IHOP’S Sozo the Foundations

Ihop

     Headed by Annie Schumacher of IHOP who’s ministry team includes staff from IHOP and local churches, Annie Schumacher claims to have over 30 years of experience and professional training in counseling, spiritual parenting, and personal and group deliverance. Although “spiritual parenting” has many different philosophies such as “Holistic Healing, global Oneness, and Enlightenment,” spiritual parenting has its roots in the Eastern Mystical Cults and New Age thought. In other words, its allot of positive thinking mumbo jumbo. According to Mimi Doe, a spiritual parenting guru and bestselling author on parenting, spiritual parenting is tied to the idea that spirituality is the consciousness that relates us directly to God, or whatever we name as the source of our being. To Mimi, Spirituality is a connection with a power greater than ourselves and with all creation. The idea behind “spiritual parenting” is the process we follow as we quest for more knowledge of what is inside and outside of ourselves is our spiritual journey1. Spiritual Parenting then is Gnosticism which refers to the esoteric consciousness, which is the key to unlocking transcendent understanding, self-realization, and/or unity with God. I would love to see Annie Schumacher’s credentials as well as a Biblical foundation for spiritual parenting. According to Annie, Sozo the Foundations is a confidential, Christian prayer ministry that will bring you into a heartfelt personal knowledge of God and is an accelerated inner healing, deliverance, and generational freedom ministry. IHOP’s Sozo the Foundations ministry was inspired from Annie Schumacher’s experience of Sozo at Bethel in Redding, California.

     The above paragraph is a mouthful to say the least, however it serves as an example to the fact that the inner healing ministries of Bethel in Redding, California and IHOP’s “Sozo the Foundations” are indeed unorthodox in both thought and practice, is directly tied to the mystical cults, and essentially is not Christian in any sense of the word. They welcome all faiths, there’s no pointing to Christ and the Cross, and although the Greek word “Sozo” means “saved” there is no mention of the Gospel message that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Essentially, to the Sozo ministries, the sozo experience is simply a spiritual journey to know or experience God, whoever that may be in their experience. For all intents and purposes, the Sozo Ministry is more about the sovereignty of man than the Sovereignty of God i.e. “God’s in charge, just not in control.” (Quote: Bill Johnson2)

     My wife conversed with a lady on Facebook who had been a member of Bethel in Redding, California who told my wife about a friend of hers and her experience in a sozo session. “She said that while her pastor {at the time} took her through the “sozo process”, she saw Jesus under an Apple tree; so, my friend being smart enough to TEST THE SPIRITS (1 John 4:1-4), began asking this figure appearing as Jesus; “DID JESUS COME IN THE FLESH”, and,” IS JESUS THE SON OF GOD”. THE FIGURE THEN SAID …NO!” Whatever god they seek in the Sozo experience I assure you it is not the Biblical, Historical Jesus of Nazareth! It is an impostor masquerading as the Christ yet denying the power thereof (2 Tim 3:5).

     Then there’s the sales pitch, “Sozo the Foundations is a Godly experience of salvation and healing and deliverance.  God desires to encounter you with Sozo.”3 A Godly experience of salvation? A Sozo session centers around closing the five main doors of sin, murder, fear, sexual immorality, stealing, and the occult. “In Sozo we close your doors so that love can abound in your heart.4 So does salvation occur once the five doors are shut? Last I checked, mostly Christians get Sozoed, so where is the salvation? And from what are they delivered? Regressed Memories? Past hurts? Or is it really a transcendent mystical experience where an individual opens themselves up to spirits? The real challenge is with the lack of context in their Scriptural references for the Sozo Ministry, or should I say the wresting of Scripture to make it fit their ministry.

     On the “Sozo the Foundations” website in the section “WHAT IS SOZO?” a reference is made that Jesus Sozo’d the man by the pool of Bethsaida.5 So let’s look at the context and see of a “Sozo” experience was ministered to the man at the pool.

“Later on there was a Jewish festival (feast) for which Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem a pool near the Sheep Gate. This pool in the Hebrew is called Bethesda, having five porches (alcoves, colonnades, doorways). In these lay a great number of sick folk–some blind, some crippled, and some paralyzed (shriveled up)– waiting for the bubbling up of the water. For an angel of the Lord went down at appointed seasons into the pool and moved and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was cured of whatever disease with which he was afflicted. There was a certain man there who had suffered with a deep-seated and lingering disorder for thirty-eight years. When Jesus noticed him lying there [helpless], knowing that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, Do you want to become well? [Are you really in earnest about getting well?] The invalid answered, Sir, I have nobody when the water is moving to put me into the pool; but while I am trying to come [into it] myself, somebody else steps down ahead of me. Jesus said to him, Get up! Pick up your bed (sleeping pad) and walk! Instantly the man became well and recovered his strength and picked up his bed and walked. But that happened on the Sabbath.” – John 5:1-9 AMP.

