly what Jesus meant, and certainly a far cry from the Spirit-empowered, life-changing impact of the gospel of salvation through Christ.
Bentley has also taught about the practice of leaving his own body and traveling about (astral travelling) and practiced communicating with the dead (necromancy). The Bible clearly prohibits such activity (Isaiah 8:19¬–20, Deuteronomy 18:9¬–12, Leviticus 20:6; Galatians 5:19–21). He spoke of an angel named Emma who visited him. When some critics pointed out that a Japanese deity who rules the underworld is named Emma-o, Bentley removed any references to her from his website.
Many people are convinced that Bentley is in contact with the spiritual world, but many others doubt it is by the Holy Spirit. Believers in Christ have the Holy Spirit, of whom Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:13). If truth is available through God's Word and the Holy Spirit, why would God send a different spirit to speak to us? First John 1:4 warns, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world" (see also 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
Jesus spoke of false prophets in Matthew 24:11: "And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray." Do not be led astray by Todd Bentley.
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