Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sickness, Healing and the Christian, Pt 1(Dangerous Deceptions)

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Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Matthew 24:23-25

Many Christian ministers today triumphantly proclaim doctrines about healing, sickness and the Christian that imply physical healing is an absolute guarantee in this life for anyone who places faith in Christ, especially, when faith is placed in what Christ accomplished on the cross. They teach that "healing is in the atonement"-- that in the same way believing in Christ's sacrificial death immediately removes the guilt of sin by providing the means through which God forgives and justifies believers, so also Christ took our sicknesses upon Himself, providing physical health that is available right now through faith. But is the promise of physical healing for this earthly life one that Christians ought to expect and even claim as their right? Or is the granting of physical healing under the control of a wise, good and sovereign God, who has a sanctifying purpose in bringing various trials and sufferings (which may include sickness) into the life of believers?

In this series of articles, my aim is to delve into these challenging questions and to present a biblical alternative to the popular view on sickness espoused by those sometimes labeled "faith healers". We will examine the common teaching on sickness and health, to see if it accords with Scripture, and I will also direct the reader to further resources for study. The more I have investigated and studied the topic of sickness and healing, the more I am convinced that the widespread teaching about "healing for today" misinterprets the Bible. Those who teach these doctrines range from sincere, compassionate individuals who long to bring God's healing power to those who suffer, and believe what they teach is true and biblical; to charlatans in the "healing business" out of greed. But whether sincerely believed or not, my conclusion is that this doctrine of guaranteed healing is a dangerous deception that leaves many sufferers deeply disappointed when they don't receive their expected healing. In addition, in some cases it appears people are being demonically deceived and ensnared because they open themselves via "impartations" to powers not of God.

Personal Bias?
I want to assure readers that my writing is not based on a personal bias against miracles, or disbelief that God can move today in a supernatural way. I sincerely believe God is all-powerful and can do miracles today. Additionally, for several years my wife and I attended charismatic churches and were very inclined to believe what was being taught about healing for today, especially since my wife was dealing with chronic illness and hoping to be cured. We really wanted these teachings to be true, to bring an end to the illness that had brought us suffering and disrupted our lives. Admittedly, the fact that my wife did not get healed in the way we expected does color my current views, but my argument in this article is not based on my personal experience, but is an attempt to analyze the teaching of the "faith-healers" against Scripture. I want to judge experience by the teaching of the Scripture, rather than read into Scripture my own experience.

Certainly too, I would delight in seeing people being healed of their illnesses, knowing how awful it is to be sick, but I have yet to see hard factual evidence that people are in fact being healed through these types of healers. On the other hand I have personally experienced the guilt, confusion and disappointment that results from expecting healing to come but not seeing it happen.

And in the course of researching this article I have become increasingly aware of and concerned about the dangers of these kinds of teachings. The hype behind healing ministries implies all its testimonies are positive, but there of plenty of negative stories, from those bitterly disappointed in their quest for a miracle healing. This compels me to point out the errors I believe one finds when these common views on healing are evaluated scripturally, because so many people are embracing them uncritically.

A truth to keep in mind as we move forward in our examination of contemporary healing ministries is that Jesus taught that what happens to your earthly body is not the ultimate concern in life-- much more important that the condition of one's body is the eternal state of one's soul (Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:4). So although Jesus' ministry was filled with healings that demonstrated His compassion for sufferers, revealed Him as the Messiah and gave us a foretaste of the perfect healing that will come when we receive new bodies, nevertheless His followers still get sick and die in this world. Sickness and death are simply facts of life in a fallen world.

If we can show that today's healing ministries are unbiblical in their practices due to unsound theology, then even if healing/deliverance occurs within them, this does not override their faulty foundation or validate them. As Jesus warned us above, Satan is a master counterfeiter and mimics the miracles of God. Miracles, signs and wonders are not the ultimate test of truth, since they can be faked by men or demons. What better strategy to deceive people could Satan use than to fool people via pseudo-miracles into believing that experience is more critical and more valuable than the truth provided in God's Word?

