Compiled By S. E. Ray
Canadian Todd Bentley doesn’t look like a minister as some would expect. The 32-year-old openly sports body piercings and tattoos on his arms and neck, which has caused many to question his purpose and motivations.
On April 2, 2008, Bentley was invited by Stephen Strader, pastor of Ignited Church, Lakeland, Florida, to lead a one-week revival. The revival quickly became a religious and media phenomenon, attracting up to 10,000 attendees nightly. It continued after the first week. In addition to showcasing Bentley’s evangelism, the revival features colorful light shows and power-chord Christian rock music.
The Ignited Church quickly hired A New York public relations firm to send out press releases claiming “documented healings.” Information and webcasts were made available via their website and the revival is streamed live via stream – which received over 1 million hits in the first five weeks of transmissions. After the initial weeks, GOD TV, a religious satellite channel, decided to pre-empt its primetime programming and broadcast the Lakeland meetings nightly.
Stepping back to 1998, the FreshFire Ministry Group asked Bentley to give his testimony at one of their weekly meetings. Soon after, Bentley took over the leadership of the group, which became more of a revival movement. He works with and/or otherwise promotes Patricia King of Extreme Prophetic, and he is also very close to aberrant Kansas City prophet Bob Jones, supports Rick Joyner, as well as such churches as the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. Todd Bentley’s neo-Pentecostalism is Latter Rain influenced and Bentley now claims to have William Branham’s ministry angels helping him.
To understanding Todd Bentley’s origin of power, one must understand the genealogy from which it sprang. William Branham was born in Berksville, Kentucky, in dire poverty. At the age of 5, he heard “A Voice” who directed him to abstain from coffee, smoking and alcohol. This disembodied Voice was later given credit for his unusual healing powers by William himself. William Branham was fascinated with the Zodiac and Egyptian occultism as his mentor was occultist Franklin Hall. Branham’s obsession with the occult is evident even in his death: his grave is marked by a Masonic occult pyramid atop his grave.
He taught his “Serpent Seed” doctrines in the 1950’s, of how Eve had intercourse with the Serpent, and all the seed from Cain are predestined for hell. He even called the handsome serpent the missing link between man and monkey. Branham later declared himself the angel of Rev. 3:13 and 10:7 and prophesied that in 1977, all denominations would be consumed by the Roman Catholics, the rapture would take place and the world would end. Before his death in 1965, his occult healing spirit was transferred to hundreds by the laying on of hands. These people include almost all the major names who operated as “healing” evangelists during that time, and who are still at work today. They took Branham’s mantle through the period known as the Latter Rain, endued by the power of his demonic occult entity. William lived his life in fear and acted under a compulsive-type behavior associated with his life-long demonic oppression.
William Branham is an important figure in modern day charismatic, Pentecostal, and emerging church circles. The reason is that not just his latter rain theology, but also his “spirit”, and (allegedly) his ministering “angels” have been passed onto a new generation of prophets. A “badge” of elitism and favor in the new prophetic movement are those who can boast of having met or seen Branham’s angel. Testimonies to these angelic encounters are included on Todd Bentley’s website. Paul Cain, closely linked with William Branham, as well as claiming he works directly with Branham’s angels in a similar manner to Branham. It is he who passed the power onto John Wimber and his Vineyard with the prophetic spirit which in turn infected the multi denominational wider church through the Toronto Blessing.
The beginnings of the prophetic movement goes back many decades. In the 40’s there was a flurry of activity. Between 1947 and 1957, the so-called “Healing Revival” led by Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborn, A.A. Allen, Jack Coe, and Orval Jaggers enveloped America often with large tent campaigns. William Branham was the central figure in this era. But he also became a catalyst for the contemporary Pentecostal Movement we call the Latter-Rain. It appeared in Canada and was given the blessing of Branham who actually laid hands on the Canadian leaders of the Latter-Rain. The Latter-Rain had developed an entirely new end-time teaching of “salvation history.” The Latter Rain is where the so-called ‘Toronto Blessing’ began. The movement is characterized by a plethora of unorthodox teachings and questionable practices — encouraged and promoted by alleged ‘words,’ ‘prophecies’ and ‘visions’ from God, and accompanied by anything from outbreaks of uncontrollable laughter, people acting as if they were drunk, and claims of having received gold dust or other ’supernatural signs’ from God. Bentley’s teachings and practices place his ministry squarely among the controversial renewal and revival movements.
