Friday, March 11, 2011

Strange Fire: Gnostism 'Contemplative Prayer and IHOP

IHOP   aka International House of Prayer

[1]Mike Bickle is the president, and director of the International House of Prayer (IHOP), president of Friends of the Bridegroom (FOTB), and co-founder of The Joseph Company of Kansas City. He currently is the most-featured speaker on Sunday worship services at Forerunner Christian Fellowship, the church associated with IHOP.

Bickle was formerly the pastor of the Kansas City Fellowship, which is now known as Metro Christian Fellowship. In that role, during the 1980s and 1990s, he was senior pastor of the group known to detractors and supporters alike as the "Kansas City Prophets." This group included Bob Jones, John Paul Jackson, Paul Cain, and by some accounts Francis Frangipane.

[2] In September 19, 1999 Mile Bickle created (IHOP) International House of Prayer, The IHOP–KC staff views themselves as “intercessory missionaries” because they do the work of outreach from a place of 24/7 prayer with worship. The staff raises their own financial support as missionaries. About 1,500 people (staff, students and interns, musicians, intercessors and worship leaders), Mike Bickle's IHOP is not IHOP restaurants (International House of Pancakes).

The Kansas City Prophets

[3] Excerpted from "Heaven Can't Wait" by William M. Alnor, 1996 "These so-called prophets were a group of men that coalesced around a church known as the Kansas City Fellowship, pastured by Mike Bickle, that attracted a following of other like minded churches in that region. They argued that God was spearheading a new revival from their churches, and that he was restoring the office of a prophet. Just as other "prophets" we discussed in these pages, yesterday's Kansas City stock could have it both ways. They could hear from God, and speak forth God's words, prophesying of great events soon to transpire on planet earth. And they could have flipped a coin as to whether what God allegedly told they would actually come true. Often they didn't come true.
Aside from strange prophecies and visions, the Kansas City prophets reported visits to the supernatural realms, including heaven. In a series of five hour-long tapes entitled Visions and Revelations, Mike Bickle and Bob Jones are heard wowing followers of the Kansas City Fellowship with all sorts of tales of their unverified experiences in the next plane."

Mike Bickle's Visions
In the same tape series, Bickle and Jones relate the story of an angel revealing that God would appear to Bickle in the form of another person named "Don" in a vision or in a dream. Bickle said the vision eventually took place, and part of its message was to show him that "Jesus appears in thousands of different faces to portray something," Bickle said. "He was trying to say, 'I'm your friend, I am your familiar friend, and I'm going to show you all things so you can move in the power of the Spirit'".

Later Bickle relates that during his trip to heaven Jesus commissioned him to be one of God's new generals to lead his end time army. Although Bickle claims he met with "the Lord" in person it was an out-of-body experience. It was 2:16 A.M. he said, and in a flash he was there, but it wasn't the cave where Jones earlier related he had been. Instead he was standing in a 20-by 30-foot room that "had clouds on the bottom, on the top and the walls". It was the courtroom of God. God was in the room, Bickle said, but rather than appearing as a being of light, he was a presence that Bickle wouldn't look at.

What Are We to Make of These Visions?

Fortunately, the Kansas City prophets movement did not pass the test of time. Far from remaining a center-piece of Wimber's movement as was trumpeted in Vineyard publications not so long ago, this "new breed" of men that was going to help lead them have, by and large, fallen out of favor. Cain, who is no longer integrally associated with the Vineyards, has been soundly criticized for some of his pronouncements; even CharismaMagazine associate editor J. Lee Grady pointed out a few of his false prophecies in his book, "What Happened to the Fire?" More recently Cain unleashed a storm of controversy from within the Christian community when he released a supposed word from the Lord that President Bill Clinton, who has fought hard to keep abortion legal and whose first week in office saw him lobby hard to allow homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military, was God's man for the hour. He claimed God was going to give Clinton the power of the Holy Spirit to lead America away from a New World order.

