"We want all to be equipped to see and expose deception, to help others avoid it. We must warn and rescue those who are involved in false teaching and practice by teaching them the truth."
To that we say, "Amen!" Let's examine Bickle's teachings on the characteristics of a cult, and see how IHOP fits in with this. At Bickle's invitation.
In our response we will be relying heavily on IHOP's Blueprint Prophecy, in it's sundry versions. The Blueprint Prophecy is the foundational document of IHOP, and is given near-cannonical credence. The author has never been revealed, and Bickle has refused to let the body of Christ judge this prophetic word in its entirety, preferring to hold back certain elements of the prophecy. And this foundational "word from the Lord" has been revised several times. Go figure.
The prophecy starts out stating that one should wait until God confirmed this prophecy in your spirit. That should raise some red flags immediately. We test prophecy primarily against the Word, not some "burning in the bosom" as do the Mormons.
"A cult is a group that deviates from the doctrines and practices of historic Christianity and has an inordinate loyalty to one leader, whose beliefs are not found in Scripture (as affirmed by historic Christianity)." (3 parts)
1. Historic Christianity
IHOP has certainly deviated from the ordinary practices of Christianity, with their Latter Rain emphasis on restoring the Tabernacle of David, and the entire concept of IHOP, 24/7 prayer, and "prayer missionaries." In 1982, Mike Bickle received a prophetic word that said "I (the Lord) will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in one generation." This has been the goal and the mission of Bickle's ministry since that point. You cannot claim orthodoxy and change at the same time.
The Latter-Rain movement has never been recognized as orthodox Christianity, yet the Blueprint prophecy states of his movement:
"The Out-Pouring of the Latter Rain shall be released in this area and upon this city. It shall be noised abroad even world-wide. They will stand in awe and will return unto the Holy reverence of My Name and of My people." (Blueprint quotes are in Blue)
This is not a matter of shared terminology. The practices of IHOP are the practices of the New Order of the Latter Rain. Note also this from the Blueprint Prophecy:
"I will take people in the Spirit and catch them away in the Spirit…it shall be by Me and I shall teach them in new ways."
People in this movement talk about visiting heaven and even teleporting. One of the foundational prophets of the movement, Bob Jones, claims to visit heaven often, sometimes several times a day. This is not "Historic Christianity."
2. Loyalty to One Leader
When you say IHOP you say Mike Bickle. I heard one IHOPper recently dismiss a controversial statement by IHOP leader Lou Engle by stating that that was Lou's statement and does not represent IHOP doctrine (it did). Apparently, the only leader qualified to represent IHOP is Mike Bickle. In the past, Bickle's teachings were on the fotb website. In recent years, they have developed a special website archiving the history and teachings of IHOP. It is called MikeBickle.org.
Needless to say, this end-time Apostle, commissioned by Jesus himself - in heaven - is held in high esteem at IHOP. Heaven you say? Yes, in a courtroom that was built of clouds. While Bickle is in this courtroom a "whole line of" golden chariots appear. He saw men with those chariots and he believed those to be the 35 or so "super-apostles" that the Lord had previously told Bob Jones would be birthed out of his movement. A chariot appeared and "the Lord said 'get in it' and I knew intuitively, instantly it was an Apostolic ministry."
3. Beliefs not found in Scripture (as affirmed by historic Christianity)
For starters, the Blueprint Prophecy, the foundational document of IHOP, is not found in scripture nor is it affirmed by historic Christianity. Many of the beliefs of IHOP are also not found in scripture or affirmed by historic Christianity.
"False teachers pervert the teaching about the grace of God by legalism or lewdness. False teachers do not hold to the main and plain doctrines of Scripture."
The over-emphasis on the so-called Bridal Paradigm has led to a sensual vocabulary at IHOP. They speak of being "lovesick" and "ravished." Matt Gilman, at an IHOP conference sang "so heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss." At another conference thousands were "married" to Christ. Back in 2009 we were hearing reports of men speaking of being "ravished in their hinder parts" by Jesus. The over-emphasis of this teaching, based on an over-allergorization of the Song of Songs, coupled with thousands of young people living in over-crowded settings has led to where IHOP is today. Yes, I'd call it lewdness.
Bickle's convoluted teachings on the Song of Songs lie in contrast to the simple (plain) understanding of the book by the Historic church. Bickle's "Bridal Paradigm" is his signature doctrine, and this is in part because it is unique to him.
"Their members must accept what the cult leader believes without ever challenging their doctrines. They do not want their members to think critically for themselves."
In almost 10 years of studying and dialoging with IHOPpers, almost universally they do not to put the teachings and practices of IHOP up for discussion. I have been told by some that they did not want to even hear it. Other's routinely throw scriptures about judging in your face (see recent comments on this blog for examples).
IHOP places a lot of stock in it's prophetic history, but there is a lot about IHOP's history that is conveniently left out of those lessons. When these things are brought up, again the typical response is "you're judging." When told that we are to test things by the scriptures (as a Berean) one is most often called a "pharisee." One pejorative unique to IHOP seems to the the term "scoffer" which they apply to anyone who does not "get it."