Another figure in the healing movement who was to have a profound impact on the development of the “healing tradition” or movement within Pentecostalism and, by implication, the Charismatic movement, was Mariah Woodworth-Etter. She was a forerunner of people like Aimee Semple Macpherson, Kathryn Kuhlmann, Oral Roberts, Paul Cain, and scores of other Pentecostals and Charismatic’s who have the so called “anointing”. Woodworth-Etter was no ordinary “woman preacher.” Indeed, the argument can be made that her powers, which were potent and real, bore more resemblance to those acquired by the Shamans and Magicians of primitive cultures, who are able, on occasion, to wield tremendous preternatural powers; such powers can be executed even over certain geographical regions. People being “struck down along the highways,” who happened to be in the vicinity of this woman does not testify to her being anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit, but more likely to the fact that she was able, through the power of suggestion, manipulation, or diabolical intervention to project power. Woodworth-Etter, as is well documented, would preach to Quakers, Mormons, and Universalists. She primarly considered scripture secondary to her gifts, which is the primary marker of a cult mentality. “Trance Evangelist” like Woodworth-Etter, as well meaning as they may have been, precipitated a different gospel by confusing the seeking after “power” with the following of Jesus.
Paul Cain met the leadership of the Kansas City prophets in 1990 led by Mike Bickle. Bickle, Jones and others in Kansas City, received him as their “spiritual father” and he was recognized as the chief among all the prophets. At this point the Vineyard movement, led by the late John Wimber, stepped in and took Bickle’s church and the prophets into the Vineyard movement. Not long after this the Toronto Vineyard church introduced the world to the “Toronto Blessing” with all it’s strange phenomena. Bob Jones, a controversial Kansas City prophet, Jim Goll, Rick Joyner, and John Paul Jackson, now Vineyard prophets, endorsed the Toronto phenomenon. Later there was a cross-fertilization (their term) with similar movements linking others with this orbit, including C. Peter Wagner and his apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation, who include Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, Chuck Pierce, Ted Haggard, and others.
Michael Horton, who wrote “The Agony of Deceit,” which documents fraud among televangelists, said at an interview, “I have not yet encountered a ‘faith healer’ who failed to preach a different gospel than the one that we find clearly presented in the New Testament.” Many of the faithful are understandably grieved by this bold resurfacing of Apostolic/Third Wave/Latter Rain teaching, which is a mix of New Age teachings and altered Pentecostal methodologies.
Even those sympathetic to Pentecostal theology are apprehensive. Mark Balmer, pastor of the 8,000-person Calvary Church in nearby Melbourne, FL, received so many questions about Bentley that he finally spoke up. He said he believes “in all the gifts for today, including healing.” He also asserted: “We are not heresy hunters.” He nonetheless told his congregation “not to attend this counterfeit revival.” Lee Grady of Charisma magazine said “Charismatic and Pentecostal leaders are divided over its legitimacy.”
As background information, Todd Bentley is relatively a new Christian with no formal training or experience in the exposition of scripture. Bentley openly acknowledges the rougher parts of his juvenile past, including his near-fatal drug overdoses, criminal burglaries, assault, physical abuse of his mother and several stints in prison. In 2001, an article in a secular, conservative political magazine called The Report, prompted a mother to reveal about his molesting her 7 year old boy when Todd was 14. Bentley admitted to The Report “I was involved in a sexual-assault ring.” Lieutenant Jeff Johnston, a Salvation Army pastor in Port Alberni, B.C said “It’s one thing to be forgiving, it’s another thing to be stupid,” Lieut. Johnston says. “If you, as a pastor, had someone in your church ministry who had been involved in these things and they ever re-offended, the fact that you knew and didn’t disclose it to parents, take every precaution, would be a huge liability issue.” Christians realize that a soul can be saved by grace from any sin, however he personally claims that he was demon possessed after having been born-again, which poses a problem considering his self-acclaimed position.
