Heresy Hunter or Apostle?

I have been accused by a number of people over the last few months of being critical and judgmental. I have been criticized for being critical – interesting! And those who have criticized me – are they not also being critical? Several have told me that the Church does not need “heresy hunters” and I could not agree more.

However, what the Church absolutely needs is apostles who will speak up for the truth. 1 John 4:1 tells us “not to believe every spirit but to try or test the spirit to see if it is from God” – lines up with the Word of God. Good test. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 states that we are to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” Good advice! I thought that this is what I have been doing.

This is not hunting heresies – although, as one tests the teachings coming forth from places like Lakeland one just might discover heresies. Then what do I do – sit down and shut up? Or, do I “ernestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3)? The latter, of course, in spite of what some may think and what others believe my motives to be.

As an apostle – little known and enjoying not being in any specific spotlight – it is my job to make sure that non-biblical teachings are exposed for what they are – false teachings that can simply be false teachings or, more dangerous than that, heresies. This is part of the work of apostles as they lay foundations and correct faulty foundations (Ephesians 2:20).

Excuse my chasing a rabbit but – where were all the big names who should have been speaking out about behaviour and doctrine that were not correct almost from the beginning? Why were the red flags not flying over the past few months when much of what was being taught and done was not in line with God’s Word or God’s character? Where were those well known apostles who could have corrected this before it blew up and wounded so many? Maybe if they had spoken up then people like J. Lee Grady of Charisma, Terry Somerville, and Currie Blake and little guys like me would have not had to.

After 32 years of daily Bible study and reading – research and reflection – I believe I have armed my spirit and my mind with a fair amount of God’s Word so that it can spot the false almost instantly. And, I believe I have a decent enough walk with the Holy Spirit that I am sensitive to His warnings as well … that anointing within that leads to truth as spoken of by John in his first of three letters. So, my warning flags have been up from the very beginning. Now, I will be accused of pride and arrogance!

So, with my decent knowledge of the Word and the unction of the Holy Spirit within me – I check everything that I hear taught and see done to the scriptures. This is what the Bereans did as recorded in Acts 17 … and it is what I do as an apostle.

Really, all believers should be doing this simply as believers and they should not be leaving this important task up to the apostles. However, because apparently a lot of believers don’t do this, then it is imperative that those in the five-fold ministry do it for them so that the sheep are protected from false doctrine and maybe even false five-fold ministers who do wonderful signs and wonders (Matthew 24:24). Please note – I did not call Todd Bentley a “false” miniister, evangelist, or whatever. Simply that the sheep, because they seem to be lacking discernment in our day and age, need protecting.

Lakeland had a lot going for it – strong teaching of the Word of God and correct teaching of the Word of God were not among the strong points. So, it is up to others to point out the errors and to state where teachings based on experiences with dead saints, third heavens, winds blowing, an angel called Emma, visions and dreams, revelations and other subjective events simply do not line up with the scriptures and doctrine once delivered to the saints or go contrary to the stated truth. The Bible is our standard – onjective, not subjective (see my blogs on spiritual warfare within the church).

If that makes me a “heresy Hunter” in your eyes – so be it. But I will continue to guard the sheep and speak for the truth as contained in the Bible regardless of which big name or big event that pits me against. I must be faithful to the God who rescued me from the pit of Hell and I will defend His Word and His character.

If I am wrong in my doctrine and my concern for the often ungodly way things were done at Lakeland – those things that I have been honest enough to speak up about – then show me. I am a good listener and will humbly submit to His truth even if it means admitting I am wrong.

But, meanwhile, let’s stop calling those who contend for the truth “Bible Police”, “Heresy Hunters” and whatever else I have been called (some edited out due to being inappropriate for a Christian blog before I allowed it to be posted). Let’s dialogue – that’s what the box below this last paragraph is for – for you to express your opinion and interact with what is being discussed by the many who post comments on this site.

I look forward to hearing from you!

6 replies
  1. Bob MacDonald
    Bob MacDonald says:

    Ralph –

    Thank you for speaking up! I valued reviewing your comments and concerns about Lakeland and Todd. I found that you drove me to the Scriptures to test everything – just like we are supposed to.

    You were one of the early voices who recognized something was wrong. Good for you!!

    Because of your approach to dealing with what was going on, I learned how we as leaders should be looking at things. I also learned what the Holy Spirit’s “check” in my spirit feels like – because I compared it to what you were expressing.

    You a Heresy Hunter? I think not!!
    Besides – I think there are lots of better things to go hunting for!

    So THANKS! You did right in speaking up. You helped me lots.

    Bob

    Reply
  2. Bob MacDonald
    Bob MacDonald says:

    Ralph –

    You had asked for a couple of comments in response to Doris Wagner’s and Chuck Pierce’s letters. I don’t want to be critical because it’s easy to look back and say things should have been done this way or that. I do commend the man involved for at least seeking to step into a situation that already had much controversy surrounding it.I want to learn from it and so here are a couple of thoughts that I have had:

    1. It seems to me there’s a lot out backpedaling in both of the letters written by these people. Maybe it could be called damage control — maybe that’s too harsh. I can certainly see why they are seeking to give some explanation in light of some of the actions that they have taken.

    2. I’m reminded of 1Timothy 5: 22 – ” Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.” From my perspective Peter Wagner, John Arnott, Che Ahn and Bill Johnson seemed to be hasty in the laying on of hands. If I am correct in understanding the Scripture (maybe this is just my interpretation) they are now sharing in the sin of Todd Bentley. Wow! That’s not a nice place to be. I certainly hope this is not the case but it makes one wonder.

