Charismatic Churches and the Cult of the New


See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.
—Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)

I have, since 1984, been a part of the charismatic movement (hereafter “CM”). In those years I’ve seen the blind given their sight, the lame healed, the demon-possessed freed of their anguish, and have given words of knowledge and wisdom to those who need them—all directed by God and for His glory alone. We are to do the works of Christ this side of heaven using all the power that He affords us as his chosen vessels.

That said, what is happening in charismatic circles today must be viewed as nothing less than the utter abandonment of all good sense, decorum, and biblical correctness.

Isaiah 43:19 has taken on a life of its own in the CM, unfortunately. We’ve become the Cult of the New Thing. The CM is no longer a new thing itself, and because of this the movement is in search of the next new frontier. I believe this to be highly dangerous given the movement’s willingness to quickly jump on bandwagons that later hurtle off cliffs, hurting many along the way. We in the CM have become addicted to new experiences, be they biblical or not.

An astonishing lack of biblical discernment dogs the 21st century CM. We accept any and all “moves of God” simply because something “new” is happening. Yet too many times those moves attempt to add something to the finished work of Jesus, and that should disturb all of us who consider ourselves charismatics.

With discernment urged from Scripture, the startling lack of books written by avowed charismatic leaders on the topic of discernment should trouble us. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a British, Reformed pastor now many years deceased, wrote perhaps the best books on the subject decades ago—a sad statement concerning a topic so essential to keeping the “fire in the fireplace.”

With this in mind, I offer the authority of Scripture and six others tests charismatics often overlook. Anytime we encounter a teaching, practice, or supposed moved of the Holy Spirit, we should instinctively start counting red flags. Fulfilling any one flag should not immediately disqualify a genuine work of the Spirit (with Flag #1 being a very strong exception), but any two are reason to be cautious and perhaps reject that practice or teaching:

    Flag #1Cannot be squared with Scripture or is based on a single verse of Scripture (usually taken out of context).

    Any charismatic teaching or practice that contradicts the Bible provides an immediate grounds for squelching it. God’s revealed word, the Bible, will not contradict Him, nor the other way around. We MUST always test against Scripture, not only in the moment, but later. Truth is truth and time doesn’t diminish it. We must also be wary of theologies built around a lone passage of Scripture. The Bible is a coherent whole and the completeness of it means that doctrines contained in it possess multiple reference points. Attempting to create a theology from a single passage usually leads into error. This is especially true when we exegete passages apart from their context (eisegesis).

    Bible, Bible, Bible—there can be no practice or theology apart from it. It’s by far the foremost flag

    Flag #2Is pronounced by direct revelation through a single individual or a small group of people.

    Any of us who have been around the Christian life for any length of time know that truth is not typically spoken by a lone voice. Even when Elijah thought that he was the only prophet of God left alive, God had preserved a remnant. Anyone claiming to have a unique revelation of God should automatically force us to tread lightly. We should always remember how easy it is to follow someone claiming special revelation right into hell—think Jim Jones and David Kouresh. Small groups of people making revelatory claims are also suspect. Again, proceed with caution and consider other flags.

    Flag #3Is considered relevant for today, yet has no historic precedent in the Church.

    Too many charismatics disdain historical Christianity, but the Church has existed for a couple millennia and has seen just about everything. Even in Old Testament days, the writer of Ecclesiastes noted that there was nothing new under the sun. If a teaching, practice, or manifestation of the Spirit occurs nowhere in the writings of those Christians who preceded us in the faith, then a very good possibility of aberrance exists in the new “move.”

    To our shame, we in the CM have completely misinterpreted Isaiah 43:19. God Himself is remarkably consistent. The “new thing” isn’t some new teaching, practice, or kind of manifestation. New moves of the Holy Spirit are more geared to individuals or local churches and not to the Church as a whole. For a perfect example we find Acts 13:2, which says, “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'” This is not a new teaching. In fact there are NO new teachings since the closed canon of Scripture contains all doctrinally-sound teachings. In this case, the Spirit’s call is a new thing in that He is giving a command to move to a particular area. The practice—in this case, preaching the Gospel—has already been previously spoken of by the Lord as biblically sound.

    Flag #4Attempts to make a New Testament practice/theology of an Old Testament practice/theology rendered moot by the finished work of Christ.

    All Old Testament practices/theologies were fulfilled in Christ. No longer were God’s people to do blood sacrifices for the perfect sacrifice had come. The rule of the Law had given way to the freedom of the Spirit of Christ. We are no longer under the old, but the new. Christ did it all.

    Flag # 5Involves “Restoring” or the “Restoration” of a practice or theology.

    Similar to the preceding flag, but deals more with semantics. Many aberrant charismatic practices seem bent on restoring something. When a charismatic teacher claims that his new teaching concerns “restoring the Melchezidek Priesthood” or “the restoration of New Testament worship styles,” the word restoring or restoration should automatically raise a flag.

    This also pertains to ministry practices, especially healing ministries, yet in a different way. Restoring, restoration, and restore are buzzwords commonly used by those of dubious healing ministries and are quickly swallowed by the undiscerning. If you hear these words spoken by anyone claiming to move in the power of the Spirit, caution should follow.

    Flag #6Is a “redeemed” version of a secular/occult concept or practice (usually which has been abandoned or discredited by secular/occult practitioners.)

    Charismatics have been as bad, if not worse, than evangelicals in attempting to Christianize secular practices. But as with all things secular, the Kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of this world are utterly incompatible.

    Despite this, Francis Schaeffer claimed that whatever you see happening in the world, you will see happening in the Church seven years later. As I’ve watched the Church in the last thirty years, I’ve found those prophetic words eerily true. In most cases, the world discredited or abandoned the defective practice, yet foolish Christians struggle to incorporate it into the Church by wrapping “Jesus talk” around it. This flag is, unfortunately, exceptionally common.

