Here’s an excellent article by Memory victim, who has lost much, God bless you for your faithfulness and thank you for sharing.
A year ago, I purchased the book, “SOZO, Saved – Healed – Delivered” by Dawna De Silva and Teresa Liebscher, but didn’t begin reading it until these recent posts regarding demonic deliverance and sozo. I don’t like reading this material.
It is gut wrenching for me to read this book knowing that I lost my daughter 13 years ago to this very teaching and program espoused by these two authors—and I would literally rather take a severe beating than to read any of it and I cannot express how oppressive it is for me to do so. It is near maddening to see this book unchallenged and riddled with the same classic repressed memory therapy that stole my daughter from me. To refer to it as ‘classic’ is inaccurate—it is much worse. Sozo proponents adamantly claim this program is given by the Holy Spirit by revelation. Anyone seeking help from sozo is not going to want to challenge this. The secular repressed memory therapists lacked God’s apparent endorsement—any subsequent future appointments with their clients were dependent on their marketing abilities.
When anyone does challenge sozo, they are said to have a ‘religious spirit.’ Sozo leaders ensure their followers are often and well inoculated with the ‘religious spirit’ anti-bodies—intelligent, informed dissent to this program is not welcome.
This book does intermingle memories and demonic oppression in its approach, although not as explicitly as Freedom Tools by Andy Reese, however I suspect the advanced sozo training manual by the same authors does so, but I have not yet had a chance to read it.
Please consider what Paul said about false teaching:
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.””
There is no such thing as a static error—all error is dynamic and grows. The error in sozo is like the yeast that Paul was talking about—it grows and morphs into more error. False demonology is a major tenant of sozo, and this teaching is ubiquitous among other inner-healing prayer ministries such as ‘Restoring the Foundations.’
In the book, “Freedom Tools” Andy Reese teaches that demonic deliverance for Christians is part and parcel with sozo. He and his sozo version arose from Bethel, and in the acknowledgments, he thanks Bethel Church and their sozo team, “especially Dawna and Teresa for their guidance…”
“SOZO, Saved – Healed – Delivered” is endorsed by Chester and Betsy Kylstra who authored Restoring the Foundations and developed the program. They have been on my radar for almost as long as sozo and they are equally as dangerous. I include them in this post because all of these types of prayer / deliverance ministries are joined at the hip and profusely endorse each other’s programs. In fact, the Kylstras rightly describe this as a “movement” in their endorsement:
“The deep insights illustrated in this book will accelerate your abilities, enabling you to be fruitful as you join in His healing movement. Thank you, Dawna and Teresa, for adding to the revelation of how to receive God’s healing.”
(Liebscher, Teresa. SOZO Saved Healed Delivered: A Journey into Freedom with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Destiny Image, Inc. Kindle Edition.)
Adding to the revelation??? This is the problem with this “movement.” It all comes from someone’s idea of revelation: extra-Biblical revelation. This movement is not derived from the Scripture.
Andy Reese also considers this to be a “movement.” From Page 25 of Freedom Tools:
“SOZO is a changing and growing “lay” approach to working with God in setting each other free. There is no single training manual, proponent church or ministry or certification process.”
This is very revealing. There is no central approving or certifying agency, yet they all endorse each other. I believe part of the reason is that they can’t afford to publicly disagree with one another. If they were to do so, they would have to challenge one ‘revelation’ against another ‘revelation,’ and the only way to sort out which is correct is by comparing both with the written Word of God and that would upset the apple cart. If they start looking for examples of this kind of practice in Scripture to determine whose program is more in line with God’s Word, the whole movement could become unraveled. Moreover, they don’t dare compare each other’s therapy with secular methods because the secular mental health professionals have rejected regressive memory therapy, and this too could lead to a crumbling of the sozo dogma. No, they are stuck with fawning over each other’s programs.
Bill Johnson heartily endorses Restoring the Foundations and the Kylstras, claiming their “ministry is one of the most important ones he has seen in the last twenty years.” He goes onto refer to it as a “brilliant ministry.” Bill Johnson brags about the Kylstras and that he has directed people their way, and “wants to encourage you to give consideration to RTF.” (Quoted from a video on the RTF website.)
Bill Johnson wrote the forward for both Freedom Tools and SOZO, Saved – Healed – Delivered, and it appears he wholly endorses everything in both books. By doing so, he becomes part of their error. I someday hope to meet Bill Johnson. I want to look him in the eyes and ask him how he could have allowed this to happen under his watch. I want to hear him give an explanation as to why he has not investigated the repressed memory therapy movement and compared it to what is happening under his roof. I want him to tell me how he could have allowed something that steals a father and a daughter from one another. If I never get the chance to hear him give an accounting, there is Someone else who will.
