Archive for the ‘Bridal Paradigm’ Category

This post is just a question I have had which I once stepped back and asked myself:

Is it really just about intimacy and eschatology?

I remember coming to the realization one day that IHOP teaches their basic tenets and fundamental doctrines using primarily 5 books of the Bible: Song of Solomon, Daniel, Psalms, Joel, & Revelation. Their stated “themes” or over-arching messages are about romantic intimacy with G-d (otherwise known as “the Bridal Paradigm”) and the eschatology of the end times. How can you sum up the whole of scripture in those 2 teachings? From my viewpoint it is because they start with a ‘trunk’ of truth and add their own heresies as the branches. When people start to notice that the branches conflict with scripture and speak up, the leaders throw up a smokescreen and go back to citing how true the trunk is to defend their teaching. The trunk is the part they did take from scripture but unfortunately the final product has been so “genetically modified” that it doesn’t hold a candle to its original true form.

For example, take the intimacy with G-d themes from Song of Solomon that IHOP uses as their foundational message. Are there verses in scripture that talk about believers being the “bride” to their long-awaited Messiah? Yes, there are. However, when understood in context, these are references to the corporate body of believers being a bride…not individual lust-driven relationships between G-d and His people. IHOP leaders might deny that they teach this kind of intimacy with G-d but just listening to the lyrics of their music and the “love songs” that are sung in conferences and during worship sets and you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone that these subtler messages are not being promoted. So to illustrate my point: the “trunk” is the truth that G-d loves, cares for and protects His people the way a husband cares for and nurtures his wife. This is a picture of relational roles. The branches of deception that have been tacked on however are twistings of scripture and a misrepresentation of the kind of genuine and pure love that is illustrated throughout scripture and is congruent with the nature of the Father.

So we must be careful and watchful of what we allow ourselves to believe. When any church or ministry builds a spiritual fort around a single theme, pet doctrine or paradigm of G-d and camps out there let that be a red flag to you. G-d is FAR bigger than any box or paradigm we could try to define Him by. Our finite minds can grapple for all of eternity and never comprehend the vast wonder of the One who has created us. We dishonor Him by summing him up in such shallow regard. May He give us ears to hear and know His truth and eyes to see Him as He truly is.

The below comment was posted on my most recent blog and I thought it to be quite insightful so I’m starting a new blog post with it.

Comment:

“And the one who leaves the cult may experience negative consequences of the stress related to leaving…. marriage and family problems, or even sickness. The cult leaders then use this as ‘proof’ the one who left is out of the will of God or is suffering because he/she ‘touched God’s anointed’”

My response:

You bring out a very important and insightful point. Cult leaders have to find a way to explain away the effects of their abuse which requires making the victim always the one at fault. One I remember hearing a lot at IHOP was that this whole “bridal intimacy/wooing” message about how “feeling lovesick” was G-d’s way of wooing you closer to him…that He used this feeling to ignite/illicit hunger in His people. So when you felt the emotional “withdrawal” of coming down from the hypnotic high of being in the prayer room, that was decoded as “lovesickness” which was supposed to signal you to spend more time in the prayer room. It was supposed to be a trigger that initiated a certain responsive behavior on our part (as interns) and make us feel depressed, discouraged and disillusioned whenever we spent time away from IHOP.

It’s a form of internal programming (aka mind control) to keep people “connected” and to create feelings of guilt and withdrawal upon leaving. I will never forget the intense emotional reaction after I left IHOP and moved home. I have never felt anything before or since to which I can compare it. I felt like my emotions had been hi-jacked. It was like an internal magnetic pull that tugged at me. The best way I can describe it is to compare it to the way alcoholics and drug addicts describe coming down from a high. It’s an intense detox where you feel sensory overload and need another fix. That’s what it was like when I left. By the grace of G-d I was able to go against what I had been programmed to believe was “lovesickness” and I fought hard to not get pulled back into what I had just left. Within a matter of days or a couple of weeks, that immediate withdrawal broke and I started to feel like the cloud over my head was clearing. The dull heaviness lifted and slowly, things felt clear. Confusion was replaced with clarity and over time, the more I began to see, remember, process through what I had come out of, and the more free and light my heart became.

