By David Reagan
Todd Bentley is a 32 year old evangelist from Canada who heads up an independent Charismatic ministry called Fresh Fire Ministries. In April of 2008 he was invited to hold a one week revival at the Ignited Church of Lakeland, Florida.
The "revival" quickly became a religious and media phenomenon. One of the main reasons it rapidly attracted so much attention was because of the flamboyant personality and mannerisms of Todd Bentley. The extended meeting has now grown to the point that it had to be moved to a large tent-type structure that accommodates close to 10,000 people, many of whom are arriving daily from foreign nations.
A Strange "Revival"
This is a "revival" with very little teaching and preaching. In fact, Todd Bentley seldom brings a Bible to the pulpit with him.
The services begin with an intense and lengthy period of worship. One pastor described the worship as "hypnotic music" that utilizes "rhythmic sound" with "repetitious words." Nearly all the songs consist of chants of short phrases that are repeated over and over to whip the audience into a frenzy.
In this carnival-like atmosphere, people are exhorted to "come and get some" of the miracles that are "popping like popcorn." Bentley strides about the stage in a frenzy screaming into his microphone, keeping the audience on their feet cheering.
When Bentley lays his hands on people seeking healing, he yells, "Bam! Bam!" They usually fall on the ground and begin to contort wildly, like they are having an epileptic seizure. Sometimes Bentley becomes violent. He has kicked a lady in the face, choked a man, banged on a woman's legs, and hit a man so hard that he knocked out a tooth!
Bentley claims to have healed innumerable people. He also claims to have raised many people from the dead.
So, how valid is the "Florida Healing Outpouring," as it has come to be called? Is Bentley a true miracle working evangelist under the anointing of the Holy Spirit? Or is he just another shyster selling snake oil?
I cannot judge his motives because I do not know his heart. I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt by assuming that he is very sincere in what he is doing. But if that is the case, I think I can say without doubt that he is sincerely deceived and that he is deceiving many others, and I think I can prove that.