Dan posted a comment with a few questions for me re. the Florida "thing", as I've moved on from my original post, I hope he doesn't mind but, I thought I'd cut'n'paste his questions and my response into a new post...
i've got a few questions over the whole florida thing, and while some of it definitely makes me uncomfortable, i'm also generally not that cynical so here's a few thoughts/questions indefence of it:Mark
-why do we think that, just because we have questions that seemingly can't be answered, therefore that proves it's not a genuine move of God?
-similarly why do we think that, just because we can find things that definitely aren't right (like the seed thing), that proves it's not of God - could that more be a question of maturity?
-and again, why do we think, just because we can pick flaws in the generaly model of things like florida & toronto, that means it's wrong? i'm sure i can find plenty of failings in your model of church, but that doesn't mean you're not doing valid, godly stuff.
-i'm not sure how you can really quantify the effect of these revivals on the wider world. how do we know the world couldn't have been a whole lot worse if it wasn't for these things?
-the leaders at toronto don't know why God seems to work in specific areas, but you could argue it's biblical.
-good point about people not going back for more at pentecost, but then isn't the whole point of toronto the same? - you go there, get blessed/filled/anointed pentecost-style then go back to the 'outside world'.
-true, there's not a lot about justice/poverty etc, but is it a bit much to expect these revivals to cover every aspect needed for the renewal of the whole world and it's people?
-from a personal point of view, i went to toronto a few years ago, and the few months afterwards were the most intimate time i've ever had with God. there's no way i can know for sure the lasting effect of this - i have MS and have nearly killed myself because of it, but maybe my experience is why i'm still able to say God is good.
Hi Dan, thanks for the comment... I'm in general agreement with you, especially about the methodology question, I don't think there IS a right way, and as you say everything that has a human component will have flaws. I also agree one should begin by being generous, that's what I've tried to do - It's not my "scene" so I have been being careful not to dismiss it for that reason. I began by being sceptical but open - including going to a meeting in the UK... but I'll be honest with you, the more I've seen and heard of Bentley the more worried I have got.
Firstly, sure God might do some stuff within these things, but we are taught to be discerning - not just to accept stuff because it is accompanied by "Signs and Wonders" see for example Matthew 24 verse 23 and 24, where it says even the "Elect" will be fooled by the "great signs and miracles". Matthew 7 also seems to say that "many" will prophecy, cast out Demons and perform Miracles in the name of Jesus... but they are not "known" to Jesus... in fact Jesus labels them "Evildoers" in verse 23... So I think we need to be wary of simply accepting a "Revival" or whatever simply because either it might be delivered in "Jesus name" or because it is accompanied by miracles.
Secondly, Matthew 24 also seems to say if anyone says God is in a particular place (in this case the desert or inner rooms) then do not go there for the prophet is false! TBH that sounds awfully like Florida and indeed Toronto to me! And again in Matthew 24 we are told to measure everything by it's fruit, Whilst I appreciate and thank God for your story, TBH a few thousand Christians feeling good for a while is not "fruit" to me, I'm not asking these "Revivals" to solve the whole of the worlds ills, but I'd expect to see *some* relative effect outside of the "holy huddle", for it to truly be called "Revival". At the very least I'd be very surprised if after instructing us to be "good stewards" of Creation if God then said "Hey, blow the planet, in order to get some of my Spirit you have to get on a gas-guzzling airplane and fly half way across the globe!" - to me that is simply not-consistent with Scripture, the measure by which we are instructed to use.
I so want these things to be serious and to really impact the world (hence not instantly dismissing the Florida thing), but the more I look into in the more worried I become... if we really want peace, then maybe we need to listen to what Jeremiah said to the Babylonian exiles... 29v4-8...
""seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
The Prophets where prophesying that the people should remove themselves from the Babylonian people and that they would very soon be freed, and they where saying these things in God's name... but they where according to Jeremiah, lies... the people where going to be there for a while and they had to pray and work for the peace of the city of Babylon, for only in bringing peace would they receive it. All this "chosen generation" stuff, Tabernacle mentality and praying for the quick return of Christ seems to me to be somewhat similar. We are told by Jesus to "Go" - in Luke 10, in Matthew 28 etc. etc. not to a "Tabernacle" but into culture, into community, into the whole world. Why is the Church in such a mess? Maybe because it has become like the Babylonian Exiles, desperate for a way out of the world God has put us in.
... and thats without going over the whole Gnosticism (special knowledge), Seeding revival (whatever happened to "Freely you have been given, freely give"?), Gold dust and Feathers and preaching Angels not Christ stuff!