Is It Really All About Intimacy & Eschatology?

Posted: April 20, 2010 in Bridal Paradigm, IHOP, Mike Bickle, Uncategorized

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.

  1. […] About Intimacy & Eschatology? Posted: April 20, 2010 in Bridal Paradigm, IHOP, Mike Bickle Is It Really All About Intimacy &*Eschatology? | The Gospel Masquerade i wonder if i have anything else. the search feature works well enough. or…sinless, maybe you […]

  2. Deandra says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences regarding ihop and it’s history. I have been searching and doing research the past two months after red flags in my heart after I attended the conference this past December and saw the manifestations of what is the so called spirit. I had been completely bought on the message of ihop and I was ready to leave it all to move out there in the name of abandonment or so it’s called. I have been emotionally drained and I feel like I have been deprogramming everything I had ever learned the past three years watching it from afar and feeling like I had no purpose apart from ihop. Did you feel that way after uncovering everything? I heard lies that it was the only place I could go that understood my purpose and I could never be used. I felt like to experience God I had to be there. Do you feel that it creates a false reality of everything? Again thank you for your testimony and sharing your experience. It was such a confirmation and I felt alone uncovering a huge lie. Thank you again. Do you have any advice on how you came out of it all and got back to real life and the experiencing Jesus based on his word and not emotions and experiences?

    • Ariel says:

      Deandra, the things you describe sound very similar to my experiences around the time I left IHOP. The subliminal programing at IHOP which says that is the only place where you’re gifts and talents will truly be utilized and recognized is a dangerous and pervasive message. I believed that while I was there and I understand very well what you are referring to. I remember the disconnect after leaving and feeling that I could not be fully used by G-d elsewhere. In answer to your question, yes, I do think that IHOP creates a false sense of reality. In a lot of ways I believe it is their carefully designed alternate reality which keeps them running. Outside of the prayer room or IHOP missions base context, their teachings, vocabulary, etc. don’t stack up or make sense when you measure them against the tenets of the faith and the overarching themes and priorities that should be present within the life of a believer. But within IHOP, experience is measured against another experience…not scripture. You’re certainly not alone. Many people have gone through what you have described.

      In answer to your question regarding how to get back to a life that seeks the truth rather than emotions and experiences, check out my 2 most recent blogs for more info. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions. Hope this helps. Blessings to you Deandra!

  3. Diane says:

    Thanks, Ariel, for this article. I wrote a while back and am glad to say none in my bible study took our leader up on her offer to attend the house of prayer meetings with her—that is good.
    I did mention this to our pastor and he basically dismissed my husband and me and told us he was too busy—did not have time—to investigate teachings , organizations, people or ministries. We are finding a new church.
    Great fruit IHOP has….immorality esp in its roots, idolatry in the form of self worship (elitist pietism) and destruction of our youth as IHOP targets them as does Lou Engel and The Call. Rotten roots and associations. Not unlike pagan idol worship with its child sacrifice and immorality.

    Blessings Ariel!

    • Ariel says:

      Thank you for the update Diane. I pray that the Father orders your steps and leads you and your husband to a healthy, life-giving, scripture-teaching, real life living body of like-hearted believers to worship and grow with! All my best!

  4. Ariel: I am grateful for your journey, and your transparency, and your elegant expression of your wounding and recovery. I believe as Jesus said to Paul; “My strength is perfected in weakness.” and…”Jesus learned obedience through the things that he suffered.”

    I moved my family to IHOP in 1993 after a visit to a conference. These similar monastic bondage’s you speak of were in their early seed form in Mike’s heart even then. I believe they stem from his fascination with the Roman Catholic mystics as having a deeper revelation than any, and it is here that his quasi-romantic ideals spring of”The Bridal Paradigm”….with all of it’s soulish attachments.

    Mike believes, as a Roman Catholic Church sub-doctrine, in the “sacrificial” life. [ a works based faith..ascetism..]Sacrifice is one and the same as devotion, thereby the more sacrificial the better. ergo; IHOP is a morph of these perverted ideas about obedience, and service. IHOP is a modern neo-monastery! Everything therefore becomes, and must be PERFORMANCE! Rote, performed prayer; music, “praise” etc. Doing it is the only requirement…faithfully, religiously and zealously. Submission to mother superior, and the hierarchy…..It is death. What proclaims to be a road to life and God, then leads you away from God and life. This is the nature of the beast. DEAD RELIGION.

    Ariel, I have taken the liberty to post your testimony on I am Brothertom there, and am cheif dissenter on a thread about IHOP called; “IHOP to be questioned?”

    Very powerful stuff; sister. I credited your blog, of course.I want to stay in touch….if you want .

    Please pray that the thread will not be shut down by the enraged who will try and cause a fight. It is time that IHOP be exposed, and repented of. It is a wound to the precious body of Christ. Again, thank you…..and like you, I could go on for hours. I am so happy that Jesus came to you in your hour of need, and delivered you!….Tom.

