Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Florida "Revival"

Someone emailed me a few weeks back asking my opinion on the so-called Florida Revival. That was the first I'd heard of it. (If you're reading this, friend, I'm sorry I have misplaced your email and don't remember who you were, but as it happens, my response at the time would have been an unhelpful "Never heard of it.")

I don't know all that much about it now. But since then I've read more on it here and there.

Three things I should mention:
a) I'm not now nor have I ever been a charismatic, but I am a continuationist, theologically speaking. That is, I don't believe the charismatic gifts described in Scriptural history ceased at the closing of the canon (or any other time).
b) That said, I am pretty much knee-jerk suspicious of most reported "outpourings" like this, and I tend to think charismatics/Pentecostals could gain a whole lot more sympathy for their cause if they stopped jumping on every freakshow bandwagon that popped up.
c) That said, I am not eager to malign the character or impugn the motives of people I don't know or know much about.

But here's my opinion:
It sounds satanic.

I'm trying to take a look at original sources (actual writings by Todd Bentley, actual video clips) and not rely on critical accounts, but the original sources aren't helping the case for authentic revival.

When the "angels" visiting Bentley aren't spouting bland Chicken Soup for the Charismatic Soul platitudes, they're teaching him bad theology. And is it any surprise to anyone that these angels really want people to have financial breakthroughs? Because, I mean, come on!, the Bible is very concerned that we all have financial breakthroughs. Right?


I read this, and I'm sorry, I know it is his word against mine, but this is b.s.
It just is.

That might make you mad, and that's fine. You probably weren't inclined to think I'd be fair anyway, but I'll start being fair when this stuff produces:

a) prophetic pronouncements with 100% accuracy and quantifiable results, not loud animal sounds and crippled people falling down because you yelled "Bam!",

b) an understanding of the Holy Spirit as a comforter and healer who evokes awe and wonder because he is God, not as a magical pixie dust you can throw around on people like Rip Taylor's confetti,

and c) actual, reformational revival in the land, not arenas full of people whooping and hollering. That's not revival. That's . . . well, I don't know what that is, but it's not revival.

So yeah. That's my opinion of the goings on in Florida.


Bill Kinnon said...

Well said, Jared, well said.

Anonymous said...

wow, I'm a little disappointed, Jared...

you don't believe what's going on in Florida...?

you don't believe in that angel called Promise?

you don't believe God has angels in waiting, that if we pray they will "man up" and release finances for us?

Harummpph... Well, I'm taking my snakes and pixie dust and confetti and wrestling words (like BAM!), and I'll be on my way... thank you very much.

I know when I'm not wanted, or needed, or liked, or exalted....
a very upset and theologically reviled revivalist...

bodd tentley (the tent is for the revival, you see!)

wsk said...

you wrote: "I read this, and I'm sorry, I know it is his word against mine, but this is b.s."

Yikes - Colossians 2:18 came to mind when I read the article you linked.


(I don't remember how I landed here a couple of weeks ago, but I enjoy your blog)

Jared said...

Wendy, thank you for enjoying it. :-)

And thanks for contributing that verse to the conversation. I think it's INCREDIBLY applicable.

Rick Leland said...

Some of Todd's angel stuff is just...too weird. He just seems to be missing some things.

Of course so am I. Still I think God's using me. Actually I'm almost...

I keep thinking about Jonah. There is no way. No way God could use Jonah to start a revival.

First, he ran from God. Outright disobedience. Doesn't that trump weird angel theology.

Second, he asked the unbelievers, to in essence, help him commit sucide. Now, there's no way God could use this pathetic mess to start a revival.

No way.

And then he's got this wacked out story about being swallowed by a whale.

But he hit town. I mean hits the beach covered in whale puke. That's stranger than tattoos.

And smells.

And then he yeilds to God. Still with an attitude thing going on.

Bam revival hits.

God's ways are beyond strange sometimes.

My suggestion? Get your own God-revival going that's better. I'm serious.

