Sunday, January 6, 2013

OneThing 2012: Mike Bickle on "Humanistic Culture" and "Lustful Flesh"

To read about Lou Engle's talk at OneThing 2012, click here.

OneThing 2012, hosted by the International House of Prayer (IHOP), took place at the Kansas City Convention Center on December 28-31, 2012. IHOP director Mike Bickle delivered multiple talks during the conference on grace, sin, and sound doctrine. Unfortunately, those talks also contained condemnation of homosexuality and the alleged humanism seeping into the church.

In a December 29th talk entitled "The Gospel of Grace: An Overview", Bickle argued that misinterpretation of the idea of grace is the biggest challenge facing the Christian church today. Paul, he insisted, predicted that such misinterpretations would characterize the end times.

In "The Gospel of Grace: An Overview", Bickle criticized Christians who reject "sound doctrine" in favor of teachings that allow them to indulge sinful behavior. At the 8:49 mark, he stressed that "self-denial of lustful flesh" is part of sound doctrine, condemning Christians who seek teachers and Bible verses to justify their "lustful desires".
"The will not endure sound doctrine, because sound doctrine has many glorious aspects, but it has the aspect of self-denial of lustful flesh, and the call to spiritual disciplines, and many won't endure that kind of teaching. They will find a few isolated Bible verses to dismiss that. Paul said they're going to do that in the end times. Matter of fact, they will find teachers according to their own desires. They want to walk out their lustful desires so they will find Bible teachers that will empower them and that will validate this kind of lifestyle."
I found Bickle's use of the word "lifestyle" revealing, and I wondered what exactly he meant. Was this comment a veiled dismissal of LGBTQ-affirming churches and queer theology? Was it was a veiled condemnation of a high-profile religious group with members affiliated with IHOP, which reportedly engaged in same-sex sexual behavior and sexual assault, according to witnesses? Was it just a general warning about sexual behavior that the church disapproves of? I don't know.

In another OneThing talk, however, Bickle was unambiguous about his disapproval of homosexuality. In a December 31st talk entitled "Being Wise and Great in God's Eyes", Bickle listed homosexuals and "sodomites" among those who would not enter Heaven. He condemned all sexual activity outside of a heterosexual marriage as "fornication", thereby indicating that same-sex sexual activity and pre-marital sex are signs that one is not sufficiently Christian. At the 39:48 mark, he had this to say.
"Paul says it very clear. 1 Corinthians 6:9. He's actually echoing the words of Jesus right here from Matthew 7, or certainly echoing the idea and the principle. He says don't be deceived. Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, extortionists. They will not enter the kingdom of heaven. This is what Jesus is saying in Matthew 7. Many are deceived about this, and it's the preaching of the broad way under the title of grace and the dismissing of the narrow way that is bolstering the confidence of millions into deception. He said if you're involved in fornication--what's fornication? Sexual activity outside of the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman. That is fornication. That is popular among young people in the church. Beloved, do not be deceived. If you're involved in that and you're okay with that, you're probably not born again."
Finally, Bickle also had cold words for "humanistic culture". In a December 28th talk entitled "Loving Jesus: The First Commandment Restored to First Place", Bickle claimed that ideas of love and justice have been distorted in the Christian community because of the influence of "humanistic culture." At the 8:28 mark, he had this to say.
"In this hour of history, many people talk about love, but they're not talking about the same thing, though they're using the same terms. Some have reduced love to a positive sentimental feeling, an emotion. Love has emotion, but it's more than emotion. I believe that the core issue in the generation the Lord returns--from the Bible, we learn this. A core issue in the generation the Lord returns is how love is defined. Many people who claim loyalty to Jesus, they talk about love and loving God, but it's not in a way the Bible describes as loving God. We must define love on God's terms, and in the church, there's a great battle right now for what it means to love God on God's terms. It's not enough to say the words 'worship', to say the words 'love', to say the words 'justice'. We need to walk them out in the way the Bible describes and not in the way the humanistic culture describes that's made its way into the church."
Is Bickle aware that humanism is not a monolithic school of thought? When he condemns "humanistic culture", is he condemning Renaissance humanism? Civic humanism? Existential humanism? Christian humanism? Jewish humanism? I'm often amused by how fundamentalists use the word "humanism" as shorthand for everything in mainstream culture that they dislike, seemingly oblivious to what humanism actually is.

In short, if Mike Bickle's OneThing talks are any indication, the International House of Prayer shows no signs of rejecting homophobia or anti-humanism rhetoric. Despite its hip, youthful trappings, IHOP's message still resembles that of other voices from the Religious Right.

To listen to talks at OneThing 2012, visit www[dot]ihopkc[dot]org/watch/onething/


  1. This is so annoying because in my experience it's the far right religionists who comb the bible for quotes that supposedly support their POV -- and ignore the many that don't.

    1. Donna -- Too true. Religious Right people are definitely guilty of cherry-picking.

  2. Bickle knows everything. And that's all he knows.

    1. Jono -- It's an annoying trait of many fundamentalist preachers, unfortunately.

  3. One of the victories of the Right has been its successful distortion of words used by or associated with the Left. The Right has not only managed to redefine to its liking words like "humanism", but also many other words. It has even redefined "liberal".

    1. Paul -- Whoever sets the definitions of words sets the tone of the debate. We can't let fundamentalists redefine words, because words are powerful.


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