I added some new links to the “Research, Links & Sources” page. One of which was regarding mind control. IHOP most definitely uses mind control and they are very skilled at it. No one is dumb enough to stand up and say “Okay, we’re going to mess with your head now and manipulate you into following what we say by reprogramming the way you view G-d, the way you read scripture and the way you think about life.” It requires a slow buy-in from those who will believe their propaganda and those who embrace the idea that IHOP holds the golden ticket to “closeness with G-d”. Our L-rd and Messiah Yeshua (Jesus as the Greeks called Him) stated very clearly that He was the way to the Father. So anyone else who claims to be “the doorway” through which you come to the Father is leading you away from truth. Any “ministry” that adds additional hoops for you to jump through to achieve “enlightenment”, closeness to G-d, salvation, favor, blessing, etc. apart from trust in G-d and following the teachings He clearly lays out in His Word is serving up some major deception–think of it like spiritual poison with a spoonful of sugar on top.

Salvation is based upon trust. The word that was translated into English as faith actually means trust in the original language of the Hebrew scriptures. It is a trust that is tested by actions (James 2). That trusting brings about fruit in the life of the one whose trust is in the Son of G-d—the One who gave his life as the last atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity. So someone please tell me how that simple message of trusting in G-d has been polluted and perverted into “calling down signs and wonders to make people feel good, having “drunk Holy Ghost parties”, turning worship services into rock concerts, fasting until you have a full-blown eating disorder and multi-million dollar organizations that “market” their dogmas through conferences and internships via the belief that attending will give you a ‘supernatural experience’ and thus make you ‘closer to G-d’?” Excuse me? Closeness to the L-rd is not based on emotionalism–but in studying His word and allowing it to transform us from the inside out. The best times I have in fellowship with Him are in my living room or sitting around a dinner table in community and fellowship with like-hearted believers.

Brothers and sisters in the L-rd, let us not stray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Him. The rest of this “higher spirituality” which deviates into mysticism, new age and other occult/pagan practices is nothing more than a re-packaging of the same deceptions that existed thousands of years ago which the believers then were warned by Yeshua, Peter, Paul, James and others not to participate in. Satan’s message doesn’t change…just the packaging through which He promotes it. It would be like taking Bounce fabric softener and pouring it into a Downy bottle and selling it as Downy. The analogy isn’t about laundry product brands–it’s to illustrate the fact that taking a substance (or doctrine, teaching, belief or idea) and re-packaging it with a different name or label in order to present it as something else is what deception is all about.

A love for truth and a foundation set on the teachings of the Word is the only anchor we can securely hold to if we want to be free from the deceptive trappings, doctrines and webs of control that bring about spiritual abuse.

In Hosea 4:6 G-d says “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.”

G-d does not desire His children to be ignorant and blindly following the winds of heretical doctrines. He created one law–one truth–for G-d is ONE and following the laws and teachings of any other besides Him is idolatry. Period.

2 Thessalonians 2:9 and 10 speaks of what will happen when the Anti-Messiah is fully unleashed in the earth. It says that through wicked ways people will be deceived because they would not receive the love of the truth which could have saved them.

We must TEST, TEST, TEST what we hear and see. We cannot afford to be blind, careless and naive. If we do not love the truth of G-d’s precepts and follow the standards and guidelines for living life that He sets up in His Word, we will live lives of lawlessness and complacency–creating “our own” doctrines and thus living under the ruler-ship of the world system and doing its bidding.

Just because someone teaches something that sounds “spiritual” and uses the name of G-d does NOT mean it is truth or that it is of the L-rd. In His word, the Father teaches us exactly what we should believe and what we should follow. Deviations from that or additions to that are schemes of the evil one.

