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Todd Bentley: Restoration Update

March 31, 2009

Rick Joyner has released another bulletin on Todd’s restoration process.  I so appreciate the openness and honesty that Todd, Rick and the restoration team have been trying to walk in.  I appreciate the fact that Todd is willing to open up his life to this extent.

Divorce is a plague in the church.  I think the first place to look to cure this, O Pastor, is who are you marrying and why?  I have seen pastors perform marriages that anyone with two functioning brain cells could see had no hope of working.  Things like oh, this guy’s been saved all of 2 months and he has a track record of beating every woman he’s been in a relationship with.  Maybe he needs a bit more of a foundation in Jesus before he takes on the pressure of a marriage, whacha think?

Or the classic of two kids barely out of their teens, neither of which has a job and “God told us.”  The fact that they fight continuously and don’t have two thoughts in common is not sending up a big enough flare for pastors to say, “No, I’m not officiating at this fiasco.”

I remember a pastor I served under actually using some sense.  Two newly converted people came to him after dating two months, maybe, and said, “We’re in love.  We want to get married.”  And his response was priceless, “No, you’re not.  You’re in lust.  Come talk to me in six months.”  They broke up a month later.  He decided he wanted nothing to do with Jesus a few months later.  She later married a committed Christian, and they have been blissfully married for many years.

I know of a nationally known pastor who once pastored in Australia before he be became a megachurch darling.  That church has an over 80% divorce rate because of his lack of judgment in performing marriages and the policies he had in his church.

But that is not going to fix the trainwrecks that are in the church.  We have to find a way to bring biblical restoration and healing to the 50% of Christians who are divorced.  The church is such a loving place that 50% of Christians won’t go there.  Those two statistics alone should break the hearts of the people of God.

This is why I am watching the restoration process Todd Bentley with such interest.  I think it is giving a lot of people who have been kicked to the curb by the church that Jesus holds a different view of them, and that maybe, just maybe, he meant what he said when he said, “I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.”

_______________________________

Todd Bentley Restoration Part II

By Rick Joyner

The response to our announcement that Todd had begun a restoration process was even greater than expected. It seems that not only is Todd’s restoration of great interest, but restoration in general is too. That is encouraging. This Special Bulletin is about much more than Todd, and it touches on some issues that may be the most important for Christians to examine in these times.

Before continuing, I would like to share briefly on some of what we’re facing. For months, there was a large and increasing demand for Todd to make some kind of statement about what happened. When he did, there was an outcry for him to stop, though the overwhelming response was to please continue. Others were demanding an apology from Todd. His apology on the video bulletin we posted was not scripted and was appreciated by most, but there was also a vitriolic response from some. We know some are not going to like anything we do, and we can’t address every question, but we do want to tackle the big and important ones with as much depth and candor as possible. We do not mind the controversy because we think it is making many address and consider important issues. Thanks for the concern that many of you have expressed, but we are okay with this and are not offended by it.

Also, doctrinally, I have received many brilliant, insightful and biblically- based communications about what we’re doing or should be doing. For every one of these that takes a certain position, I almost certainly receive those that take the exact opposite view just as brilliantly, with biblical references to back up their position. Often I think they’re both right! We do see in part and know in part, but I don’t think anyone has the whole picture, which includes me and our whole team. That’s why I appreciate all of these and try to learn from them. However, it’s a process in which we’re learning deep things about almost daily. Therefore, I cannot answer even a fraction of the emails and communications I’m getting, but they are appreciated, and as much as possible, considered.

There is also a whole lot of misinformation circulating about this issue, and many assumptions made about what is happening now that simply are not true. Those who are patient will have many of their concerns and questions answered, but we just cannot deal with all of them at once. However, we have no illusions about convincing everyone or causing everyone to change their positions, but it is forcing many to examine some basic issues and doctrines, which do need to be examined. That’s one reason why I think Todd has the gift of being so controversial.

Again, we are not going through this process thinking that we have all the answers, but we do have some, and we believe we must have the rest. We must have a victory in the body of Christ over some of these ultimate issues.

