A number of my friends have commented to me on the revival in Lakeland, Florida at Ignited Church, some positively, some with questions, and some critically. Some have seen opposition that is already represented on the web, such as you find here.
I have not attended or watched the revival in Lakeland, and I don’t expect I will be visiting soon, though watching is more of an option. I have a pretty strong schedule of local involvement right now, and I believe that’s what I’m called to do. But for those who would like a first hand report, I asked a friend who attended meetings at Lakeland to comment.
Rev. Perry Dalton was the pastor of Pine Forest United Methodist Church at the time I returned to faith and church back in 1994. He was pastor of Pine Forest during the time of the Brownsville Revival, and has endured a great deal of criticism at the time. (You can see my own experience relating to the Brownsville Revival in this article on my personal testimony.) He is a friend and co-author with me of the book I Want to Pray!. He has attended services at Lakeland. I asked him to provide me with some comments which he did and graciously gave me permission to quote. I will quote his comments in full.
Please note that while comments on this post will be open, I’m neither going to defend the revival there nor will I join in any attack simply because I am not equipped to do so. The exception would be something that is based on an inappropriate theological starting point. I’m providing this comment for the benefit of my friends and other readers.
From Perry Dalton:
Thanks for your note. I’ll try to give you some things about my experience at Lakeland. I am getting ready to leave for NYC/UN to celebrate Israel’s 60th birthday. So it will be brief.
My experience at Lakeland was awesome. It is nothing like Brownsville. Everything about this move of God will drive everyone’s religious spirits crazy. Nothing fits the normal church theology. God just shows up and melts people. I was sitting there enjoying the worship and heard the Holy Spirit say “You are no longer retired”. The presence of God was so powerful I could hardly stand it.
Brownsville had more than its share of critics, but this is way beyond that. So far beyond it that the critics will not have to look for things to criticize. Todd Bentley does not preach. It just calls out healings. He will give an invitation. But the invitation is so simple and so short that it will seem inadequate and yet people make decisions every night. The invitation is simple, sweet and easy to understand.
If you have not seen Todd, he is tattooed all over. He dresses in jeans and motorcycle shirts. His interns as he calls them are people that appear to be right off the street with no training (maybe like the disciples). But, they demonstrate that they love the Lord. Since, I have been home I have continued to tune into God TV that is broadcasting this all over the world and moved their regular programing so that they can broadcast it. I have not heard any thing come from Todd’s mouth that is not biblical. It is different but still true to the Word.
Todd gives God all the glory.
It is almost as powerful on TV as being there in person, at least for me.
I recommend that everyone who wants to make a commitment of more of themselves to the Lord, to go! If you go as a spectator you will come away only with disappointment and criticisms, which only hurts the critic. The healings are awesome. Are some fake? Probably. Are some real? Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was impressed with the number of really small children being healed and really old people 90 year olds being healed.
As long as God gets the glory, I believe this will continue to grow around the world. It is already broadcast into 214 nations with close to a 1/2 billion viewers.
You are welcome to use any or all of this. Just keep it in context. I am in no way a critic of this move. God is free to do whatever he chooses.
Many people are quite shocked to find out that I have anything positive to say about Brownsville because my theology is somewhat different from theirs. I’m not called either a “liberal charismatic” or “passionate moderate” for nothing! But part of my view of Christian moderation is the acceptance of God’s working in a great variety of ways. In my view all activities of the Holy Spirit will show both human and divine elements. I will not go through a list of doctrines, check off the ones with which I disagree, and then condemn the ministry or movement. I prefer discussing particular teachings or actions rather than people or whole ministries, and the fact that I disagree with a particular teaching doesn’t mean I condemn the person holding it or the ministry in which he or she is engaged.
Despite theological disagreements, my experience with Brownsville was positive, and my recommendation to anyone questioning at the time was to go check it out. I’d say the same thing about this one, sight unseen.
Let me provide a couple of links here.
- Revival: Benefits and Dangers
This is a cautionary article I wrote during the Brownsville Revival. Oddly enough I got favorable comments about it from both supporters and critics of the revival.
- Ten Things I Believe about the Holy Spirit
While I don’t like criticizing whole movements and ministries, it is rare that I find something I can endorse without qualification. This list from Dave Warnock, a Methodist minister in England, is on the mark. I agree with it 100%.
- A Foundation for Thinking
First of a two part series I wrote for my wife’s devotional list dealing with Genesis 1:1-2. You may miss what I’m saying about the Holy Spirit until you read the second part. Also available in an audio podcast.
- Wind of God – Chaos to Order
Second part of series. Podcast here.