Testing Doctrines

The fact of the matter is that Cain and other so-called Kansas City prophets should have never been placed into an area of Christian leadership in the first place. Cain (who has also claimed trips to heaven) has a questionable testimony, has demonstrated a lengthy absence of Christian service in his life, and he has called the late William Branham, with whom he once had an association, "the greatest prophet who ever lived." Branham, however, denied the historic doctrine of the Trinity (even claiming it comes from the devil), and taught extensive error, including the zodiac and Egyptian pyramids are on par with the authority of Scripture. 34 Branham taught what has now become known as the "Serpent Seed" doctrine that is popular with various neo-Nazi and "Christian" identity cults -- that the Bible's Cain was produced through a sexual coupling between the serpent in the Garden of Eden and Eve.

Bickle has been linked to the heretical Latter Pain and Manifest Sons of God doctrine that falsely elevates man into a God class. Thioalcohol disqualified him and his Kansas City movement from leading antichrist in the future.In part 2 of Bickle'sundated tape The Glory and Dominion of Sonship, he moves into blasphemy by declaring: It comes from the devil), and taught extensive error, including the zodiac and Egyptian pyramids are on par with the authority of Scripture. 34 Branham taught what has now become known as the "Serpent Seed" doctrine that is popular with various neo-Nazi and "Christian" identity cults -- that the Bible's Cain was produced through a sexual coupling between the serpent in the Garden of Eden and Eve.

My conviction is that one of the greatest transformations is when you begin to get the revelation that you are a Son of God. Son of God ... God has conceived in His heart of a plan to make a race of men that would live like gods on the Earth. He has conceived in His heart to have Sons that would live like His Son, the Lord Jesus lived ... That we were to be on earth the extension and manifestation of God's life in heaven.
Although some voices have come forward objecting to critics' labeling some of the Kansas City prophets movement as promoting cultic doctrines, they don't have a case. Personal Freedom Outreach's Steve Cannon writes that "Bickle clearly uses unscriptural terminology and logic to teach Manifest Sons doctrine." Despite this, Bickle is still popular in charismatic circle thanks to appearances on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and other charismatic media outlets. Bob Jones, however, who not so long ago was regarded as the most powerful of the Kansas City crowd is out of the ministry. First when Wimber's Vineyard absorbed the Kansas City Fellowship, Jones and another "prophet" were disciplined for making some outlandish statements and prophecies that were judged to have harmed some, and their prophecy tapes were removed from distribution. Jones's ministry was then limited to church leadership "behind closed doors.
"However, it was behind those doors where Jones's ministry ended. Two women came forward in 1991 and told Vineyard leaders that Jones had used his prophetic authority to touch and fondle them sexually. 39 Jones admitted it and was removed from the ministry. "In recent months, I have manipulated certain people for selfish reasons based on my prophetic gifting," Jones said in a statement that he dictated and signed before the Metro Vineyard Fellowship senior leadership on November 4, 1991. "I have been guilty of sexual misconduct, and I deeply regret this. (I have not committed adultery.) "
Many of Jones's and other Kansas City prophets' outlandish teachings and occult-like practices and prophecies were documented in a dizzying 233-page report compiled by former charismatic pastor Ernie Gruen. Although Gruen later acknowledged that there were some minor inaccuracies in his report, it successfully exposed specifics of what he called the "charismatic heresy" of the Kansas City prophetic movement. Dates, times, and specific incidents of error (that sometimes caused great damage) and outright lies by the name of prophetic utterances were documented by Gruen's staff, implicating Bickle, Jones, and Jackson. I believe Gruen's work proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Kansas City prophets were false ones. We can therefore, postulate that God has not spoken to any of these men.

God had some strict pronouncements against the false prophetic movement of Jeremiah's day: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes," God spoke through the prophet. "They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD" (23:16). A handful of verses later God calls them lying prophets, "who steal from one another words supposedly from me" (v. 30). They are leading people astray.

God rebuked him for not being patient enough in choosing leaders for his movement. Later the being ordered Bickle to ride in a golden chariot-one of about thirty-five-in a procession of leaders, apostles, and prophets, who would be joining the movement that would someday be worldwide. Bickle said that during the trip God did not commission him as an apostle. However, he said he understood the experience to mean that if he was faithful he would "have an opportunity in the grace of God to fill an apostolic calling."

