Agnes Sanford, Bethel, Bible, Christian, Christianity, Church, Common Sense Christian Counsel, Counseling, counselor, deliverance, exorcism, False Memory Syndrome, God, Healing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Leadership, Pastoral counseling, Prayer, Redding, shabar, Soul Healing, SOZO, Spiritual warfare, The Bondage Breaker, The Search for Significance, theophostic prayer ministry, Word
The more I look into this, the more odd and unhealthy the whole thing gets. According to the FAQ’s as posted on Bethel Sozo’s website, a Sozo session is “framed” with the Father Ladder (a method of interviewing the client) or the Four Doors (supposedly four key areas of sin through which demonic possession or oppression can occur, boldly ignoring all of the other sins listed in scripture, all of which are of key concern to God). According to the FAQ’s page, a Sozo session will contain elements of these Sozo tools: Father Ladder, Four Doors, The Wall (think resistance, or more specifically, an emotional or psychological blockage) and Presenting Jesus, and states that other tools may be used, but “will not dominate the ministry time.” These are only four of the ‘tools’ used in a Sozo session; the others are considered Advanced Tools, namely, Trigger Mechanisms and Divine Editing. In addition to that, and for an additional cost, there is Shabar, for those who are beyond the scope of deliverance available through ordinary, entry-level false teaching.
“Presenting Jesus” has to do with conjuring up an image of Jesus in your mind (this is akin to divination, which is forbidden in scripture) and ‘re-writing’ the script of past abuse (real or imagined) by picturing him as being present in the memory. This tool is actually derived from the teachings of Dr. Ed Smith, who invented Theophostic Prayer Ministry, and even earlier from the teachings of Agnes Sanford, who began the ‘inner healing’ and ‘healing your inner child’ movement. Nowhere in scripture are we told to do this, however, and if an image representing ‘Jesus’ appears to you in your prayer session, it is in all probability either a figment of your imagination, or even worse, it is a spirit most assuredly not of God. The ‘freedom and deliverance’ movement itself is based largely on superstition and magical thinking, not on faith and reason.
The purpose of these tools is to dig for repressed, or forgotten memories of past abuse and emotional wounds; they are psycho-therapeutic techniques long since discredited and no longer endorsed by mainstream psychotherapy. Worth noting is the fact that neither of the two women who created Sozo are professional therapists, and apparently know little of mental health and evidence-based theories and therapies. They also, by their own admission, have no formal training in biblical doctrine and theology.
In answer to the question “When is a Sozo/deliverance finished?” the site states that the session is finished “when you [the counselor] discern that the ‘strong man’ has been defeated” or “when you or the ‘sozoee’ feel that you are finished.” (Emphasis mine).
Let’s be clear: anyone with even a shred of discernment or biblical knowledge should know that the ‘strong man’ in a true Christian is God, in the form of the Holy Spirit, and that the devil and God do not occupy (dwell in) the same space (house). Do you really want to cast the strong man out of a believer? Those who are advocating for deliverance ministries in the church will be quick to acknowledge that while a Christian cannot be possessed from within, a Christian can be ‘oppressed’ (demonized) from without. This is the justification generally given for allowing these ministries to operate within the church, and as a result, many people are lining up in churches and conferences around the world to have their particular thorn in the flesh removed. And they’re paying a pretty penny for it, too.
They will also be quick to point out that some of the people Jesus delivered [cast demons out of] in scripture were in the temple, ergo, they must have been Christians. Just because you find it in the cookie jar, however, doesn’t mean it’s a cookie, and you couldn’t then and cannot now make the assumption that every person in the church or hanging out on the church property is a born-again, Spirit-filled, bible-believing Christian.
In answer to the question “In a Shabar session, when do you know when to quit if complete integration is not accomplished?” the somewhat lengthy answer is that if you can’t get the client completely integrated, you are to focus instead on providing information, hope, and at least some integration, along with an admonishment to not force the person or ‘parts’ to talk to God. These clients are to be given time to see “if they like the parts being gone” and whether or not they want another session.
This alone should be enough for you to stay clear of any ministry using Sozo. It is a blatant reference to Multiple Personality Disorder which, as I wrote about several weeks ago, is not a legitimate diagnosis, and therefore requires neither treatment nor ministry. They don’t seem to have access to this information on the West Coast however, and so are accepting payments in order to deliver people from a problem they don’t – and can’t – have because it doesn’t exist. The sheer lunacy that forms the foundation of these ‘deliverance ministries’ pales in comparison to the ethical concerns.
