Mike Bickle’s IHOP Eschatology

Mike Bickle has had a tremendous impact on the church in his generation. One that far outstrips what most of us could hope for. God called him at a very young age to be the pastor to the prophets of Kansas City. These Kansas City Prophets went on to shock the worldwide church with the divine word and power of God. Now that’s not to say that things were all right. There were definitely issues, but it is to say that God used this team to do something very significant in the life of the church. Then Mike taught on “Passion for Jesus” and the “Song of Solomon” and really helped a lot of people find the Love of God in a new and very significant way. Mike Bickle is a household word in the Charismatic movement.

In the past couple of years he’s started teaching on what he calls ‘Apostolic Premillennialism.’ Because few Charismatics have a well-defined eschatology, and because of Bickle’s enormous influence, Apostolic Premillennialism is making the rounds in the circles of the young radical types. Mike Bickle distinguishes this from other forms of pre-millennialism by it being more optimistic — more focused on the Apostolic character of the church that is supposed to be coming. Apostolic Premillennialism is really an attempt at systemizing the Spirit of what Bickle learned from his spiritual mentor, Paul Cain. Cain in turn, was passing on much of the eschatological emphasis of the Latter Rain.

One of the keys of the system is the role played by prayer. Intimacy with God is the key of the end time church. It is how the church will survive the tribulation. It is the oil in the lamp of the ten virgins. Intimacy is what you need and prayer is how you get it. Of course that’s true, but the eschatological signficance may be a bit overblown. Whenever we attach “end of the world” to our mission, it can get pretty trumped up. Many Charismatics are telling us we’re the Joshua generation. It seems like most generations in the last 100 years have thought and taught they were the last and final, super-significant generation. I want to be the Joshua generation, but I’m fine with being the Moses generation too. Or even the Abraham generation. I plan on reforming the church and proclaiming the truth to my death bed and teaching my sons to do likewise.

Mike Bickle’s entire focus has taken on a huge Eschatology focus. It’s one of the main components with a huge multi DVD “Omega Course” to work through it all. I don’t think that’s healthy. I think it’s eerily like John Alexander Dowie, and William Branham’s end — where they started to think they were Elijah’s. Or more possibily it’s like the turn into the ditch made by early Pentecostalism, when dispensationalism took hold and the power of God left the movement. Now I’m not one to say that eschatology is insignificant. These examples prove the opposite. My argument is that when eschatology takes undue focus, it’s because you have the wrong eschatology.

Apostolic Premillennialism suffers from the same problems as all Premillennialism systems: Double Vision. The idea of a future millenium of physical dominion followed by the devil unleashed raises too many issues, and moves our interest away from the present and into the future. Revelation becomes a book about a bunch of stuff that will happen at the end of the age, which we see as coming at any minute, but could be hundreds of years away. The millenium is a time when believers rule under Christ, but then there are the other unbelievers… what are they doing, and where did they come from? It’s double vision because the millennium is not future — it’s now. The application of Revelation, is not past or future, it’s now. The application of the parables is not future, it’s now. The reign of the church is not later, it’s now. Bickle has the right heart in the wrong system, and I fear that the system is taking over just like it did to another generations of radicals at the turn of the last century. R.A. Torrey was one great giant whose later years were lesser than the first because he embraced premillennialism, at least so thought John G. Lake.

What’s right about Apostolic Premillennialism is the part that came from the Latter Rain via Cain — that the church is increasing in glory, not just in size. The final church will be a glorious representation of Jesus and reflection of the apostolic church. The end of this age will be an Apostolic time. Yes.

There will be a great tribulation. But it is more continuous with our present time than we think. This entire church age has been one of tribulation. It’s only in the areas that Christ has to some degree conquered that the tribulation is lessened. Whenever the Gospel makes it’s first inroads, the persecution is always severe. There will be an antichrist figure and there will be a beast system. But that too has had much precedent in history. Hitler and the Nazi’s were a very good recent representation of the Anti-Christ and the beast system. Whatever happens at the end, will be categorically similar to what they did, not some completely different thing. The last days are not just in the future.  The last days are the entire era since the Apostles until now.

Intimacy will be important in that kind of a time, and Apostolic power will mark the church. But let’s not put it into a premillennial framework. The Latter Rain helped move the Pentecostal church which had been dried up by premillennialism away from that, and now we’ve come full circle to a Latter Rain-ized premillennialism. We’ll get the same results. The reign of God’s people is now through the church. Not over governments but over the Spiritual powers of this world. We’re despoling the enemy’s kingdom wherever we go. That is what is important and that is what we have to stay focused on.  That is the ruling and reigning church that God will usher into the end of history.

Share this:

12 Comments

  1. End time stuff makes my head hurt! I am not bright enough to grasp it.

    Focus on end times takes away our focus on today and todays mission.

    We are told not to worry about tomorrow Matthew 6:25-35.

  2. Thanks Drum.

    Matthew also devotes and extensive part of that Gospel to Jesus teaching on the end ch24-25. What’s important about the end is what it tells us we should be doing now.

    On the other hand, when some man of God becomes over-focused on it, I think it’s a concern.

