September 30, 2020

Open Mic: Signs and Wonders Camp

I’m pretty much speechless about this one.

So I’m turning it over to the iMonk community for discussion and debate.

* * *


  1. David Clark says

    It’s this kind of stuff that makes me understand why the secularists are winning so many converts. And at some point one has to wonder if it is any better believe in the God of the Signs & Wonders Camp rather than be a secularist.

    • I really would like to believe all this. I wish that we saw more dramatic healings. The empirical evidence suggests otherwise, in my opinion. God does not seem to regularlyheal people with cancer or other diseases. I come from a strict dispensational background in which people would say that healing and other gifts were temporary and not meant for this age. I have rejected that but, at the same time, wish God would intervene in a more active and visible manner.

      • I agree on the empirical evidence. If anybody showed me the medical records for a paralyzed person instantaneously restored by some faith healer, I’d convert to Pentecostalism or whatever this. Convincing people they no longer have some chronic, psychosomatic condition isn’t healing. Attorneys see the same thing happen all the time to these conditions after their disability cases have settled. If you are going to claim signs and wonders, prove them up like Jesus did. Wait until the patent is dead and buried, and then heal him. Or at least heal something we can verify.

        For the most part, this is basic fraud on vulnerable children and an assault on the Gospel.

        But God is responsible for all healings. I would disagree that God doesn’t regularly heal people. Everytime somebody recovers from cancer, a heart attack, depression, or a common cold, God did the healing. God works through nature, which includes the economy, which is simply people helping each other by diligently pursuing useful vocations, such as doctors and nurses.

  2. It looks ok as far as a camp goes, a bit bizarre. Except for the healing nonsense. I have had sever plaque psoriasis since I was a child. I was drug by my parents to every two bit con artist healing preacher they could find. Nothing ever changed until new medication came out that worked for me. So I thank science and the doctors that gave me the medication.
    I don’t know if healing prayers actually work. I kinda doubt it. It also doesn’t help that the “Gift of Healing” is usually the first sign of a religious con artist or a pious fraud.

    • God gifted healers in many ways – and some of them use the wonderful building blocks of life to create chemical creations that help us. I realize that many doctors are secularists, but I still believe that God created us to be able to heal ourselves with many means.

    • Would you believe Topher if I told you that my old fundagelical church in Wisconsin had the high school youth group engaging in demon dilverances? Or spiritual warfare? Would you believe that my church has had members that left WI to go to KC to be a part of IHOP? (I wish I could say the International House of Pancakes….)

      When I was in the ER dealing with pneumonia a couple days back…where were these guys?

      • My youth group memorized the small catechism and bible verses, ate pizza, and played capture the flag. In fact, I would go so far to say I had a gift for capture the flag.

  3. It is certainly a well done marketing piece. Having said that, I tried to look closely at the kids in the background/back of the room for a truer test. They seemed to be energetic and having a good time.

    I would consider the opposite conclusion — secularists/atheists are winning because generally miracles and the supernatural do not happen here in the west with frequency, and are generally ignored. I attended a healing service around 6 months ago, and the young lady next to me was healed 80-90% of a club foot in a 30 minute period as I watched (maybe the rest of the way after I left). My family members witnessed it as well. There was not even a collection taken during the entire service, and no hype whatsoever!!

    • I’m trying to think of examples from scripture where Jesus or one of the disciples healed someone “80-90%” over a 30 minute period. I’m not a dogmatic cessationist but I don’t think that seeking after signs and wonders and interpreting any psychosomatic response as miraculuous is how biblical healing works.

  4. I was touched by the children praying for healing for the members of their community. Seems like the sort of thing Jesus would want them to do.

    I would be interested to know why this left you speechless Chaplain Mike. What I saw here was largely very positive.

    • I hope you aren’t serious. Would you would send your own kids there? It is Christ-less mysticism at best, and not reflective of the way that Jesus taught his disciples to pray: God’s will and kingdom, our daily bread and forgiveness of sins. This form of spirituality boarders on paganism, where if you push the right ritualistic buttons, out pops the metaphysical candy bar. It teaches kids to approach faith through emotion and check their brain at the door. Secularists are having a field day.

      • …and not reflective of the way that Jesus taught his disciples to pray

        Well, except for passages like this in Luke 10:

        “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

        Personally, I’m still somewhat torn. I know parents who would gladly send their kids to this camp, and they aren’t stupid. They’re quite bright and successful people, actually. They have good careers. They’re respected in the community. To me that’s the hard part. If all the people involved in these movements were country bumpkins with no education, it would be one thing. But they’re not. Many of these people are doctors, lawyers, and professors.

        • But what of the people who aren’t healed? My whole problem with this kind of thing is the message about when people aren’t healed this way (which is most of the time). I do believe that miracles happen, but I also believe that most of our world is left to the free-will chance that God says we are living under. I really despise the old “well, then God didn’t want you to be healed” when it’s not successful. And the super-trite “it was God’s will that you still suffer”. I do not believe that God wants us to suffer anymore than we do. But in order to create a world of free-will, evil and suffering had to be part of the world.

          • I don’t know why some people are healed and others aren’t. All I know is that I’ve seen things that I have no other explanation for. I suppose someone could chalk it up to mere coincidence or a rare natural occurrence, but, to me those explanations seem far less plausible.

            Here’s one example. From the time I met my wife and the first few years into our marriage, she suffered horribly with fibromyalgia. If you talk to anyone who’s had this, it can simply be debilitating. One night at a service she was simply praying, not even about this issue, one of the elders at the church prayed for her, and the pain left instantly. That was probably 10 years ago. She hasn’t had an issue with it since. Now, I suppose someone could chalk that sort of thing up to some sort of psychosomatic phenomenon or something, but it wasn’t something she was even expecting or hoping for. It simply happened. Prior to that she was resolved to simply live with it.

          • Phil, I’m not doubting that your wife had a healing. My issue is the MESSAGE to the people who aren’t healed. Because that question undoubtedly follows – and with such concrete thinkers as kids are…they are going to want to quantify, explain and understand why person A was healed and person B wasn’t. It’s why early peoples came up with the whole “your father sinned – that’s why you’re blind” bullpucky. Because there HAD to be a reason why someone was blind and not healed. Jesus did away with all that superstitious nonsense directly and pointed out that blind people are just blind. They didn’t sin to cause it, their fathers didn’t sin to cause it. And people who don’t get healed in these events invariably walk away TORTURING themselves wondering why God didn’t heal them too.

          • There’s a reason diseases with no objective method of diagnosis like fibromyalgia are frequently healed. Christ and the apostles healed paralysis, blindness, and death, the most objectively diagnosable conditions there are. Sorry, this skeptical Lutheran doesn’t believe any of thee shysters.

          • Well, Boaz, I’m not sure my wife cares if some random commenter on the internet cares if she’s a shyster of not. She’s not dumb, though, that’s for sure. She has a PhD in microbiology, and she’s also one of the most skeptical people I know.

            I could tell you plenty of other stories, too but you probably wouldn’t believe me.

          • The “healers” are shysters.

            Fibromyalgia and other such psychomatic illnesses are very real for the sufferers, but nobody knows anything about what causes it or how it works. As such, it is often treated like a mental illness (therapy, exercise, diet, and anti-depressants), and it makes sense that faith healing could work to heal it. But these healers never heal things like broken legs or male pattern baldness, in which there is no question that an illness was cured.