I felt the need to show these different prayer ministries all endorse and recommend each other’s teaching and practices in order to illustrate their organic interconnectedness. It is a web of unchecked dangerous therapy. Some reading this will logically doubt that I am telling the truth, but I cite my references, and I encourage everyone to check this out for themselves.
Onto their demonology:
Sozo’s method of RMT (Regressive Memory Therapy) asserts that any inner lie must be removed before the demons can be dislodged—one must follow the other. In other words, if you can’t find the repressed memories, you can’t find the demons, and if you can’t find the demons then how can you exorcise them? While it may seem hard to believe anyone would teach anything like this, it is a fundamental aspect of sozo. Please consider the following from Freedom Tools page 161:
“demons will remain hidden until we get to their “food source” – the inner lies, entanglements, sin and wounding upon which they feed and hold; until something stirs them to react to; or until they feel they have enough power to be hard to dislodge. Then they will make efforts to fend us off, scare us, resist, show off and threaten.”
Andy’s comments are very similar to those found in SOZO, Saved – Healed – Delivered:
“In working through a demonic deliverance, we have found that the enemy will try to coerce ministers and clients into fear. In stirring up fear, the demonic realm feigns strength. The best way to reduce its feigned power is to ignore its attempts at intimidation. Dawna says that demons are like puffer fish. They expand with taunts and threats—even physical manifestations—but the name of Jesus is more than enough to puncture their expansion.”
(Liebscher, Teresa. SOZO Saved Healed Delivered: A Journey into Freedom with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (p. 124). Destiny Image, Inc. Kindle Edition.)
Food source for demons? According to sozo, any inner issue from the past is food for demons and they will not dislodge until you uncover them. Andy Reese revels in sozo’s ability to ‘stir-up and make vivid’ memories (pages 225-226). This is a quantum step beyond classic repressed memory therapy. He wants to make the memories vivid, so the demons can no longer hide.
When pressed on the subject, they try to avoid answering the question, “Can Christians be demon possessed?” by watering down the meaning of possession. They reframe demonic possession in terms of demonic ‘influence’ citing problems with Biblical translations from the Greek which has led to the church not understanding all of this until now. I watched one video of Andy Reese speaking and he completely avoided the issue by stating:
“We are sometimes asked if Christians can be demon possessed. My question to them is why would a Christian want to be possessed? Yuk yuk, snicker snicker.”
This was the extent of his exegesis on the subject in an hour presentation. He never offers a Scriptural proof of his claims in his book. He simply states such proofs exist but sidesteps the issue completely.
The following is from the book, ‘Restoring the Foundations’ (RTF) by Chester and Betsy Kylstra, Pages 260-261:
“Some Christians have concluded that the Holy Spirit will not co-habit with demons. They believe that, at the moment of salvation when we are born again, the Holy Spirit comes into us and all oppressing demons are forced to leave. Unfortunately, there is no scriptural basis for this teaching. In fact, the opposite is true. We can see in Ezekiel that the presence of God was in the temple with at least four groups of abominations. At some point, the cup of iniquity of the people became full. God withdrew from Israel, letting them go into exile.
With Christians, the opposite process occurs. As the Holy Spirit comes in and sets up house, he begins his work of sanctification. In the process, he brings us to an understanding of demons, increased faith, and eventual displacement and eviction of the demonic.”
Obviously, the weak arguments the Kylstras offer are fallacious. The statement, “Unfortunately, there is no scriptural basis for this teaching.” is ironic since they offer no example of demonic exorcism of Christians in the New Testament. To reach back and offer an erroneous interpretation of an inapplicable passage in Ezekiel is a smoke screen that pretends to be an argument. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles ever discuss Christians being delivered of demons. The Holy Spirit does not reside in the same house as demons—period. That’s why John said, “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” The Holy Spirit is greater so the demonic cannot live in us—we are the temple of the Lord.
Like sozo, the Kylstras have their own form of regressive memory therapy. In their ‘Soul/Spirit Hurts’ sessions they encourage participants to ‘wait on the Lord’ until He shows them a memory that needs to be healed. Sound familiar? If anyone doubts they are regressing a person back to an earlier time in their lives read this as found on page 252 of RTF (2nd Edition):
“We do find situations where people have apparently rebelled while they were still in the womb. You say, “Well, that seems very strange.” And we agree, it is strange. But the rebellion is there, the Demonic Oppression is there, and the Soul/Spirit hurts are there. Going through the forgiveness process and having the receiver pray for the hurt leads to healing and freedom.”
