False Unity and the Lakeland Revival Cult (Part 2)
Finally and mercifully, the “strong delusion” known as “The Lakeland Outpouring” or “Lakeland Healing Revival” is no more, after its main leader, Todd Bentley, has been exposed as the charlatan that Biblically-grounded and spiritually-discerning believers always knew him to be. In “ONE DAY,” the farcical charade Bentley passed off as “ministry” emanating from the Holy Spirit and shamefully flaunted over satellite airwaves around the globe nightly for months on end on a television network audaciously, if not blasphemously, named by its founders, “God TV,” was suddenly brought to a screeching halt by God Himself.
Almost immediately the ever-growing cadre of self-proclaimed international apostles and other leaders who virtually stampeded the Lakeland platform to make PR hay for themselves by associating with and effectively endorsing Bentley and the Lakeland fiasco are now scrambling to disseminate their statements of regret, explanation, and even apology. As sincere as their post-facto sentiments and apologetics may be, many believers, myself included, find it difficult to see it as anything more than variants of damage control and spiritual spin-meistering.
The fact of the matter is: the entire “outpouring” or “revival” — from the beginning — was indeed a shameful fiasco and fraud that surely those who brazenly claim to be the God-appointed “gatekeepers” of the Kingdom of God on the earth, should have been discerning and knowledgeable enough to recognize from the start. I’m sorry, I really am not meaning to be unkind or overly critical, but how much discernment does it take to know that someone who tattoos and body-pierces himself from head to toe more than a decade AFTER claiming to have been Born Again, and employs WWF “wrassling” body-slams, forearm shivers, step-over-toeholds, airplane spins, fireman carrys, and solar-plexus punches accompanied by such Neanderthal outbursts as “bam, boom, sheeka-heeka, batta-batta-boom,” to “minister” to severely infirmed, crippled, pain-tortured, devil-oppressed, and even terminally-ill people desperately seeking Divine healing is not ministering through the genuine anointing of the Holy Spirit? Seriously — how much discernment does that take — to know instinctively and without any doubt that none of that is inspired by the HOLY Spirit but rather some very uncouth and unclean EVIL spirits? I mean, really people! The gift of discernment is not needed to know that! Nor is it needed to look into someone’s eyes, smell their breath, and watch their physical movements to know that they are inebriated, as Bentley has now reportedly admitted he was during some of the Lakeland meetings. How much spiritual acumen does it require to recognize the lustful looks, body language, and behavior of a practiced and habitual adulterer, and to be able to deduce from his speech, attitudes, and interactions with his wife that their marriage is not what it should be?
Again, I’m honestly not trying to be unkind, nor am I reacting out of envy, as spiritually immature or untaught people often allege regarding anyone making comments such as these, but I seriously doubt the validity of the claim to apostolic or prophetic anointing and function of anyone who could be so easily duped by such obvious doctrinal deception that in some cases crossed the line of heresy and blatant ministerial travesty that at times crossed the line of outright blasphemy against the Holy Spirit! I’m seriously having trouble believing those that are that gullible, theologically liberal, and given to such compromise could possibly be genuine apostles or prophets.
Of course, I am not an “approved” prophet by the ICA apostles and the self-proclaimed “clearing houses for the prophetic” such as Christian International, in fact those of them who know me, and a number do, highly disapprove of me, nonetheless I AM a Heaven and Head of the Church approved prophet, and I have a pretty good idea what genuine prophets are like, and one of the fundamental characteristics of a genuine prophet is that they are obsessed with the Truth. They can’t help themselves. They seek the Truth, speak the Truth, and refuse to compromise the Truth, no matter what — who it offends, or what it costs. Genuine prophets, who themselves are not compromised in some way, can no more compromise regarding the Truth than the sun can stop shining.
I’m sorry, but I just can’t give the “high and mighty” — those who so arrogate themselves to purport to comprise the highest echelons of the Charismatic chain-of-command — a pass on this obvious display of lack of discernment and concern for the Sheep of God’s Flock.The Charismatic corps d’élite totally missed it BIG TIME on this one, which really is nothing new, but the difference in this case is that they are publicly chagrined and chastised. If I were one of them, I would turn in my Apostle or Prophet badge, resign my position of status, and publicly admit I am not spiritual qualified to accept the title. But, hey, that’s just me. I don’t look for anything even close to that kind of integrity and honesty coming from the ranks of the ICA types of organizations.
