This Is Going to Sting a Little Bit

August 8, 2012

article-2183860-145C293E000005DC-577_306x423What would you do to be healed?

Medical treatment usually hurts a little bit.  The doctor has to give you a shot.  He warns you it’s going to hurt.

When people suffer enough, they go through a lot to try to find a cure.  Some people resort to alternative or non-traditional medicine.  For other people, traditional Western medicine is enough of an ordeal.  Medical treatment can hurt.

Would you take a punch to the face to be cured?

Todd Bentley is willing to oblige you.  He’s the beefy, tattooed “evangelist” who promises divine healing from his punches, kicks, jabs and choke holds.

And just as quickly as he is gaining notoriety during his global tour with Fresh Fire ministries, communities and governments are trying to block his way.

So, God works in mysterious ways.  Who says he can’t work through a biker’s knuckles?

If I Testify About Myself…

First, a couple of observations about Todd Bentley:

It looks like Benny Hinn has finally met his match.  While Hinn has been known to shove people or slap them with his coat, he has never (to my knowledge) said that the Holy Spirit instructed him to kick an old woman in the face.

I haven’t seen any testimonials about the effectiveness of the beefy Bentley’s holy punches.  Just his own testimonial.  Didn’t Jesus say something about people testifying about themselves having no credibility?

Maybe the people he’s cured can’t testify because they’re still recovering from collapsed lungs and broken ribs.  Which begs the question, if getting beat up by Bentley can cure cancer, why can’t he cure compound fractures and internal bleeding?

But if his punches can fix broken bones, then I wonder how Bentley could ever win a bar fight if his punches and kicks heal his opponents as soon as he lands them.  Can the Holy Spirit travel through pool cues and tire irons too?

Go to the Circus

I’d like to believe that divine healing is possible.  I really would.  I’d like to believe people when they tell me to my face that they’ve been miraculously healed.

But this guy is just a sideshow, a circus act.  Hey, several decades ago, a guy with that much ink would only have a career as a circus freak.  Once again, what could be a possibility is just turned into a mockery.  If he really is beating up women, then he’s committing assault with an exhibitionist streak.  If he’s not, then you might as well watch pro-wrestling.

I recently posted about how to recognize false teachers.  Case in point.

Sick People Aren’t Stupid

What strikes me the most is that people actually show up to his events.  They voluntarily go up on stage, knowing what he’s going to do.  This illustrates something about people:

When people have suffered long enough, they are desperate.  Desperate enough to believe that getting jabbed in the throat could help them. To the sane, logical, not-suffering mind, it sounds like gullibility or stupidity.  But it’s not.  It’s desperation, probably fueled by ignorance.  But even the person who reads his Bible might be desperate enough to give it a go.

Second, most people would rather believe something absurd, or even something that could hurt them, than give up all hope.  People would rather hang on to a shred of hope, no matter how remote or insane it seems, then give up and resign themselves.  Most people are optimists, not cynics.  Hope is sometimes the source of our greatest strength, and at other times, it leads to our greatest weaknesses.

And as long as desperation cripples the human heart, no government can stop Todd Bentley.  People will go to him, give him their money, and hold out hope that even this could be the answer.

What do you think?  Is it possible that Bentley’s the real deal?  If you (or a loved one) were desperate for a cure, would you let him take a shot at you?

31 responses to This Is Going to Sting a Little Bit

  1. Jesus stooped down and mixed spit with dirt to heal someone. Can we accept that in our churches of today?

    That fact is there are many testimonies by those healed by healing evangelists in every generation. That sad fact is that most of the leapers don’t tell anyone. I have been in ministry for decades and few people will talk about the supernatural because – well – we don’t really want that in some churches, and we have doctrines against it in others. Besides, if you get your miracle, you are all set, right? Why tell anyone, they might think you are a fool.

    The idea that someone could punch you to heal you is not foreign; Smith Wigglesworth did it on many occasions. His books are written by a third party who witnessed these healings.

    Matt, I simply suggest that you go to a Bentley meeting, or even a Benny Hinn meeting – of iHop or John Crowder – or any of the ministries that you seem to scorn, and see for yourself.

