The last time this subject came up, I chose to stay out of the conversation. However, I feel the need to speak what I feel the Holy Spirit has spoken to me.
I heard of Torben about 3 years ago, when I was encouraged to listen to what he had to say. Those who suggested this love the Lord dearly and were seeking to follow Christ with all their hearts. However, I could not gain the same enthusiasm for Torben, and wrote my thoughts to them on what I perceived.
Below is what I wrote, and what I still believe after revisiting his videos several times. Since he began, I believe his "marketing" (for lack of a better term) has become better, and his ideas are presented in a more subtle form. However, his beliefs and his methods remain the same.
My thoughts to my friends on Torben:
Here are some of the things that concern me about Torben's "method":
FIRST: he prioritizes healing BEFORE preaching. He teaches that we must go out and just start praying for people's healing and once they receive healing, THEN we tell them that God did it and talk about Jesus. I have a problem with that on several levels. First of all, it relegates the gospel to a secondary position. It makes it seem that the gospel alone- the good news revealed by God to save us from His wrath- is not enough to attract people, to transform them; it makes it seem that the gospel needs "help." I wonder if he believes really in the power of the Word? And what if it isn't God's will to heal that person and they don't receive healing -do they then not get to hear the gospel? Or if we do share the gospel we now have to explain why the healing didn't occur (which we don't know!)
I know that Torben says that he is trying to get back to what the original church looked like, but his method is NOT what the original church practiced. If you read through the book of Acts (which he says is what he is imitating) miracles were always quite secondary to the preaching of Christ and of the Word. Look at Peter in the first portion of Acts, and Paul later on. What does it say about Paul? Does it say that he came into a city and started performing miracles so that people would be attracted to what he had to say? Nowhere does it say that. Quite the contrary: everywhere Paul went he first went into the synagogue to expound on the scriptures, and then to the gentiles also to speak about God's word. Yes, he did (and I hate to say that he did because really it was Christ in him) "perform" some miracles, but that was not the center of his ministry, nor the beginning of anything. I believe that, as in all things, he was led by the Spirit in when to "perform" a miracle, but I would rather say that he allowed himself to be used of God at that moment. It was not a method of evangelism.
SECOND, this is not a very effective evangelizing tool. It says in many places in the gospel that JESUS healed ALL their diseases, yet how many of those people became His disciples? Based on the scriptures, of thousands that received the healing or saw the healing, there were at most 500 brethren when Christ resurrected from the dead, and how many of those were left by the day of Pentecost?
THIRD, what was the purpose of Christ's miracles? Jesus performed miracles we are told so that they may believe Him for the works themselves, even if they did not believe Him. (John 10:38, 14:11). They were a sign that Jesus was the Messiah, and based on the Word, that is what people believed, saying, "this must be the Messiah. How else can he perform all these miracles?" (my paraphrase). The other reason that Christ performed miracles, and it should be the same reason today, is as always and in all things to glorify God. If you read the gospels, it has always amazed me how after Jesus performed a miracle it says that the people "glorified God." What did Jesus do or say that when He was doing His work that immediately brought the eyes of people upward, never to Jesus or other things? However, Jesus does not tell us to "go and do miracles and make disciples." He only says that miracles WILL FOLLOW those who believe (Mark 16:7). Doesn't that imply that it is just a secondary part, that it flows out of our daily life, as Christ leads. Also, not all will perform miracles. Or why else would Paul write in 1 Cor 12:28-30:
"And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?"
The implication is that NO, NOT ALL do miracles, NOT ALL have the gift of healing, NOT ALL speak in tongues.
Notice also the order: FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, and AFTER THAT- miracles, healing, etc. Why does Torben put healing FIRST? Quite concerning again that he is unscriptural.
FOURTH, the emphasis on miracles is highly concerning. Pardon me the comparison, but that is the same thing Benny Hinn does, as do others like him. The claim is that God is in the miracle. I don't agree with that. We all know that there is a time coming when a great deception will come upon the world, such that even the elect might be deceived, if possible. We know that the son of perdition will perform miracles (at least one- where he is healed from a deadly wound). The spiritual forces of darkness are very good at creating counterfeits of God's work, and that includes miracles. To be honest, I used to follow Benny Hinn and even attended a crusade, even though I recognized that some of what he did was not scriptural because I thought: "If he is doing miracles, it is obvious that God is with him." That is a lie. Another spirit may be in that, and one test of whether a man/woman is with God is his adherence to scripture in his ministry. Any practice or theology that does not conform with the Word is not of Him.
In my opinion, Torben is promoting the same type of following that Benny Hinn does. It may be painted in a different motive-to reach the lost- but it is nonetheless a show of the "power" of God first and primarily, and of Christ and His cross and His resurrection second. I say this assuming that he does indeed preach the correct gospel message of repentance, turning from sin, complete surrender to Christ, and picking up your cross; there is no way to know what he really preaches since all of the videos that Torben put up were all about healing. Even if he did preach the true gospel, the "power" is first and the gospel second- the same as Benny Hinn.
What does that lead to? That leads to people who maybe "receive" Christ after he prays for them and they are healed. What is the expectation then? That this God is some kind of Santa? What is the difference between that kind of salvation message and the kind that tells you if you are a Christian you will be wealthy? It is the same message with a different flavor.
FIFTH, there are other theological errors that in my opinion are very dangerous. I do not remember all of them. The one that I remember right now is that he believes that all Spirit-filled believers must speak in tongues at the moment that they are baptized. If they do not, then they are demon possessed, something evil is in them, or they simply are not saved. It is clear from the scripture I quoted above that first, not all will speak in tongues, and second, it is the least of the gifts (the list was a hierarchical list), so why the emphasis on it by Torben and others? Would this not be the opposite of what the Lord would have us teach?
I have no doubt that Torben is well-intentioned. I believe that he truly wants to serve Christ. However, that does not make him right. There is a very true saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Torben also says some things that are true. That doesn't mean he is right about everything. The best deceptions are those which are mostly true and the falsehood is only a small part of the argument, and therefore hard to discern.
My part in this life is to stay on the narrow path, following only one leader, my Christ Who died for me. I feel no ill toward Torben. My part in this is to grant him mercy, just as I want mercy (James 2:13). I pray for his safety and that of his family. I also pray that the Lord can correct Torben's path so that he can be used mightily by God in the path of Christ.