IHOP also uses the term "rabid dogs" to describe Christians who don't understand the special end-times assignment of the IHOP elite. Mike Bickle again, recounting a prophetic vision:
“I was in the riverbed with my brother Pat. And there were dogs with rabies on both sides of the riverbed. They were barking. There was only 4 inches of water but a rabid dog cannot get in water. And the Lord told Bob ‘These (dogs) are like righteous men; even in the body of Christ. They will bark and they will accuse and they will put down this purpose of this young adult prayer movement…because they won’t understand it…because we have such a focused assignment from the Lord.”
"The members are often required to cut ties with their family."
Anecdotally, more than a few stories have come out of IHOP stating that this was done. Oddly, we are not hearing this about similar places like Bethel or Toronto. And we hear stories of parents who contact IHOP with concerns that are brushed off. Not all of these stories are totally accurate, of course, but there seems to be a pattern.
"They isolate their people from their families, the church and society."
A case could easily be made that the demands of the prayer room roster (the "sacred trust"), and the mentality of being "forerunners" has done just that. IHOP prayer missionaries are expected to raise their own support - the typical model being asking for donations - in order to serve full-time as intercessors and worshippers. This removes them from society, and from their family and church back home when they move to Kansas City, the new Jerusalem. This isolation is made worse by the night watch shifts and lack of sleep.Anyone who thinks that the IHOPpers are not a close-knit, isolated group, need only look back to the Blueprint Prophecy and see that this is by design:
"Their responsibility lies within Me and their safety lies within drawing close together. Yes, I would have them draw real close together. I say unto you again, that their safety lies in drawing real close together."
"Cults cross biblical boundaries of behavior especially in immorality and finances."
Immorality has been part of IHOP's history from the start. First there was the homosexual prophet Augustine Alcala (who later died of aids). Then there was prophet Bob Jones asking women to disrobe while he prophesied to them. And the alcoholic prophet Paul Cain sodomizing boys at IHOP's Shiloh retreat center. These three "prophets" were instrumental in building the foundation of corruption at IHOP. And these stories, if even mentioned in the "Prophetic History" lessons, are glossed over as quickly as possible.
The recent sex-and-murder scandal is just another in a long string of sorid stories coming out of IHOP. Note that Tyler Deaton, one of IHOP's "division coordinators" on their Friendship Groups administrative team, had been at IHOPKC for four years. I suspect that we will find that pornography played a role in that man's fall, and I'm hearing reports of other students with similar issues.
Statements in the Blueprint Prophecy about finances should raise much concern.
"I shall be your purse bearer. I shall raise up ministers of finance in this area.
I will hand the checks and the money as the time is prepared for this."
Ok, so the funding is supernatural. But some of the practices, such as post-it notes on donation checks is not. And questions have arisen regarding Diane Bickle's "Gladheart Realty" and it's close association with this not-for-profit organization." And here's a quote from Bickle's associate Bob Fraizer, speaking of those "ministers of finance."
"The Treasure Bringers are those with an anointing from God to facilitate this massive wealth-transfer. They are spiritual 'Robin Hoods.' Their greatest joy is plundering the wealth of the world for their Lord."
"Cults separate from the wider Church and operate with an elite spirit, believing
that they alone have a special status with God."
Charges of elitism at IHOP (and its predecessors) go back a long way. Ernie Gruen leveled such a charge, and Bickle admitted it was true. Elitism is built into IHOP's foundation. After all, when you are going to change the understanding and expression of Christianity, it should be obvious that you "get it" and the rest of the church does not. IHOP has taught the Jones and Cain doctrines of the Manifested Sons of God. They also call themselves "forerunners." In 1983 Mike Bickle stated :
"I believe that this is the generation that God has ordained before the beginning of the world to usher in the presence of His Son."
The generation that Bickle speaks of are the same as Bob Jones' chosen seed. These are the ones who come to IHOP. Bickle separates himself from the church - at one time (speaking of pre-trib theology) he stated to the youth of America "your pastors are lying." Bickle, like Rick Joyner, believes there will be a great confrontation in the church, as the true believers triumph over the nominal believers. Bickle again:
"Many will fall because of this thing, because their hearts are not truly God’s, they’re in the church only in terms of sitting on a pew on Sunday morning. Many of them sit on church on Sunday morning and they will rise, because they will receive. He said it will be a sign that will be opposed throughout the whole earth. The move of God that’s coming will have great opposition because in verse 35, it says the-the end of this is that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed when the move of God comes. Because you see when God’s move comes, there is a confrontation."
Elitism is by design at IHOP- it is established in the Blueprint Prophecy:
"Even out of the loins of the blood line of the flesh of Abraham--even as I said
there would be many seeds and many nations, kindred, and tongues… I shall
raise up and there shall flow forth many sons and daughters. They shall be
known and renowned. Even as the children of the renowned – shall they be."
The "known and renowned" part echos the teachings about "dread champions" by Paul Cain, who is a foundational prophet of IHOP.
This is just an overview. I urge you to study Mike Bickle's teaching on cults, study his Blueprint Prophecy and the foundations of IHOP and see just how he has defined his own movement.
Learn more about IHOP.
Read about the Blueprint Prophecy.
2012 Version of 7 signs following Deaton's death
2009 Version of 7 signs following Candler's death
Read Ariel's testimony "Why I believe IHOP is a Cult."
"We want all to be equipped to see and expose deception, to help others avoid it.