Faith healer Todd Bentley separates from wife, draws criticism from charismatics

Please note some of the quotes below:

Posted on Aug 19, 2008 | by David Roach NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–With controversial faith healer Todd Bentley announcing that he is separating from his wife, charismatic leaders J. Lee Grady and Stephen Strang have reacted by saying someone should have raised questions about Bentley earlier.

Grady, editor of the popular charismatic magazine Charisma, said the way thousands celebrated Bentley despite his moral and theological shortcomings demonstrated a lack of discernment that pervades the charismatic movement.

“We’re spiritually hungry — which can be a good thing,” Grady wrote in an Aug. 13 column. “But sometimes hungry people will eat anything.” (Yes, but that is why God gives us spiritual discernment and a measuring stick to measure these things by.)


Bentley, who led a heavily publicized revival in Lakeland, Fla., beginning this spring, announced in a statement Aug. 12 that he and his wife Shonnah were separating. The staff of Bentley’s Fresh Fire Ministries said “an atmosphere of fatigue and stress” created by the daily revival meetings “exacerbated existing issues in [his marriage],” according to Charisma. On Aug. 15, the board of Fresh Fire released a statement saying it had learned Bentley had been involved in “an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff.” The statement said Bentley had agreed to “to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life.”

Bentley and his wife had been attending counseling for the past three years, but the counseling was suspended for the last four months while Bentley was away from his home in Abbottsford, British Columbia, Charisma reported. The Bentleys have three children. (So here is a man who has martial problems, enough to seek counseling for the past three years, and yet he is ‘minister’ enough to minister to thousands of people? Didn’t God command that the minister’s house must first be set in order?)

Bentley is known for his multiple body piercings and tattoos, his violent healing techniques, his claims of angelic visions and “holy” laughter and “holy” vibrating shakes. He even claims to have raised dozens of people from the dead.

Bentley claims to be visited regularly by angels, including a 20-foot-tall angel in his apartment on one occasion and on another occasion an angel that knocked him out of his body. One angel’s name supposedly is Emma. Bentley also says that Jesus Himself appears to him.

Charismatic leaders who endorsed Bentley, Grady wrote, should have known better than to thrust him into the spotlight prematurely and owe the public an apology.

“Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study,” Grady wrote. “Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.”

God TV, the network that televised the Lakeland revival meetings, is particularly blameworthy because it told viewers in a pre-revival segment that “any criticism of Todd Bentley is demonic,” Grady wrote, adding that the network’s hosts also warned listeners that if they listened to criticism of Bentley, they could lose their healings.

“This is cultic manipulation at its worst,” Grady wrote.

Though America needs true revival, any leaders who wholeheartedly endorsed Bentley promoted heresy rather than revival, according to Grady.

“Godly leaders are supposed to protect the sheep from heresy,” he wrote, “not spoon feed deception to them. Only God knows how far this poison traveled from Lakeland to take root elsewhere. May God forgive us for allowing His Word to be so flippantly contaminated.”

Charisma publisher Stephen Strang also took aim in a column at Bentley and those who supported him. Strang said the charismatic leaders to whom Bentley submitted himself in an accountability relationship — John Arnott, Ché Ahn and Bill Johnson — “should have seen it coming.” He listed several indications that Bentley’s ministry was not of God.

“Anyone who is in services 4 to 6 hours a day, 7 days a week for weeks on end is bound to have some type of breakdown,” Strang wrote. “Anyone who covers himself with tattoos while in the ministry raises questions about his stability.

“Anyone who talks about the ‘Angel of the Healing Revival’ that ministered to A.A. Allen and William Branham must have overlooked the fact that Allen and Branham both were discredited with moral shortcomings. Anyone who baptizes people in the name of the Father, the Son ‘and BAM’ is playing lightly with the Holy Spirit and is bordering on blasphemy.” (Bordering? Really? Just on the Border?)

While God uses flawed men to do his work, Christians must hold spiritual leaders to the highest standards of conduct, Strang wrote.

“Perhaps some of the problems would have been prevented if men had spoken into Bentley’s life several months ago,” he wrote. “As good as it is to have an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff to help the injured, it is much better to have a fence at the top of the cliff to prevent someone from going over.”

Chad Brand, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that while all denominations within Christianity have been touched by divorce, the charismatic movement is particularly susceptible to overlooking its leaders’ moral failures.