  3. Mike Bickle may not have it all figured out and I’m pretty confident he doesn’t but at least he’s speaking out about the importance of understanding the end times and preparing people for it. The reality is most people avoid discussing it all together. They have noproblem attacking otheres who teach it or try to define it but never willing to define it themselves. I’ve heard Bivle teach on the end times many of times. Holy Spirit lives in me and I have the Word of GOD to disern error or at least seek it. Sometimes I see things different than Bickle but many times I agree. The bottome line he is encouraging the Saints to read Joel, Daniel, Matthew, and the book of Revelation for themseves. Jesus said be ready, I applaud a man who is rallying peopel to study this.

  4. This is what Mike Bickle says… (is this a problem)

    Through His Word, God has given us strategic information about the future.

    We learn from the Scripture there is a very severe crisis coming to the earth. In fact, Jesus warns that this crisis will be greater in severity than anything the world has yet experienced. If He were not to shorten this time, no one would be able to endure it.

    In His kindness, God has told us about this crisis beforehand. He has given us detailed information concerning the coming trouble so that we will not be caught off guard. He wants us to be prepared for this tribulation. This will be an hour of great confusion and chaos, and He wants His people to understand what He is doing and why He is doing it.

    The book of Revelation gives us more information about this crisis than any other book in the Bible. Specifically, 4 chapters (Revelation 6; 8-9; 16) tell us about 21 crisis events coming in the future. As the Body of Christ, we are responsible to know and act on this information. This information is more than an interesting riddle; it concerns the personal welfare of our families, friends, and cities. It is an issue of life or death, and so we would be wise to seek to understand it.

  5. Mike, Thanks for your comments. Perhaps you have misunderstood the spirit of my post. I am not interested in tearing Mike Bickle down. I consider him a great leader who I am concerned is moving in an unhealthy direction based on the pattern from history outlined above. Moreover, I do suggest an alternative. It is widely known as amillennialism. See my post here for an outline of the major systems: http://churchrevolution.wordpress.com/2008/03/06/an-eschatology-in-a-nutshell/

    The primary emphasis of the Scripture is what we do /now/. Premillennialism has tended to focus people on potential future disaster for over 150 years. At the meantime the church is advancing dramatically around the world. How do you know that the 21 crisis events didn’t already happen in history, or they are not 21 types of crises that occur throughout the church age? Our focus should be on reaching lost people.

  6. Thanks, great article. just watched several ads for the upcoming onething08 conference, where Mike will be teaching on revelation. I had a sneaking feeling that they are hyping up something that really shouldnt have to be hyped up if it really was the Lord! They talk a lot about that he is going to teach from revelation, but theres not a hint on WHAT he is actually teaching! I could very well be wrong in my suspicion!
    Since im a partial preterist / strongly convinced postmill. my self, im probably more convinced that they are missing the mark this time that you are, hehe! Btw, always loved the kansas guys, specially Cain and Bickle, so theres nothing personal in this.

  7. Gere, Thanks. I just got the email from Mike as well, and it definitely caught my attention. I feel like I want to go just to see what they are going to say. Because although I believe like the eschatological framework is wrong, I think a lot of what they are doing and have been called to do is essential. Therefore, they may have a good revelation, but put into a wrong system.

    You saw that I am more Amil. I was part of a postmil type group for a long time and actually searched the issue out pretty thoroughly, even doing a full research course on it. I cam to the conclusion that Augustine was basically right in his identification of the Millennium as being now, but that theonomy/literal dominion were not what Jesus had in mind for the church. I’m more “optimistic” though than most amil types, and am looking forward to a “spiritually victorous” church.

  8. thinkingriddle, i cant tell you have encourage i am to read your reply. I actually find myself somewhere between postmill and amill myself and have gained so much personal renewal and joy from applying this view compared to when i was a confused “left behind’er” years ago. I do absulotely apply the teaching about us” regning with christ for a thousand years” to us now, but i also hope and believe that the church will move in this more manifested than we do now. I dont honestly know if that makes me amill or postmill!

  9. Geir. Thanks for your compliment. The eschatology terms are confusing to the point that I think they are somewhat unhelpful. You probably saw that I did a post trying to simplify http://churchrevolution.wordpress.com/2008/03/06/an-eschatology-in-a-nutshell/

    Part of the reason that it is tricky to discuss is because the terms encompass a broad array of perspectives. The Postmil “movement” is primarily preterist/dominion/theonomy. However, historic postmil was not preterist or theonomic. Therefore you could be postmil, but very different than the postmil movement (see Jack Davis for an example)

    And the difference between someone like Davis and someone like Riddlebarger (Amil) is not really that large structurally speaking. Therefore to me it’s about focus. Do you put the focus on the victorious church (amil) or on the conquered world (postmil)? Are you ruling and reigning over people (postmil) or over the devil and his forces (amil)? Amil really means “there is no millennium in the sense that both pre and postmil think there will be” (dominion over the world political system). The second major difference is hermeneutics. Amils tend toward idealism – that the prophecy has past (literal/preterist), present (throughout the church age) and future (end of the church age) fulfillments. This is applied to both OT and NT prophecy.

  10. Our focus should be on the unveiling of Jesus Christ to the saints. This will turn the lost to Jesus as we prepare ourselves to be united with him.

    His focus is warranted and should be followed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>