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Bickle’s Bible Botching

Mike Bickle

Mike Bickle

Mike Bickle–the leader of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri–is revered by many people in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement as a sound Bible teacher, as someone who majors on teaching people the written Word of God.

But I have noticed something disturbing about his teachings. The Bible verses he uses to support them frequently have nothing to do with those teachings–and sometimes they actually teach something very different.

In this post, I look at one of Bickle’s teachings and show how he attempts to support it through the use of a botched interpretation of Scripture. This example should raise a flag of caution in people’s minds when they encounter his other NAR teachings.

 The ‘Israel Mandate’

IHOP has a ministry called the “Israel Mandate,” that seeks to mobilize people to pray for Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people. Well, this might all sound good–even to many traditional evangelicals who have, historically, shown strong support for Israel and Jewish people.

So, then, what’s the problem with the “Israel Mandate?”

It’s this. According to IHOP’s description of the mandate, part of the “primary calling” of the Gentile church in regard to Jewish people is for the church to be “moving in the supernatural.” In other words, Gentile Christians have a responsibility to perform miraculous signs and wonders so that Jewish people will believe the gospel.

And what is the Scripture verse cited in support of this teaching? It is 1 Corinthians 1:22:

For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom (New King James Version)

But this verse does not support the Bickle/IHOP teaching that Christians have a duty to perform miraculous signs for Jewish people. Quite the contrary. The apostle Paul, the author of 1 Corinthians, is actually criticizing the Jews for demanding miraculous signs and the Greeks for seeking worldly wisdom.

Paul goes on to say that he did not give in to the demands of the Jews or the Greeks, but instead he preached the simple but powerful message of “Christ crucified.” Yet this message was not well received by the Jews, who craved displays of God’s supernatural power. Rather, the idea of a suffering Messiah was a “stumbling block” to those Jews putting their faith in Christ. See for yourself by reading the verse in its larger context.

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks[a] foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)

Notice two things from the above passage: (1) the Jews’ request for miraculous signs is not portrayed in a positive light, and (2) the apostle Paul does not grant their request for signs. So, then, how can Bickle use this verse in support of the NAR teaching that Gentile Christians have a responsibility to perform signs and wonders for the Jewish people?

– By Holly Pivec

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12 Responses to “Bickle’s Bible Botching”

  1. Lindsay Says:

    This is a very sensible article scripturally, and very timely.  Bickle’s misuse of Scripture and his exegetical gymnastics is a common tactic used by false teachers, and even by those who would not even be in the NAR brigade, eg, Rick Warren’s use of The Message.  I pray we will always be alert and warn others, regardless of the earthly consequences. The only antidote to this poison is a good dose of ongoing Bible Study, discernment and prayer.

  2. ali Says:

    Discernment and knowledge of The Word are our only weapons against false teaching.

    Spurgeon said it well:

    “Discernment is not simply a matter of telling the difference between what is right and wrong; rather it is the difference between right and almost right.”

  3. M. K. Says:

    I watched that happen in a home fellowship meeting in our ex church which was into the NAR before Wagner even wrote the book. I have since concluded that this way of treating scripture is common to all heresy and doctrines that oppose Christ.

    The home group leader would start by stating a concept he wanted us to learn, then he would twist scripture to fit. He would IGNORE a perfectly good scripture to back up what he was saying in favour of teaching a habit of twisting scripture.

    At first I thought he was just well meaning but misguided since he always (at that time) taught reasonable doctrines. I routinely held up the class and challenged the use of the inappropriate scripture, suggesting the appropriate one, BUT because everyone was getting restless as I did this, and BECAUSE up till then, nothing he taught was off kilter in any other way, I backed off.

    BIG mistake.

    After I shut up, it only took a few months and he started teaching Latter Rain stuff, a little bit at a time. I challenged some, but the group was with him, so we left that fellowship and I warned the pastor about it. Nothing was done and I really regretted my first mistake in not challenging EVERY misuse of scripture.

