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Love and Death in the House of Prayer

Rolling Stone imageRolling Stone magazine released a fascinating article, last week, about Tyler Deaton–a former student in the International House of Prayer (IHOP), who is under investigation related to the murder of his wife. The article is called Love and Death in the House of Prayer.

I do not believe IHOP is responsible for the death of Bethany Deaton or for the actions of Tyler Deaton. But I share this article with my readers because it addresses some of the New Apostolic Reformation teachings promoted by IHOP, including a dominionist view of the end time.

The following excerpt from the article is a pretty good description of what IHOP founder, Mike Bickle, teaches.

This is IHOP’s most alluring tenet: God needs IHOPers to effect the Tribulation and bring Christ back to Earth. “The church causes the Great Tribulation,” Bickle has preached. Before founding IHOP, he argued that “God intends us to be like gods. God has conceived in his heart of a plan to make a race of men that would live like gods on Earth.” Bickle sometimes affects to know God as he would a peer. “I heard what I call the internal audible voice of the Lord,” he has said. He claims that he visited heaven one night at 2:16 a.m., and the Lord charged him with preparing for an End Times ministry and seated him in a golden chariot that lifted off into the empyrean. At IHOP, where prophetic experiences are endemic, the mortal and divine commingle liberally.

The vanguard of God’s End Times army, according to Bickle, will be made up of young people, or “forerunners,” seers specially attuned to the will of the Lord, “the best of all the generations that have ever been seen on the face of the Earth.” For seven years of Tribulation, they will battle the Antichrist. When Christ returns, he will slaughter by sword in a single day the unsaved, and his warriors will rule heaven and Earth forevermore.

IHOP is not the only charismatic movement in America to adopt this theology of aggressive prayer. A constellation of ministries shares its vision. Together, they make up what has been called the New Apostolic Reformation, a decades-old rebellion against traditional Christianity that counts millions of adherents worldwide; it has become such a force in evangelical America that Texas Gov. Rick Perry hosted an NAR prayer rally in Houston for his 2012 presidential campaign. As prayer rooms are established in ever more locations, according to NAR, the “seven mountains of culture” – government, business, family, educational systems, the media, arts and religion – will fall under its influence.

If you read the article, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

— By Holly Pivec
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10 Responses to “Love and Death in the House of Prayer”

  1. John B Says:

    From reading the article it looks very much like the kind of situation like the whole “does heavy metal cause violence” and “do violent video games cause violence” where it’s all but impossible to determine whether violent video games encourage people to be violent, or whether people with violent tendencies are more likely to seek out violent video games.

    Here it’s hard to see whether IHOP doctrines encouraged the people concerned to go over the edge, or whether they were people predisposed to get obsessed about angels and demons and therefore sought out doctrines relating to angels and demons.

    Personally I regard IHOP as something to be wary of simply on the basis that with the information I personally have on hand it is difficult to form a concrete conclusion in either direction but, based on what I do have, my conclusion leans towards “bad” rather than “good”. That said this particular article seems to attribute teachings to IHOP but without references. Without references it turns into a “he said, she said” situation, and there’s so much literature out there it’s daft to expect the curious reader to scan it all looking for the quote.

    Obviously Biblical quotes are handy because they come with book, chapter and verse. Where external documents are quoted it’s handy to know where the document is (web site or book title) and at least an approximate page number.

  2. John B Says:

    Another comment – the article does discuss some homosexual issues but I didn’t regard it as being graphic. Certainly from Holly’s warning I was expecting something a lot more graphic than I actually found.

  3. Michelle Says:

    This is my second attempt to comment.  My first one bounced. 

    This story reminded me of something that happened to a college friend of mine named Ann.

