Todd Bentley

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Todd Bentley
Born January 10, 1976 (1976-01-10) (age 32)
Sechelt, British Columbia, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Evangelist

Todd Bentley (born January 10, 1976) is perhaps best known as one of the key figures of the Lakeland revival.


Early life

Bentley was raised mainly in Gibsons, British Columbia, a small community on the western coast of Canada[2]. His parents divorced while he was a child, after which Bentley struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and criminal activities. Bentley credited his conversion to Christianity for delivering him from that lifestyle and propelling him into ministry at age 17[3].

In 2001 the now-defunct Report Newsmagazine, a secular conservative publication[4], ran a profile on Bentley. In the article, they reported that his criminal activities as a teenager included more than one instance of sexual molestation. The article was graphic in details, summarizing Bentley's behavior as "heinous"[5]. In Canada, the criminal records of juvenile offenders are protected from public disclosure[6], however Bentley later admitted to Charisma Magazine that the Report Newsmagazine article was, in substance, true.[7] This led to heated debate in the Christian press and websites about whether Report NewsMagazine had acted correctly in publicizing Bentley's crimes - and whether this impeached Bentley's position as an evangelist.[8][9]


Bentley stresses the Holy Spirit's work within the individual in a way that brings him or her to a closer fellowship with God and empowers the person for Christian service. While he highlights scriptural passages in his sermons, Bentley emphasizes that spiritual or supernatural encounters in an individual's life are gifts from the Holy Spirit[10] [3]. He has stated that his theological imperatives are to bring people to experience the presence of God and to have the "Holy Spirit to manifest His glory in such a way that people can't deny the presence of a living God and they have a true born-again experience".[3]


In July 2008 ABC News' Nightline broadcast an investigative report on Bentley focusing on his faith healing claims, finances, and criminal past.[11] Following the report Fresh Fire Ministries released a statement announcing that Bentley was taking time off "to refresh and to rest", and their Lakeland broadcasts on GOD TV were to be put on hold.[11] One week later God TV announced Bentley would resume the ministry and starting July 18th the broadcasts would continue.[12] In addition, he has received criticism from other Christians for doctrinal differences and even relating his revivals as being akin to Wrestlemania.[13]

Doctrinal criticism

Specifically, in the Christian community Bentley is a contentious religious figure who is characterized on either end of the evangelist spectrum from "Spiritual Leader" to "False Prophet"[3][13]. He has flamboyant mannerisms, such as yelling 'Bam!!' during sermons,[14] as well as a divisive appearance for a evangelist; dozens of tattoos, multiple facial piercings, and a preference for t-shirts over ties.[1][15][16][17] Other major theological debates have arisen from Bentley's references to several trips he has made to Heaven and meetings with Paul the Apostle.[3][13] These controversies were highlighted by the media coverage of the Lakeland revival.[18][19][20]

Another doctrinal dispute surrounds his alleged encounter with an angel he called 'Emma' at an Assemblies of God church in 2001. Bentley stated that the female angel gave him a vision of gold dust, and afterwards he received a breakthrough in terms of financial stability.[14] Among Assembly of God congregants, especially, there was debate about whether such a professed encounter was in line with AOG doctrine as set out in the 16 Fundamental Truths[21][citation needed] The Biblical basis for this has been questioned, but Bentley claims it was God's choice, and not his own, that an angel appeared to him in that manner.[22]

Faith healing

Bentley's services feature faith healing, a common aspect of the Charismatic movement. Testimonies of people being healed during the services seem to be a major reason that many people are drawn to attend,[14] but Bentley's behavior and validity of the evidence of healings has been criticized.[11] In particular, a Nightline interviewer personally asked Bentley for three examples of cures, which Bentley said he would supply but he didn't.[11] The report concluded "not a single miracle could be verified."[11] The medical corroboration of both the injuries sustained due to Bentley's actions and the healings themselves have been a topic of discussion in the media.[13] James Randi, who offers the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) $1 million paranormal challenge, wrote that Bentley "can snap up a million dollars that’s available right here at the JREF – as if he didn’t already know that – as soon as he produces the evidence for any healing."[23] Though Bentley does not charge for attendance to the revivals, each brings in tens of thousands of dollars, which Bentley said pays for his outreach and staff.[11] According to MSNBC in May, Bentley has received criticism for his finances which the ministry said he draws a "standard salary" and "Bentley said he was willing to open Fresh Fire Ministries’ bookkeeping records for the Lakeland revival meetings, but has yet to provide the documentation to".[24]



Todd Bentley in the Florida Revival, June 2008.
Todd Bentley in the Florida Revival, June 2008.

