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Does IHOP Promote Works-Righteousness?


I wanted to write on something fun and light tonight, but alas, that was not God’s perfect sovereign will…or my decision at the last moment.

Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria

The 5 Solas

If you have a brief minute, please read this post on Internet Monk: Works-Righteousness By Any Other Name Still Stinks.

Chaplain Mike nails it:

It is not, however, biblical to manipulate people by destroying their assurance through religious double-talk and by teaching them to trust in their own dedication rather than the Gospel of grace in Jesus Christ.

Now, let me be perfectly, utterly clear. I have friends who are fans of IHOP and Mike Bickle, and even some friends who work there. Friends I love and respect and cherish…and deeply miss. Friends who I am certain are Christians and are trying to follow God, and whose lives have legitimately been touched by God through the ministry of IHOP. Friends who I’m also certain are being led astray and will eventually be betrayed by those they follow and the ideas they hear.

Also a disclaimer – I have never been to IHOP. For a long time I earnestly desired to go, but now I view it as the providence of God that I was never able to go. I have however read many articles published by IHOP, studied the history of Bickle and IHOP, listened to the Prayer Room for countless hours, and studied along to any Mike Bickle sermon or message my friends encouraged me to listen to. I am familiar with his preaching and theology but from afar, so the legitimate counter of “you can’t have an opinion until you have attended and sat under him for years” is semi-valid.

Put simply, I regard Mike Bickle as nothing more than a false prophet who doesn’t believe the historic orthodox truths of the faith and has repeatedly lied to and deceived many believers through heretical doctrine and false demonic promises and visions. But for the sake of my friends whom I love, I don’t launch into some “heresy hunting” campaign, and instead simply offer my observations and then move on, blessing them and wishing them the best.

1 – I have never Bickle or any one at IHOP preach the gospel.

2 – The excerpts from the sermon above clearly indicate that Bickle does not believe in the Solas, which for centuries have been received as Biblical.

3 – According to the Biblical qualifications of a prophet, Bickle falls short, as his prophecies have been wrong more than once.

4 – Many who attend IHOP ‘change’, becoming disillusioned with their local church and Christian family, and instead run to IHOP to devote their life, time, and money to the cause.

5 – False prophecies are given by false prophets who have been taught classical eastern mysticism techniques for gaining knowledge, such as trances and repetitions during meditations.

6 – I’ve seen people who appeared to be growing in the Lord begin to backslide and become fearful, legalistic, and utterly depend on a “fix”.

7 – In the last days, it’s those who are “prophesying and casting out demons” that Jesus will say to to “depart from me, I never knew you.”

8 – They are eschatology driven (similar to other groups like the Mormons), but have reasoned out a different eschatology than the Church Fathers.

9 – They distinguish between those in the body of Christ, when in Christ we are all part of one body.

10 – They make boring music. (a joke! a joke!)

Now, to their credit, I know of godly pastors who want nothing to do with IHOP. They will tell their congregation the truth as they see it, what they believe, and declare they will have nothing to do with IHOP, but won’t forbid anyone to go there, which is the right course of action as we all have freedom. Often, however, the very theology of these pastors lends to people being drawn toward ministries like IHOP, as the young do not have the seat belt of the old. I’d rather not think this is just one of those times when you have to touch the stove to learn it is hot.

I say these things knowing full well and in sorrow that many will just attack me, defriend me, hate me, or accuse me. Honestly, some of the losses will be more than I can bare, as if a child just died or a limb was cut off. People whom I love and have shed tears over. If you do believe in prophecy, then one of the prophecies that has been given to me dozens of times in my life is that I’m to be a “watchtower” to my friends, showing them the truth no matter what.

I’m not certain where I stand on prophecy, as I’m fairly certain Old Testament prophecy (“thus saith the Lord”) has ended but New Testament prophecy (“encouragement”) continues, but the fact is that God has granted me an analytical mind that also takes the Bible and the faith seriously. I wouldn’t be able to say what I say if He hadn’t shown me or revealed it to me. Or wanted me to know it.

And I wouldn’t be able to share it if He also didn’t want me to.

