In light of the reports of religious sexual orgies in the home of IHOPKC leader Tyler Deaton, the murder Bethany Deaton - that leader's wife (an IHOPU student), the attempt at a cover up - staging the murder as a suicide, and the confession of Micah Moore - another IHOPU student (see here), we must ask:
Is there anything in the doctrine and practices of IHOP that led up to this?
IHOP, in its essence, is sensual. The language, the songs, the teachings all revolve around words like "intimacy," "ravished heart," "lovesick" and "Bridal paradigm." The "interns" at IHOP are subjected to a constant barrage of non-stop sensual music, with lyrics such as this:
I am lovesick, for my Beloved
My Beloved and my Friend
Only YOU can satisfy
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
The prize for hypnotic (endless repetition) goes to Misy Edwards and her song "Heartbeat." This set went 24 minutes, and this is not atypical for the IHOP prayer room.
Since the prayer room goes on 24/7, the interns are often expected to be in that prayer rooms in the wee hours of the night. The community at IHOP also practices an extreme form of fasting.
Repetitive sensual music, excessive fasting, sleep deprivation - a recipe for disaster. Throw in some aberrant teachings which emphasize a romantic relationship with God and you have IHOP in a nutshell.
Even back in 2009 we were hearing reports of men speaking of being "ravished in their hinder parts" by Jesus. While this may not be the viewpoint of leadership there, it reflects the sordid depravity behind the doctrine, and the logical end of such thinking. Also in 2009 we had Lee Grady, editor of Charisma Magazine stating this:
"It won't be long before we see some Christians having sexual experiences at the altar."
But it is not like we did not see this coming.
In 2007, an associate of mine, Rev. Keith Gibson, of the Apologetics Resource Center, wrote an excellent article on the Bridal Paradigm as it is emerging in the Charismatic church today. His thesis is that "Truth, taken to an extreme, becomes heresy." I'm going to quote his article in depth, because I really can't improve on it.
The bridal paradigm is a teaching that the image of the Bride is the primary identity for the church, especially the church of this unique end-time generation. This teaching has strong dominion theology undertones as there is a strong emphasis on the Bride co-reigning with Christ. Esther is seen as a type of the end-time Church. The bridal paradigm becomes the grid through which all Scripture is interpreted and through which all spiritual activity is engaged.
Thus we have teachings like Bridal intercession, the Global Bridegroom fast, the cross in the bridal paradigm etc. All of the scripture is seen as the relentless pursuit of the heavenly lovesick groom for the bride of His hearts desire. This message truly stands the gospel on its ear. No longer is the emphasis on a God who is working for His own glory and displaying His majesty in redeeming a lost and unworthy humanity. Now the story of redemption is on God seeking a suitable mate for His Son with the cross being the dowry.
God is described as ”in-love”, lovesick, the passionate Bridegroom, or having a ravished heart. He is the Lover with fire in His eyes for His bride. The church is to respond in similar manner as we pray for our love to be awakened, to be ravished by the love of the Bridegroom etc. etc. Images and language from Song of Solomon abound.
This teaching, while drawing upon a legitimate metaphor and the language of Scripture, pushes the metaphor beyond the boundaries of its proper understanding leading to an improper and unbiblical picture of God and His relationship to the Church.
The first problem is the emphasis on the metaphor of the Bride to the exclusion of all other images used to describe the Church. Yes, the church is the Bride of Christ, but that is not all that is said of the Church. The Church is also called the Body (1 Cor. 12), the children of God (Eph 3:14, 1 Jn 3 and others), an olive tree (Rom. 11), a field (1 Cor. 3:6-9), a temple (1 Pet. 2:5), a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9), a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9), God’s house (Heb. 3:6), the flock of God (1 Pet. 5:2), and an inheritance (Eph. 1:18). And this is just for starters!! Consulting any good systematic theology book will yield a veritable host of metaphors, titles and images of the church. Therefore right from the beginning we should understand that any teaching that focuses almost exclusively upon one metaphor is necessarily out of balance. Each of these titles is meant to teach us some important truth concerning the people of God. We simply do not have the right to fixate upon one to the neglect of the others. We do not have the right to elevate one to the place of primary position and evaluate all of Scripture through this lense. In like manner, Jesus is the Bridegroom but that is not all that is said about Jesus. This teaching is out of balance.
The second issue is that, while it is true that the metaphor of the Bride is used for the church as a whole, this same metaphor is never used for the individual believer. This may seem minor at first but it is actually very significant. It is the entire church that is the Bride of Christ. Each believer is a part but is not the Bride. It would appear that many of the prophetic teachers either misunderstand this or choose to ignore it. Due to this confusion, many of the statements of the prophetic teachers cause Jesus to sound like our personal boyfriend instead of our Lord. I have shared before of the man who claimed that he held Jesus for the first 30 minutes of his quiet time and then had Jesus hold him for the last 30 minutes. Jesus is not your boyfriend or lover. It is inappropriate to consider Him in this way.
A third issue is that the statement is a metaphor. It is not a literal statement. The metaphor is meant to teach us the truth about God’s love and commitment to us and our need for holiness and submission and yes, love for Him and a number of other things. But it is not meant to be literalized and physicalized (If that’s not a word, it should be.) This third issue brings a host of problems into play. It should be noted that, as with teachings on Contemplative Prayer, the source of much of this teaching is Roman Catholic mysticism. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and Madam Guyon, along with many others, have provided the foundation for this thought. This, in and of itself, should be a problem. Why would we go to those whose overall understanding of God is so poor expecting to find truth? Why would we draw from the polluted well of Roman Catholic mysticism hoping to find pure water? I have been told that it is because of their passion and certainly these authors can write passionately about God, but they can and did write just as passionately about the virgin Mary! This indicates to me, that the emphasis of the leaders of this movement is not at all grounded in a desire for truth but merely a desire to feel. And many of the “passionate” statements written by these mystics are squarely unbiblical. Consider the words of Catherine of Sienna who used to pray:
Surely a less Biblical picture of God could not be painted than that of a crazed madman drunk with love.
This literalizing of the metaphor can be seen in the abundance of overly romantic phrases used to describe God’s love for us and ours for God. We read that God is “lovesick” or ravished for us. These phrases portray a God who simply cannot find true joy apart from us, who will never be satisfied without us. These statements are more appropriate for an adolescent than Almighty God. These phrases portray God looking longingly at the individual Christian and saying, “You…..complete me.” Jesus is finally sent to earth “When He couldn’t take it any longer.” This is a far cry from the God of the Bible who is completely sufficient within Himself and needs nothing. (Ps. 50, Isa 40) The triune God is complete within Himself, lacking nothing including relationship.
Certainly Christ does love us. He loves us with a love that is beyond comprehension in its height, depth, width and breadth (Eph 3:18-19). But He is not romantic about us. He is not attracted to us. He does not get sweaty palms, or stomach flutters. He is not “in-love” with us as we commonly mean that term today. There is a difference.
-end extended quote-
So here we are in 2012. If you are going to understand IHOP, you must understand their signature doctrine - the Bridal Paradigm. I would invite you to spend some time looking at a more comprehensive article, some of which I've incorporated into this post, which will give you a much better understanding of the practices and doctrines of IHOP.
Article: BeyondGrace- A Profane Bride.