Frankly, I believe it’s all God! I believe it was a Divine “set-up” or “sting” of sorts. As I said in my first article on this matter, I DO believe the Lakeland things is a move of God — a move of “strong delusion” such that God promised to send upon those who do not “receive the love of the TRUTH…so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the TRUTH, but APPROVED (lit.) wickedness” (2 Thes. 2:9-12). There were a vast number of people other than Todd Bentley who were and are still being exposed by this “Sting of the Spirit.” I don’t mean for the same kind of faults and failures as Bentley’s, but others that are just as spiritually defiling, destructive, ungodly, and grievous, both to God and genuine believers.
While one, so far, of the elite echelon of the International Coalition of Apostles, Dutch Sheets, has come forward to express his personal remorse and repentance for his implicit involvement in the Lakeland looniness as well as a host of the other Charismaniacal excesses and spiritual failures that have gone on over the course of the Charismatic Movement, others of the exclusive club’s leadership have yet to acknowledge or accept any complicity in the obvious errors that were made, including the public and televised coronation ceremony over which the ICA’s top leader, C. Peter Wagner, presided, along with three other ICA brass. Wagner has published some statements since his endorsement of the Lakeland Outpouring and Bentley attempting to explain his rationale, but many view his statements as too little, too late, and reflecting that he apparently is genuinely unaware, as sincere as he may be in his beliefs regarding the ICA’s stated purposes and mission, of the negative view of the organization held by the majority of Charismatic and Evangelical leaders as well as laity. Apparently, similar sentiments are now being espoused within the ICA’s membership, resulting in a number of them resigning from the organization.
Moreover, Wagner is not helping his cause at all by now suggesting that the Lakeland Outpouring should now be viewed as “Lakeland I” and “Lakeland II,” which will be viewed by many as being just another attempt to whitewash the many errors that occurred in “Lakeland I” and to promote “Lakeland II,” the supposedly “redeemed” continuum under the new leadership of Stephen Strader, the leader of Ignite Church and ICA member. Many believers are finally beginning to recognize “organizationalism” as the bane it has always been with respect to the Kingdom of God. Organizationalism and institutionalism has always been the assassin of every move of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not be confined, contained and controlled by men and their contrived organizations. When organizationalism moves in to hijack the move of God, the Holy Spirit departs and moves on to find true worshipers through whom He can operate. From that moment when the Holy Spirit departs, “Ichabod,” is written by the Hand of God over the doors of the meeting place, and it becomes a haunt of vipers and overrun by serpents as evil spirits hasten to fill the spiritual void.
How I see it all is that those who were on the Lakeland stage the night of the ICA coronation, all became the natural ground when God downloaded a true “outpouring” of Kingdom Power into the whole “movement,” and they were all electrocuted! I believe it was God, and that a lot of good things — meaning, a lot of long needed changes — are going to take place as a result of the Lakeland debacle.
The good thing about the recent implosion of the Lakeland Outpouring is that maybe we can all now move on to better things — real God things — and everyone can get back to daily and faithfully doing what they do in, of, and for the Kingdom, void as it is of all the hype, hoopla, and fanfare.
In the previous post, I was addressing the calls for “unity” that were coming out of and on behalf of the Lakeland Outpouring prior to its debacle, and how that the so-called unity that was being demanded by a multitude of voices endorsing and promoting it, is not the “unity in the Spirit” delineated in the Bible. Often, the “unity” that is being touted in religious sectors is not true unity of the Spirit at all, but a “coerced conformity” that does not promote the freedom that is always present “where the Spirit of the Lord is,” but rather a dark, diabolical, and demonic bondage. In this case, the unity enforcers were saying that if you were not onboard endorsing and promoting the Lakeland hubbub you were anti-spirit, anti-supernatural, anti-charismatic, anti-prophetic, rebellious, legalistic, and had a critical spirit and a spirit of unbelief. Well, all those childish, revealing, yet dangerously demonic charges all sounded very familiar to anyone who’s been part of the Charismatic Movement for any significant period of time. I’ve been so labeled by the Charismatic Cosa Nostro for most of my three decades plus in the movement regarding a plurality of new trends and developments that I refused to simply “swallow and follow.” So, I’m used to being the odd man out on such things. I’m gettin’ so I like that scarlet “R” for rebel they’ve branded me with, ’cause I’ve just never been one to go along to get along. Never have; never will.
