Has it ever come up in your conversations with other Christians?
Well, I have, and it did a couple of months ago.
What is "Sozo" exactly and why should be be concerned whenever we hear it mentioned by another Christian? Simply because this is what they typically mean whenever they bring it up...
SOZO is the Greek word translated “saved, healed, delivered.” Sozo ministry is a unique inner healing and deliverance ministry aimed to get to the root of things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With a healed connection, you can walk in the destiny to which you have been called. A Sozo session is a time for the Sozo team to sit down with you and with the help of the Holy Spirit walk you through the process of freedom and wholeness. Sozo is not a counseling session but a time of interacting with Father, Son and Holy Spirit for wholeness and pursuing of your destiny.
Yes, that's straight from the "Bethel Sozo" website and it's the latest buzz word being used by the "Charismania" crowd today.
Let's take a look at why this is spiritually dangerous though.
This piece published recently by Pastor Eric Andersen sadly demonstrates that such issues are not localized to one particular geo-metro region, one denomination, or even one District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), but that they are far too common and widespread within the Lutheran church too.
If you were to visit 5 different LCMS congregations, there’s a good chance you’d witness 5 very different approaches to worship. Hopefully you would come across at least one Divine Service, but you would almost certainly come across blended services, contemporary services, postmodern multi-media driven worship services, and even breakthrough healing services.
Couldn't have said it any better myself.
Why aren't those with the authority to do anything about this (either at the Synod level, District level, or congregational level) willing to actually do something about this though?
That's the most frustrating thing for me personally. Pastor Andersen accurately writes...
Despite the endless variety of options in the Missouri Synod today, there is such a thing as genuinely Lutheran worship. Not everything that claims to be Lutheran is actually Lutheran. Well-intentioned Lutheran laypersons often assume that if an LCMS congregation is doing something, it must be orthodox. They assume our congregations are accountable for what they teach and do. This has not always been the case. Some congregations that worship in a distinctly unLutheran way have had the integrity to remove the word 'Lutheran' from their name. But it begs the question: if you don’t want to be called Lutheran or worship like a Lutheran, why remain in the Synod?
Like others have mentioned before, people like me joined the Lutheran church because we saw it as a refuge from all the pseudo-Christianity nonsense in the world today.
We merely want to receive Christ and Christ crucified for our sins delivered to us on a regular basis through the faithful preaching of the Word and the faithful administering of His Sacraments.
Instead, we get a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" watered-down doctrine all the time.
"What's the big deal? What's the harm in any of this?" you ask? Well, this is why we see things like a "Breakthrough Healing Service" and "SOZO" threatening our spiritual health if not the spiritual health of our dear brothers and sisters too.
BREAKTHROUGH HEALING SERVICE - JESUS WANTS TO GIVE YOU A BREAKTHROUGH TODAY! Everyone needs a Breakthrough...Physical Healing, Emotional Healing, Finances, Relationships, Employment, Marriage, Parenting, Dealing with people, Managing stress, Thinking positively, Freedom from worry, Trusting God and so much more. Come and join us for a night of worship and prayer in the power and the presence of a loving caring and wonderful God. We will also be learning more about SOZO and will ask God to help us live our lives full of forgiveness and love toward everyone. This process brings us closer to God and lets us live in the fullness of our freedom in Christ
Friends, this isn't a "good" thing no matter how it's presented to us and spun!
Here's more on "SOZO" and why we should be very concerned...
Question: "What Is SOZO Prayer?" Answer: Sozo prayer, or Sozo ministry (from the Greek for “save” or “deliver”), is defined as “a unique inner healing and deliverance ministry in which the main aim is to get to the root of those things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Sozo was created by a group of people from Bethel Church in Redding, California, and modeled after spiritual practices observed at revivals in Argentina. Sozo is strongly mystical in its approach and relies heavily on ideas about God and the Holy Spirit that are not based on biblical fact.
Bethel Redding started SOZO.
Why is an LCMS church following Bethel Redding's lead!?!
Later, it was discovered that this very same LCMS church is also promoting Charismatic/Pentecostal beliefs too!