The Big Picture

Restoration is actually the most basic theme the Bible, and is the theme of all but four chapters in the Bible—the first two and the last two. In the third chapter of Genesis, there is the Fall, and after that the entire Bible is devoted to the redemption, reconciliation, and restoration of man and the earth from the Fall. In the last two chapters of Revelation, this restoration has been completed.

In this age as well as the next, restoration is the most basic purpose of God. The church is called to be the vehicle through which it is ushered in and will rule with Christ through this process in the next age. Yet it seems very few churches have a plan or are even willing to attempt restoring fallen members, much less leaders. It seems that most do not even understand what the process of restoration is, which is truly remarkable.

Of course, some have sought the grace and empowering of God for this and have reaped greatly by this pursuit. It does touch the basic issues on the heart of God, which is what the cross was all about. This is certainly an important and timely issue for us to confront, and it is not likely that we will really believe our gospel of redemption until we get it right.

From the responses we received from our first Bulletin and the videos, we see just how wide the chasm in the body of Christ is over this issue. This exposure of such division is an opportunity to address it and possibly heal some deep divisions in the church. I am not concerned about this causing division because it is obvious the division is already there.

We are told in the Scriptures that the foundation of the Lord’s throne is righteousness and justice, and this issue touches some very basic issues of righteousness and justice. It also touches on one of the worst plagues and crises in the church today—divorce, which the Lord Himself said that He hates. If He feels that strongly about something, we need to know why. For this reason, we are taking our time and trying to walk through this with great care. In some ways, it seems like we are trying to find our way through a minefield. While most seem to be cheering us on, some are throwing grenades at us. We knew this would come with touching something this important, and it has only increased our resolve, but if at times we seem to be ducking some things—we are!

Where We Are

We must face the issue of divorce and not cover it up or pretend that it does not exist. It is one of the worst and most damaging problems in the church today, as well as the world. It is at the root of many of our most devastating social ills, including the immorality, perversion, and violence. Neither the church nor civilization can last long if the present level of this crisis continues, but it is not continuing—it’s getting worse.

The toll in suffering and backsliding, or falling away from the Lord, caused by divorce is not only a great tragedy, the with the times we’re in, will exacerbate it significantly if we do not address this now. Regardless of perception, immorality is not the number one cause of divorce, but financial problems are. With the increasing financial crisis, the pressure on couples is increasing fast.

However, the church does have the ultimate answers to human problems. It is now time to be proactive in facing the crisis, with a resolve to see a complete victory over this terrible enemy.

It is estimated that nearly 50 percent of all Christian marriages will end in divorce, and nearly 50 percent of all Christians in the church have been divorced. It is also estimated that more than 50 percent of all Christians are no longer in a local church. One of the major reasons for this is the shame and/or shunning that they have suffered because of divorce. This is likely the single biggest and most crippling wound in the body of Christ today.

There may not be anyone in the church whose lives have not been negatively impacted by a divorce in their family. It is easy to see why the Lord hates divorce. My primary questions now are:

  • What is causing this plague of divorce in the church?
  • What must we do to stop this plague?
  • How can we see those who have been wounded by divorce get healed?

This plague and every other one can be stopped. We can prevail against every gate of hell that has been opened in the church. Our goal is not just to see a standard raised against this flood, but to reverse it and see all who have been wounded by it healed so that they become healers.

If you have been deeply wounded by divorce, you can be healed and become a healer of others. It is by the Lord’s stripes that we are healed. The same principle is true for us, and we can receive authority for healing others in the same place where we were wounded. All who have suffered from divorce can actually become an army of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration, which will bring healing and deliverance to the church and our land.

For this we not only welcome, but would love to have anyone who has been through a divorce in our churches. We view you as a potential soldier in one of the important battles of our time, and we believe you can be mightily used by the Lord. We want to be sure you have been healed of your wounds, and if you caused the divorce through your own failures, of course we want to know that you have repented and been restored to the righteousness and justice that is the foundation of the Lord’s government. We will work with you to help you get there if needed. We consider this an honor to do.

The Causes

Tolstoy began one of his classic novels Anna Karenina with a profound insight into this problem when he wrote, “Happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” What makes happy families is very simple, but the causes of unhappy relationships can be varied and complicated. One reason I am thankful to be working with Todd is because of the complexity of his situation. Few things have driven me to seek a deeper understanding of some basic human problems, as well as God’s solution to them. We knew it was a minefield and that the risk was great, but I for one am excited to try to find a way through it because it will make a way for many others who are desperate for that way.

