"Who...who is the worker of iniquity?" Peters looked Bentley in the eye and said, "You are."

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Darrell Post's picture

I applaud the courage of Peters who walked right into the lions den of heresy, and called the false preacher out.

Jay's picture

That took serious courage.  I hope that God will use this man's example mightily to break the web of lies that Bentley preaches and his followers believe.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Greg Linscott's picture

This did take a measure of courage... but was it wise? Would you attempt something stealthily similar at a RC mass, or in a Muslim mosque? How would you view it if someone disrupted your church's services in a similar manner?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Darrell Post's picture

Peters was saved out of this movement, and as a guy who is crippled, and was not cured by the false promises of this movement, I can certainly understand his passion for rescuing others. One might raise questions about the choice of venue to make his case, but in a larger sense, Bentley did offer him the microphone to deliver a word of knowledge, and given the situation, Peters delivered a word of knowledge that fit the situation...Matthew 7.

As for it being a disruption, that was partly up to Bentley, had he been quicker on his feet, he could have had a joking response to diffuse the situation instead of pretended to be threatened that Peters was going to hit him with his crutch and having his security forces grab him.

But this is a good reminder as to why in our churches its a good practice to not hand off the microphone to a stranger having no idea what he is going to say. But in charismatic churches, this is common practice due to the words of knowledge that arrive so frequently...so I am sure its not the first time a word of knowledge was delivered but unwelcomed by the charismatic preacher.

Greg Linscott's picture

I remember back 25 years ago, my wife's cousin, when he was newly saved out of a nominal LDS background, dropped in unannounced once to a Mormon church building. The only person he encountered initially was the janitor, and he started right in confronting Mormon error. Eventually, someone overheard the commotion and asked him to leave... and he did, but not before loudly declaring that the Mormon message was a "damnable heresy" while emphatically engaging the panic bar on the door as he left. Smile

I am not questioning anyone's motives. But being sympathetic with one's motives isn't quite the same as affirming an action.one's choice.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Darrell Post's picture

The more I think about it, the more I like Peters' decision to do this. It was bold, it was courageous, and the more I think about it, his preaching the truth in this venue is not without parallel. Jonah walked right into Nineveh and told them God would destroy the city in 40 days. Paul would boldly march right into a Jewish synagogue and proclaim Christ to the Jews. He boldly proclaimed Christ in the home turf of pagan philosophers at Athens. He stood before Roman rulers and preached Christ. I think had Peters acted unlawfully, or stayed after he was asked to leave, or had he actually tried to strike Bentley with his cane, then its a different matter. But honestly, some of the hearers there may have never considered the possibility that Bentley is a fraud, and perhaps God will use this to open some eyes. Perhaps we have so lost our boldness for proclaiming Christ that Peters' actions seem over the top to us. But compared against the actions of those in the New Testament and early church, maybe Peters is hitting a mark that many of us are missing.

Greg Linscott's picture

Darrell Post wrote:

The more I think about it, the more I like Peters' decision to do this. It was bold, it was courageous, and the more I think about it, his preaching the truth in this venue is not without parallel. Jonah walked right into Nineveh and told them God would destroy the city in 40 days. Paul would boldly march right into a Jewish synagogue and proclaim Christ to the Jews. He boldly proclaimed Christ in the home turf of pagan philosophers at Athens. He stood before Roman rulers and preached Christ. I think had Peters acted unlawfully, or stayed after he was asked to leave, or had he actually tried to strike Bentley with his cane, then its a different matter. But honestly, some of the hearers there may have never considered the possibility that Bentley is a fraud, and perhaps God will use this to open some eyes. Perhaps we have so lost our boldness for proclaiming Christ that Peters' actions seem over the top to us. But compared against the actions of those in the New Testament and early church, maybe Peters is hitting a mark that many of us are missing.

Your examples are all true- and yet those were all open venues. Paul had credentials that gave him credibility in the synagogues (and at Athens, for that matter). Mars Hill would have been in some ways inviting such interaction. Testifying before rulers while in custody isn't really a good comparison to this situation.

Again, I am not trying to be too harsh. But at the same time, are there limits? What is the difference between the advisability of something like this situation and what the "God Hates Fags" people do? That, too, takes a measure of audacity to pull off, but I think most everyone here would realize that Westboro decidedly is "over the line." But why? Would it be better if they protested, but toned down the rhetoric? Is it the protests themselves that present the problem?

Just thinking...

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Darrell Post's picture

The Westboro argument is at best apples to oranges. They are not delivering sufficient truth from God's word. Their message to the homosexual community should be that God loves the world, and He saves sinners (the same gospel message that all sinners need to hear), but instead they deliver a twisted and incomplete message to these people. I think that Paul going right into the synagogues is the best comparison, and in many ways was more bold than what Peters did. Paul actually ran the risk of being arrested and killed. Sure he had "credentials" but so did Peters having spent years in the word of faith movement just like Paul spent so many years in Judaism.

As to the point of being an "open venue" I would suggest that this is part of word of faith / charismatic practice. They invite words of knowledge. They welcome complete strangers to stand up and give proclamations. It is totally foreign to us, so I can understand how striking it sounds to us. But because the word of faith meetings do this, it is legitimate to consider this an open venue, and so Peters worked within this open invitation for words of knowledge and he supplied one. I see this as totally analogous to the Apostle Paul taking his opportunity to speak in a Synagogue, and proclaiming the truth boldly.

My larger point is that I want to be very cautious about being critical of someone who boldly proclaimed truth. I am not at all saying I would have had the courage to do what Peters did, but I admit I was challenged by it, and found myself asking if Peters could be so bold in such a hostile situation, why cannot I be bold in more everyday situations?

Wayne Wilson's picture

His manner, tone, and the fact that he spoke the truth is entirely different from the Westboro folks.  