    Still worse, though, is the sickening attempt to modify occult practices to fit Christian usage. The use of spirit guides is an all too common example of this. Most often this takes the form in charismatic circles of supposed angelic communications from angels that, in truth, are not what they appear to be. (We must test all spirits.)

    Flag #7May produce immediate results, but does not move the Church or individual into a deeper, biblically-based relationship with Christ in the long run.

    Charismatic groups (and evangelicals, for that matter) are overwhelmed with quick-fix, syncretistic ideologies and teachings that are Band-Aids for deeper problems. These “revelations” typically wander so far from the truth their very “uniqueness” stirs up the crowds clamoring for something new—at least for a little while.

    Sadly, I’ve seen many groups get short-term results from teachings or practices that over time fade away or even cause damage. ANYTHING that is God’s truth brings lasting, verifiable results.

If applied consistently, I believe these seven flags can help charismatics discern truth from error.

As I am so concerned for the people of God and their avoiding error, I wish to illuminate three movements within the CM: IHOP (The International House of Prayer), Theophostic Prayer, and manifestations of gold dust and gold fillings in teeth during meetings of believers.

IHOP or International House of Prayer (formerly known as Harp & Bowl) promotes 24/7/365 prayer meetings and continual worship via music . Clearly, continual prayer and worship isn’t inherently suspect. (However, while this may be a noble ideal, the New Testament contains no command for this particular style of continual worship.)

But as one delves deeper into IHOP, cracks begin to appear. The idea behind its genesis as Harp & Bowl is to recreate the OT model of David’s Tabernacle as illustrated in Amos 9:8-15 and Acts 15:16-17 (in context). Two flags immediately come into play—Flag #1 and #4. In the case of #1, IHOP’s philosophy misinterprets and misapplies both passages. The initial coming of Christ fulfilled and completed the Amos passage. The Acts passage, in context, is a promise to the Gentiles, again already fulfilled by Christ coming and opening the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles. In the case of Flag #4, we find the classic trap of trying to create a New Testament practice from an Old Testament practice. Why should the Church attempt to restore David’s Tabernacle when Christ already did it? In addition, IHOP’s call for “restoration” invokes flag #5. Also, while concerts of prayer and worship have been part of the historic Church, none have rested on a basis such as IHOP’s. Therefore, Flag #3 may also come into play. And lastly, the sketchy history of the origin of IHOP  (from what I was able to find online) claims it began as a revelation to a small group of people, so Flag #2 may apply.

So in the case of the International House of Prayer, the underpinnings of the movement rest on grounds that certainly fail three flags (and possibly a fourth and fifth). We must also consider that worship consists of more than simply music and singing. While music may enhance worship, all worship isn’t based on it. Misapplying the texts leads to this mistake. In the end, while a noble cause, the genesis of IHOP rests on faulty exegesis and suspect revelation. This could lead to more egregious errors down the road.

Theophostic Counseling/Prayer is another “new” practice increasingly seen in the CM. An updated version of Agnes Sanford’s “healing light” theories, Theophostic attempts to help people who have become enmeshed in lies rooted in past brokenness and painful memories. By bringing the light of Jesus to these areas of hurt, healing occurs.

Again, on the surface this seems harmless enough, but Theophostic garners many flags when explored more thoroughly. Ed Smith, the formulator of the practice claims to have received Theophostic from God after he found his own counseling practices inadequate—Flag #2 . A quick overview of the methods used to heal people via Theophostic shows no previous historical practice of it in the Church—Flag #3, a source of pride for Smith. Truth is, Theophostic owes its existence to the psychological practice of recovering and healing memories, now abandoned by secular practitioners because of abuses of the technique and the recovering of illusory memories—the now classic False Memory Syndrome. This brings up Flag #6.

No record in the Bible shows the apostles or the early Church using such an approach, and the practice of Theophostic violates the Bible’s own words concerning wholeness in Jesus. (An excellent PDF on the errors of Theophostic’s concepts and methodology with regards to sound biblical doctrine can be found here.) Add Flag #1. Since Theophostic is a relatively new practice, its long-term results are difficult to follow, too. Given the damage perpetrated by professional psychology practitioners spawning False Memory Syndrome in patients, will Theophostic’s laymen practitioners cause even more trauma? Only time will tell, but a quick search of the Web shows horror stories starting to surface. Consider Flag #7 a possibility.

Theophostic, therefore, rates five flags—a serious indicator of problems that should lead us to abandon its practice.

Lastly, a number of charismatic churches report showers of gold glitter appearing spontaneously during worship, and even ordinary amalgam fillings in teeth turning to gold. We know from Job 31:24-28 that believers should never put their confidence in gold. Therefore, we must question the use of gold as a way of proving God is at work. A complete lack of this sort of “work” being evidenced in Scripture or in historical church documents forces a Flag #1 and #3. And while Church history is silent on manifestations of gold, spiritualism/spiritism’s history is replete with it. In fact, manifesting gold is an old medium’s trick—Flag #6, strongly. The lasting value of this kind of manifestation is highly debatable, too, so Flag #7 must be considered. Oddly enough, follow-up on many of these gold filling manifestations finds the supposed gold coloration of the filling to have itself faded away. Do we need to go any further with this? Charismatic, run away!

The Bible says God’s people perish for lack of knowledge, and so the CM is bankrupting before our very eyes because of a lack of godly knowledge and discernment. We in the CM must work hard to expose the fraudulent—and even demonic—manifestations and practices sweeping charismatic churches, lest the real work of the Holy Spirit be disgraced.

46 thoughts on “Charismatic Churches and the Cult of the New

  1. Thanks for this post. It means a lot to me.

    My son and his new wife are living at an IHOP in our area (as Worship Hosts), and I have been very uncomfortable with the whole thing, and also with the fact that their church rarely goes through the bible. On sundays, they have 2 hours of worship and prophecy, and maybe a 20 minute topical sermon. During the week they are all studying a Rick Joyner book. Where is the bible in any of this???