Word-Faith Teaching
If you are at all familiar with popular Christian television programming, as featured on such networks as TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network), God TV, Daystar or The Word Network, you have no doubt noticed the proliferation of preachers/teachers who declare that healing for the body is the birthright of all Christians, and who claim to be doing healing miracles today in the name and by the power of Jesus. Proclaiming "Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb 13:8), and "by His stripes you are healed" (1 Pet 2:24), these teachers promote what has come to be known as "Word of Faith" or "Word-Faith" doctrine, which teaches that it is always God's will for you to be healed. With an assumed mandate from passages such as Mark 16:14-19, purveyors of "Word-Faith" doctrine conclude that they have been commissioned and authorized to heal/deliver the afflicted in precisely the same way today as did Jesus and His apostles. According to their teaching, miracles, signs and wonders, divine health and favor, and even financial prosperity are all to follow after the Christian in this life because of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. Key proponents of this type of teaching include Kenneth Hagin (deceased), Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Paul and Jan Crouch (TBN Network), Benny Hinn, Steve Muncie, Creflo Dollar, David Yonggi Cho, Frederick Price, Rodney Howard-Browne, Peter Popoff, Don Stewart, Morris Cerullo, Reinhard Bonnke, Joyce Meyer and many more. Some of these Word-Faith ministers emphasize healing while others focus more on prosperity, but usually both healing and prosperity are espoused within the Word-Faith message.

Signs and Wonders?
A movement that shares themes with Word-Faith is known as the "Signs and Wonders" movement (a.k.a. Latter Rain/Third Wave/Apostolic/Prophetic). It includes such leaders as John Wimber (deceased), C. Peter Wagner, Mike Bickle, Rick Joyner, Tommy Tenney, Cindy Jacobs, Jack Deere, Paul Cain, Bob Jones, Patricia King, Dutch Sheets, Che Ahn and promotes miracles as the ideal way of evangelizing ("power evangelism"). Signs and wonders, they say, have largely been missing from the church, but the Lord is restoring the miraculous in these last days as a prelude to a "huge end-times harvest, revival and awakening." Just as in the days of Jesus and the apostles, today's Christians are to perform miracles that bring down the glory of God in such a way that many will see the miracles and be saved. According to this movement, prophecy is one of those supernatural gifts that has been restored, and leaders in this movement continually give out new visions and prophecies.

Todd Bentley and the Lakeland "Outpouring"
The current so-called Lakeland "outpouring" spearheaded by Todd Bentley (Fresh Fire Ministries) and being broadcast continually on God TV is built on Word-Faith doctrines but is also part of the Latter Rain/Third Wave/Apostolic-Prophetic movement (on June 23rd Bentley received an "apostolic alignment" from C. Peter Wagner and other leaders of the "Apostolic-Prophetic" movement- you can watch this ceremony on YouTube).

At these charismatic meetings the miracles alleged to be taking place supposedly affirm the reality of the power and presence of God, and confirm the leaders and teachings as "anointed" by God. Like other Latter Rain/Third Wave/Prophetic ministries, Bentley's Fresh Fire Ministries characterizes its teachings as "fresh" prophetic words from God, relayed through Todd and his team, who in turn receive them directly from the Lord or from angels (more on this later).

How do we evaluate all these claims of healing by Word-Faith and Signs and Wonders ministers? Isn't it true, as they are proclaiming, that God's nature does not change, and therefore what He did in the Bible He can still do today, so long as we act in faith? Isn't it true that the ministry of Jesus and His apostles was characterized by numerous miracles of healing and deliverance? And didn't Jesus commission His followers to "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation", saying "these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover? (Mark 16:15-20)"

Granted that these words belong in the Bible and are authentically those of Jesus, should we not believe that God is indeed healing today and doing the same kind of miracles through these ministries? Furthermore, if people are really being healed, why not rejoice that God is doing such marvelous things?

