Guest Post from a dear sister, Dr. Nancy A. Almodovar.
I wrote this article a few months ago when I heard that Chan would join IHOP in a youth conference. But some of you may not know what IHOP is about. Read on:
IHOP, NAR and PTSD
Ever have one of those days? What about one of those weeks? Well, this week was, indeed, just one of those weeks which I had hoped would never come. Unfortunately, or is it fortunately, it did. What happened this week catapulted me back into a world I had sooner liked to have forgotten. However, finding it within Calvinistic circles, and even within some Reformed, and yes even amongst our URC-NA and Can-Ref women’s groups in particular, has caused me to take up the gauntlet in this fight. And fight it is. It is the age-long battle between Truth and Lies. However, because it is found amongst my dearly loved Reformed Brothers and Sisters in Christ, it has broken my heart.
No, not IHOP the pancake franchise. Rather, it is the International House of Prayer (IHOP) located in Kansas, MO. This is the citadel of all that is called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). It is the central hub from which prophetic words are “heard” from God for the use of His church and the place where new prophets and apostles are trained in the various extreme charismatic gifts such as “words of wisdom”, “words of knowledge”, power worship, interpreting of dreams and visions and gaining deeper knowledge of the Bridegroom and his various armies (i.e. Joel’s Army, David’s Warriors, etc.) Indeed, this is not your local House of Pancakes but a place which spreads a false gospel faster than butter melts on hot French toast.
But what is PTSD? Well, I have restructured that term to fit with many of us who have come out of the Pentecostal/charismatic/prophetic-apostolic/word of faith/deliverance teachings and ministries. It is Phony-Theological-Sham-Detector. It is the small alarm that rings when those, whom I call “Ex-A’s” (Ex-Arminians) begin to hear teachings within our beloved confessional community which sounds vaguely familiar to one of the false teachings/ministries from which we were rescued. It is that alarm which sounds off that something is just not right. However, before I begin to share who and what is promoting the teachings of IHOP/NAR, it would be prudent of me to share what it is that they believe and promote.
IHOP began with C. Peter Wagner and several modern day self-proclaimed Apostles to the church. These were men and women who had a special anointing for church planting as well as prophetic gifts to interpret visions, dreams and other various messages of God outside of the Written Scriptures. These men and women took the titles of Apostle and Prophet and began to work amongst various Pentecostal and charismatic churches which focused on the gifts of what is called the Five-Fold ministry (Apostle, Prophet, Pastor, Evangelist and Teacher). This is not new as the Irvingites in the 1840’s also believed God would restore these five-fold offices to the Church in the last days (see BB Warfield’s Counterfeit Miracles for the history on the Irvingites and their connection with both Pentecostals and charismatics). It was Wagner and his group’s view that they were to “establish the prophetic and apostolic around the world.” . . . “You see I prophesy over you a new dimension, and I just speak by the Spirit of God and the Lord said I’m raising up a new leadership in the earth and the Lord said “Truly there is a leader shift taking place and I’m moving my leaders into new positions and into new anointings.” Further, the founders stated, through “prophetic revelation”, “We are in a season of great transition. Transitioning out of old doctrine, old structure, religious mindsets and religion…for the last two thousand years, the Church has been a religious movement and now, suddenly, we will be saints.”
Wagner “prophecied” further saying ““For I break off the limitations that have tried to hold you back and have tried to hold back your gift and have tried to hold back your church, I begin to break the limitations through apostolic and prophetic release,” so the Lord said. “Get ready, I’m shifting you, I’m moving you into a new grace. For all over the earth there is a new breed being raised up. There was a new leadership coming into place and many men and women are taking their place in leadership and the apostles are rising and the prophets are rising and even the elders of the local churches are rising into a new dimension of grace to begin to release that which is not been released in generations.” To the leaders of IHOP God is restoring the offices of Apostle and Prophet and the Church is to follow them as they followed Christ’s Apostles and the prophets of old. They have taken upon themselves offices of the Church which are no longer needed because of the close of the Scriptures and end of all special revelation.
The leaders of this movement within the charismatic world are C. Peter Wagner (who has been invited to many groups to help with church growth), Dutch Sheets, Cindy Jacobs, James Goll, Mike Bickle and Dallas Willard (of the Spiritual Formations movement). Each believe themselves to be a Prophet who mediates between God and His Church and that because they are of the highest order of Prophets they are also Apostles through whom God reveals many things and whose mission it is to usher in the Kingdom of God.