  5. Kathleen Williams says:

    I am realizing as I grow the importance of the solid foundation of the Torah (a/k/a the Old Testament) I am reading Deuteronomy now as even as YHWH expresses His love for us (for His people all of us) we also in spirit and in truth have to look as clearly as we can at the Person speaking to us. When we see His Power and Holiness…He does not change. If this foundation is not in our heart, we wont have the proper fear and reverence of Him, His Set Apart Holy Love is not the common boyfriend love that is expressed with IHOP. No. We have to love Him as He truly is, Old Testament and all. When I was first born again I was reading the whole Scriptures and I was reading Isaiah. I felt the Holy Spriit showing me that when you love a Person you truly bring in your heart what makes Him angry. He was angry because He loved and His people turned away. Today I was reminded when I read Deuteronomy 13 He knows there are false ones around us. With the foundation of the Old Testament flowing through our veins it will keep us safe and in a foundation. I loved your description of the trunk and the branches. OH how often I felt trapped when questionning the branches as they were pointing and saying but look how truthful our trunk is? If you deny the branches you deny the trunk! That is not true. I am so thankful to be delivered. I read a book called The Book of Revelation through Hebrew Eyes. I shudder. We are not supposed to pervert or twist His Words. I shudder when I think of the whole doctrine IHOP made from the Book of Revelation. Where is the fear of G-d?

  6. julie says:

    In the early days of KCF, there was always an emphasis on having a passion for Jesus – that “passion” being fundamental in obedience to Him. It was said that with that type of passion, we would be an unstoppable force of obedience to God. It sounded great and I didn’t even question whether the scriptures placed an emphasis on this. The teaching had not yet morphed into what it is today, bordering on the erotic.

    That said, when we left the church and all of that teaching, I began to search the scriptures to see if it had the same emphasis. While the scriptures were clear that we were to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength; that if we love Him we would also obey Him; etc., I just didn’t find the emphasis on being passionate toward Him that was taught. There did, however, seem to be a GREAT emphasis in the scriptures on believing in Him, trusting in Him, and obeying Him. All three of these commands in the scriptures, repeated over and over again, seemed to be absent from the teachings coming from the pulpit. And we were saturated with teaching regarding being passionate for Jesus.

    And what is so wonderful – as I have walked out this journey, practically churchless, trusting so much in my risen Savior, believing His Word as written, sensitive and earnest to obey, looking only to Him – I find myself so very much in love with Him. Funny how that works.

    Thanks, sweet Ariel!

  7. jamadan says:

    There is nothing in Scripture that uses the word intimacy with respect to our relationship to the Lord. It uses the word “love” as in “agapao” defined as exhibiting affectionate reverence, prompt obedience and grateful recognition of benefits received (Thayer’s). That is how one describes Peter as he jumps off his boat to swim to shore after he realizes the man who told him to drop his net off to the side resulting in a huge haul was the post Resurrection Jesus whom he’d only seen once a week ago – his love for his Lord. That same love propelled him on a life of service and obedience ending by his own crucifixion and his insistence that he was unworthy to be killed in the same manner as his Lord, so he was crucified upside-down.

    That’s the kind of love we’re called to. A love that drives us to lay down our lives and live for Christ and to be willing to die for Him. This is a more profound commitment and love than can possibly be conveyed through the “eros” like love described in the Song of Solomon. Many, if not most, men in the church do lack that kind of love for the Lord, so I can’t object to the need to wake men up. But we’re misdirecting their emotions into a touchy-feely passion that is not what God seeks.

    • Ariel says:

      Very true…I especially agree with your last 2 sentences. This kind of love is very misdirected and is not how G-d intended for men (or women for that matter) to relate to Him.

  8. mkayla says:

    So with this “bridal paradigm” and icky love songs, is it any wonder men are accused of finding a problem with this type of intimacy Jesus? I’ve heard this said to men groups as tho they lack and need to overcome this hang up. But in reality, the problem is not that the men lack anything, it is this twisted teaching which lacks truth. And I too, also being a woman, have found there are some songs I just will not sing to the Lord. He is my God and not my lover.

    As a side note, I came on a quote from Richard Foster today relative to this type of twisted intimacy. I can’t remember what it said now. But, it did strike me as this also being a part of the Emergent Church. It just shows you how crazy it is, being they endorse and practice homosexuality. I’m not saying Foster does, but many others do. Kinda makes you wonder what kind of spirits show up and speak during their moments of contemplative prayer and lectio divina, doesn’t it? Certainly it is not our Lord.

    Nice to see you writing again Ariel. I was just about to send you a message to inquire. 🙂


  9. jamadan says:

    I know what you’re saying. I remember a David Ruis song called “True Love” that had lyrics like “Let me know the kisses of your mouth”. I wanted to love the song, but it always struck a tone that was too awkward for me to enter into both in the “passionate” tone and the lyrics. I always felt it was not striking the right understanding of intimacy and love that was appropriate as Agape. And I know that and other similar songs were extremely popular and influential.

    Much of the Body of Christ doesn’t understand the Lord’s intention that we have an intimate relationship with Him. BUT, the call to intimacy and returning to your first love does not equate to a sensual passion that seems to be at the core of IHOP and Morningstar. True intimacy with God is a sense of relationship that is manifested by a prayer-filled life in which we are in constant communication with the Lord through the Holy Spirit and is marked by complete devotion, obedience, trust and transparency. Jesus said “if you love me, you’ll obey me”.

    So many Christians focus on pure theology or pure service, both of which are needed and good, but are empty without a living relationship with God and making ourselves vulnerable to Him and asking for His fellowship and direction continually. Intimacy with the Lord is what brings me Peace and keeps His love alive in me. But my expression of that intimacy does not match what I hear from IHOP and Morningstar.

    More later.

    • Ariel says:

      Some very insightful thoughts Jamadan. Thank you! I agree…there are many ‘worship’ songs being recorded today that make me feel icky when I hear them. Sad that we have to filter through the messages in worship music now because so much of it is full of heretical doctrines.