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After ducking scrutiny that followed the Lakeland Revival's abrupt end in August 2008, Todd Bentley resurfaced this month. The Canadian Pentecostal disappeared from the public eye in August after filing for separation from his wife. Issuing a statement through the pastor overseeing his restoration process, Bentley said he was "sorry for the hurt and confusion that my decisions have caused the body of Christ." He indicated that he was pursuing a return to ministry in order to "fulfill God's call on my life."

Bentley fell even faster than he had climbed to prominence in 2008. He became a viral sensation during a healing revival that ran 100 consecutive nights and attracted 30,000 visitors per week. His renown spread with reports of his unusual healing tactics and claims that he had raised 25 people from the dead, all over the phone. But the Florida-based event could not survive Bentley's divorce and mounting criticism. One critic, Charisma editor J. Lee Grady, faulted Bentley for sending the charismatic movement into a "tailspin." He quoted an anonymous Pentecostal evangelist who said, "I'm now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the Antichrist when he shows up because they have no discernment."

Grady said he groaned when he learned from the March 9 statement what Bentley had done since August. After divorcing his wife, Shonnah, he married Jessa Hasbrook, a former intern. The statement provided no update on Bentley's ex-wife. Grady also found fault with how Bentley's ministry was characterized by Rick Joyner, who once counseled Jim Bakker and has taken Bentley under his wing.

From Grady's perspective, gifts trumped his character in Joyner's decision to aid Bentley's return to ministry. The ends ...

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March 2009

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