In 2002, while vacationing at a charismatic retreat center which my husband and I visited annually, we began to be further “trained” and “groomed” for the “prophetic ministry” we were told God had called us to. One older woman came over to us during one of the “altar calls” at the end of the service and said to me that she had been commissioned by Mike Bickle, head of IHOP, to search out those who had a latent prophetic gift and impart to them the spirit of prophecy which he had in order to raise up an army of prophets to usher in the Kingdom of God and bring about the Manifest Sons of God. She then laid hands on me as I lay on the floor, speaking in tongues and proceeded to impart the spirit of prophecy on me. Nothing special happened, no flashes of lightening or shivers down my spine. However, the next evening service the assistant Pastor from our church came over and began to teach me how to “move in the prophetic”. I was to lay hands on other people who were up at the front for prayer and just let the “anointing flow” and tell them whatever first “popped” into my head because that was God speaking prophetically through me to them. I was to become their mediator and let them know either their prayer was answered, or what direction to take in their life.
When my husband and I returned home, the grooming continued under this pastor’s tutelage. Each week he would train me how to “keep the anointing” and how to function under its power. He would teach me how to interpret dreams for others while also understanding visions I was having myself. I was being molded in the pattern of the IHOP prophets and prophetesses. However, this was not as wonderful as I was told it would be. Night after night I had nightmares which I could not shake off. Then during the day while going about my tasks I would see “things” that no one else could see. To this day I still have not received an adequate answer as to what was really happening. Was I imagining them? Was I seeing them because I was told I would be able to discern the spirit realm and so my mind was playing tricks on me?
For the next year I went out to churches to speak at their women’s groups. After delivering sermons the women would be called up to be prayed for individually. Laying on of hands was usually proceeded by me sharing with them either something I was “seeing” or “hearing” from God regarding some aspect of their life or spiritual well-being. So many times I gave “words” from the Lord to these women even down to prophesying the gender of their child or who was coming into their life. It was always “Peace. Peace”, just as the false prophets of old never warned about judgment from the Lord only peace and well being, prosperity and health. During this time of “training” we even received special “words” from the Lord including one woman who called us on the phone to give us a prophetic utterance. None of which ever came true.
In 2003, just as we were heading out the door to vacation once again at our favorite charismatic retreat center, we both grabbed for a book to read. My husband, one on the history of the Reformation and I, well, the providence of God led me to JC Ryle’s Old Paths. The next morning as we were reading, my husband in the woods and I inside the cabin, the door flew open and my husband said, “Have you heard of Jan Hus? Or Wycliffe? Or Luther? Or justification by faith alone?” At that moment, all the lessons my father had tried so hard to instill in me from the Scriptures came flooding back, along with the words I was just reading from Ryle on Justification by Faith Alone. From that moment on, we began to question everything. Everything! Every single doctrine we had been taught, from tongues to dreams, from visions to interpretation, from words of wisdom to worship warfare and the Bridal Paradigm. Everything we had learned under the IHOP teachings, their books and videos, and from those who had come to “train” me in the prophetic, we began to question….and question with zeal.
This is where, now, this article becomes very difficult to write. I wrote in my book, A Modern Ninety-Five, (a book with a series of questions that developed as God was reforming us), that I am not angry because I believe that they too are deceived through these teachings. However, it behooves those who have been on the battle field, fighting against error and heresy, if we see it entering the camp of the godly, to warn against such subtleties and expose them immediately before the poison hits our loved ones and fellow soldiers of the Cross. This week was one spent in prayer with tears as my heart broke knowing that many among my Reformed brothers and sisters, and especially the sisters in their desire to study together, have, unknowingly and unwittingly, brought in the serious errors and heresies I described above.
What are those specific errors/heresies? What does IHOP teach other than charismatic ideals? Here is from their website what they “affirm”:
The Bridal Paradigm: This is a teaching which deals with the emotions of Jesus as our lover and Bridegroom. While they do not advocate “dating” Jesus, many of their followers, along with churches involved, do indeed have special “rooms” in their churches for “intimate prayer” complete with bed and music.
The Tabernacle of David: This is an end-time prayer movement offshoot (from their regular Prayer Movement) that states it will be worshippers, dancers, singers who war through worship which will usher in the International Kingdom of David and where all nations will be subjected to Christian rule.
Intimacy with God: Teaching their followers that God is “in love” with His People (as in eros love, along with agape love). Their teachings stem from the Song of Solomon which they believe is a metaphor of God speaking to His Church and when it says “kiss me with the kisses of your mouth” that is metaphor for Jesus imparting special revelation to His people.
The Use of Prophecy: Teaching that an army of prophets will help to usher in the Kingdom of God internationally, they equate this prophecy from God as secondary to the Written Word. This sounds just fine and as if they are trying to separated the two types of prophecy. However, would we ever say that God’s prophesies are lesser than others? No. All of God’s Word is His Word and is to be obeyed by all His people. They say that they are “personal” or “local church” words from God and not meant for everyone.
The Latter Rain: IHOP has changed the traditional teaching of this which marked the activities of the Azusa Street Revival as historically the outpour from God of the “latter rain” and state that this will happen just before the coming of Christ. However, if you read the lyrics to the music by those following and espousing IHOP’s teachings, many believe the Latter Rain to be occurring now.