      • Miguel,

        You and I are cut from very different strips of cloth. That is OK, and I respect your choices. Other than celebrating the church year, which I do appreciate, I am not liturgical at all. My denominational background is Christian and Missionary Alliance which in its early days healing was a key component of their services (not so much today). I am what many would call a “quiet charismatic”, I am not sensation seeking, but I have seen God move in powerful ways in charismatic/pentecostal services. I think this camp might be a good experience for my kids, not as the “be all and end all” of christian experience, but to see that there are others out there who have an enthusiastic desire to worship and serve God.

        • Well, ok, if you would consider sending your own kids there, I guess you’re just a bit more charismatic than I thought. But I don’t think it has anything to do with being liturgical: I was raised in the Calvary Chapel denomination, which is very similar to the CMA in it’s “quiet charismaticism.” Continuationist, but mostly just on paper. I’m not saying God avoids the assembly of the hyper-spiritual, but for every genuine experience I’ve suffered hundreds of contrived ones, and this is not spiritually, emotionally, or mentally healthy. I’ve come out of this tribe with a ton of both good and bad experiences, but let’s just say I’m more than a bit skeptical towards people who claim ecstatic experience or metaphysical abilities. I’ll admit my new home tradition can err on the side of avoiding the emotional to a fault, but to emphasize emotionalism to the exclusion of critical thought is dangerous. FWIW, my LCMS congregation has a monthly “healing service” as well, but it’s a ton closer to the rite of unction than it is to IHOP: Elders apply oil and pray, no shambala-shingi. Its not being unreasonable to demand a little empirical record when people begin claiming to heal serious illness and raise the dead, predict the future, etc…

      • Miguel,
        Sounds like good systematic theology. Does the Spirit have autonomy there or must He stay within the guidelines as well. Not every mystic is a Christian. Every seasoned Christian is a mystic. Are we not seated in heavenly places? You must leave your head at the door to begin using the deep spiritual faculties. God is spirit. Our brain bears witness with His brain?
        Out of your cerebellum will flow rivers of living water?
        Does the scripture not say, “No one will have need of a teacher for they will know me from the greatest to the least.” That is where this thing is going. That is the direction of the kingdom as stated in scripture. I don’t know what Dominion theology or most any of these other named movements are but the Holy Spirit is the autonomous expression of Christ in our inner being as we allow Him room to move and have His being inside us and if any of those movements are encouraging that then I guess I’m with them. Regardless, the brain is the seat of ego and must place a distant second to your heart when it comes to communion with Christ. The head gets a respectful nod of affirmation for playing its part and it ends there. It is the one tenth of the spiritual iceberg. You are a highly intelligent person and very interesting to listen to but remember, and I know you know this, love (which is God) is never born of intellectual prowess. The brain for all it’s untapped wonder is still an instrument in three dimensions but our spirits, exclusive of cognition, are tuned into and part of the eternal dimensions.

        • “Love is never born of intellectual prowess.”
          Brilliant, I’m gonna tweet that one. Couldn’t agree more!
          However, I’d point out that it is not the cessationist, but the Charismatic who puts a box on the activity of the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen enough to know that God’s spirit is doing things we can not explain. Charismatic theology, on the other hand, tries to make this activity fit within its spiritual categories. They have a “spiritual gift” name for all phenomena they can’t explain. As a cessationist, I’m free to shrug my shoulders and say, “Eh, God can do as he pleases, if that was indeed Him.” We just don’t label it “the gift of healing” or “tongues” or “prophecy,” because we believe those ended with the Apostolic period. I’ve known a man dying of pancreatic cancer who was miraculously healed. A stranger he never met before came to the hospital bedside and prayed for him, and the next day the doctors were confounded. But we don’t have to make that fit within some sort of Biblical category. Why can’t we just call it an answered prayer?
          It’s when we start trying to theologically systematize things that can’t be explained that problems arise, imo.
          But yes, every Christian (seasoned or not) is a mystic about something. Liturgical Christians are mystical about the sacraments, Evangelicals are mystical about their quiet time, and Charismatics are mystical about worship music. Some folks do all three!
          And I don’t think any member of the Trinity is autonomous, they coexist in unity of mind and mutual submission, which is quite the antithesis of autonomy.
          I think your skepticism of rationalism can be a good thing, but it doesn’t have to be an either/or. We should love God with all our heart, mind and soul. Some of us tend to lean more on one than the others. Good thoughts!

    • Michael;

      Short answer: This is IHOP.

      To elucidate: Kingdom Now/Dominion theology. ‘Nuff said.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      Michael Bell: I think some folks have posted a very important question on this forum. Does this camp prepare the children for what happens when healing does not come? If “faith healing” is taught in these camps as a product of efficient faith, if someone’s physical condition does not improve or, even worse, if someone dies, what is the message then? “Sorry, you didn’t have enough faith?” The fear that a lot of people (including myself) have in watching this video is that the leaders of this camp are basing their children’s faith on sinking sand.

      • I think that is a very important question. I did a search on the IHOP website, but did not find an answer. That doesn’t mean that it is not there, just that I couldn’t find it!

        I know for myself personally I have asked God to heal me in two very distinct ways. One was to heal me of a drinking problem, the other was to heal my stutter. I still stutter, but have not had a problem with Alcohol for 30 years now!

        Why did he chose to help me with the one, but not the other? I don’t know. I do know that my stutter has been an encouragement to many others. “If Mike can do it (some speaking leadership role), I can too.”

      • Marcus Johnson says

        I don’t want to venture a guess as to why your drinking problem is cured and the stutter remains, but I hope no one came up to you after you realized your stutter was a permanent chronic condition and told you, “If you had real faith, God would have healed you.”

        • Yes, Marcus…we agree on this point perfectly. It’s the message about who gets healed and who doesn’t that is the dangerous thing. I much prefer a stance of “giving to God” our troubles, diseases and worries to free us up for the tasks of being Christian. I happen to know a wonderful Christian lady who has terrible MS. Someone asked her once why she didn’t go to her church’s healing service (if anyone needed healing…ya know?). She replied that she gave the problems her disability gave her to God so that she could focus her soul on the pursuit of his Kingdom on earth. She didn’t see herself in need of healing.

          Too often, I think that we equate PHYSICAL issues with sick-soul-disease. I firmly believe that God consistently heals us of that illness. Unlike the Christian Scientists, I do not equate physical illness as an outward sign of inward soul sickness. My MS-stricken friend is a perfect example of someone who had an incredible faith, but did not see her physical MS as anything remotely related to her soul.

  5. The energy and sincerity are beyond question… but the long-term validity based on experiential excitements is going to burn out and in many cases disappear… my question is – do we allow our experience and “felt needs” determine our theology, or do we base our experience on the hard work of understanding all of God’s scripture?… everyone is a theologian, but few are really any good at it.

    • you’re right Ross, I wouldn’t doubt that many of these folks are sincere in their hope and expectation that incredible things are going to happen. Give someone a steady diet of this from birth to their twenties, and by their early 30’s they’ll either be pathologically religio-centric or have to work real hard not to lose their faith altogether. The fact that the camp is expressly designed to promote “signs and wonders” is the first tipoff for me.

      Real Kingdom theology has mostly to do with Jesus as King, not getting a bunch of magic powers.

      • Susannah F says

        “Give someone a steady diet of this from birth to their twenties, and by their early 30?s they’ll either be pathologically religio-centric or have to work real hard not to lose their faith altogether. ”

        Crap. This is what happened to my family. And yes, we run that range. Still recovering. Sunday dinners can get tense.

  6. I really struggle with this because my best friend’s spiritual journey has turned down this path while mine has not. Some of it seems like personality difference. She embraces these emotional highs like the children do where I am very wary of them.

    For adults, I wonder if there can be a “different members of one body” approach. My friend and I simply have been given different roles in the kingdom life.

