“I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in one generation.” —Mike Bickle, 1982

Source

The source of this prophecy is not disputed. It has been spoken publicly more than once, recorded in writing and currently appears on the website of the organization its author founded and leads. The precision of its content and age is also uncontested for the same reasons. The word is verbatim:

Screen capture, IHOP KC[1]

Age

In the fall of 1982 Bickle (1955-) was 28 years old.

Experience

Bickle has detailed very little experience or undeniable accuracy at hearing God prior to 1982. He has not provided many examples of fulfilled prophecies he made before ’82. He was not known as a prophet before making this prophecy. Neither he nor his friends publicize a long list of fulfilled prophecies he made since then.

Meaning

The prophecy is very short. Some of its content is easy to understand and some of it isn’t. The two clearest words and phrases are “Christianity” and “generation.”

Christianity

Christianity means: “a religion based on belief in God and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and on the Bible.”

Generation

Generation means: “a period of about 25 to 30 years, in which most human babies become adults and have their own children.”

The exact length of a “generation” could be considered as short as 20 years or as long as 30 years. Donn Devine, an expert at Ancestry.ca, says:

As a matter of common knowledge, we know that a generation averages about 25 years—from the birth of a parent to the birth of a child—although it varies case by case. We also generally accept that the length of a generation was closer to 20 years in earlier times when humans mated younger and life expectancies were shorter.2

The 20- to 30-year duration range requires Bickle’s prophecy to be fulfilled before 2002 (1982+20=2002) or 2012 (1982+30=2012).

Understanding and Expression

The meaning of the other words—”understanding” and “expression”—are generally understood but in this context they are not. They are so vague it could be argued that it would be difficult to know what the “prophecy” means and when it is fulfilled.

Explanation

The obvious thing to do if you get an impression from God that doesn’t make sense or isn’t easy to understand is to ask God for an explanation so the “word” isn’t ignored after being rendered meaningless and useless. We are not aware that Bickle did this.

The second option that is almost as obvious is to ask an expert at hearing God what the prophecy or parts of it mean, especially when you are 28 or younger and have no experience being led by God or hearing His voice. We are not aware that Bickle did this, either.

Bickle’s problem was basic. In the 1970s and 1980s he did not have the volume or quality of books or teaching on hearing God that is available today. He could not have attended a reputable school of prophets. He also did not have access to reliable prophets. He was not training or working under a prophet like Elisha with Elijah.

Whom could he consult? Back then he was nobody. He knew nobody; nobody knew him. He could not just pick up a phone and call an expert. He was at the mercy of people he had met, such as Augustine Alcala and Bob Jones, two men who seemed to him to be legitimate until they became widely discredited false prophets.

So there you had a young guy with no education, no training, no self-education, no expertise and no expert consultants for prophetic revelation—getting a strange, ambiguous word he thinks is God—and we are supposed to believe it immediately without reservation and any critical consideration.

Context

In the fall of 1982, Mike took a trip around the world to observe the plight of the poor. While spending the night in prayer in a hotel room in Cairo, Egypt, the Lord encountered Mike that September. He heard the audible voice of the Lord say, “I will change the understanding and expression of Christianity in one generation.”3

The statement “While spending a night in prayer” could be seen as corroborative of an accurate prophecy, but it is not considered confirmative. Anyone could spend time in prayer and not hear God. It is certainly not a biblical standard so it is not authoritative.

The statement “He heard the audible voice of the Lord” has not been verified. It is unverifiable. It sounds spiritual and authoritative but isn’t. People who hear voices are neither considered reliable nor authoritative.

There is nothing special about the location (hotel room, Cairo, Egypt) to make anybody say “It must have been God.”

Relevance

The content of the prophecy had no relevance to what Bickle was doing at the time or where he was.

Observation

One observer commented: Why would you want to change the understanding of Christianity when it is already correctly understood by the preaching of the Gospel? We are no longer living in the days of Martin Luther! Mike Bickle’s prophecy would have been more relevant in 1500 AD.

Definition

There is already biblical understanding and expression of Christianity in many parts of the world. This was true in 1982 and it is true today. Clearly his word cannot be relevant for these places unless he was prophesying the demise of Christianity. But that’s not the impression most people would get of his prediction. It lacks a considerable amount of definition which undermines any claims of its value. It doesn’t say where in the world it is for. It doesn’t say what this new “understanding” will be; nor does it say what the new “expression” will look like.

Wisdom

The prophecy contains no new practical wisdom. It is a statement with no steps for how in the world the change will happen.

Conditions

Unlike great biblical prophecies, Bickle’s had no conditions.

Opinion

Notwithstanding the vagueness of the prophecy, nobody has been saying the understanding and expression of Christianity changed after 1982 before 2002, or before 2012, or since 2012. No Christian leader has claimed this including Mike Bickle. There is no indication the prophecy is partly fulfilled, or about to be fulfilled, or will be fulfilled in the foreseeable future.

Fulfillment

It has not been fulfilled.

Deadline

The clock ran out in 2012.

Status

False prophecy

Comments

Bickle’s ability to discern the voice of God was unproven in 1982. He was young and inexperienced. It is not unusual for young people to think they heard God when they didn’t. The very odd thing is as recently as 2019 his organization was still talking about his 37-year-old prophecy (1982-2019) as if it were a legitimate word from God despite the fact it had failed in 2012 and cannot be fulfilled in the future.

Endnotes
  1. Adam Wittenberg, “Marking IHOPKC’s Prophetic History,” May 21, 2019. https://www.ihopkc.org/resources/blog/marking-ihopkcs-prophetic-history/ [Apr. 28, 2020].
  2. Donn Devine, “How Long Is a Generation?” Ancestry.ca, n.d. https://www.ancestry.ca/learn/learningcenters/default.aspx?section=lib_Generation [May 1, 2020].
  3. Wittenberg.

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