    AND, to top it all off, his mother-in-law is HEAVILY into Theophosticism & Generational Healing and considers herself a counseler (as if she had a Doctorate or something), and goes around doing speaking engagements and counseling to help people find the demon on their backs.

    When my grandson was born, there were some complications in the birth and the baby barely just made it through, but is ok (THANKYOU JESUS AMEN). Well the whole time during the labor, Mother-In-Law was right there over-demonizing the whole event and she and her 2 �queens of prophecy� friends were �word of knowledging� this and that and driving the hospital staff crazy. Of course, Mother-In-Law (and all her daughters) had previous difficulty in child bearing and therefore all Mother-In-Law�s children (including our grandson) are all destined to be a �great prophets of God� and that�s why satan was trying so hard to kill the babies, even to inflicting poor Mother-In-Law with a cold to kill her during our grandson�s birth (of course washing her hands before eating and after using the restroom might help). But Mother-In-Law somehow related this to satan trying prevent our grandson from being born (maybe she thought he might catch the cold and die). I was told that two of Mother-In-Law�s babies died at childbirth and one has cerebral palsy due to lack of oxygen at birth (which is sad, and maybe she needed a way to explain this to herself – hence Theophosticism).

    I never though that satan had a crystal ball of the future though, so how could he know the baby would be a �great prophet of God�? (LOL).

    Recently, Mother-In-Law had just seen “The Incredibles” animated movie, and told us that she was a Spiritual “Super”, and needed to step up and use her “Super” powers to help save the world. She told us our grandson was also a “Super”. Hmmm….I guess the rest of us are just “Normals”.

    Anyhow….thanks again for your post. It’s how I found the Cerulean Sanctum.

  2. Well, these “trends” are not only in America. During the years of looking for a good church (ha) I’ve come across more than a few oddities. In one such church all the red flags started going off. No Bible mention, strange French pastors that would circulate the room and slap our foreheads to smite us with “the power of God.” Among other things, they boasted the tooth-fillings being turned to gold and catering to this new-age wave of psychological sermons that do little more than bring up the painful pasts of many, where as Jesus should have given these so-called Christians a clean slate and a new heart. I suppose that what was the the most painful thing to experience was the mis-use of the laying on of hands. The spirit in those rooms was not even a distant 3rd cousin to the Holy Spirit and it was spiritually disturbing to see these young soul’s eyes glaze over as they were “taken”. As a side note, the handful of counselors/leaders of the youth group also made it a weekly practice to lay hands on the doors of the youth’s professors (regardless of the fact that many taught unchristian things and openly scorned God in public) and pray that they guide their children. It was a very sad experience to know that our God, our Father in heaven is being pawned off to such false religions/organizations at the high price of souls.

  3. Dan,

    The 7 points are outstanding! Flag No. 6 is especially meaningful as I am about the only one I know who believes so much of Charimaticism is filled with occultism. People just do not understand this point regrettfully. I believe that is because there are so many people in it who came off of drugs (usually the occult spirit is present with these people), as well as those who actually came out of the occult.
    And they just have not gotten enough healing and deliverance to be in ministry yet. That is another BIG problem in the Charismatic movement. Any “idiot” can be in ministry. There is little maturing time and process in so many groups and churches.

  4. Kevin

    Well I guess I am going to be the minority voice here. I will be the first to admit that there will be (and no doubt is) excess, distortion and error. After all has that not been true of every move of God? Read your church history if you do not think so, you can start with the First Century church and trace it through history. For that matter what we call �church� today was unknown until the third, yes I said third, century when Constantine became a Christian. Until then they met from house to house. So then can we conclude that we evolved as we moved on down through history. Of course not, as you look at church history you can only see a pattern of truth after truth being lost, and then starting the Luther�s Reformation being restored. We will also see a pattern of those accepting the fresh revelation being persecuted by those who held to the last revelation. Could this be happening now? I hope not!

    You have condemned the House of Prayer movement as an attempt to return to an OT practice. Consider this, Jesus was Jewish, Peter, John, Paul, Mark, all of those whose writings have become compiled into what we call the New Testament, with the notable exception of Luke, we Jewish. The books they wrote were, for the most part, written to Jewish believers. Do you not think that perhaps their worship might have had a distinct OT flavor? Of course it did! I have been in traditional churches, I have been (and am) a part of the house church movement. I have participated in Harp and Bowl worship and know it well. They all have their faults, and in fact the same ones can creep in anywhere you go. Things like a controlling spirit, backbiting, deception, envy, apostasy, false doctrine, even oldie but goodies like Gnosticism, you name it, it can and will try to creep into the Body at any opportunity. You can find such error in every move, and in every denomination, it�s not hard. Face it until we stand with our Lord before His throne we will have to deal with this stuff.

    I actually see little if any desire to return to OT worship in the House of Prayer movement. Nor do I see any danger of it happening. First of all, we couldn�t if we wanted to, there is no temple. (The Hebrew people face this dilemma to this day.) Secondly, at least the HOP I have been to, are too well founded in the Word. True, they may not spend as much time preaching in the traditional sense, but I have found that in general, the membership spends far more time in the Word than most of the church today. I have also found them to be much closer to the NT admonition to: �Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.� (Col 3:16 NKJV) Perhaps that is not true everywhere, but it is true in the circles where I roam.

    I could go on and on, but I will not. I could make similar arguments with Theophosticism. There is no doubt excess and error, but at the heart there IS truth. Just as the Harp and Bowl worship in the HOP at the core is nothing more than seeking to enter into His presence, seek and pray His will, so to Theophostics is nothing more than allowing the Father to reveal to you the truth about the wounds you have received in life. I would not submit to it with anyone, but then neither will I submit to prayer or the laying on of hands from someone I do not know and trust. Lets all be careful who and what we condemn and seek to properly discern the entire body of Christ in ALL of its expression.

    �Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.� (Eph 1:15-22 NKJV)

    Be blessed.

  5. Kevin

    In reviewing what I posted last, I need to make another observation. You stated Dan, that there is no historical antecedent to the Harp and Bowl model of worship. In reality there is a very strong one. If you study the early history of the church, you will see this model in the monastic movement. This is especially true as you study the history of the church in Ireland. There was a very strong move of God there in the days of Patrick, Cuthbert and others. Included in this was H&B, Prayer Furnace, whatever you care to call it at Bangor Bay that lasted for 500 years. In that time period, many thousands of missionaries came from there. If I am remembering my dates correctly (we are in the throes of moving and much of my reference materials are packed away) the argument could be made that they were to a large extent responsible for keeping the flame burning in the dark ages.

    Have some missed the mark in their rush to new things? I would bet on it. Have excesses been taken? Of course there are. Are there some way out, totally out of the will of God? You can bet on it. But there are also some who are way out and totally IN the will of God as well. There have always been those who take excesses, charlatans, crooks, and con artists. There have always been those who are unbalanced, who warp and distort things. I challenge you to find a move of God where there were not. Luther had to deal with those who used the reformation as an excuse for violence. The church in the apostolic age had to deal with Gnosticism and all sorts of other errors. It�s part of the human condition. However there have also always been forerunners, those who said and did what others thought crazy, but were hearing clearly from God. Noah, Abraham, Joshua and Caleb, David � we could go on for quite a while. Here in this country there were those who tried to have people involved in the great awakenings committed to institutions. We are all human, it happens.

    Let�s not throw the baby out with the bath water. There may be, and probably are some in each of the examples you mention who are out of line with the Word of God. We do need to be discerning, we do need to know the Word, but does everything have to be IN the Word? John ends his gospel with these words: �And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.� Clearly all that Jesus did is not contained in the Word. The question then is not, is it IN the Word, but is it CONTRARY to the Word. Might I suggest that if it is not something contrary to the Word, then we need to seek God, and be very cautious about coming against it?



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  7. Noel

    I’ve read what is an interesting article about “new” things in the charismatic movement. I’ve watched some of the new things come and go but I am a bit disturbed by the labelling that the article seem to hastily attach to the said practices.

    The problem and misconceptions that could arise for example from the IHOP movement is that of language and trying to phrase a new language to an experience of God and therefore it is forgiveable if IHOP would turn to texts meaningful to them. Obviously this resonated with a lot of people as the movement is gaining momentum.

    Similarity does not mean dependence. Theophostic, IHOP etc. may look like certain things (new age etc.) to some but let us be careful of going into too hasty a judgement. Let us judge the fruits and not discount the “wheat” because of the “tares.” This is God’s world and we need not fear if psychological tools are used by God. We don’t worry about medical doctors ministering “healing” to us, why should we worry about psychological tools used? Of course the operative word here should be “discerningly.” As an aside, False Memory Syndrome is a contentious issue in counselling and psychology but while it does happen, it doesn’t stop secular therapists from delving into memory work at all. Yes, they proceed with caution but they didn’t throw the baby with the bath water.

    Nowhere in the Scriptures is God saying that we should have an explicit canonical mandate about forms of worship etc. (see Flag 1). The Living Revelation called Scriptures gives room for the response of fallible–sometimes they stuff it–kind of people. As far as Jesus was concerned the only thing that matters is that authentic worshippers worship in Spirit and in truth i.e. in authenticity and in the freedom of the children of God (they being born from above, see Jn 4). For example, nowhere in Scriptures does the word “Trinity” appear but it is a core belief of Christianity. It was scriptural (in resonance with Scripture) but not biblical i.e. not explicit in Scripture. The language is a response to the Living Revelation.

    Being “new” is not bad. Let us remember that however similar it looked like to other things in New Testament Christianity, the Pentecostal and Charismatic Renewal don’t have any strict biblical (if you use the historico-critical method of exegesis) and liturgical basis. But most churches have discerned it and seen it as an authentic move of God. Let’s give the same room to these movements and apply the Gamaliel principle. If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit is acting in our churches and in our world today, let’s take this faith seriously. If the Spirit is in charge of the Church, surely the Spirit would not let it go to decay as long as there are sincere even if misguided people who are seeking him.

    Our prejudice could endanger us rending profane the things that are actually holy. Often those who claim “discernment” have a fixed mindset on how God should and could act. Let’s not too hastily sit in judgment and not forget that it surprised people when the Messiah who came was not what they were expecting and his ways were somewhat disconcerting. Let’s see beyond the externals and look at the fruits, look at the hearts. If we really follow biblical discernment the questions that are more important to ask rather than the “flags” given in the article are these:

    Is Jesus being glorified in the midst of it? Are most lives changed for the better (“most” because even Jesus didn’t heal everyone eg. man at the beautiful gate whom he passed by daily but it was Peter and John who healed him)? Are people becoming more loving and joyful–infallible signs of the Spirit?

    • Noel,

      You can’t get good fruit out of a tree growing in bad soil. Too much of this stuff is bad soil.

      The living revelation of Scripture is only living if its basis for living is upheld and honored. I don’t see where the fallible is tolerated in Scripture when it comes to spiritual gifts and the correct handling of the word of God.

      The Trinity may not appear as a specific verse, but the concept runs through all of the biblical revelation. We have to look at things on the whole counsel of Scripture. Too many charismatics pick one disputed verse and create entire worldviews and doctrines out of it. THAT HAS TO STOP!

      Being new is ALWAYS bad if the new thing has no basis in Scripture (gold teeth, angel feathers, and the like….)

