Todd Bentley and the Dead Belfast Boy

20 06 2008

It’s not often that miracles make the news, least of all front page news, but yesterday’s Newsletter (one of Northern Ireland’s dailies) carried the headline: ‘Church Claims Teenage Miracle’. The story centres around Andrew Duffin, an 18 year old who was seriously injured in a car accident in May (he was a passenger in a stolen vehicle). Having been taken to hospital with serious injuries, including a ruptured bowel, Andrew ‘died’ during surgery for sixteen minutes, before coming back to life. Andrew’s father sent a message around a prayer network and firmly believes that his son was brought back to life as a result. Andrew, who didn’t believe in God, now says that he is going to change his life, having been given a second chance.

Pastor Brian Madden from the Elim Church in Tigers Bay, Belfast, is pastor to Andrew Duffin’s father, and was instrumental in the healing which took place. He had recently been to see American healer Todd Bentley, who is gaining renown for his own ministry of healing and supernatural signs. Pastor Madden himself admits to having been shocked by the events he witnessed in Florida which were ‘crazy’, but that God is at work in this way all over the world. It was Bentley’s prayer network which was engaged in seeking God for the miracle which has reportedly ensued.

For a secular newspaper, the Newsletter has managed to take a very balanced tone in their coverage of the story. They have spoken with those involved, and taken opinion from Rev. Stephen Williamson of Ballywillan Presbyterian Church who had been involved in healing ministry himself in previous days. The article ends with an open question to the readership of the paper – ‘Do you believe in miracles?’.

For me the question which arises from such an account is not ‘do you believe in miracles?’, but the much more difficult one of discerning what kind of movement Bentley is spearheading. I have no doubt that our God moves in powerful ways, I have no doubt (and have witnessed for myself) that he does intervene in the lives of his people, turning desperate situations into sources of hope and joy. But what of the individuals surrounding this ‘miracle’?

My chief concern is with Bentley himself. The briefest period of research into Todd Bentley on YouTube shows him to be at the farthest reaches of Pentecostalism. He speaks here on a vision he got of Jesus. Obviously not content with John’s portrayal of the Saviour in Revelation 1 he goes on to speak of Jesus having brown eyes ‘like Bambi’ and that the predominant colour surrounding the Saviour is pink – ‘the colour of love and emotion’. This pink Bambi-eyed Jesus is a far cry from the glorious vision of Christ which we have in God’s inspired Word, a kind of friendly soft-toy Saviour who doesn’t mean any harm to anyone: I think I’ll stick with John’s description. Bentley speaks here of getting a vision during a ministry meeting in Seattle. To cut a long (and rambling) story short Bentley enters a ‘pillar of fire portal’ and is transported to an ‘operating table’ in heaven, where angels in white coats (!) tie him down, cut him open and insert little boxes into him. God then speaks to Bentley, informing him that these boxes are ‘truth in the inward part’, that he doesn’t have 40 years to disciple leaders into maturity and that he is going to begin implanting 10 years of Christian maturity into people directly. It is a little like fast-track sanctification I suppose (my words, not Bentley’s).

All of this leaves me ice cold. Bentley routinely engages in extra-biblical fantasy, which transforms the transcendent, glorious depiction of Christ in Scripture into a tawdry conglomerate of tired 21st century images, most of them trivialising Jesus to the point of being pathetic.

When it comes to the individual ‘miracle’ of Andrew Duffin, I’d rather not speak too strongly one way or the other. When it comes to the ‘movement’ which is growing up around it, to the postulations of Todd Bentley, it seems clear to me that this is not biblical Christianity but a made-over, marked down version of the majestic message of Christ.

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6 responses

24 06 2008
Caron

From SLICE:*Crosstalk Alert* WednesdayI 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

30 06 2008
Andrew Kenny

WHO HEALED ANDREW DUFFIN?I run a youth (Club/outreach for unchurched youth and no way associated with the Elim church or Todd Bentley) were Andrew had been coming for a few weeks along with many of his friends.One monday night his friends who we had been working with said they wanted to join us in prayer, and to pray for Andrew’s healing and that he would stop stealing cars.So there we were about 15 of us praying for young Andrew. The next week they said he was awake but not talking-again we prayed. The next week he was talking and the next week he was getting out.I think if anyone healed this young man it was the Lord, quite apart from Todd Bentley who I don’t know.The young man is not yet a christian but we are praying that he will be come one and an evangelist to boot.

30 06 2008
Andrew Kenny

By the way I have three of the books you have advertised on your blog and the other one I have as a CD.Peace and Grace

30 06 2008
Andrew and Carolyn

Hi Andrew,Many thanks for your comment, and may the Lord continue to bless you in your outreach and ministry.The details of Andrew Duffin’s healing are, I suppose, a little marginal to my larger concern with Todd Bentley’s teaching. His name was introduced in the Newsletter article by the Elim pastor from Tiger’s Bay, and I was concerned to address the issues thrown up by embracing the kind of teaching coming out of the Florida ‘revival’.In terms of God’s ability to heal (regardless of the channel)I’m in no doubt that He can and does work wonders for the glory of His name.Thanks for your input.God bless,Andrew

11 07 2009
Brian

Feel free to contact me any time Andrew before posting about me God BlessPastor Brian Madden

11 07 2009
Andrew

Hi Pastor Brian,Thanks for your comment. I think that a careful reading of this post and the meta which follows shows that I wasn't writing about you, but about Todd Bentley and the Florida Revival. I was careful NOT to pronounce any judgement on the events in which Andrew Duffin was involved, nor will I now. Any information containing your name was on pages 1 and 3 of the Belfast Newsletter which I assume made it public domain. This comprises the sum total of my knowledge of you.I strongly doubt that I'll ever have further occasion to write about you here, but please rest assured that I'll contact you if I do.I'm not sure if you feel that I've done you a disservice by not seeking permission to quote you from the Newsletter, if so I trust that this follow up comment allays your concerns. This post really ISN'T about you at all.Regards,Andrew




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