    IMUHO – As a friend, these types of blogs are destructive to the Kingdom just as much as controversial behavior by so called “Christians.”

    • With all due respect, fear of being “destructive to the Kingdom” is what kept pedophile priests and charlatans like Jimmy Swaggart in business for as long as they were.

      I’m pretty sure the Kingdom is strong enough to withstand a few blog posts.

      • I am not saying cover anything up. Swaggert and the priests had witnesses. Bentley on the other hand has fallen. It’s no secret. If you can get past all the stupidity on Youtube, you might even find his confession. In the end, I am sure that you’ll find people that have been healed by his ministry.

        What I am against is taking a stand on a person from what we read or hear when you could easily go to a meeting and get a first hand account.

        But some times Christians have this warped mentality that people of questionable character can’t be used by God. All I can say is Judas.

        • That wasn’t really what I was getting at.

          I could care less about whatever online confessions the guy has made–(big whoop–that could all be part of an act anyway)–what I’m more concerned about is whether the ministry that he’s running *right now* is crooked. And, sorry, but the t-shirt sales and the carnival atmosphere make it look fishy.

          If it IS legit, great. It should be able to stand up to a little bit of scrutiny in that case.

          And so what if Swaggart had witnesses? Of course he had witnesses. The problem is those witnesses did *nothing* because of this whole fear of “criticizing a man of God”–which kept him in business for a much longer time than he would have otherwise. You had little old ladies that got bilked out of their life savings that didn’t want to say a word against him for fear of “damaging the Kingdom”. That’s the kind of thinking that keeps these dirtbags around.

          Which is precisely why I think Matt’s post is spot-on. Just because “God uses flawed people” (oh, please–who ELSE do you think He’d use?) doesn’t mean we as Christians have to leave our brains at the door everytime a pastor with a new gimmick shows up–as if God’s going to get offended if we don’t swallow the whole act.

    • Thanks for the honest assessment, David. I am surprised that Bentley is not the first “punching preacher.”

      I’ve tried to step out of my comfort zone and visit the brands of Christianity I don’t understand. I’m learning to just say “God is doing something I don’t understand” and accept that as much as possible. I don’t scorn IHOP, I just have a low exposure to that kind of thing, and consequently have not grown completely comfortable in their brand of worship.

      I want you to know I did honestly struggle with posting this today, because I struggle with the pull to accept a brother on one side, or call out a possible charlatan on the other. I guess I’d rather scrutinize and have someone come to his passionate defense and prove me wrong, as you have attempted, then to just let this go untested.

      • I too struggle with walking the fine line between acceptance and discernment. When it comes to personal choice, it’s not so much of an issue. I live according to the light I have and let others do the same. I’ve been around long enough to realize that I’m never going to have the complete picture. More often than not, I’ve been wrong in my assessment simply because I hadn’t been that way before. When it comes to speaking out, I tend to keep quiet, for precisely that reason. But I don’t think that’s always the best choice. You’ve done a great job of expressing your thoughts, while leaving the door open for dissent.

    • I too join the chorus of replying to the reply…I have witnessed and been part of powerful healings so I do not discount in the least what God can and will do. I encourage crazy faith because Jesus did…BUT…we are to test the spirits, we are to discern, we are even to judge the stuff going on with the Kingdom name and I find these many of these made for TV ministries lacking. they don’t stand the test (and I know well the rhetoric that now I might be blaspheming the spirit). Paul tolerated those who preached with false motives but at other times he wished they would mutilate themselves. These men are, in my discernment, shallow showmen. They are manipulators of peoples hopes and desperation. Do they believe in what they are doing? Probably. My worry is how these guys are unaccountable to the larger body and teach whatever they want w/o qualms. In the end they seem to be exalted and Jesus is secondary.

  2. When my youngest sister was a teenager, her doctor thought she was developing scoliosis. He was going to have her back for a recheck and discuss whether or not she’d need a brace versus surgery. Before that visit, she and my mom went to a healing service at their church and they did a laying-on-of-hands type of thing (none of this getting punched in the head crap). When she went back to the doctor, he said that everything was fine.