      We can’t call discernment “prejudice.” Too many charismatics are swallowing the entire camel without one iota of discernment. They’ve taken all filters offline. It’s common sense, so many of these issues. How obvious can it be that the hallmark of revival is not signs and wonders but repentance? Yet we swallow all the signs and wonders when no repentance is found!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Problem is, these days “Discernment” has come to mean seeing DEMONS(TM) under every bed. My writing partner has told me of dealing with Spiritual Warfare types who if a light bulb burned out, instead of changing the bulb would pull out their Bible and start Rebuking the Demon of Burned Out Light Bulbs. I’ve encountered a Spiritual Warfare type who diagnosed an attack of depression as DEMONS piggybacking on a picture I recently acquired. And then there’s Mark Driscoll’s “I SEE THINGS…”

        After all that, I am very skeptical about Discernment and attributing things to DEMONIC influence.

    • Thruthseeker

      I like your gentle responce Mr Noel!

      I see you wrote this 5 years ago, 3 years before I started my journey back to sober Christianity. I just wonder if you after this years still can say the same – that “we should not throw the baby out with the water”. Do you still think IHOP as an organism produce good fruit?

      I ask myself the same questions: have a I gained or have I been too hurt to be in this kind of movement (in Europe from 1996-2011)? I know I can say that God has turned and are still turning the bad stuff into expiriences that might lead to something good in the end 🙂 But could I watch and wish others to go through this same unhealthynes, when I know the pain Me and my husbond have gone through and are still confronted with.

      I’d like to have more teaching about stuff like this “7 red flags” during the past years. It seems like Paul is warning all churches he is writing to, so why do we have to little antennas out there? Have the teaching about” do not touch the anointed one” or “to be critical is to manifest religiousi spirits”, taken over! I am afraid to take away the fire of the youthful zeal, but at the same time I read how the young would gain by listening to the wisdom of those who have walked longer. We even have a responsibility in teaching the youth the way he should walk…Are the grown ups today afraid of not being popular amongst the youth of today that we avoid corrections?

      I understand your concerns, but I wonder if it might be a coward take on this topic if this might be like yeast in the dough…and I’m afraid this yeast have been there for too long that we never question it anymore…

      Dear Mr Dan! I am glad to read that you are a charismatic still asking this questions! Where we live we have needed to leave the charismatic movement for now, just to sort out the good from the bad. I think your “flags” might help others too! God bless!

  8. Sergei

    As for IHOP and the tabernacle of David, IHOP does not believe that 24/7 worship is the fulfillment of the Amos prophesy. Here is what their website says:

    The Tabernacle of David

    WE AFFIRM the Holy Spirit is orchestrating a global worship and prayer movement that will operate in great authority (Luke 18:7†“8; Matthew 21:13; Revelation 5:8, 8:3†“5, 22:17; Isaiah 62:6†“7; Joel 2:12†“17 and 32). This prayer movement will operate in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David.

    WE DENY the restoration of the tabernacle of David is the same as the end-time prayer movement.

    Explanation: In the days of King David, he established a tabernacle that had singers and musicians who ministered to the Lord day and night. Today, the prayer movement is in the spirit of David’s Tabernacle. This means that the prayer movement will have some components of the Tabernacle of David, specifically pertaining to singers and musicians.

    The promise of the restoration of the tabernacle of David refers to the governmental restoration of David’s international rule as part of the restoration of national Israel in the Millennial Kingdom.
    The context of Amos 9:11†“12 is the governmental rule of Jesus over all the nations from Jerusalem.

    In Acts 15:13†“18, James referred to Amos 9:11 declaring that Gentiles should be accepted into the predominantly Jewish Body of Christ, without needing to convert to Judaism. The apostles understood that in the End Times, God would re-establish the Messianic kingdom over all the nations. God has just visited the Gentiles with salvation at Cornelius’ house (Acts 10). This was in agreement with Old Testament prophecy. James quoted Amos to prove that many Gentiles will be saved in context to the restoration of the Davidic dynastic reign. This restoration will of course include David’s heart for worship and prayer. Though Amos 9:11 is not prophesying primarily about 24/7 intercessory worship, it will be a foundational reality in the release of Jesus’ worldwide rule over the nations. The prophetic word given to Mike Bickle in May 1983 was that “God would release 24 hour-a-day prayer in the spirit of the Tabernacle of David. In other words, it would involve prophetic singers and musicians. Worship and intercession is not in itself the actual restoration of David’s tabernacle!

    • Sergei,

      At the time that I wrote that piece almost five years ago, the old Harp & Bowl Web site specifically noted that Harp & Bowl was a part of the process to raise up the fallen tabernacle of David. I’m not sure if Wayback Machine has their site from several years ago, but you can check. I took that info straight from their site.

      If they have changed their position since their full transition to IHOP, they are allowed that. The very fact that they mention it, as you have noted, leads me to believe that had to address it because of heat they received. But their origin statement from that time most definitely supports what I wrote in my post.

      One day I may write about other concerns I have about IHOP. Again, great idea on the surface, but there are so many odd theologies and strange origins of the group that you have to wonder. Many are making comments about the Lakeland “revival”‘s connections to the Kansas City Prophet movement and Mike Bickle. As someone who grew increasingly disturbed by the error coming out of that prophetic movement, I’m wary of anything connected to it. And that includes IHOP.

      • Bob

        I agree with some of what is written in the article and replies. I have my own issues with IHOP, some which you have not listed but have been mentioned by another poster.

        I’m pretty sure that IHOP believes that the command for praise and worship and prayer was never rescinded. Now that might be ok if they treated their staff and students well and did not manipulate and control them and paid them a good wage. As was done to the people in King Davids time.

        They think they are on the cutting edge, there is an elitism feel to it. Prayer and meditating on scriptures is taught and practiced very well. I think prayer and teachings on prayer as well as meditating on scriptures is something like 80% of the courses they run. Most of that is positive in my opinion. Its also very seductive and its easier to get caught up in the movement when you see most of what you experience seems biblical and pleasing to God.

        The other 20% is teachings on revelation and end times which is more controversial. I couldn’t say how much of what they say is true because it has not yet come to pass.

