[note: Despite the title, I have no claim to role of apostle. I am just a communicator.]
When I was in Bible School back in the 80’s, we used to joke: Was that a prophetic word or a “pathetic” word? It is no longer a joke. The state of the prophetic world is, in a word, pathetic.
In August of last year, I felt compelled to confront a leader in the prophetic movement after he attacked someone bringing credible charges of sexual immortally against Todd Bentley. This leader actually spoke curses against the man. A panel of mature leaders investigated the charges and concluded that Mr. Bentley was unfit for ministry. (Bentley, thanks the panel [depending on which broadcast your watch—earlier it was something like a ‘witch-hunt’], but has no plans to stop ministering.)
And, now, what has transpired since then is one of the most immature, ugly, mafia-style campaigns I have ever seen. Accusations of homosexuality, adultery, lying, and every kind of evil are being leveled from one “prophet” against another. His team of enablers, and maybe coconspirators, are threatening people with exposure. I have never seen something so disgusting my life. The world behaves better than this!
1. Where are the apostles?
One of the greatest weaknesses in the prophetic movement is the lack of apostolic leadership. I love prophets and we need that gift. But, in the New Testament, prophets work in tandem and in team ministry with apostles. In fact, they should be submitted to apostolic leadership. My experience with prophets is that they are very feeling oriented. Their highs are high and then, the next day, they can be depressed. They can see an angel one day, and be in misery the next. I am not being critical. That is how the prophet is knit together.
However, unless a prophet is also an apostle, he should not be leading a movement. I could give you plenty of examples of this. In our network, we were led by Dan Juster for many years. Initially, he was a pastor and teacher and grew into his apostolic calling. You don’t start out in ministry as an apostle—a leader of leaders—but through one of the other gifts (prophet, evangelist, teacher or pastor), you may eventually grow into it. Not everyone operating in one of those other gifts will be an apostle one day. It is up to the Lord and His purposes. Today we are led by Asher Intrater, who is a prophet, but the Lord groomed him for apostolical leadership. And, while he is the leader, we work and function as team.
However, when a prophet is the senior leader of a movement without an apostolic calling, the results are often not good. If you are in prophetic ministry and out on your own, you are in a dangerous place—pure and simple.
2. Feeling vs. Training
Presently, you have a group of prophetic people scrambling, seeking to deal with the fact that their leader/friend has been exposed in habitual sexual sin. It is as if they have had no training in leadership, but are experts in self-preservation. As we saw with Jeffrey Epstein, often narcissistic leaders will surround themselves with a group of enablers and attack dogs, with the promise of prominence, prestige and platform, and often fortune or, even worse, the opportunity to share in their sin.
A woman gave her testimony yesterday of how Todd groomed her for exploit, and, while he admitted that he had a sexting relationship with her, his team attacked her, calling her horrible things. Sixty different witnesses and his team is not outraged about that, but defending him against a poor women he targeted (according to her testimony)! And, Mr. Bentley, instead of falling on his face before the Lord in repentance, wants your sympathy, posting:
I’m so wounded! This not about healing and restoration. They leak evidence after a judgment? I faved (sic) a year of this! I confessed! This is old and witch hunt and take down! Period. They know it!
Great. Step down. Submit to authority. Be accountable. Instead, he is planning conferences and schools—his next conference is days away. He has not taken the advice of the panel that he respects (depending on which day it is—one day, they are conducting a witch hunt, the next day, he is grateful for them, and then sending cease and desist orders from lawyers…)
And Todd, this ins’t primarily about your “healing and restoration.” Not everything is about you! We are trying to protect future victims!
Many in the prophetic movement can tell you about an angel visiting them, but have they ever read a book on leadership? They govern by their emotions, not by sound biblical principle. They lead through their gift, not by training and that is a recipe for disaster. They move forward from anger, hurt feelings, and bitterness, not from forgiveness, love and a pure heart. For instance, the one guy who seemed to be seeking to walk in love and wanting to move on, posted yesterday that he would not get in the mud.
Currently, I have information on many ministry leaders that have moral failures. From DUI’s, Flirting, Adultery, Prescription Drug Problems, Affairs, Threatening other ministers, Slept with wives of worship leaders, fraud, abuse, etc., to name a few. You say why don’t you publicly expose it; because that is not Christlikeness any more than their behavior.
Wonderful! But, within hours of saying that, he posted a fake video accusing one of Todd’s accusers of homosexuality. Is that Christlike? He also suggested (without any proof) that the man was being threatened, causing him to turn on Todd (A lie). That is called manipulation—planting a demonic seed against another brother. This is how people lead who have no training in leadership.
Years ago, a wife asked me to confront her husband. I didn’t want to. But there was abuse. When I did, he preceded to bring up issues in my life. I told him that if he loved me, he was free to bring up these issues on any other day and we could discuss them. But they had nothing to do with whether or not he was being abusive. The truth is he could not have cared less about helping me. He just didn’t want to have to give an account. This is a tactic that people will use when confronted with sin. “You can’t confront me, because you did x, y or z.”
No. The only thing that matters here is, are you guilty? People who crave freedom don’t blame-shift. They repent and ask for prayer. They submit to leadership. People who don’t want to repent will disqualify the messenger.
A friend of mine confronted a leader. The leader’s response was to return with a list of 20 or so things wrong with the messenger. My response to the leader was, “If you knew those things about the messenger before, and you loved him, why did you only confront him now, as a way of saying, ‘You can’t confront me?’”
