This article originally appeared at Baptist News Global on January 2, 2024.
It’s ironic that in a movement built on prophetic dreams where God supposedly reveals the secrets of the world, apparently nobody ever receives a dream about the credible allegations of sexual abuse going on in the church.
Mike Bickle is the latest example of such allegations, following in the steps of his former fellow leaders Paul Cain and Bob Jones in what Matthew Taylor says, “bespeaks a leadership culture where charismatic authority has utterly overtaken institutional or communal accountability.”
Previous leaders of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City — known commonly as IHOPKC — released a statement Oct. 28 saying they told IHOPKC’s leadership team about “serious allegations spanning several decades concerning its founder, Mike Bickle.” According to their statement, they believed the “allegations of clergy sexual abuse by Mike Bickle to be credible and long-standing” and based “on the collective and corroborating testimony of the experiences of several victims.”
“Mike Bickle used his position of spiritual authority over the victims to manipulate them,” the former leaders charged.
You might have missed this story in the last quarter of 2023. Yet it was one of the biggest news stories of the year in American religion. It emerged from such an odd subculture of American Christianity, though, that average churchgoers among Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians and even evangelicals might have no clue what any of this means.
Yet there are some common themes related to stories of abuse in churches of all kinds. This is a story that matters because it connects to the many other stories of abusive behavior perpetrated by religious leaders under the guise of spiritual growth or discipleship.
What is IHOPKC?
Matthew Taylor, creator of the Charismatic Revival Fury podcast series, explains how IHOPKC fits in to the broader history of Pentecostal-charismatic Christianity. He identifies the three primary strands as:
- Pentecostalism, rooted in early 20th century revivals
- Charismatic renewal movements that brought Pentecostal-style spirituality into Mainline Protestant denominations and Roman Catholicism in the mid-20th century
- Independent charismatics
Taylor identifies the Latter Rain movement as a revival movement born from Pentecostalism in the late 1940s to the early 1950s, a movement that became skeptical about denominations, connected the “fivefold” spiritual gifts of Ephesians 4:11-12 with the end times, and focused on end times prophecy and revival.
In the 1980s, Bickle joined with descendants of the Latter Rain movement in a circle of friends that became known as the Kansas City Prophets. While Bickle spent the 1990s associating with John Wimber’s Vineyard churches, Taylor says Bickle decided to start IHOPKC “based on various prophecies and revelations from the Kansas City Prophets.”
This entire subculture is drenching in prophecies and visions and supernatural revelations and experiences.
Bickle’s demonic ‘black horse’ trilogy of betrayal
Thus, it might not be so unusual that one particular member of the IHOPKC community claimed to receive a vision of these accusations against Bickle — Bickle himself.
He says the Holy Spirit told him in 1976 “that in the future many would oppose me.” Then he says there were prophetic words in 1982 that “I was not to answer accusations against me but to bless my accusers and say, ‘Let the will of God be done.’”
Two years later, these accusations allegedly were revealed to him by Michael the archangel, who gave him a vision of a black horse demon.