This is why the L-rd said that the path that leads to life is a narrow one. To choose life so that we might live (Deut 30:19) is to choose the narrow path that requires G-d to be the guide. The wide road is easy to navigate and leaning on one’s own understanding or the secular worldview are a few of many ways that will get you there. To navigate a narrow road requires trust in the One who is leading.

May the Father guide you with His eye, cover you with His love and lead you into the truth which brings about freedom!

In the physical world we live in,
where the foundation of something is not secure,
invading problems have a port of entry.

For example, cracks in a building’s foundation
compromise the integrity of a building.
Cracks unsettle the structure and can weaken interior walls.
Bugs, termites and other intruders make their way
into a home that isn’t well protected, stable and strong.

In the same way, when the spiritual foundations in our lives,
homes or ministries are compromised, there are open cracks
for the enemy to enter and bring in an entourage
of confusion, deception, lies, delusions and much more.

I’ve been asked many times about what I’ve seen and experienced
in the time I was on staff as an intern at the International House
of Prayer (IHOP) here in Kansas City.
One of the major cracks in IHOP’s faulty foundation
is their return in many ways to the New Age roots of Catholicism.
The saints, patriarchs and characters of scripture
are the ones idolized, emulated and worshiped.

Everyone is encouraged to be a “Mary” at the feet of Jesus
or an “Anna” in the temple or a “David” (ie: worshiper).
The focus is not on being like Jesus.
It’s about being like a particular Bible character.
Jesus is not the primary focus…becoming like a person is.
Catholics worship Mary
IHOP-ers worship the pillar figures that have become a staple
part of their doctrine.

Another example of this is seen in IHOP’s
erroneous interpretation of the book of Song of Solomon.

The book of Song of Solomon is held above the rest of scripture as the primary way G-d relates to His people. This makes G-d out to be a sexual, lovesick, love-struck, hormone-driven teenager who is so “captivated” and “awestruck” that He longs after humanity and is running around Heaven going crazy without her.

The relationship G-d has to Israel is likened to that of a marriage in a few places in scripture…but it’s with the nation of Israel as a whole…it’s not an individual romance between God and a person. The book of Song of Solomon is written about the natural marriage relationship between husband and wife as written by Solomon about his own marriage. It is not the blueprint of Christianity or the primary starry-eyed, lustful way that IHOP paints G-d’s view of His people.

On 9/24/07, an ex-ihoper shares on a blog forum that as part of the required reading curriculum at IHOP’s Forerunner School of Ministry, students have to read a book called “The The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus” written by a Franciscan Priest named Brennan Manning.  Chapter six expounds on the belief of the author that “God is sexually aroused by His people.”  This led students to confessing that reading this book caused them to have sexual thoughts…which they forced themselves to excuse away by telling themselves “well, God feels this way so it’s ok”.  When Allen Hood (the school’s president) was confronted about the book, he refused to pull it from the shelves or from the required reading material of the class.  His response was simply to “chew on the meat and spit out the bones”.  This is the kind of dangerous thinking that causes many in cults such as IHOP to have a passive mind.  They come under a learned helplessness and lose all ability to filter and discern between truth and error.

This theology which is a staple teaching of IHOP also forces men to relate to G-d in a feminine way with G-d being his lover. G-d never intended for men to sacrifice their masculinity in order to worship Him. He does not place men into feminine roles. I’ve heard Mike say things like “when we say ‘kiss me with the kisses of your mouth’ we simply mean ‘kiss me with the kisses of your word’.
No where in scripture is this interpretation supported or taught as a way of G-d relating to the heart of His creation. That verse does not say “kiss me with the kisses of your word.” This is IHOP’s translation of this verse which they tacked on to make it mean what they want it to mean.

It’s a deeply sobering and serious thing to take a verse, passage or book in the Bible and re-draw the lines of meaning and interpretation to propagate your own theology and teach your spin on scripture. G-d is pretty clear in His word about how He desires it to be interpreted. He warns against his Word not being added to or taken from. To mis-interpret scripture is to mis-interpret and mis-represent
the heart of the One who wrote it.

(see also this website article titled “Mike Bickle’s Romantic Jesus”)