David Robertson is a Free Church of Scotland minister, and a writer and author. He is also the editor of the Free Church Monthy Record (from which the following is extracted with permission from the September edition published this week)
Dutch Sheets is the Senior Pastor of Freedom Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. He is a close associate of C. Peter Wagner
A Statement and Appeal Regarding Lakeland
August 21, 2008
It has now been a couple of weeks since I heard about Todd Bentley's plans for separation and divorce. Like everyone, I have had a variety of emotions including anger, sadness, and grief. Every time I see this scenario repeated, I grieve: for the husband and wife involved; for the family that will be scarred in so many ways; because of the incredible reproach it brings to Christ; and the distortion it gives concerning God's heart and ways. I am praying for Todd and his family.
I was asked numerous times to write my position on Lakeland while it was happening, but always felt checked by the Lord-the waters were too muddy and emotions too high. I now feel strongly that the Lord wants me to do so. It will be arguably one of the greatest risks of my ministry to date, but one I feel must be taken. Fathers, when given the voice to do so, bear the responsibility of giving correction and wisdom. I hope mine qualifies for the latter. I assure you I have spent many hours praying and thinking through the situation.
The risks are broad: with some of my dearest friends and co-laborers, I risk harming those relationships; with many in the charismatic body of Christ, I risk appearing to be an arrogant, "self-appointed" spokesperson for them; to the "I told you so" crowd, I risk the accusation of "spinning" the situation. (As far as the heresy hunters and revival police-not those who raised legitimate questions about Lakeland, but the attack dogs who make their living and build their ministries criticizing everyone else-I lost respect for them long ago and couldn't care less what they think.) My purpose and sincere prayer in writing this statement, however, is three-fold: to see healing begin for the body of Christ; to initiate a process that can remove the reproach brought to Christ and the Church; and to do these things while preserving and honoring my current relationships. I pray that these desires, along with my heart, come through loudly. And I hope I'm writing this with true humility-who among us clearly sees all hidden in our own hearts?
Let me also preface this statement by saying that what needs to be said cannot be done quickly or carelessly. I do not want my heart to be missed and am not willing to run that risk for the sake of brevity, so please bear with the length. (Incidentally, I think it will be obvious no one involved in the Lakeland situation has asked me to write this; and for the sake of integrity on my part, none have been consulted concerning what I'm stating.)
Mistakes at Lakeland
1 Did leaders handling the Lakeland situation make mistakes?
Yes-huge mistakes. Beyond the obvious fruit of salvations and healings, can good come from Lakeland, as some have suggested, even with the recent revelations concerning Todd Bentley? Yes, but only if there is complete honesty and transparency, the removal of all attempts at self-preservation, and absolute humility from all sides.
2 Did I endorse the Lakeland meetings?
No, I did not, nor did I condemn them. I acknowledged that healings were occurring and some were being saved, which I still believe and rejoice over. I realized and stated that the thousands of people attending were hungry and sincere, as were those involved in leading the meetings.
The worship was regularly good. But looking past some of the immediate and positive results, I, like many, also looked ahead to the possible fruit from questionable doctrine and experiences, exaggeration and hype, youthful pride, character issues and the frightening potential of a 32 year "young" man leading a movement that could shape the future of the Church. These things were frightening, very frightening, to others and me.
When something has the potential of setting precedent, birthing a movement and being reproduced as a prototype, we are no longer simply endorsing good brothers, good intentions and miracles. Doctrine and foundations will be built on these events. Teachings and paradigms for future ministries will be formed-in short, the next generation of the church and the move of God in the earth could be greatly impacted. This is why I stopped short of endorsing everything at Lakeland. Just as importantly, I could not ignore the "check", the uneasiness, the sickening feeling deep in my spirit telling me something else was wrong-terribly wrong-in this situation. Like other leaders I tried to push past my uneasiness with the showmanship, the "bams," 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 be-and believe I was- gracious, accepting, ready to think "out of the box", etc. But try as I may, the uneasiness in my spirit just wouldn't leave.
3 Did I voice my concerns to the appropriate people?
Yes, including stating my concerns for Todd's marriage to the Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team. Did they listen? Some did, some didn't. But I want to state emphatically, this is not an "I told you so" statement. In fact, much of what I want to address goes back several years into our charismatic Christian history. And I assure you that concerning our present weaknesses in the charismatic church, there is plenty of blame to go around. Personally, I've been right at times with my discernment and decisions, wrong at others. It would be worse than hypocritical for me to point the finger of accusation-I have no stones of judgment to throw. Nonetheless, mistakes were made and must be acknowledged and learned from in order for us to heal, grow and move forward.