My initial, immediate response is this: if people were truly being healed and saved by the power of Christ (and this could be verified medically-- in other words, real, not psychosomatic healings), and if the quality of the miracles was equivalent to that found in the New Testament (not merely claims of people being raised from the dead or new limbs growing but people actually seeing such things before their very eyes), and if one could observe good, lasting fruit-- people growing in sound biblical doctrine and in maturity in their walk with God) as a result of these ministries, then there would certainly be good cause to celebrate.

Unfortunately this kind of good fruit is scarcely evident, if it is at all observable. The miracles are but unverified claims. Many of the most famous of these ministries have been investigated and asked to provide independent evidence of anyone being healed and have not done so (see below for more articles and resources. Additionally the doctrine espoused by these ministers and being taught to millions the world over is unsound, misleading people into following after personalities and becoming dependent on so-called "fresh revelations", rather than being taught how to handle the Word of God properly, appropriate truth for themselves and grow in discernment between good and evil. Again, even if some of these healings are real, the fact that the doctrine is so unbiblical discredits them as being genuinely of God. We will delve further into the specifics of how these teachings are not according to Scripture.

Perhaps the root problem in the teaching of the Word-Faith and the Signs and Wonders/Third Wave/Prophetic Movement is that Scripture is deemed insufficient to lead believers into intimacy with God and into spiritual maturity, and we must therefore have "fresh revelation" (often the "fresh" revelation amounts to new, aberrant interpretations of Scripture) in order to really know and encounter God. Accordingly, these movements teach errors such as these:

  • We should seek after and experience the "manifest presence" of God.

  • We can receive "words from the Lord" and prophesy knowledge that only God is privy to.

  • We should hear from God directly to receive daily guidance in decision-making.

  • We may grow in the spiritual by being taught of angels and learning how to "see in the Spirit".

  • We can command all sorts of miracles to happen.

  • God works on Earth only through us.

  • We can order demons to the pit of hell.

  • Jesus was not poor but rich, and His children we ought to be rich too.

  • Sickness is never God's will and is always of the Devil.

And the list of things not taught in the Bible goes on and on. Since I want primarily to focus on the topic of healing in these articles, I don't have time/space to refute every single one of the above statements, but what I am trying to demonstrate is that such errors are related to one another. Aberrant interpretation, coupled with an inadequate view of Scripture, generate such fallacies. We will continue our study, but I will pause here to present you with links to articles to consider, as an immediate antidote to these erroneous ideas.

Chasing Subjective Religious Experience- A Critique of Tommy Tenney's The God Chasers by Bob DeWaay

Hear God’s Voice – Guaranteed? A Critique of Mark Virkler’s Hearing God’s Voice by K. Jentoft

The Problems with Personal Words From God- How People Become False Prophets to Themselves by Bob DeWaay

How Deliverance Ministries Lead People to Bondage- A Warning Against the Warfare Worldview by Bob DeWaay

Was Jesus Rich?

It is not surprising that some are led into error, when the doctrines underlying these ministries liberally quote the Scriptures and so give the appearance of being validated by the Bible, Seduced by charismatic personalities, deceived by half-truths and pseudo- signs and wonders, thousands of people with a seemingly genuine desire to be close to God are being duped.

Doctrine is to be developed from careful study and interpretation of Scripture, (2 Tim 2:15) rather than from the alleged receiving of new revelations directly from Christ or from angels. Scripture teaches that believers are to adhere to and defend sound doctrine (1 Tim 1:10, 1 Tim 6:3-6, Titus 1:9, Titus 2:1), which has already been revealed in the Spirit-inspired writing of the Old and New Testaments, and especially in the recorded teaching and commandments of Christ (1 Tim 6:3). We are responsible to not allow ourselves to be misled by false teaching, even if that teaching should come to us in the form of angelic visitation (Galatians 1:6; 2 Corinthians 11:14).

