Rebuke for the Hasty Restoration of Todd Bentley

S&P sent this to me, and in the light of recent discussions on this blog, and because this issue has been followed on this blog, I will post it up.

I can relate to his sentiments.


-by J. Lee Grady.

This week’s announcement about evangelist Todd Bentley’s hasty remarriage and restoration is sending a confusing message to the church. I groaned when I learned early this week that Canadian preacher Todd Bentley, leader of the controversial Lakeland Revival, had decided to divorce his wife, Shonnah, and marry his former ministry intern, Jessa Hasbrook. The news surfaced after almost nine months of silence and speculation, during which time the board of Bentley’s Fresh Fire Ministries in British Columbia publicly scolded him for committing adultery.

In a statement released March 10 by Rick Joyner, the popular author and minister who is overseeing Bentley’s restoration process, we were told that (1) Bentley married his new wife several weeks ago and moved to Joyner’s base in Fort Mill, S.C.; (2) Todd and Jessa agree that their relationship was “wrong and premature” and that it “should not have happened the way it did”; (3) Bentley will remain out of public ministry while he seeks healing; and (4) Joyner will oversee the healing process with input from Dallas pastor Jack Deere and California pastor Bill Johnson.

“Many of us have rejected biblical discipline and adopted a sweet, spineless love that cannot correct.”

It was also announced that Bentley plans to relaunch his ministry, called Fresh Fire USA, in Fort Mill, and that Joyner is now collecting donations from supporters to help rebuild it. (The Canadian ministry Bentley started has now been renamed Transform International, and it has severed ties with the evangelist.)

In a few places in his statement Joyner expressed tough love, especially when he said: “We know that trust has to be earned and that Todd will have to earn the trust of the body of Christ for future minstry, which will not be easy, nor should it be.” He also made it clear that true repentance and restoration “can only come if we refuse to compromise the clear biblical standards for morality and integrity.”

But there were some glaring omissions in the statements released this week that indicate a fundamental weakness in our freestyle approach to “restoring” fallen leaders.

First of all, it is outrageous that Shonnah Bentley, Todd’s first wife, does not seem to be an issue in the current discussion. Her name is never mentioned in Joyner’s statement-while Todd is mentioned 18 times. We are never told how Shonnah is handling the divorce. How will she manage to care for the three children she and Todd share? She and the kids seem invisible in this process. Yet if anyone needs healing and restoration, is it not the other half of this broken family?

Second, we charismatics still seem to have a habit of elevating gifting above character. It’s almost as if the end justifies the means.
(So what if a preacher ruins one marriage and makes a hasty decision to marry a younger woman – the important thing is that we get him back in the pulpit to heal the sick!) That is a perversion of biblical integrity. God can anoint any man or woman with the Holy Spirit’s power; what He is looking for are vessels of honor that can carry that anointing with dignity, humility and purity.

What is most deplorable about this latest installment in the Bentley scandal is the lack of true remorse. In his own statement, Bentley apologizes for his actions and says he “takes full responsibility for my part for the ending of the marriage.” But how can he be taking “full responsibility” if he willingly chose to have a girlfriend on the side-and then married her immediately after his divorce was final? Why did he hide for several months when he should have been listening to counsel and seeking reconciliation with his first wife?

Many Christians today have rejected biblical discipline and adopted a sweet, spineless love that cannot correct. Our grace is greasy. No matter what an offending brother does, we stroke him and pet him and nurse his wounds while we ignore the people he wounded. No matter how heinous his sin, we offer comforting platitudes because, after all, who are we to judge?

When the apostle Paul learned that a member of the Corinthian church was in an immoral relationship with his father’s wife, he did
not rush to comfort the man. He told the Corinthians: “You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst” (I Cor.5:2). Sometimes we must draw a ruthless sword in order to bring genuine healing. The “wounds of a friend” are faithful to bring conviction and true repentance (see Prov. 27:6).

