In my lifetime hardly anything has caused as much of a stir, religiously speaking, as the Lakeland Revival. Personally I was distant from it, since I do not run in charismatic circles and have a huge heaping helping of skepticism concerning what appears to be almost amoral “outpourings.” I have not once understood the attraction of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, who I actually grew up with on TV with their puppet ministry. I knew as a kid that this was a duo that I wasn’t going to be around. Could anybody have really been surprised about how all that ended up?
But I have a breadth of appreciation for the craziness of excitement when people in mass begin to hand their lives over to Christ. And so I am not terribly judgmental on the emotionally charged atmospheres that occur in peak periods of Kingdom come. Read Jonathan Edward’s Narrative and so many of the accounts of the two Great Awakenings in America. This isn’t church as normal. Many of your sensibilities will be offended. I get it. Jonathan Edwards went through his own extremes – guarding the deeply affectionate nature of the outpouring in his own time and then watching his own people grow cold, Edwards’ combative spirit and the loss of his church ministry. If that was spread over the media, that would have been quite a story, and I am not sure Edwards would have recovered from the humiliation and his own role in the controversy.
Edwards, however, kept centered biblically, theologically and morally and went on to do some his deepest spiritual and intellectual work. Bentley is of another kind. Some of it is the circles he runs in. He isn’t being held accountable by any kind of serious theological heritage. There is nothing in his teaching he is being held accountable for. The roughness and rowdiness of his circles have no problem with the appearance of it all to the world.
Challies posted a video documentary that is up for only a short time before the publisher takes it down. I think it is worth the look. It’s stretching and uncomfortable, at least for someone of my trajectory. Once again, I am not as censorious as Challies. When he shoots, it’s between the eyes.