Because so many are flocking to the current Lakeland, Florida meetings or watching them via God TV and the Internet, I feel it's important to describe how some of the errors we have been speaking about are being played out there specifically. My concern is that people discern the truth through God's Word and don't allow themselves to be deceived.

Problems with the Lakeland Revival
A discerning Christian who examines the supposed Lakeland revival with proper biblical skepticism, judging it against the standards of the Word of God, will, I think, readily see that it is a false movement.

First Caution: Todd Bentley-- Revivalist or Questionable Character?
The most visible leader in the so-called Lakeland revival, Todd Bentley, is a man of questionable character. He's covered with piercings and tattoos all over his neck, arms and legs, many apparently added after his conversion. Additionally, the tattoos he wears may have occult significance (see also here).

In a July 18th interview with The Charlotte Observer, Bentley reported that most of his tattoos were from his "pre-Christian days" and that he "makes no apologies for them." "I love art and, to me, my skin is the canvas," he was quoted as saying. "I'm not taking my skin to heaven." Contrary to this assertion, however, photographs of Bentley show that his tattoos are more recent, and have been added after his conversion and ministry, not before. If Bentley has nothing to apologize for in getting tattoos, why does he say most of his tattoos are from before he was saved, while photographs and videos proclaim the opposite?

So What's Wrong With Tattoos, Anyway?
Now there is no New Testament prohibition against having a tattoo. But the practice was clearly prohibited in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:28) because of its pagan associations. Even in today's culture, with tattoos more "mainstream", those who get them generally belong to sub-cultures (punk, death metal, heavy metal, bikers, and the criminal element) that are associated with rebellion against authority, violence, and the occult, rather than with godliness and purity. If Christians are called to not love the world (1 John 2:15); to set their minds on things that are above (Col 3:2); and to think about "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable", what do we make of a "rerivalist" who sports what seem to be occult tattoos and wears a T-shirt saying "Jesus Gave me My Tattoos"?

One might protest that if there is nothing wrong with a getting a tattoo in the New Testament then getting a tattoo falls under Christian liberty, and each individual may act according to their own conscience. Perhaps, it might be further argued, Mr. Bentley is merely trying to present himself as a "regular" guy, one who enjoys riding a Harley, pro-wrestling and getting tattoos (as seen on his Myspace page). If some people relate to him better because he doesn't wear a suit and tie, why object? After all, maybe he is reaching people that others with a more conventional image would not be able to connect with.

Even though we may as Christians have liberty to get a tattoo, ought not one who calls himself a revivalist/preacher-- who has supposedly been through a deep season of repentance-- consider that getting a tattoo was strictly forbidden by God in the Old Testament Scriptures? Why did God Himself prohibit this practice? Could it be that there is danger in it and that He is trying to protect His people? Has God now changed His mind about it? Just as in the time of Israel there were pagan associations with getting a tattoo, so it remains today. One who presents himself as a revivalist ought to have better judgment on this issue.

A good, brief article on this topic of tattoos, written in answer to the question, "Is there any reference in the Bible that is against having a pierced tongue or tattoo and what is your biblical view of these practices?" can be found here: Pierced Tongues or Tattoos. For a more in-depth analysis, read the article To Tattoo or Not to Tattoo- A Christian Response to the Tattoo. I think the author of this article makes a convincing case that getting a tattoo is not a mere fashion statement, but a practice that poses serious dangers physically and spiritually and should definitely be avoided by Christians.

On Todd Bentley's Myspace Profile, he lists books he reads and music he listens to. Now I'm not for censoring what other people read or not read. Some of my own musical preferences might be considered questionable, since I have enjoyed the talents of many secular musicians. As a musician myself, I feel able to appreciate the musicianship of secular artists without being swayed by their un-Christian ideas. I don't think we can dogmatically judge someone's walk with God on the basis that they listen to secular music. Nevertheless, we can tell something about a person by the kinds of books and music they read and which obviously influence them.