    Now, when my mom told me about this, I was in medical school and a very large part of my brain was inclined to believe that there had to be a more logical reason for what happened. Maybe my sister was just in the early stages of scoliosis and the doctor was mistaken on that first visit. She was still growing after all–maybe her spine just straightened out as she grew. Maybe the prayer service caused her to subconciously pay attention to her posture more and stand up straighter. I don’t know.

    I never told my mom this but, as much as I’d like to believe that miracles happen and God heals people, I’m still not inclined to believe that God literally fixed my sister’s back. I don’t know why that is. If He did fix it, I’m grateful for that. But I don’t think I can really say for sure what happened. It’s just some kind of mental hurdle that I can’t cross.

    I’ve seen a lot of patients die, and I’ve seen a lot of patients’ families pray for healing miracles–I’ve prayed for patients by myself at times–but I’ve never seen one really happen.

    I sometimes wonder if the popularity of faith healings is driven by a sense of denial–sickness is supposed to be something that happens to other people, not me. It’s sort of part of all of our personal narratives to be the hero of the story–I mean, when you imagine aliens attacking the earth, you picture yourself as Will Smith, not one of the extras that gets fried in the Holland Tunnel, right?

    That’s kind of the feeling I sometimes get about praying for healing–God would never let this sort of thing happen to me or my family! We’re special, we’re blessed, we’ve done everything right so far, He cares about us–we’re Will Smiths, not nameless extras!

    I don’t know. I’m probably being a horrible cynic and looking at this all the wrong way, but I’ve come to the point where I think the most I can presume to ask God for is to not leave us alone in our pain. I don’t necessarily think asking Him to fix us physically will work.

    • I think I’m with you too. I’m a little bit jealous of the people who claim to see healing constantly, because I feel like Thomas – the healing happened while I was out for a pack of smokes. :) I don’t know how I can believe any more than I am trying. And I have prayed hard for people too.

      • Thomas saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead – that is not the kind of doubt he had. He was also one of the guys to hand out the multiplying fish and bread. All he doubted was that Jesus had in fact come back from the dead, not been brought to life as Lazarus was.

  3. Regarding Todd Bentley, I didn’t know he was still around so much, as I haven’t heard anything of him since the famous (or infamous) Lakeland, Florida “outpouring,” “revival,” or whatever you wish to term it. My understanding was that after he divorced his wife and not long thereafter married a younger woman who was on his staff, with whom he’d had a relationship while he was still married, that he was under discipline and counseling. If I thought of him at all, it would have been to assume he’d had his day of novelty, much like Kate Gosselin.

    Interestingly, since you mentioned Benny Hinn, he appeared to describe Bentley’s Lakeland gathering as a “false revival” on his (Benny’s) TV show a few years ago. While he did not name Bentley directly, it was pretty obvious whom he must have been speaking of.

    Is or was Bentley for real? I have no idea, Matt – the Southern Baptist in me wants to say that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman and would not resort to such tactics as Bentley has apparently used, while my Pentecostal streak wants to whisper that “Nothing is impossible…God can work in ways that seem foolish.” Only time will tell, whether in a proveable instance of physical healing or at the final judgment. I will say that while Pastor Hinn is understandably controversial, and has even described himself on at least one occasion as his own worst enemy, I do consider him a genuine man of God and I paid attention to what he had to say about the revival I believe to have been Bentley’s.

    Finally, I also believe in divine healing, partly because I had a direct witness of it in my own family, and also through a friend years ago, whose own friend had been diagnosed with breast cancer and for whom I, and many others, prayed fervently. When her doctors opened her up to do a lumpectomy, they found nothing, where tests had clearly revealed cancer before. The doctors were baffled – others of us who had prayed for her and received an unspoken assurance that could have only been from God that everything would be all right, were not.

    Why was my friend’s friend healed so quickly and Joni Eareckson Tada is still in a wheelchair? Why did the relative of a famous healing evangelist die of cancer in early childhood, but my grandfather’s skin cancer disappeared from his face while he was watching a healing evangelist on TV? I don’t know and I’m reasonably sure that I’m not supposed to. The subject of divine healing is tricky, and one which we perhaps need to approach with more “fear and trembling.”

