czwartek, 25 października 2012

IHOP’S Sozo the Foundations

     Headed by Annie Schumacher of IHOP who’s ministry team includes staff from IHOP and local churches, Annie Schumacher claims to have over 30 years of experience and professional training in counseling, spiritual parenting, and personal and group deliverance. Although “spiritual parenting” has many different philosophies such as “Holistic Healing, global Oneness, and Enlightenment,” spiritual parenting has its roots in the Eastern Mystical Cults and New Age thought. In other words, its allot of positive thinking mumbo jumbo. According to Mimi Doe, a spiritual parenting guru and bestselling author on parenting, spiritual parenting is tied to the idea that spirituality is the consciousness that relates us directly to God, or whatever we name as the source of our being. To Mimi, Spirituality is a connection with a power greater than ourselves and with all creation. The idea behind “spiritual parenting” is the process we follow as we quest for more knowledge of what is inside and outside of ourselves is our spiritual journey1. Spiritual Parenting then is Gnosticism which refers to the esoteric consciousness, which is the key to unlocking transcendent understanding, self-realization, and/or unity with God. I would love to see Annie Schumacher’s credentials as well as a Biblical foundation for spiritual parenting. According to Annie, Sozo the Foundations is a confidential, Christian prayer ministry that will bring you into a heartfelt personal knowledge of God and is an accelerated inner healing, deliverance, and generational freedom ministry. IHOP’s Sozo the Foundations ministry was inspired from Annie Schumacher’s experience of Sozo at Bethel in Redding, California.
     The above paragraph is a mouthful to say the least, however it serves as an example to the fact that the inner healing ministries of Bethel in Redding, California and IHOP’s “Sozo the Foundations” are indeed unorthodox in both thought and practice, is directly tied to the mystical cults, and essentially is not Christian in any sense of the word. They welcome all faiths, there’s no pointing to Christ and the Cross, and although the Greek word “Sozo” means “saved” there is no mention of the Gospel message that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Essentially, to the Sozo ministries, the sozo experience is simply a spiritual journey to know or experience God, whoever that may be in their experience. For all intents and purposes, the Sozo Ministry is more about the sovereignty of man than the Sovereignty of God i.e. “God’s in charge, just not in control.” (Quote: Bill Johnson2)
     My wife conversed with a lady on Facebook who had been a member of Bethel in Redding, California who told my wife about a friend of hers and her experience in a sozo session. “She said that while her pastor {at the time} took her through the “sozo process”, she saw Jesus under an Apple tree; so, my friend being smart enough to TEST THE SPIRITS (1 John 4:1-4), began asking this figure appearing as Jesus; “DID JESUS COME IN THE FLESH”, and,” IS JESUS THE SON OF GOD”. THE FIGURE THEN SAID …NO!” Whatever god they seek in the Sozo experience I assure you it is not the Biblical, Historical Jesus of Nazareth! It is an impostor masquerading as the Christ yet denying the power thereof (2 Tim 3:5).
     Then there’s the sales pitch, “Sozo the Foundations is a Godly experience of salvation and healing and deliverance.  God desires to encounter you with Sozo.”3 A Godly experience of salvation? A Sozo session centers around closing the five main doors of sin, murder, fear, sexual immorality, stealing, and the occult. “In Sozo we close your doors so that love can abound in your heart.4 So does salvation occur once the five doors are shut? Last I checked, mostly Christians get Sozoed, so where is the salvation? And from what are they delivered? Regressed Memories? Past hurts? Or is it really a transcendent mystical experience where an individual opens themselves up to spirits? The real challenge is with the lack of context in their Scriptural references for the Sozo Ministry, or should I say the wresting of Scripture to make it fit their ministry.
     On the “Sozo the Foundations” website in the section “WHAT IS SOZO?” a reference is made that Jesus Sozo’d the man by the pool of Bethsaida.5 So let’s look at the context and see of a “Sozo” experience was ministered to the man at the pool.