    3. If these men did have a relationship with Todd in the years leading up to Lakeland, why were they not already speaking into his life? Were they unaware that Todd was having these difficulties? I have seen Todd Minister on stage with some of these men in other conferences and venues — so why are these men now surprised at what’s come to light?

    4. Doris Wagner acknowledges that they were aware of the problems and the controversies surrounding Lakeland before they were invited to come and help sort it out. In fact it sounds as if they were asked to come — suggesting that they would not be involved if they had not been asked. In light of their knowledge of some questionable doctrines and practices in Todd’s life, why did they proceed with this ceremony of” alignment”. I’ve read the explanation that they somehow felt they needed to establish some order of alignment before they could address problems, but this seems like a very weak argument. It seems to me the strength of relationship should be far more important than any “alignment ceremony”. Todd already seemed to acknowledge Bill, John and Che as apostolic voices in his life. Yet these three men have now expressed surprise at the revelation of the marriage problems and other problems that Todd is now revealed as going on in his life. In hindsight I’m sure they would have done it in reverse order.

    5. The problem with this “alignment” service was that it was left open to all kinds of interpretation. The background information of wanting to establish proper order to set things correct and to address issues was not spoken during that alignment service. The impression, rightly or wrongly, was that this alignment was like an endorsement of Todd and this outpouring — some even calling it an ordination of Todd. Now the backpedaling comes out to say the “real” reason behind was to try and fix up the many problems going on.

    6. If one is going to do such a public “apostolic alignment” ceremony (by the way — where is that principle established in Scripture? Do we have to have certain alignments before we can bring correction to others?) Would it not be wise to have done an interview and asked him and probed some of the character, marriage and other aspects prior to going on stage publicly? Also what of the other dozen or so men that were on stage? Did they not ask questions did they not pause a moment? I was grilled by a panel of 12 men prior to my ordination.

    Well the problem with experience is that the only way to get experience is to have experience. I am sure that all of the people involved have now had experience and will learn from it — as should we — so that the Church can become mature and go forward. I doubt it’s the end of Christ’s Church! Some individual believers may be having a crisis of faith — but that’s because they’re not founded upon the Scriptures. It is my hope that through this they will return once again to the only foundation which is Jesus Christ and the Word of God.

    So here are a few (well maybe more than a few) comments in response. These are just some of the things that I’ve been thinking.

    Bless you as you continue to ponder and sort this out and give us leadership!

    Bob MacDonald

    Reply
  3. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Bob,

    Thanks – it is good to know that someone I value and trust doesn’t think I am a “heresy hunter”.

    It is so important in our day and age to examine closely what is being taught. With the media and the internet anyone can make something sound good and with a little help make it sound correct and biblical – even when it isn’t.

    And, I don’t see believers or non-believers taking the time to discern right from wrong, Bible from opinion. It is especially a problem when the person teaching the heresy looks successful, has a large church, is on television and radio, and writes best sellers. We kind of wonder who we are to question someone whom God is so obviously blessing and prospering.

    So, I feel that, as part of my calling as a leader and apostle, I need to be questioning what is being taught and examining it closely – comparing it to scripture and what the church has believed for 2000+ years.

    Seems like it is not a popular role these days. During the Azusa Street Revival William Seymour said: “Apostolic power will bring apostolic persecution”. I think I am beginning to understand what he might have meant.

    Reply
  4. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Bob,

    Thanks for a great amount of thought and wise counsel in your comments regarding Todd’s alignment with apostles and his subsequent ordination / approval service. Much food for thought – and well thought out and expressed.

    I hope many who are wounded from lakeland and who are wondering “what happened” have opportunity to read and comment on your input to this worldwide discussion.

    Reply
  5. Bev Wensel
    Bev Wensel says:

    Bob & Ralph,
    **Many Thanks** to you both for your insights on Lakeland/Todd B Bob’s points,#3,#4b and #5 are the questions I have had as well.
    So,how does anyone really know the “private life/character” issues of someone holding some meetings that you decide to go and hear?
    And esp. if you haven’t read any of their material etc.?? First of all pray if you should even go hear them, is the best route I’d say.
    and 2nd, ask your pastor & mature sp. believers what their advice would be {like Ralph 🙂 }
    Keep on “Keeping On” Ralph!
    Bev.

    Reply
  6. Ralph
    Ralph says:

    Bev,

    That’s it. Pray first. Then seek wise advice from a multitude of counselors. God has placed the five-fold ministry in the Church to help equip the sheep and I believe that means helping them to know what is God and what is not.

    For me the warning flags for Todd Bentley went up over three years ago. His teachings were not biblical even back then. His fixation on dead saints, absorbing other people’s anointings (dead people like Katheran Kuhlman and Smith Wigglesworth), talking to dead people like Paul and King David, visits from Emma….

    So, I first look at what they are consistently teaching and where their focus is. Then I look to see who they relate to and who they hang with (birds of a feather flock together) and big names don’t impress me. Example, he hangs with Rick Joyner who is one of the prime movers behind the “Cloud of Witnesses” doctrine which allows us to talk to dead saints and receive revelation from them – a complete Bible no-no and seriously dangerous.

    Then I actually watch and listen and read so as to give my spirit a “feel for the man” and the ministry. The anointing within us (1 John) helps to lead us and guide us. So, I let the Holy Spirit guide and direct me and come to some tentative conclusions about a person and what they are doing in the Kingdom.

    Then I consult with others who have been with Todd when he has been ministering. He was in Saskatoon several years ago and so I talked with David Mickalishen and Bob MacDonald asking their thoughts and feelings about the three or four days Todd and his team were in their city and what benefit, if any, it was to the city.

    I weigh all this out and then decide what I should do and what I can support and not support.

    Hope that helps.

    Reply

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