"You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting" Daniel 5:27
A friend of mine called Brett Hoskins contacted me about his concerns regarding a large and growing, USA based parachurch prayer movement. It seems like parachurch prayer movements are a growing phenomena today. A valid question is: what legitimacy do they have? The Bible teaches us that prayer should be under the guidance of men, men who are ordained elders (1 Timothy chapter 2-3 as an example).
Brett's writing is emphatic, provocative and incisive. He is a man I have known for many years. He does hold to a Calvinistic view of Salvation and he is unashamed to profess to be a cessationist. That meaning he believes in the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, but not in what the IHOP practice. though IHOP, may be extreme, something of their teaching permeates the minds and actions of many professing Christians. Read what Brett writes, examine is thoughts and examine yourself as well as to the biblical basis of your beliefs and actions or otherwise.
7 Things Wrong With the International House of Prayer (IHOP)
1. A Personal Testimony Gospel
If you follow any of their teachers or students, you will almost immediately notice that whatever it is they believe, it has very little to do with God’s Word, and it seems to be revolving around their own personal stories. Personal Encounters. Divine Appointments. Soaking in the Spirit. Experiencing the Glory. These are phrases that are taught, learned and used by people at IHOP as they tell stories about their spiritual encounters. Most of the time they do not even know what they are talking about. Sermons are mainly anecdotal, while Scripture is twisted and false theology is claimed to be real. The clear aim of their sermons are personal power encounters with the Holy Spirit, angels and miracles.
2. An Obsession With Experiencing God
There is an over-emphasis on experiencing God that is so strong that they do not care how you experience God, just as long as you are experiencing him. In other words, it does not have to be in spirit and and truth (John 4:24). It just needs to be feelings of passion, happiness, intimacy, love, etc. And because the feeling is more important then anything else, as long as you are having the experience and feeling you can believe just about anything you want. You can be a Mormon, Catholic, Reformed or Pentecostal. Your experience is the most important; you can be barking like a dog or shaking like a rattle snake. Who cares what you believe when you’re experiencing “his spirit”? Of course they are experiencing a spirit, its just not God’s Spirit.
3. Dominion Theology (NAR = New Apostolic Reformation)
“The Holy Spirit moves whenever there is a declaration, so they believe. First we say it, and then the Holy Spirit moves after it …that is how we change the atmosphere of a room, a meeting or those kinds of things.” The idea that God the Father gave all authority to Jesus (in other words, the Father does not have all authority) and now Jesus, being in heaven, has given all authority to us (in other words, the Son does not have all authority, we do) is a central point of the NAR. A common thought is “bringing heaven to earth”. It permeates their prayers, songs and conversation. This is a different Gospel than the Kingdom of Heaven the Lord Jesus Christ talked about. Dominionism is the idea that Christians should literally set up a kingdom of God on earth by taking possession of “Seven Mountains”: government, media, entertainment, education, business, family, and religion.
4. A Functional Denial of Sola Scriptura
While IHOP and Bickle would always strongly affirm Sola Scriptura when asked by outsiders (I say by outsiders because its not a topic they themselves talk about), on a functional or practical level, they are more non-Sola Scriptura than many of our Roman Catholic friends. Where Roman Catholicism would says it is Scripture and tradition, IHOP would says, it’s anything you want it to be. You, not the Church (as Roman Catholics would have it), they are receiving direct revelation and fresh words from God which should lead you and teach you what to do. This denial of Sola Scriptura also reveals itself in women preachers and teachers, encouraging the use of tongues in public without interpretation, offering the Lord’s Supper privately, etc.
5. Constant And Acknowledged Blaspheming Of The Holy Spirit
Mike Bickle himself says that 80% of what people say is from God, is not. “You can enjoy it without believing all of it”. In another “sermon” Bickle says, “Most of the stuff people tell me about, I just don’t believe. I think Nope, nope, nope. Lie. HamburgerHelper. Exaggeration. Fake. Hype. No. No. And I’m in the middle of a lot of prophetic people. And I think, no, yuk. Gross. Thats how I feel about most of what I hear. But there are some true ones in the land. But most of what is going on in the prophetic, kind of makes my stomach hurt to be honest. Most of it is embarrassing, ridiculous, peripheral. Completely side issues that aren't even on God’s heart. And I go, what are they talking about? But there is the real.”
Bickle, however much he says he hates the “fake”, is actually a breeding ground for it. He acknowledges the problem, but says he will keep the fake for the sake of the real.
6. Continuationism Run Wild
What makes their continuationism different from the old Charismatic movement, is the idea of “Being like Jesus in power.” They believe they can literally control the wind and the waves like Jesus did if they just have enough faith. They believe they have authority to heal all sickness, raise the dead, appoint apostles and prophets and manipulate the atmosphere. Its word of faith and the health and wealth teachings that have been sophisticated in their presentation.
7. Biblical Illiteracy
The fruit of this “ministry” is the inability of its people to discern right from wrong. Members of IHOP seem to have no power to discern what the Bible is actually teaching, nor to know when Bible twisting is happening. Although Mike Bickle himself claims that 80% of peoples experiences are made up or lies, his followers do not possess the ability to know true from false. Nor are they able to righty divide the Word of God. Any interpretation of scripture is valid. In the end, its not fidelity to God through his Word that these people are interested in. Its rather their own empowerment and feelings of importance. All this, of course, is packaged in Christian vocabulary, songs, and the like.