    For children, I don’t know. I have two young children and I simply don’t feel I know how to point them to Jesus when the are so cognitively and emotionally unformed. I accepted Christ as a 5 year old in a Baptist environment and I think that conversion was real, but just one step in a life long journey. So I don’t want to hold youth against my kids.

    In this video, the kids seem to be 8-12 years old? It seems to be an emotionally supercharged environment, beyond what I would think of for a “normal” summer camp of swimming, archery, and crafts. But is it more supercharged than a service project? I don’t know. I feel turned off by the video mostly because the kids are parroting lines my friend uses. I would be pretty uncomfortable with the idea of sending my kids to something like that, but I don’t feel like I have the best rationale for that discomfort.

  7. I wonder if the one true and original IHOP is offended by this IHOP?

    • The mother ship of the International House of Prayer is the Kansas City IHOP led for several years now by Mike Bickle. There are other IHOPs in other cities as well, but they are all spinoffs of (or inspired by) Kansas City. Spiritually speaking, IHOP meetings are so intense as to stun casual (translation: lukewarm) observers or frighten them out of their wits. I would also say that spiritually speaking they sometimes seem to put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble, especially if you hail from the ever soul-winning, ever cessationist, truly reformed sections of the Body of Christ.

      You can find scripture both for and against such enthusiasm. Both detractors and adherents do it all the time. Nobody ever seems to convince anybody else.

      Chaplain Mike has led a very sheltered life. Hey, I even know some charismatic Lutherans.

      • Not sure why you would say I’ve led a sheltered life. I’ve been around the charismatic movement and its various iterations since the early 70’s, when it was the energy sparking the Jesus movement and renewal in Catholic and Mainline churches.

        • CM, I apologize for my snarky statement. I just figured that if you were “pretty much speechless” about this particular video, you hadn’t had much exposure to what the charismatic movement has been morphing into of late. The shepherding movement of the 70’s helped the Kansas City prophets gain a foothold, and some of them (John Paul Jackson, Rick Joyner, Bob Jones et al) are still out there doing their thing.

          The evangelical circus that Michael Spencer wrote about is very much alive and well in many of the pentecostal churches and some of the more recent offshoots because people run after the latest thing and have very little scripturally-informed discernment. That is part of the reason I left it for the post-evangelical wilderness. I now find myself in a conservative corner of the UMC after a 50-year absence.

    • Ed;

      Yes, they were. Threatened a lawsuit, in fact. But the 2 IHOPs have apparently reconciled their differences, and the threat of a lawsuit has been dropped.

      • Actually, I was referring to the International House of Pancakes as the one true and original IHOP.

        Still interesting thought. Thanks.

  8. Don’t see anything wrong with prayer for healing, but the emphasis on healing is probably a little off if the kids are being taught to expect that God always heals.

    What troubles me more than that isthe underlying expectation of extroversion and overt expressions, and the seeming idea that God will make himself known only if we behave that way. What about the introverted kids who are uncomfortable being expressive but who are willing to wait on God? The preference for extroversion, whether conscious or not, tends to devalue these individuals’ faith.

    • This is one of the things I truly do not like about services where EVERYONE is asked to stand up, come down front, raise a hand in answer to a question, or respond to the phrase “And all God’s people said…”. It’s the religious equivalent of a standing ovation.

      • Adrienne says

        John and Ed-Good point! One I was going to attempt to broach. I remember going to a similar camp as a child. I generally had a positive experience with the exception that I took away a feeling of inferiority due to my inability to be as “outwardly worshipful” as many of the other children who were encouraged round the clock to “open your hearts and your mouths will follow” mentality. I noticed even at that age that the children were mimicking behavior in exchange for a reward. The reward was acceptance. To this day, I’m not sure if it’s a good thing to “fake it til you make it”. I’m on the fence between two philosophies: Jesus IS our prototype for learning how to live out our humanness. We started by Him taking us by the hand and showing us how it’s to be done. All these thousands of years later, we might have a smidge of discernment that our Christian ancestors did not. Did it come by first mimicking Jesus? The second philosophy is that God, in his divine creative authority, made us all different for a REASON. He did not intend for worship to equal a society of drones standing and sitting at a click. I’m curious to see how this camp is conducted concerning a child’s freedom to choose Him how he reveals Himself to them.

    • So what happens when they pray for that person who has cancer and they never are healed? Did they lack faith? Talk about a faith killing situation? That’s what has led some ministers into atheism.

    • You hit my caution and misgivings about all ecstatic christian experiences – they always, always imply that more introverted discerner thinker calm-loving types like me aren’t of any use… of course nobody says it out loud but the implication is always there…

      • Adrienne says

        Andy, I think it’s because no one knows how to relate to someone in a social situation who has little to say. Introverts are deemed stuck-up or unintelligent. Of course, it’s the complete opposite that’s generally true, it’s just the station we are assigned by extroverts is inadequate for how we were made. Such a good, neglected topic to discuss. How and where should we place our thinkers in church? The doers are all set! 😉

  9. Very interesting. Its difficult to watch this and be critical. There’s a lot of things to be excited about. But I would have a lot of concerns as well. Just the title “Signs and Wonders Camp” throws up many red flags for me. I very recently stepped down from my position at a church because our lead pastor began taking people to things down the line. What I began to see at our church was a total focus on self. People would stand up and talk about how God told them how wonderful they were, how much He loved them, but it was never in the context of the cross. We spent all our time on trying to get close to God rather then celebrating that through the work of the cross we had been brought near. You would look at things said and think, well whats wrong with that, but the focus was so off. The biggest reason I left is that I was the youth pastor and worship pastor and although I voiced concerns my lead pastor went around me and took those who were in my areas of ministry. So in order to protect the flock against what I saw as an unhealthy teaching I would have had to protect them from my pastor – not a good place to be in. But thats what happens with these movements, our pastor was so desperate to get people to these types of conferences that he ignored the elders and fellow pastors. You become consumed and eventually, when the hype wears out, exhausted. But thats just my experience.

    • I appreciate your notice that it’s all about “me”…heal “me”…God will heal ME if I pray hard enough or jump up and down or put my hands in the air or…or..or (fill in blank here). Maybe elsewhere in the camp, the kids are led to an understanding of service to others and working miracles in other people’s lives (not necessarily healing, but maybe a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand against bullies, even just help with homework for a struggling student).

  10. If you have actual spiritual healing powers, you need to be using them for something other than as marketing for your summer camp. Other than that, it seemed fine.

    • “If you have actual spiritual healing powers…”

      Most Pentecostals are clear on the idea that only God heals.

      • Oh, only god does anything, you know what I meant.

