The Revival Was Real!

There are some articles you read where snarky comments just come to mind with every passing sentence…

Like ordained minister Krista Abbott‘s piece in the Tallahassee Democrat.

There is revival happening in Lakeland that is quickly spreading all over the world… Revival leaders say 24 people have died and then come back to life. One man claims to see out of his glass eye. Deaf people say they can hear, crippled people say they can walk, and others say their tumors have disappeared. Many claim to be “forever changed,” whether they receive a physical healing or not.

Guess what?

The leaders are lying.

Call it a hunch.

If you don’t believe me, let’s get some doctors to verify these claims. For some reason, I just don’t trust the Revival leaders to provide us with accurate information…

You may not even need doctors.

The man with the glass eye? TEST HIM!

The deaf people? TEST THEM!

The crippled people who can supposedly walk? MAKE THEM WALK!

Abbott writes about how she went to see the Revival for herself:

Then, a movement in the atmosphere overtook me as the crowd lifted their hands and began to chant in unison “Je-sus, Je-sus, Je-sus.. . .” I joined in the chant and knew without question that it was the founder of our faith, the Son of God, Jesus Christ who was being exalted in these meetings.

No way. How did she know they were talking about Jesus Christ?!

Unless, of course, she thought they were talking about some other Jesus. In which case it all makes sense…

The leaders, Todd Bentley and Steven Strader, are not promoting themselves or their ministries, Fresh Fire Ministries and Ignited Church, as some have purported. They are promoting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and him alone.

Of course not. Though they do want $3700 if you want to join them for another revival in Israel and Turkey. Or you can just make a donation to them straight up.

Ugh… I give up.

This is brainwashing at its worst.

You can actually watch the Revival in question. It’s streaming so you may see a different part than I did.

Be warned. It’s disturbing.

Mostly because there are gullible people who actually believe this fraud.

During the part I watched, the pastor seemed to want a woman with Parkinson’s to fall backwards a la Benny Hinn. She didn’t. He blew on her. Literally blew on her. She still didn’t fall. Then he just hugged her.

The next guy didn’t fall… Blowing on him didn’t work either. Then the guy just tripped backwards.

The pastor seemed to take credit for this.

How sad this type of scam exists. Where are the Christians who speak out against this?

This is just another example of manipulative people claiming they have a quick fix for incurable problems and then taking advantage of those who unwittingly fall for it.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Florida Healing Outpouring[/tags]

  • Nancy

    Wikipedia say that Bentley struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and criminal activities. Bentley credited his conversion to Christianity for delivering him from that lifestyle and propelling him into ministry at age 18.

    In 2001 the now-defunct Report Newsmagazine, a secular conservative publication, ran a profile on Bentley. In the article, they claimed that his criminal activities as a teenager included more than one instance of sexual molestation.

    Yea, this is about what I’d expect.

  • philosophia

    No matter how many times I hear about this sort of thing, it continues to blow my mind that people actually believe it *sigh*

  • SarahH

    Oh psychological snake oil… Ugh.

  • Sago

    I emailed one pastor who is very supportive of this ‘revival’ and who was disgusted that some Christians had the audacity to doubt that this was a work of God. I said: if it is real then just test it – it is easy enough to prove, and the miracles Todd is claiming have *never* been verified before, so it would be a major glorification of God.

    His response?

    “I pray that evidence will come forward”

    I give up too.

  • alcari

    Then, a movement in the atmosphere overtook me as the crowd lifted their hands and began to chant in unison “Je-sus, Je-sus, Je-sus.. . .”

    Let me change that to better reflect a more familiar scene:

    Then, a movement in the atmosphere overtook me as the crowd lifted their left arm and began to chant in unison “sieg heil, sieg heil, sieg heil”

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    In my younger and less compassionate days, I probably would have said that the morons who buy this crap get what they deserve. I don’t feel that way now because I realize that these religionists are simply preying (and probably praying) on the vulnerable. I would like to see fraud charges filed whenever this sort of thing happens.