Paul actually delivered the unrepentant Corinthian man to Satan “for the destruction of his flesh” (5:5) so that he could be saved. That does not sound very nice. Many today would call Paul’s tactic harsh and legalistic. But that is because we have lost any true sense of the fear of the Lord – and we don’t realize that our laxness about God’s standards is a perversion of His mercy. When the sin is severe, the public rebuke must be severe.

In all the discussion of Bentley and the demise of the Lakeland Revival, I am waiting to hear the sound of sackcloth ripping into shreds. We should be weeping. We should be rending our hearts – as God commanded Israel when they fell into sin (see Joel 2: 13-14). To give guidance to a confused church, our leaders should have publicly decried the Lakeland disaster while at the same time helping both Todd and Shonnah to heal.

We have not mourned this travesty. We have not been shocked and appalled that such sin has been named among us. We act as if flippant divorce and remarriage are minor infractions – when in actuality they are such serious moral failures that they can bring disqualification.

If we truly love Todd Bentley, we will not clamor for his quick return to the pulpit. While we certainly want him to be fully restored to fellowship with God, we cannot rush the process of restoring a man to ministry. Leaders must live up to a higher standard. We must demand that those involved in Bentley’s restoration not only love him but also love the church by protecting us from the kind of scandal we endured last year.

-J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma.


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21 thoughts on “Rebuke for the Hasty Restoration of Todd Bentley

  1. I looked at both links. I couldn’t manage more than half the video. It seemed somehow sordid to listen to them go over the ramifications of Todd’s sins. Even though most of it consisted of asserting that Shonna his wife was fine. It just felt like a PR exercise and listening to a bunch of lies. No one can be that OK after such an big upheaval in such a short time; that would include TB himself. He’s still reacting to it, even if he’s happy with the result so far.

    Todd’s assertion in the video that people should move on because he and his wife had, showed a complete disregard for the many thousands of people who put their trust in him as a minister of Christ. Although its hard to say that he is a minister of Christ, since his behaviour is without compasssion towards those he ministered to and very unChristlike.

    Pheonix Preacher made some great points. I’m going to put one in a new post.

  2. This (from the PhoenixPreache link) sums it up for me

    “In all honesty, given the nature of this whole matter, Todd Bentley should be out of ministry for the foreseeable future. He should find a job and work. He should be quiet. He should listen and learn from more mature voices around him.”

  3. I’m really enjoying the ebb and flow of signposts02 – good to see it continuing in all directions.

  4. It should be noted that the article you are linking to on the Phoenix Preacher, was written by a Pastor in the “Renewal Stream” movement.

  5. Yeah, did you notice how RJ said that because Lee Grady hadn’t built anything, he didn’t have the authority to ‘judge’ things others had built?

    Effectively, this means RJ only sees a handful of people as ‘qualified’ to criticise his ministry. Basically others who have ‘built things’.

    So he is free to ignore the rest of the Body of Christ who don’t fit that category.

  6. Interesting principle RJ believes in there. Let’s see what we get if we apply it to other areas.

    -If you’ve been elected prime-minister of a country the only people who can criticize your policies are other prime-ministers.

    -Hitler built one of the best war machines (in its time) that the world has ever known, so the only people who can criticize Hitler are other people who’ve raised huge armies bent on world conquest.

    -If someone raises a harlot church the only people who can critise what they are doing are other people who’ve successfully raised harlot churches and infused them with heretical teaching.

    I don’t see it myself.

  7. “Effectively, this means RJ only sees a handful of people as ‘qualified’ to criticise his ministry. Basically others who have ‘built things’.

    So he is free to ignore the rest of the Body of Christ who don’t fit that category”.

    So what happened to the “cloak of humility” that he picked up in the vision? Left it at the drycleaners?

  8. Joyner can only be criticised by people who the world would agree have made it – who have built tangible organisations with structures and cash flows that can both be counted and praised.

    Would Jesus qualify as a person who could criticize Joyner? He had no structure to speak of. 70 guys or so. No cash flow worth mentioning. Jesus was a failure in the world’s eyes.

  9. Well said Heretic. I recall a radio interview involving prosperity gospel cheerleader Steve Penny and several other less “contemporary” figures who are involved in more traditional schools of church doctrine.