    In the early 1990’s Ann was murdered by her husband and his cult followers.  He was the only one convicted, but he had physical disabilities and he couldn’t have done all the things associated with the murder by himself (like carrying her body and a mattress down stairs, disposing of her body in a culvert by an airport, driving to a town 4 hours away with their baby to dump their van, and making his way back home with the baby to report her missing a few days later.)
    Ann and her husband had been interested in role playing games and groups since childhood.  In college, she became active with the Society for Creative Anachronisms, and took the role of a fighter at their gatherings. She studied martial arts and became pretty good at “medieval” fighting techniques. After college she became active in Wicca, and her husband was the head priest of a Druid group.  They held rituals at their home on a regular basis.
    Her college friends heard occasional mentions of these things, but we never thought it was as serious as it became.  The police found that she had been rendered unconscious by a blow to her head, then laid on her back on the bed and stabbed in the heart.  Her husband was sentenced to 99 years in prison for her murder and their baby was placed in the custody of Ann’s parents. 
    The similarity to the Deatons’ story is not direct, but as I read the article, I recognized the common fascination with magic.  I also noticed that, in both cases, the larger groups that they were part of on a regular basis failed to notice that things were becoming very strange.  When people are drawn to things spiritual, but lack discernment and any sort of objective guide (like the Bible) they face the grave danger of encountering things very dark and deadly.

  4. Michelle Says:

    Sorry for leaving the Word formatting garbage in the message. After the first message bounced, I typed it into Word in case it bounced again. I should have changed it to pure text.

  5. Mark Says:


    I did read this very, very, long article.  IHOP most certainly would not condone such behavior in any way shape or form. 

    It is however, important to acknowledge that leadership in the local churches and ministries such as IHOP are responsible to establish and nurture a healthy church government i.e. one that is based on sound biblical principles for both structure and process.  The absence of such government is a recipe for mayhem and chaos.  Let us pray together and agree together that God will establish aplenty local churches with bible based governments populated by Godly men and women that adhere to the written word of God but also know Him and His Spirit in such a way as the early apostles new Him.  PTL

  6. M.K. Says:

    I read the article. My thoughts?

    First that the type of unbalanced teaching that Mike Bickle uses and Rick Joyner etc, form an unhealthy church environment in which unbalanced people cannot be helped or even spotted. It actually becomes very attractive to the unbalanced person. IHOP behaves like a cult because it IS a cult. That can’t be completely separated from the actions of followers.

    When dh and I left the church I’ve mentioned in previous posts (also followed Mike Bickle, Dutch Sheets, Cindy Jacobs, Peter Wagner, Rick Joyner et al) I began to wonder WHY? What in the theology my former pastor believed gave him “permission” to be abusive? Because what we believe helps us make decisions about important things like how we treat others. Roots really do yield fruits. Which isn’t to say that a book or a church MAKES us sin, because our choice is still our choice, but what we believe really DOES matter.

    This “worship leader” that may have either killed his wife or driven a “follower” to do it, needed help and correct teaching early on. But it also appears that he would have run from that towards something exciting and supernatural, so I doubt that any balanced church with good teaching would have held his attention for longer than a few minutes.

    I think the IHOP group is responsible for providing healthy teaching which they aren’t. They prefer the heady mixture of supernatural stuff and the feeling that no matter how mundane or boring their everyday life is, God is going to do something amazing thru them in the “end time” whenever and wherever that is. So they didn’t help matters any. And they likely provided a theology for this man to use to justify his evil behaviour.

    But this young man made his choices if this article is correct. Even if he did have a head full of crackpot theology, he still chose evil. He is reponsible for his own actions.

    According to the article he always had a strong inclination towards dramatic and supernatural stuff whether IHOP or Harry Potter provided it. He gathered like minded people around him which the structure of IHOP seems to have enabled and encouraged.

    I’m disturbed not just by his wife’s apparent murder, but the whole cult like abusive behavior going on in the two houses involved. Mr Harrington was significantly abused as well as some of the others mentioned in the article.

    I’m also appalled that the young man in question sought out a teaching job at a high school where he would be able to recruit fresh victims. He has quietly gone off the radar. Not good.

    And where in all this was the vigorous dealing by the leadership at IHOP? It is conspicuously absent. Like IHOP just wishes it will all go away.

    This is disgusting. But I think as long as we have cults, we have historically had lunatic elements that take cult teaching to it’s horrific nth degree. I’ve been reading some early church fathers stuff, and the cults they dealt with also had lunatics that went off the deep end. The cults start in the church, often with attractive personality leaders who get a following who follow them out when the cult leader is exposed and dealt with by the church. The little flock of followers then get more extreme under the leader, and a few will often act out on the weird teachings and tragic results ensue.

