Truth Matters Newsletters – September 2008 Vol. 13 Issue 9 -Towering Todd Topples – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
Towering Todd Topples
By Rev. Robert S. Liichow
In my previous article dealing with Todd Bentley’s “commissioning” as an apostle you read some of the swelling words spoken over him by various false prophets and false apostles. In a matter of a few short weeks God has chosen to pull the plug on Todd the fraud by exposing him internationally and shutting down the so called “revival” in Lakeland, FL. In doing so our Lord has also shown those who commissioned Bentley at best lack discernment and at worst to be frauds themselves (both statements are true). It seems Bentley, according to his SINistry website had to step down because:
We wish to acknowledge, however, that since our last statement from the Fresh Fire Board of Directors, we have discovered new information revealing that Todd Bentley has entered into an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level with a female member of his staff. In light of this new information and in consultation with his leaders and advisors, Todd Bentley has agreed to step down from his position on the Board of Directors an to refrain from all public ministry for a season to receive counsel in his personal life. (1)
Fresh Fire denies any sexual impropriety on Bentley’s part but what saith the Scriptures? “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:27-28). Let me make it perfectly clear that we all commit sin, none of us is neither perfect nor will achieve perfection in this life. Please understand that I am not “casting stones” at Bentley’s fall.
What I do want to focus on is the sad history of virtually everyone who has claimed to be a prophet of God or an apostle of the Lamb within the neo-Montanist movement, i.e. Pentecostalism in general. Todd is just the most recent example of someone who thought more highly of himself than he ought a clear violation of Romans 12:3.
I will take you through just a cursory look at some of the “giants” of Pentecostalism, men and woman who claimed to be on a higher level with God than others, people who claimed to have a special fellowship with the Holy Spirit who allegedly empowered them with supernatural gifts. Each of these people were and still are highly revered (if Pentecostals had saints, these folks would surely be among them) as examples of godly leadership. You judge for yourself if they meet the biblical qualifications of a leader. These folks are listed in somewhat of a chronological order. I begin with the modern granddaddy of charismatic chicanery John Alexander Dowie.
A Short Walk Among the Giants of Pentecostalism
“Apostle” John Alexander Dowie, was originally from Scotland but ended up here in America just outside of Chicago where he founded his city of God on earth, Zion, IL. Dowie was one of American’s earliest healing evangelists and when he founded Zion he became deluded and actually thought he was the second coming of Elijah! I personally heard Lester Sumrall (2) speaking about Dowie and he said that Dowie’s problem (apart from thinking he was Elijah) was that he loved money. After declaring himself to be Elijah he was stricken with a stoke and died within months of the Azusa revival
The spiritual oversight of Zion then fell into the hands of a man name Finis Dake, of the Dake Bible fame (the highly esteemed Bible used by many Pentecostals to this day). All I will say about Mr. Dake is that he was arrested for taking an underage girl across state lines, checking into a hotel with her under false names (a single room). Dake, like Todd claimed no adultery took place. Nonetheless, he became a convicted felon and lost the leadership of Zion (some giant, eh?).
Aimee Semple McPherson is unique among the healing hucksters in that she eventually founded her own denomination, the Foursquare Gospel Church, which exists to this day. She was a good looking flamboyant woman preacher who flew in the face of the religious notions of her day. She was America’s first mega-church pastor, was on the forefront of radio ministry and she set the pace for the women preachers who followed her. However, she had many moral problems. She was an adulteress, who faked her own kidnapping to be with her lover, these facts are all well documented in books, videos and on the internet. “Sister” Aimee died in 1944 of a barbiturate overdose, some say it was accidental, but for one who proclaimed “Christ the Healer” why did she need any barbiturates to begin with?