      • Joseph (the original) says

        Michael Bell: the more theologically correct ‘claim’ would be something like: “I have the ‘gift’ of healing…”

        sure, the Holy Spirit is the One that empowers, but by golly-gosh, He chose ME! HALLELUJAH & AMEN!

        so now you can be a ‘gifted’ faith healer using whatever powers (persuasion, suggestion, hypnosis, emotion, etc.) to elicit some physical change…

        if & when an actual miracle does happen, i do agree, it is a supernatural phenomenon. but then one must be careful about the source: demonic or divine. i have witnessed some amazing things, which in their setting, were attributed to God. but how or why God would respond to such a weird/uncomfortable way it was done had me wonder much of what the prophetic/apostolic/signs & wonders camp was dabbling in. and i saw enough wack stuff to know sincerity, zeal+passion, theology, using the name of Jesus or God or Holy Spirit in the ritual, etc. does not guarantee God is pleased or even the source…

        the problem most of the non-charismatic types recognize is this: the signs+wonders camps insist that such miraculous, walking in the Spirit type of manifestations IS the norm, not the exception. they pride themselves in being, well, more ‘spiritual’ than their non-charismatic brethren. i was not raised in this tradition, but i did embrace it wholeheartedly as i thought God could be experienced at a higher/greater level than what i was then experiencing. but i found out after many years of sincere pursuit & simple common sense observations that the hype & claims far, far outweighed the truth+miraculous. it is a strange (not in a negative way) perception to ‘live’ in a very physical world yet truly believing in a greater spiritual dynamic. but i don’t think there is a good, better, best hierarchy of existence as if the miraculous is somehow the grander expression of a very powerful God. not sure i can articulate it well enough, but i have talked enough to former charismatics (i am post-charismatic) that also left behind the overemphasis of spiritual elements, both the demonic elements as well as the divine, because it was not a healthy way to approach their faith. i think this comes with maturity & a track record of seeking out God without the trappings of group-think trying to convince them of miraculous happenings as a matter of course…

        anyway…this used to be a big issue for me, but heck, life is too short & i am moving on to other things in life.

        blessings to you…


  11. It doesn’t look all that different to me than many of the camps and retreats I went to growing up in the AoG. Those camps weren’t marketed towards “signs and wonders” so much, but they were emphasized as part of the service. Looking back, I can’t say I really feel that it was spiritual abuse or anything like that, but I do think it puts a lot of pressure on kids to try and behave a certain way.

    Actually, I know a few people on staff at the IHOP (the parachurch group, not the pancake house…), so I guess this doesn’t so much leave me speechless as much as it kind of causes flags to go up. I do believe that God still heals people, but I really dislike the idea that we have to have events and camps that are “healing factories”.

  12. The jargon was appalling. If these kids were in one of my writing classes immediately after camp, they’d probably fail their first few papers.

    • Is it “heart after God” or “hard after God?” I’m afraid the distinction is becoming blurred, they’re developing their own sub-dialect.

      • You can “have a heart after God” or you can “follow hard after God”…

        This is similar to “pressing in” or “going deeper” or “surrendering your will” or any number of religious-sounding phrases. It is probably based on the OT phrase about David’s being “a man after God’s own heart”…..

    • Jessica Marie says

      The language disturbs me, too, and I think it’s one of the biggest clues to finding out just what this camp seems to be about: turning out a gaggle of unthinking pint-sized evangelical adult mimics.

  13. humanslug says

    Ten years ago — when I was in leadership in a medium-sized charismatic, non-denom church — I’d probably be all excited about taking a group of kids to Signs and Wonders Camp.
    Now, I don’t think I could do it in good conscience.
    Does that mean I’ve grown wiser or more jaded over the past decade? I’m not really sure. It’s probably a bit of both.
    I believe in a supernatural God who does miraculous things. Heck, it was more miraculous experience of God than anything else that enabled me to get past the hurdle of endless internal argument and finally choose faith in Christ.
    But since that magical time in my spiritual journey, I have seen too much abuse and too many people treat God like a genie in a bottle or a vending machine — and now, I honestly have a hard time trusting any church environment that focuses too heavily on the performance and expectation of miraculous manifestations.
    At the same time, I feel like something that was once a very real and genuine part of my faith has almost entirely faded away.
    If the miraculous realm of blissful ignorance and the cold kingdom of strictly rational theology are the only two dogs hunting out there in the church world, then we need to get busy creating some better options.

  14. Just some observations from the video:

    Experience, emotion, and spiritual fervor are the goals and culture of S&WC.
    Healing is the ultimate Christian experience; everything else is prologue.
    You should be extraverted, excitable, and passionate to participate in this camp.
    Attractive, spiritually precocious, highly-verbal children get interviewed.
    The gospel is not really a part of this camp; everyone is beyond the basics.
    If there is Bible teaching, it seems restricted to the experiential and experimental.
    Learning about the Holy Spirit is probably more important than studying about Jesus.

    As to my opinion, I’m conflicted. I feel about seeing this video much the same as I would feel about seeing a video of liberal activist adults promoting an Imagine Revolution Camp for pre-teens. When children are the audience, it is too easy to move from education to indoctrination. It doesn’t matter if it’s extreme Christians or extreme Secularists, it’s still indoctrination.

    I’m glad the S&WC are all nice Christian children, but I don’t consider this a biblical witness to the world. I cannot find a precedent in Scripture for this kind of activity. It “feels” to me (my discernment of the Spirit) more like recruitment and indoctrination, and not the discipleship of “training and instruction in the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). I reserve the right to be wrong, but this doesn’t feel right to me.

  15. cermak_rd says

    I know Michael Spencer wrote quite a bit about healing ministries that leave a trail of disappointed people behind them. The Almighty may heal, but it is seldom done in such an unambiguous way that even non-believer sorts can see it. And if you set the youths expectations to believe that healings and signs are normal, I can see them falling into either the this doesn’t jibe with my reality camp or the everything is a wondrous sign from the heavens, neither of which seem to be particularly healthy for the faith that is being transmitted to them.

    I think also, it gives support to non-believers pokes such as Why don’t amputees ever get healed. And it also does seem to throw the permanently disabled under the bus.

    • And, there seems to be a huge pitfall waiting to happen when the healing doesn’t occur. When you build something up this big and people don’t get healed, then there is a huge danger of loss-of-faith. God is amazing, but I think miracles are wayyyy better when they’re not expected/prayed for/asked for. They are much more powerful when they are surprising, shocking and unexpected.

  16. Ric Schopke says

    The video moved me greatly. Seeing the faith and actions of these children is a great lesson and encouragement
    for us adults. God does heal in many ways (including prayer and medicine), I’ve experienced healing through
    prayer in my own life. Why healing seems to sometimes take place and other times not to occur is something
    we leave in God’s hands. But we don’t quit praying.

    Praise God for children being taught to trust God so deeply, to worship Him truly, and to minister in His name.
    The name of Jesus seemed to be lifted up and the Holy Spirit expected. I have been in services where children
    were taught in the children’s ministry to pray for others and then prayed for adults in the worship service.

    I have been fortunate to have grown up where prayer for healing was common. For the past twenty-plus years
    I have been part of two congregations (United Methodist / Episcopal) where healing prayer was a vital part of
    those churches’ ministries.

    • Amen. We don’t quit praying.

      I want my kids to know that they should always come to God in prayer. The childlike faith of my kids is refreshing. It’s a reminder to me of what faith can and and should be.

      It seems strange that our fear of disappointment (that God might not heal in a given case) would discourage us, or lead us to discourage others from coming to God in prayer altogether. Its as if people would rather never come to God prayer for healing, rather than risk disappointment.

      I may not have the same faith as someone else for healing, but I would never discourage them, or mock them for having that kind of faith.

  17. I’ve been on quite a journey regarding the healing/prophetic/supernatural thing. All I’ll say is that for a positive yet grounded treatment on the subject, I I highly suggest “Healing: Revised and Expanded” by Francis MacNutt. It was required for a seminary course I took.

  18. What these kids are being taught is Christianese sloganeering, and how to think of themselves as better than other Christians because they get real emotional during dramatic worship songs.

    The options, as we’ll certainly be told, aren’t 1)denial of any and all supernatural occurences, or 2) whacko insistence that church life be saturated with claims of healing and gold teeth to validate the “seriousness” of our faith. Happily, there is a real, un-hyped, jargonless, humble, and Christ-centered type of charismatic expression out there if you look hard enough. Generally, it’s not found at IHOP.

    Oh for decent Kingdom theology when this stuff comes along.

  19. It is not possible to make a judgment about that based on that little snippet. I hope that it is positive and drawing those youngsters into an experience of love and truth.