  4. If benny hinn is saying that the lakeland revival is a false revival then your spidey sense better be tingling!!!!!!!!!!!! I would agree that there is something very false about bentley and even the majority (95%) of those who claim the gift of instantaneous healing.

    All that to say that I do believe that supernatural miracles occur, the gifts of the spirit are still in operation, and people can have hands laid on them and miracles can occur. I have actually seen this. When done decently and in order, its scriptural and powerful. When not…its a circus, which people like bently are the ringmasters

    • Yeah, I have to leave the door open for God to do anything. How do we balance skepticism, so we are not led astray, with faith, so we are not hard-hearted?

      • Thats a great question Matt, one that I wrestle with as well. I hate to be skeptical about everything but I think you have to be.

        Even the apostle paul tells us OVER AND OVER to be careful, make sure it lines up with scripture, and pay attention to the prompting of the holy spirit. I like how paul says even if an ANGEL from heaven comes and preaches another gospel, let him be accursed. Jesus tells us that these false prophets, messiahs, healers (who do wonders even in his name) will come and deceive. We need to know the truth from error.

  5. I recommend rereading 2 Kings 5, about Naaman and how God healed him of his leprosy. He didn’t want to do what Elisha told him to do because of his pride. God not only healed him but gave him a good dose of humility in the process.

    I think Pete told you how God healed him when he was hit by a car in Pretoria, South Africa in 1997. (If not, it’s at http://blogs.icta.net/slty/2009/04/10/a-story-worth-re-telling/) I know a number of people who have been healed, so I have no doubt that God can and will do so. It’s easy for Him. I also knew friends that prayed for healing, but died anyway. God is God, and does not need to explain himself to us.

    On the other hand, there are plenty of false teachers. I tend to look at who gets the glory–God or the healer, and I pray for discernment. Would I let someone take a swipe at me in God’s name? Only if God told me clearly to do so. I would not want to put my desire for healing ahead of God’s authority in my life–that would would sort of defeat the purpose, right?

  6. Todd Bentley is from my hometown and our paths crossed a few times in ministry. The tide of public opinion has turned on this guy wherever he goes. From Abbotsford, BC to Lakeland, FLA and now the UK. The path of a charlatan takes time to trace but eventually leads to bankruptcy. The Barnum & Bentley Circus is just about in the red I think. In a little while, I predict he’ll be out of business. At least, we can hope so.

  7. As someone who has been a cutter, I can honestly tell you that sometimes people will do these sorts of things simply because it is a distraction. They don’t feel whatever pain they brought on to the stage, because they have been distracted by their freshly broken arm. It seems crazy, but like you said, if people are desperate…

  8. I think there are at least two, maybe three things being discussed here. I’m going to pose questions brought up in this post, and try to answer them with my understanding so far.

    1. Does God actually heal people today?

    Part of the “job description” for all believers has been to go into the world and heal the sick and preach the good news. Our example for this is Jesus, of course – he healed all the sick who came to him and preached the Kingdom of God. He is the first among many – we are supposed to conform to His image, which means being His representative in the earth. He is also the express image of the Father – if He did it, it was the Father’s will. If He told us to do it, then that is also the Father’s will. And God is not going to ask us to do something that He has not enabled us to do – He is not going to tell us to heal the sick and then not give us the power or authority to do it. That said, I believe that as His children, brothers and sisters in Christ, we have been given the power and authority to heal the sick, and that people are being healed on a daily basis by those who believe. I myself have been healed of a few things in my lifetime, and have seen other people healed through my faith.

    2. Would God heal by a violent act? (Punching, kicking, etc.)

    It is possible that God could tell the person administering the healing (allowing God’s power to flow through them) to punch or kick someone. I don’t doubt that God can tell us to do things that may not make sense to us, but that will result in healing for the person. In all the instances of Jesus healing people, he did not always do the same thing – each situation was dealt with as the Father instructed. Most of the time Jesus healed with a word “Be healed”, coupled with a touch, but not always. My point being is that God may use an action that we would see as violent in certain situations, but that it should not become a “formula” for healing – just because God healed by us doing a particular action in one instance does not mean that people will only get healed by following those steps.

