Recently Charisma Magazine published this video to somehow prove IHOP is not a cult. Assuming that the interviewer works for Charisma Magazine, Mike Bickle was asked directly if IHOP was a cult.
In the clip, the interviewer asks Mike Bickle, founder of IHOP, the following question:
“Is IHOP a cult?”
The absurdity of the introduction showcases what we call the Michael Brown Discernment Syndrome (MBDS), called this because of Brown’s inability to approach cults with discernment – in order to get straight answers and then defend them based on their responses. Clearly both Charisma Magazine and the interviewer seem to suffer from this same lack of discernment.
Bickle, not surprisingly, denied the claim of cult.
Bickle claimed the community think he runs a cult because he attracts, “a couple of thousand young people who love the bible.” This is not even remotely true. IHOP was founded by two false prophets:
- an unknown prophet (Bickle never names him) who gave Bickle his infallible ‘Blue Print’ Prophecy which provided the foundation of the IHOP movement.
- Bob Jones, a false prophet who confessed to Bickle in an interview that his supernatural powers were from demons.
In contrast, Jesus said He will build his church and that if anyone “who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:26-27.)
This is Mike Bickle’s overall definition of a cult, which he clearly falls into the category of:
“A cult is a group that deviates from the doctrines and practices of historic Christianity and has an inordinate loyalty to one leader, whose beliefs are not found in Scripture. If a group displays even one of these seven characteristics, they are a cult or have cultish tendencies. Cults start with one or two of these characteristics before they escalate into more.” [Source]
Mike Bickle is absolutely right about this. But does he prove to be a cult by his own definition? We quote what he says in the video as well as his own sermon notes. It is important to note that he stops at point 3.
1. Video: “They do not value criticism.” Notes: “They oppose critical thinking.”
2. Video: “Loyalty… A cult wants you first committed to the ministry. Second to your family.” Notes: “They dishonor the family unit instead of insisting on the biblical priority of the family unit.”
3. Video: “A cult… The whole community shuns you if you leave.” Notes: “They isolate members and reject them for leaving instead of helping them do God’s will.”
4. Notes: “They promote inappropriate loyalty and connection to the cult leadership instead of to Jesus.”
5. Notes: “They cross biblical boundaries of behavior instead of walking in purity and integrity.”
6. Notes: “They separate from the Church instead of promoting a culture of honor toward the Church.”
7. Notes: “Emphasizing special revelations that contradict Scripture instead of honoring the Scripture.”
The reason why it appears he stops at point 3 is because points 4-7 clearly reveal that IHOP fails to be a legitimate church. We take a brief look at IHOP history and the facts to see if they fulfill any of their own criteria. The facts are these:
1. IHOP and its leaders have proven to not tolerate criticism after they attempted to destroy the credibility of Ernie Gruen, who exposed their false prophecies and dangerous teachings.
2. IHOP’s major criticism is that it has in fact separated “young people from their families and creates zombie-like adherents.” You can even read about IHOP destroying families here. Another sign of a cult or pseudo-Christian cult is when they preach a monetary (non-Christian) doctrine known as the ‘tithe’. This doctrine puts the church financially first and foremost before one’s family circumstances. You can see Mike Bickle DOES teach this ‘doctrine’ ruthlessly:
“To tithe is to trust God directly with 10% of our money. God will release financial blessing on all who tithe. When we give 10% of our income to God, we discover that 90% with God’s blessing will go further than 100% without God’s blessing. Some say that they cannot afford to tithe. The truth is that we cannot afford not to tithe.” [Emphasis added] [Source]
3. IHOP do in fact shun people if they question their teachings. Here is an example of what you can expect:
“Sadly, however, when some have actually done that very thing, and have then voiced their concerns – that they’ve checked their Bibles about what Mike has taught, and the scripture(s) he was using for (name a subject) was taken out of context – that that wasn’t what was meant in that (or those) scripture(s) at all — THEN they’ve been told they need to leave – to be “retrained” either in the Dallas area or in Toronto.
Worse yet — THEN they’ve had the people they shared a home with, or in classes etc completely shun them. And all because they openly asked questions about things that did not line up with God’s Word.” [Source – Cached]
Mike Bickle, by his own definition and his three marks so far, has proven that IHOP is indeed a cult. Let’s see if he fulfills all seven marks of what he describes as a cult.
4. IHOP do “cross biblical boundaries of behavior” instead of walking in purity and integrity. For starters, they place their faith in their two prophets and the apostolic ministry of Mike Bickle, above the Word of God. They even practice unbiblical worship and invented the notorious ‘Bridal Paradigm’. So purity and integrity is sadly, nothing more than lip service.
6. IHOP do “separate from the Church instead of promoting a culture of honor toward the Church.” Bickle is part of a cult that was birthed in 1948 known as the ‘New Order of the Latter Rain’ (NOLR). The leadership of Branham and theology of the NOLR helped create the ministry of the infamous cult leader Jim Jones. IHOP’s theology is practically identical to the NOLR/Jonestown cult. (Restorationism, Healing Gospel, End-times Church Governance, Manifest Sons heresy, etc. All doctrines pointing to the lie that the church is the future hope of the world.) Consider this statement from Bickle’s IHOP website on the Sacred Charge page:
“In light of the crisis that confronts our generation, we must imitate a biblical lifestyle that will prepare us to be part of the answer. These commitments are the starting point for those who desire to live out the forerunner lifestyle.” [Emphasis added – Source]
We remind people that orthodox Christianity teaches that Jesus is the hope of the world, not the church (Jesus teaches that when He returns, there will be hardly any faithful). Cults like NOLR/Jonestown/IHOP reinforce the dangerous idea that the world is falling apart, the church is the hope of the world, downplay Jesus Christ’s divinity and portray their founders as Elijah-like or Messiah-like figures. Bickle promotes the ‘kenotic’ Jesus and has in the past used false prophet Bob Jones to elevate him as an apostle-prophet-Messiah-like figure ushering Christ’s return.
7. IHOP emphasizes “special revelations that contradict Scripture instead of honoring the Scripture.” For example, IHOP teach new revelations such the ‘Harp & Bowl’ heresy and their infamous ‘Bridal Paradigm. We should not forget the fact that the movement is founded on the unknown prophets ‘Blueprint Prophecy‘, Bob Jones’ ‘Billion Soul’ prophecy and ‘White Horse’ prophecy (just to name a few). Bickle also holds to the false New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) gospel, their false eschatology, basileology and their false kenotic Christology.
When you read the attached PDF below, you will see even more evidence of IHOP’s bizarre “end-times mandate”
Click to access One_Thing_2009_Teaching_Notes_Mike_Bickle_Web_Edition.pdf
By identifying IHOP as a very dangerous cult, we were not surprised to see, that by Mike Bickle’s own definition, IHOP ticked all 7 points, identifying his entire movement as a cult. It doesn’t take much research to see that Mike Bickle’s claims are deceitful and there are many sad testimonies online, with individuals and families revealing how they were treated or why they left IHOP.
What IHOP teaches bears very little resemblance to biblical Christianity and it to be marked and avoided.