Joel’s Army: The teaching that there will be a large group of prayer and prophetic warriors who will involve themselves in the political realm to usher in the Age of the Kingdom of God. Two popular politicians who are deeply involved in this are the former governor of Alaska and the current governor of Texas.
Manifest Sons of God: This movement within IHOP states that there will be a sect within the Church who will live above the rest of Christians in a realm of pure sanctification and will not sin. The remainder of the church will be “manifested to be sons of God” after the return of Christ.
The Anointing: The best way to explain what this teaching espouses is to use the term “Gnosticism”. One who has this “anointing” is above other Christians because they know the “deeper things of God” and have a “closer walk” with Jesus. Those with the “Anointing” can speak directly to God and also hear from Him directly. They are part of the “inner circle” of believers who are heads and shoulders above other believers because God reveals the “secret things” only to them. They have worked hard to gain the anointing: fasting, prayer, evangelism, worship and warring worship, marching with banners while the contemporary music plays, demanding demons to leave and taking over “strongholds” in the “spiritual realm” so that God’s Holy Spirit is not “hindered”. If they did not do this, then God would not be able to move amongst them during worship. This is a teaching that garners and bolsters pride and arrogance, creating two classes of Christians: those WITH the “Anointing and those WITHOUT it.
As to the doctrine that IHOP teaches with regard to salvation, they are Arminian. This means that they believe God’s grace is given to everyone and every man a measure of faith that needs to be used in saving trust in Jesus Christ by their own will and volition and then they are “born again”. They also teach that one person who at one time was born again can lose their salvation and be eternally lost at the end.
As sad as these teachings are, they do not compare with the sadness in my heart for those who are flocking to IHOP recently and involving themselves and those who listen to their sermons, read their books or attend their churches. However, the calling out of specific teachers of false doctrine is neither unloving nor unbiblical. Both the Apostles Paul and John did just this as they warned against false teachers trying to sneak their way into the true churches. This teacher has become very popular amongst those just coming into the Calvinistic doctrines of Grace and now, from what I have heard, has even made it into some of the book study groups in our own URC and Can-Ref churches. He is none other than Francis Chan author of Crazy Love and the Forgotten God.
It was announced recently that Francis Chan will be a key speaker at the IHOP One Thing Conference in December 2013. It is with tremendous sorrow that I must plead with those who have been reading his material, listening to his sermons, to be very cautious and discerning. To work hand in hand with IHOP is to join in fellowship with those who deny the true faith, who reject the Gospel of Grace, the Sufficiency of Scripture, the end of the offices of Apostle and Prophet, and make themselves the mediators between God and His People. This latter aspect alone should be sufficient to make churches remove his books from their shelves or at least move them over to the “Bad Theology” section. But even more, the stealing of Christ’s Office as High Priest and therefore Mediator and claiming it to belong to false prophets and apostles, is an indirect usurpation of something that belongs solely to Jesus Christ our only Savior.
In close, I wish to share a bit of wisdom which my father shared with me many years ago, “Nancy,” he said, “the devil will never come at you in a red suit, with pitchfork in hand, and a pointy tail. No, he will come in with a half truth so that he can worm his way right into a good group of believers. He won’t barge through the door saying, ‘Hey, I’m Lucifer.’ But will instead give you a half-truth to distract and deceive.” Over the years I have learned that it is not the blatant teachings of IHOP that good reformed Christians will fall for. So, in order to destroy from within a fellowship of churches that has fought long and hard to retain fidelity to God, His Scriptures, our Confessions, Catechism and Creeds, Satan will come in through a teaching or teacher who espouses much of what we believe and present a half-truth. It is my hope and prayer that you will remember the wise words of those who came before, that a half-truth is still a lie. A lie still comes from the pit of hell even if it looks or acts like the truth and a lie will still destroy. The only thing remaining is to expose the lie and those who espouse it or join hands with it and warn our brothers and sisters encouraging them to stand against the “wiles of the devil” even if it comes in the cloak of a self-proclaimed Calvinist.
Almodovar, Nancy A. A Modern Ninety-Five: Questions for Today’s Evangelicals. Kindle Edition ed. Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2008. Location 1092-1095 e-book.
Freed, Sandie. Get the Anointing Out of the Box. n.p.: Elijah List, 2006.
 Nancy A. Almodovar, A Modern Ninety-Five: Questions for Today’s Evangelicals, kindle edition ed. (Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2008), Location 1092-1095 e-book.
 Sandie Freed, Get the Anointing Out of the Box (n.p.: Elijah List, 2006).
 Nancy A. Almodovar, A Modern Ninety-Five: Questions for Today’s Evangelicals, kindle edition ed. (Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2008), Location 1103-1108 e-book