    One of these guys pointed out that Christ was hardly a raging financial success in his day and that he suffered a fate which is inconsistent with prosperity gospel doctrine. Ps Steve Penny replied to this with (and I’ll never forget it) “what’s that got to do with me?”

  10. That is gob-smackingly jaw-dropping Bill. There should be word like “heurgh” for that involuntary intake of breath when you hear something shocking and appalling when you least expect it. I don’t recall it happening to me before.

    Jesus walk, an example we are called to follow, has apparently nothing to do with Ps Steve Penny!? I suppose I should not be shocked – but I am.

  11. With much of the church apparently content to have it’s collective ears tickled by Bentley and Joyner, is it any wonder that there will be a great falling away in the face of persecution?

    It happened in the first, second and third centuries, and indeed has happened ever since.

    Chinese Christians, or Nigerian Christians, or Indian or Turkish or Arab Christians don’t need to hang on every word of Todd Bentley. They have a direct line to God who sustains them in the face of terrible suffering.

    You know, The Fakeland Revival reminds me of Nuremberg. Hitler waited for hours of music, fanfare, marching, you name it, it happened. When Hitler took to the stage, the naturally produced endorphins had already captured the assembly. Hitler could say any old rubbish and they would hang off every word.

    Expect more of the same this summer. Tell all your people to avoid this sham-Christianity. Joel’s Army? Neo-Nazi.


  12. “With much of the church apparently content to have it’s collective ears tickled by Bentley and Joyner, is it any wonder that there will be a great falling away in the face of persecution?”

    I’m unaware of the kinds of persecution that Joyner or Bentley have suffered, though they may consider internet bloggers who disapprove some kind of persecution. 🙂

    Brother Yun in China has definitely undergone severe persecution though, and was formative in the Chinese housechurch movement.

    I don’t know if Brother Yun is considered to be an Apostle, but he appears to have more in common with the early NT apostles; Bentley and Joyner don’t seem to fit the mold.

    If someone was facing genuine persecution I don’t know what they would find in Joyner or Bentley’s teaching or in prosperity doctrine, to assist them. They might lose their faith; it would have been built upon sand if it is based upon signs and wonders alone, or upon dreams and prophecies alone.

    If however, in the midst of that, they have still come to know Jesus, and to rely upon Him, then they may not fall away. Persecution would definitely change the church scene though.

    Some parts of the church do teach about real persecution and regard it as a normal part of the Christian walk. Obviously the Chinese house church movement is one of these. The Anabaptists are another group who have much history and teaching regarding persecution and suffering.

    Gosh, I don’t know how I would stand up to severe persecution, to be honest. My faith would stand, but I’m not sure I could face things in the way others out there have. Without God’s very imminent help, I think I’d probably be more like Peter prior to Jesus crucifixion. So I hesitate to judge others on how I think they’d face it. But I think it would be harder than ever to face with a shallow foundation that regards victory in the material world as the reward for our faith.

    There are times when it will not look like we have victory at all; these may be the times that God is achieving the most. As Jesus demonstrated to us.

  13. In my books they are saved but just spiritual prostitutes filled with poison disguised in snow white’s apple…

    God accused Israel of prostituting herself with different pagan Gods. These guys are doing the same, unfortunately.

    Salvation isn’t the issue, church health is though.
    They are nothing but strutting peacocks dazzling the eyes of the gullible.

  14. Abraham is not their Father. Satan is.

    They are full of lies. Satan is the father of lies.

    I don’t even believe that their motivation is right. They deliberately distort scripture. They deliberately make merchandise of God’s people.

    They are apostate. They have cut themselves off from God’s people, if they were ever truly a part of God’s people in the first place.

    They have not stayed in Jesus. Jesus tells us that those who don’t stay in Him will be cut off and burned.

    Hebrews doesn’t ask if it possible to lose one’s salvation. Rather it asks, whether, once lost, salvation can be regained. The answer is it can’t. There is no more sacrifice for sin.

    There is a difference between those who ‘backslide’ and those who have fallen away completely.