Think about this: even Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, eventually died and stayed dead. The Bible doesn’t say that he lived the rest of his life in perfect health, or never got sick, or experienced problems that could be interpreted as ‘being oppressed’. And nowhere in scripture did Jesus partially heal someone and then send them home to wait 3-6 months to see if they were ‘okay’ with living partially healed, or if they wanted to come back later, check in hand, in order for him to completely heal them the second or third time around.
Further down the FAQ’s page, the question “Can one Sozo session actually heal a lie that has been believed for many years?” is answered in the affirmative. “Once the Lord heals the first time the lie was settled into your spirit, the rest of your life experiences based on this lie will realign to His truth.” The real answer, however, is that Sozo itself is based on lies, and no, you cannot be ‘healed’ from your painful memories in just one session. Spiritual and emotional healing comes from many hours spent in the Word of God, along with time in prayer alone; your life experiences will heal and ‘realign’ as you study His Word and apply it to your life, meaning that you will begin to see the events and experiences in your life in light of a greater picture (from God’s perspective). It doesn’t miraculously happen in one or two facilitated Sozo or Theophostic prayer sessions. The idea that all of your problems are based on believing lies is a recent trend that has infiltrated the church through books like “The Search for Significance” and “The Bondage Breaker.” Your problems aren’t caused by believing lies, however, they’re caused by sin, whether your own or someone else’s.
This is a subtle deception that has crept into the church through the recovery movement, eroding the clear message of the gospel and our need for salvation through Christ alone. You were “sozoed” when you became a believer; when you first believed that Jesus is Lord, that He died on the cross for your sins, and that He delivered you from eternal death by taking your place. This is deliverance for the Christian, and if you are one, then you have already been delivered. The real bondage breaking happens when you break free from all of the superficial, superstitious nonsense that is passed off as normative post-modern Christianity, and begin to seek and follow Truth as it is portrayed in scripture.
Another noteworthy find on the Sozo ministries FAQ’s page is the question “How do you minister to someone who received wounds while in the womb?”
Yes, it actually says that. And yes, they actually attempt to do this.
Are we really that gullible?
A popular misconception currently sweeping the churches is the idea that trauma and abuse ‘open a door’ to demonic oppression, but this is pure superstition, plain and simple. Trauma and abuse are terrible actions perpetrated by human beings who act out their sinful natures and evil tendencies on those who can’t defend themselves. They are not ‘entry points for the enemy’ or sources of demonic oppression, and you don’t heal these things by subjecting already wounded and traumatized people to a ‘deliverance’ session. Nor, for that matter, do you need healing for wounding that occurred while you were in the womb. Your mother might, but you don’t.
The FAQ’s page also states that “the leaders of your team should be the ones sozoing the leaders of your church.”
If someone is “sozoing” the leaders of our church, then we have a much larger and different problem – one that involves leadership, and their responsibility to keep false teaching out of the church, not to participate in it.
Can I lead someone to freedom if I don’t have any myself? would be humorous if it weren’t so disturbing.
Having said all of that, there is one guaranteed way to be delivered from demonic oppression that doesn’t require shelling out your hard-earned cash for a thinly veiled exorcism. Calling it ‘deliverance’ is merely a matter of semantics.
The one sure path to deliverance from demonic oppression is to abandon the Christian faith. Because if you think you’re going to attempt to live the rest of your life as an even remotely mature believer, and think the enemy isn’t going to be a constant thorn in your flesh while you do so, you haven’t really studied your bible or the history of the church. You can expect to be oppressed, tempted, persecuted and tried from the moment you set your mind to live a righteous and holy life. You can’t cast out consequences. There are demon-possessed people out there, but they aren’t spirit-filled believers, and odds are they aren’t holed up somewhere with a bag of chips, desperately searching websites for the nearest church performing exorcisms.
I can’t say this strongly enough: stay away from Sozo and Theophostics, and all of the other ‘inner healing’ and ‘deliverance’ ministries, especially those that utilize elements and techniques of recovered memory therapy. They are not healthy, they are not biblical, and they are not necessary.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is the spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. 1 John 4:4
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