A.A. Allen was well known for his outlandish behavior on stage during his healing revival meetings (truly Mr. Bentley there is nothing new under the sun Ecc. 1:9). Allen claims to have locked himself in a closet and fasted and prayed until God revealed to him His miracle working power. God is supposed to have given Allen a list of several works one had to do in order to be used by God to work miracles. Allen never revealed the last step to his followers! GASP!!! He falsely prophesied the destruction of America on July 4, 1954 and the following year he fled the state of Tennessee following being arrested for a DUI (driving under the influence). In 1970 Allen was discovered in the Jack Tar motel, dead of an alcohol and drug overdose. His death was not revealed for several days while his two henchmen decided how to divvy up Allen’s SINistries spoils, those men were no less than Don Stewart and R.W. Schamback, both current televangelists, both still playing off Allen’s “fame” as a healer.
Leroy Jenkins jumped onto the traveling healing gig after allegedly being healed at an A.A. Allen meeting in 1960. Jenkins is probably one of the most controversial figures in the charismatic movement. Leroy is a convicted felon for his arson conviction of burning down a State trooper’s home, he was sentenced to twelve years in prison in 1979. (3) Leroy has also had issues with drugs and alcohol, like his mentor A.A. Allen. “According to the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Jenkins was arrested on more than one occasion on drug and alcohol related charges while in the ministry, and divorced his wife.” (4) More recently he married a handicapped elderly black woman in Las Vegas (who just happened to win a huge lottery prize):
The thrice married evangelist is said to ‘combine a little bit of Jesus, and a little bit of Elvis.’ His Las Vegas controversial marriage last Jan 12 (later annulled) 16 days after his 71 year old bride’s husband died, drew charges from her family that Jenkins wanted her fortune of about $4 million (8/4 Huntsville Times). (5)
I’ve seen Mr. Jenkins “perform” live on several occasions and I must admit he is every bit the showman that Benny Hinn is but on a much smaller platform. Married three times he and Mr. Tilton have that in common along with other noxious behaviors.
“Prophet” Paul Cain was at best a “bit player” in the 1950’s healing revival, tagging along with such giants as William Branham, A.A. Allen and the other fakes, frauds and healing hucksters of that time. He dropped out of sight towards the end of that phase of excited ignorance only to be brought back into the limelight by John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement (Wimber later died due to a Chinese cancer spirit). Cain was highly regarded as the most accurate prophet alive (remember anything less than 100% accuracy biblically makes one a false prophet)! It was finally discovered by some of his fellow travelers that Cain was not all that moral of a man and they were forced to admit it on the Moringstar website:
In February 2004, we were made aware that Paul had become an alcoholic. In April 2004, we confronted Paul with evidence that he had recently been involved in homosexual activity. Paul admitted to these sinful practices and was placed under discipline, agreeing to a process of restoration, which the three of us would oversee. However, Paul has resisted this process and has continued in his sin…With our deepest regrets and sincerity, Rick Joyner, Jack Deere, Mike Bickle.” http://www.morningstarministries.org/oages/speacial-bulleu.ns/0ct_19.html (6)
DMI dealt with Mr. Cain in 2004 when this was brought to light. Cain in his 70’s did not “recently” become involved in homosexual activity. No one just suddenly after 70 years of living and almost 55 of those years in ministry “recently” becomes an active homosexual. One last thing about the prophet Cain he might be well remembered as the man who prophesied that President Bill Clinton would take America into a great revival….what does “is” mean Mr. Cain?
“Prophet” Bob Jones was one of the famed “Kansas City Prophets” of the Vineyard fame. “He was said to have been especially anointed with supernatural visions from the Lord and a prophetic gift.” If someone can convince an individual that they are a prophet of God then great spiritual harm can come upon that person (remember the “prophet” Jim Jones?). This is exactly what happened in Mr. Jones case. “Two women came forward in 1991 and told Vineyard leaders that Jones had used his prophetic authority to touch and fondle them sexually. (8) Like Bentley he too denied that he committed adultery with these deceived women. “In recent months, I have manipulated certain people for selfish reasons on the basis of my prophetic gifting.” Jones said in a statement that he dictated and signed before the Metro Vineyard Fellowship senior leadership on November 4, 1991. “I have been guilty of sexual misconduct and I deeply regret this. (I have not committed adultery).
