Lee Grady of Charisma magazine wrote a column (here) concerning evangelist Todd Bentley’s restoration from sin he now admits to. Rick Joyner, who is the lead pastor for the restoration process, responded with an email (here) that he didn’t expect would be published and sounds somewhat harsh. I have been following Rick’s video updates (here) but I have also read the plentiful comments on the Chrisma website regarding this issue. After some consideration, I finally wrote up my take on this issue…
I appreciate Lee Grady’s heart to rebuke the sin in our midst, to grieve over the harm and confusion brought to the church, and his desire to see leaders truly embrace biblical standards of character and integrity. I hear the cry of his heart. And I think God does too. Or perhaps it would be better to say that Lee has felt the heart of God on the travesty of sin that has abounded in the church for far too long and shows pitifully little indication of ever abating.
Indeed, where are the ones who mourn what has become the church? Where are the ones who rend their hearts in tears and wailing? Where are the leaders who will confront sin for what it is – a horrendous blemish on what is meant to be a pure and undefiled bride?
And yet in this particular situation a process of restoration has only just begun. Why rush to make comment right now? Why not wait to see what happens? Why not talk to the people directly involved?
If we truly ever want to root sin out of the church, is Lee’s approach of a column written early on, with few facts and done from afar the way to do it?
Thankfully, the leaders involved in Todd Bentley’s situation are NOT treating this issue lightly. Nor are they seeking to simply “nurse his wounds”, “ignore people he wounded”, or extend “greasy grace” to him. Or at least that’s what they say. Given that, it seems reasonable to give this process some time before groaning and venting one’s frustration in a national column.
But alas there are deeper issues here.
One is Lee’s discomfort with things that went on at Lakeland even before Todd’s fallout. Thus, when Lee says that “we charismatics still seem to have a habit of elevating gifting above character”, he’s not just referring to Todd’s character in regards to infidelity. He’s also referring to all the other controversial issues that happened at Lakeland and on which he has previously written.
I agree with Lee that the attitude that roughly says the “end justifies the means” is a “perversion of biblical integrity”. But I do not agree with Lee’s point that since God can anoint “any man or woman with the Holy Spirit’s Power”, that means that God is only really looking for “vessels of honor that can carry that anointing with dignity, humility and purity”.
Yes of course God is looking for purity and integrity. But he is also looking for who will go for Him. And that requires faith.
Does that mean that Todd is indispensible? No. But it does mean that he is rare.
Either he is a talented con-man, deceiver and liar. Or, he is an immature and perhaps tragic figure who has an incredible level of faith and willingness to put his faith on the line in a way that very, very few in the church do. That Lee appears to have been jaded by so many charlatans in the church that he doesn’t perceive the significance of faith, is to me a significant shortcoming on his part.
Does God prefer to use someone who has abundant flaws but the faith few do? Or does He rather use someone who has impeccable character, and yet is unable to be used in many ways due to limited faith?
My read of the Bible makes the answer pretty clear – at least to me. I see a God who is thrilled by faith when He sees it. A God who has filled scriptures with heroes of the faith. One who honors them greatly. And at the same time, He is a God who bluntly exposes their sin.
Are we to tolerate sin? May it never be!
But maybe. Just maybe. We should be thrilled by what thrills God. At the same time we are grieved by what grieves Him.
Think about it.