This is not an occasion to covertly rejoice over the impending breakup of Bentley’s marriage. No one should take joy in that, nor is it relevant to the fact that Bentley’s “faith” “healing” is the sort of Enthusiasm our fathers warned us about. What it is is Pentecostalism taking a hard look at itself and its “gullibility” (J. Lee Grady’s word, not mine). Here’s Grady’s editorial.
Why did so many people flock to Lakeland from around the world to rally behind an evangelist who had serious credibility issues from the beginning?To put it bluntly, we’re just plain gullible.From the first week of the Lakeland revival, many discerning Christians raised questions about Bentley’s beliefs and practices. They felt uneasy when he said he talked to an angel in his hotel room. They sensed something amiss when he wore a T-shirt with a skeleton on it. They wondered why a man of God would cover himself with tattoos. They were horrified when they heard him describe how he tackled a man and knocked his tooth out during prayer.But among those who jumped on the Lakeland bandwagon, discernment was discouraged. They were expected to swallow and follow. The message was clear: “This is God. Don’t question.” So before we could all say, “Sheeka Boomba” (as Bentley often prayed from his pulpit), many people went home, prayed for people and shoved them to the floor with reckless abandon, Bentley-style.I blame this lack of discernment, partly, on raw zeal for God. We’re spiritually hungry—which can be a good thing. But sometimes, hungry people will eat anything.Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.