Brand is the editor of “Perspectives on Spirit Baptism,” a book detailing the charismatic and non-charismatic views of baptism in the Holy Spirit. He published several additional papers and articles on issues related to the charismatic movement.

“There is a dynamic that makes charismatic leader situations sometimes treated differently, and it is partly tied to the very term, ‘charismatic,’” Brand said. “Because this person is perceived to have charismatic power or anointing, his or her failure in marriage is often easily forgiven and overlooked. So, while in many traditions, a divorce for a pastor or key leader means a loss of prestige or influence, it is not necessarily the case in charismatic circles.

“John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio divorced his wife of 15 years in 1975 and the next year remarried, but his ministry and influence only grew in the years after that. Richard Roberts, son of Oral Roberts, also divorced his first wife after 11 years of marriage, and 10 months later remarried. Paula White and her husband Randy divorced last year. It was Paula White’s second marriage. While these divorces have had ramifications for their ministries, in every case the ministry only flourished afterwards. In most other evangelical traditions, the impact of divorce has been more deeply felt by the ministers in question.” (For the life of me, I was sure there was something about a minister having only one wife…)

More important than focusing on Bentley’s marital difficulties is noting the fact that he is a false teacher, Brand said.

“We do not know all the details of Bentley’s marital situation, and so we should withhold judgment on that matter,” he said. “What is plain is that he is teaching false doctrine and that the claims to his ministry’s ‘successes’ seem pretty spurious.”

Brand speculated that, like William Branham in the mid-20th century, Bentley relies on hype to promote his meetings but has few real healings.

“I spoke with a very influential Swiss Pentecostal theologian and pastor a few years ago, Walter Hollenweger, who had invited Branham to Zurich to hold meetings in the early 1960s,” Brand said. “He said Branham pronounced scores of people to be ‘healed’ of their ailments, but a half year later not a single one of those persons was actually healed, and many had died. Branham’s personal charisma had carried him, and I suspect something similar is happening with Bentley.”

David Roach is a writer based in Louisville, Ky.

Post By Joel Watts (10,050 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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0 thoughts on Faith healer Todd Bentley separates from wife, draws criticism from charismatics

  1. Mark 12:24 Jesus said to them, Is not this where you wander out of the way {and} go wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?

    Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, The first {and} principal {one of all commands} is: Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 And you shall love the Lord your God out of {and} with your whole heart and out of {and} with all your soul (your life) and out of {and} with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of {and} with all your strength. {This is the first and principal commandment.} 31 The second {is like it and} is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.

    Some persons aburdily say even that “Pentecostals are not Christians” they are clearly ignorant persons, ignorant of the Bible itself, ignorant of the Holy Spirit ‘s teaching, leading as well, ignorant sadly even of Jesus Christ himself.

  2. Concerning Mr. Grady and Mr. Strang’s statement about someone questioning this earlier, duh, I do believe someone did, but they were too enamered to recognize it. Grady is however right about being so hungry we will eat anything such as, angel worship, love covering a multitude of sins that we ignore the children who have been sexually abused in the churches(not only catholic)and the adultery involving the leaders, because God-forbid if someone say anything to bring to light the sin so both the victim and the preditor can get help. Instead, lets wait until they deceive further and then let it be exposed publically causing all sorts of problems, aka. Patricia King’s stand all of a sudden for righteousness.

    Now, lets set aside the shaking, falling out, gold dust, angel issues and look at this realistically. There was something about Todd Bentley that just did not seem right. What gets me though, Patricia King (who has an online church and a ministry of the prophetic, which failed her miserably in this case), Bill Johnson (who has a list of churches that have come under him who missed it on the discernment level and wants to be trusted and taken seriously) and a few others, whose names escape me now who hold highly respected positions who could not discern what was going on in the name of Todd’s father, son and holy bam bam. How are people supposed to take christian’s seriously if this is what we have to offer? Every one who laid hands on him, stood up on stage and gave an endorsement, got a concussion giving a prophetic word, and who backed him in the writing of Charisma magazine or on CBN and TBN should be apologizing. How long will we wait for this apology? Good thing I don’t hold my breath for such things. Once again, who would want what we have to offer. The world has more integrity right now, so we succeeded about not being of the world; however, this is not what Jesus had in mind.