  20. Greater Works says

    I’m pretty speechless too…. but with delight 🙂

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” John 14:12–14.

  21. Emotionalism. Internalizing the faith. Experiential Christianity.

    The Theology of Glory. Pure, plain, and simple. There’s no dying going on there. Instead they are throwing gasoline on the fire of ‘the self’.

    I’m not saying that God could not work in that atmosphere. But it is not apparent to me.

  22. Short answer: It’s IHOP. “Prayer” means something different to them than the rest of Christianity, and it serves a different purpose. Chasing “movements” is kind of their thing, and if anyone remember Lakeland, Toronto, and Kansas City the first time, we know how this story ends.

    And with the documented manipulation going on in this movement, I’d invite people to keep their kids far away:

    • THANK YOU for the link to that blog. I read all three parts, I, II, and III, as well as Susan’s Personal Note in which she addresses the posts and gives people permission to repost it.

      We lived in KC and started going to Bickle’s church when he opened it in 1982-1983 and were there when he gave his “Blow the Trumpet in Zion” message, as well as when the whole KC Prophets thing and controversy with Ernie Gruen took place (we occasionally attended Ernie’s church, too). We were there when John Wimber and the Vineyard came in to handle the crisis. We left in 1990, so have viewed/read about subsequent events only from afar, but this IHOP thing sounds like the same kind of stuff that was going on then – i.e., leading people on with talk of the soon-coming move of God, which never materialized; talk of being the great spiritual generation that God was raising up; etc. When I was in Israel in 2009, we attended a church in Jerusalem that was heavily connected with IHOP; same kind of stuff – repetitive, hypnotic, emotion-driven worship music, etc. Seems innocuous in small doses, but is probably not healthy as a steady diet. There is a Yahoo Group that discusses all this stuff:

      • I’ll be honest and say I’m still trying to sort the whole IHOP thing out. I grew up not more than 1000 meters from IHOP central, and still visit the area regularly (relatives still there). What was telling to me from the above link, and my own observations, is that IHOP does Zip, Zero, Zilch (that I’m aware of, at least) towards any form of humanitarian aid. With thousands of people , and millions of dollars in a blue collar section of KC, they have bought up large chunks of real estate, but have done nothing for the community in a tangible, physical, way. Any IHOP lurkers, please straighten this out if I’m missing something. As a lifelong resident of KC, this has been my observation. Hmmmm.

        I’m not making IHOP a daily cause to battle, but it is very difficult to speak well of them, given this kind of track record.


        • Count me last to rise to the defense of an organization with the theological orientation of IHOP, but I don’t find it strikingly odd that their church has no humanitarian aid projects. That doesn’t mean they aren’t doing anything. Indeed, I believe the best humanitarian aid is done by Christians WITHOUT slapping a church logo or a Jesus sticker on it. This is “letting your light shine” without “letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Nothing against church based charities (there are some truly great programs out there), but there is value in doing good for its own sake, and not only as a vehicle for evangelism.

          Now this may not be the case with IHOP, but consider how many of their members may be involved with charity work outside their church life. No way to tell, really.

          • What I know is what I see and don’t see over a period of 20plus yrs of going to the neighborhoods in and around IHOP central, and the Grandview MO area (where IHOP U. has an annex). I stand by what I wrote: yes, individuals could be doing this and that: there is really nothing to point to in terms of REAL impact, physically, anywhere, as far as I can tell.

            I would also suggest that this is a reflection of believing (foolishly) that if we’re praying for the poor and outcasts, 24-7, then we are already doing the heavy lifting in the heavenlies. Whatever….. We aren’t to boast about anything, least of all any kind of aid, but what about teaching and doing tangible things to help real people ??? To the locals (that would be my family, btw) these folks do not stand out as being like Jesus…. they are just weird and self-focused.

      • A site that has a ton of information and critique on several “Last Days” movements such as IHOP is Beyond Grace.

  23. Pam Burns says

    The video doesn’t really tell you what the children are being taught from a scriptural standpoint so it’s hard to say yea or nea to what’s going on here. However, if God will answer anyone’s prayers it would be those of a child.

    • It’s actually rather easy to find out what these children are being taught based on searching for the organization hosting and the people teaching them.

      And that’s a concern with IHOP – people don’t research beyond the surface, flashy colors, cool sounding songs.

  24. Ric Schopke says

    I’m very puzzled and concerned over all the quick negative assumptions I’ve been reading about this video.
    God works in many different ways and settings. For many years I played in a contemporary worship band.
    I now worship in a very traditional liturgical setting. God has been present and active in both places. He is
    not limited to my particular style of ministry, whatever that may be.

    • This is not about style, but substance.

      • Mike, the ad seems aimed at kids. What are you expecting, a first year hermeneutics course?

        • I’m not talking about the ad itself. I’m talking about a theology that thinks it can plan “signs and wonders” events and train people, beginning with children, to pursue a religious enthusiasm that looks very little like the apostolic and traditional faith.

          • Just to confirm the radically out-of-joint nature of “signs and wonders” ministries, a popular IHOP/MorningStar song that I’ve heard at these gatherings (I’ve been to several, in the last 10 years or so) has a chorus where you chant “signs and wonders, healing, deliverance is coming” over and over again. Yes, this IS a problem of substance.

  25. I have friends who attend, work, or intern at IHOP, and I pray for them regularly and hope they’ll still have faith after they inevitably leave the place. I’ve left churches because worship leaders began sneaking IHOP written songs into their services. I’ve left small groups and bible studies because members and leaders would all of a sudden start promoting IHOP over their own churches and tell us it’s really the only place on earth where they have felt close to God.

    There was a time in my life where I wanted to visit IHOP to see what it was all about, why all my friends were devoting so much time to it (some up to 4 or more hours a day live streaming the prayer room). I tried to go many times. I think God protected me from going.

    Since leaving the church where I was exposed to IHOP, God has opened my eyes as to what IHOP is, what it represents, where it comes from, and where it will go. Now I’m seeing it’s influential in more conservative or evangelical circles that 5, 10 years ago would have had nothing to do with them.

    I, for one, will stand against them, even if that means I’m to remain alone. They are a danger to everyone, and while I still love and pray for all my friends who are so involved with them, I also pray God will deliver them and that they will retain their faith when it all comes crashing down on them.

    • Joseph (the original) says

      Romans 12:3
      For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

      i can relate StuartB. if you look back on some of my postings regarding the hyper-charismatic, uber prophetic types, i too ranted about what i perceived were very real dangers associated with these supra-spiritual types…

      and not from a theoretical POV, but a real ‘been-there-done-that’ pilgrim who immersed himself in the ‘stuff’…

      i sense that many, if not most, of all those hyper-charismatic types have an inflated perception of their ‘spiritual’ importance. they believe they are impacting, directing, addressing, influencing, etc. things in the ‘unseen’ realms (however they define it) & they are critical cogs in God’s new global theocracy soon to be released upon the earth. of course, they are the ones expecting to be first in line for that Glorious Medal of Intercession and/or Calling Forth the Divine Destiny as taught by (fill in the blank ______) leader, teacher, apostle, prophet once Jesus makes His appearance…

      Lordy, Lordy, Lordy…

      there is so much ‘make believe’ elements in their detailed spiritual constructs replete with its own jargon it makes one’s head spin (ala The Exorcist) even when indoctrinated with the particulars. and it never ends! it is always seeking a sign/confirmation, ‘new’ direction, greater gnosis, more dramatic impact in the ‘higher realms’, etc. the hyper-healing stuff is really tame compared to all the other teachings…


      it is rife with ego boosting energy when one can ‘claim’ spiritual credentials that others willingly bestow/acknowledge/promote. it is bad stuff, but couched in theology that is not unsound, just overemphasized, misused & manipulated…

      severely spiritually dysfunctional is how i came to understand it. odd. out-of-balance. and too much unfounded claims have to be maintained to justify its validity…

      Lord, have mercy… 🙁

    • So StuartB, you are coming onto a public forum and making strong statements about a place you have never been to, and somehow you know its wrong.