  9. Derricke

    Thanks so much for an excellent article. We are making a strong effort in our church to teach young Christians how to “prove all things” and not be accepting of every movement, teaching and fad that comes along. These flags will be good starting point.

  10. Chris


    After many, many years (25) in both Pentacostal and Charismatic churches, I began to consider the lifestyles of the ordained clergy that I had been associated with overall. To a person, when you peel back the layers of the onion, you find a narcissist uttering so called prophesy out of his or her own heart ultimately for the sake of gain. Watch and wait long enough, revelations of sexual immorality and even outright perversion emerge as what has been done in darkness comes to light. Despite all of the claims of supernatural healing, not ONE miracle on the scale of those Christ performed–where is the quadriplegic who now walks or the amputee who has a new limb? Despite all of the promises of God’s prosperity it is through manipulation of the so-called clergy that the transfer of the meager assets of the many accrue to the benefit of the charismatic cult leader.

    “Hirelings and false shepherds” urge congregations to “hold up their checkbooks” and give so that they may be blessed. God becomes a celestial slot machine in a spiritual casino where the music and lights and sound flow in a carnival like atmosphere that smacks of cultic neuro-linguistic programming and peer pressure and manipulation. I once heard a man say, “If a man with money meets a man with experience, the man with experience ends up with the money and the man that had money ends up with an experience.” Jesus had so very much to say about the cares of this world and obsession with money and things that the Charismatic and Pentacostal movements completely ignore.

    Sola Scriptura, the Word of God and His wisdom is the principle thing, and man is not to be elevated, nor is he to pull God down to his level, ordering Him about in the “Name of Jesus” as though He were some kind of ecceliastical waiter. The Holy Spirit is our comforter and teacher, not our path to riches and acclaim. As for Satan and his minions, we are not called to fight him, only resist him after putting on the full armor of God. God fights the battle, remember? How self centered can we be? Even the archangel himself did not directly rebuke the enemy but rather called on God to do so.

    Demons that we must cast out? More correctly, the heart of man urging him to do that which is satisfying to the flesh, and man excusing his repeated failure to submit to the Holy Spirit and subdue his flesh (by ignoring the old man and making right choices that he knows he should make). Apologies to “Flip Wilson,” but the devil did not make you do it. You WANTED to do it, and you did. Spare me the descriptions of the deliverance session you witnessed, I’ve seen them myself, and what you saw was a person in a highly suggestive state, usually going through emotional or psychological crisis and in need of intervention by a professional, not some idiot fulfilling some personal need of their own by assuming a role they are not qualified to assume. I feel somewhat qualified to offer this observation because years ago I did attend nursing school and practice nursing for about 15 years.

    As I continue my rant, I have to ask: What have the Pentecostals and Charismatics have done with the cross of Christ? We are called to die to ourselves and exalt and elevate Jesus and His truth. Most services that I’ve seen over the years have very little to do with the proper exposition of the truth of God, and are focused on emotional, fleshly, and temporal things. Add a little wine and some temple prostitutes (given the level of sexual immorality in the Charismatic movement I’d say they are already there) to the ecstacy of contemporary worship and you have exactly what the Apostles encountered as they passed by pagan temples during their journeys to spread the Gospel.

    Do you really think God looks down on the extravagant lifestyle of a wealthy pastor and smiles, especially when that man is surrounded with “armor bearers” to keep the people of God away from him and accountants to count the money? One day, I submit, that man will face God without any of that stuff in his hands, and give an account for the fleecing of the flock.

    What we have in the modern church is a business enterprise, not true worship of a risen Savior who warns us that this life is fleeting, and who taught us to gather together for one purpose, that being to “provoke one another unto love and good works,” not to pick the pockets of those who can scarcely afford to do without.

    I for one, have awakened and returned to the denomination of my childhood, which is highly accountable to its congregants and follows transparent accounting practices. My local church has a 125 year history of hospitality to strangers, benevolence to the needy, and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s about Him, folks, not about us, AND ultimately, its about those people who need to come to know Him.

    What propelled me in that direction was a revelation that the churches I had been part of for years were exactly like a carnival booth I had worked in for several summers as a teenager. It was brightly lit, exciting, and used the lure of large prizes on display to trick unwary passersby into spending their money on a game they could not win. You see, the game was rigged, and there was no way anyone would ever go home with any of the extravagant prizes. Only the owner of the booth profited. He took in much, and gave back little. Most players went away angry, which is why the old man armed me with a blackjack to defend myself against anyone who discovered the truth.

    When I realized that I was a pawn in a game that ultimately abused people, I left the charismatic movement. In the end, without fail, men who use their private interpretation of Scripture and what the Holy Spirit is “showing them” end up “thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to” and they ultimately abuse others financially, emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes sexually.

    I don’t miss it at all, and I have more peace than I’ve had in 40 years of church fellowship. I only wish that I had not waited so long.

    • Chris,

      While I can identify with and agree with many of the statements you’ve made here, I disagree vehemently with your comments about what I have experienced in my confrontations with the demonic. I fear that your position is less biblical and more Western (read: based on Greek rationalism) than what is real. Our battle is against demonic principalities and powers. The people I have encountered were not deluded or off psychologically but genuinely in the grips of demons. This year, more than any other, I have witnessed countless incidents and encounters best ascribed to demonic activity. And as the end grows nearer, it’s only going to get worse. Discounting it or passing it off as something else never resolves the issue.

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  13. Louwna


    I have peronally experienced demonisation after a life of sinful living. When the demons were cast out, they were biting a baby in front of nine people!! It was horrific, the child present was 19 months and was screaming while you saw the teethmarks on her cheeks and hand, like a scene straight out of the exorcist movie.

    You have no idea how difficult it is to find the truth and freedom after such an experiece. Yet, reading the bible and pleading the blood of Jesus helps, and a relationship with Jesus has brought healing ect, but self appointed ministers tend to confuse a person and sometimes draw in more demonic spirits.