IHOP & The Latter Rain
[4]Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"Earlier this year the International House of Prayer (IHOP) sponsored a conference in Kansas City entitled Passion for Jesus that was heavily promoted toward young people. The purpose of the conference was to "cultivate intimacy with Jesus." In the conference's second session, IHOP president and director Mike Bickle preached a message based on an allegorical interpretation of a Matthew 25 parable in which he explained his end times theology and "revelation of the bridal paradigm." Bickle claims that Jesus cannot return until something drastically changes in the church: "He is not coming any day. He is not coming until the people of God globally are crying out in intercession with a bridal identity under the anointing of the Spirit." If you do not understand what he means by that it is likely because you have read the Bible literally and have never found anything regarding a special anointing that imparts a revelation of a "bridal identity." In fact, much of Bickle's terminology will be strange and foreign to most Christians.
In this article, I will show that Bickle's movement is based on allegorized scripture, deeper life pietism, and mysticism, representing a slightly modified version of the heretical Latter Rain movement of the 1940s. Bickle claims that he began his ministry through the hearing of an audible voice of God in 1983 that told him to start the 24-hour prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David. He further claims that he erected a sign, to that effect, and that he himself did not even know what prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David was, despite that God had told him to establish it. It turns out that it is "prophetic singing prayers." Once they figured out what it was, IHOP was born."
"Mike Bickle and International House of Prayer: The Latter Rain Redividus," Bob DeWaay

IHOP Openly Promotes Contemplative Prayer/ Visualization Based on Occultism and New Age Christianity.
[5] This was taken from the International House of Prayer’s website.
Contemplative Prayer—–Communing with the Holy Spirit who lives within you

I. Know He Lives Inside of You
II. Pray the Scripture

The goal is to search for the Spirit of Jesus in the Word and have depth, not necessarily length, in understanding the passage. Jesus is the Word (John 1) and we want to know Him, the Truth. In Him is life; it is His Spirit, who gives life. The words of Scripture are Spirit, and they are life (John 6:63). The entrance of the Word gives light and life (Psalm 119:130). As the Word of God enters your heart, the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal body (Romans 8:11).
Make sure you are searching for the Spirit of Jesus, not just searching for knowledge. Just pray the Scriptures. In simple terms, prayer is turning your heart toward God. In John 5:39, Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You do not have His Word abiding in you … you search the Scriptures for in them, you think you have eternal life, and these are they, which testify of Me. However, you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”

Method #1
Choose a short phrase in Scripture.
Begin slowly praying the Scripture in silence.

Focus your prayer toward the Spirit who lives inside you (John 7:38).
Remain on the phrase as long as you feel the Lord’s presence on it. Then move with Him, slowly praying through the passage phrase by phrase.
Method #2

Choose a short story in Scripture.
Read through the story several times silently.
Close your eyes and acknowledge the Spirit who lives in you.
Use your imagination to imagine yourself as one of the story characters or as an onlooker.
Play out the story in your mind applying all five of your senses.

Method #3

We call this “Beholding the Spirit Within.”
The goal is to search for and feel God’s presence inside you, not necessarily to gain more understanding in God’s Word as with the first two methods.
Begin by gently praying a short passage of Scripture in silence while focusing on the indwelling Spirit. The Scripture is used to quiet the clamoring of your soul and draw you to God. It is the connection point, the springboard into the spiritual realm.
Once you feel God’s presence, focus on it in a concentrated way.
You will be able to notice His presence now; He has always been there, but now your attention is on Him within you. The outward senses are quiet and your surface thoughts are gone. You are beginning to be consumed by the Spirit.
In this time, feel the freedom to stay quiet. Silently ask the Spirit to show you a vision, or slowly and silently say to Him, “I love You. I love You. I love You.”