     Now maybe they claim a Sozo here because the word “Bethesda” in the Hebrew means “Place of Outpouring.” Or maybe it’s because the man with the infirmity had been in that state for some thirty eight years. Or maybe it’s because Jesus asked the man if he wanted to become well. Either way, there is nothing in the context that even closely resembles a Sozo. OH…It could be that in verse 34 Jesus used the word “Sozo” but that was in reference to His testimony, not what had occurred at the pool of Bethesda. In fact, Jesus enforced the importance of believing the Scripture (John 5:45-47), not an experience. The act itself, Jesus making the man “whole (vs. 6),” served as a testimony to Christ’s life-giving power. And what of the others around the pool who were paralyzed, blind and lame? No mention that Jesus healed any other than the one man. According to Bill Johnsons teachings all can and should be healed. When you understand today’s “Sozo Ministry,” in their own words it is an “accelerated inner healing, deliverance, and generational freedom ministry“. I don’t see any of this with the man by the pool of Bethesda! He didn’t have an epiphany, he didn’t soak in prayer, no mystical visions was given him, no generational cures were lifted, Jesus simply made his body whole as He had done countless times to a multitude of others.

     And there is the subtle “dominion/kingdom now” and “cultural transformation” theology in some of the quotes of Annie Schumacher on Twitter such as: “Healing the Bride to be prepared for the Bridegroom6 and “…changing the world one sozo at a time.”7 First, the quote, “Healing the Bride” is contradictory as the Greek word “Sozo” has the primary meaning “saved.” Sōzō occurs fifty four times in the Gospels, of the instances where Sōzō is used, fourteen relate to deliverance from disease or demon possession. In twenty instances, the inference is to the rescue of physical life from some impending peril or instant death, the remaining twenty times is to spiritual salvation. Where it is used specifically of salvation it exclusively speaks of salvation from eternal death, sin, and the punishment and misery consequent to sin. In all references, there is no mention of cultural transformation or that healing has anything to do with the Brides preparation for the Bridegroom. The reference to the Brides preparation is found in Revelation 19:6-8, although utterly unworthy in our own right, as genuine children of God, we will come before Christ, washed in the blood of the Lamb, in the blood of the One who gave His life for us that we might be His bride and “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24).

     Out of deep love and gratitude to the Savior, every believer should seek to live in purity of life and doctrine that he or she might be “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8) and “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.” Sadly, however, we know that many will not live this way and for these, the last days before the return of Christ will be a time of great trial and testing, a time when the compromising Christian will be permitted to directly undergo the great persecution of Satan’s wrath (Rev. 12:12) in order to refine and purify her in preparation for becoming the pure and spotless bride of Christ.8 Sadly, those of the NAR, and its affiliates hold to what is known as “Victorious Eschatology,” a partial Preterist view which believes the Revelation took place in 70 A.D. There view of Biblical prophecy is through an allegorical lens where the Church will usher in kingdom of God resulting in the Second Coming of Christ, not Christ Himself. Before Christ can return, all nations must succumb to Christianities rule and the worlds cultures must be transformed. After seeing IHOP’s “Sozo the Foundations” web page it’s obvious they believe the venue for accomplishing cultural transformation is through the Sozo Minsitry, that is, with the typical donation of at least $75 a session. It seems biblically, the gospel is free, however the Sozo Minstry is not even though they promise complete freedom. You see, Jesus Christ’s Sacrifice and work on the cross is no longer sufficient, you need the extended ministry of Sozo for complete fulfillment. Jesus is not enough, you need to be SOZO’D…Yuck!

1. http://www.spiritualparenting.com/sample5.html
2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBnGE9pmkXw

3. http://www.sozothefoundations.com/what-is-sozo/
4. http://www.sozothefoundations.com/what-is-sozo/
5. http://www.sozothefoundations.com/6. http://www.sozothefoundations.com/
6. https://twitter.com/sozokansascity/status/126365215326613504
7. https://twitter.com/sozokansascity/status/126361661639634944
8. The Sign; Robert Van Kampen, Crossway Books; p. 411-12

33 thoughts on “IHOP’S Sozo the Foundations

  1. Mark I think you need to research Sozo a little more and really compare it to Scripture. You won’t find much of a match! There is really nothing about the Sozo Ministry that compares with Scripture at all.