      Sounds good to me.

      • Ken, I could direct you to other posts I’ve made about my thoughts and feelings about IHOP in a more concrete, theological manner. Would you even be interested?

        Do I need to actually go to a place to know what they teach is wrong? Is years of engagement with IHOP devotees, hours spent listening to Mike Bickle sermons and the Prayer Room feed, reading transcriptions of messages and statements of faith, etc…not enough to form an opinion based around solid Biblical and theological reasons as to why I know this place is bad news?

        Do I really know God stopped me from going? No, I don’t. I don’t attend IHOP, so he doesn’t speak to me audibly. I can only infer from experience and Scripture what might have happened.

        Simplifying the comments on this post to “charismatic vs cessationist” does no one any good, because I do know charismatics who would have nothing to do with IHOP, and cessationists who love the music IHOP produces. Granted, both are rare, but exist. IHOP is not classical charismatic in the least, as your comment about New Apostolic Reformation theology alludes to. It should be engaged with; all the better to weed out false teaching.

        • I think you and I are agreed. It needs to be seriously engaged. I actually know a bit more about this issue than I let on, I was 10 years in an NAR outfit.

          Your initial comments sounded like you were speaking out of ignorance. I would like to see Chaplain Mike allow a serious discussion of some aspects of this movement, because there are things to be concerned about.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      Ken, I think the people who published the video want people to make judgments about the camp before they go to visit it. This video was an advertisement, and advertisements are created with that purpose in mind.

      StuartB just happens to draw evidence from the video and his personal experience and, as a result, believes that what is going on at this camp is steeped in dangerous and bad theology that doesn’t represent the Gospel at all. I happen to agree with him, as do many of the people on this forum, and we have plenty of evidence to support our claims.

      • My point is he says he wanted to go, and somehow God stopped him. So he has made judgement on 2nd hand evidence.

        In this case it does not sound that different than the approach they take (IHOP devotees). No real evidence presented, just a statement ‘I feel this is wrong’ which is really no different than someone who says ‘I feel this is right’

        I have seen no real engagement here with underlying theology, at this point a lot of what I have seen is basically cessationists vs charismatics which is actually quite a fruitless debate.

        BTW I think there probably is some reason to be concerned. But I think picking on a video intended to draw kids to a camp is straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel.

        There is an awful lot of material out there about the New Apostolic Reformation movement that merits serious engagement.

      • Thank you, Marcus. I didn’t realize I should have provided a comprehensive Biblical case for why I think IHOP is wrong. I’ll do so next time.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        If you don’t feel like mounting a comprehensive case, just give it a few years, then track either the people who were “faith healed,” or the children who attended the camp, then learned that sometimes, physical disabilities remain with people, even people of great faith. It’s not the same as a comprehensive, Biblical case, but it will be pretty conclusive.

  26. I got a kick from reading everyones comments. Most of you sound like a bunch of carnivores in a vegan restaurant. Would your perception be much different if the video had adults portraying /saying the same things? My guess is probably not, so all you’re really doing is holding your noses at practices that you don’t believe in. That doesn’t contribute any useful insights to the discussion.

    I was raised pentacostal but my attitude towards christians on the other end of the spectrum is to tend to my own business and let them tend to theirs. After all God is maybe doing a work that I may not be privy to and I certainly have my work cut out for me where I live and worship. I’m not sure brother Spencer would think that was a bad thing.

    • I always assume God is doing something that I’m not aware of, even in places that I think get it radically wrong. It doesn’t stop me from pointing out huge, destructive flaws when necessary.

    • I shudder to think what Michael’s rant might have been about a video like this, especially considering the source.

      • That I’ll never know what it would be makes me miss him even more. I can get a good idea what they’d be from some of his other comments about Todd Bentley, Lakeland, the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey and other gimmicks perpetuated by similar groups.

        This has “evangelical circus” written all over it.

      • You’re right chaplain, however Michaels rants would leave me with something to think about after I left the site. I would like to see some of that here. I think we got the ranting down, it’s the debate that is lacking here.

        When I read about Michael’s observations, I can’t help wonder how much of it is regional. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest – known for being one of the most unchurched corners of the country – we just didn’t have the religious culture he describes. Of course, you see bubbles of it, but it’s just not part of what I saw growing up. In contrast, after our Pentacostal Sunday night services, many from our youth group would hop in the cars and drive to St Marks Episcopal cathedral for the compline service: we had found our own way to get a dose of litugical vitamins, and no-one seemed to mind us doing it. I can’t imagine Michael being able to pull that off in his world without other christians around him flaring up with much scornful puffery of disgrace. Hmmm… sounds like some of the comments I read here.

        • A fellow PNW’er…nice to “meet” another on this blog

        • Compline at St. Marks is the bomb. I get their podcast, and hope to attend in person someday. It’s great to hear the Pentecostals are in attendance, I keep running into pockets of them who are rediscovering and using liturgical prayer.

          But don’t be so quick to take offense at our “scornful puffery of disgrace.” We speak out against things we legitimate believe are wrong from a Biblical and theological standpoint, not from mindless prejudice. You’re doing the same thing with your little caricature of us.

          • What is this compline at st. marks you are all talking about?

            If you are familiar with the daily office and the Book of Common Prayer, you can follow right along as these guys sing it. They sound fantastic!

          • I second that “Compline at St. Mark’s is the Bomb” – I commented on it when we were discussing millennials that don’t go to church or believe in God. I noted how many millenials are there. My daughter is very active at that church and she brought me there once. I felt a smidge “old” :), but was incredibly encouraged by what I saw there. You really MUST attend if you’re ever in Seattle. Bring a blanket, a pillow and a Bible if you want to “hang” with all the young people that come. It’ll blow you away!

          • I would never go to St. Marks today, they have become neo pagan. I went forty years ago.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      swede56: I’m totally okay with letting other people do their thing, but if there are Christian communities out there who encourage people to think of God as an all-powerful Santa Claus, who gives healing to everyone just because we pray hard enough and have faith, two things are going to happen:

      1. Even this church community might encourage people to seek medical attention instead of healing, someone with a serious medical condition, acting more on desperation than faith, will place all their eggs into the “faith healing” basket, instead of realizing that the medical community is the more appropriate God-sent resource. Just because a doctor may not be a believer, doesn’t mean he can’t have a knowledge base given to him from God.

      2. These children are going to figure out that just because God has healed people supernaturally in the past, and God is omnipotent, it is not a given that he heals everyone who prays hard enough. If you thought it was bad when a child finds out Santa is not real, wait until they discover that this God persona is just as much a product of someone’s zealous imagination. Especially given that most children are not at the stage of intellectual and moral development to understand why a person does not recover after a faith healing, this camp could be a serious blow to someone’s faith.

      • Watch it Marcus, I still believe in Santa Claus.

        Just because someone believes in divine healing doesn’t mean they only believe in divine healing. My AG church has an anual service to pray for couples who want to/cannot conceive. People come from all over the country to be prayed for, but the thrust of the service is that sometimes God’s answer is adoption or invitro or even, not yet. We have a significant number of couples who become parents in the year following the service, which have even included muslim and hindi couples. My cousin, who’s doctor said she medically couldn’t conceive, now has a family. To insist that God only answers with miracles is not a mature Christian belief, but to insist that he never answers with miracles, in my mind is a sad place to be.