You can't deny that this Florida thing--good, bad or ugly, isn't stirring real God-feelings. And passion for Jesus. And conversations. And faith. And hope.
And some genuine over the top, times-two weirdness.

If you think this thing is satan, get your own God-revival going and blow this one out of the water.

Can God use YOU for this? Or should we all just plug our noses.

Is that whale puke I'm smelling?

Jared said...

Rick, the fact that you think someone can just "get a revival going" says a lot.

Do you honestly think that just because God can use evil for good we shouldn't use discernment?

I've been through the "God's ways are strange" thing before. Toronto, Pensacola, etc. Those revivals didn't "take." Because animal noises and assorted chaos is not a revival, neither historically nor biblically.

As long "God feelings" despite "weird theology" trump sound theology, these things will continue being the destructive fads they've always been.

ljjasper said...

A loud "Amen" brother Jared! Your words are spot on.

Diane R said...


Where have you been for the past 15 years? Have you not heard of the Toronto-Brownsville and Dr. Peter Wagner (the Head Apostle--his title, not mine) apostolic/prophetic Charismatic Third Wave "revival?" This Florida thing is simply a continuation of this movement. It was beginning to die (thankfully) and now Todd Bently (I guess) wants to "revive" it (so sorry for the pun).

Jared said...

Diane, yes, I've heard of those. (See my previous comment in response to Rick.)

I was very interested in the Toronto thing while it was happening, as it coincided with my own diminishing cessationism. I read quite a bit on it at the time.

I do see this thing as more of the same. Again, see my previous comment.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

flashbacks of Rick Joyner in my head.

dle said...


Hey, I'm with you on this Florida thing. I'm not liking what I'm hearing, either. But then, I wrote off large chunks of the charismatic movement a long time ago and I'm a charismatic.

Here's the defining question: Is this "revival" bringing forth lasting fruits of repentance?

That's the first and last question right there. You can tell 90 percent of everything you need to know about a move of God by asking that question.

Why then, do so few people ask it?

It's because they're bored with God. They need to be caught up in excitement more than they want to take the time to draw near to Him. I just finished reading Lyle Dorsett's bio of Tozer and I can tell you what set Tozer apart from the media-obsessed preachers of his age: Prayer and time before the Lord. Not hype. Not gold teeth (ugh!). Just genuine, lasting repentance that draws people into a more intimate place with God.

When people try to substitute the nutty stuff going on in Florida for the kind of experience Tozer had, well it's like eating rancid bologna sandwiches instead of filet mignon.

I don't like this stuff, either. I get so ashamed of the larger part of the charismatic movement. It allied itself with the wrong teachers and preachers and just went off a cliff. Yes, there are good people out there, but too few.

Eric Smith said...

I agree with much of what you are saying...but when you use the term "b.s" that doesn't help your credibility. Not trying to be a jerk, just saying....

Anonymous said...

Question: Have any of you actually gone to Lakeland to see it for yourselves??
I personally know Todd, and I have not met a more humble man before the Lord who gives ALL the glory and honor to Jesus and takes none for himself.
Mark 16:17-18 says, 'And these signs will acompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with 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.'
Matthew 10:8 "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons...'
Are these signs following you??
Why knock a man that is pursuing the Kingdom of God and bringing it to earth??
If these signs are not following you, maybe you are off.
Judge carefully...good fruit is following Todd.

Anonymous said...

Todd speaks words of life. He flows in the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and the signs and miricals follow. If people are not excited about people getting saved, healed, delivered & raised from the dead, then what will??
I pray people see Todds heart, not his skin......
God is being Glorified.

Estelle said...

Peace be with the reader.

The time has come the harvest is ripe.

The Faithful Witness

Brendan said...

What is with the references to "animal sounds?" Every criticism I've read of the Florida Revivial speaks of people supposedly barking like dogs, foaming at the mouth, etc. To quote the author of the blog, "this is b.s."