  • http://brownjs.wordpress.com J.S.Brown

    I wrote about Todd Bentley’s show a couple of months ago on my stupid little blog. That post has received more visits than any other, by far. A few people have left comments about various miracles along with how they know it’s legit. But there have been a few Christians who expressed their skepticism.

    It’s funny how one Christian will explain how she knows that it’s all bogus because she is close to “god.” Then another argues that it’s the real deal, claiming to know because of closeness to “god.” That whole discernment the Christians talk about is a seriously flawed strategy for getting to the truth, huh.

  • http://blog.chungyc.org/ Yoo

    Maybe there should be a federal agency that rigorously checks whether faith healers or other pseudo-scientific healers actually are able to heal people better than placebos. Kind of like an FDA for faith healing. Then there’d be no certified faith healers, or at least we could start calling them “Big Faith Healers” and make everyone paranoid about them … :P

  • Darryl

    I’m glad this kind of thing happens. It helps discredit this kind of religion.

    Also, it may be useful as a distraction for these kinds of people. So long as they have their revivals, and engage their private fantasies, they may not be messing in more important matters that have a greater impact on the world. Think of religion as a babysitter for gullible people (does that sound like Marx?).

    In their defense, these people are on the right track in the respect that they actually believe what it is that ought to set their faith apart from all others–that it can do miracles. In this respect they are far more faithful to the Christian tradition than their liberal counterparts who don’t expect miracles and don’t really believe they are possible.

    These folks discredit themselves precisely by expecting what every atheist ought to expect of Christianity–that it can work miracles. Miracles are the one chance Christians have to put their money where their mouth is, but of course, all we get is mouth. So, these fundamentalist Christians believe this fraud because their Bible teaches them so and the liberal Christians don’t believe it for the same reason as the atheists, and yet the fraud, publicized for all to ridicule doesn’t change either the fundamentalist or the liberal. Such is the power of religion.

  • Xeonicus

    What I find interesting is that a big motivation these people have to do this is to prove God’s existence to non-believers. Their rationale is that if they can show these miracles happening they can convert us, but the only thing this stuff does is turn us further away. I wonder if they realize that they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

  • http://globalizati.wordpress.com globalizati

    The first thing I noticed about the story was the large patriotic-themed ad by military contractor Northrop Grumman. Why do these things always go together?

  • Eliza

    Picturing how they might demonstrate this particular manifestation of faith healing:

    Revival leaders say 24 people have died and then come back to life.

    I’m thinking these charlatans faith healers could station their revival in a setting where death occurs fairly frequently & can be documented. It would be a great opportunity for them to show the rest of us these amazing miracles.

    A hospice wouldn’t be a good choice. High death rate, that’d be useful for their purposes, but too many of the patients would presumably get pissed off because they came to the hospice with the understanding that they were going to die…and stay dead, not die then come back to life with their terminal condition. The faith healers would have to throw in a total cure of the underlying condition, which this article doesn’t claim they can do. (Or, maybe “cure” was so obvious that it didn’t have to be stated?)

    A neonatal intensive care unit wouldn’t be a good choice. Relatively high death rate, but the patients aren’t able to personally accept Jesus so there’d be these questions about whether failures in resurrection might have been “God’s will” or the parents’ skepticism or something.

    A funeral home wouldn’t be such a good choice. The clients there wouldn’t be freshly dead, & there may have been some autolysis etc which might render the results of resurrection less than ideal. These healers really should be given the benefit of working under conditions in which their channeling can be shown to its best effect.

    I’m thinking that they should just include a swing through Iraq with their next revival, the one planned for Turkey and Israel. Iraq meets many of the criteria for a good test – it has a higher death rate than many other places in the world (certainly higher than in the US), it offers the ability to find adults who are freshly dead or in the process of dying, and *bonus* it even offers the chance for these Christian faith-healers to compare the success rate of faith-based resurrection done through their hands on Christians and on Muslims. Oh, and **Extra Bonus** it would allow God a chance to heal some amputees, through these folks, His Chosen revivalists.

    Sounds ideal, really.