    I am seeking with all my heart for the truth and hope to one day find as a relationship with God is what I desire with my whole heart…

    Some charismatics blow on you, and try to get you drunk in the spirit and rebuke demons all day long, it makes a person paranoid, especially after a horrible incident!!

    • Thruthseeker

      Dear Louwna! So sorry to hear this! And I believe you! And I also agree that some ministers or ministries might cause us to manifest even more demonic stuff…I have experienced that!

      My freedom was found in the Word alone, not by ANY of those who prayed for me…who casted out this or that, it just got more messy after that! Only through the Word, prayer and fasting alone did Jesus help me to renew my mind, step by step! To help me look to Him instead of the attacs. To help me see how powerful He is and not to give any power to my enemy.

      I don’t know, but I wonder if God always have wanted our attention, that we would go directly to Him! Instead we do like the Israelites in the desert – they looked to Moses for guidance (like we look to ministers for guidance)because Gods guidance was to hard for them(us?) to handle! Wonder if it made God sad? A least we see He leads us back to His presence through the blood of Jesus! Now we have free acces to His throne, Halleluja! We might need someone to walk alongside us, but only through our own steps of repentance and in faith by grace recieving His forgivenes, we will be free.

      Hope you have experiensed that today 🙂 god bless you so much!

  14. Pa

    Chris and Dan,

    I too am also a nurse. I believe in what both of you are saying. I believe that sometimes the Devil does come and tempt us, and I also believe that sometimes it’s our own flesh that causes us to do sinful acts. It’s both.
    I’ve witnessed my fair share of demonic warfare, and I believe that sometime it can be demonic spirits telling people to do things. The choice is still ours though…except when that person is possessed then the demonic spirit is in control.
    I see IHOP and their sugar coated message of 24/7 prayer and worship. I agree that it is not biblical, they’ve take Revelation 5 totally out of context. Which is flag number 1. God has told us to be in continual prayer, and live a life of worship…but never did He command us to gather into a place where we chant, prophesy, speak in toungues and pray and sing for 24/7 hours 365 days in a year. I know what Jesus taught. It was to go out into the world to proclaim the gospel. That was the command for the Christians. True that the OT people worshipped in the temple. However, the Samaritan woman stated that the Jews believe they must worship in Jeruselum, which is where the temple was. And Jesus corrected her saying that.

    “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:21)

    Our whole lives should be a life of worship and praise.
    We have no need to go to a place to have 24/7 worship and praise, which is not a biblical.

    Those who are worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth, are already worshiping.

  15. Heidi

    Thank you for this article…I found you via Google, on the third page…three pages of different IHOP sites came first.

    This movement is taking off in my state (Utah) and I’ve been to one Harp and Bowl meeting. The Lord did not meet me there, and I haven’t been back. I had been trying to think why it wasn’t sweet to be there (when the Lord lets His presence be known, it is SO sweet) when all they were doing was singing and praying…But looking at the Revelation passage they use as a foundation, it occured to me: was anyone falling on their face before the Lord in this worship session? No. In the Rev. passage, that is the response of the elders: Falling on their faces, casting their crowns before the throne. In Bible accounts of God meeting people, whether groups or individually, the person being “met” always falls on his face at the feet of God or His angel.

    I had already figured out that the foundational scriptures are taken out of context, and have been viewing this with caution. Your red flags list is going to be a huge help as I continue in the little charismatic church where my family and I worship.

  16. Luella

    I can understand your concern about TPM (Theophostic Prayer Ministry) if you base your “knowledge” on the very biased and prejudiced critique put out by the staff of the Community Evangelical Free Church. I also read the critique before I researched the website for myself as well as watching the entire Basic Training Seminar and Ministry DVD’s to find out what this ministry is all about.

    Contrary to the criticism levelled at Ed Smith and his ministry by the staff of the said church, I found a transparent and honest presentation of what he believes and practices as well as evaluation and testimonies from recognised Christian psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors with whom he works in close partnership. He has been thoroughly researched and evaluated a representative of the Christian Research Institute and he has found no fault with his theology in its fundamentals or his modelof ministry. One of his reservations is that there has not been enough time to evaluate results over the long term.

    “…CRI finds nothing inconsistent with Scripture in TPM’s core theory and practice. It certainly fits the biblical worldview to hold that believing lies oppresses or injures people and replacing those lies with truth frees or heals them. The theory that the emotional pain that haunts so many people’s lives (including Christians) is rooted in false beliefs associated with past experiences rather than the experiences themselves seems elegant in its profound simplicity, and the proposal that Satan is often the source of those lies while Jesus supplies the truth that dispels them is again consistent with Scripture (e.g., John 8:44; 14:6; 18:37). This emphasis on conforming one’s beliefs to truth is entirely biblical (Ps. 43:3; 51:6; Prov. 23:23; 1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:14–15, 25; 5: 8; 6:1411), and the complete dependence on Christ in ministry to the hurting that TPM advocates, to the point of giving Him the central place in that ministry, is commendable at least in concept and warrants consideration…”

    The “horrific” problems this ministry is supposed to have produced come, not from honest practitioners who are faithful to the training but from people who claim to be doing TPM when they are in actual fact doing something else in the name of TPM. Ed Smith warns against such people and against people who act as “lone rangers” in the name of TPM.

    Instead of writing this ministry off as “unbiblical, unethical and dangerous” as I was told, on the strength of one biased group of people who put claims into Ed Smith’s mouth which he did not make, why not encourage people to research and evaluate for themsleves by checking a wide spread of what trained and experienced experts are saying?

    I find it very interesting that the leaders of another church of the same denomination have embraced this ministry and have encorporated it so fully into their church’s ministry that they have become the model and the teacher for other churches.

