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.