Hi and welcome back! One thing you can absolutely count on with evangelical leaders: their insular Good Ole Boys network certainly protects its own. I’m sure Todd Bentley is most appreciative of the help it’s given him over the years. Today, let’s see how Todd Bentley’s pals helped him back onto the gravy train again, and why Bentley might be on his own this time around the track.
(Big h/t to Hemant Mehta.)
Forming the Network.
Rick Joyner’s an older evangelical leader. He’s stuck his thumb in just about every single name-it-and-claim-it trend that’s swept across his path since the so-called Latter Rain Movement.
Way back when, he got tangled up with the Vineyard church movement — and with a very popular Vineyard subgroup called the Kansas City Fellowship (KCF). Like Vineyard as a whole, KCF was real big on prophecy and magic healing and whatnot, which is why they really went in on the Toronto Blessing.
Mike Bickle, the leader of KCF, seems to have been the one to foster Rick Joyner’s career. Once Joyner achieved fame on his own, Bickle seems to have regularly tapped him to help clean up scandals on Aisle Jesus. (Indeed, “Mike” in that scandal link seems to refer to Mike Bickle.)
When the Toronto Blessing got rolling, Rick Joyner was there for it. Though he didn’t seem to play a big role in the movement itself, he did some cheerleading for it. Why not? All his pals were in it.
Look for Bob Jones’ name in this mess of affiliations as well. (He shares a name with the infamous Bob Jones dynasty of Southern fundagelicalism, but he isn’t one of them.) He’s a close associate of Rick Joyner and shows up in a lot of Rick Joyner’s projects — as we’ll see shortly. You can find him in the Toronto Blessing Timeline as well.
Watching Out for Their Friends.
When totes-for-realsies prophets get kicked out of one movement, they simply form new ones (like International House of Prayer, which Mike Bickle leads now and where Rick Joyner frequently speaks).
It’s beyond obvious that this little clutch of wolves has always looked out for one another and helped each other out when they could. For a newbie huckster, getting inducted into clutches like this one means the difference between lifelong obscurity and rock-star success.
Todd Bentley enters the chat here.
Bentley converted to TRUE CHRISTIANITY™ around 1994, when he was about 18 years old. Immediately afterward, he made tracks toward leadership. In 1997, this young man offered his testimony to a group called Fresh Fire. The next year, they apparently handed the reins of their entire group to this new convert. He’d lead them until his first wave of scandals in 2008.
Bentley’s style of leadership fit perfectly with the kind of Christianity Rick Joyner liked best: big loud preaching, prophecies, miracles, etc. Unsurprisingly, Bentley considered Bob Jones a mentor — and Rick Joyner shows up as a guest speaker at Bentley’s conferences.
The First Big Scandals.
So when Bentley got hit by his own big scandals (yes, plural) in 2008, Rick Joyner got involved to restore the troubled evangelist back to leadership. In fact, he collected favors from a whole bunch of his pals to help with the process, according to his own writeup.
Evangelical hucksters just love the concept of restoration. The word officially means restoring a scandal-riddled leader back to leadership. It’s supposed to imply rigorous Jesus-ing and intense personal work on one’s flaws. The process supposedly files off all the scandal-rocked leader’s rough edges. The flocks never ask about stuff like conflicts of interest or what real-world qualifications these bozos even have to do this.
In reality, though, restoration is just a song-and-dance farce. Evangelical leaders play this game to keep their friends’ sales operations going. When scandals knock at their own front doors, they fully expect their friends to play the game for them in turn. They just lay low till it’s safe to get back into the operation again.
That’s all that happened here.
But oh hey, don’t worry, everyone. Joyner assured his readers in that 2010 link that his fellow hucksters would be certifying Bentley’s readiness:
Before Todd will be fully released back into ministry, we will ask for a council to endorse this, which will be composed of those who are respected throughout the body of Christ as true elders in the church. Of course, they would need to come to the comfort level that would enable them to become part of this council, which we think would be a worthy test of Todd’s present spiritual condition.
Oh, okay. Well, as long as they were sure.