Benny “the Healer” Hinn is well known around the world for his miracle crusades which he conducts almost monthly. Hinn has been conducting these crusades for many years and by now ought to have a warehouse full of documented miracles and healings. Yet after over ten plus years of “miracle” crusades the only genuine miracle is the fact that people still attend his meetings at all! DMI has established in the past that we can prove in a court of law that more people have died attending his crusades than he can prove have been healed. Mr. Hinn’s major moral problem is that he is a liar and false prophet (not to mention a false healer). Hinn has lied about a person being raised from the dead in Nigeria. He is on record of lying in the name of the Lord in several recorded prophecies over the years. Yet in spite of being a proven liar he is still a regular guest on TBN, unfortunately the largest Christian television company in the world. Even though he cannot document any genuine miracles in his meetings he continues to pack arenas around the world and siphon off millions of dollars from legitimate Church work. Probably the best documented resource regarding Mr. Hinn is the book entitled “The Confusing World of Benny Hinn” Published by Personal Freedom Outreach (www.pfo.org) DMI also offers a DVD on Mr. Hinn which exposes him for the fraud he is.
Lest We Forget the Television Superstars
Bentley can be added among the televangelists due to his man-made revival was televised on God T.V. and on the internet via You Tube from start to stop. It appears he has much in common with other infamous charismatic television leaders.
Peter Popoff is back like a bad penny. Back in the late 1980’s his alleged gifts of the “word of knowledge” and “word of wisdom” (1 Cor. 12:8) were exposed as being fraudulent by former stage magician:
His earlier claims were debunked in 1987 when noted skeptic James Randi and his assistant, Steve Shaw, researched Popoff by attending shows across the country for months. They discovered that radio transmission were being sent by Peter’s wife, Elizabeth Popoff, where she was reading information which she and her aides (Volmer Thrane, the brother of his manger Nancy Thrane, and Reeford Sherrill) had gathered from earlier conversations with members of the audience. Popoff would simply listen to these promptings with his in-ear receiver and repeat what he heard to the crowd. After tapes of these transmissions were played on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Popoff’s popularity and viewing audiences declined sharply, and his ministry declared bankruptcy later that year. (10)
The expose on Popoff did not keep him off the pimping platform for very long. He can still be seen on early morning cable stations and still travels around the world fleecing the needy with false promises of healing and prosperity….laughing all the way to the bank. One way he gets his money is by sending out monthly “point-of-contact” items that when sent back to his SINistry with a donation will produce a host of blessings in the faithful devotee’s life. There are serious doubts that Mr. Popoff is saved (the Lord only knows). This much is certain, DMI prays he repents of his wickedness and is turned to Christ.
Robert Tilton was one of the first charismatic mega-church pastors, I’ve meet him in person, attended his Bible school in the 1980’s and I have written the only book exposing him for what he is — a false teacher and false prophet. One thing folks today do not realize is that for several years Mr. Tilton was the darling of the charismatic movement and helped launch several prominent SINistries today including Marilyn Hickey. He was exposed as a fraud by the Trinity Foundation in 1991 on the PrimeTime Live television program:
In 1991, ABC-TV’s “PrimeTime Live” program reported that Tilton’s Word of Faith World Outreach Center Church, then based in Dallas, was making $80 million a year from followers through its direct mail campaign. At the time, Tilton’s television show, “Success-N-Life” was broadcast by 200 stations nationwide and his church claimed 10,000 members. “PrimeTime Live” suggested Tilton’s ministry engaged in mail fraud and showed contributors’ letters, many of them requests for help, in a trash Dumpster outside Commercial Bank of Tulsa A Tulsa recycler said he also found thousands of prayer requests for Tilton’s ministry among the waste sent to him by a company that handled Tilton’s mail. The program sparked an investigation by the Texas attorney general and numerous lawsuits. Stations canceled Tilton’s television program until it eventually went off the air. (12)
Shortly after several court cases against Mr. Tilton he jettisoned his first wife, Marte, of over twenty years and married Leigh Valentine, whom Tilton divorced in less than two years. Currently he is on third wife, Maria Rodriguez who shows up on his television shows. Tilton lost his appeal to other charismatic leaders once his empire began to fall, but he has not lost his television appeal. Even though he is a proven fraud, false teach and false prophet he still is bilking millions of dollars from his television audience.