Overcoming Distractions

Your mind will have to be trained in practical ways not to wander and think about other things. To overcome a wandering mind, simply begin thinking about the Scripture you have been meditating on, and focus your prayer to the Spirit within you. The Lord sees your heart as it searches for Him, and He is smiling upon you. You may become sleepy during prayer. To overcome, sit up straight instead of slouching and do not lie down. You can also begin speaking the Scripture you are meditating on under your breath until you feel the drowsiness subside, then return to the silent prayer.

Diligence in Prayer

In time these methods of praying will become easy. You will find the Spirit, who lives in you if you search for Him with all your heart, but it will require time and your whole heart.

Keys to Progress

Humility-the high and lofty One dwells with the lowly in heart (Isaiah 57)
Disciplined life of prayer, fasting, giving and loving your enemies (Matthew 6)
Total abandonment in love to Jesus and loving nothing of this life (Matthew 7:14)
“Occultism has always involved
three techniques for changing and creating reality:
thinking, speaking, and visualizing.”
(Dave Hunt – Occult Invasion)
* * * *
“…imaging and visualization are increasingly appearing as Christian meditation, “mind-stretchers,” or a consciousness-awakening experience in Christian workshops, and you’d better believe that visualization as a cultivated exercise comes with all sorts of metaphysical and spiritual baggage in tow.”

— Visualization and Imaging, Jon Trott

“It’s not difficult to trace the practice of meditative imaging and visualization back to the mystics.”

— Visualization and Imaging, Jon Trott

Jon Trott is correct here. If anyone has started to indulge themselves into meditative practices, just ask them what books they are reading.

Christians are being duped into mysticism because a sentence has the word Jesus in it or there is a phrase of scripture.
The well-known catholic mystics are Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, and Matthew Fox. If these authors are in your library then you know that you are entering a mystical realm that will only draw you AWAY from Jesus Christ. They want you to focus on a centering prayer which will invite a feeling of divinity within yourself. This is the lie, that you are divine. You may not think that this is where they are leading you, but this is what Eve thought when the serpent suggested, that “You will be like God.” Watch out for the new charismatic coined term of DNA which actually means “Divine Nature Activated”
Contemplative prayer sounds so biblical, but it is a dangerous occult method of contacting the spirit world, which is off-limits to the Christian. Visualization is a technique that speeds up the process of reaching into another dimension to either experience visions or transport oneself.
Christian beware, the wolves are telling you that you are divine and holy. What does the Bible say?
Jeremiah 17:9
“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
So why should we center ourselves on our own heart looking for our divinity? We shouldn’t.
Instead…..we can have righteousness through faith….
Romans 3:21
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known to which the Law, and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”

These phrases from the IHOP article bother me.
“Make sure you are searching for the spirit of Jesus.”
Jesus wasn’t and is not a spirit. He came to earth as fully man and fully God, but He never came as a spirit. But those who meditate using TM methods often contact a spirit guide named “Jesus”. This is deceiving spirit because Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father.
“Play out the story…apply all five senses”
This is an exercise in guided imagery. Read what Dave Hunt says about this:
“Visualization and Guided Imagery have long been recognized by sorcerers of all kinds as the most powerful and effective methodology for contacting the spirit world in order to acquire supernatural power, knowledge and healing. Such methods are neither taught or practiced in the Bible as helps to faith or prayer.” (The Seduction of Christianity)
Yet here we see it openly being taught and embraced.

“Begin by gently praying a short passage of Scripture in silence while focusing on the indwelling Spirit.”

