By Rick Hiebert. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission
Following the death of Bethany Deaton in 2012, the issue has been simmering in US papers and their blogosphere, But surely the prominent attention that Rolling Stone magazine is drawing to this will bring it all to a rolling boil.
It’s a gripping tale. The Rolling Stone feature reports on a small group of twentysomething Americans who began to gather together in recent years at Southwestern University in Texas. The informal leader, Tyler Deaton, led the about 20 people–who lived together communally and had worship gatherings together– towards the International House of Prayer (IHOP) movement in Kansas City, Missouri. Tyler Deaton, who studied at and graduated from the IHOP “university” married Bethany, one of the members of the group.
It perhaps started innocently, but didn’t end that way.
Rolling Stone begins by reporting on Bethany Deaton’s dead body being found on October 30, 2012. What appeared to be a suicide note was found near the body.
Attention turned to Micah Moore, who has a confession to make. He had killed, Bethany, he told police, as Tyler’s urging. This was in order to cover up the sordid practices of the group. Deaton has not been charged, but Moore has since recanted an withdrawn his confession. latest news is that he will be tried in November.
The group broke up soon after Bethany’s passing But there is an ongoing interest On the roup and the International House of Prayer that will only be increased By Rolling Stone’s coverage.
Reading the story, I have the feeling that Tyler Deaton may have been on the way to being addle-brained before IHOP, but Rolling stone lays the tragedy at the feet of IHOP’s aberrant theology, which affected the minds and hearts of all in the group. Tyler Deaton, Rolling Stone implies, was made crazy by his odd theological beliefs. Their reporters odes on the scene reporting of the atmosphere there are quotes founder Mike Bickle. Rick Joyner’s The Final Quest, and it’s view of the “end times” is cited as well.
Deaton is a graduate of IHOP’s University and was listed as a lay leader of IHOP, Rolling Stone emphasizes.
I think we can address the implied question that Rolling Stone asks, without exactly using the words: “How responsible is the International House of Prayer for the death of Bethany Deaton?”
IHOP, immediately following the tragedy, was doing a bit of a buck-and-wing after the tragedy. IHOP in Kansas City numbers in the thousands now, and they can’t keep a close eye on everyone, they might protest. Bout pastoral oversight is important in any church.
The relevant statements from IHOP remain online.
Forerunner Christian Fellowship, the “locl church expression” in the Kansas City area for IHOP (The IHOP Kanasas City Missions Base), says that although Tyler Denton and his group were connected TO IHOP, they demanded to be independent, or rather Tyler Denton wanted this on their behalf:
After Deaton graduated from IHOPU in May 2012 he began to show interest in our FCF small groups. That summer our FCF small groups came under a new director, who formed a temporary, think-tank-type discussion group made up of volunteers, who met to discuss ideas on how to improve small groups. Deaton attended this group, though he made it very clear to our small groups director that his independent Bible study group would not be connected in any way. On one occasion in October 2012 Deaton facilitated a breakout discussion of seven or eight people. We now believe his interest in our small groups was to try to promote his own agenda within our organization.
A volunteer mistakenly labeled Deaton as a divisional coordinator when preparing a preliminary small groups info packet. Because the small groups director was not consulted and did not catch the error, the volunteer continued to reprint the mistake. The incorrect information has since been removed….”
Enter blogger Kendall Beachey. He knew the group, and was as fellow graduate of IHOP’s “university. Although he has since left IHOP and never belonged to Tyler’s group, it could be fair to say that he was perhaps friends with them.
He’s since blogged about his experiences with Tyler and the group. When Bethany first died, Kendall was conatct by someone at IHOP about this “independent” group. Naturually Kendall wanted to help, so he went to the communal house.
So he was there when this happened.
“….When the IHOP leaders showed up, they were not alone. The police were there, just out of sight, and when Tyler stepped onto the porch, it was all over. It was November 9th, 2012 and Tyler Deaton was being taken in for questioning for the first time.
I was the one who opened the door. Not a part of the group. An outsider. No longer at IHOP. An outsider.”
And what did the people from IHOP want?
The men coming to the house had given Tyler a choice. If he left the International House of Pr’ayer (IHOP), never contacted anyone in his worship group again, and became integrated into another church, then after three or four years he could be in good standing with IHOP once more. He was told IHOP would help him to transition home, but after that, he was on his own.
They seemed to exert a lot of authority over Tyler indvidually and over the group members collectively for an “independent ” group that wasn’t supposedly connected to IHOP.
We can call what happened here what I think it is.
Rolling Stone seems To be on a right track. Hopefully more digging will ensue.