On Todd Bentley's Myspace profile we find the following books and musical preferences listed:

Books: Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, (House, Monster, Oath, Piercing the Darkness, The Prophet), God's Generals, T.L. Osborne (Healing the Sick), Benny Hinn (Goodmorning Holy Spirit), Kenneth Haggin, EW Kenyon, Charles Price (The Real Faith)

Music: Creed, Haste the Day, Nodes of the Ranavier, Mortification, Tourniquet, Eternal Decision, P.O.D, Jason Upton, Michael Larson, Kevin Prosch, Don Potter, Kathryn Scott, Alberto & Kimberly Rivera, Immortal Souls, Living Sacrifice, Johnny Cash, He is Legend, Extol, Embodyment, Divine Fire, Demon Hunter, Day of Fire, U2, Coldplay, James Blunt, Scott Stapp

In Bentley's book selections, we definitely observe the Word-Faith influence (God's Generals, Osborne, Hinn, Hagin, Kenyon). A certain view of the spiritual world is revealed in his choice of the novels of Peretti and Dekker.

I am not familiar with all the groups on his music list, but I agree with the writer of this article "Todd Bentley and the Florida Revival Exposed" that some of the groups Bentley listens to are "as satanic as it gets". Decide for yourself: look up these groups-- Embodyment or Mortification-- for example, watch their videos on YouTube and look up their lyrics. Be forewarned, the lyrics may appear "Christian" but the mood and sound of the music is full of rage, and the videos abound in dark images. Is this the kind of music a Christian revivalist finds enjoyable?

In an article titled How We Began on, we read the following:

For a period of Todd's Holy Spirit boot camp, he entered an especially deep repentance season in which the Lord began working a sanctification work in him. This was a vital part of Todd's preparation season as God prepared him for the work he was calling him to. During this time, while Todd continued his intimate times of soaking in the Holy Spirit and was increasing in prophetic revelation, the Lord gave him a specific scripture which applied to the youth ministry and to Todd's calling: ... and the highway shall be called a highway of holiness."

For a season Todd began preaching a fiery message of repentance and of dying to self. Many youth began to repent of ungodly lifestyles and began embracing set-apart lifestyles. Some even began destroying ungodly music they were listening to while others began "cleaning up" in other ways.

Here it is claimed that Bentley's "deep repentance season" resulted in his progress in sanctification and challenged his young followers to holiness. Why then does Bentley continue to do things (tattoos, listening to demonic-sounding music) which have all the appearance of not leaving the world behind but embracing it? [UPDATE: Also, if Bentley went through a season of repentance in which he was calling others to a set-apart, holy lifestyle, what did he apparently not resolve the serious issues in his marriage that have now come to light? A report from one of Bentley's supporters, John Arnott, further states that Todd is guilty of excessive drinking and inappropriate behavior with a woman on his staff. It is apparent too that his marital problems have been on-going and longstanding. I don't say these things because I think I am without sin-- I say them as a Chrsitian who has much sin in my life that I am dealing with. But I am pointing out the discrepancies between Bentley's actual life and what his ministry website reports about him. The article quoted above implied that Bentley's powerful, miracle-working ministry was made possible because of his personal closeness to God and his pure lifestyle. We have now found out that this was not entirely accurate, so why should we believe that the miracles he claims to do are genuine?].

Second Caution: "Slain in the Spirit" and other Strange Manifestations
During the Lakeland meetings people come up to the stage one after another alleging they have been healed, and are usually "slain in the Spirit" (typically, people fall down backward when Todd Bentley yells things like "BAM" and touches their foreheads). Observe closely the heads and bodies of Bentley and other leaders on the platform, they sway and shake continually, as if under some power. Listening to someone testify of a healing, Bentley may laugh maniacally, even fall down himself. All of this behavior is simply very strange and gives one pause. Can this be of God? Of course, advocates claim that these kinds of manifestations-- falling down under the power of the Spirit, the jerking and shaking, the laughing fits-- are the result of the Spirit or presence of God coming down on people. It should be noted however, that none of these types of manifestations are described in the New Testament epistles instructing the church as the evidence to look for as being true indications of Spirit-filled and controlled living. Galatians 5:22-24 says, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."

