Editor’s Note: After this article was published, the video in question was removed from YouTube by IHOP:KC
The video below is from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, MO. It shows a young man named Jacob sharing his story of being set free from addictions to cocaine and heroine, as well as same-sex attractions:
[Link to Video]
In response to this, the gay activist organization Truth Wins Out said the following:
Behold the power of Fundamentalist Christian delusion.
Jacob, I don’t know who you are, but these people are predators. Your sexuality is part of you, and it has nothing to do with your drug addictions. And you don’t beat addiction to drugs by exchanging it for a dependency on profit-based faux-spiritual experiences proffered by people who use your life as a way to get rich.
The gay activist website Ex-Gay Watch declared the following in their post on the video:
As a former charismatic, the type of religious experience shown in this video is very familiar to me. In this kind of heady, charged atmosphere, it is very easy to suppress one’s “sin” issues and live on a “victorious” spiritual plane – that is until the trappings of revivalist, Pentecostal worship aren’t there or just don’t work any more, and the subject is brought down to earth with a bump.
In this video from IHOP (International House of Prayer, not to be confused with the restaurant chain International House of Pancakes), a young man claims to have been delivered from homosexual attractions he has experienced since childhood. The odd behaviour and spasmodic movements (as well as the wailing, sobbing, shouting and laughter from the congregation) have been especially common in Pentecostal and charismatic churches since the mid-1990s, and are usually attributed directly to the Holy Spirit.
To sum up the gay activist response to this video:
No one can be set free from addictions to drugs (or, by implication, same-sex attraction) via a spiritual experience.
Once the “trappings of revivalist, Pentecostal worship” have worn off, this young man will find himself in the same state he was in previously.
The spiritual experiences this young man claims to have had are not genuine, but instead faked by the IHOP leaders to gain profit from him.
The IHOP leaders are only using this young man to “get rich” and are “predators.”
Let’s look at these arguments one by one:
1. No one can be set free from addictions to drugs (or, by implication, same-sex attraction) via a spiritual experience.
This all depends on the starting point. If we come to the table believing God exists (and is more than an intellectual concept), then why would this not be entirely within the realm of possibility? If we already “know” that either there is no God or that He has nothing to do with humanity, then we will end up dismissing this out of hand. It is not clear which of these starting points the gay activist authors mentioned are coming from, but suffice it to say that if there is indeed no God, then we all have much more to worry about than this young man’s story, IHOP, or indeed the whole subject of morality and truth altogether!
If we do come with the presupposition that it is indeed possible that God exists, then is it not entirely possible that what this young man said is true? It is true that there are plenty of reports of people who claimed to have changed but really did not, but then there are plenty of reports of people who really did change. Is anything too hard for the Lord?
2. Once the “trappings of revivalist, Pentecostal worship” have worn off, this young man will find himself in the same state he was in previously.
It is true that one can become “hyped” up in an emotional experience that fades quickly and has no bearing on reality, but if someone genuinely has an encounter with the living God, why would we dismiss out of hand the possibility of someone really changing? (Whether it be from addictions to drugs, same-sex attraction, or whatever.) Again this comes down to the presuppositions one has. Did the blind man not walk away from Jesus truly able to see [John 9]? Did Cornelius and his house not have a genuine spiritual experience when the Spirit fell on them[Acts 10]? It is no different today.
As to whether this young man’s experience was genuine and what it will mean long-term for him, I cannot say (though I have no reason to doubt what he had to say), and we ought not judge the whole of IHOP or the charismatic movement by the way any one person’s life ends up (or in the case of John Paulk, one night of falling to temptation), but there is absolutely no reason to dismiss out of hand the possibility that someone can be changed from the inside out in a moment, if we do indeed believe that God exists and interacts with people.
3. The spiritual experiences this young man claims to have had are not genuine, but instead faked by the IHOP leaders to gain profit from him.
What Mr. Rattigan dismisses as a new fad in religious circles from the mid-1990’s, “odd behaviour, … spasmodic movements, … wailing, sobbing, shouting and laughter,” actually have been present with followers of Jesus since the birth of the church. Who have “proffered” these “faux-spiritual experiences” through the centuries? Only the likes of Jonathan Edwards (called “America’s most important and original philosophical theologian”) who so despised emotionalism that he was known to speak in complete monotone so as not to arouse one’s emotions while he preached, while his puritanical congregations swooned, cried, and convulsed under the power of the Holy Spirit. More examples could be added here such as John Wesley, George Whitfield, Charles Finney, etc… but the point is clearly made that while these manifestations are not proof of God moving in someone’s life, there is no reason to be afraid of or dismiss the possibility of these types of things happening when someone has an experience with the living God.
Must one believe that this young man was really having an experience with God? Not necessarily. But to dismiss these as “faux-spiritual experiences” is unfounded and presumptuous.
4. The IHOP leaders are only using this young man to “get rich” and are “predators.”
This accusation would be laughable if people did not really believe it. Are there some people that really get rich off unsuspecting Christians? Yes. Do they distort the gospel of Jesus for their own monetary gain? Yes. (Points which we at this ministry decry continuously). But why does this mean that everyone that’s preaching the gospel is in it to get rich? What’s the reality of the situation at IHOP (a multi-million dollar ministry)? The following was published in 2001 by News World Communications concerning the head and founder of IHOP, Mike Bickle:
“I have lived in simplicity all my adult life and love it,” he says, adding he gives away hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual income from his books and tapes. He and his wife live in a nearby duplex, and he raises about $35,000 as an annual salary from friends and supporters. Those earnings, he says, are supplemented by his wife’s earnings as a real estate agent. “I want to live as minimally as possible” he says, “to give more away.”
Does this sound like someone getting rich of this young man? The idea is laughable! And I have personal knowledge that Mr. Bickle lives the same kind of lifestyle today, even with the ministry growing exponentially since 2001 (I wonder if Wayne Besen, head of Truth Wins Out, draws this kind of salary?). This same example could be multiplied throughout the IHOP leadership team, and well into most of the charismatic movement today (again, with a few exceptions).
Rather than IHOP using this young man, they’ve simply set up an environment where people like him can come and experience the power of the living God through the gospel of Jesus Christ 24 hours a day (they have facilities open to the public around the clock with people praying continuously for America and the world). I pray that this young man builds on this experience in prayer and devotion to Jesus, yielding a life that is full of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.