A visit to one of Bentley’s services suggests that he knows how to turn the big crowds into big money. ATM machines were set up alongside food booths, providing attendees with readily available cash for the offering plate and book purchases. At Todd’s revivals, he sells “anointed” handkerchiefs, and takes money from people so that he may pray over them. This is normal with the people on the Elijah list, who believe God condones taking money from people so that they can prophesy over them.
Todd wrote on the etpv.org website in 2003 “Now let me talk about an angelic experience with Emma. Twice Bob Jones asked me about this angel that was in Kansas City in 1980: “Todd, have you ever seen the angel by the name of Emma?” He asked me as if he expected that this angel was appearing to me. Surprised, I said, “Bob, who is Emma?” He told me that Emma was the angel that helped birth and start the whole prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. She was a mothering-type angel that helped nurture the prophetic as it broke out. Within a few weeks of Bob asking me about Emma, I was in a service in Beulah, North Dakota. In the middle of the service I was in conversation with Ivan and another person when in walks Emma. As I stared at the angel with open eyes, the Lord said, “Here’s Emma.” I’m not kidding. She floated a couple of inches off the floor. It was almost like Kathryn Khulman in those old videos when she wore a white dress and looked like she was gliding across the platform. Emma appeared beautiful and young-about 22 years old-but she was old at the same time. She seemed to carry the wisdom, virtue and grace of Proverbs 31 on her life.”
Without any exception that I have found, every questionable spiritual movement is marked by intervening Angels giving guidance, not necessarily God’s Word or the Holy Spirit of Truth. Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Jose Luis De Jesus Miranda, Jerry and Esther Hicks, Rhonda Byrne, Helen Schucman, JZ Knight… the list is long for those who are popular and have spirit guides from the fallen realm. Bob Jones and Todd Bentley and their spirit guide “Emma” are no different. Todd attributes his “miracles” according to his own testimony, is from an angel that he says is called “Emma”. It should be interesting to note, in the book of angels, Emma (Imma Ila’ah, feminine, in the Kabbalah) means “Embrace Everything.” Also closely related, another name used is “Emma-O“, which in Japanese mythology means “King of Hell” or Satan.
Todd’s progressive “body suit,” which is a term for a complete body tattoo, is covered with Japanese symbols, occultism and Christian depictions. Shown in this photo is the warrior Apollo, who in mythology and alchemy, his spiritual and symbolic significance is identical with that of the sun. The spreading golden hairs which crown the god’s head have the same meaning as the bow and arrow (sun rays). The Greek name for Apollo is Apollon, which means ‘from the depths of the lion”. Apollon was the great Olympian god of prophecy, oracles, healing, and the aversion of plague and general harm. He is also call Apollyon in scripture, or Hebrew “Abaddon” (Rev. 9:11) also identified as the king of the demonic “locusts” described in Rev. 9:3-10. The locust was a delivery method of this god, who poisoned his victims. Why would Todd choose to embellish a fierce god of destruction on his body?
One of the tattoos that have puzzled people are the three large Japanese Kanji symbols on his left arm. Eternal Path turned to expert Takanori Tomita, a native speaker of Japanese and fluent in English, who translates Kanji, Hiragana, and Katakana Symbols. Kanji are ideographic characters. Each Kanji character represents an entire object, idea, or meaning in a visual character(s). Many Kanji characters are similar to each other, and some can have different meanings depending on context. The first letter on Todd’s arm means DAI=Big or Great, the middle one EI=Protect or Defend, the last one OU=King or Monarch. In Japanese, DAIOU is often added to provide honor to the subject of mention. In proper order, it would seem to read “Protect Great King,” however not only is the order wrong, but the character in the middle is incorrectly rendered. Furthermore, even if the middle character is used at the top, there’s no such word combination like “Protect the Great King”. It doesn’t make any sense in Japanese even if the order of the characters are corrected and the middle character is properly written. It is not unusual for Western tattoo translations to be in error. The middle symbol does not represent the Chinese character “David” in this context, as is widely speculated.
