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Statement from the Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team
Current issue: Paul Cain and his appearance on the platform of the Lakeland Outpouring I.
The background. At one point rather early in Lakeland Outpouring I, prophet Paul Cain was invited to appear on the platform. A few months before the Outpouring began he had prophesied publicly that such an outpouring would break out in Lakeland, and Todd Bentley felt it would be appropriate to recognize Cain on the platform and let the audience know about his accurate prophecy. While Cain was there, he took the opportunity to announce, among other things, that he had been living a chaste life and that rumors about him were not true.
This event drew criticism from many observers who knew something of Paul Cain's recent experiences. It turned out that he had been living a secret life which involved problems with drunkenness and homosexuality. Three Christian leaders who had been long-time friends and colleagues of Cain, namely Rick Joyner, Mike Bickle, and Jack Deere, attempted to bring correction and restoration privately, but to little avail. Consequently, they decided that, following the precepts of Matthew 18, they had come to the place where they needed to announce Cain's moral turpitude to the church at large with the hope that this public reprimand would speed the process of his restoration. Cain's response was to place himself under the accountability of other, self-chosen, Christian leaders who after a period of time announced that his restoration had been completed and that he was free to return to public ministry. This was an obvious violation of apostolic protocol. The correct apostolic protocol would have been for the three who first blew the whistle publicly to have been involved directly in any announcement to the body of Christ that Cain's restoration had been complete. Not only were the three not involved, but they felt that the timing for such an announcement had been premature.
Bentley knew something of this situation because he reportedly later commented that he had thought (wrongly!) that he had first cleared his intentions of inviting Cain to the platform with Rick Joyner. The problem had become more complicated with Cain's public confession of having lived a chaste life, apparently denying that he ever had been involved in homosexuality. His later explanation that he really meant that he had been chaste only since his "restoration" was not sufficient to change the impression left with the huge international television audience who heard his first words. Our conclusion is that inviting Cain on the platform and allowing him to have the microphone was an unfortunate mistake on the part of Bentley since it was an intended or unintended violation of apostolic protocol.
The principle. What can we learn from this? The principle is that the prescribed restoration of a fallen leader should be undertaken only by or under the direct supervision of the apostle or apostolic group (whether or not the term "apostle" is used) with which the fallen leader has previously aligned. The practice of the leader, himself or herself, slipping out from under a recognized accountability structure in order to select what would inevitably be a more lenient person or group of persons should be regarded by the body of Christ as unacceptable behavior. The proper apostolic protocol should be for those involved in the initial apostolic alignment, and those people only, to make any public announcement on the progress of the restoration or that the restoration has been completed and that the restored leader be allowed once again to resume public ministry.
As a footnote, it should be recorded that in recent years Paul Cain has not been the only high-profile leader to attempt this evasion of accountability. Others have taken similar erroneous pathways, and our opinion is that there should be a general consensus in the church that such behavior will not be repeated or tolerated in the future.
Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team
October 10, 2008
In light of the above statement it seems clear that public reports of the progress or successful termination of Todd Bentley's restoration be made only with the explicit approval of Revival Alliance. Any attempt to circumvent this apostolic protocol (as was done in the case of Paul Cain) should not be regarded as acceptable to the body of Christ. Especially those of us in the charismatically-inclined evangelical stream feel deep embarrassment over a number of recent cases that have taken this deviant route.
The Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team
As I have told you in other emails, after I moderated the meeting at which Todd Bentley was aligned and commissioned, I received over three thousand emails. Many of them expressed dismay and concern over issues that had surfaced during the Outpouring itself and during the commissioning. I carefully catalogued these and simultaneously pulled together a group of apostles which I called the Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team. The team included Stephen Strader, Steve Strang, David Cannistraci, Ché Ahn, Lee Grady, Joe Askins, Jeff Beacham, Chuck Pierce, and John Arnott besides myself. One of the first things we did was to analyze the issues raised and end up with a list of 24 important concerns, each of which we would discuss and attempt to issue a public statement to the body of Christ.
We began our work and issued the statement above on apostolic protocol for the Paul Cain case, reducing the list to 23.
Meanwhile, God began speaking to Dutch Sheets, whom many of you know is my pastor at Freedom Church here in Colorado Springs, and who has been recognized as an apostle to our nation. Dutch felt that God was giving him an assignment to deal with many of the issues that I had on my list, and others as well, from a proactive, rather than a reactive posture as I had been doing.
After consulting with John Kilpatrick, Dutch approached me with the possibility of making some changes. I gladly received his suggestions and, frankly, I was greatly relieved. While I chaired Todd's alignment ceremony in obedience to a direct word from God, I did not have the same clear assignment from God to deal with the issues. I had organized the Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team only because I felt it was my duty. Dutch now has a passion for the task, while I only had a sense of responsibility. The upshot is that I have now disbanded the Lakeland Outpouring Apostolic Team and passed the torch to Dutch Sheets, who will form a similar group. One condition for Dutch's action was that I would agree to be a member of the new group, which I did. I also think that a proactive stance will be much more profitable for the body of Christ long term than my reactive approach, dealing specifically with problems arising from the Lakeland Outpouring which no longer exists.