Now back to Tolstoy. The recipe for a happy family is the same—to love God and love one another. That is the ultimate answer. When you apply this, we begin to understand what Paul meant in Romans 14:17, “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” “Eating and drinking,” speaks of worldly pleasures, but they will never lead to true peace or true joy. Righteousness, or doing what is right in the sight of the Lord, is the only foundation for true peace and true joy. The righteousness of God is founded upon loving Him above all else and then loving one another.

Jesus summed up the whole law in these two commandments because if we keep them, we will keep the whole law of God. If you love God above all else, we will never worship anything else. If we love others, we will never hurt them, steal from them, envy them, and so on. This is the core value of all righteousness, but we also need to address His justice, which is the second key pillar of what His throne, or authority, is based on.

Recent studies on happiness revealed that our possessions actually have zero impact on our happiness. This study also found that the happiest people on the earth tended to be the poor who lived the most simple lives. Those who lived simple lives also had the strongest relationships, which of course, are built on love for one another. Many “successful” people have stated that they would give up all of their success to have their families back. This includes many who have become “successful” in ministry. A diversion from the core values of righteousness into complex and intricate ambitions is a cause of many breakdowns in relationships.

Doing what is right in the sight of the Lord should be a primary drive in our lives because we love Him above all things. We may all know this is the first commandment. We may also know and love the great discourse on love in I Corinthians 13, which makes it clear that all of our religious devotion and performance is worthless without love. However, it seems that very few actually pursue loving God above all things, which alone can enable us to love one another as we should.

If loving God is the first and most important commandment, then the true definition of a successful human life would be one that loves God above anything else. If this is true of us, then serving Him, pleasing Him, and knowing Him better would be the chief pursuits of our lives. Failure to love God above all else and to pursue growing in our love for Him, is the root cause of every human problem, including divorce.

We can have the best teaching, even memorize all of the Scriptures on marriage, divorce, truth, righteousness, and unrighteousness, but if you do not love God, we will probably fall, or if we don’t fall to the sin, we will fall to something worse—self-righteousness.

I have been warning Christians for thirty years about how the idealistic and legalistic teachings on marriage were going to destroy Christian marriages. I sounded this warning because I was given it by the Lord, who also told me to watch those who wrote the books or gave these teachings. Almost all of them have now been through at least one divorce. When I started giving this warning, evangelical Christian marriages that failed were a tiny percentage. Now half of all Christian marriages are ending in divorce. This cannot be allowed to continue.

Both those who are idealistic or legalistic often have sincere desires for protecting God’s people and for seeing a holy bride kept for the King. If Satan cannot stop someone, he often gets behind them and pushes them too far, and that is the case with many of these. Others are reacting out of wounds that their own loved ones have suffered. Even so, there is a ditch on either side of the path of life. One is lawlessness and the other is legalism. Lawlessness is not the answer to legalism, and legalism is not the answer to lawlessness, but we must find the path of life that is between these two ditches.

Personally, and as a ministry, we have resolved that if we are going to lean in the direction of either of these that it would be in the direction of freedom and grace. At times, I do think we have leaned too far and maybe too close now. That’s why I have some close friends who I know lean pretty far in the other direction, and I greatly appreciate them!

I was also persuaded more than thirty years ago that being in the ministry can be one of the most difficult places to get closer to God. It should not be this way, but it is because of the modern form that ministry has taken. This is a generalization and is certainly not true of all, but it can be the most deadly trap of all.

I have asked Todd several times what he thinks caused his divorce, and he has given the same reply each time, referring back to how he got married when he was nineteen, entered full-time ministry, and became married more to the ministry than to his wife. This can happen in ministry, or with any profession, job, hobby, or anything else that becomes an affection that eclipses our love for Go, and one another. Ministry can actually be an idol that we start to worship in place of God. We need to understand how and why this happens if we are going to avoid it.