And they were. Back then.
And the New Scandals.
After the 2008 scandals, Bentley lost his Fresh Fire job. He decided to start a whole new ministry, which he named “Fresh Fire USA” for no valid or charitable reason I can imagine. (They’re not related. The original Fresh Fire people seem to have little love for their former Dear Leader.) Rick Joyner helped him with this new ministry’s creation and gave the fledgling group a head start. By 2018, Todd Bentley was still name-dropping Joyner — and Bob Jones.
In early 2019, a video interview between Bentley and Joyner indicated they were very much still in cahoots. Bentley had renamed his ministry again by then to Revival Harvest Ministries (RHM).
Then, later in 2019, a fresh wave of scandals erupted around Todd Bentley.
The new scandals didn’t concern Bentley’s numerous false prophecies or unsupported claims about raising people from the dead. But oh, wouldn’t it be nice if Christians held their leaders accountable for lying?
In my dreams I am free indeed.
Instead, the trouble involved fresh accusations of perversion and immorality against Todd Bentley. The accusations came from a colleague of his who’d worked for Fresh Fire USA. This colleague accused Bentley of sexually harassing male and female interns, watching pornography, and being a swinger. (As Hemant notes, that last one wouldn’t be a problem — except that Bentley isn’t following the sex rules he wants to push onto others.)
This guy is a mess. And worst of all, his old colleague had brought these concerns to none other than Rick Joyner. In response, Rick Joyner accused the colleague of “witchcraft.”
(Psych people call this counterattack “DARVO.” Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim & Offender.)
You Can’t Keep a Good Huckster Down.
Predictably, evangelicals fretted about whether or not they should “restore” Todd Bentley yet again. Meanwhile, I saw anecdotal evidence suggesting that his income dropped precipitously in the wake of the new scandals. (This post on Charisma makes me think so. Its writer asserts that the same stuff that happened in 2008 did so again in 2019.) Even Rick Joyner tried to back-pedal his position as guru to his former protege, saying that he’d lost authority over Bentley in 2012.
What’s a 45-year-old liar-for-Jesus gonna do for a living, though, if nobody will hire him to evangelize and lie about miracles and gut-punch stomach cancer patients? Sell cars? Start up an OnlyFans?
At the end of 2019, I noticed he’d started some kind of weird lumberjack-themed line of body care products called “Magnificent Man.” He’s still involved with it, and it still sounds like an exercise in toxic masculinity and performative machismo. I guess the Christian huckster game wasn’t paying off quite so well, but his beard needed oiling.
The money requests and sales pitches on his Facebook account (which is “freshfireusa“) are completely nonstop as well.
The Secret Place.
Really. That’s Its Name. That’s What He Called It.
On his Facebook, I also noticed Todd Bentley had started some new thing called “The Secret Place.” The name was hilariously-lurid enough that I screengrabbed it and tossed it into a draft. We never got the time to run it, alas, but here it is:
It tickles me pink that his announcement post was old by the time I got to it, but it’d only netted him five likes, one share, and no comments. I mean, the one advertising Beard Oil For the Discerning Sad, Squinty Lumberjack got almost 70 likes!
Even at the time I clipped that ad, I had a feeling Bentley was pushing very hard for this “Secret Place” to be his new thang. He pushes on “the Secret Place” like he’s trying to make ‘”fetch” happen.
By then, he’d renamed Fresh Fire USA to Revival Harvest Ministries (RHM), as I mentioned. If you try to go to freshfireusa.com, it sends you to RHM. (The redirect is, for some reason, hilarious to me. It’s like he thinks we’ll all just forget about that whole fiasco if he renames his game. However, his FB page still refers to Fresh Fire USA everywhere.)
So Todd Bentley was putting a lot of irons in the fire while hoping against hope that one of them at least gets lucky.
Don’t Worry, Everyone. ANGELS Say He’s 2 Legit 2 Quit.