More than 10 years after his ministry collapsed in scandal, Robert Tilton is reaching millions of television viewers with his pitches for money, living comfortably in south Florida and maintaining a connection with Tulsa. Far from shrinking into obscurity, Tilton is reaping millions from his mailing list and daily shows on Black Entertainment Television. He has formed two companies, bought a 50-foot yacht and purchased a $1.3 million piece of oceanfront property in Miami Beach through his company, records show. (13)
Tilton feeds off the poorest of the poor making swelling promises to them and giving them nothing but a false hope in a false Gospel message. One closing thought, even though all other charismatic leaders jettisoned their allegiance to Tilton NONE of them has ever publicly rebuked him or spoken out against his excesses.
Jim Bakker was the darling of Christian television, he and his wife, Tammy Faye, were far bigger than Paul and Jan Crouch at the time. Long story short (due to space) we all probably remember his adulterous affair with Jessica Hahn, his conviction and prison sentence for defrauding his donors and his divorce from Tammy Faye. Unlike anyone else in this article Mr. Bakker seems to be the only one who genuinely repented of his sins, even though he has not changed too much of his theological stance and is attempting a television comeback via “prophet” Rick Joyner and others.
Jimmy Swaggart was another Pentecostal superstar whose moral failings brought him down, but not out of the limelight. Swaggart called Bakker a “cancer in the Body of Christ” due to his sexual dalliance with Ms. Hahn. Yet while Swaggart was making his charges he was involved with a prostitute and wanted her to allow him to take pictures of her and her young daughter in sexually compromising positions! Not only that he has admitted to being addicted to pornography — “When confronted by the Assemblies of God leadership, Jimmy had no choice but to confess. He told them that he suffered a lifelong addiction to pornography.” (14)
In 1989, there were further allegations from a woman named Catherine Campen regarding an extramarital affair with Swaggart. But that wasn’t the end; a routine stop for speeding in 1991 led to the discovery that Mr. Swaggart was with another prostitute named Rosemary Garcia. But what most probably remember about Swaggart was his tearful “confession” (although he never specified his “sin” ) before millions of television viewers when he asked forgiveness of God and his wife. Swaggart was eventually defrocked by the Assemblies of god church after he refused to accept a two-year ban from televangelism, stating that “If I do not return to the pulpit this weekend, millions of people will go to hell. (15)
So much for humility! Last time I saw Jimmy he did not have any holes in his hands, i.e. he is not the Savior. At one time Swaggart was so big he had his own zip code in LA. Today after being exposed on several occasions with women of the night Swaggart’s empire is just a shadow of its former monolithic size.
How Is This Explained?
These moral and spiritual failings are so egregious that they cannot be hidden in a corner so some type of explanation has to be given to account for them. Roberts LIARdon created a series of videos entitled “God’s Generals,” which on the whole was a decent historical look at most of the above and several other questions leaders. When it came to the moral failings LIARdon addressed them in a unique manner. His position is that these men and women simply could not stand the weight of glory and the power of the anointing God had placed on them. When on the platform they were “giants” but when they stepped off of it, they were just regular folks because God’s power lifted off of them until the next time they ministered.
Many charismatic/sign-gift believers are experience junkies (I know I was) going from one mystical encounter to the next, always looking for a stronger “high.” For LIARdon these leaders simply replaced the high they got from the anointing to one of drugs, alcohol, sex, money or fame. According to LIARdon these folks simply did not know how to operate under the power of God.
