Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Open Email to IHOP-KC and Mike Bickle

The following is an email I sent to the International House of Prayer on February 6, 2013. Initially, when I had sent a question to the Twitter account of IHOPU, I received cordial and prompt responses. They eventually directed me to Mike Bickle's assistant at IHOP-KC. As of yet, I have not received a response. Because of the explanations I went through in the email, I decided to share it on my blog for others to read. Perhaps I will receive responses here.



During the One Thing conference, I replied to a tweet made by IHOPU, which had made mention of an Anna anointing. I asked them for the biblical foundation of such an anointing, and they sent me to a lecture by Mike Bickle regarding it. I printed out the notes, listened to Mr. Bickle speak, and then sent an email to IHOPU asking if I could direct some questions and concerns. They provided me with this email address, and so I thought I would send said questions and concerns this way.

Firstly, in Part II, a heavy emphasis is placed on the function of the Temple in the Old Testament. However, this is all under the old covenant, and in the way worship functioned in the theocracy of ancient Israel and Judah, and the Temple itself was twice destroyed - the last time being by the Romans in 70 AD. Since then, it has never been rebuilt, and its services have not continued. Mr. Bickle argues, in the lecture, that the Temple worship was never nullified in the new covenant - however, there seem to be two problems here:

1) The Temple model at IHOP-KC seems to be selective about what is accepted from the old covenant worship. For example, the musicians and dancers are used, but no animal sacrifices or priesthood. As pertaining the priesthood, Bickle calls the Levites "intercessory missionaries" in the lecture, however the Levites were the priests descended from Aaron and who assisted in the sacrifices - they did not simply sing and dance and pray. Hebrews 7 compares and contrasts Christ to those Levitical priests, saying that Christ has now replaced them as a better priest, fulfilling their function more perfectly. As pertaining the animal sacrifices, it will be granted that one might argue Christ's sacrifices undid the animal sacrifices, but that brings us to the next point:

2) No where in the New Testament is the Temple ever made the exact model of worship. In fact, the Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear that the worship and Temple in the Old Testament were but a shadow of the heavenly things, and that in the new covenant it takes place in heaven with Christ, who now functions as our intercessor.
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. [Hebrews 8:1-7]
And likewise later on, in which Christ is called the "greater and more perfect tent":
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. [Hebrews 9:11-14]
The law and all under it is called by the author of Hebrews "a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities" (Heb 10:1). The lesson of the epistle to the Hebrews - written supposedly while the Temple was still up and functioning - seems to be that Christ fulfills the role of the Levitical priesthood, as well as the role that the Temple functioned in in sacrificing and atonement. The Temple was not a model for how to worship, but a shadow for the final "Temple" in heaven, where God the Son would intercede continually for His people and their sins, which were wiped clean by the blood spilled on Calvary.

For certain, worship and the formation of God's church was discussed in New Testament scripture. We see the leadership organized in the pastoral epistles. We see rules for orderly worship in 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. We have examples of how early Christians worshiped from both Christian and non-Christian sources in the days of the post-apostolic church. None of it suggests anything close to the Temple of David, or that we should emulate the Temple worship right down to constant, never ceasing worship.

Secondly, some of the quotations and use of passages from the Old Testament in Section III concerned me, as they often seemed to be out of context or eisegeted.

For example, Isaiah 62:6-7 is cited and is said to be about intercessory missionaries at the end of the age, however it appears no commentator or theologian has ever perceived it in this fashion until recently. The "watchmen" mentioned in verse 6 has most often been interpreted as general ministers of religion (cf. Ez 3:17; 33:7; Isa 22:11; 52:8; 56:10), and Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were definitely "watchmen" in the post-captivity era. Today, the "watchmen" are ministers and pastors of the Christian faith. The words "they shall never be silent" does not imply constant singing or praying, but rather constant vigilance - it was a reference to the practice of watchmen of the era to call out the hour and the state of security ("three o'clock, all's well," etc.). Generally, the passages do not immediately reveal any prophecy about an end times prayer movement. It might discuss ministers of the gospel, but not "intercessory missionaries."

Another example is seen with Isaiah 42:10-15. It is said to be the "clearest picture" of "prophetic singing before Jesus' return." However, context has to be examined here. verses 1-9 had discussed the coming of God's Servant (ie., Christ), and part of this section is quoted by the evangelist Matthew in Mt 12:18-21 and is said by him to have been fulfilled (Mt 12:17) - in other words, it's talking about the first coming of Christ. In light of this news of a coming savior, the prophet Isaiah therefore tells the people to "sing to the LORD a new song" (v. 10). The following sections are in reference to the lands around Judah - where Jews either lived or interacted with the people of - celebrating this news.Like with Isaiah 62:6-7, one cannot see an end times prayer movement here unless it is first assumed.