    Later I found that the head pastor, and many under him were in favour of the Latter Rain nonsense, the Toronto Airport Vineyard stuff and later this NAR nonsense. Eventually I found out the pastor was in serious sin, and we were excommunicated to shut us up. (We left anyway, and wouldn’t have gone back, except that the pastor was worried that we would talk about why so he forbade anyone from speaking to us)

    All you have to do, is notice how Mike Bickle treated the real IHOP. International House of Pancakes. He disdainfully ignored them when they begged him for decades, to stop using their IHOP acronym for their International House of Prayer.

    That eventually ended in a lawsuit a couple of years ago.

    I KNOW he wasn’t using the name ignorantly, it was an “in joke” that my prayer leader who was very taken with his book and ministry shared with us. It was DELIBERATE! I didn’t like it then or now, and I view it as corporate theft of a pre existing name and logo.

    I don’t know how the lawsuit turned out, but my former prayer leader (who eventually became prayer pastor in my ex church) was fine with that. That was in the early 90′s if I recall correctly.

    Which says at the very least, that other people don’t matter to Mike. As long as Mike can benefit by a cute in joke that helped spread his fame, he was OK with taking something that belonged to someone else and using it for his own benefit.

    He has a similar tin ear for Scripture, just as he does with ethics!

    But in terms of spot the heresy merchant, it;s actually a good early warning sign. One I will never ignore again!

  4. Jim Says:

    It sure sounds like you all are content with getting the “right theology” as the path to salvation and truth. 

    If path to salvation and truth is simply the matter getting the “right theology”, then we can all call Jesus a lier because he said “HE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE”. 

    Since when does the church deviates from getting nourishment from the fountain of life by not eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood, but eating the fruit of “knowledge of God”?

  5. Ro Says:

    My sister got involved in this movement.  There are demonic things going on in it.  she attended a church plant in Canada.  She went to the last One Thing gathering in Kansas City and said they’re really clamping down on sexual immorality….why are they having sexual immorality issues?  Because of all the repetitious prayers, trance states, exhaustion and lack of solid leadership.  This is a perfect environment for Satan.  Praise God she has realized it is a cult and deeply corrupted.  It’s not surprising that that group within IHOP murdered that woman and were fornicating with one another!!  My sister said that one night when they were doing a “burn” for 24hrs she literally felt as if one of the worship leaders had fornicated with her in the spirit!!  She jumped away, but then felt herself being led back.  I don’t believe it was the leader, I believe it was a demonic presence masquerading as the leader!  Very frightening.  I am deep ly disturbed by this movement and it’s direct targeting of college age people.

  6. Dawn McClendon Says:

    READ  JUDE 3….IN THE KING  JAMES VERSION
    NEED ‘JUDE’ SAY MORE?

  7. Bowie Curry Says:

    I appreciate the heart behind what your are attempting to do. However in just presenting one side of the issue is not to my mind helpful or even Biblical. Even Christ in His letters to the churches in Revelation offered both correction and commendation. IHOP is far more than Mike Bickle. IHOP U has excellent balanced teachers such as the Chandlers, Alan Hood, and others. Some of the most beautiful, Christ honoring music has come from the so called “trance states”.
    I am associated with a related ministry, The Fredericksburg Prayer Furnace, we are constantly before the Lord asking Him to reveal any practices or teaching that is harmful or unbiblical. We have been to my mind faithful to receive any helpful criticism from any legitimate source. We have seen many healed and delivered who continue to live fruitful, holy God-honoring lives. we have had a number of externs from IHOP U and have found them to be exemplary in every way.

    my point is you are being neither fair nor accurate in Characterizing  IHOP as being a cult on the basis of a few persons negative experiences. For every one who has been disappointed or hurt by iHOP, there are multitudes who have been and continue to be supremely blessed by the ministry. My own walk with the Lord has been profoundly edified by IHOP’s emphasis on returning to my first love and spending quality time before the Lord in His Word as the foundation for any true ministry.

    I’m truly sorry for your sister’s experience but at least consider the possibility that the problem might lie with her and not iHOP.