    Back to my own ex pastor– not only did I begin to spot the wrong theology but it stood out a mile that he was a damaged individual, and he drew equally damaged people to him. Dh and I were never part of the inner circle,but it was useful to me in healing after to realize why I was drawn to a group “with all the answers” that was so exciting and compelling in the beginning. I realized some time later that every one of the leaders of his inner circle were as damaged as he was and part of his trust of them was in his ability to control them just like their abusive parents used to, and like HIS abusive father used to.

    Healthier disciples eventually disagreed with him and got excommunicated.

    I look at this article and see a lot of that, but taken to a tragic extreme by someone who was obviously more unbalanced than usual in these circles.

    The only prevention I can think of is to keep writing articles, be discerning and teach young people to think for themselves and be wary of anyone with all the answers.

  7. kadri-liisa Says:

    I read the article and i have read it before too. 
    Still i do not understand how people can be so stupid so manipulated. 
    But it is not suprise that in that community young people may get crazy so to say.

  8. L Says:

    There has been a long history of cult like tactics within Christian or Bible believing groups.
    I was greatly helped by studying it and studying spiritual abuse.

    It is hard to separate what is human fleshly (sinful) tendancies.

    Obviously cultic practices go to an extreme and are to be avoided.

    There are so many cults out there, and unfortunately, many sincere Bible believing groups
    that have similar tactics or problems.

    Unfortunately we can see problems also with more orthodox, Bible believing groups such
    as Calvin who, in their day, felt justified in burning other believers (early Baptists at that time)
    at the stake for their beliefs.

    I can’t seem to find a healthy church but this may also be due to my own personal
    background.  I went through alot of severe trauma and abuse, much of it occurring after
    becomming a Christian.  I was attracted to groups which had answers since I don’t believe
    that God was responsible for my suffering.  I don’t personally believe God is responsible for,
    or allows, everything that occurs on earth. 

    Yet in these groups and teachings, along with some good and encouraging things, there has
    also been a mix of teachings and practices which seem to be questionable or possibly,
    even demonic.

    Has anyone here heard of Andrew Strom?  He was involved with the NAR and separated from
    it, warning about a “kundalini spirit” which he claims has invaded the churches.

    When observing the Shepherding Movement, cultic groups, Toronto blessing, etc etc
    it is alarming.

    It is hard to tell whether the Holy Spirit is empowering and helping people, whether things
    are demonic, or a mix of both.

    I have also read that many Christians in history experienced personal visitations from
    God, gifts of the Spirit, healings, etc.

    But so have many occultists and others.

    Very mixed up.

    The cessessanists who rightly warn about excesses in the charismatic movement and other
    groups also have problems. 

  9. Ron McKay Says:

    Hello Holly,

    FYI, Rolling Stone has updated the article, saying that the case was thrown out and that there was no evidence that either Moore or Deaton were guilty. Moore had major mental health (psychotic) issues, and falsely inculpated himself and Deaton, which explains everything. It was ruled as a suicide (Deaton was gay and Bethany was confirmed to have died a virgin by specialists, despite being married for some time…)
    You might want to remove or vastly rework this article, since it will discredit your site. HOWEVER, the case does show how IHOP doesn’t have the spiritual discernment they claim to have, since they dealt very poorly with this troubled young lady, with her suicidal thoughts, with the marriage preparation for the couple, and with mental health issues among them.

    Quote from RS article prologue:
    “Editor’s Note: In October 2014, nearly a year after this story appeared, the case against Micah Moore was dismissed… But the evidence available now suggests overwhelmingly that Bethany Deaton committed suicide and that Moore and Deaton are innocent of any crime. We now know: every verifiable statement Moore made to detectives was either proven false or was contradicted by the evidence; after the confession, investigators discovered no additional evidence that a crime had occurred; and both circumstantial and forensic evidence point to suicide. We urge readers to reconsider this story in light of the totality of the evidence.”

  10. Holly Says:

    Hi Ron. Thanks for sharing the updated findings. I don’t see a need to remove or update my post since I stated, in my post, that I don’t think IHOPKC is responsible for Deaton’s death.

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