  2. First off, let me say I did one Sozo session and didn’t really get much out of it. So from the start I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of the movement. However, the arguments in this blog don’t seem to have much logic. Actually many of them seem kind of hypocritical! If we are going to stand for truth as Christians I think we need to really think about what we are saying to others.
    1. All churches I’ve ever been to collect donations. Can someone explain how donations in a church service are different than donations in a Sozo? It seems hypocritical to pass the plate every Sunday at church but then get mad at Sozo for doing the same. My Sozo person mentioned the donations but said it’s voluntary. I didn’t donate because I didn’t have a great experience.
    2. As Christians we communicate with God…Jesus… and the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t make sense to pray to the Trinity but then get upset at Sozo for “entering the spirit world” to communicate with the Holy Spirit. The Bible clearly supports a spirit world, supports meditation, supports healings, supports dreams and visions as a communication tool from God. How can you condemn Sozo for being spiritual and doing wierd spiritual stuff when that’s one of the pillars of our Christian faith? Even Jesus’s power was accused of coming from demonic authority. He was even so stressed when praying he sweat blood. How demonic does that sound! Just because something is spiritual doesn’t mean it’s demonic.
    3. Many arguments on the blog are angry that Sozo seems to imply Jesus’s forgiveness/salvation isn’t enough, that people still need work. As a Christian who’s read the Bible, that sounds exactly like the difference between Justification (salvation) and Sanctification(growing in faith). Paul in the Bible talks about being babies in our faith. If Paul pursued Sanctification in addition to Justification, why is it “demonic” for Sozo to pursue growth and healing in the Spirit after Salvation has happened?

  3. very good explanation of part of Bethel’s errors. Chris Vallotin is a false prophet or at the least
    a very screwed up teacher saying such that “your old nature simply goes away when you become a Christian” and so many at Bethel no longer have to repent of shortcomings or sins or the
    iniquity that the cross points to and everything is just cool and if there is any problem we just
    stay positive and “change” our behavior or our attitude. thanks

    also the preterist view point is going to cause many to fall away when things get tough
    and there is no pretribulation rapture and the tribulation of Revelation does occur!

    Anyone else out there like Jonathan Cahn’s Harbinger, Shmitah and the teachings warning about the blood moons with the 4th one coming this September. Look out, stock market.

    May God forgive America and let us humble ourselves to lessen the coming judgments or
    at least to help point people to repentance.

  4. Amen Pastor Rick. As you said the Scripture is sufficient. If men like BJ believed that it would destroy the foundation upon they stand upon. They have to remain a cut above the rest, hense they give secret revelation kniw one else is given. It keeps them in business and their profet margine goes up.

  5. As a pastor teacher the one thing i see every time i watch/listen to Bill J. teach, is that he tells more or less tells you the scripture is not sufficient for you to understand what God means. So, just as in the video clip on this article, BJ spent more than 9 minutes explaining what he claims God means as he reveals some secret hidden principle only he sees. Friends, scripture explains scripture by the power of the Holy Spirit. The devil is the one who reveals secret or deeper truths that supposedly the scriptures were unclear in teaching! When someone teaches a 2000 year old text & makes it say something new that no other scholar saw in the last 2000 years, there is a problem with the teacher, not the text! BJ is doing the same thing the gnostic’s did 2000 years ago. BRIDE BEWARE!

  6. Yes this blog is still active, although I haven’t had much time recently to do much on here. Don’t know if I can answer your question; but if not there maybe several others that I know that may be able to help. God Bless

  7. Hello,
    Thank you for your hard work on detailing Sozo. I was wondering if your page is still active, as I have a particular question about one of the so-called tools of Sozo, the “father ladder”.

    Many thanks

    Rick

  8. Thank you for commenting and sharing a little bit about your experiences with Bethel and Sozo. Yes it is witchcraft and control. Also very thankful that God opened your eyes to the deception that theses churches promote and that you got out. God bless you.

  9. Something about it is really like “control” though.

    Like they really want to have control over – the entire “ministry” how it grows.

    It is very strange. If it is of the Holy Spirit -then – why don’t you just give it away free? Jesus didn’t charge each time he delivered someone from a demon. And Jesus should be our role model.

  10. That is very interesting. I intially was a huge fan of SOZO. I had many at Bethel – Tulare. In Tulare – CA. I since have moved to Redding to become a part of Bethel, but I have since left that church, after having dealt with many leaders who used witchcraft to control me. (whichcraft meaning lies, manipulation, and intimidation) I have two guy friends who have had SOZOs (as pre-reqs for ministry) but were not helped by them, in the least.