  8. Bowie Curry Says:

    I would like to propose a friendly challenge.

    Send me a list Scriptures that you feel that IHOP and by extension, the Prayer Furnace is in error about, and we will consider each one and provide the Biblical basis as we see it for what we do.

    I assure you, our heart is for the truth and we will certainly repent of anything we feel is unscriptural. We may not agree with you on every point but at least you will know where we are coming from.

    I think this is a more positive approach than has been presented thus far.

  9. GrannyB Says:

    @Bowie Curry

    I know all about your ‘Prayer Furnance’ in Fredricksburg.  Unfortunately, my daughter is about to marry one of your members.

    The very Definition of a cult or aberrational Christian Group is centered around control and greed.  Let me list what I have found out about the Prayer Furnance in Fredricksburg since my daughter got involved.

    1.  The Co-Founders (Father and Son Team) have the Prayer Furnace listed on a Marketing Website under ‘The Business of Prayer’.  Since when is prayer a Business.
    2.  If you have nothing to hide, why does someone have to be a registered user in order to get to any detailed Information on the Webpage, look at ads or Blogs.
    3.  Numerous complaints about the internship program and the control exerted over the Young People taking part including the fact that they do not want anyone attending to be in a relationship or you have to notify the church at the time of application.
    4.  If you look at the Facebook page of the Son, it is all about Money.  We Need  another 150k to complete the interior, we Need Money to complete our next Album, and when the Album is complete nothing but Advertising for iTunes Downloads.  To any Logical thinking Person this is pure and simple greed.
    5.  They are affliated with the I.H.O.P in Kansas City.  There is a link under their Resources section of the Webpage directly to this Group.  This Group is considered a Cult and on many of the Cult Watch lists.
    6.  The fees for the Internships and College of Sacred Scripture are in no relation to what the Person receives.  Plus an intern should not have to pay them for the learning experience, that is the very nature of an internship.
    7.   The Son of the Founding Team had a “Revelation” that an invading army was marching up the coast of the US and only 24/7 prayer would save us all.  His own Quote ‘many lives were saved’.  What lives, there was never an Invasion or possibility of one.
    8.   Mandatory ‘Corporate’ Fasting on Mondays.  This is from their very own Webpage.  Since when is a Church a corporate entity, unless it is in business to make Money.

    All this Information is readily available via the Internet.  I will continue to Research and bring the truth to light about your church.  I will spare another mother the heartache I am having to go through watching my only child go down a path that will only lead to doom because she is a lonely lost Soul that cannot find the answers she seeks within herself.  That is what a Cult prays on, People like my daughter.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    GrannyB,

    I am a staff member of the Prayer Furnace in Fredericksburg, VA.  I rarely join in internet debates because there is usually very little listening and lots of accusing.  But I just felt to respond briefly to some of your accusations.  Hopefully, this will be helpful to you or perhaps others. I will go through your 8 things.

    1) Business of Prayer is a ministry that is dedicated to training business people to live lives of prayer in the midst of a busy life and career which. It is not about making prayer a business in any way which would be contrary to all biblical teaching on prayer!

    2) The registered user feature is standard on a lot of website templates and it came with the template we used for our previous website.  The only “hidden” things were administrative documents which we stored for staff to be able to access as needed.  We enabled the registered user feature for people that downloaded things to help communication.  This is not for the purpose of hiding any secret cultish documents, I assure you. 

    3.  This internship is entirely voluntary.  People can join as they desire and leave as they desire without any negative consequences. You can be part of our ministry without doing the internship at all. The guidelines for the training program/internship are in sync with the norm for this kind of program which is offered in many varieties in many different demoninations and ministries that are far from being cults. They are totally clear up front.  The internship program is for people that WANT to take a short season of 4 months to focus on ministry, bible study, prayer, etc. in a very unique way, but, again, it is voluntary and the guidelines are just to help people get the most out of the programs!  People can opt out of this program whenever they want! You mention the complaints about the program.  I can tell you hundreds of stories of people whose lives were turned around and transformed in the most positive ways during the internships! I have wept with gratitude many times when I have heard testimonies from young adults who were given a whole new life of freedom and encountering God in the midst of the internship. The point of the internship is to help and serve people not control them!