Some of my closest friends endorsed and participated in the Lakeland meetings. For them I have both criticism-all of us lose credibility at this point if we're not completely honest-and affirmation. Should they have been more discerning and have listened to the warnings they received? Obviously. Should those who "aligned" Todd with spiritual fathers (which was a good thing and positioned him to receive help if he chooses to accept it) have realized to do so publicly was a mistake and could be interpreted by those watching in no other way than as a complete endorsement? Yes, they should have, especially when the event became a commissioning ceremony, complete with decrees and prophecies of going to higher levels, predictions of Todd's increasing world-wide influence and leading a world-wide revival, emphatic and prolific endorsements of his character, etc.
4 How could those watching believe the evening was anything but an aligning, endorsing and commissioning ceremony?
It really doesn't matter who laid their hands on Todd-all share responsibility. This was unwise at best, naïve at least and at its worst, foolish. And should the leaders involved have realized that those of us connected to them relationally, ministerially, and as movements-some even in alignment with them apostolically and as sons and daughters-would feel minimalized, if not betrayed, by the fact that they were in essence taking us onto the stage with them? Yes. These feelings were inevitable, especially when we had such uneasiness and asked them not to. Should there be an acknowledgment of these mistakes to the body of Christ for the sake of accountability and in order to rebuild trust? I believe so, and remain hopeful this will happen.
5 With such strong statements of disagreement, what is the affirmation toward my friends who led, participated in or endorsed this ceremony (and the meetings in general)?
Simply stated, I know their hearts. It is not a contradiction of my criticisms toward some of their actions to, at the same time, defend and endorse their hearts and character. It is completely appropriate-when true-to defend a person's heart and integrity while disagreeing with their actions. I think the blunder of that night was huge and very damaging to the body of Christ, but I also realize that in their hearts, those involved honestly felt they were doing the right things.
Again, while not defending the action taken, I would defend the character and integrity of Peter and Doris Wagner as vigorously as anyone I know, and do so with absolute confidence. There are no two people, and I mean that literally, who embody the qualities of humility, integrity, holiness (no compromise!), sacrifice, unselfish kingdom-thinking, the tireless giving of themselves to Christ's cause and the body of Christ-and do I need to add risk-taking?-as much as Peter and Doris Wagner. It remains my great honor to be associated with them and call them a spiritual father and mother. And again, while not minimizing or "sweeping under the rug" any wrong decisions, I remain steadfast in my belief that similar affirmations could be made of others involved-either directly or indirectly-in the ceremony. And some of them still see their endorsing of Lakeland as an endorsement of revival generally, not of Todd personally.
The Bigger Picture
It may come as a surprise, however, that my real purpose in writing this is not to only state the above, as important as I believe saying it is. My primary purpose, and I believe my assignment from the Lord, is to identificationally repent on behalf of the leadership of the charismatic body of Christ (see Nehemiah 1:4-7; Daniel 9:1-19). In doing so, I do not have a pompous, "no one else will, so I'll do it" attitude, nor am I arrogant enough to think I have become the spokesperson for the charismatic church. But in the same way that I can identify with the racism of white predecessors and repent to blacks, Native Americans and other races, I can represent the leadership of the charismatic body of Christ and identificationally repent for our sins and weaknesses. I encourage leaders who find my statements true and appropriate to join me. Beyond the simple fact of it being appropriate, I firmly believe it is the only way to begin the process of rebuilding trust with those asked to follow us and to remove the cynicism of the world we ask to listen to us. As you know, regaining credibility is much more difficult than attaining credibility.
Concerning what I'm about to say, I don't believe I have a critical spirit, nor do I want to diminish the sacrifices, faithfulness, and hard work done by so many in ministry. The fact remains, however, that we have failed the Lord and His people in many ways-not just with Lakeland but in countless other situations- and must repent if we are to be trusted in the future. And as you also know, no repentance is effective if watered down and couched in excuses, therefore, I intend to be brutally honest:
a) We, the leaders of the charismatic community, have operated in an extremely low level of discernment. Frankly, we often don't even try to discern. We assume a person's credibility based on gifts, charisma, the size of their ministry or church, whether they can prophesy or work a miracle, etc. (Miracles and signs are intended to validate God and His message, not the messenger; sometimes they validate the assignment of an individual, but never the person's character, lifestyle or spiritual maturity.) We leaders in the Church have become no different than the world around us in our standards for measuring success and greatness. This has contributed to the body of Christ giving millions of dollars to undeserving individuals; it has allowed people living in sin to become influential leaders-even to lead movement, 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 words-gullible leaders producing gullible sheep. When a spiritual leader we're connected with violates trust, is exposed for immorality or falls below other accepted standards of behavior, it does not exonerate us simply to say we don't condone such behavior. Those we lead trust us to let them know whom to trust. We have failed them miserably in this regard. For this lack of discernment, and for employing and passing on inappropriate standards of judgment, I repent to the Lord and ask forgiveness of the body of Christ.