This cartoonish depiction of what's happening in Lakeland is adolescent and downright misleading. I have two immediate family members who spent a weak each in Lakeland. They did not see anything that remotely resembled animalistic behavior. Instead they saw passion for Jesus that they'd never experienced before.

They returned humbled, convicted and changed. More determined to serve the Lord. More desperate for His presence in their lives. More eager to see His mighty hand move. More in love with Jesus.

Does that sound like the work of Satan? Perhaps you should actually, check it out for yourself before labeling it demonic because you read on someone else's blog that people are crawling around on all fours or something.


Anonymous said...

Can we all think about this logically? HOw does knocking people over with a "Bam" to the hypnotic chant of "Fire Fire Fire" glorify Jesus? The chief work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus, who died for our sins. I have watched this revival on God TV and see no glorification of Jesus in it. We also have to remember that The Holy Spirit is a person not an "it" and is GENTLE. I also think it is sooooo boring to listen to the constant yelling at the camera to "Come here and GET IT!" (YOu would have to be under some kind of hypnosis or spirit to be able to sit there and listen to the yelling for hours!).

And where is the mention of sin, repentance, the work of the cross, the resurrection, God's holiness and judgement as well as His love and grace????????

An atheist wrote in my local paper that protestants are trying to fight the decadence of this society by coming up with super-size churces and over the top emotional displays. This is SO sad that this is how the world sees Christians now!

We should be in prayer with God... not rushing all over the place for "it".

Anonymous said...

Well done Jared, I thought you put it very well. (Could have done without the b.s. comment though!) God directs us to be discerning and to evaluate everything in the light of Scripture. I am so tired of the "judge not" song sung by people who have no scriptual basis for their words or actions. The difference between discernment and judgment is one is done with scripture as the ultimate reference point - the other is to evaluate something against my own personal human beliefs. You have discerned!

South Africa

Anonymous said...

Hi Jared,

I just came across this page with your page through google actually. im from NZ, guessing your from America? Just wondering whether you're a christian or not, out of interest. Cheers. Trying to make sense of all of this thats all : )

Jared said...

Hi, Anon.
Yes, I am a Christian.
I'm actually a little concerned you couldn't tell that from my web page. :-)


Anonymous said...

Oh yep. Yeah same here :D I was just checking to make sure ya know ;) so what is this Florida Revival thing? I've heard of it once i think?

Anonymous said...

Hi people
Well my personal opinion is that if God is moving there, the Holy Spirit is present, and as the song goes, if chains are broken, lives are being healed, eyes are being opened, then Christ is revealed :0) so yeah, if that's happening, then PRAISE GOD for this GENERATION

Jared said...

Anonymous 1, Google is your friend.

Anonymous 2, God moves everywhere. He is omnipresent and omnipotent.
So to say God was present at Lakeland is not saying something special about Lakeland.
What was happening at Lakeland was lies and sorcery perpetrated by an unrepentant sinner.

Read the NT. Even if miracles occurred there (and nobody's providing evidence of any) they could have been worked by the devil's spirits. It happens.

Anonymous said...

Yeah He moves everywhere, you're right. He IS omni present.

So in that case, how are we to tell whether it's a miracle worked by our God, or if they've been worked by the devil's spirits? If you were healed from something, would you say God healed you? Or the devil's spirits did?

Jared said...

I would credit God, yes.

How to tell if it's of God or the devil?
Is the miracle worker preaching a false gospel? Is he promoting witchcraft (talking to the dead and "hearing from angels") and unbiblical signs (gold dust, angel feathers)? Is he a lover of money? Is he a pathological liar? Is he a serial adulterer? Are he and his followers enamored with signs more than with Jesus?

The answer to all of those, in the case of Bentley and Lakeland, is yes.
That's not of God.

And I'll mention again that there's been no authentification of Bentley's miracles, including his bogus claims to have raised the dead.

That so many in the charismatic world fell for this charlatan is proof the one gift too many charismatics lack is discernment.