A week or so ago on his Facebook page, Todd Bentley laid out his qualifications to get back into ministry again:
It was last summer in July/ August 2020 that I had a series of angelic encounters, visions and personal encounters with the Lord that were absolutely life-changing. At the same time Jess and I used this time to see healing and incredible restoration in our own lives and marriage.
During this awesome season of almost daily personal encounters the Lord spoke to me about my 45th birthday,which took place on January 10, 2021.
I thought it was very unusual for the Lord to be speaking to me six months before the day I was born but he spoke to me about picking up the mantle in a new 25-year mandate focused on the Harvest and the nations. Imagine waiting those six months for your actual birthday to see if something supernatural would happen and when my birthday came, I did pray and received what I believe the Lord spoke to me in faith and I’m ready to walk it out this year.
Wow! This god could make time to personally speak to King Toddster, but ignored the literal millions of people who died of COVID! At least Toddster got a magnificent new prophecy to go with his magnificent beard.
Or did he?
Wait, When Was This Angelic Vision?
Todd Bentley claimed in the above quote that he’d had “almost daily” visions around July/August 2020 for January 2021. However, I found nothing like that from that period of his Facebook. This guy who literally spews forth every waking thought somehow totally forgot to mention any big angelic “personal encounters” or predictions for his birthday — or, for that matter, for January at all.
Instead, I found a July 2020 post in which he describes an ER visit (and asks for money). In the post, he describes his physical and emotional ailments — and takes a wild stab at their cause, which of course is meaniepies revealing his scandals:
We have realized most all my internal issues with my blood sugars and blood pressure, dehydration and recent hospital visit a few days I ago. I was diagnosed with Stress, anxiety and panic attack.
Of course a large part of this has been the trauma of the last year and all the stress public, private and spiritual battles.
I have taken extra time to let’s meds work and test as a part of my physical issue was severe back and muscle strain. Again stress related.
I’m sure that was indeed a challenging time. Seriously, back pain is the worst, and I’m a PTSD survivor so I know how that goes.
But I found absolutely no shocking visions from angels around then. I guess it’s just another lie.
The Gravy Train Sputters.
I’m not sure Todd Bentley will find it easy to fool evangelicals a third time.
This time around, he faces a formal slap from a bunch of ministers who assert he’s absolutely not qualified to lead any Christian groups ever again.
And I’m not sure Rick Joyner’s willing to sign on again to cover for him. After the 2019 scandal revelation, Bentley only mentions Joyner once — in June 2020, here. I see no further collabs between the two men. Bob Jones is dead now, so he only gets a couple of passing mentions as well.
I couldn’t see any recognizable names on his page lately. His list of allies grows thin, to borrow a phrase.
Without those allies, he could never have achieved stardom. Nor could he have come back from his 2008 scandal. They don’t seem quite as inclined to help him over the 2019 scandal, and others actively speak out against him. That’s exactly why he leaned so hard on OMG ANGELS SPOKE TO ME, when it’s easy as pie to scroll through his feed to see that he never once mentioned these visions when they supposedly occurred.
The Good Ole Boy network might not be on his side anymore.
The Gravy Train Must Run.
I could mention other affiliations that Bentley is leaning on lately, like Billy Graham quotes on his Facebook, and the strange way that Billy Graham’s legacy seems slowly to be morphing into the knot in the tail of the rat king of evangelical hucksters. But for now, I’ve made my point. I’ll rest here:
Todd Bentley is yet another evangelical leader who can’t keep his hands to himself or his lusts satiated through tribe-approved means — while he postures about being a totes-for-realsies prophet and soulwinner.
His hypocrisy has led him straight here. If he’d actually been able to live up to his very own marketing, he’d still be a rock star in the name-it-and-claim-it crowd. Evangelicals’ reaction to his attempt to crawl back into bed with them is indicative of the dealbreakers in their religion as a whole.
Weird, isn’t it, how often these bombastic evangelical leaders turn out to be dishonest predators and hypocrites?
At least he’s got beard oil he can sell people.
That, at least, is a real thing.
NEXT UP: How TRUE CHRISTIANS™ deal with their intense cognitive dissonance. See you tomorrow!
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