        I’m only familiar with the IHOP that serves pancakes so I may be in the dark about this particular church. I’m only going by what I observed in the video and I tend to hold back my judgement unless I see moral issues involved.

        Really folks, the proof of this pudding is if it bears fruit and brings God glory. Again, you’re making a fuss about things you don’t believe in anyway, so just admit it and move on.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        It’s not just a matter of “I don’t believe in it, so I want to make a fuss about it.” I’ve also had some experience learning about the intellectual, moral and spiritual development in children. You and I, as adults, are capable of acknowledging the reality of miracles and the healing power of God, and can walk away from a very charismatic experience saying, “Yeah, God is great, but the lack of healing does not necessarily indicate a lack of faith, nor is it necessarily a result of previous sin.”

        In my experience, however, children are not necessarily at a stage of moral and spiritual development in which they can understand these concepts. Once they encounter an instance in which God does not send healing, the resulting guilt and emotional crisis is usually not unlike that of a child whose parents divorce. The fears being expressed in this forum are more than just whiny nagging; they recognize the theological and psychological implications that can stem from engaging children in charismatic, spiritual events without checking the emotional appeal with a realistic expectations of God’s actual role in people’s lives.

  27. Where’s Jesus?

  28. This comment might be too late for the discussion…but I’ll tell this story anyway. A priest once gave a sermon about encountering a little girl earlier in his ministry. After what he thought was a brilliant and moving sermon about how God gives us the strength to handle whatever happens to us and that nothing ever happens in our lives that we aren’t strong enough to handle, she came up to him and said “does that mean that if I wasn’t a strong girl, my mommy would still be alive?” We have to be REALLY CAREFUL what we say to children. They are, after all, children. Their frontal lobes are not developed. There’s a reason why a 16-year-old’s car insurance is higher than mine….the decision-making part of the brain isn’t even fully developed until their mid-20’s. Throwing these very, very complex messages and setting these kids up for years of self-torture if they are not healed or who they pray for is not healed is just unconscionable. Why didn’t God heal me/my friend? Was it something I said? Did I not pray hard enough? Was I unworthy? Did I sin too much? These are questions far too much for adults to handle, much less kids.

    Yes, God heals, yes, there are miracles, but perfectly INCREDIBLE people still get run over by trucks and murdered in the streets. These kinds of people attempt to give reasons why some people are healed and some are not with the fervor-mongering. It makes acceptance impossible when circumstances outside your control create breast cancer or birth defects.

    One family I know actually believes in not adopting children. You know why? Because people like the ones portrayed in this video told them that there was no way they could ever pray for healing for the adopted child because in not knowing the birth parents, there is no way to know WHAT to pray forgiveness for. Seriously? God would never, ever heal an adopted child because they wouldn’t know what sin created their illness.

    • Marcus Johnson says

      LA: That story about the family who refuses to adopt is horrible. It’s just another example of trying to make the Bible do what God never intended it to do, and trying to make God something that he is not.

      Now to segue into this “Signs and Wonders” Camp. I wonder if these children are taught to believe that God will always heal people with chronic disabilities. Do the camp leaders actually discourage some people away from the camp, maybe because they know there is no way you can fake a healing of someone with cerebral palsy?

      It just seems ridiculous that Jesus specifically said that only a foolish and evil generation seeks for signs, yet there are still people who just pretend that part of the Bible doesn’t exist, then plant false hope in people that the purpose of God is to remove all sickness from the earth, rather than to impart truth into the hearts of peole, regardless of whether or not they ever get physically healthy.

      • Marcus: Imagine their surprise after becoming friends with us as Christians when they discovered I was adopted :). Red faces all around.

        However, this is exactly the kind of theology that many of these places present. That if someone didn’t get healed, then there must be some sin…some evil in their past OR their family’s past that is “preventing” them from being healed.

        Marcus, I still have trouble reading Paul, but on this you and I are 100% eye-to-eye. I firmly believe that doctors are healers with skills granted to them by God to do their healing through other means. There are many gifts that God gives us…some to heal bodies, some to heal souls and some to heal relationships. They are all of God.

  29. Dave K eh? says

    Sounds nicer than “Jesus Camp” 😉

  30. Didn’t Jesus say it is a wicked and adulterous generation that seeks signs?

  31. I couldn’t watch more than 30 seconds of this, it was that stomach-churning.

  32. Clay Knick says

    I’m reading Tim Stafford’s new book “Miracles” where he addresses this issue (signs & wonders). I’m not done with it yet, but my guess is that he would not be surprised by it at all. The is current state of charismatic Christianity and they are sincere about this. They really believe that signs and wonders follow Christians wherever we go. I’ve heard it described as “living in the supernatural.” The problem comes when this theology does not meet with expectations. And that is when it often gets very bad. When a person is told they are not healed because they do not have enough faith or when a person refuses medicine to demonstrate their healing or faith then a disaster often follows. I’ve seen it. Teaching children to pray and worship is one thing, teaching them to expect a miracle every second is bad theology.

  33. Pastor Don says

    I was a Pentecostal pastor before I entered the wilderness. I’ve witnessed real healing (my wife was healed of fibromyalgia when a woman at our church unceremoniously prayed for her–and has been free of that illness now for 15 years) and I have been left to wonder why a healing hasn’t occurred (my wife also had problems with her hips and had many people–lay and clergy–pray for her, but in the end it was replacement surgery that ended her suffering). The excesses are abundant in many Pentecostal circles along with the misguided theology that supports them. But lest I pick up too large of a rock, there can be excesses and misguided theology among those I am now part of. I think we all–Pentecostals, cessationists, and those in between–can learn a lot from First Corinthians.

    In that letter the Lord, through the words given Paul, reminds us that first place must be given to the message of “Christ crucified.” For therein is the true power of God. We are then reminded of the work of the Holy Spirit and how important he is to Christians. A number of issues coming out of that church are then addressed–some out of lack of understanding, some out of wrongly placed emphases, and some out of misguided thinking–but all damaging to the body of Christ. Sin was overlooked and should not be. Rules not set by the Lord were in place. “Spiritual” people were not rightly discerning spiritual leadership. A sacrament was being misused and therefore not glorifying Christ. Spiritual gifts were exercised without the leading of the him who gives them, while the central spiritual gifts were being overlooked. And while excesses of the gifts were confronted, their use was clearly not to be eliminated. The book closes with a return to the point of our faith–the resurrection of Jesus Christ and all it accomplishes for those who have been drawn near, are repenting, and believe.

    The encouragement to experience all of God and what he can do is not wrong. But to do that without compromising the Gospel, and to do that with young people without the emphasis on the giver of gifts rather than the gifts themselves is misleading, not discipling. I used to use the term “spirit-filled” a lot until I realized that those words were dividing the Kingdom and not uniting it. But comments that eliminate spiritual activity that is ordained by the Lord are divisive too. The moving of the Holy Spirit has always challenged those in authority and leadership as well as “the proper order of things.” But at the same time, his “moving” has often been difficult to discern among the “workings” of human beings. IHOP is not my choice for a tool to relate the Christian faith, but then neither is the National Council of Churches.

    These are my thoughts as I watched the video. On the one hand it was good to see young people excited about the things of God. On the other hand, the overall message and methods displayed and apparently encouraged were not welcomed by me. From early in my Christian walk the word “balance” has been a guide given to me, I believe by the Lord. The message of First Corinthians is a balanced message rooted in the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord. A message those of IHOP should more carefully heed–as well, I think, as many in the iMonastery.

