On June 23, 2021, cessationists will celebrate what has affectionately been called the “charismatic day of infamy.” For on that day, 13 year ago, 17 high-profile charismatic “apostles,” including Bill Johnson, Jon Arnott, Rick Joyner, Che Ahn, and C. Peter Wagner, came together in a ceremony of “apostolic alignment” over 32-year old Todd Bentley, commissioning him to lead the Lakeland Revival and recognizing him as an evangelist doing the work of the Lord led by the Holy Spirit.
In a letter sent to the Elijah List, C. Peter Wagner recounts what happened during this groundbreaking event:
During this ceremony Che Ahn, Bill Johnson and John Arnott laid on hands and anointed Todd Bentley with a special new ‘Be Revived’ oil that Chuck Pierce (who was in Africa) sent for the event. Todd went down under the power of the Spirit and the three prophesied over him, commissioning him as the evangelist to lead the Lakeland Outpouring. Then most of the backup apostles prayed and prophesied as well. The power of the Holy Spirit was so heavy on that event that you could almost have cut it with a knife!
It was quite evident to those present that this was a groundbreaking event. A serious public problem had been growing in the Body of Christ revolving around concerns about Lakeland from respected leaders. Even ‘schism’ had been mentioned frequently. Because of the extensive media coverage through GOD TV, it was much more than a private or a trivial matter. Something was called for to set things in order, and this is the stated role of apostles. [Huh?!? Learn some Greek here. Apostolos means a messenger sent out on a mission, and nothing more, and nothing else. These moros (Greek for morons) are making stuff up. Again. -Ed.]
We are now in a place in what I see as the Second Apostolic Age that apostles can agree publicly to bring alignment. The seventeen apostles involved in this event represented three distinct apostolic streams: ICA (10 were ICA members), Revival Alliance, and Morningstar. Even though we are not networked formally, we believe in and support each other and we stand together when a crisis such as this one comes along. I may be wrong, but I cannot recall an event of this nature in the recent history of the Church. [Yeah, he’s wrong. The last capital-A Apostle (John) died in Ephesus over 1900 years ago. -Ed.]
During the alignment ceremony, Wagner, the head of the New Apostolic [!] Reformation (NAR) decreed:
You are about to witness an event which could well have historic implications not only for the Lakeland Outpouring, but also for our nation and for many other nations of the world. Prophets have been telling us for years that God is about to launch an extraordinary spiritual awakening with signs and wonders, and for over two months, Todd Bentley has been leading one of the more obvious fulfillments of those prophecies. This is an exciting place to be right now!..
Wagner asked the three apostles, Che Ahn, Bill Johnson, and John Arnot, “Do you perceive the grace of God given to Todd Bentley as an evangelist to lead the Lakeland Outpouring?
Answer: “I do.”
He turned to Todd Bentley and asked, “Do you recognize the apostolic authority of these three men in your life and ministry, and do you desire to establish an apostolic alignment with them and with Revival Alliance?
Answer: “I do.”
This commissioning represents a powerful spiritual transaction taking place in the invisible world. With this in mind, I take the apostolic authority that God has given me [none at all -Ed.] and I decree to Todd Bentley:
– Your power will increase.
– Your authority will increase.
– Your favor will increase.
– Your influence will increase.
– Your revelation will increase.
I also decree that:
– A new supernatural strength will flow through this ministry.
– A new life force will penetrate this move of God.
– A government will be established to set things in their proper order.
– God will pour out a higher level of discernment to distinguish truth from error. [Okay, I’m laughing out loud here… -Ed.]
– New relationships will surface to open gates for the future. […]
The people cheered. Todd cried and shook his head. The “apostle” sat back satisfied at the historic nature of their coming together, wondering what glorious things the Lord would do next.
Within a month of his alignment ceremony, Bentley would announce that he was leaving Lakeland and stepping down. A few days after that, he told the world he divorcing his wife and it was revealed that during his time as leader of the revival, as he was getting aligned by the apostles, he had been engaging in “an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff,” and getting drunk all the time, spiralling into depression, anxiety, and babbling on stage in a series of pseudo-spiritual slurs.
The vaunted Lakeland Revival crashed into a smouldering heap of disillusionment immediately afterward, the populace burned by a charlatan who was able to garner the endorsement of 17 charismatic “apostles,” all the while acting like a devil.
To that day, we cessationists remember!