Greg Linscott's picture

I understand that the Westboro folks are way over the line. I am asking where is that line? What if, instead of "God Hates Fags" on their placards, they had portions of Romans 1 in the KJV (something I have seen other churches do, by the way)? Is it the specific tone and content that puts them over the line, or is the method and approach itself the flaw?

Observing that a method may be flawed and unadvisable, by the way, is not to say God cannot and does not use flawed methods.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Wayne Wilson's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

I understand that the Westboro folks are way over the line. I am asking where is that line? What if, instead of "God Hates Fags" on their placards, they had portions of Romans 1 in the KJV (something I have seen other churches do, by the way)? Is it the specific tone and content that puts them over the line, or is the method and approach itself the flaw?

Observing that a method may be flawed and unadvisable, by the way, is not to say God cannot and does not use flawed methods.

 

Greg, I think it's best to leave the Westboro folks out of it, since basically nothing they do or say is right.  It's too different.  Maybe there's another comparison we can make..like sharing the Gospel on the steps of a Mormon Temple.  Telling a false prophet and deceiver that he is just that is fair enough. Is it helpful? That's hard to say.  It certainly isn't wrong.  They gave him the mic.  I admire the man's courage to speak the truth in a very dark place.  The folks there at least heard once that Bentley is telling them lies and keeping them from the Gospel. 

I must say, we hand the mic to anyone at our services during prayer time to share prayer requests.  Someone could use that time to denounce me or the church or something. I wouldn't like it, but it wouldn't crush me either.  I don't worry about it.  Usually there's an opportunity there to say reaffirm the truth.  

Greg Linscott's picture

I have mentioned two illustrative situations:

  • The new convert engaging the Mormon janitor in his own church building.
  • A KJV church group "picketing" a gay pride event with placards featuring sections of Romans 1.

BTW- Admiring someone's courage and zeal is not the same as affirming the method, either. Picture this- if someone asked your counsel considering doing something like this (and knowing that it might come back that "my pastor gave me his blessing" or "________ Baptist Church is behind this all the way"), would you give the green light? Do we start training people for subversive "word of prophecy" ministry infiltration?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Darrell Post's picture

I am not sure the apostle Paul was worried about word leaking out that the church of Antioch had given their blessing to Paul's practice of entering a Synagogue as though he were a regular Jewish leader and then preaching Christ to them instead. For those who post here, no matter where they may draw lines on what we should or should not do as it relates to evangelism, I doubt very many of us are in grave danger of crossing too many lines. But no, not everyone needs to be involved in word of prophecy infiltration. But the word of faith movement does happen to be a specific segment of the harvest field to whom Justin Peters has devoted his life. So it would make sense for him to reach out to people in this movement. And again, he sat there and politely waited for hours for a break in the action. When there was a break, he then asked for a chance to speak, and it was granted to him. Bentley could have said "no, not right now please" and I know Peters well enough to know that he would have sat back down and not been disruptive. But he was invited to speak, was handed the microphone, so he spoke. He didn't come to the platform unexpectedly, he didn't grab a microphone when they weren't looking. He waited, he asked, they invited, he spoke. He didn't resist when they ushered him out. I really don't see much here to criticize. If you listen to 5 minutes of any sermon by Justin Peters you will affirm that he is no angry firebrand. He is as soft-spoken and gracious as you will find.

Greg Linscott's picture

I am not definitively concluding that Peters was in the wrong (though I am tending to lean that the strategy was inadvisable). I am thinking through this issue. 

Darrell, it seems as though you are almost making an exception for him based on his background and familiarity with the context. Would you tend to discourage this strategy generally?

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Darrell Post's picture

Greg, its probably a good point you make here that this specific technique isn't for everybody. Peters does seem to me to be uniquely fitted to the task he set out to do. I personally cannot imagine sitting through several hours of Bentley talking and the loud music. And anyone who might easily be tempted to lash out and lose control at the moment of confrontation would not be well suited to this task. But Peters seemed to be able to navigate through this, knowing how to wait, call out for a chance to give a word of knowledge at the right time, and then follow through. I have no doubt I would have not done a very good job of this, even if I had the courage to actually do it. But Peters seemed to take it all in stride. But again, word of faith was his background and now is his evangelistic ministry. If I was going to evangelize the people who were at that event, I would have probably tried to pass out literature and talk to people in the parking lot as they were leaving. The beauty of the body of Christ is we are all equipped to contribute in different ways.

Jay's picture

Greg Linscott wrote:

BTW- Admiring someone's courage and zeal is not the same as affirming the method, either. Picture this- if someone asked your counsel considering doing something like this (and knowing that it might come back that "my pastor gave me his blessing" or "________ Baptist Church is behind this all the way"), would you give the green light? Do we start training people for subversive "word of prophecy" ministry infiltration?

Greg-

You're raising good points, and I see where you're coming from.  I'm not sure that I could ever, as a pastor, advocate this kind of style of assertive confrontation on 'home turf' with false teachers to someone I was responsible to shepherd.  There is an element of Romans 16:19 with this situation that would have to come into play, I think.

Let me pose a similar, but somewhat different question - how are you (or others on this board) prepared to handle something like this in your church?  What if some guy started attending your church, and then stood up to make a scene based on a message because he believes you are teaching heresy because you're using the NKJV instead of the KJV during a message?  

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Darrell Post's picture

Jay,

Is your view then that Peters was wrong to do what he did? I agree that this sort of thing isn't for every believer. I am confident that Peters would agree that its not for everyone. But his action does challenge us to be more bold in sharing our faith and calling out false teachers--based on the point I made above, that if a crippled preacher can stand in that place and proclaim the truth, certainly I can be more bold in sharing the truth in much "safer" contexts.