I am often reluctant to publish posts that are critical and also anonymous, but this one had the kind of irenic, humble spirit we strive for in confrontation and the author had very good reasons not to attach his name.
NOTE: The author requested a response from MBTS and Jason Deusing has given an unequivocal and clear response. We are grateful for his clear, biblical, and gracious response.
The Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary administration continues to have serious and substantial concerns over the teaching, practices, claims, and reputation of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City and its leadership-and has no affiliation whatsoever, public or private, with IHOP-KC.
Jason G. Duesing
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
I recently sat down to breakfast with the pastor of a small church in my neck of the woods. The reason for our meeting was that his congregation of 60 people had just voted to leave the Southern Baptist Convention, our state convention and our local association. As a neighboring pastor, I wanted to understand better why he led his church to make this decision, and play the role of a peacemaker if I could. I did not know this man well, and so did not know what to expect. What I found was a humble man who did not strike me as fanatical or contentious in any way, but rather a man who was genuinely burdened for the state of the SBC. The primary cause for his concern was the growing influence in the SBC of a movement known as the “New Apostolic Reformation,” perhaps best characterized by its unofficial, flagship institution – The International House of Prayer in Kansas City.
Space does not suffice to launch into a detailed critique of IHOP. And, besides, many others more informed and educated than I have already done so. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I would point you to apologetics websites such as carm.org, gotquestions.org, and standupforthetruth.com. Nevertheless, for those not familiar with IHOP, allow me to summarize the concerns outlined in these sources: 1) IHOP practices Gnosticism – the belief in “hidden knowledge” that is made available to select people through prophecies, visions and dreams. For instance, IHOP has designated “prophecy rooms” where people can go to receive these special revelations. 2) IHOP teaches the exercise of “contemplative” or “centering” prayer. This method of prayer, with its roots in eastern mysticism, teaches the emptying of the mind through the repetition of certain words or phrases, and training oneself to find “the presence of God within.” 3) IHOP worship times are a practice in the bizarre, if not demonic. Songs are often comprised of hypnotic, rhythmic, chanting. Participants demonstrate extreme “manifestations,” including uncontrollable laughing and violent thrashing. 4) IHOP has an extreme over-emphasis on the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, to the point of receiving criticism even from fellow Charismatics. For instance, one speaker at their upcoming “One Thing” conference claims in his conference bio to have raised the dead. 5) The origins and founder of IHOP are directly tied to the doctrinally aberrant “Kansas City Prophets.” 6) From a sociological standpoint, IHOP has many characteristics of a cult. A simple Google search turns up scores of personal testimonies of individuals who have experienced manipulative, controlling and abusive behavior at the hands of IHOP leadership.
Now, what does all this have to do with the SBC, and my particular state convention? In the days prior to our state’s annual pastors’ conference (held in conjunction with our state convention’s annual meeting) both my neighboring pastor and I were dismayed to learn that the CEO of IHOP had been invited to preach and appear on a discussion panel concerning revival. Once at the event, we were further dismayed to be chided (by another non-Southern Baptist on the program) about why we should be more accepting of IHOP. This was not the only point of concern with the conference, but the largest. My fellow pastor drove home from the conclusion of the conference with a heavy heart, feeling he had lost his convention.
At this point, perhaps some would say this pastor overreacted. However, his feelings were further validated a short time later when he learned the president of the Southern Baptist Convention would be a featured speaker at IHOP’s “One Thing” conference at the end of December – the same conference mentioned above, with the man who raises people from the dead. Can you understand his concern? Can you understand mine?
Again, did my brother pastor overreact by leading his church to leave the SBC, state convention and association, without first attempting to work through these concerns, or address them through formal channels? From the outside looking in, I think one could reasonably make that argument. Speaking for myself, I would have loved a chance to visit with him before the decision was made. But, ultimately, that is not my call to make, nor yours. As Southern Baptists we believe in the autonomy of the local church, and so we must respect the decision made by this congregation to act on its convictions and part ways. Regardless if one agrees with their decision or not, I hope that we can acknowledge the validity of their concerns.
Based on those concerns which I share, I would like to present four appeals to my fellow Southern Baptists:
1) I appeal to President Ronnie Floyd not to speak at this event. I have no reason to doubt Dr. Floyd’s motives in speaking at IHOP’s “One Thing” conference. I have never heard Dr. Floyd speak when he did not preach the true gospel. He wants people to be saved. Furthermore, Dr. Floyd has a passion for prayer and revival that is commendable. However, the negative in this case far outweighs the positive. By speaking at this conference, Dr. Floyd is lending the weight, credibility, and in some ways – the approval – of the SBC to the IHOP movement. How many youth and college pastors will bring their students to this event in the future because, “Ronnie Floyd spoke there; it can’t be too bad!” How many of those young people will later attend IHOP as individuals and be exposed to its unbiblical doctrine?
2) I appeal to the leadership of the state pastors’ conferences, and the SBC Pastors’ Conference, put some form of accountability in place that protects the doctrinal integrity of your conference. To be clear, my state convention had nothing to do with IHOP being represented at our pastors’ conference. In the case of our state, the pastors’ conference is a totally separate entity from the state convention. Nevertheless, the pastors’ conference uses state convention resources (including the venue) free of charge, and thus I believe some kind of accountability to the state convention must be in order.
3) I appeal to the leadership of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City to make its position clear on where it stands on the IHOP movement. MBTS is strategically positioned to speak truth regarding this unbiblical movement which it finds in its own back yard. There is no doubt that MBTS students are being caught up in IHOP, and subsequently taking its false teachings and influence into the pulpits of local churches. I believe the seminary has a responsibility here.
4) I appeal to individual Southern Baptists who have concerns over the “New Apostolic Reformation” and IHOP movement to make themselves heard in a Christlike and respectful manner to their denominational leadership on the national, state and local levels.
Finally, please do not construe anything I have said to imply that everyone involved in IHOP has negative or evil intentions. To the contrary, I think many of the people in the IHOP movement are genuine followers of Christ who are simply misled. In many cases, we would do well to emulate their passion for prayer and enthusiasm for revival. But, as one man has said, “Those most enthusiastic about revival are not always the best to lead it. Enthusiasm often comes with lack of discernment.”