What in the world? From that same LCMS church..Recorded prophetic encouragement...spontaneous prophecy? Prophetic Encouragement "The one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging, and comfort." 1 Corinthians 14:3 NIV CLICK HERE to listen to Recorded Prophetic Encouragement (FREQUENT) CLICK HERE to hear spontaneous prophetic encouragement during worship at our 2013 "Game Changers" Women's Retreat
This is a post from the pastor of Faith Lutheran Church...Notice decisional salvation! ALL THINGS NEW ~ Prek through Senior High Youth REbirth: an invitation to receive Jesus as your personal Lord & Savior REturn: an invitation for Christians to REcommit their lives to Christ REmember: a time to celebrate, bless & pray for all who have been Baptized REnew: a Baptism service
One person nailed it when they wrote, "Their website is scary to crawl through. Everything from prophecy to worship dance classes to healing testimonies and much more. How any of this is even allowed to exist in the LCMS is beyond me. They're literally emulating 'Charismania' heretics."
The reason why people like me report on such things is twofold.
First, we're instructed to from God's Word. Second, we're hoping to warn our loved ones about the real spiritual dangers inherent in such doctrine and practices. At the very least, we desire to point out how grossly incompatible it all is with what it means to be Lutheran.
"Some people flee from charismania, word of faith, prosperity gospel for the LCMS so they can 100% avoid any appearance of it. For many the LCMS is viewed as a refuge from this stuff. If the LCMS won't address these practices, those viewing the LCMS as a refuge won't feel safe anymore."
*- Cal Smith
Yes, it's true we need to be careful here and not jump to any conclusions.
As one person pointed out, "Don't assume that nothing is being said. Circuit visitors, DPs, et cetera, have oversight that often takes place behind closed doors. The process here is not as quick and easy as we all might hope it to be, and even if it were, it would leave a congregation lost and in desperate need of healing to rebuild."
Even so, discovering things like this is so sad, especially when Shanna White noted that "in regards to whether these things are being addressed behind the scenes...I appreciate the best construction and I certainly hope it's true, but I would point out the above link to prophetic encouragement from 2013. How many years should such things be allowed to continue unabated?"
Precisely. Enough is enough.
That's why I'm in full agreement with one specific observation that was made.
"I am greatly displeased with the lack of doctrinal oversight in the LCMS but as Michael Harrell pointed out it is not necessarily absent just because it is not happening as fast as we would like it to. My concern however is such things do go undisciplined like the recent ruling regarding a pastor who blatantly endorsed women's ordination in our Synod and essentially got off scott free as his district tasked with such oversight didn't want to do anything about it. What is most distressing however is that the pastors in our Synod took a vow to uphold the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions and it makes me so angry that I want to see them stripped of their authority for choosing to discard what they were entrusted to keep."
*- Michael Rogowski
Correcting and rebuking with love is surely one of the most difficult things to do, but seeing other saints being led into danger by false teaching isn't be any easier to watch.
It's why we speak up and speak out about such things in the hopes that our pure confession of the truth will be used by the Lord leading them to repent and return to "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).
In a Lutheran layman's terms, "the LCMS banner should have certain guaranteed implications...one of them you won't find Bethel Redding practices being aped here."
I'll close with Tim Boerger's comments..
"Cal, the Christian banner should have certain guaranteed implications. Unfortunately, it does not. False teachers run around dressed like sheep (or shepherds as the case may be), and always have. In some regards, it would be nice if we could go back to the days of burn-the-heretic and punch-the-heretic-in-the-face, but we can't and shouldn't. As a synod, we have removed people from office for their transgressions. However, in the past this has caused massive turmoil (seminex) which in some/many ways we have not yet recovered 40 years later. Maybe this causes pause and even timidity, IDK. Further, I will bring up that false teaching is not a novel thing in Confessional Lutheranism. Before Seminex, it was pietism. Rod Rosenbladt has said that the very reason why pietism exists in other Christian denominations may well be because of us. Christ Jesus told us there would be many false prophets that would come after Him. There have been and will continue to be, and this should not be a discouragement to us. As laity, it is our vocation to trust that it is not our doing which makes the church catholic the Bride, but that it is Jesus who takes our wholly sinfulness and makes us His Bride. It is His job to lead, guard, and protect His Bride and Flock rather than ours as the sheep to find our way to Him. He has promised to never allow you to be snatched out of His hand and, likewise, that the Church will never perish. This is not to say that we do not strive against false doctrine and teaching! It is simply to remind us laity that it is ultimately not us that do the striving. That is for the Christ! Thanks be to God!"
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism almost 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha!). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm experiencing and/or studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!