    I have a friend who interns at Bethel’s Transformation Center and he says that – they admit that they can’t get people “healed up all the way” Hmmm. (probably because it’s not in the Bible?)

    There’s something about SOZO’s that are addicting. It’s like, any time you have another problem – you have to go back. I first started with having SOZO’s (the lady who recommeded it to me, was very highly demonized herself. Yet she instructed in Sozos and ran the Sozo ministry at her church) about 3 years ago. I have not had one in over two years.

    Is it just sorcery/black magic? I wonder…

  11. We need to pray for those people trapped in the sozo movement. That they will see the light. I want to thank Makayla for her awsome blogs and warning the church what is out there that is dark.

  12. Just amazes me. I remember a group of us sitting in a room going through what was called “inner healing” at that time back in the late 70’s early 80’s. It just seems to me that all of the things I was involved in back then have progressed, evolved to an extreme state. It was bogus then and still is today.

  13. “just1ofhis” thank you for sharing that. I must confess the main reason I ended up in sozo sessions was because of problems with my family. And I’m finding that even today, I still have to continue to forgive them over and over again, but at least now I’m going directly to God with my struggles, rather than Sozo counselors, “seers,” mediators, “prophets,” etc.

    I also want to thank the Lord that I never had a “vision of Jesus” during Sozo. I see now that He was protecting me. But when they would ask me if I was seeing Jesus in my memory, it was suggesting to me that I should be and that something was wrong with me because I wasn’t seeing Him in my memory. Although they would act suspicious of me for not having a “Jesus encounter,” they finally said, “that’s ok, some people don’t THE FIRST FEW TIMES. I thank God He brought me out before that happened.

    However, I did tell them that I sensed a presence behind me and so they encouraged me to verbalize what He was telling me. So I basically used my imagination to “hear from God” (BIG MISTAKE)!! And I told them what I “sensed” Jesus was wanting to tell me. It was basically just a bunch of self-esteem boosting with nothing biblical.
    BUT, looking back I believe that “presence” followed me home, because things would get really crazy after those sessions.

  14. Dennis I am aware of Zepplin’s symbolism, I was going to study out Zoso a while back and got side tracked. I’m not sure if there is a real connection however the same spirit is behind both Sozo and Zoso. Thanks for the link to the goodfight theater, I’m going to check it out some more.

  15. annunk, sounds like you now have your hands full. More and more churches are falling pray to the Bethel Church and Sozo Ministry. I will pray God gives you both wisdom and the courage to stand for His Word as you approach your church leadership about the deceptions of Bill Johnson’s Church.

  16. How true it is just1ofhis, I’m convinced that as people heap up unto themselves teachers having etching ears it only serves as a judgment of God upon them because as you said it the trust in falsehood rather than love the truth. Today, right is wrong and wrong is right, they have traded the truth for the lie and are in a delusion. All we can do is pray, but then, the delusion is from God Himself so for what do we pray? Only that He will have mercy and open the eyes of them He calls His own!

  17. Out of deep love and gratitude to the Savior, every believer should seek to live in purity of life and doctrine that he or she might be “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8) and “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy.”

    I love the way you put that! A few years ago I had contact with a woman who was going through a lot of turmoil in her life. Her business was failing, and after a few weeks of e-mails, it came out that she was struggling with the relationship with her mother. She couldn’t understand “why” God would allow her business to suffer and the businesses of “non-believers” to thrive and pointed out that she and her husband had started tithing some months before. So, you can see the “works based righteousness” ruling in her life.

    When it came out about her relationship with her mother, I sent her scriptures talking about “honoring your parents”, “patiently enduring trials”, and “loving and praying for your enemy…that you might be children of your Heavenly Father”. I shared personal experiences in my own life of people who had nothing good to say to me (and had hurt me for years), and how the LORD set me free by teaching me to love them anyway and pray fervently for their salvation. People look so different when you start to see them through the eyes of Jesus. Unfortunately, she didn’t want to hear about that. She cut off e-mails with me; opting instead to listen to a “spiritual counselor” who, for $75 per 30 minute session, was teaching her to “break the soul ties” with her mother. The love, support, and scriptures that Jesus was offering her were free.