Alex Mizuno, another individual versed in Japanese tradition and writing styles, who produces Japanese documentaries, revealed that there is a Japanese word “Emma Daioh” which means “Emma, the Great King”, which is used very commonly in his culture. This God is sometimes simply called “Emma-sama (sama is added for respect)” or “Emma.” Buddhists recognize Emma-sama as Yama, who rules the spirits of the dead in Naraku (hell). He said Todd’s erred tattoo was in favor of the latter translation. The tongues of flame accenting the Kanji symbols also support his position depicting the god of Naraku.
After Todd’s alleged conversion, he had tattooed under his arm a depiction of Jesus’ crucified upside-down face with a subliminal monkey in the beard. Above the tip of the head, is a tattoo of what is said to be Oni, a “Buddhist guardian devil” of Hell. An argument is lifted up against Todd’s ongoing tattoo additions. Under the old law, it was written:”You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:28. Even though Christian’s are not under the law to fulfill righteousness, as they are saved by grace, they are to uphold it (Romans 3:31). The question has been asked, why does Todd continue to add graffiti to his body in opposition to the Biblical standard?
The leaders of this revival in question have fruits that should be examined. For example, Bob Jones “was removed from the Vineyard Anaheim because of sexual improprieties, which consisted of encouraging women to undress in his office so they could stand ‘naked before the Lord’ in order to receive a ‘word.’” I am sure as a man; he was moved by pure motivations. Todd “Bam” Bentley runs and kicks people in the stomach with metastatic stage IV colon cancer while ignoring children lined up in wheelchairs, who hope in vain that the revival is real and they might get healed. Instead people leave in a hypnotic state from the charismatic frenzy. Similar events are plaguing Asia, thanks to the West’s influence (video – video).
Some attendees speak of new oppressions and those who purported to be healed from a malignant condition die shortly thereafter anyway. It has been questioned by some critics of Todd’s ministry, all Biblical divine healings lasted for the rest of the person’s natural life, why doesn’t his? Todd and those serving with him claim documentation to support numerious healings, 50,000 in 90 days, however when pressed by Geraldo Rivera on FoxNews (video) and ABC Nightline (P1 – P2), nothing has been provided to date, despite Todd’s promise to reveal proof.
In Jesus’ time, healings were not debated over as if they were legitimate. It was undeniable and plainly evident to all, skeptics and believers alike. In Matthew 11:5, Jesus was recording as responding to John the Baptists question “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Christ responded, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” No regenerative miracles are evident at Todd’s revival, despite his claims, however some non-regenerative type healings are reported.
How does one explain minor healings if there is in fact a question regarding the authenticity of Todd’s manifestations? We are warned explicitly in Scripture that the devil transforms himself into an angel of light”, and that in the last days will come ‘Lying signs and wonders’ that will “deceive if possible the very elect.” Paranormal healing has been in existence in the world since the creation, performed by shaman and faith healers. It is the oldest healing art. But the problem with this type of healing is that it is a lying wonder and opens the door to demonic influence, demonization, even possession. A lying wonder is not necessarily a false wonder or false miracle, but it is, more importantly, a miracle claimed to be from God but whose source is really from the realm of darkness. This type of healing leads the person into bondage to the enemy, symptoms that some recipients have reporting under Todd’s revival.
Rev. Jeff White, a pastor at a local Missionary church in Lakeland, heard so much talk about Todd Bentley and the revival tent that he wanted to see it for himself. He struggled with what he saw. “I’ve had to fight skepticism and cynicism because I truly believe that God heals. I really believe his powers are real and it is for today,” White said. “I can’t say that my spirit enters in and joins in with some of the things we’ve seen here tonight.”
Attaining a trance-like state as many do at these revivals, doesn’t immediately reveal anything about the origin of the manifestation. Every spiritual manifestation can have one of three different origins (divine, demonic or human). The discerning of spirits is necessary to identify the origin. Because the same manifestation, like falling down and shaking violently or tongues for example, can be caused either by God’s Spirit, by a demonic influence or merely by the person’s own propagations. Trances, prophetic ecstasy and manifestations are expounded from both the Old and New Testament. Interesting occurrences of ecstasy can be found in the biblical stories of Adam, Abraham, David and Saul, Daniel, Peter, and Paul.
