Friday, February 7, 2014

The Mainstreaming of IHOP-KC

Here's a question: what do the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the International House of Prayer in Kansas City have in common? I mean besides from both having founders who claimed to have spoken directly to God, claimed to have received special direction from God regarding how the church was to go, claimed to have received special insight into the true meaning of scriptural passages from God, and claimed to have received a special commission from God on how to handle and lead the current state of the church. Besides all that, what do they have in common?

Over the past few decades, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (more popularly known as Mormonism) has begun to attempt to mainstream itself. Whereas in the olden times they taught that there were two churches - the church of the devil and the Mormon church - nowadays they attempt to pass themselves off as just another denomination, like the PCA, LCMS, Reformed Baptist churches, etc. They do this by softening their language to sound more and more orthodox, while leaving out all the questionable theology, or the theology unique to the teachings of their founder. For example, they will tell you that they believe this God to be "the God of this world," which sounds harmless...until you realize that Mormonism teaches God is quite literally the God of this world, and that all other worlds have their own gods.

I couldn't help but notice, in the past few years, that IHOP-KC has begun to do likewise. I've written before about what Francis Chan's visit to IHOP-KC's 2013 OneThing Conference meant - namely, getting a big name in the Evangelical community to come out and declare publicly "I love Mike Bickle" and "I love IHOP-KC" (which Francis Chan, unfortunately, did). I've mentioned that those within IHOP-KC have heard Mike Bickle admit that the "vision for IHOP is at its lowest point," and they "need people to buy into the movement." One way they seem to be going about this, aside from getting big names to support them, is by attempting to soften their theological rhetoric when discussing prayer, missions, and the like.

A recent article in Charisma magazine, and about the 2013 OneThing Conference, showcases this. It discusses the issues of prayer and worship at IHOP-KC, but just from this one article, one would never have assumed the deeper implications believed about these subjects at IHOP-KC. Take, for example, this part at the beginning (quotes from the article will be in purple):
"We want to see the gospel preached and 24/7 worship and prayer in every tribe and tongue," said Mike Bickle, founder of IHOPKC, in the opening session.

Bickle added, "We're believing for 10,000 prayer chains or prayer ministries across the earth. We're hosting the first meeting, bringing together the movements in church planting, missions, prayer and Bible translation. There's one movement in God's heart, and some people think a call to prayer and fasting is a call to isolation and [to] disengage. The missions movement needs the prayer movement, and the local church needs to be filled with the glory of God."

More than 500 leaders from around the world met for the first Onething Leadership Summit.

"We sent letters to 200 leaders, inviting them to this summit six weeks ago," says Daniel Lim, CEO of IHOPKC. "Over 80 percent of the leaders we invited said yes. This is such a unique meeting because we have a common urgency that we need to pray."
Reading this, you would think that IHOP-KC was just another movement desiring to evangelize, like many others out there. Why, however, do they believe in prayer and fasting? Why do those at IHOP-KC believe there is a "common urgency that we need to pray"? What does that entail? What is not mentioned in the article is that the "urgency" to pray comes from a belief that through prayer we grant God the permission to act on earth as He pleases. What also is not mentioned is that, according to IHOP-KC's end time beliefs, when enough prayer is offered up to God, then the vengeance against the antichrist and the powers of evil will begin.

And what of the fasting? As taught by Misty Edwards and many others (including Bickle himself), fasting and prayer brings about the ability to become more "in tune" with God...which at IHOP-KC means being able to receive the "secret things" of God's heart, namely end times revelations and special insight into the spiritual realm. The IHOP-KC view of the rewards of fasting is like a mix between Gnosticism and Christian eschatology.

Another example of what I'm talking about is seen later on in the article, and is written after a discussion on the need for Bible translations in missions:
Bickle sees the house of prayer movement as a catalyst for missions, evangelism and Bible translation.

"We're just hosting the dialogue and providing the platform for new relationships, new ideas and new plans every year in Kansas City," he says. "The house of prayer movement is the banner for all of these over movements."
Is that all it is? Why was Mike Bickle called to begin the International House of Prayer? According to Bob Jones, a proven false prophet but someone whom Bickle calls his good buddy, God raised up Mike Bickle to lead an end times movement among the youth to prepare the church for the return of Jesus. Teachers and preachers at IHOP-KC and its related movement continually use language in the vain of, "the Lord is doing this," "the Lord is raising up," etc. This is what all those "missions, evangelism, and Bible translation" ministries are getting involved with.

When you present people with this kind of watered down rhetoric, it's not hard to win supporters, or people who will at best have antipathy towards you. Such a person will encounter a critic of IHOP-KC and respond to them, "I don't get it, why do you dislike them so much? They just seem to enjoy prayer." It is similar to those who are ignorant of the errors of Mormonism and respond to Christian discernment with, "I don't get it, they believe in Jesus too, right? Why do you think they're not Christian?"

The unfortunate thing is that many who come across IHOP-KC through these kinds of articles may eventually have enough of an interest to sign up for the prayer room or at IHOPU, and so fall into the snare of the wolves in sheep's clothing. There they will be taught and fed the truly erroneous doctrines given by Bickle and his followers. We should pray and ask God that this does not happen, and that those currently at IHOP-KC would be awakened by the Spirit to the spiritual junk food being fed to them, and then freed from the yoke placed upon them by their Hyper-Charismatic leaders.