    4. David Bradshaw’s facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/david.bradshaw.54943

    I think the page will speak for itself.  I see very little on money.  There was a season a few months or so ago where we were doing a massive building project where there were a some posts, but hardly a mainstay on the page.  When you are a ministry that is entirely based on voluntary financial support sometimes you have to communicate about money, but money is not, by any means the goal.

    5.  I do not believe that IHOP is a cult.  IHOP is not perfect, however.  We are not affiliated in any direct way.  We are friends with many of the leaders of IHOP.  This is a long discussion which space does not really permit in this context.  I have researched IHOP for years and I have read every accusation.  I can honestly say that every accusation of them being a cult can be answered as significant misinformation, things taken out of context, or basic misunderstanding. Again, this is an honest assessment based on years of research. 

    Many evangelical scholars and leaders, not affiliated in any way with IHOP, have affirmed this. Another fact is that every move of God from Baptists to Presbyterians were accused in similar ways of being a cult or dangerous in their early days when they were actually of God! Not to mention the biblical prophets which were persecuted. Just because something is called a cult doesn’t mean it is one.

    6. The fees for the internship cover 2-4 hours of class eveyday taught by gifted instructors, hundreds of pages of notes, full room and board, travel expenses, some overhead expenses to operate the ministry.  We actually barely scrape by on the tuition for these programs!

    7. No one here believes that there has been a military crisis on the east coast like that!  That is a pretty radical distortion of what was said. We do think there is a chance this could happen one day and we pray for mercy and revival in America – for many to come to Jesus!  This is the gist of what David was talking about.  We are calling for prayer for God to pour out his Spirit in America.  You are referencing David talking about a dream that he had, that he believes God gave him, but it is not meant to suggest that this has happened, but that it could possibly happen and that we are called to pray for this nation to turn back to God! 

    8. There are no mandatory fasts!  We regularly say that.  We do encourage people to occasionally fast together (“Corporately”).  This practice was part of church history consistently over thousands of years, but not mandatory fasting, voluntary fasts for anyone that feels led to join.  Lent, for example is a “corporate fast” for some. Mandatory fasting would be wrong and unbiblical.  We are not using the term corporate in the sense of business, but in terms of “together” as opposed to individual.  Corporate prayer is a prayer meeting.  Personal prayer is a quiet time alone with the Lord.  This is common usage of the word corporate. We have corporate fasting days where anyone that wants to can fast together, but no one is required to participate, and many do not. 

    Hopefully this will help someone. 

    If you want to see what we DO believe, you can look through our website:

    http://www.theprayerfurnace.org/

    Blessings!

  11. Savoi Says:

    Where ever church misses the mark is when they feel they know. They know the right way and the others are wrong. People only walk in the light that they have been shown. Churches  begin with the  best intentions in mind and some how all end up at the same place. In most cases when a body of people begins to grow they decide someone has to be in charge and they go from freedom and grace to works giving money and all under the so called spiritual authority heresy that enslaves and guilty people under an angry God. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. The authority was given to Jesus and all authority is truth. And we submit to that authority not man made position and man given titles. I won’t go on and on with this topic but when you see a young church excited and severing God the change usually takes place when the church and leaders go doctrinal toward their spiritual authority over the members.  All churches people consider cults teach it. They are basically replacing Jesus with the church all in the name of lifting Him up

  12. Anon Says:

    I was at the Fredericksburg prayer furnace for 3.5 years and served in various capacities from small to large.

    if its not a cult, its cult-tish. They take things to extremes & though they say things are “not mandatory” because of the group think, people do it anyways even though they are so poor they are eating ramen at home. don’t be tricked . the Prayer furnace is so into themselves they can’t see their own problems.

    Granny B, you are right to be concerned about your daughter, get her out asap.

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