    I have personally trained as a TPM facilitator and it gives me great joy to see people being set free from their emotional pain when they come face to face with Jesus and hear the truth about themselves which brings true peace. Applying th TPM principles in my own life has brought me greater spiritual growth in the past two years than in the other 52 years that I have walked with Jesus.

  17. Melisa Howard

    I was part of this charade til things started to just not make sense and I had more and more questions and the answers I was receiving were just not biblical. I too felt — but they are doing such good so much worship but I realized the good did not make up for the foundational lies this ministry was based on as well the lies it was preaching from the pulpit. I stopped going with my feelings and asked God to show me the truth. When I left it was difficult since my pastor as well as parents were very involved. Now that they too left IHOP after 9 long months and have seen the truth and done the research themselves they now have shared their views with our Pastor. Our church is no longer supporting IHOP the 100,000 a year it once did through donations and music and media. Yes 100,000$ they have since come to their senses and are building up the community we live in and are exposing the lies. Thank you God for helping me and using me to lead my family to truth and freedom from this horrible representation of who you really are.

  18. Melisa Howard

    Forgive me my name is Melissa and I just posted about IHOP in Kansas City. The international House of Prayer. I want everyone to know how unbiblical this place is from the surface all looks fine but it is not. Pray others like myself will seek truth and lead others to the truth.

  19. Headless Unicorn Guy

    As I’ve watched the Church in the last thirty years, I’ve found those prophetic words eerily true. In most cases, the world discredited or abandoned the defective practice, yet foolish Christians struggle to incorporate it into the Church by wrapping “Jesus talk” around it.

    So you noticed that too! I’ve seen it happen in pop culture and its “Just like fill-in-the-blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” knockoffs:

    “Testamints: Just like Altoids, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”
    “GodTube: Just like YouTube, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”
    “Christian Chirp: Just like Twitter, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”
    “Seek & Find: Just like Google Search, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”
    “Johnny Hammer: Just like Justin Beiber, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”
    “Praise Ponies: Just like My Little Pony, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”
    “Christian Paranormal Romance: Just like Twilight, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”
    (I am waiting for “Just like Fifty Shades of Grey, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”)

    You can tell when a pop-culture fad has jumped the shark and is on its way out when the Christianese knockoffs of it start up. The timing has been too consistent. Day late, dollar short.

  20. Andrew

    Charismatics also embrace the occultic practises of glossolalia, being ‘slain in the spirit’ and claim (by implication of their ‘theology’ of the baptism of the Holy Spirit) that one can become a Christian without being baptized in the Holy Spirit!

    • linda

      Hello Andrew,
      I guess I look at the followers of Jesus before Pentecost. Were they believers? Yes. Were they dedicated followerers of him? Yes. Were they water baptised? Probably. Jesus himself was water baptised by John in the Jordan before Pentecost. Did many of these 120 people gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem give up much in order to follow Jesus? Yes. Some gave up businesses. Livlihoods. Families. Security. etc.

      Would we say that these people in the upper room were disciples of Jesus Christ? I would say yes, unequivocably. Then, we look at their experience in the upper room. They were not being saved in the upper room. They were being empowered. They had already seen and interacted with the risen Lord Jesus before this time in the upper room. Why did they need this experience from God? What was God doing? He was sending the promise that he had told his disciples about before his crucifiction and ressurection.

      Did the Father send the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus to save these people gathered in the upper room? No. The Holy Spirit came on them as fire. The Holy Spirit came on Jesus as a Dove at his baptism. I believe because Jesus’ ministry was passive. He was a lamb to be slain. He did not answer his accusers. He did not call to the Father for legions of angels to save him from his natural death. He was a willing sacrifice.

      This was not the case for the disciples in the upper room. They received power for witness, testimony and ministry in the falling of the tongues of fire upon them.

  21. Andrew

    False ‘tongues’ and falling over (i.e. being ‘slain in the spirit’) are occult practices too. The Charismatics believe that you can be born again without receiving the Holy Spirit, since they state that baptism in the Holy Spirit occurs at a later time, contrary to Romans 8: 9. They embrace other heresies such as kenosis, semi-Pellagianism, Montanism, and believe salvation is by repentance, not faith in Christ.

  22. Kari Ritchie

    I have to say that while there have been many errors and excesses in the “false memory” thing, there is also true recovered memories.

    How awesome is our God for making our brains such that a person can withstand horrific things and still survive.

    There is a serious need for the Church to stop fearing what they don’t understand. There is much in secular psychology that can benefit the saints that suffer from mental illness….. I am living proof of that.

    Mental illness is not always a “demon”, it’s an illness…. like diabetes or high blood pressure. PTSD is real, and there bad memories need to be processed…. recovered or otherwise.

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  24. linda

    Hi Dan,
    I tend to run from mispractice by leadership. I’m not trying to rescue it or change it. I’d be more inclined to destroy it but CM churches seem to be doing a good job of that on their own. They may have congregations attending but WHO is actually attending these meetings? I think these congregations have taken on the name ‘church’ in name only.

    I have the gift of prophecy operating in groups of believers. My practice of this gift has almost completely ceased because there is no opportunity in the churches that I have attended since 1994. These were Pentecostal Assemblies of God type churches. We have Word of Life churches, Family of Faith churches, a CM church etc in my community. I steer clear of these. I have tried to attend a few but after one or two services I reject them. There’s a lot of talking going on in these churches from my experience and a type of biased ‘reasoning’ without proofs from the scripture. I also have a background of mistrust in these kinds of churches.

    It just seems to make sense to me that anyone who understands what is most likely going on in these ‘churches’ should speak out and then leave. Paul doesn’t seem to be dealing with leadeship in the churches he corrects in the NT books. He deals by name with a couple of individuals who have a strong influence in a church, but not the kind of leadership structure that we are dealing with today in North America. Nearly all power in churches is in the hands of ‘pastors’ and those whom the pastor gathers around in closer circles to support and protect him/her.

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