  • Erp

    Well there are plenty of Christians who think very little of it though sometimes their reasons aren’t very rational to non-christians (e.g., the theology is bad).

    On one website the Christian blogger is tracking fraudulent healing claims in this revival.

    WORLD Magazine (a Christian magazine) has the following reasonable criticisms.

    Bentley claims hundreds of people have been healed of everything from deafness to infertility–though he did admit that in the latter case we wouldn’t know for sure until the women actually got pregnant. As for the other cases, WORLD made repeated requests for documentation of healings, but claims of “privacy issues” were the only response.

    A visit to one of Bentley’s services suggests that he is learning how
    to turn the big crowds into big money. ATM machines have been set up, providing attendees with ready cash for the offering plate and book purchases. The offering is now a significant part of the service,
    taking as long as 30 minutes. Bentley has not released financial information, saying he is “too busy keeping up with what God is doing” to pull the information together.

  • Pseudonym

    Hemant:

    Where are the Christians who speak out against this?

    That’s an excellent question. There is an answer, but I fear you won’t like it.

    1. If they spent their effort speaking out about every bit of nonsense that came along, that’s all they’d end up doing. The moderate and liberal Christian mission is to make the world a better place by doing good works. (You know, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, that sort of thing.) Getting invovled in this sort of bickering is seen as one step lower than getting involved in politics.

    2. Christians have a long memory of Christians fighting other Christians over who’s “right” and who’s “wrong”. Many people died because of this, and there’s a huge taboo against reopening old wounds.

    Yes, moderate/liberal Christians condemn this sort of thing amongst themselves. However, they don’t waste what precious little airtime they have on chastising other people, when it could be spent raising money for worthy causes.

    Be honest: Would you donate money to a charity if you though that some of it might be spent on inter-denominational conflict? No, I didn’t think so. So it would very much detract from the “core mission” to spend time on this.

    Darryl:

    In their defense, these people are on the right track in the respect that they actually believe what it is that ought to set their faith apart from all others–that it can do miracles. In this respect they are far more faithful to the Christian tradition than their liberal counterparts who don’t expect miracles and don’t really believe they are possible.

    That’s not a defence, it’s begging the question. It’s also factually incorrect. Liberal Christians, generally speaking, have a far better understanding of what “the Christian tradition” is than any snake handlers.

  • Metal Guru

    Convenient how God can help Bentley “heal” these people, but he can’t give Bentley a full name or accurate diagnosis. I guess he’s just plagued by the same useless celestial assistant Sylvia Brown is.

    Bentley: The Lord is telling me someone here has, has, has spinal problems! Yes, someone here tonight… (No one responds.) Folks, you don’t have to have spinal problems! If you have any twisted body part, the Lord is gonna heal it all up tonight! Just like that little boy, little boy with club feet from birth, club feet that are now straight just because he watched us on the internet! Oh, praise Jesus!

    I had to stop watching when they pulled this woman up whose doctor “gave her a death sentence!” The desperation in her eyes was heartbreaking. He spends a few seconds telling her what’s wrong with her so fast that she can’t even agree. Then he touches her forehead and she faints, overcome with the lard’s healing spit, or whatever. When she gets back up, he ambushes her again.

    Bentley: Have you ever had knee problems?
    Woman: Uh, um, uh…
    Bentley: Leg, nerves, leg, thigh!
    Woman: Uh, um, yeah, my hips.
    Do these people have no shame? Even I, an amoral baby-eating fire-breathing atheist, would have trouble doing that without hurling.

  • Darryl

    Liberal Christians, generally speaking, have a far better understanding of what “the Christian tradition” is than any snake handlers.

    With respect to miracles, if you are a Christian and you don’t believe in the reach-out-and-touch-you-part-the-waters-and-raise-the-dead kind of miracles then you’re out of touch, in that respect, with the Christian tradition. I mean really, if you don’t have miracles, what do you have? No power, just talk.

  • Pseudonym

    With respect to miracles, if you are a Christian and you don’t believe in the reach-out-and-touch-you-part-the-waters-and-raise-the-dead kind of miracles then you’re out of touch, in that respect, with the Christian tradition.