    “The coming of the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of COUNTERFEIT MIRACLES, SIGNS, AND WONDERS, (my emphasis and my note: visitations from “jesus” in sozo sessions would seem to fall into this category), and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. THEY PERISH BECAUSE THEY REFUSED TO LOVE THE TRUTH AND SO BE SAVED. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thes 2:8-11)

  18. Sadly, I just found out that one of my church song leaders LOVES Bethel in CA, after spending 2 weeks there this summer, ” learning about true worship to The Lord”…. My church is now going thru ENDLESS repetition of song choruses… ( yes, I’m getting prepared to say something about self-induced hypnosis, New Age and deception to this person…)

  19. I’ve read about Sozo at Bethel before and from all of my studies I could tell it wasn’t scriptural. I kind of let it go by the wayside instead of writing about it. However, today, I was watching a documentary about Led Zepplin and one of their albums and their symbols was Zoso. Satan likes to hide his activities by turning words backwards and inside out. In fact the documentary I was watching was talking about how demons possessed Led Zepplin and were able to make them sing one phrase forward that had a different meaning backwards, backwards masking.

    I think that Satan is mocking the Lord by setting up his Sozo at Bethel and IHOP and how they love their rebelliousness and rock music. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Led_Zeppelin_IV

    http://theater.goodfight.org/?vdId=Led_Zeppelin

  20. Yes, it’s true that Sozo is works-based, originating from a man-centered gospel, where everything depends on us, not a sovereign God who is not only sovereign over temporal life, but eternal life as well.

    People are being deceived into thinking they can initiate encounters with God. Even the multitude Jesus addressed in John ch.6, thought they could come to Jesus in their own power, their own way. But Jesus told them that they were seeking Him only for earthly benefits, not the heavenly miracles that proved He was God in the flesh.

    In verses 44 and 65 He tells why—–because only God the Father can draw them to Jesus to be saved.

    The bottom line is that God has to grant repentance so that we can be saved, healed and delivered. And if He doesn’t,—– it doesn’t matter how much we’re sozoed!!

  21. godlee, the fact that Jesus is the both the Son of God and Son of man, the Godman is the critical question. I have heard Bill Johnson teach otherwise. Like the Word of Faith movement he believes Jesus went to hell and was born again…wow, the Savior of the World needed to be born again? I don’t think so, and he never lost his divinity! That is the real test.

  22. Thank you words of a foreinger, like so many others, your testimony only proves the sufficiency of Jesus Christ and His Word. I’m grateful to the Lord you found your way out of that movement and into the arms of the living God. He is awesome! His Grace is sufficient! And His Word is the only foundation we need for truth and a meaningful relationship with Him. God bless you!

  23. I got Sozoed exactly this month one year ago. Thank the Lord it was in February that He began to show the error in that movement.

    What I do remember from it, is they (the Sozo leaders) claim the “usually its those first thoughts that pop in your mind are from the holy spirit”. (I had went in cause I had to get Sozoed as part of a discipleship class I was in) So, basically, I went through an hour of listening and going by the first thoughts that popped into my head. Then I would tell the leaders what the thoughts were. At the time it seemed to help “get past issues purged”, and what I was struggling with at the time -being critical etc.- it seemed to bring it out to light. (I blogged about it on my old blog page -there is a link on my blog page on here linking to that blog site-the blog is called A Critical Heart). Looking back, I was sooooo deceived and I really thought it helped, and of course I got sucked in more and ultimately God had to let things fall out from underneith -in a lot of areas in my life- and I saw a lot of ugly stuff in that church. A year later, looking back, it has ONLY been through submitting to God, humbling myself before God, and deeply seeking God in His Word and in His fellowship that I have been able to let go of what issues I was holding onto then. All that “Healing Ministry” junk is just a quick fix and an invitation to unclean spirits to enter in. All we need is Jesus, He IS enough. He told Paul “My grace is sufficient enough for you” THAT should be enough…sadly for those folks its not.

  24. Oh yes pnissila, Catholic is mixed in more than you know. In fact, Bethel has classes from many of the Mystical monks of the Catholic church. Bethel, IHOP, etc. have all sold their souls to falsehoods, deceit, and false teachings to gain power and of course, money! If Sozo is so freeing, and is truth, how can they charge for services rendered. I challenge any of them to come here and give a clear, consistent biblical exegesis of Sozo.

  25. No wonder Bill Johnson tries to subtely teach his followers that Jesus was not God in the flesh!!

    What a revelation from 1,2 and 3 John that the main way to test a spirit is to ask this question—-“was Jesus God in the flesh.”

    I thank God He gave me that revelation right before that meeting with the Pregnancy Cnt. Or else I would have never thought to ask it and I wouldn’t have been given confirmation by their refusal to answer. I’m so thankful God gives us just what we need, exactly when we need it.
    I knew from that point that I was dealing with the spirit of anti-Christ, which is the spirit behind Sozo and those who are promoting it.

  26. Good expose. Sozo continues to sound Catholic to me: extra-biblical teachings, works-based, evolving doctrine, belief system based on feelings, etc.

    Come out of her, people.

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