The following is Part 2 of this series of posts that compares false unity to true unity. If you did not read Part 1, I urge you to do so. Links to archived messages appear on the right of this blog. If you are a new reader, I suggest you take a little time to browse through the past articles, which I pray will also bless and inspire you.
True Unity is Not All-Inclusive
It’s just not humanly possible to be committed to everyone in the same way and degree as we are to our own immediate families or our spouse, nor is that what God intended. Contrary to the idiotic, New Age, one-world, humanistic philosophies, the human race is not “just one big cosmic-family.” Yet, many professing believers have not disabused their minds from the plethora of these kinds of “vain philosophies” and replaced them with the Truth of the Word of God. The result is that the belief system of these professing Christians is an eclectic mixture of false doctrines rooted in false philosophies and false religions from Astrology to Zen and everything in between. Certainly no less can be expected when masses of professing Christians are practitioners of scads of demon-associated practices from martial arts to Freemasonry to occult rituals to yoga and a slew of other false religious rituals, and are ensconced in romantic relationships with practicing and therefore demon-possessed Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, and so on.
God simply does not intend for us to be in “unity” with everyone! Unity is a oneness in mind and purpose. It is an agreement of sorts. Amos 3:3 says that two cannot walk together except by agreement. Believers cannot be in unity or agreement with and walk with certain people. That’s just the way it is—deal with it! As much as you may want to bring the world’s humanistic unity along with the rest of its vain philosophies with you into the Kingdom when you enter it, that cannot fly. And, at that stage of your immaturity, if you do not yet understand that and all the whys and wherefores of it, then you’ve just got to accept it by faith as being the wisdom of the wiser than you! Sorry, you’ve got to check all the world’s philosophies at the door when you enter the Kingdom of God! I know it makes you feel diminished and vulnerable as you start off-loading all that “wisdom” and “knowledge” that you accumulated from the world’s university of “higher learning,” but that’s the way it’s supposed to make you feel—humbled is the word—so that you will cast the whole of the weight of reliance upon God Himself and none other. All of that is nothing more than hot air and bluster that just makes you feel smarter, wiser, and more grandiose than you really are anyway. It’s all a lie, and you’ve bought into it all hook, line, and sinker. So, how smart are you really, O wise one? All along the devil’s been lying to you and making you think more highly of yourself than you ought, which results in separation from God, so that he can ultimately destroy you. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prv. 16:18); and, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). So, why don’t you make it easy on yourself and humble yourself before you are humiliated and come on down here with the rest of us Lilliputians who have realized we’re a big fat ZERO in ourselves apart from God?
Believers are not called to be in unity and agreement with everyone! We can’t be! Our quest is fellowship, union, and communion with God preeminently—to walk with God. By definition, to walk with God, we must be in agreement with God. To be in agreement with God intrinsically means that we are going to be in disagreement, disunity, disfellowship with fellow humans who are not walking with God. It’s just that simple. The Spirit puts it this way:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and
lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty. (2 Cor. 6:14-18, NAS)
This is one of the many promises of God in Scripture that is a promise of contingency. It’s a covenant, an agreement, a contract—with God. It is a promise, for sure, but it has conditions that are just as sure, and those conditions must be met if the promise is to be fulfilled. The benefits of the promise are great—to the person who meets the conditions. To that person, God promises to dwell with them, walk with them, be their God and be their Father. But, if the conditions are not met, one cannot expect the benefits of the promise to inure to them.
Imbalanced “Unity” is an Abomination to God
Close study of the relatively (and surprisingly) small number of unity Scripture passages makes it clear there is a distinct difference between the “unity of the Spirit” God speaks about in His Word and the notion of “unity” centered around “covenant relationships” and promulgated by Latter Rain-influenced teachers.