We don’t confront to shame people, but to rescue them. We don’t point out someone’s sin because we are angry and full of unforgiveness—but because we love them. We certainly don’t keep dossiers, so that we can destroy someone in the future or threaten them. And we never expose out of vengeance. But this is what is happening and it is sickening!
Lack of Character
In the prophetic movement, people are often promoted because of prophetic accuracy or powerful anointing. Sometimes this happens while cracks in their character are ignored—for years. One of my professors used to say, “If you have to choose between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, choose the fruit—character.”
These last few months have been a revelation to me. In my circle of ministers, I can only think of two divorces from elder-level or five-fold ministry level people in 35 years. We are talking about more than 100 couples. No one in that circle, with the exception of one individual, has been caught in adultery (that I know of). However, in the ministry culture of Todd Bentley and many others in the so-called prophetic movement, it appears that adultery, sexting, asking for photos of people on the internet (without clothes!!), all-night parties, drunk driving, and homosexuality are much more commonplace.
When this whole thing started, I had a prophetic friend tell me that a minister—very well-known—part of the glory and prophetic movement had just cussed him out! Maybe I am out of touch, but does this stuff really go on? Where is the call to godliness? True prophets do not merely call out phone numbers but call the people of God to righteousness. No, I don’t mean a set of legalistic rules, I mean a heart that loves God so much that the idea of cheating on your wife or seeking out would-be sexters, is unthinkable.
Sexual Sin Must be Publicly Exposed
When a leader is caught in sexual sin, it must be made public according to scripture:
But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. (1 Tim. 5:20-21)
Actually, Paul is tougher on this than me. He says all sin coming from leadership should be publicly exposed, so that others take warning. (To be clear, in context, it seems he is referring to confronting someone in sin, not humiliating someone who has repented). Why? Because sin is bad and there are consequences. Leaders are held to a higher standard because we govern the body of Messiah.
However, sexual sin is different. No one ever committed adultery by themselves. So many of the accusations against Todd in this present situation came from interns and employees. Let’s be clear, seeking sexual favors or even harassing someone sexually who is under your authority in the workplace is illegal.
The United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines workplace sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature . . . when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment”
You have to make it public in order to protect the sheep. If someone has had a practice of seeking sexual contact by using his or her fame, the public needs to be warned. If a pastor is targeting people in his church, it must be made public.
I have seen statements where one minister who was in gross sin, said he knew so and so would never turn on him because he had dirt on the sin of so and so. Have you ever considered that God also sees your sin and the sin of so and so! Where is the fear of the Lord?
And then, when narcissistic leaders are caught in habitual adultery, it seems their only concern is, “When can I preach again!” YUK! “Who cares about victims. Who cares about my family. Who cares that I sent photos of myself to all kinds of people…GOD NEEDS ME! I must preach!”
Another character flaw of the prophetic movement is the tendency to move away from biblical team ministry (Acts 13:1ff, Eph. 4:11ff, Acts 8:14, Acts 15:27) in favor of celebrity ministry personalities. There is little focus on Jesus and a lot of focus on the man or woman of God. Just look at their advertisements for conferences: experience the glory, your prophetic breakthrough, unlocking this or that, sounds of revival, fire and glory, greater glory, the latter glory, ignite the Fire, greater exploits, prophetic fire, and I could go on and on. Listen, friends, in conducting a simple Google search I struggled to find even one prophetic conference with the word Jesus or God on the advertisement.
The Greek word for minister is not celebrity, but servant. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, but many of these folks expect their followers to wash their feet. It is a 24/7 addiction to being in front of a microphone or webcam. Where is the brokenness for the people of God, the sheep? I just see self-preservation—no different than Kevin Spacey or former senator Al Franken.
As the old Queen song goes, “The show must go on.” Sin, sexting, adultery, and all the things that would disqualify one for leadership in the body of Christ are treated as minor distractions. It is no different than Hollywood, where abuse was covered up for years. Fans cheered violent abuser Chris Brown because of his talent. There seems to be no shame when you have talent.
Sacrifice to be in Ministry
I made a comment the other day about ministry and it seemed to strike a nerve. I could be making a lot more money (a lot more!) in a secular job or business but I chose ministry because of the call of God, not the income. But so many of these people couldn’t provide for their families without ministry. When I left Bible school, my director told me NOT to go into ministry, but to get a job. For seven years I worked in sales and marketing. Even though I longed to preach, I was too young and immature. I was arrogant and full of myself.
One of things he used to tell us was that ministry should be a step down financially from your work in the secular world. He also said, you need to prove that you can make a living for your family before you go into ministry and live on donations. Unfortunately, it seems that these people LIVE for Ministry, when they need to live for God.
It is not too late
It was almost the fourth quarter. The Bills were beating up on the Texans. The score was 16-0. The Texans could not score in yesterday’s playoff game. Somehow, they turned it around in the end and won in overtime.
God is giving us a chance to clean things up—to embrace accountability and biblical leadership principles. We need to put the people before ourselves. We need true apostles, not silly men with business cards, but leaders of leaders and overseers of networks—men of stature and principle. Now is the time for real leadership who put Jesus first, the people next and don’t worry about celebrity status.
Footnote: This is not a condemnation of the entire prophetic movement. There are many godly leaders out their who are not in it for themselves and love the Lord. But there is a problem.