What ARE IHOP’s real Beliefs?
If you go to the IHOP website and read the formal statement describing their doctrine, it sounds similar to the standard among other Evangelical Christian ministries. The problem is some of the doctrines that are actually taught at IHOP, as well as many of their practices, contradict their stated beliefs. In addition, the central doctrines that they state on their website are not the primary focus of their teaching ministry. Instead of what they claim in their formal statement, the IHOP ministry focuses primarily on intimacy, the prophetic realm and eschatology.
Below are descriptions of some of the beliefs that make IHOP unique. I will first define these terms and then later describe what makes them dangerous.
IHOP is best known for their 24/7 prayer and worship ministry, based on the Harp & Bowl method found in the Tabernacle of David from the Old Testament. These prayer services are not your typical Charismatic or Pentecostal prayer sessions, as IHOP advocates Contemplative Prayer, which is a form of passive meditation, where the mind is shut down and the spirit opened. There is also a great emphasis on Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare or what is called Spiritual Mapping. This is where the participant discerns the demons that are controlling the spiritual atmosphere of the city and binds them. There is also heavy focus on Prophetic Decrees in which prophetic authority is used to speak the decree of the Lord over cities, countries, to elements of nature, or individual people to usher in and release the power of God.
The Bridal Paradigm is another key doctrinal construct that influences virtually all of the teaching at IHOP. It portrays God as a fiery lover who desires to have a bride equally yoked to Jesus in love. Jesus is the bridegroom with a longing heart. The Bride is the believer of this generation. God is not seen in a master-type of role and the cross is understood in terms of a bridal dowry or bridal price that was paid. This teaching becomes a key for interpreting all Scripture and births other doctrines such as “bridal intercession,” “the cross in bridal perspective,” “the global bridegroom fast,” and many others. The book of Esther is interpreted as a type of the end-time church reigning through intimacy. The book of Song of Solomon is allegorized as depicting Christ and the Church. What is unique about IHOP is that the allegory is applied to the individual believer and then literalized so that the relationship between Jesus and the individual is seen in romantic terms. IHOP and other similar ministries have begun having marriage ceremonies to wed individual believers to Jesus.
IHOP’s approach to interpretation of Scripture is very important because leaders and teachers at IHOP often interpret Scripture according to their own personal revelation. Context, history and actual word meanings may all be ignored as self-proclaimed prophets add to the Word of God.
IHOP’s understanding of the nature of prophecy is very unique. While affirming
that this generation will be the greatest apostles and prophets in history and that “no disease
known to man will be able to stand against them,” IHOP also teaches that New Testament prophets can error and are not subject to the tests given in Deuteronomy 13 and 18. Thus, a false prophetic word does not disqualify the speaker as a true prophet of God. Such new prophetic words have
formed the basis for what occurs at IHOP and even the doctrines that are believed and taught within IHOP.
The uniqueness of the end-time generation is another foundational doctrine at IHOP. This teaching has many names: “Joel’s Army,” “The New Breed,” “The Elected Seed,” and the
“Apostolic Pre-Millenialism.” Basically, it is the understanding that the final generation,
which is believed to be now, will be the greatest generation of apostles and prophets who have
ever lived. One of IHOP’s missions is to raise up ten thousand apostolic evangelists in the last
days who will (to quote Bickle) “stand in the counsels of the Lord. They will walk with such authority in the courts of heaven that they will be invited to partner with God in His end-time judgments. Their lives will shake heaven and earth. Creation will bow to the word of the Lord. Their prophecies will broadcast the news-reports of heaven and the headlines of earth.”
Their belief is based on personal prophecy, not the Word of God. They teach that God is establishing end-time cities of refuge (Kansas City being one of them) that will be places people can hide during the last days. They teach that the Anti-Christ will rise through an alliance between Communism and Islam.
Why are these IHOP teachings and foundational beliefs dangerous?
To detail the dangers of the entire ministry would take forever, but I’ll highlight some of the more obvious doctrinal issues.
There is no documentation in the New Testament that shows anyone setting up houses of 24/7 prayer. It is not mandated in Scripture at all. IHOP teaches that the mandate is found in Amos 9:11, but this does not talk about re-establishing the Davidic worship among New Testament believers. More importantly, the prayer practices in use at IHOP (Contemplative Prayer, Prophetic Decrees, Spiritual Mapping) are not supported in Scripture; so to practice something on a 24/7 basis only makes it that much more hazardous.
The Bridal Paradigm is disturbing because of its justification in favor of a dowry. The Bible never utilizes the imagery or concept of a dowry (or bride price) to show what Jesus did for us on the cross. See, a dowry is paid because of the worth of the bride. According to the Bible humanity didn’t have a worthy quality to bring us to God, thereby necessitating the need for Christ’s blood to cleanse our sins and restore us back to a relationship with God. We were saved by grace, not by beauty or any worthy quality we possessed. The Bridal Paradigm is lacking the Scriptural doctrine of sin and repentance. Also, while the bride metaphor is used to describe the church as a whole, it is never used to describe an individual. To place the idea in an overly romantic context is out of balance, and conducting ceremonies to marry individuals to Jesus is not supported in Scripture.
The greatest problem with the IHOP movement is that the foundation rests, not on Scripture, but on prophetic words by modern-day, self-proclaimed prophets. In my previous post I cited the history of how Mike Bickle came to start his ministry in Kansas City. It has been one false prophecy after another after another. Each time a prophet has been ridiculed, Bickle has denounced his affiliation with them and moved on to the next best thing.
It is extremely dangerous when you have doctrine being established by personal prophecy of self-proclaimed prophets, who teach that New Testament prophets don’t need to be accurate. Some examples of this are: IHOP’s belief in end-time cities of refuge, in the alliance between communism and Islam to bring forth the Anti-Christ, and its acceptance of the manifestations of the Toronto Blessing.
It is the Scripture that is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). The fact that personal revelation is frequently used to interpret
Scripture is disturbing at best. If passages are not kept in context, then the very Word of God can be manipulated to mean whatever the particular prophet wants it to mean. Instead of being used as a tool for instruction, the Bible becomes a weapon of manipulation.
IHOP’s belief that prophets can error is more than troubling. Mike Bickle is claiming to hear the audible voice of God and claims to have visited heaven two times, and in the same breath excuses prophets to error. How can this be? If a prophet is truly hearing the voice of God, then that word will always be without error because God is never wrong and never lies. To claim such an exalted status for one’s revelations while at the same time affirming that one does not have to meet the Biblical criteria for such revelation is inconsistent and outright wrong.
IHOP is out of balance.
The main points of Scripture, which are Salvation and Sanctification, are not the main points being taught at IHOP, despite the fact that their website says so. Many of IHOP’s doctrines are based on self-proclaimed prophesy or twisted scripture that has made their teachings blatantly man-exalting and man-centered instead of God-centered.
The notion of end-time cities of refuge is unbiblical despite the use of the biblical phrase “cities of refuge.” Cities of refuge in the Old Testament were places where a man who accidentally committed murder could flee for protection from the avenger of blood. They were not places of economic and agricultural abundance nor open heaven revelations.
Paul instructs the church in Romans 16:17 to be aware of those that cause division by bringing
doctrines contrary to those of the apostles; and to avoid them. IHOP is an entity to be avoided.