Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mike Bickle's Gigolo Jesus

By K. Jentoft
IHOP’s Bridal Paradigm

Recently I was given a CD of Mike Bickle speaking to a group of youth at IHOP’s Passion for Jesus Conference. Mike is full of zeal and passion as he speaks of the “Bridegroom Jesus” that he has found in the Song of Solomon using “spiritual interpretation.” This message is central to his ministry as IHOP [International House of Prayer] sees this new revelation of the “Bridal Paradigm” being extremely important for individual Christians to grow in God and to fulfill God’s plan for them in the end times. Through his discoveries in the Song of Solomon, Bickle believes he has found new ways to enhance his spiritual passion and IHOP is eager to share his discoveries with today’s youth seeking greater meaning in Christianity. The trouble is that the bridegroom “discovered” in IHOP’s Bridal Paradigm is not the Jesus of the Apostles and their Scriptures. Mike Bickle is asking us to fall in love with an imposter – the spiritual gigolo Jesus he imagines hidden in the Bible.

“Jesus the bridegroom” hidden in the Song of Solomon is only found there by “spiritual interpretation” which Mike Bickle describes as, “a symbolic interpretation to see the spiritual truths in our relationship with Jesus behind the natural love story.”[i] Through spiritual interpretation Bickle believes Song of Solomon explains Jesus’ relationship to the individual, Israel and the church. First and foremost for Bickle it “is the relationship between Jesus and the individual believer. This approach gives spiritual principles that aid us in our progression of holy passion.”[ii] IHOP claims that the theme of the Song of Solomon is to receive the kisses of God’s Word as spiritual experiences and misquotes verse 1:2 to prove it, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth (Word).” While Hebrew words have a range of meanings it doesn’t follow that they can mean anything at any time because someone wants them to. It is a stretch to make one flimsy verse confusing mouth/word as the cornerstone of an entire revelation of Christ. Neither the immediate context nor the entire book describes how a woman was ravished about the words of Scriptures. In contrast, passion for the Word of God is central to Psalm 119 but is not described in sexual terms. First and foremost Song of Solomon is about tangible physical love between a man and woman.

Sola Scriptura – Scripture alone

Bickle’s “spiritual interpretation” is a repudiation of the basic concept of the Reformation, namely Sola Scriptura – the authority of Scripture alone. This error enables Popes, or anyone else including Bickle, to make Scriptures mean whatever they think they should mean. In addition, while Bickle embraces his own “spiritual interpretation,” he is also tolerant of competing interpretations and states, “We bless different interpretations as long as they exhort others to grow in wholehearted love for Jesus.”[iii] That IHOP blesses different interpretations as long as they exhort others to grow in wholehearted love for Jesus is self-condemning – all interpretations are not true nor should they be blessed. Why? The true meaning of the Scriptures that is valid and binding is only what God intended the passage to mean. The correct interpretations of Scripture actually define the Jesus that we are commanded to obey and to love. A good Mormon feels a wholehearted love for Jesus but it is the wrong Jesus because they embrace a wrong interpretation.

The concept of the “inspiration of Scriptures” is not mystical people using automatic writing to convey God’s words but authors who chose words in their language to convey specific meanings and thoughts to their intended audience. Song of Solomon was a Jewish love poem and a repudiation of the doctrine of demons that forbids marriage.[iv] Using it as the basis for a training guide for the individual “bride of God” is misguided and utterly lacking in support. God in the Old Testament spoke of corporate Israel as a bride. In the New Testament we find concept of the bride is also corporate. Ultimately, in Revelation 12:9 the “bride” clearly identified as the New Jerusalem.

Then one of the seven angels… spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,

The bride of Revelation is not an individual but a city populated by those whose names are written in the book of life – it is a corporate bride clothed in the righteous acts of the saints. The bridegroom of this city is the Jesus that scriptures reveal to us. He is a man with a glorified human body that is actually sitting on the throne of a tangible city. The citizens of His bride have real glorified bodies and physically enter and exit the walls of His city. The Scriptures do not reveal the bridegroom of the individual and that is the primary spiritual interpretation taught by Mike Bickle.

Sensual spiritual intimacy

By seeking spiritual guidance to increase individual spiritual passion in a book that is about sexual love, Mike Bickle is confessing a different Jesus than the one revealed in Scripture, God who came in the flesh as man. The Jesus that John describes in 1 John 1:1 is not the passionate spiritual bridegroom of the individual. IHOP has been seduced by a substitute Jesus imagined in their “spiritual interpretations” and they have wandered from the Word of God. They have even created their own language to describe their “Jesus experiences” and have published an on-line dictionary to explain their terms to outsiders. They have over 63 terms listed.[v] Here are a couple of them.

Spirit of burning — [IHOP–KC phrase] This is a cycle of maintaining a passionate desire for Jesus so that you are in a place of emotional pain whenever He is absent; hope and excited expectancy because of the knowledge that He loves to come to the hungry and thirsty heart; real experiential encounters with His beauty and presence causing you to have an even greater intense desire to be close to Jesus.

Captivated/fascinated/ravished heart — [literal phrase] In the context of the Bridal Paradigm, this refers to someone who is wholeheartedly in love with God. In the natural, this refers to a heart moved with deep emotion and love due to the actions of their lover

This IHOP “spirit of burning” concept is missing in scripture because Jesus IS absent and will be absent until He returns again. This “spirit of burning” is simply a description of a deep lust for spiritual experiences and a spiritualizing of 1 Co 7:9. You can also see that IHOP uses terms from physical romance as the goal for their training to deepen their spiritual passion.