Subtle twisting of the Spirit-intended and -inspired import of God’s Word and an imbalance in the application of the precept of unity has resulted in a distorted and debauched version of unity. Virtually invariably, over-emphasis, or over-balance, is what makes erroneous teaching erroneous, rather than the radical deviation from truth people commonly look for in their vigilance to spot error and avert deception.
Over-emphasis is over-balance, over-balance is imbalance, and imbalance is error, and—”A false balance [imbalance] is an abomination to God” (Pro. 11:1). Truth consists of counterbalancing components. Imbalance is averted by counterbalancing each component of Truth with the rest of “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27, RSV).
Theological Truth is analogous to human cells in that each cell contains the protoplasm that comprises the whole body. In other words, each component of Theological Truth gleaned from the Word of God contains the essence of the whole Word of God, and will be completely compatible and congruous with same.
The unfortunate dynamic of imbalance or over-balance is that once it occurs, everything, even that which is good and right, slides toward the imbalance or error and becomes tainted by it. So that, once a person or a group loses spiritual equilibrium, a downward spiral into apostasy is begun. Only the sudden applying of a counter-balancing weight equal to the imbalancing weight can halt the descent, rectify the imbalance, and regain the equilibrium.
Many believers and whole groups of believers, unfortunately have slid into an imbalance with respect to “unity” that is an abomination to God. Thus, an equal weight to the over-balance must be applied to the opposite side to regain the balance and rectify the abomination.
In groups who are “out of balance,” God often uses prophets to bring a counterbalancing word which when given brings an offense to the mind of believers caught up in the deception. Though Satan perverts and misapplies the concept, and interjects it into a plethora of a New Age “doctrines of demons” being proliferated today in the name of the “prophetic,” it is nonetheless true that — it often is necessary for God to offend our carnal mind in order to win or enlighten our heart, i.e., our spirit.
True Unity is of the Holy Spirit, not the Human Spirit
Unity among believers is vital, but it is secondary to and actually a bi-product of unity with God. A significant corroboration of that truth, though I will not elaborate on it here, is represented in the typology of Moses’ Tabernacle, in that the Table of Showbread, typifying the Communion Table, one aspect of which is fellowship among fellow believers (cf., 1 Cor. 10:16,17), was located not in The Most Holy Place of God’s presence, or Holy of Holies, but its anteroom, The Holy Place. The former signified fellowship with God and the latter represented fellowship with one another.
True unity is a union or “oneness” with God first and then with our fellows second. True unity is a unity in which our love for and loyalty to God is first or preeminent, and all other relationships are secondary or subordinate. In fact, true unity is a unity that results in unity with fellow believers but is rooted in and an outflow of union and communion with God. The nature of true unity is that apart from God it does not exist. True unity is a characteristic of the nature of God. Thus, He alone is the source of genuine unity. Contrary to what some people apparently believe, unity does not exist because you are wanting to have or produce unity. Rather, it transpires when you become, as the Early Church did however briefly, “worshipers in spirit and truth.” In other words, unity is an outflow of true worship—”true worship” being defined as “worship in spirit and truth.”
Unity is a God-thing! True unity is the unity that originates with the Godhead, the Trinity. The three Persons of the Godhead continually live in complete unity—oneness of mind and purpose. There most definitely is a “oneness” with the Godhead, but not the kind that unitarianists or modalists want us to believe. It is this perfect oneness or unity that flows from the Godhead that is genuine, bona fide unity. That’s the Real McCoy! All other forms of unity are merely human and are counterfeits! Without God, and without His Spirit flowing through you to shape and formulate your life, you will never experience or appropriate the real thing! Genuine unity cannot be manufactured, but it can be generated through supernatural communion (union via fellowship) with the Spirit of God both directly and in the human spirits that He habitates.
Distinguishing True Unity of the Spirit From Contrived Counterfeits
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This article is adapted from the book, Charismatic Captivation, by Steven Lambert, ThD. More information, sample chapters, and online-ordering of the book is available at: http://www.charismatic-captivation.com, or from booksellers worldwide.
The Ephesians Four Network Blog features commentary, teaching, and prophetic words relative to the establishment and advancement of the Kingdom of God on Earth through the Church that Jesus is Building. The contributing editor is Dr. Steven Lambert, whose website address is: www.slm.org, where you can find many more articles and information about his ministry.