That is a convenient explanation when we consider the fact that Mr. LIARdon was exposed as a homosexual by DMI several years ago, he and his Youth Minister (who fled the country to Central America). LIARdon’s grandmother defended Robert by basically rebuking his congregation fro not “covering him in prayer.” Robert was attacked by Satan to destroy his testimony and the valuable work he was doing for the Kingdom of God. Several years later LIARdon is back, teaching people how to withstand the attacks of Satan. What Robert fails to admit in his series is the terrible nature of these sins nor does he explain how or why these people fell into them. This much is certain —sound doctrine when acted upon produces a solid and godly Christian life. All of these “giants” past and present were and are not anchored doctrinally.
The listing I have provided is by no means extensive (space does not permit looking at William Branham, Oral Roberts, Larry Lea, Kathryn Kuhlman, etc.) but it does hold up to the light some of the “best and the brightest” within the Pentecostal (sign-gift) camp. This list is not a cherry-picked straw man attempt on my part to railroad the enthusiasts among us.
Brothers and sisters for the most part every person cited is revered by millions of people as a giant person of faith and power. Books and videos lauding John Alexander Dowie, William Branham, A.A. Allen, Aimee McPherson and others abound. Yet what do we really have here in the lives of these leaders? We find homosexuality (I could mention and Ted Haggard here), often multiple divorces, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, adultery on the moral end of the Lord and a love of money on the spiritual side of the equation.
Now we learn that the latest restored apostle is in fact in need of restoration himself! His marriage, unfortunately, has been on the rocks for three years…but none of the restored apostles or prophets seemed to have had any revelation concerning Todd’s problems. If ones personal life is in shambles how can one be a leader in the house of God.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 1 Timothy 3:1-12
Todd and the other “giants” of Pentecostalism do not even meet the requirements to serve as a deacon in a local church let alone serve as apostles or prophets! What is deeply troubling is that one cannot be a leader without followers. It does not matter what claims anyone makes if no one is willing to believe the claims.
The problem is that so many people are biblically ignorant that they cannot recognize a false teacher or prophet when they stand before them. Anyone with a sound doctrinal foundation can easily point out the purveyors of heresy and false practices. This is why this newsletter is entitled: “Truth Matters” because it is the truth of God that will set us free (see John 8:31-32) just as ignorance or misapplication of God’s Word will put us in bondage. Pray for these self-appointed leaders and more importantly pray for the millions of people who slavishly follow them. It is our prayer that one day they will take their focus off of sinful man and look upon Jesus the true Author and Finisher of their faith (Heb 12:2). ♦
Copyright © 2008 Robert S. Liichow
1. Obtained from http://www.freshfire.ca/ on Sept 03, 2008 Underlining added for emphasis.
2. Lester Sumrall was a Pentecostal evangelist who by in-large was pretty sound biblically at least in comparison to the others. I meet Smrall personally and had him lay hands on me to “impart” some of his anointing many years ago before I knew better.
3. See further J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of American Religions. Tarrytown, NY; Triumph Books, 1991, Vol. 1, pp, 258-259
4. Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, op. cit., pg 480.
5. Jerry Huffman, Editor, Calvary Contender, “Leroy Jenkins, ‘Faith Healer,” Vol. XVIII, No. 17, Sept 1 2001
6. Obtained from http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/orrell19.html on Sept 03, 2008
7. Excerpted from “Heaven Can’t Wait” by William M. Alnor, 1996.
9. Ibid. Underlining added for emphasis.
10. Randi, James (1989) The Faith Healers. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-535-0 pages 141.
11. DMI has the only book in print on the doctrine of point-of-contact entitiled “Does the bible Support A Doctrine Called Point -of-Contact.” It is filled with many full color plates and is available for $25.00 per copy.
12. Obtained from http://www.trintiyfI.org/press/tulsaworld02.html
14. Obtained from http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/religion/televangelists/jimmy-swaggart/.
15 Obtained from http://rainbowsendpress.com/exposed/swaggart.html on 04-08.