    3. Is Todd Bentley a true man of God or is he a charlatan?

    This determination needs to be made by looking at the fruit of his ministry. There is no doubt that some people are desperate and will submit themselves to anything in order to get healed. Quack medicine, anyone? Are people actually being healed and keeping their healing – or are they merely saying they are healed in the moment? Are people coming to the knowledge of Christ through his ministry? After all, the power of God displayed should lead us into the truth of Christ and Him crucified.

    And also, I can’t make a judgment about whether Todd Bentley is saved and knows God. He could truly have a relationship with God and be deceived in this area – or he could truly be a fake, out to make money from those he sees as gullible and desperate. God knows Todd – and the reality is that Todd is not my enemy, no matter whether he is a follower of Christ or a fake.

    If you are truly concerned about people being deceived because they are desperate – pray that God would open their eyes to the truth. If you are concerned that Todd is deceived – pray for him to see the truth. If you are concerned that Todd is using people and has faked his faith in Christ – pray for Him to come into relationship with God through Jesus. If we spent less time judging people and more time praying for them maybe we’d start seeing God move in power in the earth.

  9. Todd Bentley is a snake oil salesmen thriving on the desperation of people who have lost hope. As a follower of Christ it is my calling to share the hope Christ has given me by testifying about HIM and all HE has done and can do. My heart breaks for all those who feel so hopeless that they are willing to give their time, money and bodies to someone so deceiving, and it’s not just Mr. Bentley doing the deceiving.

  10. Debbie Thompson August 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Thank you for writing your thoughts about this Matt. Bentley is doing a visit of UK soon and there’s a lot been written about him in the press. I struggle to understand how healing can take place in such a violent and showy, exhibitionist way (but I’m a shy Brit!) I had a friend with spina bifida when I was growing up and her parents took her to every healing meeting up and down the country. She was never healed and was scarred by the ‘ordeal.’ I feel her parents were so desperate, and I understand that, but she was the one who was exploited.I do believe in divine healing but it is rare. Some sick people who are prayed over, do get better. However, I also believe that the way the body heals itself – eg a broken bone is far more miraculous than what happens in a healing meeting , and that’s because we are so ‘fearfully and wonderfully’ made. I think God has also enabled research to produce medicines and also advance medicine so much that surgeons can save patients in the most ‘miraculous’ ways.

  11. Interesting topic to ponder…

    I am surely not lining up for a boot kick in the face… but I can sure think of some people who could… : )

  12. I saw Bentley several times at the Florida thing. My parents were big into him (my mom’s left arm is partially paralyzed) and were all hyped on the Spirit (er, adrenaline). The whole thing just never felt right to me. He sold shirts that said “Revival Summer 2012” and yet he’d claim he didn’t know when it’d end. That’s just a more tangible and general example. People were raised from the dead…four states away while watching on TV. The media never could catch hold of the medical papers that ‘proved’ all these healings. My mom could swear her arm was slowly regaining feeling and movement…yep, all this time later it’s still the same as it ever was. He’s a charlatan and a ripoff. My parents wanted to see Benny Hinn just to get the diamonds that supposedly fell from the ceiling…they claimed otherwise but it was the focus of the whole trip. When people go to see the show, it’s not real. It’s basically Reality TV…Reality God Healings.

    And, yes, is guy definitely helped me become an atheist. Are all preachers like this? Surely not. But when my hard core religious parents can fall for it…shit, who really knows what’s real.

    Well, if you pray for healing and it doesn’t get better, it was God’s will.
    If you pray and you are “healed”, it was God.
    If I pray to a magical tree for rain and it doesn’t rain, it was the magical lightpole’s will.
    If it does rain, it was the magical lightpole.

  13. The issue to me is whether or not it is my place to call out charlatans or false prophets? What is to be gained from it? I grew up in an intense IFB background where 50% of 90% (you do the math) of the sermons were bashing people all over the globe. Not focusing on how we should live our own messed up lives.

    PacMan took a beating, by the way. My Pastor hated PacMan.