    Joyner and Bentley worship the devil. End of story.

    Have nothing to do with those folks. When Bentleys former home church publicly state that they had to pray off ‘impartations’ that Bentley put onto them after the marriage break-up, because he was not right in his walk with God, you end up thinking that he is not serving God, and never has.

    Read Jude. He talks about all these Godless people with their Godless deeds and their Godless lives. He is talking about people/leaders inside the church.

    NAR/WOF/KCP …have nothing to do with them!

    Still need that coffee … BADLY!

  15. Gobsmacked by this guy re-marrying and a leader. It clearly says in the NT deacons should be married once only. That’s a deacon.

    God annoints the obedient, people that stick by their original families, I think even if they divorce (and neither remarries) If one needs to be single fine but don’t remarry just for the sake of it, especially if one has children. It just complicates things. THats why Jesus says marry once, or be single, that’s it.

    I mean leave it to your own conscience with God, seek God on your decisions but you shouldn’t be a pastor or leader if you can’t even handle one marriage

  16. I’m not sure that is works out that way necessarily Jayney, but I definitely understand the main point that you are making…..if you can’t manage your own family, then then what chance a church or congregation…..

    What are the examples being set here in terms of real faithfulness, love, hope and perserverance first of all in respect of our Heavenly Father, and then our families etc.

    I missed a sermon at church which got a lot of good press with the subject at its core being Godly discipline.

    I am not prepared to say that someone who has had a failed marriage can’t minister – all have sinned – often they may in fact be able to minister better, because having been broken they are in a better position to be able to empathise, understand the issues and point to some ways in dealing with them.

    The issue here often for me as I see it, is not that the person has sinned, but how do they deal with that sin. Have they in actual fact been broken?

    Do they acknowledge it?

    Are they repentant before the Lord?

    DO they understand the damage that sin has done to themselves, others and the relationships they have?

    Have they counted the real cost – which at its core is what Christ has done for us and others?

    Think of Adam and Eve….

    They sinned yes….then what?

    They hid.

    They blamed someone else – God, spouse, serpent

    They justified.

    The next thing we see is Cain killing Abel…

    This is the pattern of sinful behaviour.

    Ignore/run/hide from it, blame someone or something else (shift responsibility, then if that doesn’t work kill them either literally or figuratively in an exercise of power one over the other.

    What would have happened if they had ‘fessed up? I think the world would not be as it is today.

    It is my own personal experience with some of the things that I have done that I don’t can’t come to terms with them immediately. I need time to come to it, and work things out with God and others.

    If you are in a position of authority within a church and you mess up badly – adultery whatever – it shows that that person for whatever reason has strayed along way and needs a lot of time to sort through.

    Neither the individuals concerned and often those around recover from these things overnight.

    The idolatry and self interest that is being invested in these so called leaders does not allow that. It excludes God in any real relational sense and any serious meditation on what God desires, and instead “God” becomes a means to justify the end – our own desires and interests.

  17. Mmm, yes… I agree, MN – “it shows that that person for whatever reason has strayed along way and needs a lot of time to sort through”. Yes, we all muck things up at times – hopefully not to the extent of losing our marriages – but it could be one of many things. As you suggest, the result is the fruit of other issues, whatever they may be, and time is needed, to understand and to sort things through. That alone is enough reason not to have anyone jump straight back into an official ministry role. The demands of the role would make it very difficult to deal with those issues effectively. A sabbatical for an extended period would be a merciful approach, with an open ended outcome – not assuming resumption of an earlier role. It is not just the person ministering that the time is needed for, but for the other parts of the body of Christ that were affected by the issues.

    So a hasty restoration cannot meet these needs and is not merciful to anyone involved. It could just prevent issues being worked through, and result in worse messes later down the track.

    The agenda in a hasty restoration simply cannot be purely the restoration of the inner man or the body of Christ around him.

  18. Apart from all those good reasons for a long delay letting him back is the blatant disregard for God in every action.

    Marrying your mistress as if that will make it alright with God stinks … and God hates it.

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