Third Caution: Where is the Gospel and Biblical Teaching?
It appears that these meetings focus so much on "miraculous healing" that there is no presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, or even much biblical teaching provided about healing. Admittedly I have not personally been there and have not been watching all the broadcasts; it is possible the gospel has been preached in some fashion or some formal teaching about healing presented. But on many occasions when I have turned on the Lakeland proceedings on God TV, I have only seen the parade of testimonies, with no teaching or gospel of Jesus presented. What teaching is presented is the common and faulty Word-Faith/Signs and Wonders message.

Fourth Caution: Doctrine from Angels
Perhaps the mostly troubling aspect of Bentley's ministry is his relationship with angles and how they function in his ministry. For example, he describes a female angel named "Emma":

Now let me talk about an angelic experience with Emma. Twice Bob Jones asked me about this angel that was in Kansas City in 1980: "Todd, have you ever seen the angel by the name of Emma?" He asked me as if he expected that this angel was appearing to me. Surprised, I said, "Bob, who is Emma?" He told me that Emma was the angel that helped birth and start the whole prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. She was a mothering-type angel that helped nurture the prophetic as it broke out. Within a few weeks of Bob asking me about Emma, I was in a service in Beulah, North Dakota. In the middle of the service I was in conversation with Ivan and another person when in walks Emma. As I stared at the angel with open eyes, the Lord said, "Here's Emma." I'm not kidding. She floated a couple of inches off the floor. It was almost like Kathryn Khulman in those old videos when she wore a white dress and looked like she was gliding across the platform. Emma appeared beautiful and young-about 22 years old-but she was old at the same time. She seemed to carry the wisdom, virtue and grace of Proverbs 31 on her life.

She glided into the room, emitting brilliant light and colors. Emma carried these bags and began pulling gold out of them. Then, as she walked up and down the aisles of the church, she began putting gold dust on people. "God, what is happening?" I asked. The Lord answered: "She is releasing the gold, which is both the revelation and the financial breakthrough that I am bringing into this church. I want you to prophecy that Emma showed up in this service-the same angel that appeared in Kansas city-as a sign that I am endorsing and releasing a prophetic spirit in the church." See, when angels come, they always come for a reason; we need to actually ask God what the purpose is. Within three weeks of that visitation, the church had given me the biggest offering I had ever received to that point in my ministry. Thousands of dollars! Thousands! Even though the entire community consisted of only three thousand people, weeks after I left the church the pastor testified that the church offerings had either doubled or tripled.

Responding to critics he calls "heresy hunters", Bentley now claims there is no angel "Emma" directing his ministry. References to Emma apparently have even been purged from the version of the article containing the above quote. However the article as it originally appeared, with references to Emma intact, can be found here.

Despite the fact that Bentley now de-emphasizes the role "Emma" plays in his ministry, it is still clear from his many teachings posted on that Bentley teaches frequently about angelic hosts that bring "financial release" and "healing mantles". Angels play a prominent role in his ministry in a manner that does not seem biblical.

I appreciate the fact that Bentley has taken the time to respond to critics, in an article titled Lifting Jesus High! Bringing Biblical Light to Your Questions about the Lakeland Outpouring & Todd Bentley. Nevertheless I am not convinced that his defense explains away his un-biblical methods and questionable character.

Fifth caution: Inaccurate prophecies

Like other so-called prophets in the prophetic movement, watch how Bentley "feels around" with his prophecies, throwing things out there and seeming to guess at what is happening to the people he's addressing or in the crowd he's ministering to, via the impressions the Lord supposedly is giving: Todd Bentley the Highly Inaccurate "Prophet"

Indefinite, vague prophecies could be interpreted by individuals as applying to them just because they are so imprecise. This is the same method psychics use. If there is a gift of prophecy for today that is from God, is it so inaccurate and full of guesswork?