    If you believe that the way that Christians understand their holy text is one static thing that has not changed over time, then you are completely out of touch with the Christian tradition.

    When Christianity first encountered Greek philosophy (which is described in the New Testament itself), Rabbinical understandings changed to reflect that new encounter. When Christanity encountered the Renaissance, understandings changed again (e.g. there was no “firmament separating the waters”, and that the moon wasn’t a “light”). Evolution changed some understandings yet again. And when Christianity encountered postmodernism, things changed yet again.

    The nature of Christian tradition is one of changing understanding as humans discover more things. What you refer to as “miracles” is one topic out of many that Christians have changed their opinions on over time.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    The man with the glass eye? TEST HIM!

    The deaf people? TEST THEM!

    The crippled people who can supposedly walk? MAKE THEM WALK!

    Good idea. Why not go do it? Not you personally Hemant, but before writing all this off entirely shouldn’t skeptics put their money where their mouth is and actually go and do these tests? Seems like a perfect opportunity to potentially prove yourselves right.

  • Darryl

    What you refer to as “miracles” is one topic out of many that Christians have changed their opinions on over time.

    Are you saying that miracles are no longer necessary to Christianity?

  • Pseudonym

    Darryl:

    Are you saying that miracles are no longer necessary to Christianity?

    Define “miracle”. You don’t have to be precise, just give me the general idea of what you think that word means.

    Edit: Oh, one more thing while I think about it. Check out this summary of some of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s thinking about Christmas myths. Note in particular:

    Although he believed in it himself, he advised that new Christians need not fear that they had to leap over the “hurdle” of belief in the Virgin Birth before they could be “signed up”.

    That may help part-answer your question.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Good idea. Why not go do it? Not you personally Hemant, but before writing all this off entirely shouldn’t skeptics put their money where their mouth is and actually go and do these tests? Seems like a perfect opportunity to potentially prove yourselves right.

    I’m all for it. At the very least, I think you’d need some pre-healing medical records that indicate the person really is suffering. Then you’d need a doctor to test the “cured” person immediately afterwards and also a few months afterward.

    Here is one link that doesn’t make people like Benny Hinn look good:

    The Trinity Foundation’s Anthony says that Hinn could blunt much of the criticism by enacting a six-month waiting period before broadcasting the healings, time enough to document their veracity. The pastor says he rejected the request for practical reasons. Besides the expense of tracking the medical histories of hundreds of people, he says, his daily viewers have an insatiable need to see footage of new healings.

    And this article debunks some faith healing claims.

  • Darryl

    Define “miracle”. You don’t have to be precise, just give me the general idea of what you think that word means.

    Okay, here we go. I know where this is heading–the old semantics switcheroo.
    Let’s stick with the miracle of this topic–healing Like, “I was lame, then he touched me and wham, I could walk; I was blind, then he touch me and wham, I could see; etc.” We know from the N.T. that the Apostles performed miracles of healing, just as they saw Jesus do; have Christians changed their minds about these miracles? Are you saying that miracles are no longer necessary to Christianity?

  • Pseudonym

    Okay, here we go. I know where this is heading–the old semantics switcheroo.

    Actually, far from it. I think that the modern misunderstanding of a healing is the “switcheroo”, as you put it. In the past, Catholics counted visions appearing to a single person as a “miracle”.

    Let’s stick with the miracle of this topic–healing Like, “I was lame, then he touched me and wham, I could walk; I was blind, then he touch me and wham, I could see; etc.” We know from the N.T. that the Apostles performed miracles of healing, just as they saw Jesus do; have Christians changed their minds about these miracles?

    You ask that as if Christans have never changed their minds about miracles.

    Consider the famous part of the Exodus story with the showdown of “duelling miracles” between the Egyptian priests and Moses. If you’re the sort of person who believes that this is literal history (which pretty much none of us here are), what would this say about “miracles”?