    I don’t watch John Hagee, Paula White, Juanita Bynum, or anyone else that just pushed marriage aside for their own agenda. So, since I will soon read or hear that no one is perfect, to bad…I am looking for someone I can trust to oversee my spiritual growth, someone who is not deceived so easily and is willing to repent openly when he messes up. Let the real ministers of Christ stand up. I know your out there, just have no idea where you are.

    Before we get again the flawed King David report, he repented openly and paid the price for his sin with the life of his baby. The wages of sin is death and when we sin without regard and then stand up and act like it isn’t happening, how much more will our wages be. Once again, I am praying for all those involved, but right now I am praying that the real women and men of God please stand up.

  3. I am deeply saddened and grieved by the report that Todd and his wife have seperated. I grieve for them both, and their three children. But what grieves me even more is the response from some of the Body of Christ. It is not coming from a place of grace or mercy. We do need to call sin sin, but if our sin is covered by the blood of Jesus, and because of that He walks in grace and mercy with us, how can we do less than that with our fellow brothers and sisters? Are any of us really in such a spiritual place that we are able to discern the true heart motive of others? The truth is, we are all broken people, walking this journey with our Lord and being healed and transformed along the way. If God were only able to minister through perfect people, He would have a very short list to choose from. I look at Peter, Paul, King David–all failed seriously….all also loved their God deeply. I am afraid to cast stones because I know that I am in daily need of the love, grace, mercy, and forgivenss of Jesus. It is the cry of my heart that what the world will see through this tragedy is the body of Christ walking in love and truth, covered in grace and mercy, toward this man and his family…they have already seen plenty of our judgement. The Church desperately needs to be the safe place for all of us to be ‘real’ with who and where we really are. It is time for the body to take off our religous masks. Life is messy…it just is. What makes the Church different is supposed to be the love of Christ in us and through us.

  4. Kim,

    The ‘response from the Body of Christ’ is due to the fact that Todd Bentley is a false prophet. He was never a part of the Body of Christ, although it would be wonderful to have him, or any soul really. Too many souls are being lost due to people like Todd Bentley. Just too many. Until he becomes a brother, however, it is rightly to publicly call him on his mistakes and sins, and his open rebellion to God.

    You mention Peter and Paul and the tried King David. First, Peter did not teach a rebellion against God. Second, Peter had to repent and come to Christ, so his sins were forgiven him.

    Paul committed those terrible sins while he was on the outside of the Body of Christ. Todd is on the outside, so the sins of rebellion can be forgiven him.

    David? read the other comments. Clark has answered this quite well.

  5. It’s all well and nice that Strang and Grady have denounced Bentley, but now, will they continue to run ads for John Arnott, and other leaders in this so called revival movement? “Charisma” should think about distancing themselves from these leaders, after all, they were the ones that supported Bentley and thrust him into the spotlight.

    Non-Conformer, I notice that you have made similar comments on my blog. No one is attacking Pentecostals or Charismatics, per se. No one is saying that Pentecostals are not Christians, and it is unfair to judge those that question Bentley and the current “revival” as being opposed to Pentecostals or Charismatics. Much of the criticism of Bentley has come from those within the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. I would urge you to get your facts straight before you make such posts.

  6. >> (BP)–With controversial faith healer Todd Bentley announcing that he is separating from his wife, charismatic leaders J. Lee Grady and Stephen Strang have reacted by saying someone should have raised questions about Bentley earlier.

    and yes even their bad friends now too..

    Now for decades, I write about, deal with key political figures who are all to be exemplary as citizen paid employees too.., I observe their acts, responses to my letters.. and let me tell you that the really bad guys are so predicable and they make it easy for me to look further into what they are really also doing wrong.. for bad guys rarely tend to be a little bit pregnant.. so there are the basics I look for that will shortly indicate their great downfall!!
    - their own positive or negative management style, are they power hungry, control freaks, abusers, and so I look at their ongoing performance record abuses of others including their discrimination, verbal or physical abuses, human rights abuses?
    - their attitude towards money, is it normal or have they become greedy, gone overboard, and so do they cheat, lies, steal, live high on the hog?
    – yes I even look for religious hypocrisy, even also next their adultery, cause I know it will predictably happen with the bad guys eventually, Proverbs says this is God’s punishment.. likely for stealing poor people’s money, or abusing the rights of others.. seriously too.
    - even the type of friends they associate, hang around with, birds of feathers flock together, for we even seem to know that alcoholics love to associate with other alcoholics too etc.