One issue that seems to be a focal point in our seeking to restore Todd is how wroth some leaders are to this very idea that Todd could actually be restored to ministry after what he has done. Not surprisingly, most of these seem to be the same ones who were critics of the Lakeland Revival or to Todd’s ministry before that. I don’t want to marginalize their concerns regardless of their previous or present positions, and I consider that most of these are sincerely concerned for the sake of righteousness and/or not causing many more to stumble by thinking too casually about divorce. These concerns I share. However, we need to also consider how much of this concern is also rooted in a flawed perception of what ministry is supposed to be. To many, it is a profession rather than a calling and viewed as a means of self-promotion or self-fulfillment rather than the sacrifice it is supposed to be.

I do consider that God’s redemption, reconciliation, and restoration are meant to be total. I went into this process of Todd’s restoration to see him fully restored to ministry in the truest sense of the word—a life of sacrifice, of taking up the cross daily to do the will of the Lord—not just  building a big or famous presence in the church or the world. However, I also recognize that Todd has that characteristic, which is also an anointing, to attract multitudes. This is also part of what makes people either love or hate him, with very few being indifferent. That is not going to go away, but it will likely increase.

One advantage of the extraordinary attention Todd draws is the huge number of people, especially those who have suffered a divorce, who have been given hope that if Todd can be restored and be useful to the Lord, so can they. Some of these really made terrible mistakes, for which they are now sorry, but they have not found forgiveness or restoration from the church. Todd’s very public failures have broadcast to many that there is hope.

However, restoration is hard. The one-thousand year reign of Christ over the earth is for the purpose of restoring it to its original purpose—to be the paradise it was created to be. However, it will take one thousand years to accomplish this under the best Leadership there could ever be. Restoration is hard, but it is worth it.

Now, let’s look a bit more deeply into how ministry can be a distraction that can keep us from God, and be perverted into a means of self-promotion, rather than the life of the cross that it is supposed to be.

After the Fall, the curse on man was on his job—that by the sweat of his brow he would bring forth fruit from the earth. The curse on the woman was connected to relationship and family—that it would be through much pain that she would bear children. The reason for this is that man’s identity tends to be in his job, and a woman’s identity tends to be in her relationships. A man will feel like a failure if he is failing at his job more than he might if he is failing at a relationship, including his relationship to God. A woman will tend to feel a failure if the relationships are not doing well more than if her work is not going well.

These are generalizations, and therefore are not always true. Todd still cannot understand why his former wife did not seem to appreciate his success in ministry. She married Todd, not the ministry, and the ministry was causing increasing problems in the relationship, which was more important to her and would be to most women. At the same time, Todd obviously felt unappreciated for all that he was accomplishing, and this can be a dangerous open door to inappropriate affection from others who might seem to appreciate that kind of success more.

Women have it right—relationships are more important than what we accomplish. Who we are is more important than what we do. This is true with God and with our families. However, it can actually help a relationship for the wife and family to show appreciation for the accomplishments of their men. If the identity of the man is so wrapped up in what he accomplishes, feeling his wife does not appreciate what he does, he will feel rejected. This often drives men to try to accomplish even more, or they will start staying longer and longer at work because they feel more appreciated there. This is a trap, and it is one that Todd fell into. If it had not been the ministry, it likely would have been something else he was trying to accomplish.

The way a man and woman become one in marriage is not by the man becoming a woman, or the woman becoming a man, but by the fitting together of their diverse gifts and personalities. Most men need to work hard to make their relationships more valuable than what they accomplish in their professions or their callings. Again, as Paul expressed so articulately in I Corinthians 13, it does not matter what we accomplish if we do not have love, and that love is for our relationships—to God first and then to one another.

Most marriages do not fail overnight, but the failure is actually years in the making. There is a constant eroding of affection, and divisions grow wider. When this happens, a man will often become a workaholic, devoting himself more and more to his job where he feels appreciated. When a woman is not appreciated, she will often close her heart toward her husband to protect herself from further rejection or hurt.

When I went to speak at a Fresh Fire Conference several years ago, I could not believe all that Todd was doing. They were putting together more than a dozen crusades in Africa a year, and about as many conferences in the U.S. and Canada. They also had a school, church, were publishing, and were even producing music CDs. When I heard a couple of years afterward that he had experienced a meltdown and burnout, I was amazed it had taken so long at the pace he was trying to keep.

