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Well-Known Pastor Draws Criticism for Rubbing Spit on Brother’s Face As a Sermon Illustration

michael todd
Screen grab from YouTube: @Transformation Church

A pastor’s decision to illustrate his sermon by smearing mucus and saliva on his brother’s face on stage has drawn widespread criticism from Christians and non-Christians alike. In his Jan. 16 sermon on having God’s vision for our lives, Pastor Michael Todd gave an object lesson from Mark 8 where Jesus uses spit to heal a blind man. 

“That Mike Todd video has so many layers of terribleness wrapped up in it, I don’t know even where to start,” tweeted Christian author Danté Stewart. “The audacity. The cult energy. The spiritual and theological abusiveness. The hocking and rubbing and spitting and deflecting. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Ain’t no way.”

Stewart continued, “This is more than terrible theology or performance or arrogant view’s [sic] of one’s self and power. I don’t know a word for this but it ain’t nice or holy or pastoral or good.”

Michael Todd: Receiving Vision Could Be ‘Nasty’ 

Michael Todd and his wife, Natalie, co-pastor Transformation Church in Tulsa, Okla., where they have been lead pastors since 2015. Todd’s Jan. 16 sermon was titled, “Clearly // The Vision For Invasion // Vision Sunday 2022.” The beginning of his sermon focused on the importance of believers submitting themselves to God in order to have a clear vision from him for their lives in the coming year. 

“You should be asking God to touch every area of your life this year,” said the pastor, giving examples that included deciding who to date, a college major, and where to go on vacation. An absence of clarity from God will lead to confusion and compromise, he said. 

After expounding on the need for clear vision from God, Todd turned to the account in Mark 8:22-30 of Jesus healing a blind man, which Jesus does by spitting on his eyes. The pastor spent about 15 minutes developing various points based on this passage and had his brother, Brentom Todd, come on stage to represent the blind man. 

Michael Todd’s sermon points included 1) we need Jesus to touch us as he touched the blind man and 2) God will take us outside of our comfort zones as Jesus took the blind man outside of the village. When Todd got to the part about Jesus spitting on the man’s eyes in order to heal him, the pastor noted that spitting on someone “seems to the natural eye as degrading.” It could be, however, that God will put us in a position that seems degrading in order to humble us so that we are ready to receive the miracle he wants to do in our lives. 

As Todd built up to his illustration, he began hocking mucus into his hand, as well as spitting into it. Each time he did this, congregants groaned and exclaimed out loud. “This is where most people would not face Jesus any more,” said Todd, as his brother turned away to demonstrate the point. “What most people would do is turn away.”

Ironically, before Todd was about to put spit on his brother’s face, he said, “Now this is Jesus ya’ll…don’t let nobody else spit on you, but I’m just saying, like, this is Jesus, like this was a mode of healing people.” Todd also noted that Jesus didn’t embarrass the blind man by spitting on him in front of other people.

“What I’m telling you,” said the pastor, “is just as he’s [Brentom] physically standing here, knowing what’s coming, God is saying, ‘Can you physically and spiritually and emotionally be able to stand when getting the vision or receiving it might get nasty?’…Receiving vision from God might get nasty.” 

Todd then rubbed the phlegm and saliva in between his hands before rubbing it over his brother’s face as the audience reacted in shock. The pastor drew a connection between the revulsion people were expressing and the point of his sermon. “So many of you right now are so bothered,” he said. But just as the congregants were reacting in disgust at Todd’s illustration, some people will be repulsed at God’s work in the life of another.