b) We, the leaders of the charismatic church, spin our involvement and fail to acknowledge our responsibility when other leaders fall-all of which stems from our self-preservation and pride. Enough of the spin-we're no different than Washington, DC. Every time another embarrassing and disgraceful situation is exposed, the dancing begins. It seems that no one bears any real responsibility except the man or woman who actually commits sin. Incredibly, we even blame "revival" itself-the pressures, attacks, weariness, the "revival is messy" argument, etc., saying it is responsible for the failures. This is disgusting. Those of us on boards of fallen leaders, those who helped give them a voice, put them on TV, published and endorsed their books (yes, I have), etc., are not exonerated simply by saying we don't condone the wrong behavior or that we didn't know. We're supposed to know.
I don't believe anyone is expecting perfection from us-I know I'm not. We're far too human for that. But we are expected to have enough humility to look the world and those who follow us in the eye when we miss it and say, "we were wrong and we are sorry."
Our careless accountability has caused the body of Christ to be spiritually raped and abused. It has produced disillusionment and brought immeasurable reproach to our God and cynicism to His message. Concerning Lakeland, what was called the "greatest revival since Azusa Street" has become possibly one of the greatest reproaches. We, the leaders of the charismatic church, are responsible.
For not accepting and acknowledging our responsibility, for caring more about our own reputation than Christ's, I repent to God and ask forgiveness of the body of Christ.
c) Our procedures and standards of accountability are incredibly inadequate. We have provided camaraderie, not biblical accountability. For those on Todd Bentley's board who had previous knowledge of his marriage problems and said nothing, it was more than a mistake-it was reckless, foolish, and irresponsible. For those on the stage the night of his aligning and commissioning who knew and said nothing-ditto. For those there who didn't know, my question is, "why didn't you?" You were trusted to know. That is one of the purposes of public commissioning and the purpose behind the concept of endorsement. I'm not trying to point the finger; I'm endeavoring to get us to be honest about our failures-we have serious credibility issues. Have I ever laid hands on, commissioned or endorsed anyone without adequately checking them out? Yes, but you better believe I'll be more careful next time! And we must not single out Lakeland. We're all guilty.
What about the leader in my city who ran with some of the leading spiritual fathers in our nation-sincere and good men, I might add, and not all "charismatic" leaders-who sang his praises and helped build his stage-all while he was doing drugs and having sex with other men? But we shouldn't blame only the high profile cases-what about those of us who unknowingly have had adulterers on our staffs or appointed elders that turned out to have compromise in their life? Sounding familiar yet?
This is so epidemic that every member of the body of Christ stands guilty-what pastor or leader did you follow that turned out to have sin issues? What ministry did you support that was unworthy? There is plenty of blame to go around. The big question becomes not "who do we blame" but "how do we fix this mess?"
Leaders can live in sin-adultery, homosexuality, financial wrongdoing, drugs, etc.-for years without it being realized. They can offer completely unacceptable lifestyles for the body of Christ to follow and still keep their TV programs and lavish lifestyles. In the name of grace, compassion and forgiveness we have lowered the standard so much that often there isn't one. We have bought into the lie that true discipline is "shooting our wounded." We have made a mockery of biblical restoration, making "ministry"-not healthy individuals, marriages and families-its ultimate goal. The fact is, integrity matters. No, we don't need legalistic, pharisaical standards, but we must have standards. For this lack of biblical accountability, I repent to God and I ask forgiveness of the body of Christ.
d) We, the leaders of the charismatic church, have built on hype, sensation, innovation, programs, personality and charisma. This has produced: shallowness; false movements; novice leaders-gifted but immature and untested; a deficient understanding of God's word; the building of man-centered rather than kingdom-centered churches and ministries; competition rather than cooperation; humanistic, selfcentered Christians who don'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.
For this compromise in the way we build, for giving the Church watered down wine, commercial Christianity, a flashy but weak Church and hype disguised as anointing, I repent to God and ask forgiveness of the body of Christ.