“Later on there was a Jewish festival (feast) for which Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem a pool near the Sheep Gate. This pool in the Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches (alcoves, colonnades, doorways). In these lay a great number of sick folk–some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)– waiting for the bubbling up of the water. For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted. There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years. When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?] The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me. Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk! Instantly the man became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked. But that happened on the Sabbath.” – John 5:1-9 AMP.
     Now maybe they claim a Sozo here because the word “Bethesda” in the Hebrew means “Place of Outpouring.” Or maybe it’s because the man with the infirmity had been in that state for some thirty eight years. Or maybe it’s because Jesus asked the man if he wanted to become well. Either way, there is nothing in the context that even closely resembles a Sozo. OH…It could be that in verse 34 Jesus used the word “Sozo” but that was in reference to His testimony, not what had occurred at the pool of Bethesda. In fact, Jesus enforced the importance of believing the Scripture (John 5:45-47), not an experience. The act itself, Jesus making the man “whole (vs. 6),” served as a testimony to Christ’s life-giving power. And what of the others around the pool who were paralyzed, blind and lame? No mention that Jesus healed any other than the one man. According to Bill Johnsons teachings all can and should be healed. When you understand today’s “Sozo Ministry,” in their own words it is an “accelerated inner healing, deliverance, and generational freedom ministry“. I don’t see any of this with the man by the pool of Bethesda! He didn’t have an epiphany, he didn’t soak in prayer, no mystical visions was given him, no generational cures were lifted, Jesus simply made his body whole as He had done countless times to a multitude of others.
     And there is the subtle “dominion/kingdom now” and “cultural transformation” theology in some of the quotes of Annie Schumacher on Twitter such as: “Healing the Bride to be prepared for the Bridegroom6 and “…changing the world one sozo at a time.”7 First, the quote, “Healing the Bride” is contradictory as the Greek word “Sozo” has the primary meaning “saved.” Sōzō occurs fifty four times in the Gospels, of the instances where Sōzō is used, fourteen relate to deliverance from disease or demon possession. In twenty instances, the inference is to the rescue of physical life from some impending peril or instant death, the remaining twenty times is to spiritual salvation. Where it is used specifically of salvation it exclusively speaks of salvation from eternal death, sin, and the punishment and misery consequent to sin. In all references, there is no mention of cultural transformation or that healing has anything to do with the Brides preparation for the Bridegroom. The reference to the Brides preparation is found in Revelation 19:6-8, although utterly unworthy in our own right, as genuine children of God, we will come before Christ, washed in the blood of the Lamb, in the blood of the One who gave His life for us that we might be His bride and “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24).
     Out of deep love and gratitude to the Savior, every believer should seek to live in purity of life and doctrine that he or she might be “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8) and “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” Sadly, however, we know that many will not live this way and for these, the last days before the return of Christ will be a time of great trial and testing, a time when the compromising Christian will be permitted to directly undergo the great persecution of Satan’s wrath (Rev. 12:12) in order to refine and purify her in preparation for becoming the pure and spotless bride of Christ.8 Sadly, those of the NAR, and its affiliates hold to what is known as “Victorious Eschatology,” a partial Preterist view which believes the Revelation took place in 70 A.D. There view of Biblical prophecy is through an allegorical lens where the Church will usher in kingdom of God resulting in the Second Coming of Christ, not Christ Himself. Before Christ can return, all nations must succumb to Christianities rule and the worlds cultures must be transformed. After seeing IHOP’s “Sozo the Foundations” web page it’s obvious they believe the venue for accomplishing cultural transformation is through the Sozo Minsitry, that is, with the typical donation of at least $75 a session. It seems biblically, the gospel is free, however the Sozo Minstry is not even though they promise complete freedom. You see, Jesus Christ’s Sacrifice and work on the cross is no longer sufficient, you need the extended ministry of Sozo for complete fulfillment. Jesus is not enough, you need to be SOZO’D…Yuck!
8. The Sign; Robert Van Kampen, Crossway Books; p. 411-12