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Currently (April, 2008), Todd Bentley is holding meetings in Lakeland, Florida. The meetings are billed as a “Healing Campaign Signs & Wonders” or also the “Lakeland Florida Revival.”
There are reports of ‘angelic sounds’ and ‘miraculous healings’ — such as the disappearance of scars. As usual in these type of events, there are all manner of ‘prophetic words’ about ‘revival’ and ‘outpouring.’
Even within Pentecostal circles, Bentley is controversial for his claims of visitations by angels. He said Tuesday that before coming to Lakeland he had been visited by “the angel of the winds of change” who told him he would “bring change to Lakeland.”
Bentley defended these claims of “supernatural encounters” as identical to biblical accounts.
“I believe that’s available to everybody. In today’s world, people are hungry for that, they’re fascinated by that,” he said.– Source: Cary McMullen, Evangelist’s Popular Ministry Claims Miraculous Healing, The Ledger, April 19, 2008
While supernatural encounters with angels do occur in Scripture — they were the exception, rather than the norm. Too, Bentley’s claims about the angels he allegedly sees and communicates with go far beyond the boundaries of Scripture.
The Florida Outpouring
Bentley travels the world with his Fresh Fire Ministries “sparking revival fires and equipping the body in power evangelism and healing ministry,” according to the Fresh Fire Web site.
But these weeks in Lakeland are different.
“Never have I been a part of something this big,” Bentley said during an interview at Lakeland’s Ignited Church, where the revival began.
Stephen Strader, the church’s pastor, invited Bentley for a five-day stint, starting April 2. These revival meetings are common – for Bentley, Strader and others.
God had something bigger in mind this time, both men said, filling the atmosphere at the revival with holiness and commanding Bentley to stay.
“On the second or third night, we just looked at each other and said, ‘We’ve got to extend it another week,” Strader said.
“It’s electric. It’s tangible,” said Bentley. “That’s what people are coming for and also the notable miracles.”
“It’s like the day of Pentecost,” said Brenda Copeland, of Lakeland, who has attended the events with her children and grandchildren. “We’re living in perilous times,” she said, and God “has told little Lakeland to throw its weight around.”
Tuesday’s meeting brought visitors from across the United States. Strader and one of Bentley’s assistants have begun holding 10 a.m. morning services at Ignited. More than 85 percent of the crowd at one meeting indicated they were from out of town.
The momentum is understandable to J. Lee Grady, editor of Charisma magazine, one of the oldest and largest Christian publications. As the nation struggles with economic and political turmoil, “moral depravity” and the threat of terrorism, Grady said, “God is going to show up on the scene in a remarkable way and pour out the Holy Spirit on us.”
“The Lakeland Revival is one manifestation of that.”
[Hank] Hanegraaff, of the Christian Research Institute, sees darker implications to what he terms “counterfeit revivals.” He says participants leave believing they are truly healed, but back in the real world, they find nothing has changed.
“That’s when they start thinking God has abandoned them or doesn’t love them,” Hanegraaff said. “The vast majority of what is claimed to happen in these revivals …doesn’t happen.”
Hanegraaff, host of the nationally syndicated Bible Answer Man radio show, said when large groups get together and are under the influence of song and repetitious actions, they get worked up into an altered state of consciousness.
“It makes them hyper-suggestible, where black becomes white. They obscure reality and enshrine absurdity.”
A true revival, he said, starts with reformation in the pews – when believers have meaningful prayer, share the Gospel with others and learn the Bible.
– Source: Lakeland Revival Attracting National Attention, Tampa Tribune, USA, May 2, 2008