Dutch Sheets repents on behalf of the leadership of the charismatic body of Christ over the Todd Bently scandal.
I had observed in my previous posts that people were reporting having an encounter with God at the Todd Bentley meetings in Lakeland, Florida. See ‘Toronto, Pensacola, Lakeland..’ ; ‘Chasing Intimacy in Florida’ and ‘Disappointment in Lakeland, Florida’.
Some people highly regarded in Charismatic circles had endorsed Bentley’s controversial ministry. There is now much embarrassment, but at least some people are admitting they made mistakes and are asking serious questions which have a relevance far beyond this scandal alone.
Dutch Sheets (yes, an unusual name) has issued a statement on his website which is worth reading in its entirety. Dutch has now â€œcome outâ€ and speaks of the mistakes that have been made and the reservations he had. He says,
I could not ignore theâ€œcheckâ€, the uneasiness, the sickening feeling deep in my spirit telling me something else was wrongâ€”terribly wrongâ€”in this situation. Like other leaders I tried to push past my uneasiness with the showmanship, the â€œbams,â€ the head butts and kneeing, along with certain experiences and doctrines, all in order to embrace the good. Like many of my friends I tried to beâ€”and believe I wasâ€”gracious, accepting, ready to think â€œout of the boxâ€, etc. But try as I may, the uneasiness in my spirit just wouldnâ€™t leave.
I find that one of the distinctives of this Todd Bentley thing has been the reluctance of some church leaders to speak of their concerns and reservations. Peer pressure has had an almost bulling effect. To Dutch’s credit it seems he had tried to raise his concerns with the appropriate people, including stating his concerns about Toddâ€™s marriage to the ‘Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team’. He claims some listened and some did not.
Dutch claims the leaders of the charismatic community, have operated in an extremely low level of discernment. He says they often donâ€™t even try to discern. He says that their worldy measures of success have,
â€œcontributed to the body of Christ giving millions of dollars to undeserving individuals; it has allowed people living in sin to become influential leadersâ€”even to lead movements, allowing them influence all the way to the White House. Through our lack of discernment we built their stages and gave them their platforms. We have been gullible beyond wordsâ€”gullible leaders producing gullible sheep.â€
He goes on,
â€œFor those on Todd Bentleyâ€™s board who had previous knowledge of his marriage problems and said nothing, it was more than a mistakeâ€”it was reckless, foolish, and irresponsible.â€
Dutch’s anguish is particularly heard through his soul-searching denouncement of himself and colleagues that has an almost Old Testament ring to it.
Â â€œWe, the leaders of the charismatic church, have built on hype, sensation, innovation, programs, personality and charisma. This has produced: shallowness; false movements; novice leadersâ€”gifted but immature and untested; a deficient understanding of Godâ€™s word; the building of man-centered rather than kingdom-centered churches and ministries; competition rather than cooperation; humanistic, self-centered Christians who donâ€™t understand sacrifice and commitment; Christians without discernment; superstar leaders; a perverted and powerless gospel; prayerless and anemic Christians; a replacement of the fear of the Lord with the fear of man; and a young generation that is cynical of it all. We are responsible, not the devil; he takes what we give him.â€
He closes with these words,
â€œMy passionate prayer is also that Todd Bentleyâ€™s marriage survives and thrivesâ€¦that he turns his heart fully toward Christ and toward those with whom he is aligned, and allows them, as God leads, to put him on a path of complete restoration. I thank God for those who were touched by the Holy Spirit at Lakeland and while watching it on God TV and the web.â€
For those who, like Dutch, were deceived by this ministry his statement will be hard reading. At least he has had the courage to face his mistake. For many, I think their release will only come when they have been as honest with themselves as Dutch has been.