Sixth caution: Lack of evidence for healings
Like others who claim to be healing significant numbers of people-- Bentley claims thousands have been healed at the Lakeland meetings-- when challenged by news agencies to supply medical evidence confirming their claims, they come up empty. Here's an excerpt from an ABC Nightline News story on Bentley, titled Thousands Flock to Revival in Search of Miracles:

The Healing Touch?

When asked to present evidence of the healings, Bentley promised to give "Nightline" the names and medical records of three followers who would talk openly about his miracles. He never delivered. Instead, his staff gave "Nightline" a binder filled with what he says are inspiring miracles, but with scant hard evidence. It offered incomplete contact information, a few pages of incomplete medical records, and the doctors' names were crossed out.

When pressed further, Bentley provided the name of a woman in California who had a large tumor in her uterus that shrank after she saw Bentley.

Her husband, however, told "Nightline" that it could be a coincidence because she was still undergoing medical treatment. He said she was too tired to talk to us at the time but added that she was regaining her strength day by day.

The husband did provide some of his wife's medical records from a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, where she went for cancer treatment after being turned away by American hospitals. They, however, insisted on obscuring the clinic's name and the names of the doctors.

Not a single claim of Bentley's healing powers could be independently verified.

Bentley, however, remains positive.

"I believe God is real and he's showing himself to his people," he said. "Yes, I believe the prayer of faith will save the sick."

Bentley's revival is filled with wheelchairs and crutches, with people of faith and people desperate for salvation through faith.

One of them is Bill Wise. He patiently tended his desperately ill baby daughter throughout the long night's revival. He listened for a call from Bentley offering a cure for his child's condition. But it never came.

Yet Wise defiantly refuses to lose faith.

"Even if we don't see any change, in the immediate run here, sometimes prayer is cumulative," Wise said.

Notice how there are supposed to be thousands of healings happening, claims of outstanding miracles, including such as people being raised from the dead, yet Bentley's organization is not able to provide verification of even a single case, despite Bentley promising to do so. And still Bentley continues to make these sorts of claims of healing, justifying such pronouncements by appealing to the Bible, "I believe the prayer of faith will heal the sick."

One especially feels sympathy for those yearning for a miracle healing like Bill Wise and his desperately ill daughter, described above. Many are traveling great distances from all over the world, convinced that Bentley is truly working miracles and that a move of God is happening.

In the next article(s), I will examine more closely these types of statements and claims. I didn't intend to spend quite so much time pointing out errors, but I believe it has been necessary to examine that which is being presented as healing doctrine by many today, in order to know what we are dealing with and how to respond.

I think what Paul wrote to Titus about the overseer is applicable here:
He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. Titus 1:9-11

I am eager to present biblical analysis of these doctrines and request prayer that I will indeed instruct in sound doctrine, as I proceed.

Further resources:
The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation by Bob DeWaay

FIRST-PERSON: Faith & healing -- Where's the evidence? by William Dembski

A series of articles on Herescope blog

Where is the evidence supporting Todd Bentley’s miracle claims?

Todd Bentley’s (and prophet Bob Jones) angel, Emma

Todd Bentley Nightline Report 1
Todd Bentley Nightline Report 2

Do You Believe in Miracles- A Documentary on Benny Hinn

Benny Hinn- Dateline NBC Special

Todd Bentley reveals the secret to his power!

In this video, posted by a Bentley admirer, notice how Bentley claims the ability, at will, to access the presence of God from within, the "anointing", in such a way as to defeat any sickness-- just say "Bam" and it's gone! He counsels people wanting to do the same that healing is learning to access the presence of the Lord within you, so as to "bring the kingdom", the healing "virtue" in you to bear on the situation in front of you. But "you cannot manifest the kingdom", he continues, "if you're not in tune with the presence of the Lord." One learns how to "release" this power only as they "stop and shut off your mind" and disregard "every external distraction".

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