Undisputedly, there have been revivals in Europe and other parts of the world since the Early Church. A very long time before John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Smith Wigglesworth or the Pentecostal awakening, Europe has experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit, healing, deliverance, manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit have been present non-stop since the Apostles. Church history clearly reveals this fact. However, a believer must be wise as a serpent, but gentle as a dove regarding the testimony of the leaders of such movements, comparing their words and actions to the Word of God. We are to test all things and hold fast to what is good.
Much of what is touted as Spiritual anointing by the charismatics is merely the awakening of the Kundalini by means of ancient occult methods. Kundalini is a well known occult practice, deriving its origin from India. It involves bodily manifestations as a consequence to the ‘Awakening of the Kundalini.’ This is not a mystical fabrication or belief system, but a practice that is strongly promoted by the New Age Movement (2006 Article Here). The Kundalini awakening does contain the most unbelievable expanded states of reality, enlightenment, and absolute ecstasy and it is extremely contagious. However, like crack stimulates dopamine, a Kundalini awakening opens wide a person’s spiritual core, removing safeguards placed by the Creator. The end results can traumatize one’s spiritual fabric, leaving a soul scarred for life.
At the beginning of the Florida Outpouring, Todd claimed that God had requested that he lay hands on everyone present for ten nights of special transfer or impartation. This power in the occult is called the shaktipat. “Shakti” means power or energy, and “pat” means transfer. Kundalini awakening or (shaktipat) is the infusion of energy from the spiritual master to the seeker, bringing about the awakening of the seeker’s own inherent spiritual power, called “Kundalini.” Todd described this transferable “anointing” as the most contagious he had ever experienced. He said “I used to feel the anointing in my hand; now I feel it in my spine.” It is true that the occult Kundalini awakening does indeed start in the lower spine.
The meetings which mystic Hindu gurus hold are called ‘Darshan’. At these meetings devotees go forward to receive spiritual experience from a touch by the open palm of the hand, often to the forehead, by the guru in what is known as the Shakti Pat or divine touch. In a group setting, the transfer of this power will spread like fire to all in attendance who are mentally open and receive the touch which results in all manner of physical manifestations. Involuntary bodily movements; jerking, tremors, shaking; spontaneous vocalizations; burning sensation; sounds in the head; confusion and stupor; gyrating and pulsating; or when slain, unable to move. These manifestations are called ‘Kriyas’ by the Hindus. Often devotees move on to higher states of spiritual consciousness and become inert physically and appear to slip into unconscious stupor. This state is called ‘Samadhi’ and it leads to a deeper spiritual experience. The Buddhist suttas mention that samadhi practitioners may develop supernormal powers that can lead to very uncomfortable occult manifestations.
There will be many false workers, or many “Who are called by His name”, but very few will be genuinely authentic, this is just the facts (Matthew 7:22). The anointed servant are those who work without seeking recognition or fanfare as Christ and the Apostles humbly served. The Holy Spirit filled doesn’t seek fame, recognition, money and may never be known, such is the humble and contrite of heart. Those of the Pharisee spirit, egocentric and endued by principalities and powers, seek an exuberant audience, accolades, affirmation, financial gain and make a spectacle of the precious gifts of God like a side show circus. Those given to the extreme charismatic (emotional or fleshly) bent are susceptible prey to these types of leaders, whereas such is the power of hypnotic manipulation through the drone of their voice.
Let us stop for a moment and ponder, least we forget, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints.” 1 Cor. 14:33. The Lord told Elijah to stand on the mountain “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face…” 1 Kings 19:11-13. God’s spirit does not reside in chaos or the dramatic shaking of the physical, His Spirit dwells in the quiet, gentle, calm, and peaceful.
A. W. Tozer sums it up perfectly in his normal etiquette and precision: “Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God. They timidly remember how the Pharisees refused to accept Christ when He came, and they do not want to be caught in the same snare, so they either reserve judgment or shut their eyes and accept everything without question. This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit. Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be. Try the spirits is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine. And the current habit of refusing to take sides is not the way to avoid the question. To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world. And the more as we see the day approaching.”