While perhaps not a big deal, the last part of this use of Isaiah 42 that surprised me was the wording of verse 15 in the notes, which are done with: "I will lay waste [by earthquakes] the mountains..." [emphasis/italics in original]. Actually, look at the full wording of verse 15:
I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn the rivers into islands, and dry up the pools. [Isaiah 42:15]
The words "lay waste" actually are "dry up" in the original language, and the "mountains and hills" are a synechdoche for the trees on them. The overall context is saying that, through a kind of drought, the Lord will defeat his enemies. It is not talking about an earthquake.

Thirdly, I was also concerned about some of the passages cited in Section IV, regarding the New Testament and "night and day prayer."

For example, Mr. Bickle says that the "order of worship that God commanded David to timeless and valid today," and then quotes Matthew 6:10 and highlights "on earth as it is in heaven." However, this isn't saying anything about 24/7 prayer. In fact, this is from the Lord's Prayer, which - after advising us not to pray in overly public ways or commit vain repetition (v. 5-8), Christ states in verse 9: "pray then like this" (or "in this manner" literally). Again, it's not talking about praying in the same fashion the Levites and Temple employees did, let alone committing 24/7 prayer.

Another example is seen with Luke 18:7, which I have noticed seems to be a favorite of many IHOP-KC staff members to validate the growing prayer movement. In the lecture, Bickle attempts to tie it in with Isaiah 62:6 simply because it speaks of "night and day" and "justice." However, a reading of the full context shows what it's really about:
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. [Luke 18:1; emphasis mine]
Verse 7 is coming off the tail end of the parable, but the parable is said right off the bat to simply be a lesson about how we should pray to God always and not lose heart if prayers are not answered. That is the context of the parable - not an end times prayer movement.

Yet another example is seen with the citation of Paul in 1 Th 3:10, 2 Ti 1:3, and 1 Ti 5:5 which is said to show how the apostle "embraced night and day prayer in various seasons." However, in all these examples, it clearly appears that Paul is using a figure of speech. Are we to believe that the apostle Paul literally prayed 24/7 that he would met with the Thessalonians again and encourage them? Was he literally praying 24/7 for Timothy and nothing or no one else? Was he commanding widows to do nothing in their lives but 24/7 prayer? Was he commanding them to take shifts doing 24/7 prayer as IHOP-KC does? The answer would have to, logically, be no. Paul's use of "night and day" here is not to be taken in a literal 24/7 sense, but in the same sense as a husband might tell his wife, "I'm always thinking about you," while not meaning literally that he's always thinking of her and not the bills, his job, etc.

The final example I'll bring up can be seen in part D of Section IV, and go through it bit by bit:

1) Citing Luke 10:38-42, with the story of Mary and Martha, it is written by Mike Bickle in the notes that "Jesus valued the lifestyle of Mary of Bethany in sitting before him." He combines it in the lecture with Mark 14, even though these are two different stories and were isolated events - not necessarily lifestyles. While Mary lived in honor to the Lord and it cannot be denied she had a good presence in his earthly ministry, it was not night and day prayer that was emphasized in these two stories: in Luke 10, it actually states that Mary was seated and "listened to his teaching" (v. 39) - it was her honoring of God's word that was commended; Mark 14 was about Christ's burial, not about 24/7 prayer.

2) While Cornelius and John the Baptist and the apostles did indeed pray, how are these related to "hourly" prayer, let alone an "end-time" prayer movement? All believers pray, and while some certainly pray more than others, does any mention of a person praying signify that they are doing so in the same manner as a 24/7 prayer movement? It seems like any time prayer is mentioned, it is automatically assumed to be in the same context as what is done at IHOP-KC.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, much of what happens at IHOP-KC and how it operates seems to be grounded upon the personal revelations given to Mike Bickle (1983, Cairo, etc.) and, at times, Bickle's peers. Throughout the lecture, we constantly hear "God is doing this," "now this is happening," "the Spirit is doing this," etc. This seen both in the notes and throughout the spoken part. The very foundation of IHOP-KC was by divine revelation. The very acronym "IHOP" was through divine revelation. Several sections of scripture are read through the lens of IHOP-KC-centered divine revelation. This causes me to want to ask a few questions:

1) How do we know it all comes from God? With what surety do we have? How do we know it was God that Bickle heard in Cairo?

2) Does this not logically mean that any who oppose IHOP-KC and its cause are acting against God? This isn't a matter of a difference of opinions - if God is truly working through IHOP-KC and is using it as an instrument for His end times movement, then there is no in between or gray area for this...those who work against IHOP-KC or oppose its theology, teachings, and causes are working against God and His end times movement.

3) Isn't the authority not truly on scripture, but on our presupposition about what scripture says through the guidance of supposed divine revelations? The last statement in the notes is:
We grow in revelation of the Word gaining insight into His will, ways, and salvation and to understand the unique dynamics of His end-time plan to transition the earth to the age to come. [emphasis in original]
Given that barely any one, in the past 2000 years of church history, has ever received such revelation regarding God and His end-time movement, how is this not reading scripture through a lens? If not, why isn't it?

I look forward to hearing your response.