Galatians 6:1-5 is an appropriate reference with which to end this statement: "Brethren, even if a man caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one shall bear his own load." (NAS)
My passionate prayer is that God honors this repentance – I believe He led me to do it and therefore, will-and uses it to begin a process of cleansing and healing for all of us. In order for the coming great awakening to bear maximum fruit we must have both, as well as a course correction that sets us on a path of wisdom leading to life. There is no doubt that past moves of God have been aborted, ended prematurely and contained error or heresy that have wounded, if not destroyed, many. The healing revival of the 40's and 50's, the charismatic movement, discipleship movement and Jesus movement are all examples. My heart is to help shape a movement, the fruit of which will last for decades-better yet, forever. And I have great expectations for us-I am not a cynic.
My passionate prayer is also that Todd Bentley's marriage survives and thrives. 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.
May we all move forward into all God has planned for us in this awesome season of endless possibility.
With great hope,
1. The Lakeland phenomenon was endorsed at the Clan Gathering in St. Andrew's (Scotland) in August this year.
2. Anyone wishing to respond to the messages on this page <click here> to get to the discussion list.
(Author: Christians Together)
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A vision to see Prospects groups across the Highland area - supporting families and individuals who have learning difficulties. (Author: )
Faith Mission - activities and needs
Donnie MacLeod outlines the recent work of the Faith Mission and alerts us to a need for accommodation for the summer camps. (Author: Donnie Macleod)
Introduction to Islam
Sign up for a course on Islam - everyone else is. The course includes a visit to a mosque - but shoes must be removed and women's heads covered. (Author: Watchman)
Attack on Christian relief aid agency
James Campbell, Blythswood's CEO responds to the newspaper columnists attack on the Blythswood Christmas Shoe Box appeal. (Author: )
The Golden Compass - atheism for kids?
There will be a new children's movie out in December called "The Golden Compass". The movie has been described as "atheism for kids" (Author: )
Prayer and Intercession
A week-long course on intercessory prayer run by Ellel Ministries Scotland at Blairmore House (near Huntly) (Author: )
Sentenced for preaching from God's Word
Ake Green is a Swedish pastor who was sentenced to prison for saying that homosexuality is wrong. His conviction was overturned on appeal. (Author: )
A powerful poem of re-introduction to the real Jesus (of God, the Bible and His church). The Jesus who came, the Jesus who reigns and the Jesus who is coming back. (Author: )
Our Worst Enemy, Ourselves
But the maddening reality is that we do not understand that WE are our own worst enemies...... (Author: )
Al Qaeda Terror Won't Stop If US Pulls Out
Olivier Roy, the French political scientist says: "Today the narrative of the revolt is religious. Forty years ago it was Marxist. Today it is religious....." (Author: )
Jews Making Aliyah - Returning Home
The largest chartered flight of the summer filled with new immigrants (olim) from North America touched down Tuesday morning at Ben Gurion International Airport. (Author: Arutz Sheva)
A new 8-part series starts Monday 6th August about the work of the Vine Trust bringing relief to the people of the Amazonian region. (Author: )
Answers in Genesis
Ken Ham (international speaker with Answers in Genesis) is due to speak in Stornoway and Inverness on a range of important topics relating to our contemporary culture (Author: )
Scottish Northern Convention
The annual Scottish Northern Convention is sceduled to be held in Dingwall (Castle Street Church of Scotland) with a full programme of events and speakers. (Author: )
Discovering the Treasure of Life
A week of restoration, refreshment and personal revival aimed at finding the hidden depths and reviving the joy of abundant life. (Author: )
It is increasingly likely that many citizens will soon have micro-chips (RFID devices) implanted under their skin. (Author: The Editor)
Churches, employment law and sexuality
According to the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, a recent ruling on employment law requires churches to have "clearly stated positions" on the issue of sexual morality (Author: )
Clan Gathering 2007
Collection of views on the July 2007 Clan Gathering event in St. Andrews. (Author: )
New Bible Society youth worker
A new youth development manager has been appointed by the Scottish Bible Society to encourage young people to engage with the Bible and SBS (Author: )
Report from Bogota conference
Today in excess of 60,000 people pass through the doors every week; 45,000 attending the Sunday morning services and 15,000 on a Friday evening. (Author: Steve Taylor)
Taking, making and faking human life
Andrea Minichiello Williams of Christian Concern for our Nation and the Lawyers Christian Fellowship speaking on the prospect of human/animal hybrids. (Author: )
Teenager takes school to High Court
