If a little voice in the back of your head told you to kick a woman in the face, most of us would quickly suppress the idea. But for Todd Bentley of Fresh Fire Ministries, who is also a televangelist covered with body tattoos and facial piercings, that voice is none other than the voice of God. He has used these shock-cure methods under what he calls holy inspiration, in a manner that is more evocative of ancient Zen Buddhism, in which teachers would slap, punch, or slice a student into enlightenment, than anything found in traditional Christianity. For this reason many UK citizens are pressuring leaders to ban his intended visit to their country this month.
Bentley, 36, relates a God-inspired moment on YouTube: “And I’m thinking, why is the power of God not moving? And He said, ‘Because you haven’t kicked that woman in the face.'”
“And there is this old lady worshipping right in front of the platform and the Holy Spirit spoke to me. The gift of faith comes on me. He said, ‘Kick her in the face with your biker boot.’ I inched closer and I went bam! And just as my boot made contact with her nose, she fell under the power of God.”
At another point he firmly kneed the gut of a colon cancer patient under the same divine inspiration, to which the man fell to the ground writhing. Similarly, he claims to have cured a man of cancer and a broken sternum by slugging him in the chest. The man purportedly fell over, and then leapt up, fully cured.
Such performances, and his usual performance of being filled with the Spirit of God, praying for His glory, grew popular in 2008’s Lakeland Revival, in Florida. Over 400,000 people attended what was also known as the Florida Outpouring.
He also claims that God’s empowerment gave him the ability to help bring 33 people back from the dead in 2011, 20 of which he claims were “medically verified.”
But it’s his violent methods that most upset citizens of the UK.
Malcolm Wicks, the labor MP for Croydon North, has asked Home Secretary Theresa May to ban Bentley, saying “His visit can do nothing but harm and I would be grateful for any measures you can take.”
“I’m concerned by Todd Bentley’s methods,” said Peter May, a British physician. “I would urge people to keep away from him.”
“I’ve looked at the video clips on his forum and it requires significant impact for someone to lose a tooth,” May continued, regarding another violent healing. “There may be people who are Christians who believe their health has been transformed, but I believe Todd Bentley should produce the medical evidence.”
That he has urges, personified as God’s voice, to violently heal people perhaps is not too out of accordance with Bentley’s past. At 15 he was convicted of sexually assaulting a seven-year-old boy, and at 17 was hospitalized for overdosing on amphetamines and hallucinogenic pills. This changed when he converted to Christ at age 18.
Though critics have claimed that Bentley’s possible affair against and ultimate divorce of his wife to marry another woman indicates that he is not living a Godly life, and that his claims therefore need not be accepted, Bentley nevertheless speaks of visions and spiritual encounters, such as when he visited Heaven and met with Paul the Apostle. He also was visited by “Emma” a female angel who gave him a vision of golden coins, assuring Bentley of future financial security.’
He expects to tour the UK this month, beginning with three shows starting on August 30 at the 400-capacity Croydon Conference Centre in South London, followed by September visits to Liverpool, Cwmbran, and Co Armagh.