    I am not saying you shouldn’t call him out…but what was the purpose? What made you feel led to call him out? If you prayerfully felt led to, that’s great. Just curious…

  14. The issue to me is whether or not it is my place to call out charlatans or false prophets? What is to be gained from it? I grew up in an intense IFB background where 50% of 90% (you do the math) of the sermons were bashing people all over the globe. Not focusing on how we should live our own messed up lives.

    PacMan took a beating, by the way. My Pastor hated PacMan.

    I am not saying you shouldn’t call him out…but what was the purpose? What made you feel led to call him out? If you prayerfully felt led to, that’s great. Just curious…

    • Not to speak for Matt, but I personally call the dude out because I believe people are being led astray. People are throwing their money to this guy and are getting false hope from it. Although, the keyword is “I believe.” What if all us Bentley doubters are all wrong? We may never know it, but at the end of the day we were calling out a legit guy.

      • My question is regarding the need to call out THIS guy. Is he coming to Matt’s town? Is it somehow affecting HIS family? Otherwise, I could pick out any random person and post about them…

        my only question was why this guy? why now? I had never heard of him before, so it is giving him free publicity.
        I don’t object to calling out people who affect your life, but if he is picking a random, popular person, it makes me uneasy, and I don’t see him jumping on the bandwagon, etc.
        Again, I love this blog…I was just wondering. Perhaps not my place.

  15. First of all, it is good to hear from you again, Abby!

    I was a skeptic when it came to healing about 20 years ago, growing up going to Lutheran churches for a very brief period. My future husband introduced me to his church with a charismatic bent and I was surrounded by people who not only believed in healing, but frequently prayed for it. I remained skeptical until one night, when a woman in our small group asked for healing from horrible back pain, God seemed to turn on a light switch while I was dutifully praying for healing without believing it would happen. And she was healed, not because of my instant belief, but because of God. So now I KNOW that God is still in the business of healing, though it is not at our bidding, but according to His will.

    Having said that, I am very skeptical of anyone who makes a spectacle of healing or who profits by it. I also want to punch anyone in the nose who implies that if we aren’t healed, we must not have enough faith. Not having watched the Tod Bentley spectacle, I really can’t comment on him personally.

  16. Please, don’t make this harder then it is, because it’s quite simpel. You have all the answers in God´s Word!
    If it doesn´t line up or stroke with the bible, it isn´t from God. He is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
    Only Jesus can save you. Only Jesus can heal you. Todd doesn´t heal you, he doesn´t save you. He claims to have special anointing. Anointing or blessing has nothing to do with it!
    Please let me remind you about the officer that went to see Jesus, because of the sick person at home. When Jesus asked to visit this person the officer said that a simpel word from Jesus without a visit would heal the man miles away. The man got healed and Jesus spoke of a believe never seen before.
    Simpel faith has healed the man. Faith and believe in Jesus will save you. No need to kick or do anything else. You don´t even have to go to this meetings to get healed.
    In the old testament people needed a priest to make contact with God. Since Jesus took his place as high priest he opened the way so we directly can come before Gods trone. We need to act as real christians and contact God ourselves! None should be our leader but Christ alone. None should be our healer but Christ alone! He doesn´t need all that mambo jambo when a single word should do.
    According to the bible we are all new breeds now. We are all saints, ambassadors of Jesus Christ. We all have the authorithy in Christ and should start to pray for each other, knowing that all have received the Holy Spirit, considering the other to be wiser than ourselves.
    About Todd I can say only one thing. Jesus said somthing about the tree and it´s fruit. You really don´t have to digg that deep to find out the truth. Just stick to God´s Word and ask Jesus! Don´t care about other opinions. Stay focused on Jesus and don´t join the mass.
    Sorry about my English, I´m from Holland. Please notice all my words are written in love. Eventhough the bible is clear about the fate of falls prophets who are misleading Gods children we shouldn´t act with hate and wrong sayings. The apostal Paul was killing His children at first but found mercy and faith in Jesus Christ. We should pray for all who need Jesus, and it appears to be a lot of them!
    I pray Jesus will return to as soon and also pray you all may find the answers and be kept save in Jesus Christ.

  17. So I went ahead and just wrote a post instead of an ultra long comment: http://far-above-rubies-and-pearls.blogspot.com/2012/08/it-stung-but-ive-got-little-salve.html