    Now I have openly written about even Todd Bentley and others.. even on this site.. even that Todd was hanging around with bad people, such as the bad pastors of the Toronto airport Christian fellowship, and he was raking in loads of poor people’s money..

    Mark 12:38 And in [the course of] His teaching, He said, Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and [to get] greetings in the marketplaces [public forums], 39 And [have] the front seats in the synagogues and the chief couches (places of honor) at feasts,

    Lying, stealing, tax evasions, slander, gossiping, abuse of others, adultery, and alcohol, are the common sins of 70 percent of Pastors so why pick on Todd Bentley alone,?

    or do you still even want to write my views for me?

  7. What are you talking about? Write your views for you? Odd a bit, eh?

    If there arises another false prophet preaching a false doctrine, I will point him or her out, as I should. I will not seek out ‘pastors’, as that is not my job.

    Reality…try it.

  8. Rev Todd Bentley showed us all this week too he was very normal person after all.. a sinner like all of us too..

    Sadly too many martial relationships today follow a very predictable pattern:
    The marriage partners push their spouse for total commitment

    They try hard get mostly what they want

    They next become attracted to someone else

    They start cheating with the someone else

    They become angry and resentful for the guilt they feel

    They begin telling their original partner, spouse that they need time apart

    They mostly blame their old partner, spouse for their behavior…and eventually, after making themselves and everyone around them miserable for an indefinite, but usually, a long period of time, they do end their relationships, marriages.

    Next even the new relationships and marriages will continue to follow this same pattern

    TODD BENTLEY BE OBEDIENT TO GOD AND DO WHATEVER IT TAKES. GOD HATES DIVORCE , ADULTERY AND EVEN HYPOCRITES TOO. AND DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE IS NO PERMISSIBLE FOR TWO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS WHILE BOTH OF THEM ARE ALIVE. SO “Todd Bentley” swallow your pride, your own lusts, goals, false desires but now also still be an EXAMPLE TO THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST, love His church, his work, but not also still your own wife. AND WORK NOT ONLY TO BE A GOOD PREACHER BUT ALSO TO BE A GOOD HUSBAND, AND GOOD FATHER TO YOUR CHILDREN TOO .

  9. It’s my observation that ALL human beings have something to hide!
    We are all sinners – even the ones who are quick to point an accusing finger at someone else – and such accusers are only disciples of Satan – the Chief Accuser.
    Such accusers are far more clever than the accused in hiding their own sins.
    Only the Perfect should ‘throw stones’!!!!!
    I am a follower of Jesus Christ and have a deep desire to become more and more like Christ – but I find myself like Paul in the Bible “doing things I don’t want to do or not doing things I want to do”.
    When I sincerely confess my sins He is faithful and just to forgive my sins!!
    Only Christ in us makes us stand totally righteous before God our Father.
    I certainly DO NOT SUPPORT sin of any kind and I don’t understand everything that folks like Todd Bentley do – but I love Todd Bentley and all those accused – because the work that God has started in them (and in me) HE WILL COMPLETE in due course – even if we seem imperfect for a while!!

  10. I guess we need to pay attention. I believe one of our greatest downfalls as people is putting our trust in men and not God. My question is does God or does not God use fallen man to perform his goodness? Was it Todd or God who performed these healings? From what I heard although I do admit I only watched a couple of times I thought I was hearing genuine testimonys of people being healed. How are we to doubt that? Can I say to a person he is being untruthful. I saw some actually bring doctor reports back and xray results of healings. Was that all a farce were all those people being untruthful. I also saw others who said they didn’t get healed. How do we know that God didn’t use Todd as a conduit of his healing. From what I have heard scriptures say we are not to forbid people to heal in the name of Jesus.

    As I stated eairlier I only saw a couple of webstreams. I also wondered why the people who were being physically harmed bringing law suits aganist him. It just doesn’t make sense to me yet. I think if someone punched me or kicked me I wouldn’t like it. What was really taking place with everyone? Is there anyone out there who was there and healed maybe clarify this?

  11. Coast, first, God can only use the fallen man for His purposes, but Todd was not being used of God. None of these ‘healings’ have been verified. As matter of fact, at least one ‘resurrection’ has been proven a hoax.

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