After nearly 12 months of waiting, Lydia Playfoot will this morning (22JUNE), take her school to the High Court over her right to wear a Christian 'purity ring'. (Author: )
Sexual health crisis in young people
Health experts warn increasing consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs among teenagers and young adults is fuelling soaring rates of sexually transmitted diseases (Author: Independent Online)
CLAN Gathering 2007
The CLAN Gathering in St. Andrews has become a regular holiday/conference event in the annual Scottish Christian calendar. (Author: )
Aberdeen City Mission wins top award
Aberdeen City Mission emerged as one of only three Scottish winners of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service - the equivalent of an MBE. (Author: )
Free Teaching Day - One nation, one King
Free Teaching Day as part of the prayer conference for Israel - One Nation, One King! with Eliyahu Ben-Haim, Chuck Cohen and Ofer Amitai (Author: )
New Bishop for Moray, Ross and Caithness
The Rev Canon Mark Strange has been elected as the new Bishop for the Diocese of Moray, Ross and Caithness. A service of consecration is planned for October (Author: )
A response to Dawkins
Dundee Free Church of Scotland minister David Robertson has published a book entitled "The Dawkins Letters" which challenges the views of arch-atheist Richard Dawkins. (Author: )
Edinburgh University and Pagan Conference
Edinburgh University has granted permission to the Pagan Society Scotland to use the campus grounds for a major pagan conference involving Druids, shamans and witches. (Author: )
NHS hospital hosts occult activities
LAST SUNDAY, 20th May, Hope Hospital in Salford, allocated a substantial area of the hospital for a 'mind, body, spirit awareness festival' which included a range of occult activities. (Author: E-mail report)
Resources for ministry into the cults/occult
Reachout Trust is a well-established ministry providing resources, help and training for those who need a fuller understanding of the cults / occult. (Author: )
Scottish Christian Resources Exhibition
This exhibition will provide an exciting blend of exhibitors, church stories, seminars, fellowship, worship and much more. (Author: )
Complaints about Gay Police advert
In a record year for complaints to the ASA, the Gay Police Association advert was the most controversial, attracting more than 500 complaints. (Author: )
Life Issues update
A number of live issues at the moment are to do with the beginning and end of life. This will update you on the developments that are taking place in these areas (Author: Andrea Minichielllo Williams)
World View comes to Scotland
The Bibleworld SBS Studios, Scottish Bible Society’s travelling multimedia educational resource has taken on a new staff member. (Author: )
Key issues update from CCFN/LCF
A "key issues" update from CCFN - includes news from campus at Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt universities; and George Hargreave's (SCP) actions on drug classification. (Author: )
3 million waiting for an invite to church
A Tear Fund church report states that one in seven adults in the UK attends a Christian church each month, with nearly 3 million more people saying they would attend church if only they were asked, (Author: )
The Ultimate Text Message
The Scottish Bible Society (SBS) is participating in a new venture to make the Bible available to mobile phone users so that it can now be carried and accessed anywhere. (Author: )
Prayer walking Scotland video
A Pray for Scotland project from Easter and Pentecost (Author: )
BBC Radio News
A link to Radio Scotland (Author: )
Press Release from Lawyers Christian Fellowship
A Press Release by the Lawyers Christian Fellowship - 21 March 2007 (following the vote in the Lords). (Author: )
Rush to introduce SOR legislation
An interview with Conservative MP Peter Bone on his views of the rush to introduce new SORs legislation. (Author: )
True Womanhood 2
An new week at Ellel Scotland for women of all ages designed to enable women to move forward into their true identity. (Author: )
Parliamentary Prayer for Scotland
The PPS team led a seminar at the recent Pray for Scotland's Storehouse Conference in the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness (Author: )
Sexual Orientation Regulations
A "must read" from Christian Concern for our Nation / Lawyers Christian Fellowship (Author: )
HTC - Job vacancy
A vacancy for an Academic Officer working with the Highand Theological College (Author: )
The Gospel in Highland 2007 (year of culture). (Author: )
Christian Fellowship of Healing (Highand)
A news update from Jim Rettie (Author: )
SCP's Highlands and Islands candidate
Murdo Murray from Lewis is to stand as the Highlands and Islands candidate for the Scottish Christian Party (Author: )
Highland-wide activities and news
A place for news relating to different areas across the Highlands (Author: )
Faith Mission activities
Have a look at the things that the folks in the Faith Mission have planned to do. And please pray for these ventures. (Author: )
Information for Christian guest house operators
The newly-introduced Sexual Orientation Regulations are already having a serious impact on Christian businesses. (Author: CT)