When we look up the Scriptures Mike Bickle posts on his website as proof of his revelations, these Scriptures also need to be interpreted according to IHOP’s “spiritual interpretation” to be relevant. It is through this “bait with the Word and switch the meaning” that Mike Bickle discovers a different Jesus, a spiritual sensual Jesus for the individual. Bickle claims his “spiritual interpretations” give us additional power to resist sin and states, “If we do not feel loved and in love, we can still be born again. However, when we feel His love then we resist compromise with greater consistency.”[vi] This is the message of the Galatians where they started with the Gospel and then switched to something else for sanctification, a false gospel. Passion for spiritual experiences of the highest level is what Bickle is after through his spiritual interpretation of Scripture, “We want the deepest things that God will give the human spirit in this age. We receive the kisses of God’s Word by pray-reading God’s Word or in meditation.”[vii] Mike Bickle is using Scriptures describing physical sexual love as the paradigm to teach individual spiritual intimacy with the hidden Jesus he imagines in the Song of Solomon.

Bickle’s gigolo Jesus

I am not claiming that IHOP intends to promote a sexual Jesus, their motives may be pure. It is inescapable, however, that Mike Bickle paints such a sensual picture of Jesus through his allegorizing of the Song of Solomon that he feels obligated to warn us saying, “We are not to think of kissing Jesus on the mouth.”[viii] This warning is like the legal statements following television drug commercials – this may cause death or injury and the cure may be worse than the disease. The warning itself paints the picture. The Bible doesn’t need to warn Christians “not to think about kissing Jesus on the mouth” because the true teaching of Jesus doesn’t provoke these lusts. True biblical intimacy with God doesn’t provoke these lusts either. The fact that IHOP feels it necessary to give this warning is proof that their teaching is doing exactly that – creating lustful appetites for a sensual Jesus. Their Jesus is an imposter and the spiritual experiences they enjoy are not “intimacy with God” but spiritual fornication. Let us be clear; passions, desires, emotions, and feelings are sensual and creating an appetite for sensual spiritual experiences is the goal of IHOP’s Passion for Jesus Conference. This passion is directed at some spirit Mike Bickle believes hidden in the sexuality of the Song of Solomon; not the man Jesus that John knew and described in 1 John 1:1. The bridegroom of Mike Bickle is not the Jesus of the Apostles. It is not the Jesus that Peter preached to the Jews in Acts 2, nor it the Jesus that Paul preached to the Gentiles later in Acts and throughout His epistles. Mike Bickle is confessing a different Jesus than found in the Bible, his own sensual Jesus, a gigolo Jesus.

Prom with a gigolo?

Mike Bickle’s campaign to teach Christian youth spiritual intimacy with his “Bridal Paradigm” carrying a muted warning “not to think about kissing Him on the mouth” is like a father sending his daughter to the prom with a seductive gigolo and hoping they don’t kiss. Tragically, this is exactly what is happening as parents send their youth to Bickle’s conferences to learn how to become intimate with God. The method of growing in intimacy with the true Jesus is to read about what those who knew him on earth have to tell us and believe what they wrote. We come to know the “Jesus come in the flesh” through the words of those who walked and talked with Him. As we come to understand and believe, we love this true Jesus seeing His death on our behalf and the love that He demonstrated in coming to save us. Through the words of His apostles we have true fellowship, we change and we become conformed to His image. The apostle John was not kidding when he wrote of the true Jesus in 1 John to warn us of defective teaching.

1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

John also explained how we are to know and avoid any gigolo Jesus impersonating the true one in 1 John 4:1.

1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist

IHOP fails this test. The Jesus confessed in Mike Bickle’s “spiritual interpretations” at IHOP is not the “Jesus Christ come in the flesh.” Mike Bickle’s “Bridal Paradigm” Jesus is not the Jesus of the Apostles but a substitute Jesus of his own imagination and found only in imaginary interpretations and not the Bible. Those who embrace and love the Jesus of Mike Bickle’s imagination are cultivating intimacy with an imposter. Their feelings of love may grow and be sincere but they are misplaced because God’s word does not give us the Jesus that Mike Bickle is asking us to worship.

Article used with permission.Reprinted in its entirety. For more information on this topic see and

Endnotesi IHOP’s View of the Song of Solomon
iii Ibid.
iv 1 Tim 4:1-3
vLearning IHOP-ese
viInternational House of Prayer- The Bridal Paradigm
vii IHOP’s View of the Song of Solomon
viii Ibid.

The Truth:

"Antichristianism is that which shall oppose Christ as a Head, and set up another headship; this is the peculiarity of antichrist and antichristianism.

"...Whoever shall obtrude any doctrine upon the church, to be believed by his own authority, he is guilty of antichristianism.... [W]hen any shall presume to obtrude upon the church any doctrine that holds upon human authority, to be urged by the authority of those that impose it, this, I say, is properly antichristianism, for it opposes Christ in his headship.... The imposing of any ordinance, any new institutions, upon the church, belongs to antichristianism.... The imposing of laws so to bind conscience as the laws of Christ do, here is antichristianism.

"Not only because these things are directly against the headship of Christ, but because these things set up another head...."

- Jeremiah Burroughs (circa 1600s), An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea (Reformation Heritage Books, 2006 [republished]), p. 44

"For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 4)