Friday, July 11, 2008

[THO] Todd Bentley has bad theology

"Miracles and healings are evidence," Bentley said. "They are signs of the Kingdom, and if we don't have signs then all we have is a bunch of theology. How one individual wants to interpret Scripture and how another individual wants to interpret Scripture."

Todd Bentley quoted in USAToday.

This is the kind of inane comment that I've come to expect from Canada's bad boy of evangelism. It ranks up there with nonsense like being spiritual without being religious or the completely ignorant claim churches make that they don't have a liturgy. Thanks to Scott for pointing this article out.

First off, the article points out that Bentley doesn't have the evidence he would like us to think he does. But, I don't think that he needs to have it. Yeah, I know, but that isn't the point. He also questions how one can be too focused on miracles, well here it is. You can be so obsessed that you risk fabricating proof, or worse you focus on the miracles so much that you miss what God is doing.

But to the matter of theology - I have two concerns.1) theology is not just about scripture and 2) you have theology whether you think you do or not, just some is bad theology and some is good theology. Bentley is definitely in the bad theology camp, but hey, lets tackle this one thing at a time.

1) theology and scripture

Scripture studies is one aspect of theology. Depending on who you ask, it is either one of the most important aspects or it is one of the least. Personally I'm somewhere in the middle. Wimber wisely cautioned the Airport church not to try and extrapolate scriptural "evidences" for the manifestations. If it is God then what does forcing a meaning onto a passage of scripture do but give detractors a case for your poor biblical theology. If it is God, then let it be God. Don't focus on those things, focus on what we do know - what John Wimber called the main and the plain of the gospel.

Also theologically one has to compartmentalize or else you cannot gain the critical distance needed to make a proper assessment of your theology. I know this is important especially when miracles are happening. Lots of great healing ministries crashed and burned because they thought they were the end-all-be-all of God's activity on the earth. Pride comes before a fall - always. I for one would love to see one of these movements pastored properly. But hey, we all have dreams.

2) You got theology Todd!

Theology is too much of an afterthought for folks like this. Just cause something seems to be working, does not mean it is good or right. There seems to be a notion that God isn't in theology, this notion comes from the anti-intellectualism we inherited from the Fundamentalist movement (early 19th century). Can you not see Paul shuddering at such a preposterous idea? I can. You have theology, you have religion, you have liturgy - now what are you going to do with it?

What are we so afraid of that we have to talk down to anything intellectual? I know this is there, I have had to deal with these prejudices in my own heart. Somehow thinking that God can't help me with my academic pursuits - even though I do them to honour God, is something that I've recently become aware of. (This is probably why I dislike this kind of anti-intellectualism so much.) God is not afraid of our minds. God is interested in a whole person and bringing whole people to maturity. Seriously, this is a need of our time. God is not afraid of the truth either - and just cause you've convinced yourself that you have the truth, doesn't mean you do. Theology is a tool that helps us in the quest for truth. It is a good quest and one God is in. But when we talk about theology this way, we are implying (as Bentley does) that the truth is in the miracles. That is scary because Christians don't have the market on faith healings. If we stop the quest for truth when we encounter a supposed miracle, then what an impoverished people we are indeed.

1 comment:

DMofKor said...

Excellent post.
I've been exposed to ministries that claim they were where God is at. They claimed that the proof was in what was going on. But eyars later you come to realize that there wasn't much going on.

Also, I like the way you address the quest for truth. In many circles it is spelled Truth, as if truth is a deity itself.