    There are even passages in the Gospels where Jesus does something which, if taken literally, would be considered “miraculous”; the Jewish officials observing this agreed with the “miracle”, but still disagreed that Jesus was who he said he was. What does this say?

    The problem here is that what you seem to be implying is that the difference between a “miracle” and a “non-miracle” is that one is “supernatural” and the other isn’t. That’s not the case at all. Things that we now think of as “supernatural” were just part of the natural universe, as far as many pre-scientific thinkers was concerned. Yeah, he healed the sick. So what? Name a mythological leader who hasn’t.

    The very notion of the “supernatural” only makes sense by comparing it with that which is “natural”, which is a distinction which only makes sense post-enlightenment. Take 1 Corinthians 12:28-30, for example:

    And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

    Paul of Tarsus seems to see little, if any, distinction between those who can heal the sick and good administrators.

    The very idea that the ability to perform what we would now think of as supernatural healing is distinguishable from being a good assistant or adminstrator is itself a change in thinking on what constitutes a “miracle”.

    Today, a liberal Christian such as myself would look back to the context of the miracles that Jesus performed. They never occurred in a vacuum; there was always a point to it. The miracle changed the life of the person being healed, or made some important point to those viewing it, that goes beyond the mere act. The metaphor is far more important than anything that we would call “supernatural” today.

    So yes, miracles are still necessary to Christianity. However, a “miracle” is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

  • Steven Carr

    There was always a point to Jesus miracles.

    When he told Peter to find a coin in the mouth of a fish, he was inventing the first ATM

  • Darryl

    Yep, I was right. A whole lot of bullshit passing for an explanation.

  • Pseudonym

    If you ask me, Jesus should never have given out his PIN.

  • Pseudonym

    Yep, I was right. A whole lot of bullshit passing for an explanation.

    So you didn’t read it, then? Or you didn’t understand it?

    Yes, I probably went a bit wordy, but I thought it was important. The miracles described in the Bible are undoubtedly mythological, but they’re more useful as mythology than they would ever be as literal history.

  • Steven Carr

    The miracles are very useful for maintaining the myth of Christianity.

  • Sensible
  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    I’m all for it. At the very least, I think you’d need some pre-healing medical records that indicate the person really is suffering. Then you’d need a doctor to test the “cured” person immediately afterwards and also a few months afterward.

    Perhaps an atheist organization could sponsor a few investigations of this sort. Or better yet, they could team up with a open-minded Christian organization (perhaps the Trinity Foundation that you mentioned) and do the investigations together so that neither side could claim the results were biased.

  • http://mattstone.blogs.com Matt Stone

    Pseudonym said,

    The problem here is that what you seem to be implying is that the difference between a “miracle” and a “non-miracle” is that one is “supernatural” and the other isn’t. That’s not the case at all.

    Curious thing is, I am a evangelical and I agree with you. It is anachronistic to draw a 1:1 correlation. So we have a Christian consensus of sorts.

    To the atheists here. Look, I am open to miracles, of both the providential and the more supernatural variety. But I am not so naive as to discount the possibility of con artistry. And I am obviously not the only Christian here who takes that view. I agree testing the claims wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    But I agree with testing for another reason as well. I am also keenly aware that even genuinely supernatural phenomena can’t be assumed to be miraculous, that is, of God. Someone mentioned the Egyptian magicians before I think is a case in point. These things should be tested against the teachings fo the apostles and prophets as well. You never know, I might find it bogus for religious reasons irrespective of the scientific verdict.

    Then again, who knows, it could be genuine. But never heaving heard of this guy before I am going to have to look into it myself before I draw any conclusions.

  • Caron

    This was on Slice this morning:

    *Crosstalk Alert* Wednesday
    I recently posted a message from Justin Peters (http:www.justinpeters.org) on the Word of Faith movement and its heretical teachings. This is the movement that has produced so many false teachers, including Todd Bentley and his Lakeland “revival”. …
    Slice of Laodicea – http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com

  • Steven Carr

    Another Christian who boasts that he will not even believe if he sees miracles, if they go against what he has been taught to believe…..


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