  34. Coming late to the discussion. A couple of questions to add:

    It has been mentioned that many churches of other traditions include praying for healing and help as part of their ministry. In particular one writer mentioned an Episcopal church. How do other traditions practice this? Who prays? When? Is it formalized or decentralized and informal? How does God answer? What healing or miracles result? How is it different and why?

    Christianity Today recently highlighted the work of Mama Heidi in Africa. ( ) I was moved by what I read. Contrast Heidi’s work with what we see in this video.

    I would guess that at S&W Camp, when someone is not healed after prayer, the blame goes to the lack of sufficient faith in the ones praying, in the one to be healed, or both. Of course then healing becomes a result of another work, not an act of faith and TRUST in Jesus. Does IHOP also teach how to trust Jesus when healing does NOT come? I’m guessing not but I don’t know.

    • Dave, at least for me, my most valuable “healing” experiences have been ones where the focus is placed on healing the soul, healing the heart and healing the “person” rather than focusing on an outward physical illness. I posted above about a friend who has MS who has never sought healing for her physical condition. She does not see it as something that she needs to go to God to heal her for. Rather, she looks to God to heal her heart and her soul, her relationships with others and her relationships with her fellow humans. I, too, share her desire to look towards God for healing in these areas.

      During Episcopal Cursillo weekend (a renewal movement within the Episcopal church), there is a “healing service” where you can take whatever you wish to the clergy and you are prayed over for healing. It is a quiet service, with peaceful instrumental music playing and you are encouraged to bring to Christ your prayers for healing of fractures within your soul.

      In the Catholic tradition, there is the Rite of the Sick (although, it’s name has changed several times since I was a babe in Catechism) and also I recall the feast of St. Blaise’s (sp?) where they hold these candles over your throat to keep you from getting sick. I was little…maybe another Catholic on this site can help me out on that tradition. When my father was in hospice, the priest from his parish came over for the Rite of the Sick and the prayers were interestingly not necessarily asking for the physical illness to vanish, but for my father to find peace in his illness. I found that to be much more of a reasonable expectation and didn’t lead to false expectations that he would suddenly leap from his hospice bed disease-free. I believe that could have happened – with God, one can never know what to expect :), but I believe that miracles happen regardless of how much faith someone has or doesn’t have in God.

  35. barbara reier says

    boy, some of you folks REALLY need to get over yourselves—-i have read enough self righteous verbage to last me a year—-the last time i read this kind of thing was on a blog full of trained theologians–who really like to hear themselves—–show some love and acceptance will you—just because its not your way does not make it totally wrong -no one has the whole truth–if i were a non believer or a searching person and read some of this stuff—-i would never become a christian

    • Barbara,

      Read the link I posted above. When phrases like “Tried to leave and were forbidden,” “Told not to contact family members,” and “Food forcefully taken from their apartments” are used to describe the conditions of young adults at IHOP, I think it’s safe for us to say that children should not be a part of this.

    • You do realize that with your accusation in fact you are doing the same thing you condemn. And my experience with non-believing friends has been vastly their disgust that we remain complicit with this mindless nonsense, not our quickness to point out it’s shortcomings. (Ever read Christopher Hitchens?) Hardly anybody is complaining about this video based merely on style, and in fact, many of us have plenty of experience in these type of environments. This type of ministry leaves a damage trail that may be larger than the total of those who experience “healing.” It’s not about doing it our way, you’ll find plenty of diversity among the dissenters here. I find it interesting that “theologians” like to hear themselves. Do these self-appointed apostles, prophets, and healers exude humility?

      Try addressing our specific concerns instead of flaring up because you don’t like our tone. You’ll find the commenters here are much more open to rational discussion and civil debate than you suspect, but we can forget our nice gloves when revisiting old wounds, like anyone else. Go after our ideas, not our character, and we can all learn from the exchange.

    • Marcus Johnson says


      I’ve disagreed a lot with Miguel in the past, but in this case, I have to agree. If you don’t have a specific concern with a specific argument raised here, then there is nothing to gain from your comment. We have been very specific about our concerns; can you be more specific about yours?

    • Joseph (the original) says

      barbara reier:

      you wrote –if i were a non believer or a searching person and read some of this stuff—-i would never become a christian

      okay, that could be sound advice for the uninitiated. and if the only choice was to go to a ‘ministry school’ teaching how you to can be trained to ‘do’ miracles of healing, prophecy, spiritual out-of-body experiences, etc. vs. remaining a more healthy heathen, then yes, by all means stay far, far, far away…

      it doesn’t bother you that the high profile X-treme signs+wonders, supra-spiritual organizations ALL have so-called schools where there is training in the supernatural??? doesn’t Simon the Sorcerer come to mind (Acts 8) where paying for said training is an abomination? how crazy is that???

      it is not a red flag that intense indoctrination is being done in the name of God at these places? where young people are being subjected to extreme fasting, all night prayer vigils, self-denial, separation from family & friends? this is all harmless & simply another healthy expression of differing theological perspectives???

      if you will notice, the loudest & most passionate of those urging extreme caution are actually former charismatics. check any of the websites listed that were previously mentioned. there are some serious, serious issues that need to be raised & constantly addressed. it is not some form of self-righteous theological hubris being touted, it is some very serious issues being raised because young people do not have the maturity+track record+discernment to recognize exaggerated claims & unbalanced theological emphases. IHOP, Bethel Church, Elijah List, Rick Joyner, Patricia King, Todd Bentley, John Crowder, etal, have serious detractors that do happen to know what they are talking about…

      it is not a case of non-charismatic vs. charismatic differences regarding orthopraxy. it is a serious look at the way people are manipulated, deceived, indoctrinated, brain-washed & insulated from others. it is not innocuous. it is really harmful & needs to be pointed out as such.

    • Guys, all Barbara sees is people fighting. One group picking on another. The reasons and facts behind the disagreements don’t matter much. What matter is that people get along and not fight or pick on each other.

      I’ve known plenty of people like Barbara. I’ve lost many friends because I dared question some theological position, practice, or organization. And it hurts me to see it happen, for me to constantly be the outsider, raining on everyone’s parade. And there is a different kind of hurt, a prideful one, when those friends get burned or hurt by something they go through that I warned them about (not always, but sometimes).

      The idea that we may have reasons for our objection does not occur to many. And that’s why I’m noticing more often that the answer for reconciliation is not in the area of being right or proving my case. What it is though…I don’t know. Let me know if you do.

      • Marcus Johnson says

        I think we can all agree that VERN is a troll. Hopefully no one tries to relate his approach to anyone else here.

  36. Who’s getting the glory?
    I agree with Kevin N….where’s Jesus? Where’s the gospel, the true gospel?
    AT the end of day, what’s being promoted: Truth or emotions?

  37. It looks to me like big gatherings with lots of hoopla and kickin pentecostal rock band is what’s being promoted and sold to kids as the true meaning of christian life… when will it dawn on people that none of that was modeled by Christ, the apostles or the church fathers for centuries…until possibly the american 2nd great awakening…

    When or how will these children ever learn that peaceful, thoughtful, meditative, prayerful, grounded, steady, humble seeking, repenting, acting/working in faith and living His love constitutes the christian life?

    • “When or how will these children ever learn that peaceful, thoughtful, meditative, prayerful, grounded, steady, humble seeking, repenting, acting/working in faith and living His love constitutes the christian life?”

      I saw these kids “acting/working in faith” in a way that I have seen in very few churches.

  38. It’s the second time when i’ve seen your site. I can understand a lot of hard work has gone in to it. It’s really great.