How can you do these two things simultaneously? Actually the Scripture becomes meaningless as one focuses on something else entirely.
“The springboard into the spiritual realm.”
What is the springboard?…it is the silence, the quiet. They are trying to fool you into thinking it is the scripture, but this is not the case here. The silence is a void used in eastern meditation to stop you from thinking or concentrating. So now what spiritual realm have you just entered? You have entered a void. It is this void that allows you to enter a spiritual realm that is forbidden in the Bible. This is the realm where the white light enters, and if you know your Bible, then you know that this is Satan. He comes with joy and peace and fills you with ecstasy. If he came any other way he would be instantly rejected.
“Your surface thoughts are gone”.
The Bible never tell us to quit thinking or to empty our minds. In fact we are told the quite the opposite.
1 Peter 5:8
Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour.”
“Ask the spirit to show you a vision.”
This is exactly how those involved in TM ask to be shown their demonic spirit guides. Exactly. This is so dangerous……
The section describing how to overcome distractions is the same method chanters use when meditating. If they actually have…a thought…oh no…start the chant again to empty the mind.
Anyone who does not see the eastern mysticism in this occult prayer method…does not want to see. Even a cursory study of meditation easily shows the parallels but people aren’t listening, or they don’t care, or maybe they hate to admit they have been deceived. This pride is fateful. It is eternal. It keeps you in touch with the New-Age Jesus, (who does not exist) and separates you from the true Jesus Christ in the Bible.
“It is not an advanced spiritual state, but one that is primitive and regressive, and consequentially results in bondage to spiritistic powers.” ( Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs) Ankerberg and Weldon pg. 238
How is it that the church has fallen into such a sad state of affairs? It is simple. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not being preached anymore. Without repentance, without turning away from sin, without faith, there is no conversion.
The unconverted are hungry for God because they have no way to be sanctified. So in order to hear from God, in order to fill the void, they need to resort to false fire. Gnostic strange fire. This spiritual false fire replaces a true move of God which would cause conviction and make us fall on our faces and weep. We would weep because when the holiness of God shines His light on our sin, magnifying our true nature, it is unbearable. This in turn causes us to hate our sin, and search the Word for how live a holy life pleasing to the Lord.
When the Word of God is not enough, when it is not sufficient, the alternative is deception.

International House of Prayer (IHOP) Promotes Contemplative Spirituality
[6]"Mike Bickle, director of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, and a well-known leader in the Prophetic Movement, claims that God is restoring contemplative prayer to the church. He goes on to claim that contemplative prayer is a God ordained means of entering into the fullness of God, and that the brightest lights in church history have been Roman Catholic mystics who lived during the dark ages. He went on to say the western church had much to learn from these mystics ...

[Bickle states]: 'Everybody is called to live in the contemplative lifestyle. Everyone! Everyone! Everyone! That’s one of the great strongholds we have to overcome (resistance to contemplative prayer).'"

Jocelyn Andersen, Mike Bickle On Contemplative Prayer
[7]Mike Bickle, director of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, and a well-known leader in the Prophetic Movement, claims that God is restoring contemplative prayer to the church. He goes on to claim that contemplative prayer is a God ordained means of entering into the fullness of God, and that the brightest lights in church history have been Roman Catholic mystics who lived during the dark ages. He went on to say the western church had much to learn from these mystics.

Anti-evangelical propaganda is prominent throughout his message. He informs his followers that they are constantly being put on the defensive by, and apologizing to, evangelical Christians for their intensity toward God by saying “Other Christians force us to hide our intensity—to wear a façade. “…even believers in Jesus…are made uncomfortable and intimidated by our spiritual intensity.”
However, he comforts them with the good news that they don’t “have to wear any façade” when they got together in little oasis’ “like this” (meaning his and other prophetic meetings). He continued his barrage against evangelicals by saying, “They don’t grasp it at all—being introduced into the deep realms of love.”
He claims the church of the western world has abandoned its inheritance to have the fullness of God (through contemplative prayer).
Bickle freely admits to pursuing eastern religious philosophies and had nothing but criticism for the Western Evangelical Church.
According to him, evangelical Christians are a pathetic and ignorant bunch. He says of us:
· “The Protestant wing of the western church, which is a tiny percentage of the Body of Christ…, is nearly completely (98%) unaware that the Holy Spirit is restoring contemplative prayer—center stage—to the church… The Holy Spirit is restoring this precious jewel (contemplative prayer) to the body of Christ. This is the God ordained means of attaining the fullness of God.” audio message Comtempolative Prayer pt1 by Mike Bickle
He quotes from the contemplatives (his word for mystics) and announces that he will be teaching from the Sacred Pathways (which promotes the carrying of symbols or icons, choosing a mantra and visualizing God). Each one of these things is contradictory to the Word of God, which forbids imagery and vain repetitions in prayer.
He insists we need to study the lives and writings of the Roman Catholic mystics, and because the bookstore chain of Barnes and Nobles has carried so many books in this regard, he says (in all earnestness) that B & N is prophesying to the church that we need the mystics, and he wants to know why the church isn’t picking up on the fact that God is calling the entire Body of Christ to live lifestyles of contemplative prayer?
Below are quotes from Mike Bickle on contemplative prayer:

