Todd Bentley and John Crowder


I've had several people in my church community and many more outside it, ask me what I make of Todd Bentley in Florida (and mixed in there is often the name John Crowder).

These questions, from good people in my church, and other friends, are enough for me to take it seriously and offer some responses.

By way of method, I'm not going to deal with them directly. I don't want to offer an assessment or critique of Todd Bentley and/or John Crowder. Instead what I want to offer is how I plan on navigating this movement, and the next one that comes along.

Being in the association of vineyard churches for 20 years, means I have seen several movements like this come and go and many are connected to these current ones.

So what follows below is more, what I have learned from some of those experiences. They are in no particular order, just as they occur to me.

1. The Body of Christ is Broad: I can enjoy something of God in many different kinds of churches, but I wouldn't want to make my church home there, nor do I have to.

2. Values: There are values within my church, and denomination of not hyping, not manipulating, not pumping people up. If God does something great, if not we don't whip people up into a frenzy.

3. Theology: There's a whole load of theological values here too for me.

The Spirit is not about getting me the consumer dream, or making me feel good. Ecstatic events and tradition as vital as they are, are not self-authenticating (to paraphrase Oliver O'Donovan).

The Holy Spirit works in the New Testament through ecstatic spontaneity and the establishing of traditions. We should be like early church and be sceptical of both! A good charismatic is a skeptical charismatic, a god traditionalist is a skeptical one. A good emerging church get the idea.

4. Authority: It's not enough to say people are being blessed, therefore this is God. People feeling good, happy, excited, blessed does not self authentic something either.

The only authority of a person, church, or movement, is the authority they point to, Jesus. Which is why when a person and tradition or new movement gets beyond reach of questioning, they have been dishonored, and so have we, and God.

A sign of real authority is our willingness to critique as we engage, and for those most involved to be open to critique too.

5. Involvement: A close friend of mine was told about a meeting related to Todd Bentley that was happing locally, and the invite to him to attend was put this way. "This is God, don't you want to go and have Jesus involved in your life and your churches?'

Now I have been here myself, been so caught up in what God was doing with me and others, that I couldn't understand why anyone wouldn't want to be part of of it too.

I was wrong. The body of Christ is bigger than any one person, church or movemement, and there is no obligation like that on everyone to join in.

6. Openness: Yet when something like this, or whatever comes along next comes along, I need to pause and pray, and be open, and ask Jesus if he has something for me that I need to enter into and engage with.

7. Blessing: And as I write this, I realise I want blessing, an experience of the Spirit for me, and my church, that makes our faith dynamic, and immanent and mission enabling.

8. Flying around the world: I don't have to travel half way around the world to get that. Yet I must not be arrogant and dismissive, because there are many other things like an emergent event, or research conference that I will fly half way around the world for.

'Locational event snobbery' does not become more or anyone.

Conclusion That's my navigational framework, and my thoughts at first blush. What navigational aids would you offer?