Apparently? Just what, pray tell, makes it apparent that someone has rebelled in the womb? It is difficult to conceive of anyone making such an utterly crackpot statement, but it is in their book in black and white.
The more extreme elements in the RMT movement were regressing people back to past lives. RTF and sozo would never do anything so pagan. They only regress people back to conception.
Page 257 of RTF lists the ‘Ministry Steps/Ingredients.’ These are the actual working guidelines for RTF and they are astounding:
“Wait on the Lord: Ministry receiver “Waits on the Lord,” Listening to the Holy Spirit to bring the memory He wants to heal. (Throughout the ministry process, the minister listens as well, both for guidance and for the revelation about hindrances.)”
Sounds innocent enough—if you do not have a proper understanding of the malleability of human memory. Clearly, they do not have this understanding, and that is why clients are experiencing false recovered memories. They think they can demand that clients submit and accept they may have regressed memories but assume they will not produce false recovered memories simply because they don’t make ‘suggestive’ comments. (I will prove this in a few paragraphs.) The level of ignorance they are displaying is appalling.
“Clarify Memory: If needed, encourage the ministry receiver to work with the Holy Spirit for greater clarity of the memory/impression.”
See it? An impression can become a memory; it just needs a little clarification. This is RTF’s version of making a memory ‘vivid’ as practiced by sozo.
“Deal with the Hindrances: If needed, help the receiver work through any hindrances to receiving the memory such as unforgiveness, anger with God, or demonic interference.”
Here we see that memories are not remembered, they are “received.” It is not difficult to see where the suggestibility of this practice comes into play. In other words, ‘You don’t seem to be dredging up enough junk; it must be sin or the devil keeping you from receiving memories.’ The baseline philosophy of this is impressions represent memories that must be received and then made vivid for someone to be healed. The client goes into these sessions with the understanding and EXPECTATION that memories will be—and in fact MUST be recovered. Oh, and by the way, participants are not allowed to disagree with this idea. Let me back up to Step 2 to clarify:
“Pray: Have the ministry receiver pray the Submission Prayer on page 256.”
The fourth paragraph of that prayer is:
“I give you permission to dig deep for the roots of any hidden memories that are affecting my life. I ask you to take the keys to my heart now and unlock the doors. Bypass any denial or deception that may be blocking my memory. Bypass anything that has hindered me, or is hindering me, from receiving my healing.”
Just as with sozo, Restoring the Foundations instills in the participants that repressed memories exist—and they must ‘submit’ to this idea. The opposite of submission is rebellion, and what Christian seeking help is going to want to maintain an attitude of rebellion when they think they are seeking The Lord? Rebelling to the idea of repressed memories could ‘hinder’ their healing. Imagine the pressure this puts on both the ministry receiver and giver. If memories are not recovered, then someone is not submitting or listening to the Holy Spirit or both.
During the repressed memory therapy movement, therapists considered any denial by the client as proof of repressed memories. With sozo and RMT, denial of repressed memories is proof of sin and/or demonic interference—the client either “recovers” memories or is not submitting.
“Enter the Memory: Help the ministry receiver enter the memory as he specifies the feelings and feel (sic) the feelings of the memory.”
I cannot conceive of anything a ‘counselor’ could do that would strengthen a false recovered memory more that to encourage the client to ‘Enter the Memory.’ The counselor is in the position of authority and power, and the client has already submitted to the idea of ‘hidden memories.’ The client has no choice but to consider the counselor’s encouragement as an endorsement and therefore reinforcement of the recovered memory.
From the preface of RTF, Page xv:
“We feel it is time to make the break with past terminology. As a result, we have changed the wording in the second edition from counselor to minister; from counseling to ministry; from counselee to ministry receiver. While this last term still seems awkward, we know we are moving in the right direction.”
It should be painfully obvious why sozo and RTF are breaking with past terminology. Not to do so would keep them in a position of legal and civil jeopardy.
“Address Hindrances: If needed, help the ministry receiver remove any further blocks to the healing. (At this point in the healing process, Demonic Oppression is the most common difficulty.)”
Here RTF seems to practice the reverse of sozo. With RTF, it is the demons that may prevent inner healing. With the Andy Reese sozo method, it is the lack of inner healing that prevents deliverance from demons. Regardless, the link between recovered memories and demonic oppression or possession is a common thread among so called deliverance ministries.