· “Every one in the Body Of Christ is called to live lives of contemplative prayer...”
· “Everybody is called to live in the contemplative lifestyle. Everyone! Everyone! Everyone! That’s one of the great strongholds we have to overcome (resistance to contemplative prayer).
· “…contemplative prayer, you gotta get over that hurdle! Barnes & Noble is prophesying it! Hurtle one we gotta understand it’s for everybody! Everybody is called to the fullness (contemplative prayer). We’re all going to go into this thing!”audio message Comtempolative Prayer pt1 by Mike Bickle

Another hindrance to contemplative prayer, says Bickle, is that we need to dismantle (“we” meaning evangelical Christianity) the idea that church history began with Martin Luther (I wasn’t aware we had that idea until he informed me of it).

Bickle says the most inspiring light in all of Christianity came from the Roman Catholic mystics during the dark ages. Below are quotes from Bickle on the mystics:

· “mystics is a legitimate term... I don’t want to fight the war…so I’m just saying contemplative prayer, but I mean the mystics— even here at IHOP I say, lets just stay with contemplatives …I don’t have time to argue… so I call them the contemplatives…. I don’t want to go into the semantics, the debates…so, I’m calling it the contemplatives… I don’t have time to argue… but I need the mystics.” “[They are] Some of the brightest lights in all of history… there has been the brightest lights in all history for men and women of abandonment in the dark ages… somewhere we have to say the dark ages were the luminaries in the grace of God…they were Catholic priests.”
· “…a study of the lives of the mystics, the contemplatives, through history, and clearly the most inspiring, compelling examples of history, in my world, have come out of the Catholic dark ages. I can’t find anything like it in modern times, in America, in the protestant world.”
· “…we need a little Holy Spirit catalytic jump start. We need to see where a few have gone before us, and say if they did we can, and we can go further… and if you’re going to go deep into that well, I’m sad to say, the vast majority of them are going to have Catholic roots in history.”audio message Comtempolative Prayer pt1 by Mike Bickle

Bickle minimizes the false doctrine of Roman Catholicism by saying, “But didn’t Catholics do some funny things…? Well, when you stand before the Lord you’ll find out you did some funny things too.”

Bickle heavily promotes Bernard Clairvou (who he claims was a just a quiet little monk who only wanted to stay in his hermitage, praying and reading The Song of Solomon). He is clearly impressed with Clairvou’s healing ministry but leaves out the part where Clairvou travels extensively as a major instigator of the second crusade. He says, “Bernard Clairou became my most inspiring life outside the Bible.”

The writings of Father Thomas Keating (the modern day Father of contemplative prayer) are also promoted.

Bickle says these two mean are examples, for us, of, “a way to a deeper life in God.” He went on to say, “The protestant world is in great need of examples (like these) that will beckon us to the fullness of God.” audio message Comtempolative Prayer pt1 by Mike Bickle
Mike Bickle is telling the Body of Christ that we are woefully deficient in having lost God’s fullness and need to look to New Age, Eastern philosophy and to Roman Catholic mystics as examples in how to restore it!

And his advice to questioning, spiritually languishing and anguishing souls (who didn’t know their real problem was that they wanted more of God—until he told them so) is this, “Don’t evaluate yourself, don’t evaluate others. Just keep going after it.” audio message Comtempolative Prayer pt1 by Mike Bickle

In plain language that means don’t read or listen to anything discerningly or analytically. Don’t question anything or anybody—not even yourself (except evangelicals of course). Just go with what feels right.
How does that jive with search my heart O God and test my thoughts…? How about this one, “There is a way that seemeth right…?”



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