Hopefully this will be the only post I ever make about Mike Bickle and IHOP. I’m quite tired of talking about them. Few my age are willing to listen. Perhaps one day…

Comments will be read but not guaranteed to be replied to, as I know the IHOP community can be very vocal online. Please refrain from pathos and ethos appeals and throw in some logos and Logos as well.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. greg r permalink
    01/06/2011 8:56 pm

    Just visiting from IMONK; just 2 days before the Bickle thing, I asked Chap Mike and friends to run something on Bickle and/or the NAR…..I’m wondering how long this mojo will hold.. I was quite surprised that , as far as I know, not one single IHOP-er responded to the IMONK post….those guys must not get out much. Blessings on all you hold dear, and a hope filled 2011 to you and friends.

    • stuartblessman permalink*
      01/06/2011 11:07 pm

      Thanks Greg, for you as well. Yeah, no IHOPers yet, but I’ve seen them elsewhere…

  2. 01/10/2011 11:19 am

    Hey Stu,

    Thanks for clarifying a bit more what we were discussing a little while ago. It’s nice to see an itemized, obviously thought-through list of grievances, rather than name-calling and vitriol. I hate disunity (even and especially about theology) in the body of Christ far more than I hate it in national politics (and I HATE it in politics). I think your list of grievances is rock-solid, if indeed IHOP is guilty of such offenses.

    As I said before, I’m withholding judgment on IHOP and their “false prophet” until I look more into it. I too have never attended IHOP. Like you, I have dozens of friends who have visited, and many who have “bought in” to the IHOP wave. Hopefully they will not be lost or condemned for embracing this organization. Personally, I think they’ll be just fine, and will bear much fruit, but I will keep praying that they stay strong in the faith.

    For all critics of Mike Bickle, especially to those who think he is a heretic and false prophet, I recommend reading his Statement of Faith and Affirmations and Denials:

    This is the foundation of what IHOP believes, and the (mis)interpretation, (mis)representation, or (mis)understanding of their practices and teachings should be judged against these (very clear) statements. These statements affirm the “Solas” and, to my judgment, appear to be very solid and non-heretical beliefs. Critics will have to decide if Bickle and IHOP are adhering to their own stated beliefs, but if they are not, they can at least be called on it, as any brother can be corrected in the faith – returning to Sola Scriptura, etc.

    Finally, as I’ve said before, we have to keep looking at the fruit. A good tree does not produce bad fruit, but neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. While we should be wary of organizations that inspire their followers to further join and contribute to their organization (rather than other ones), IHOP is not inherently bad just because people leave everything to go join IHOP. YWAM is a self-perpetuating organization in many ways, yet most Christians would agree that it has born much fruit in its 50-year history, literally making disciples in all nations on earth. If IHOP convinces people ONLY to sow into IHOP, and not to make disciples (disciples of Christ, not factions of IHOP) in all of their respective cities, then they are in jeopardy of becoming a dangerous cult. If, instead, they emphasize discipleship of Jesus, the authority of the Bible, the fundamentals of the faith, and the need to sow into the places God has positioned each believer, I say they are bearing much fruit. My own personal opinion is that it is the latter, and criticisms of their philosophy or tendencies (or bombastic nature) are nit-picky, petty, and divisive. People are making them out to be as aberrant as the Mormons, when in reality they seem simply to be just another fast-growing, popular pseudo-denomination. Just as I think Lutherans have a lot to learn and prove in terms of their theology and practices, I think it’s quite possible IHOP has a lot of maturing to do. However, I will not accuse Lutherans of being false prophets, nor of being heretics, nor demand that they stop identifying as Christians.

    Like I said, read the statements of faith and their statements of what they do and do not believe. I think they’re rock solid; criticism of how they carry out their beliefs should be done in love, and with three fingers pointing back at ourselves (I’m the first to admit I don’t live out everything I believe, and therein seems to me to be the biggest emphasis of IHOP’s theology: get out and live the faith!).

  3. beth permalink
    08/07/2011 10:12 am

    Thank you for this article…I completely understood what you are saying. I was just listening to Mike Bickle online and twice now I have felt that they were stressing works righteousness so I thought “hmmm does anyone else think this too?” So I googled and found this and knew that the Holy Spirit was bringing something to my attention. For years I wanted to visit IHOP too b/c i have a friend who has been there for years, but through God’s providence have never been able to! I really am cautious about IHOP and believe that we need to listen to Biblical truth over “prophet so and so”! I consider myself someone who believes in prophecy, dreams, visions but I NEVER put them before God’s Word! That is the strong caution about IHOP. I have a friend there who tells me about prophet so and so all the time and I cautioned her to be careful about following prophesies….”whether there be prophesies they will fail…”

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