“Checking the Results: Check with the receiver to see if the negative emotion is truly gone/healed. If not, discern whether there is a further hindrance or whether the same negative emotion is stored in an additional memory or memories”
In other words, if you don’t feel better, you must have more repressed memories. Notice the RMT ministers don’t suggest—they discern. Apparently, a suggestion is not suggestive as long as it is a result of ‘discernment.’
Obviously, I have not discussed all the steps, but if anyone thinks I have taken anything out of context I have listed the page numbers. Check it out for yourselves. There is a 14th step called, “Clean Up/Follow Up” but I will only address the 5th bullet item:
“removing demons associated with the memory and/or adding them to the deliverance list for the next session.”
Just how does one categorize and match certain demons to particular memories? And this is…Scriptural? Notice, just like sozo, there is always the need for follow up sessions; and it appears that some demons just have to wait on the facilitator’s next availability.
“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”
A normal rational person reading what I am writing here must believe that I am either making up these quotes or I am taking them far out of context. I don’t blame you and my feelings are not hurt. I would not believe this either if I were reading this blog. However, I challenge you to check it out for yourselves. I don’t want you to trust me. I don’t want you to believe me. I want doubters to investigate this for themselves. Anyone attending a church that has, or about to introduce any type of ‘prayer ministry’ better do their homework.
I could name churches right now that will not allow anyone in their congregation to participate in any form of leadership or ministry unless they go through sozo or Restoring the Foundations. How would it go over if a person submits to the church leadership and—humbly—goes through a session, but then claims the Lord did not reveal any memories to heal? Would that be permitted? The pressure to conform is tremendous. This is Stockholm Syndrome Lite.
“Stockholm syndrome, psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands. The name of the syndrome is derived from a botched bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden.”
Remember, Peter conformed to the Judaizers who were promoting circumcision to complete their salvation. (See Galatians.) Paul confronted Peter for his hypocrisy. If Peter was pressured into conformance, then it could happen to any of us.
In the following, the Kylstras actually criticize other inner-healing practitioners for using ‘non-scriptural’ terms or methods. (As if associating demons with memories to put on a ‘next session deliverance list’ is Scriptural.) They even speak against suggestive techniques. I will comment on this after:
On page 201 of RTF under the heading of Controversies Concerning Soul/Spirit Healing, we read the following under the subheading Non-Scriptural terms:
“Some practitioners of inner healing use secular, psychological terms and concepts that are not clearly defined or explained in the Bible. In other words, they are “non-scriptural.” In addition, they incorporate visualization, imagination, and/or suggestions made by the counselor/minister to the councelee/ministry receiver. Of particular concern are suggestive, directive, or “leading in “tactics. For example, the counselor may say, “now, I want you to imagine that you were seeing Jesus and that He is coming into the situation with you, and He is there with you in this time of hurt, “and so forth in this fashion.
Our approach, however, relies completely on the Holy Spirit, who has given us a safe and effective “method“that sets the stage for Him to bring His healing to the people of God. We are very excited about the “Waiting Upon the Lord“Listening Prayer approach, which will be discussed later in this chapter.”
Notice that they don’t say, ‘relies completely on the Word of God?’ Instead, “completely on the Holy Spirit.” They don’t claim that anything like these prayer ministries are outlined in Scripture. They claim they are getting all of this by revelation.
They recognize the problems with ‘suggestive’ techniques and seem to think they are not engaging in the same thing. They think because an individual counselor is not suggesting anything during a session then they are not being suggestive. This is ridiculous. As in sozo, the entire approach is based on the understanding that you do have repressed memories that must be uncovered and made vivid. It is beyond suggestive—it absolutely demands that memories be recovered.
What difference does it make whether or not a sozo or RTF counselor gives a specific leading suggestion? They don’t have to. People go into these sessions with the distinct understanding and expectation that they are to cough up a recovered memory. This suggestion—or demand—is pervasive to the entire approach. Andy Reese, however, is not in the least bit opposed to suggesting anything. On page 86 of Freedom Tools, in an attempt to show the harmlessness of a counselor’s fallibility while making suggestions, he states the following:
“But we can miss it. We can misinterpret His voice. That’s OK that is where humility and compassion come in handy. That is why we, as ministers, offer only pictures or thoughts that come on to our screens as suggestions (“does van Gogh mean anything to you? “ (sic)) And only when we sense permission to do so.”
In other words, projecting a suggestion upon the sozoie is not a problem nor is making the wrong suggestion—it is promoted—as long as it is done in compassion and humility. The ignorant recklessness of this is stunning.
I now know more than ever why I lost my daughter.