I know that all of the activity above sounds like MorningStar, as we too have all of these aspects to ministry and a few more. However, we are not putting on crusades in Africa, but rather are sending speakers to crusades or conferences that others are hosting. There is a huge difference. When we previously hosted conferences in hotels, even ones in Charlotte where our headquarters were, one conference would take most of the wind out of our staff for up to three months. It is different now that we’re having conferences in our own facility. As stated, Fresh Fire was moving from city to city in the U.S. and Canada and on top of that putting together large crusades in Africa. I still marvel at the stamina of Todd and his team for what they did over those few years, but God made our bodies and minds to need rest.

The rest of God is the special place where we draw near to Him and get to know Him. It is very easy to get so busy working for God that we don’t spend much time with Him. That is the recipe for spiritual disaster, which will lead to every kind of disaster.

I really appreciated the zeal around Fresh Fire, especially during times of such lukewarmness in the church in general. However, there was an increasing cost in relationships with the added workload. After Todd hit the wall with burnout, he then fell to an emotional attachment to a staff member. There was no physical relationship, and the girl did not return even the emotional attraction. When Todd went to his leadership team about what he was feeling, they immediately sent the girl away. Todd, trying to be open, then went to his wife to confess this attraction. Todd was trying to be transparent, but he is convinced that this was what killed what was left of his relationship to his wife.

Todd often called this attraction “an affair,” but it was not one. There was no physical adultery or even physical contact with the girl. However, Todd said that he knows he would have entered into such a relationship if she had been willing, and therefore, he felt that he needed to repent of it as if it had been an affair. I can appreciate Todd feeling this way. Because of the way rumors spread and grow, many still think that Todd had an actual affair several years ago, when in fact he did not.

There is much other misinformation circulating about Todd. Some is coming from what appears to be reliable sources, and just about all of it Todd has been willing to accept. He wants to take full responsibility for his marriage failure, and just about anything else he is being blamed for. Even though that might make my job easier, that is not justice, and it can hurt those who hold to false accusations as much as it can hurt Todd in the future. If we are going to deal in truth, we need to address what is true, not what may be a perception.
To Be Continued…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sandy permalink
    April 26, 2009 5:51 pm

    Rahab,

    I understand the “restoration” process as do many of us. I am one which I say humbly, who have been restored many many times in my life with God. I have many failures and a past, as all of us do. I do so hope Todd and his family can be restored to the love God has for them and they can somehow find the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. It is not for me to judge Todd, but to pray for Todd and all of those concerned. The rest is up to God.

    Being that said, I do have concerns. As you know I am Catholic and the Church has been hit hard the last few years due to the molestation of children by the Priest. This is awful and many innocent children fell victim to this, and this is such a sin against God. However it is still sin, and if one has a contrite heart it can be forgiven, even though it is hard for us to do so, and the same holds true for Todd Bentley. To say he cannot be forgiven is a lie from hell, and there would be no hope for me for sure.

    But this is the way which I feel about Todd returning to the pulpit and those Priest as the same holds true for both. Should they continue with a ministry? I do not think so and the reason for this is, if they could not stay true to their vocation/call from God to begin with, what makes us think they can do it again? Also I feel this is one of the consequences for their sins, which is a consequence of their own making, not God’s.

    Can they be forgiven and can they still go to heaven, of course. Even as you stated though, with the increase of the workload it was a cost to the personal relationship with his wife. It seems funny to me the girl was gotten rid of when it was Todd with the problem. So if he could not handle the workload to begin with, why place him back in the same circumstance and risk personal failure and well as spiritual again?

    I am sorry if this offends you but this is how I feel about anyone who places himself/herself in the lime light to lead souls to Christ, and then they fall. I feel the same way regarding Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Baker. People tend to forget that Jimmy Swaggart also wanted this woman’s little girl to watch, and yet there are some who still flock to him.

    I do not hold their past against them, but I do believe they gave up the right behind the pulpit when they did these things. The Bible speaks of how our leaders are to be and behave. These people I have mentioned above, again even to the Priest, have not done this.

    God Bless, Sandy

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