In 1998, the FreshFire Ministry group[25] asked Bentley to give his testimony at one of their weekly meetings. Soon after, Bentley took over the leadership of the group, which became more of a revival movement. Revivals, in comparison to other kinds of religious services, are intended to renew the faith of believers and to convert nonbelievers. They are usually marked by passionate and colorful preaching, music, and dramatic exultations of salvation and damnation. Bentley's talent for this kind of Charismatic preaching made him popular as a guest evangelist and speaker. He traveled to India, Africa, and Latin America taking part in religious crusades and revivals. [18][26][27]

Lakeland Revival

Main article: Lakeland revival

Beginning on April 2, 2008, Bentley was invited by Stephen Strader, pastor of Ignited Church, Lakeland, Florida, to lead a one-week revival.[18] The revival quickly became a religious and media phenomenon, attracting up to 10,000 attendees nightly and Bentley was the primary preacher for 4 months, until taking a hiatus on July 9, 2008[29]. In addition to showcasing Bentley's evangelism, the revival features colorful light shows and power-chord Christian rock music. The Ignited Church also took a multimedia approach to publicizing the event, posting webcasts online.[30] The revival is streamed live via Ustream - which received over 1 million hits in the first five weeks of transmissions. After the initial weeks, GOD TV, a religious satellite channel, decided to pre-empt its primetime programming and broadcast the Lakeland meetings nightly.[18]


  1. ^ a b Holley, Galen (2008-06-07). "Slain in the Spirit", Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. Retrieved on 2008-06-09. 
  2. ^ Bentley, Todd (2008-01-01). The Journey into the Miraculous. Destiny Image. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Chandler, Charles (June 19, 2008). "Tattooed preacher says God heals through him", The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved on 2008-07-05. 
  4. ^ "Report Newsmagazine, Canada's Sole Social Conservative Magazine, Halts Publication". (June 24, 2003). Retrieved on 2008-07-05.
  5. ^ "Does forgiving mean forgetting?". The Report Newsmagazine (2001-04-01). Retrieved on 2008-05-03.
  6. ^ "Young Offenders Act" (2003-01-01). Retrieved on 2008-05-03.
  7. ^ Healing Evangelist Todd Bentley Reveals Facts About Past Assault
  8. ^ Franklin, Miriam. "Don’t judge Todd Bentley by his past - prison for sexual assualt". Retrieved on 2008-07-05.
  9. ^ Bruce, Billy (2003-01). "Healing Evangelist Todd Bentley Reveals Facts About Past Assault", Charisma Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-06-09. 
  10. ^ Rhee, Alice (2008-05-29). "Revivalist Claims Hundreds of Healings", MSNBC. Retrieved on 2008-06-10. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Thousands Flock to Revival in Search of Miracles", ABC News (2008-06-09). Retrieved on 2008-06-09. 
  12. ^ "Todd Bentley back at Lakeland from Friday", GOD TV (July 16, 2008). Retrieved on 2008-06-09. 
  13. ^ a b c d Lake, Thomas (June 30, 2008). "Todd Bentley's revival in Lakeland draws 400,000 and counting", St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved on 2008-07-05. 
  14. ^ a b c McMullen, Cary (June 22, 2008). "Florida Outpouring Revival Concerns Pentecostal Leaders" (in English), The Ledger. Retrieved on 2008-06-24. 
  15. ^ Strachan, Eric (2008-05-25). "A visitation from God in Lakeland, Florida", The Daily Observer, Upper Ottawa Valley. Retrieved on 2008-06-09. 
  16. ^ Strand, Paul (2008-05-31). "Lakeland Outpouring Coming to Your City?", CBN News. Retrieved on 2008-06-10. 
  17. ^ Fene, Deanna (2008-05-09). "Thousands Flock To Lakeland Revival Nightly", ABC News First Coast News and Tampa Bay's 10 News. Retrieved on 2008-06-10. 
  18. ^ a b c d McMullen, Cary (2008-05-15). "Florida Outpouring: Internet Draws Thousands to Lakeland Revival", The Ledger. Retrieved on 2008-06-09. 
  19. ^ Kilpatrick, John (May 31, 2008). "Pastor Strader Speaks On Todd Bentley". Living the Way. Retrieved on 2008-06-24.
  20. ^ Rusty Leonard & Warren Cole Smit (June 28, 2008). "Same old scam?". World Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-07-02. 
  21. ^ General Counsel of the Assemblies of God. "Our 16 Fundamental Truths". Retrieved on 2008-06-24.
  22. ^ "Biblical Foundation for Revival". Retrieved on 2008-06-24.
  23. ^ "A Premiere Report", James Randi Educational Foundation (July 18, 2007). Retrieved on 2008-08-09. 
  24. ^ "Revivalist claims hundreds of healings", MSNBC (May 29, 2008). Retrieved on 2008-06-09. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Morris, Rick. "Faith: Healing Revival", The Othello Outlook. Retrieved on 2008-06-10. 
  27. ^ "Frontline Conference, Speaker Biographies". Retrieved on 2008-06-09.
  28. ^
  29. ^ KOFMAN, Jeffrey; KARSON YIU and NICHOLAS BRENNAN (July 9, 2008). "Thousands Flock to Revival in Search of Miracles" (in English), ABC News. Retrieved on 2008-07-13. 
  30. ^ Ignited Church